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Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach Composer

Cantata No.60: O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort (24th Sunday after Trinity), BWV60   

Performances: 7
Tracks: 23
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Musicology:
  • Cantata No.60: O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort (24th Sunday after Trinity), BWV60
    Year: 1723
    Genre: Cantata
    Pr. Instruments: Voice & Chorus/Choir
    • 1.Aria (Tenor, Alto): O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort
    • 2.Recitative (Alto, Tenor): O schwerer Gang
    • 3.Aria (Alto, Tenor): Mein letztes Lager will mich schrecken
    • 4.Recitative and Arioso (Alto, Bass): Der Tod bleibt doch der menschlichen Natur verhaßt
    • 5.Chorale: Es ist genung; Herr, wenn es dir gefällt
Composed for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity, which fell on November 7, 1723, Bach's Cantata No. 60 "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort" (O Eternity, you thunderous word) (BWV 60) sets an anonymous text in the central movements flanked by a chorale by Johann Rist from 1642 and a chorale by Joachim Burmeister from 1662. Like "Selig ist der Mann" (BWV 57), "Ach Gott, wie manches Herzelied" (BWV 58), and only a handful of other cantatas, "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort," essentially, is a duet cantata in which the alto and tenor soloists take the parts of Fear (alto) and Hope (tenor). However, "O Ewigkeit" adds a bass soloist in the fourth movement as the Voice of the Holy Ghost. The cantata is thus scored for alto, tenor, and bass soloists with a mixed chorus for the final chorale and an orchestra consisting of natural horn, a pair of oboe d'amore, strings, and basso continuo. "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort" starts in D major for its first movement, turns to B minor modulating to G major for its second movement, reverts to B minor for its central third movement, alternates an agonizingly chromatic E minor with a serene D major for its fourth movement, and ends with bright but intensely chromatic A major for its fifth movement. The first movement of the cantata is a brilliant concerto for concertante oboes against agitated ripeno strings, while the alto soloist doubled by the natural horn intones Rist's chorale that is later joined by a more-animated tenor soloist. The second movement is highly a chromatic recitative for alto and tenor over an anguished organ continuo. The third movement is a duet aria for alto and tenor soloists with obbligato oboe d'amore and concertante violin. The fourth movement alternates between an agonized recitative for alto soloist and an arioso for bass soloist over an organ continuo. The fifth movement is a chromatic setting of Burmeister's chorale for chorus and full orchestra. Alban Berg incorporated Bach's setting of Burmeister's chorale as the closing section of his violin concerto 212 years later.

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