Johann Sebastian Bach (German, 1685-1750): Cantata BWV 80, “Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott”, mvt. 5 (and 8)
After Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony yesterday, the obvious choice today is Bach’s cantata based on exactly the same hymn. (“Ein Feste Burg...” is the original German name.) A “cantata” is a multi-movement work with a (usually) religious text, for chorus, soloists, and orchestra. In certain periods of Bach’s life he wrote and performed a cantata every week, which is an amazing feat, considering that the music had to be hand-copied and the ensemble had to rehearse! Three movements of this cantata (1, 2, and 5) contain the hymn melody in various degrees of disguise; the final movement is simply the chorale in its pure form. In the 5th movement all four voices sing the tune together while the orchestra decorates around it. I suggest starting by listening to the last movement to get the tune in your head again, and then returning to the 5th. Even though Bach and Mendelssohn use the same original material, these two pieces could hardly sound more different!
14:28-18:22 (mvt. 5)
Hymn at 23:55-25:08