Cantata BWV 105Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht
Discussions - Part 1
From J.S. Bach Home Page
B. Thompson wrote (May 12, 1997):
[M-2] (Nelson) This is a sparkling performance with a warm presence and many nuances of delightful sound. The intertwining of voice and violin is a sound not to be missed.
Bob Halliday wrote (January 13, 1998):
 (Herreweghe) Cantata BWV 105 has been a personal favourite for a long time, and this is the best recording of it that I've heard. The Collegium Vocale is both nimble and expressive in the opening chorus - one of those pieces that haunt you and that you keep playing for friends. The fugato that concludes it is a knockout and it's wonderfully sung here. All of the soloists are very good, and recorded sound is fine.
Alan M. Kriegsman wrote (August 9, 1999):
 (Rilling) Sometimes one comes across what one feels is truly a "definitive" interpretation; such is the case, for me, with the Arleen Augér performance, under Rilling, of the extraordinary aria "Wie zittern und wanken," No.3 in BWV 105, the cantata "Herr, Gehe nicht ins Gericht".
Gordon Martin wrote (June 18, 2000):
 (Suzuki) This is a wonderful CD of some of Bach's greatest music from the cantatas. BWV 105, in particular, is a ravishingly beautiful performance of the utmost sensitivity. The high spot is the soprano aria `Wie zittern und wanken' where Bach finds the most graphic musical ideas to depict the `trembling and wavering' that is the norm for most people as they struggle with their faith. And yet it is the most beautiful music one could wish to hear. The pure soprano, plangent oboe and trembling strings combine to create aural magic. But the whole cantata is on this level of supreme musical achievement. Again the Japanese forces and mainly European soloists have provided us with another definitive performance it would seem.
Bach Cantata Top Ten
Darryl Clemmons wrote (January 29, 1999):
It is an American tradition to determine college sport champions by a poll or vote. Therefore, I recommend we select a Bach Cantata Top Ten by popular election. In order to be democratic, I suggest anyone can enter. It would be nice if a brief word about why for each selection was included. After an appropriate time, I will talley the results using a weight scheme similar to those used in American sports polls.
My votes: (snip)
9. BWV 105 - I am running out of superlatives! Anyway this is a very fine work. Every movement is outstanding. The final tenor aria is a particularly impressive piece and "puts in into" my list. (Snip)
I am certain everyone is probably thinking: What about cantata BWV 78 or BWV 51 or BWV 4 or (insert your favourite here)... Well, this is what polls are all about. I don't think this list is anything more than my opinion. As with sports these things change every week. Next week my list might look different. However for the sake of this poll, I will let these stand.
Your input is welcome!
Ray Bayles (John Brown) wrote (February 1, 1999):
My Top ten Bach Cantata's: (snip)
Next 16 and how can you leave them out? (Snip)
16 BWV 105 (snip)
And more and more to make it really complete.
What if Bach wrote a Requiem mass?
Lightmanaj wrote (December 3, 1999):
<< I bet it would have been one really powerful work!
What pieces would you consider "close to being" a requiem mass? I personally would say Cantatas BWV 4 and BWV 150, with some elements from BWV 21. >>
Charles K. Moss (Charley) wrote:
< To pose this question is to deny the very essence of Bach's somewhat fanatical Lutheran faith. >
No, I just denied that the Requiem mass was a Roman Catholic event. Thanks for clearing that up.
More candidates for what would have been Bach's "Requiem" had he been Catholic, just according to my "feelings": Motet BWV 229 "Komm, Jesu, Komm", Cantata BWV 131 "Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir", Cantata BWV 105 "Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht", Cantata BWV 138 "Warum betruebst du dich, mein Herz?"
The only problem with most of Bach's choral works when trying to compare them to a "Requiem" is that none of them are loud enough! Mozart and Verdi sure packed a punch in their Requiem masses! (although I like Bach's music much better.
Vol. 10 of Suzuki - BWV 105
Piotr Jaworski wrote (June 24, 1999):
 Finally, the Vol. 10 of Suzuki cantatas projects ended up in my CD player.
It might be especially interesting to Steven ("smguy") /Corno da tirarsi in the opening Chorus!/ - as previously announced it contains BWV 105 "Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht..." (coupled with BWV 179 and BWV 186). After several listenings I should be ready to provide you with further comments - but after one - it sounds as most (or rather all!) of the previous volumes - what means SUPERB. I had some reservations that Blaze had replaced Mera, but after this record (convincingly supported by last Hyperion releases) they disappeared - and what might me the most intriguing aspect her - Blaze will be heard in the forthcoming St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244)!
Suzuki - Vol.10
Ryan Michero wrote (August 11, 1999):
 I'm back with another Suzuki review, and this time it's a big one! I'm reviewing the recently released Vol.10 of the complete cantata series. I hope everyone will find it interesting.
I should mention a couple of things before the review. First, I have instituted a comparison section in which I compare Suzuki's recording of a particular cantata with others. This might be small at first, as I can't afford to buy every existing version of a cantata. However, I am collecting Koopman's set, I plan to get the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt set when it is re-released with the Bach 2000 collection, hopefully I will get Gardiner's set as it is released, and I already have a nice smattering of cantata recordings, so hopefully my comparisons will be useful.
Also, I have started identifying the sections of the performance that really impress me with the word "Wow." This may seem a little silly, but it's just something I would scribble in my notes when I came across a really great moment. Really it's probably these moments that make certain recordings stand out in our minds, setting them apart from good but uninspired performances.
Here is another excellent volume of early Leipzig cantatas from Suzuki and the BCJ. It contains fine performances of two fine cantatas, BWV 179 and BWV 186, and a wonderful performance of one of Bach’s vocal masterpieces, BWV 105. The performers maintain the extremely high standards they have set throughout the series, so, for the collector, this one is self-recommending. Cantata lovers will certainly not want to pass up BWV 105, which is in my opinion the best available. Even beginners could do worse than to start their cantata collection here (for God’s sake, do start somewhere, though!).
