Notebook

Fear Not

When we hear the name Bach we spontaneously think of Johann Sebastian, one of our civilisation’s most luminous geniuses, a man who has reasonably been called the fifth evangelist. He was not, though, a solitary comet blazing across an otherwise dark sky. He came from a long line of musicians. His star shines within a constellation. The music of other Bachs increasingly draws the attention of scholars, performers, and listeners. This recording of the motet Fürchte Dich nicht by Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703) is exquisite. Its word patterns and subtle polyphonies indicate a link connecting the music of the better known Bach, the composer’s cousin, with that of Schütz. What is more, the way in which Christ’s promise to the Good Thief (‘Today you will be with me in paradise’) is woven into a prophecy from Isaiah (‘Fear not: for I have redeemed you’) reveals a refined theological sensibility.