Bach composed the six cantatas of his Christmas Oratorio to be performed on six separate feast days, starting with the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, the final instalment on Epiphany on 6th January—which is today! We can relish the whole cycle in John Eliot Gardiner’s performance at Weimar at the start of the Bach cantata pilgrimage.
In Part Six, The Adoration of the Magi, I’ve been thinking of the exquisite aria Nur ein Wink von seinen Händen. Here’s an earlier performance from 1987, with Nancy Argenta:
For the musician, the inner parts are captivating to play.
And then the whole final sequence is astounding, with the tenor aria accompanied by oboes d’amore, with the following recitative by the vocal quartet, leading to the final chorale with vertiginous trumpet!!!
For more Epiphany cantatas, click here; and for the bluegrass fiddling at the opening of the Journey of the Magi, here. See also A Bach retrospective.
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