BWV 105 - “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht”
As Bach was particularly inspired in writing this cantata, Suzuki and the BCJ are particularly inspired in performing it. The textures of the opening chorus are very well caught, with anguished harmonies and suspensions making their full impact thanks to the expressive playing of the BCJ orchestra. Suzuki is particularly adept at shaping fugues, and here he doesn’t disappoint. The choral singing is fantastic, and the final cadence is chill-inducing (a WOW! moment). Robin Blaze expressively declaims the ensuing recitative. A gorgeous aria for trembling strings, a plaintive oboe, and soprano follows. It has to be of my favourite Bach arias--I find it hard to describe this music without gushing. Soprano Miah Persson makes her first appearance in this series with this aria, and one could hardly ask for a more lovely, emotionally truthful, and technically sound performance. Persson jumps to the top of my list of sopranos in this series, and I look forward to hearing more of her. Also of note is the gorgeous oboe playing of Masamitsu San’nomiya. Suzuki handles the next accompanied recitative wonderfully, bringing out the symbolism of the writing without resorting to mannered over-emphasis. Kooy is predictably touching here. The next aria is scored for tenor soloist, strings, and an instrument Bach simply called “corno.” There are problems playing this on the natural horn, and most conductors opt to use a cornetto instead. Suzuki and brass player Toshio Shimada, taking Bach at his word, have decided to use a horn with a slide, a “corno da tirarsi,” specially made for this recording. It really sounds wonderful, and, with such a persuasive performance, it seems to me the best solution. Makoto Sakurada, one of the more underrated singers in this series, makes a fine impression here. Suzuki sets a dancing tempo, and while it is certainly infectious and enjoyable, it tends to make the violin runs sound a bit rushed. Bach’s final chorale setting, with its agitated strings slowly drifting off to a peaceful sleep, is a masterstroke, brilliantly mirroring the emotional progression of the entire piece. And this performance of it is truly affecting, with the final violin line, pianissimo, slowly fading to silence. It’s the kind of moment that makes you want to stop the CD and let the music sink in. Wow, indeed.
Comparisons - Herreweghe, Harnoncourt, Koopman
 Herreweghe is a formidable competitor in BWV 105: he sensitively leads a great chorus, excellent soloists, and a fine period orchestra in a wonderful performance. I especially like the plangent oboes in the opening chorus, and it’s nice to hear Barbara Schlick’s distinctive voice in the lovely soprano aria as well. What disqualifies Herreweghe from a recommendation for me, though, is his choice to ignore Bach’s marking of “corno” in the tenor aria, instead assigning the line to a quiet solo oboe. The CD booklet makes no mention of this dubious substitution.
 Koopman’s version is good, but not especially distinguished in my opinion. The choral sound is great, but the orchestra sounds a bit too polished for my taste. I prefer other soloists as well. He opts to use a cornet in the tenor aria, and it sounds fine.
 I was surprised by how much I liked Harnoncourt’s 1980 recording, which made me want to hear more of the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt complete cantata cycle. The choral singing, with boy sopranos and altos, lacks polish, but the performance is otherwise fine and often reveals hidden expressive riches in Bach’s music. The sound of the Concentus Musicus Wien is rich with a spicing of astringency. I especially admired the fluent violin of Alice Harnoncourt and the touching, expressive oboe of Jurg Schäftlein. Boy soprano Wilhelm Wiedl sings his aria very nicely. Harnoncourt also uses a cornet for the tenor aria. His performance is a fine alternative to Suzuki’s.
Suzuki Vol. 10/Cantata 105
Ehud Shiloni wrote (August 12, 1999):
 (To Ryan Michero) Thanks for such an inspirational post - makes the anticipation for this CD so much sweeter…
 About the "comparison" section, I wonder if you are in a position to throw-in Rilling version as well. I don't have the Rilling CD, but I saw the following "superlative" in a recent post to the Bach Page:
Sometimes one comes across what one feels is truly a "definitive" interpretation; such is the case, for me, with the Arleen Augér performance, under Rilling, of the extraordinary aria "Wie zittern und wanken," no. 3 in BWV 105, the cantata "Herr, Gehe nicht ins Gericht"
Alan M. Kriegsman
In any case, I agree with your definition of BWV 105 as a masterpiece.
Ryan Michero wrote (August 12, 1999):
Ehud Shiloni wrote:
< Thanks for such an inspirational post - makes the anticipation for this CD so much sweeter… I'm glad you liked it! I don't think my writing has
ever been called "inspirational." Perhaps it's just my enthusiasm for Bach... About the "comparison" section, I wonder if you are in a position to throw-in Rilling version  as well. >
I am not now, but I will think about it. Of course, the comparison section will be growing as I buy more recordings. Perhaps I will post my reviews on a Website and continually update it. I don't have plans as of yet to get the Rilling cantata set because I have not been too impressed with the recordings I have heard. It also makes sense to me to limit my comparisons to HIP performances, so as not to end up writing a Penguin Guide-sized tome and also simply because I enjoy listening to them more than modern-instrument versions.
However, I am still thinking about it. I am certainly not opposed to modern-instruments, and I'm sure many of Rilling's cantata performances  are excellent.
Perhaps someone can recommend a single-disc Rilling volume to convert me to his cause? Maybe I should try the volume with BWV 105, a work I have become very familiar with as of late...
Suzuki's Bach Continues
Donald Satz wrote (November 9, 1999):
 It took far too long for me to acquire Vol.10 of the Suzuki/Bach cantata series on BIS, but the wait was well worth it. The three cantatas on the disc, BWV 105, BWV 179, and BWV 186, were composed By Bach in his first year at Leipzig. BWV 105 is one of my favourite cantatas - two outstanding arias framed by beautiful choral pieces. BWV 186 is one of Bach's better works, although BWV 179 is a little less stirring.
I think that Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan really hit their stride with this volume. The orchestral contributions are sterling with great pacing and dramatic unfolding. Recorded sound is close to perfect.
My only reservation, one that seems to be consistent in this series, concerns the vocal soloists: Miah Persson (soprano), Robin Blaze (alto), Makoto Sakurada (tenor), and Peter Kooy (bass). Each one is acceptable with Kooy substantially better than the others who just did not display vocal beauty in abundance. They did not detract from the performances however.
