Do join us on 21st March when our programme includes two works that J S Bach set for double choir – and where he raised the level of technical control and intensity of spiritual involvement to new heights. Our Music Director, Peter Broadbent, describes the pieces:
Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (1727) – ‘Sing to the Lord a new song’ – has an astonishing opening movement, very much like an orchestral concerto in its ritornello structure, where the main theme appears in a number of different keys interspersed with modulating episodes. The text for this comes from Psalm 149. The similarity to a concerto is seen again in the second movement, a more peaceful central section where the second choir sings a verse of the chorale Nun lob, mein Seel and portrays a confident belief in God’s power and comfort. Each phrase of the chorale is answered by the first choir singing what is described as an Aria. The final movement, a setting of words from Psalm 150, begins with an energetic and antiphonal section in 4 time before uniting the two choirs in a 3/8 dance with echoes of the “pleni sunt coeli” of the B minor Mass. Mozart heard this motet in 1789 and became immediately excited, crying out at the end “Now this is something one can learn from!”
Komm, Jesu, komm (1731?) is an example of the balancing of homophony and polyphony that was characteristic of the chorale motets of the late Baroque period. The first sections of this motet are for double chorus. The text in the opening section is typified by a yearning for Christ because of the bitterness of life, and is set in a simple, homophonic style in triple time with much antiphonal contrast. This is followed by a short contrapuntal section in four time before an extended section in 6/8 time affirming Christ as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” which alternates between homophonic style and exuberant polyphony. In the final section the reassurance of the Lutheran faith is mirrored in the choice of a simple four-part harmonization of the chorale tune which ends this motet.
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