Today is the last Sunday before Lent. In Leipzig, this meant Bach would get a break from the weekly cantata composing to work on (revisions of) his Passions, and rehearse those works with the choir. His audience (= congregations of the St. Thomas Church and the Nicholas Church) wouldn’t get to hear any of his music until Good Friday. Today is also the day on which, if I were Wonder Woman, I would have gone to hear Alex Potter sing in Hannover, Germany. If any of my readers live easy travel distance from there, go hear him sing with the excellent La Festa Musicale in a beautiful program of solo works by three Antonios: Vivaldi, Caldara, and Lotti. More information: https://www.lafestamusicale.de/en/concerts/upcoming-concerts.
So, what better day to repost my blog post from 2020 about Alex Potter singing Cantata 159. The post also includes links to the three other cantatas Bach wrote for this Sunday.
Wieneke Gorter, February 27, 2022.
Between Estomihi Sunday (or the last Sunday before Lent) and Good Friday, there were 47 days in 1729. During that entire time the Leipzig congregations would hear no music in the churches, except for chorales. So Bach’s last music had to be as memorable as possible, had to give them hope, and ideally also prepare them for the St. Matthew Passion they would get to hear on Good Friday.
Bach successfully checked all these boxes with Cantata 159 Sehet! wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem. And leave it to alto Alex Potter to bring all this out in a performance. Opera-like drama, heart-breaking emotion, the promise of hope and redemption, it is all there in his singing, and in that voice with the beautiful variety of colors.
Listen to / watch the performance by the Netherlands Bach Society here on YouTube. Soprano:Miriam Feuersinger; Alto:Alex Potter; Tenor:Thomas Hobbs; Bass:Stephan MacLeod…
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