BACH CANTATA PILGRIMAGE | 60 MIN | BBC Wales 2001
Bach Cantata Pilgrimage
John Eliot Gardiner on tour with the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists; documentary
about Gardiners year long project of performing all of Bach´s known church cantatas on the apropriate Sundays - in celebration of the 250th death day of Johann Sebastian Bach.
"Where there is devotional music, God with his grace is always present." (Bach´s entry in his bible) "By a strange quirk of history , the 250th anniversary of Bach´s death falls in the year 2000, at a pivotal moment in human history - a time for looking back and forward. Doubtless there will be a plethora of Bach celebrations all over the world in 2000 in the best concert halls and in all the major cities, featuring the most famous of his works - the Brandenburg concertos, the B minor mass and the Passions. But for me the heart of Bach lies in the weekly cantatas he wrote in the service of the church. Several of these he wrote early in his career; but from the time that he moved to Leipzig in 1723 aged 38, he threw all his energies into the task of composing a complete set of cantatas for every Sunday and feast-day in the church year -about sixty in all. He kept this up for five years, and although we have lost about a third of the total, the remaining two hundred are among the great glories of European music. Yet only a handful are known or played today... Following from the initial plan to perform and record all the surviving church cantatas on the apropriate Sunday or Feast-Day for which they were intended, came the idea to construct a journey that Bach himself might or could have made. It would begin in Saxony where he spent all his working life and encompass all those places and churches where we know that he sang, played and performed, but then fan north and west to Holland, Britain and France, to the Scandinavian countries, and thence eastward to Latvia and Estonia, re-tracing the old trade-routes of the merchant ventures and the Hanseatic League. This journey could almost be construed as a musical odyssey if, in addition, it embraced some of the most ancient places of worship and pilgrimage,like the abbey of Iona, off the western coast of Scotland, or Santiago de Compostela. From this came the idea to perform only in churches, abbeys, priories and cathedrals of exceptional architectural beauty, often venues off the beaten track, taking the music to communities showing a particular thirst or enthusiasm for Bach´s music and for our project and with whom we could connect." (John Eliot Gardiner)
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