Overall, those who have been collecting the Suzuki volumes will be very pleased with Vol.10 - I was. I don't think that anyone has directed these cantatas better than Suzuki. An upgrading of the vocal soloists would easily place this disc in the must-buy category. As it is, Vol.10 is very worthy of purchase.
Patrik Enander wrote (April 11, 2000):
 Before going to bed I thought I should finish with listening to a Bach cantata I just picked Vol.10 in Suzuki's series. I haven't listened that much to it. I listened to BWV 105 Herr, Gehe nicht in Gericht. I was bowled over and so inspired that I had to tell my Bach-loving friends all over the world. It is a lovely performance. The choir sings beautifully, the orchestra sounds light and transparent. Robin Blaze is superb in his small recitative, I came to regret the somewhat derogatory things I said about him when I compared BWV 21. The soprano Miah Persson, a fellow Swede!, sings beautifully, but the best part is Peter Kooy (I refuse to call him Kooij) in the bass recitative. It is delicate, low-keyed and so very beautiful. The only letdown is the cheerful tenor aria. I cannot say I enjoyed the melody that much, it is too jumpy in Suzuki's interpretation and Sakurada is not up to his usual high standards.
In this cantata Suzuki is to be preferred to Herrewe with the exception of the tenor aria, on Herreweghe sung by Howard Crook. His singing is better and it is played somewhat slower and is much more expressive. So listen and enjoy!
Ryan Michero wrote (April 11, 2000):
 (To Patrick Enander) I agree that this is a wonderful performance, the highlight of a great CD--one of Suzuki's best. I wrote a review of the volume when it was first released and this is what I said about BWV 105 (see above).
So, I agree with you on almost every point. I recall upon reading your post that I liked Herreweghe's  tempo for the tenor aria a bit better than Suzuki's, but I think Suzuki's use of the "corno da tirarsi" is a better choice than Herreweghe's oboe. I have no preference between Crook and Sakurada--both are great in my opinion. So, like you, I conclude that Suzuki is tops for this particular cantata.
What a cantata, too! The soprano aria gets me every time.
Discussions in the Week of August 20, 2000 (1st round)
Aryeh Oron wrote (August 20, 2000):
This is the week of cantata BWV 105 according to Ryan Michero's suggestion. This musical drama is one of the greatest cantatas, and the main reason for this is the libretto, which is one of the best Bach set music to. The level of inspiration is high along the whole cantata from beginning to end. There are cantatas, like BWV 136, which was discussed in this group last week, where you have to dig very deep and listen many times, before you find something to get hold of and use it as a basis for further investigation. With BWV 105 it is much simpler. This cantata grabs you from the first hearing and with every repeated listening and every additional recording you find more and more ways and reasons for deeper understanding end everlasting enjoyment. All the notes below, regarding my view of each recording, were written while I was listening to every recording of it in its entirety. I could not and have not dared break the listening in order to compare individual movements. The nature and the structure of this cantata simply do not allow you doing it.
I found that the high qualities of BWV 105 are actually common to all the cantatas that start with 10N, from 101 to 110. Almost all of them have glorious opening chorus, wonderful concluding chorale and memorable arias and recitatives between them, unity of intention and various moods, good text and colourful instrumentation, 6-7 movements, etc. In short, all of them belong to the highest level of the whole oeuvre of the cantatas. The only exceptional cantata in this group regarding its structure, but not its other qualities, is BWV 106. And I wonder if was there any reason to the groupings of the cantatas in the BWV listing. Has the editor found any common denominator between them? Of this mini-series we have discussed so far only BWV 106 & BWV 110. I can hardly wait for the discussion of BWV 109, which is one of my favourite cantatas. This cantata is planned to be discussed only three months from now, on the week of November 12, 2000.
See: Cantata BWV 105 – Complete Recordings (1) to (6).
 Karl Richter (1976-1977)
 Helmuth Rilling (1978)
 Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1980)
 Philippe Herreweghe (1989-1991)
 Ton Koopman (1997)
 Masaaki Suzuki (1999)
Review of the complete Recordings
As a reference I shall use again Alec Robertson's book - 'The Church Cantatas of J.S. Bach'. Although I like the cantata as a whole, I shall compare here only three movements of it, due to limitations of time and space.
Mvt. 1: Chorus
'Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht'
('Enter not into judgement with Thy servant')
SATB. Corno and Oboe 1 with Violin 1, Oboe 2 with Violin 2, Viola, Continuo
"The text is from Psalm 97: 2. The lamenting theme, on horn and oboe, the throbbing continuo [part (quavers, in groups of two) bring before us the anguished penitent who pours out his guilty soul in the first section of the chorus. The succeeding words, 'For before Thee becomes no living person righteous', are set to the fugue in quick time."
Richter  is glorious, slow but dignified, and convincing in his chosen way. This is a larger than life performance, both in the impressive singing of the choir and the strong playing of the instruments. Big as it is, it is not heavy, but sweeping you along with it. Rilling  starts with sombre mood, the trembling is passed from the instruments to the voices. This rendering is less glorious than Richter is, but it penetrates your heart deeper. There is tenderness and pain in the playing of the instruments which is irresistible. Rilling alternates between solo voices and chorus voices in a very convincing way. This is one of the best chorus movements I recall hearing from Rilling. Harnoncourt rendering  of the opening movement is too fragmented to be convincing. The singing of the choir lacks emotion, although the timbre of the corno and the oboes is beautiful. The balance between the various components of this movement is also not good enough. Herreweghe  starts calmly and gently, with transparent voices and relaxed lines. It is painted with water colours rather than the strong oil colours of the Richter and Rilling recordings. I find that the dramatic dimension here is not strong enough, beautiful as it is. When I heard Koopman  immediately after Herreweghe, I thought for a second, 'Do I hear Herreweghe again?' The instrumental introduction is so similar in these two renderings. The voices enter and the difference is felt immediately. The singing of Koopman' choir has much more warmth, and it is a little bit more dramatic, although it does not reach the heights and the depths of Rilling's performance. In short, a performance that tempts you to listen to it again, but that does not shock you and sweep you with it. The opening notes of Suzuki's recording  sets the mood - this is going to be a dramatic performance. It is a direct and clear performance, which reveals every aspect of this movement. Nothing is hidden. In a way the extrovert drama comes partly on behalf of the more inner emotions. Rilling has shown in his recording that both aspects can be done together.
