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Bach Cantatas for the iPad

Bach Cantatas for the iPad

Over the past ten years I’ve developed a firm love of Bach’s sacred cantatas, choral works that come as close to prayer for me as I can imagine. I bought Bach cantatas. I listened. I researched. I learned. I alienated family and coworkers.

At one point, looking over my shelves, I realized that I was . . . collecting. Then I reached another point.

So, I’m there in the store looking at a CD of Bach’s Cantatas for Alto conducted by Herreweghe, with counter-tenor Andreas Scholl. This features the cantata Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust (BWV 170) – one of my absolute favorites. I’ve got at least three versions of it – Alfred Deller’s is my favorite – but there I stood in the store wondering, “Do I own this?”

At one point, I had a 3×5 card with cantata numbers written in very small pencil – that disappeared when I replaced the wallet. So many cantatas! So little memory! Surely there must be an app to help with this!

Created by Alco Bloom, the Bach Cantatas app “is a handy database of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas and the many versions of them which have been recorded.” The app lists every Bach cantata known (BWV 1 to BWV 215) and every conductor who has recorded said cantatas. The app links to the Wikipedia entry about the cantata (yes, there is a Wikipedia entry for each cantata), so that you can read about the cantatas you own. The app also links to iTunes, so you can buy the cantatas you don’t own.

How to describe the joy this brings me? I understand that, basically, this is an app that helps me keep track of stuff, and helps me buy more stuff. But . . . if you’ve ever spent a happy Saturday reorganizing book shelves; or been thrilled to order an obscure, university press discography from Amazon; or stood in an antique store wondering if the thing you see before you could possibly be that thing . . .

Also, hey, those Bach cantatas. They’re worth a listen. They just might hold up.

Gary Parker ChapinGod and the Machine