Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu
In the late eighteenth century, 'the great Bach' was usually a reference not to Johann Sebastian, but to his son Carl Philipp Emanuel. Even Mozart conducted CPE’s oratorio Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu!
Resurrection and ascension
In the series of forgotten passion oratorios that the Dutch Bach Society unearths in the NTR Saturday Matinee, Bach's second son, Carl Philipp Emanuel, is up with Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu. It is not a passion oratorio because, as the title indicates, it is not the suffering and death but the resurrection and ascension of Christ that are sung about.
The feeling is central
C.Ph.E. Bach seems to strike exactly the chord of the times with this work, explicitly intended for the concert hall and not for the liturgy. The libretto contains little action: it mainly describes feelings; ideal for this great 'Empfindsamkeit' time. The oratorio was a great success from the first performances in Hamburg and was published quickly. In 1788, Mozart conducted three performances in Vienna. C.Ph.E., who could not be present himself, received enthusiastic responses from the predominantly noble audience at one performance in the guise of an effigy that was circulated in the hall. Applause everywhere!
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