Mvt. 3: Aria
'Wie zittern und wanken der Sünder Gedanken indem sie sich unter einander verklagen, wiederum sich zu entschuldigen wagen'
('Hoe tremble and totter the sinner's thoughts while they accuse one another and again dare to excuse themselves')
Soprano. Oboe, Violin 1, 2, Viola
"There is no continuo part. Bach gives the lowest line to the violas in quavers and the middle part to the violins in semiquavers, the latter depicting the trembling of a guilty soul who tries to excuse herself: oboe and voice underline her distress. In the middle section the voice, at 'so is an anguished conscience torn its own torture', leaps up a seventh on ' anguished' and ends with a jagged phrase on the last words of the text before the da capo of the instrumental introduction."
Mathis (with Richter)  is more sensitive than her usual self. The emotional playing of the instruments sets the mood. In Mathis singing you can feel her fear, her distress, and her suffering. The praises of Augér (with Rilling)  have been sung by me (and by others) many times in previous writings to this group. But here she outdoes herself. Sucsensitivity combined with such beauty of tone is very rare. You can draw the words according to her singing, even without understanding a word in German. She ridicules the argument of hearing vibrato in Bach vocal works in the recording of singers from the past. Hearing her, I cannot understand how can this aria been performed without vibrato. But what is more important, when you hear Arleen singing this aria, you fear with her, you suffer with her, you weep with her. In short, you identify yourself with her. The instrumental introduction of this aria with Harnoncourt  has such ancient beauty, that I became very disappointed to hear the entry of the boy soprano. I like, neither his voice production, nor his inability to express the various feelings of this aria. The contradiction between the levels of singing and playing continues along the whole aria. Schlick (with Herreweghe)  has a very pleasant voice, long and beautiful lines, but again regarding the emotional weight of her singing she sounds superficial, especially in comparison to Augér and even Mathis. Lisa Larsson (with Koopman)  is no better than Schlick is. I like her voice, but her singing lacks any drama. She is too gentle and tender to convince. Miah Persson (with Suzuki)  is much better than her two previous rivals. She has similar timbre of voice, and her interpretation is going along the same lines. But she goes deeper, using tremendous sensitivity, covering most of the nuances, and helped by precise and beautiful accompaniment. The last three female singers avoided using almost any vibrato, and I think that their performances are losing a lot as a consequence.
Mvt. 5: Aria
'Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen so gilt der Mammon nichts bei mir'
(If I can only make a friend of Jesus, Mammon is worth nothing to me').
Tenor. Corno, Violin 1, 2, Viola, Continuo
"A happy aria with exuberant rushes of demi-semiquavers on the first violin, expressive of a purged conscience, mixed with contempt - wild phrases on the first violin - for all that Mammon represents."
Schreier (with Richter)  convinces you easily that he prefers the belief in Jesus to being rich and run after the money. The focus in this rendering is the strong faith rather than the great happiness in this revelation. As though he is saying to you: 'I know what my preferences are, do not try to tempt me with money'. Kraus singing (with Rilling)  is happier, although I feel a slight sadness underneath, which I cannot recall hearing in other recordings of this aria. It gives a strange ambiguity to the text of this aria. The upper voice (violin) is calling Equiluz (with Harnoncourt)  to run away from the Mammon and the low voice (bass continuo) is holding him from doing it. According to his singing, I am not sure if he has made up his mind, in which world he prefers to be. This rendering of this aria lacks clear direction. Maybe this indecisive situation is the exact picture that Harnoncourt wants to transfer to us. I am not sure, because this performance sounds too phlegmatic to me. Surprisingly, Crook (with Herreweghe)  supplies the dramatic factor, so missing from the performance of previous movements in Herreweghe's recording. The accompaniment continues the low profile playing, but Crook gives you a clear picture what his priorities are. He is happy to abandon the Mammon in favour of the comfort he gets from the belief in Jesus. Türk (with Koopman)  decided very clearly to what camp he belongs. He does not have any doubts in his mind, and he is ready to convince any sceptical soul, when he is preaching, 'Mammon is behind me, come on, join me'. He is helped by the sensitive an illustrative accompaniment. This is the best movement in Koopman's recording of this cantata. The similarity between Sakurada (with Suzuki)  and Türk (with Koopman) performances caused me to wonder - has Sakurada listened to Türk too much before he recorded his own rendering? Anyhow, I find Türk more convincing here than his follower.
Recordings of individual Movements
[M-2] John Nelson with Kathleen Battle & Itzhak Perlman (violin) (1989-1990; aria for tenor ! (mvt. 5) only)
This is a surprisingly pleasant performance from two soloists whose names are not identified with Bach's vocal music (although I appreciate very much Perlman's recordings of S&P for violin solo). It is very strange to hear the aria for tenor performed in transposition by soprano, and it is even stranger to hear the aria isolated from its surroundings.
[M-3] Kathy Geisler (computers) (1992; concluding chorale (Mvt. 6) only)
The strong music is getting even through this strange arrangement, but the sound is unpleasant. Not recommended.
[M-5] Nienke Oostenrijk (soprano) & Pauline Oostenrijk (oboe) (1998; aria for soprano (Mvt. 3) only)
I do not have this record.
I like every recording of this cantata. Every recording of it has its own merits and special virtues. This cantata is so captivating and I like it so much, that I would not like to note any personal preference. I could not find any (complete) recording of the cantata that I am ready to forgo (Yes, not even Harnoncourt, who is not at his best in this cantata). But for those who prefer their cantata recordings performed on HIP instruments, I have to say - try Rilling  in BWV 105. This is one of the best introductions to his world of Bach cantatas. Try it for yourself, because I believe that you will get a very deep emotional experience.
And as always, I would like to hear other opinions, regarding the above mentioned performances, or other recordings.
