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Bach Blute Nur: A Passionate Aria from the St. Matthew Passion

Bach Blute Nur: A Passionate Aria from the St. Matthew Passion

Bach Blute Nur is the seventh movement of the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, a sacred oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach that depicts the final days of Jesus Christ. The aria is sung by a soprano soloist and accompanied by a flute and strings. The text is taken from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 26, verses 36-46, where Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion.

The aria expresses the sorrow and anguish of Jesus as he asks his Father to let this cup pass from him, but also his obedience and submission to his Father’s will. The soprano voice represents the soul of Jesus, while the flute symbolizes his tears and blood. The strings create a solemn and mournful atmosphere with their chromatic harmonies and suspensions.

The aria is written in E minor and has a da capo form, meaning that after the B section, the A section is repeated with some variations. The melody is mostly stepwise and conjunct, but has some leaps and ornaments that add expression and intensity. The rhythm is mostly simple and regular, but has some syncopations and dotted notes that create tension and contrast.

Bach Blute Nur is one of the most beautiful and moving arias in the St. Matthew Passion, and showcases Bach’s mastery of vocal writing and musical drama. It is a testament to his faith and devotion, as well as his musical genius.

The St. Matthew Passion is not only a musical masterpiece, but also a theological and liturgical one. It combines the biblical narrative of Jesus’ passion with poetic reflections, hymns, and prayers that invite the listener to participate in the drama of Christ’s suffering and death. The work is structured in two parts, each corresponding to a part of the Lutheran service for Good Friday. The first part covers the events from the Last Supper to Jesus’ arrest and trial before the high priest Caiaphas, while the second part covers his trial before Pilate, his crucifixion, death, and burial.

The work is scored for two choirs and two orchestras that sometimes perform together and sometimes separately, creating a rich and varied musical texture. The main characters of the story are sung by soloists: the Evangelist (tenor) narrates the events, Jesus (bass) speaks his words, and other soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) sing the roles of Peter, Judas, Pilate, and others. The choirs have multiple functions: they sing the words of the crowd (turba) that reacts to the events, they sing chorales (hymns) that comment on the meaning of the passion, and they sing choruses that express the emotions and thoughts of the faithful believers.

The work is full of musical symbolism and contrast that enhance the dramatic and theological impact of the story. For example, Bach uses different keys and modes to represent different characters and moods: E minor for Jesus, A minor for Judas, D minor for Pilate, etc. He also uses different instruments to create different effects: flutes for sorrow, oboes for lamentation, trumpets for majesty, etc. He also contrasts different musical styles and forms: recitative for narration, aria for reflection, chorale for devotion, chorus for expression, etc.

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