Heaven’s Sweetness

Bach’s Festival Cantatas from Leipzig

To perform a selection of Bach’s Cantatas EUBO will be joined by eight young singers from Barock Vokal project of the Mainz University (DE). Baroque oboe virtuoso Alfredo Bernardini, himself a member of EUBO in the year of its foundation 1985, will direct today’s EUBO musicians, and their counterparts from the singing world. The residency and rehearsal facilities of this tour are provided by the EMBA project partner Villa Musica Rheinland-Pfalz.

Alfredo Bernardini, director & oboe
Aira Maria Lehtipuu, concertmaster
European Union Baroque Orchestra
Barock Vokal (University of Mainz)

Concert programme

JS BACH (1685-1750)

Orchestral Suite No 4 in D, BWV 1069a (original version)

Cantata ‘Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen’ BWV 123 (for the Feast of Epiphany)


Cantata ‘Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt’ BWV 151 (for the 3rd Day of Christmas)

Cantata ‘Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut’ BWV 117

Performances in December 2016 and in January 2017. Find out more about the dates and concert venues in EUBO’s Calendar.

It is “heaven’s sweetness”, “die Himmelssüßigkeit”, which pervades Bach’s lesser known seasonal cantatas. When thinking of Bach’s Christmas music, listeners all over the world would normally imagine trumpets and timpani, ‘Jauchzet, frohlocket’ and the rest of his brilliant Christmas Oratorio. In his early Leipzig years, however, Bach wrote seasonal cantatas of a very different kind. For Epiphany 1725, he composed his wonderful celebration of the newborn Christ as Emmanuel: ‘Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen’, BWV 123. The whole cantata is a revelation of Bach’s mystical love for Jesus, tinged by the soft colours of his favourite key b minor, of the transverse flutes and the oboes d’amore. Almost 12 months later, he composed what might be described as his most beautiful pastorale ever: the Cantata BWV 151 ‘Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt’. Written for the third day of Christmas, it captures the real flavour of the season, the sounds of shepherds and an airy flute solo. In 1731 Bach wrote his Chorale Cantata BWV 117, ‘Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut’, a perfect example of his later, galant style and appropriate for any festive occasion in the church year, including Christmas. Eight young singers from the Barock Vokal project of Mainz University will join EUBO in the performance of these three rare cantatas, which make perfect sense also as a programme for late January, at the very end of the Christmas season. Just like in Bach’s own performance practice, the singers will act as soloists and ripienists as well. As a festive overture, the EUBO will perform the D major Overture BWV 1069 in what is thought to be the original version for three oboes, bassoon and strings without trumpets and timpani. By performing these masterpieces, Alfredo Bernardini and his consort of young singers and instrumentalists will embark on a tour through some the most refined orchestral colours that Bach ever penned, combined with vocal lines of captivating beauty. “Heaven’s sweetness” in concert!

Karl Böhmer