Marie Jensen wrote (August 20, 2000):
This cantata contains lots and lots of sound painting and wonderful melodies. There are the fear of Judgement Day and an intense pleading for mercy in the opening chorus, a trembling soprano aria about the sinners rambling thoughts and excuses, the death bells, the soil and dust of the grave and Eeeeewigkeit in the bass recitativo, a money counting tenor aria (inspiration probably Marktplatz Leipzig), and finally a chorale where the strings start in the trembling mentioned before, and go into slower and slower notes to end in peace.
Also in this cantata we find the plot often used: Going from deep depression and worrying into the meeting with Jesus - to end in the highest joy or in this case consolation.
I cannot write about it all. Everything fascinates me, so I will choose the "money counter" tenor aria. First time I listened to it I thought, what a fanfare for opening a new bank! A splendid golden trumpet and the string semiquavers endless money counting. But the text tells a different story, and listening more carefully music does too.
Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen,
So gilt der Mammon nichts bei mir.
Ich finde kein Vergnügen hier
Bei dieser eitlen Welt und irdschen Sachen
Now I hear the trumpet as the friendship with Jesus, triumphant, golden and relaxed. The strings seem to represent the stressed slavery of earning more and more and more money. You cannot serve both God and mammon at the same time. But the string semiquavers also underline the trumpet glory with glittering energy. Luke 16:9: And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. Especially in the b-piece about "irdschen Sachen" the violin money counting turns into a scroogy nightmare and everything fades, when the trumpet is gone.
I like both the Suzuki version  (Miah Persson, Robin Blaze, Saku, Peter Kooy) and the Koopman version  (Lisa Larsson, Elisabeth von Magnus, Gerd Türk, Klaus Mertens).
(Mvt. 1) In the opening chorus Koopman is best, more slow, more pleading. The BCJ's walk too elastic their way to court.
(Mvt. 2) In the alto recitativo Blaze is more dramatic, though I would fear to be seen by von Magnus' "Schneller Zeuge". The words sound like a crime revealed in a fatal split second.
(Mvt. 3) The soprano aria is moving and not very different in both versions
(Mvt. 4) Peter Kooy identifies himself very much with the recitativo about death and resurrection. It is sung slowly, the grave is so cold and dark and the contrast to the eternal life comes out so joyful and clear. Mertens is too fast here.
(Mvt. 5) The Sakurada-Suzuki money counting has an energy and joy that suits the aria. (Mvt. 6) On the other hand I like Koopman's final chorale best. The ABC sings with emotion and identification.
Aryeh Oron wrote (August 21, 2000):
[To Marie Jensen] I had gotten your review of this cantata, before I sent mine to the group, but I read it only afterwards. I am always fascinating by your writings about the Bach cantatas, because you approach them from very different view than mine. You see the text in Christian eyes, and this is a thing I, of course, cannot do. Therefore I am learning a lot from it. Please continue, because sometimes I have the feeling that I am left alone in the desert (where are you - Ehud, Ryan, Kirk, and all the others?).
Two minor things regarding your review:
Marie Jensen wrote:
< The alto aria is moving and not very different in both versions >
I believe that you mean - the soprano aria (Mvt. 3).
< The Türk-Suzuki money counting has an energy and joy that suits the aria. >
Türk is singing with Koopman, where Sakurada is the tenor singer of Suzuki in this cantata. Which is the recording you are talking about?
Kirk McElhearn wrote (August 21, 2000):
Aryeh Oron said:
< Please continue, because sometimes I have the feeling that I am left alone in the desert (where are you - Ehud, Ryan, Kirk, and all the others?). >
Sorry, I have too much work to be able to dedicate a lot of time to the list. I am reading everything, though. Almost.
Jane Newble wrote (August 21, 2000):
This week I had time to listen to one of my favourite cantatas. What to me stands out, as in so many, are Bach's Christianity, spirituality and artistry, inseparably interwoven. It was in particular listening to the last chorale, reading the score at the same time, that I felt quite overwhelmed with this aspect of Bach. It is easier to see it with the score there. The instruments start like in the soprano aria, with 4 beats to every crotchet, agitated, worried, fearful, the expression of a troubled conscience. After the first sentence the beats slow to three on a crotchet, then two, then one and a half, and finally, only one beat, until everything is still and quiet at the last bar. This is a masterly use of music to express the spiritual reality that only faith in Jesus Christ can soothe a stricken conscience.
The two recordings I have are Herreweghe  and Koopman , but I like them both. The choral singing in Koopman is wonderful, and more integrated than Herreweghe. That may have to do with the recording. Now I look forward to reading the other posts on this cantata!
Greg D'Agostino wrote (August 21, 2000):
For any list members who live in the Northeast U.S., Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Ghent will be performing at the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood on August 22:
Cantata BWV 105, Herr, gehe Nicht ins Gericht
Cantata BWV 11, Lobet Gott in seinem Reichen
BWV 243, Magnificat in D
Jane Newble wrote (August 21, 2000):
(To Greg D'Agostino) Just for once I could wish I lived in the Northeast U.S.! Hope you enjoy it. Especially BWV 105...
Andrew Oliver wrote (August 22, 2000):
The appeal of this cantata is both aural and mental. It has an instant attractiveness about it which, I suppose, could tempt the hearer to just sit and listen without bothering too much about the meaning behind it, but we would lose a lot if we were to do that.
I have two versions, the Suzuki  and the Harnoncourt , and Jane has lent me her Herreweghe . There are noticeable differences between these versions (as well as similarities).
For the opening chorus, the version I like least of these three is the Harnoncourt. As Aryeh said, it is fragmented, disjointed as well as the Adagio first section being too adagio. With both Harnoncourt and Herreweghe, the repeated quavers in the continuo are barely audible. In the Suzuki, they stand out well in contrast with the legato playing of the other instruments. This must surely be how it ought to sound, because this theme of repeated notes in one or another part of the accompaniment recurs throughout the cantata. I love the chromatic dissonances and suspensions in the opening bars. These suspensions foreshadow the descending syncopated theme that follows in the Allegro section. Has anyone else noticed that this theme is identical to that which Händel later used in his "Messiah" in the chorus "And He shall purify"? Just one more point about this chorus. Do my ears deceive me, or are some of the entries from Herreweghe's singers slightly late?
