Saturday, November 5, 2016

Another mystery solved

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the director of Choral Arts Philadelphia was at a loss to explain the presence of the sopranino recorder  in Bach's Cantata BWV 96, Christ her einige Gottessohn. Bach always assigned extra-musical meanings to his instrumentation, of course, and the director couldn't determine just what the recorder was supposed to symbolize.

Well, inspired by Choral Arts' performance, I purchased a CD of the piece (Bach-Ensemble, cond. by Helmuth Rilling), and found the following in the booklet: "This cantata is one of those compositions, starting with BWV 94, where Bach accorded the modern flute a major role. In aria no. 3 it provides the 'bonds of affection' by which Jesus should draw the spirit. Inn the opening chirus the same player probably had to  use a sopranino recorder to convey the light of the morning star mentioned in the text in a suitably high register."

The complete text of the chorus is as follows:
Lord Christ, the only son of God,
Father's eternally,
From his own heart descended,
Just a scripture saith;
He is the star of morning.   

People try to make this stuff hard.

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