Showing posts with label Bach Cantata BWV 8. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bach Cantata BWV 8. Show all posts

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Bach could do with two oboes

I've just found part of my favourite Bach cantata on Youtube conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, who seems to know exactly what to do with it. I first heard Cantata BWV 8, 'Liebster Gott, wann werd'ich sterben', when I was a student, ploughing through the complete catalogue on LPs in the university music library, and it was love at first toot. There's never been anyone else in the history of music, to the best of my knowledge, who could write for two oboes - oboe d'amores, here - as Bach could.

Finding a recording that really worked, though, wasn't easy: the only ones I ran to earth in the mid-80s were Harnoncourt, which featured some wince-worthy choirboys, and Karl Richter, whom I usually adored, but even I couldn't quite deal with the sluggishness of those tempi. I've clocked one or two others since which seemed relentlessly chirpy and schoolmarmish, hence not exactly reflecting the words...

Gardiner, though, captures the reflective, ineffable quality of this music and its text, wearing his learning lightly, packaging up a heart of compassionate tenderness within a streamlined 18th-century casing.

This cantata apparently was a great favourite of Brahms's too - and if you listen, I think you can hear why. Hope you love it as much as he did. Take it away, oboes...