Of Good and Evil – J.S. Bach, Cantata 149, at Michaelmas

Raphael: St. Michael and the Dragon (1503-05). Louvre.

Raphael: St. Michael and the Dragon (1503-05). Louvre.

The opening chorus, whose text is appropriated from Psalms 118:15-16, and not from the gospel of the day, celebrates the victorious right hand of God.

The bass aria that follows is with continuo only, which is predominantly the bassoon, whose part is not only largely independent but also vigorous, in keeping with the honourable military and spiritual success that Michael and his angels have bestowed upon the righteous. The continuo music is quick and fluid, and sometimes acrobatic, and the solo bassoon is sometimes doubled by a violone, which, frankly, sounds better.

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