GATES OF HELL TORN DOWN / About the concert

We have only fragmentary information about motets by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). Most were apparently performed at funeral services and six have been preserved, though he probably wrote more than that. At the time of Bach’s Leipzig engagement, this musical form was already considered somewhat outdated. But it was precisely his motets – unlike his other vocal works – that remained on repertoire in Leipzig until the nineteenth century, when the composer’s other works were rediscovered.

Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden was first published in 1821. The time and occasion of the composition are unknown, and some scholars have even questioned Bach’s authorship (though it continues to be ascribed to him). The motet sets to music the first two verses of the celebratory Psalm 117 and its vocal lines are unusually virtuosic, coming closer to the character of instrumental music.

Bach’s Easter Oratorio is a reworking of a secular piece – his February 1725 congratulatory cantata – and was first heard in Leipzig on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1725, as a cantata. Bach revised the work several times and it was only a version dating from the 1730s that he described as an oratorio. Written in the eighteenth-century Italian oratorio style, it does not contain chorale melodies and lacks the figure of the Evangelist. The words are original verse (penned probably by Picander), not passages from the Bible. Musically, the influence of dance forms is noticeable. After introductory instrumental sections – which probably derive from the composer’s earlier concertos – there are arias interspersed with recitatives, and each of the four figures from the gospels is represented by one solo voice. The piece concludes with a celebratory chorus.

Markéta Vlková, translated by Štěpán Kaňa

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GATES OF HELL TORN DOWN

J. S. Bach: Lobet den Herrn,
motet for mixed chorus and basso continuo

J. S. Bach: Easter Oratorio
for soloists, mixed chorus and orchestra

 

soloists Pavla Radostová, Monika Jagerová, Jakub Kubín, Jiří M. Procházka 

Czech Ensemble Baroque / Roman Válek

 

Besední house

April 28, 7.30PM

© Filharmonie Brno | all rights reserved

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