I haven’t posted one of these for some time, but I thought it was time to start sharing some new favorites. Here’s a piece by Bach, a sinfonia from one of his cantatas, that is, an instrumental section from what’s otherwise vocal music. This one is called Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats (On the evening, however, of the same Sabbath), and was written to be performed on the first Sunday after Easter.
The orchestration is exceedingly simple: a small group of strings, a tiny double-reed section (two oboes and a bassoon) and the usual basso continuo (harpsichord plus string bass, cello, or violone). The strings begin with a simple theme, the woodwinds join in with a contrasting one, the two play in counterpoint, and it’s on. Like many of Bach’s best works, it gives the feeling of inevitability, having been discovered rather than written.
Here’s a particularly good rendition from the Academy of Ancient Music:
Photo by TheTimeTraveler!