Iain Ledingham directorMargaret Faultless leaderJS Bach Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir, BWV 130 JS Bach Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!, BWV 132JS Bach Christen ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63
Performed on modern instruments.
Tickets £15 (concessions £12), season discounts available. Book from Tuesday 4th October 2016: By telephone 020 7873 7300, in person (Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm) and online
The final concert of the season focuses on celebratory works for Christmas and Michaelmas. Christen ätzet diesen Tag (‘Christians, engrave this day’), probably written for Weimar in 1715, has all the accoutrements of festive music but without any of the more picturesque elements associated with the Christmas story. Its opening chorus speaks of carving the date in marble, and indeed there is a certain monumentality about the score, with no fewer than four trumpet parts and a very rich contrapuntal fabric throughout.
Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir (‘Lord God, we all praise Thee’) commemorates the apocalyptic battle between the heavenly host and Satan’s rebels, and celebrates the angels’ guardianship of Christian souls. Its most striking movements are the battle-style opening chorus, setting a well-known hymn, and a remarkable bass aria about the devil, accompanied by three trumpets and kettle drums. Between these two cantatas comes a gentler Weimar work for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn! (‘Prepare the ways, prepare the path!’), which looks forward to the birth of Christ with dancing expectation and — in an unforgettable soprano aria — prayerful contemplation.