In the soprano aria, Harnoncourt seems to want to make up for his slow start by taking this one too fast, which is a pity, because I like the sound of his instruments, and his version is the one which brings out the dialogue between the oboe and the voice best. Unfortunately, his boy treble isn't really up to the task. I think I like Miah Persson's voice best (Suzuki), but Schlick (Herreweghe) has a lovely effortless way of painting two little moments - the drop of an octave and bounce back up of a minor 7th at 'entschuldigen' (bar 43) and the rise of a minor 9th at 'geängstigt Gewissen' (bar 80). The throbbing strings tremble their way right through with no continuo as a foundation.
The bass recitative is lovely in all three versions. The pizzicato quavers from the continuo are nearly all in groups of four - one note followed by the octave above, and then this pair repeated. If the initial note of each pair represents the tolling bell, does its partner an octave higher represent the echo? Or is it saying to us 'First on earth below, and then in heaven above'? Ruud van der Meer (Harnoncourt) is very good here, as, of course, is Peter Kooij first with Herreweghe (1992) and then with Suzuki (1999). His two performances are very similar, but I like especially the way he underlines and measures out the striking of the Sterbestunde with Suzuki, and I also think Suzuki controls the dynamics of this movement most sensitively. All three are well worth hearing, not least for the upper strings in the background.
I don't want to add much to what Marie has said about the tenor aria, except to say that the scurrying violins remind me of a busy ant-hill. (Or is it a shopping mall somewhere? Is there any difference?) Howard Crook gives a fine, confident, lyrical performance for Herreweghe, and I would probably prefer this version out of the three, if only Herreweghe hadn't chosen to replace the horn with an oboe.
Then, the ultimate resolution. "Du wirst mir stillen mein Gewissen, das mich plagt." The continuo merely doubles the bass voice line. Jane has told you how the upper string parts portray the calming of the agitated conscience. We are given
5½ bars of 4 sixteenths
5½ bars of 3 twelfths
6 bars of 2 eighths
4 bars of 1½ sixths.
This means that, when the strings reach parity with the voices, by playing crochets (= quarter notes), there are no more words to be uttered. And then, this simple, sublime coda. The first violinsubsides in semitone steps, in opposite motion to the viola, leaving the second violin to sing the 'Amen'. Stille, indeed.
Roy Reed wrote (August 22, 2000):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
<< Please continue, because sometimes I have the feeling that I am left alone in the desert (where are you – Ehud, Ryan, Kirk, and all the others?). >>
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< Sorry, I have too much work to be able to dedicate a lot of time to the list. I am reading everything, though. Almost. >
Sheeesh...you feel like such a piker following one of Aryeh's encyclopaedic reviews. Here goes anyway, with my usual trio of Rilling , Koopman  and Suzuki . For a variety of reasons I find that I favour the Rilling and Koopman readings. What a masterpiece this cantata. Does it get any better than this? I don't think so.
Mvt. 1: Chorus
So many great things. Ps. 143: 2 is the text source. I see the themes in the orchestral introduction representing repetitive pleading. Just what the text says. "Don't judge us..." The successive entrances of the chorus..."Lord, Lord, etc." convey the corporate character of this plea, not a solo, but a chorus...a church. I like what Rilling  does here in alternating soli and tutti. It is a nice contrast and variety, and a build-up of voices which plays well with the text. But for sheer beauty and style I love the singing of Koopman's chorus  here. What fun they would be to have in hand. Very powerful effect at the beginning having the orchestral introduction for 8 bars, then, when the chorus enters the orchestra drops out...only to come in 6 bars later on their own again. When the choir next enters, the orchestra continues along with the choir and playing entirely independent material...adding and continuing their own pleading. Startling effect: the pleading of the two partners...different and cumulative. The change at the "lebendiger" section interrupts this pleading and takes it to a higher plane and greater intensity. One suspects at the outset here that this will be a mid-section. Not so. Bach concludes with the universality of the injustice. For him, the suitable theological decision. Rilling's treatment  is the slowest of my 3, and quite dramatic. The contrast of ripieno and choir adds to the drama. Koopman  is in the middle on tempo and seems about right to me. Proper pace for good pleading.
Mvt. 2: Alto Recitative
The Alto recitative gets us right into a more personal reflection on the Gospel text. Luke 16: 1-9. By rights the lesson should be 16: 1-13. This is the whole periscope. And…one can't really understand these verses of ch. 16 without reading ch. 15 and the conclusion of ch. 16. And one really has to get down and read these things, fans, because that is what Bach is doing. This "parable of the dishonest manager" is scripture, which has been much discussed and debated. Jesus' commendation of dishonesty hasn't set too well with many of the faithful. Scant wonder! Let me risk supplying some insight here, quoting one of the better commentaries: "The manager is commended by Jesus because he acted cleverly. The term translated 'cleverly' is cognate with the Greek word 'prudence,' which Aristotle defined as a kind of practical wisdom: 'Hence men like Pericles are deemed prudent because they possess a faculty of discerning what things are good for themselves and for mankind; and that is our conception of a expert in domestic economy or political science.' Nichomachean Ethics 8.5.5. In other words, the manager is praised for having the qualities of a manager! He responded to a crisis appropriately to his circumstances. It is this quality of responsiveness rather than the possible morality of the action that is the object of praise." (L. T. Johnson, 1991, p. 244 f.)
One does need to consider, as I suggested above, the material that comes before and after these opening verses of Lukas 16. Ch. 15 concludes with the parable of the prodigal son. Ch. 16 ends with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The opening of Ch. 16 is addressed to Jesus' disciples. On either side of this "teaching" Jesus is debating with Scribes and Pharisees. All these parables are ways in which Jesus illustrates the wideness of God's mercy. And, of course, the aptness of God's judgement.
Meanwhile, back at the alto recitative... This is the manager confessing and asking for mercy. Makes a full breast of it. I like especially Helen Watts here with Rilling . Convincing, and what a sound. I should add that Blaze  and Von Magnus  are both excellent.
