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HIPster Wars - News from the Bach Front - Communiqué 15,
This review is from: Bach J.S: Cantatas Vol 26 (Audio CD)
It is always the exception that interests the Devil and nor does his enmity ever sleep. Using his hateful powers, he sped in time to the presbytery of Father Melchizedek - the High Priest of HIP - seized his copy of Jeggy performing Bach's cantatas (Volume 26) and then travelled to Spain. The year was 1615 or thereabouts.
The sage Cide Hamete Benengeli relates that it was past midnight and our friends were exhausted: Don Quixote was weary from his labours and prayers (how was he to rid Lady Dulcinea of Toboso of her enchantments?) whereas Sancho, having vanquished many a sausage, was sound asleep. Rocinante and Dapple were standing nearby. There was no moon. All of a sudden, the Devil played the third movement of `Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten', BWV 74, as loudly as he could where Derek Lee Ragin screeches out the glory of God in a high whinny.
At this, Sancho began to tremble as if he had taken quicksilver and the hair of Don Quixote's head stood on end. But the Knight regained his courage and whispered "This, Sancho, beyond a doubt must be a great and most perilous adventure and I shall need to display my valour and courage!"
He leapt to his feet and buckled his sword.
"Now come what may, I stand ready to do battle with Satan in person!"
Sancho dashed over and crouched under Dapple, setting the armour on one side of him and the ass' pack-saddle on the other side and trembling as much from fear as his Master from excitement. Encamped in this citadel, he commented,
"Master, it sounds as if they have captured a fellow Knight-Errant and they have him on the rack - and they are burning his private parts with red-hot irons like the Holy Brotherhood of Inquisitors!"
Don Quixote nodded his head.
"Yes, the Chronicles of Amadis of Gaul relate that once he fell into the hands of brigands and was tortured in such a fashion. We can only pray for this unfortunate Warrior of the Cross until we are able to sight his whereabouts and relieve him of his torments!"
With relish, the Devil then turned to the opening track of `Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt', BWV 68. This cacophony threw Don Quixote into some degree of alarm and struck fear into Sancho's heart.
"Carter, coachman or devil," the Knight shouted back into the darkness, "tell me instantly who you are and prepare to face my holy wrath!"
Truly there was cause for alarm. The clipped phrasing and anaemic strings were monstrous but no combat eventuated. Mischievously, the Devil turned to opening chorus of `Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Salten!', BWV 172. The din brought a smile to the face of the Knight.
"Sancho, Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we could have wished! There is an army of giants coming our way, accompanied by the pomp and circumstance of timpani and trumpets. I intend to do battle with them and take their lives. It will be a great service to God to wipe such a wicked brood from the face of the earth!"
Listening more closely, his servant begged to disagree:
"Master, it sounds less like an army of giants and more like a handful of troubadours singing as best as they can with hunger in their stomachs and no great talent. Those drums and trumpets sound tinny and they're not being played with any real zest!"
His master ignored this comment. "I am equal to a thousand. Let them come! For God has put it into my heart to embark on this unparalleled adventure! Behold their cohorts advancing towards us in full battle array!"
"How can you see, Sir? The night is so dark there is not a star to be seen in the sky!"
"It is clear that you are not experienced in battles and adventures," Don Quixote growled. "If you are afraid, go away and say your prayers while I advance and engage them in fierce and unequal combat!"
Before this assurance was converted into mighty deeds, the Devil turned to the finale of the aforementioned cantata and threw their plans into confusion.
"Does it not sound," Don Quixote muttered, "like they praising some strange deity - perhaps the Devil himself - in a barbarous tongue? But why are they undertaking this unholy rite so limply? Surely their Master, evil though he be, deserves a tithe of enthusiasm! Or perhaps this is a madrigal!"
The Sinfonia of `Ich liebe den Hochsten von ganzem Gemute', BWV 174, followed in quick succession. While Don Quixote was lost for words, his servant was quick to speak up.
"Master, someone is attempting to fool us in the darkness. Those fiddlers sound like the sextet from our village - except they are even less schooled than usual. And they are being accompanied by a cuckoo bird if my ears do not deceive me. There is less devilry here than what you think!"
At this, Satan grew tired of his machinations and returned back to the casements of Hell. Soon, all the pair could hear was a nearby owl.
"Good Sancho, Wise Sancho, Christian Sancho," Don Quixote counselled, "let us leave these miserable phantoms and return to our quest for better and more heroic adventures! We shall discuss this escapade at greater length in the morning. Let us retire to sleep in hope for a better day!"