Mvt. 3: Aria for soprano
Can you believe Arleen Augér ? She takes these melissmatic lines on "verklagen" and "wagen" in a single breath. And Rilling is taking the slowest tempo of any of my 3...in this aria. What a woman! I'm in love! OK, she does take a little catch-breath in the running line is ms. 42. So what. You hardly notice it. Some kind of a fabulous artist.
While the singing of Augér is stunning in beauty, style and musicality, I do prefer the tempos set by both Koopman  and Suzuki . This is because the music seems to me to be expressive of a tension, an anxiety, and a kind of exquisite torture of soul: the lack of "foundation"...no figured bass...the nervousness of the violins, the plaintive, soulful melody, the awkward leaps in it... I think that a bit faster tempo than Rilling sets makes these tensions work better in the piece. Koopman and Suzuki take almost the same tempo. Both have fine singers: Larsson and Persson. They are similar...what with the double "sses." But the singing of Persson just melts me. I'm in love again. And I am convinced...trembling, staggering, at cross purposes, tormented... It's awful...but sing to me some more.
What Bach does to drive home his point in the ending of the vocal line in this aria is so smart...communicates so much. In ms. 80 on the word "geängstigt" the voice leaps up a minor 9th: f to g flat above the staff. He keeps the last 2 syllables of the word on that high g flat, and then rubs in the torture. Then at the very end of the vocal part, in ms. 91-94 he has a similar outcry to end the aria: minor 7th leap: a to g flat above the staff...and then a little twist up high to cry out "torture." Pretty dramatic, even operatic.
Mvt. 4: Arioso for bass
Strange as it seems, the "Master" commends the screwed up, conniving, dishonest, tortured, fearing soul of an irresponsible manager. OK, not exactly; Bach doesn't work in the text of Lukas 16: 8, but he gets the point, and makes it. Thus far into the cantata he has brought the congregation through the drama of the parable: theologically, spiritually...metaphorically, to the meeting of the guilty with the forgiving Master.
Have to choose a singer here? Tough, for me, but I will go with Mertens . I like this tempo for this arioso. It is between a faster Rilling  and a slower Suzuki .
Mvt. 5: Aria for tenor
What a handsome piece! This is a celebration of a new reality. The Lord is no longer a threatening master but a friend and this manager can live a new life, no longer a slave to wealth. I am not sure what the word "mammon" meant to Bach. One could find out consulting period commentaries. It is not a Hebrew Bible word. It means "wealth" rather than money as such. I think Bach treats it as "money," judging from the similarity of treatment between the first violin part in this aria and in "Gebt mir meinJesum wieder" in the St. Matthew passion. Fast running notes...tossing money around. In the one case getting rid of a "pay-off." Here, just tossing it carelessly about because it means nothing anymore. Marie Jensen might be right that the racing notes convey the slavery of earning more and more money, I rather think that they represent something of the opposite: sheer carelessness with the wicked mammon. Now, whether what Bach does here is a proper interpretation of the parable is another question. I would doubt it. But, by the time you get to this point...who cares!
So how does one do this aria? If you do it too fast, and especially if the violin is too shy, the whole effect of the violin part is lost. This seems to me to be the case with the Suzuki reading . Koopman  takes exactly the same tempo...but the violin comes through. I prefer the slower tempo of Rilling  where you can really hear that violin line. Yes, he could take it a bit faster, maybe met. 65 per quarter. I think one needs to hear that part. Also, it seems to me that one doesn't want this piece to be a caricature of itself. And if it is done at a very quick tempo with lots of separation...crispness...on the part of players and singer...this is what you get. It seems to me that the piece wants to be confident but not cocky. There is a great difference between the role of the horn here and the racing violin, and Marie seems to me to be correct in seeing this brass part as a representation of friendship with Jesus. This is also, I think, and expression of the confidence in this new relationship.
Mvt. 6: Chorale
The voice of the congregation. Whether they sang it in the liturgy or not, this is their song. There is recognition of guilt and anxiety, the faithfulness of God, and the peace and calm that can bless humanity in the human response of faithfulness. Bach creates a wonderful expression of these ideas in the accompaniment of the strings. What a progression, as Jane Newble described so well. I can recall in doing this that the art was in having the strings be heard...to be a real part of the expression here, without being too much, without overcoming the choir. I did not find this easy, and had to step back and listen and make a lot of adjustments. "You...louder here, softer there..." Strings don't much like this sort of thing. In terms of the performances I am discussing here, I would like something in-between what Rilling  and Koopman  achieve. You want to hear the strings with the choir, not just after the choral entries. How about that ending? What a blessing.
Ben Mullins wrote (August 23, 2000):
I was just wondering... Exactly what instrument did Bach specify for the tenor aria? I have the Koopman set and in the notes Wolff says it's a horn, while on the recording it is clear that a trumpet is used.
Harry J. Steinman wrote (August 23, 2000):
Again, a sweet little number that I probably wouldn't have sat down and studied without the guidance of this list...
What really knocks me out in this cantata is the interplay between the oboe and the voice in the soprano aria (and I love). As the soprano enters the aria, her lovely voice is echoed a beat or so later by the oboe, as she sings "Wie zittern und wanken, Der Sunder Gedanken." A lovely, lovely interplay. As she continues to sing, "Indem sie sich..." the oboe does not imitate so strictly but elaborates - I hear it like a vine growing around and enwrapping a lovely stalk, the soprano's voice.
Well, sorry to wax so poetically but that's what this does to me!
Marie Jensen wrote (August 24, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) Sorry for the late reply. I have been very busy (and thank you for your kind words)
1) I mean the soprano aria
2) Sakurada 
Thank you for discovering these mistakes, and BTW for lots of interesting reviews.
Andrew Oliver wrote (August 25, 2000):
Ben Mullins asks about the instrumentation of the tenor aria. The score says 'Corno' (horn), but, according to Suzuki's notes, it is not possible for an ordinary horn to play the part written for it in the opening chorus (which uses the same instrument as the tenor aria). Therefore, Suzuki  uses a 'corno da tirarsi' (slide horn), Koopman  apparently uses a trumpet, Herreweghe  seems to be using an oboe, and Harnoncourt  uses a 'cornetto', which I presume is the wooden instrument called a cornett or 'Zink' which Bach specified for some other cantatas. I don't know what Rilling or Richter used. Hope this is some use.
Aryeh Oron wrote (August 25, 2000):
Andrew Oliver wrote:
< Ben Mullins asks about the instrumentation of the tenor aria. (Snip) I don't know what Rilling or Richter used. Hope this is some use. >
I shall try to complete the picture. According to the linear notes, both Richter  and Rilling  use horn. In both versions it sounds to me like a cornett. This brass instrument was much in use in the early days of Jazz (Bix Beiderbecke, Joe 'King' Oliver, Louis Armstrong, etc.), and its sound is less bright than that of the trumpet. While listening again to these two renderings of the tenor aria, I found more similarities. Both take exactly the same time - 6:15. Schreier (with Richter) and Kraus (with Rilling) interpretations sound to me (this time) very similar to each other. The playing of both horn players - Rob Roy McGregor (with Rilling) and Hermann Baumann (with Richter) - is very precise and they could easily exchange chairs between themselves without changing of the overall atmosphere of these two renderings of this aria.
Nelson [M-2] uses Fagott (bassoon), which is played by Mark Goldberg. In a way it makes sense, because to me it sounds that the Fagott matches the soprano voice better than a cornett or a trumpet do. No doubt that Kathleen Battle is enjoying singing her part, but I feel that it is not Bach oriented. She is using too much of her rich vibrato, and she does not care too much for the words, as though they are only vehicle to carry her beautiful and ringing voice.
Andrew Oliver wrote (August 25, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) Just for clarification, if the instrument being played is a modern cornet, it is, of course, brass, as Aryeh says, but if it is the old-fashioned cornett which Bach used, then it's made of wood. I'm taking this from Oxford Composer Companions, J.S. Bach, edited by Malcolm Boyd, which includes a picture of one.
Aryeh Oron wrote (August 25, 2000):
[To Andrew Oliver] Your description is correct. The cornett (or Zink) used numerous times by Bach, is a melodic wooden instrument, where the modern cornet is a brass instrument (and a relative of the trumpet). To make things even clearer, both Richter  and Rilling  use Horn (and not cornett or cornet). I do not know for sure if this is hand horn or valve horn, because it is not mentioned. I cannot identify it by only by hearing, but according to the nature of the performers, who belong to the 'old' school, I believe that it is the valve horn. The Horn is called also French Horn; in French: cor, cor de chasse; in German: Horn, Waldhorn; in Italian: corno, corno di caccia. According to Grove (1952 edition): "The orchestral horn with or without valves is brass instrument, which is characterised by its tube coiled in circular form expanding into a wild bell and by being played a funnel-shape mouthpiece."
So, the instrument played in both renderings is a brass instrument, but not the modern cornet (used in early Jazz, etc.) as I wrote by mistake.
Ben Mullins wrote (August 25, 2000):
Just as a side point... I quote from 'The Study of Orchestration' by Samuel Adler:
"In England and America, it has been a practice for a long time to call this instrument the "French Horn." Why this nomenclature has been adopted is a mystery, for most of the developments in its construction were accomplished in Germany. The only possible explanation could be that in the earliest orchestral uses of the instrument (around 1710), especially in Germany and England, the horns were marked by the French designation 'cor de chasse', meaning hunting horns, although Bach often uses the term 'corno da caccia', meaning the same thing in Italian. However the designation of "French" horn came about is not really important, but the term is not a correct one and should surely be retired."
Not particularly pertinent to the discussion, but I thought it was an interesting point.
Nagamiya Tutomu wrote (July 22, 2001):
I'm new member from Japan. I love Bach among all composers, and love cantatas among all works of Bach.
Now I'm listening to BWV 105 "Herr, gehe nicht ins Gerecht". I've heard it over ten times since yesterday. This is certainly a great piece. Especially soprano aria leads me to a deep catharsis.
There are many good recordings of this piece. My ranking is here. But I think every recording is very good or fairly good but Harnoncourt's.
1 Rilling  1978 / 2 Herreweghe  1990 / 3 Lehmann  1952 / 4 Richter 1977  / 5 Leusink 2000  / 6 Gardiner 2000  / 6 Koopman 1997  / 6 Suzuki 1999  / 9 Harnoncourt 1980 
about Lehmann's recording
 Fritz Lehmann
Berlin Motetenchoir / Berlin Philharmoniker
Soprano - Gunthild Weber, Contralto - Lore Fischer, Tenor - Helmut Krebs, Bass - Hermann Schey
6/15/1952 at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin
LP / TT: 28:00 (1-6'37, 2-0'58, 3-7'38, 4-2'24, 5-7'35, 6-2'48)
mp3 of BWV 105 by Fritz Lehmann
Nagamiya Tutomu wrote (May 2, 2004):
I recently uploaded mp3 files of Cantata BWV 105 conducted by Fritz Lehmann on my website. I think this recording is now out of print. I'm glad you would enjoy them.
Arjen van Gijssel wrote (May 2, 2004):
[To Nagamiya Tutomu] Txs for sharing this with us. It is very, very interesting. My first reaction: very moving interpretation. The orchestra is taking you away from the first bars. The choir is somewhat disappointing, to my taste. But this recording belongs to another league than the one I normally am used to listen to (Herreweghe, Leusink , Gardiner ).
May the cantatas live on
Chris Morgan wrote (December 12, 2004):
I am just writing to inform you about a track I posted in the files section. The track is the first movement of Cantata BWV 105 "Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht" The entire cantata as well as other Bach chamber works were recently performed at the college in a student organized, conducted, and performed event. Though it is not the best recording of the movement you will hear, it is there to remind everyone that the music of Bach is still in the hearts and minds of college students!
Matthew Neugebauer wrote (December 12, 2004):
Chris Morgan wrote:
< the music of Bach is still in the hearts and minds of college students! >
A first-hand Amen to that!!
Matt (2nd year student at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
Continue on Part 2
Cantata BWV 105: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4