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Cantata BWV 119
Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of October 2, 2005

Santu de Silva wrote (October 2, 2005):
BWV 119: Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn - - TC Inauguration

BWV 119: Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn
For the Leipzig Town Council Inauguration,
August 30, 1723

(Translations are, for the most part, from the Bach Cantatas Website)

Oboe i, ii; Trumpet i, ii, iii, iv;
Recorders (Blockflöte) i, ii;
Timpani, strings, continuo.

Here we have only the second example of a work in which the chorus is featured in an inner movement (since BWV 147, at the end of July; and the inner choral movement of that was a mere ornamented chorale, for all its popularity)!

(1) Chorus:
Preise, Jerusalem, den Herr;
lobe, Zion, deinen Gott!
("Praise, O Jerusalem, the Lord,
laud, O Zion, him thy God!")
For he maketh fast the bars across thy doorway and blesseth all thy children therein, he bringeth peace within thy borders....)

This rousing chorus features not just three but four (4) trumpets, as well as tympani, and simply exudes grandness. The introduction has the characteristic dotted rhythms of festive French overtures, the fugal middle-section (such as are found in the Orchestral Suites, for instance), and closing with a largo passage.

(2) Recitative -- Tenor+Continuo:
"Gesegnet Lande, glueckselge Stadt,
Woselbst der Herr sein Herd und Feuer hat!
"
(O happy land, O city blest,
Where e'en the Lord his hearth and fire doth keep!)

The CD liner notes point out that a. the tenor's last line reverses the musical material of the first line, and b. that perhaps the recitative was attempting to evoke "the swaying of the Linden trees of which Leipzig so very proud."
[The footnotes on our Cantata Website notes that the name of the city, Leipzig, derives from --or is a pun on-- the word for Linden. More Linden stuff appears in the following Aria]

(3) Aria -- Tenor+Oboes+Continuo:
"Wohl dir, du Volk der Linden,
wohl dir, du hast es gut!
"
(Oh you, you folk of the Lindens,
you have it good!)

The translation comes across rather trite, but the tone must be more dignified in the original German. The music is, indeed dignified, peaceful, almost to the point of complacency --oops, did I say that?

(4) Recitative -- Bass+trumpets+tympani +flutes+continuo:
"Oh herrlich stehst, du liebe Stadt!"
(Thou dost in glory stand, dear town!)

Even more grand, if possible, than the opening chorus, this apostrophe of the town of Leipzig rings true, beyond mere flattery. Of course, from where we stand, in the cynical 21st century, it's hard to judge such things.

(5) Aria -- Alto+recorder+continuo:
(Authority is God's endowment . . .)

A typical Bach alto aria in a siciliano-like rhythm, with a lovely recorder accompaniment.

(6) Recitative -- Soprano+continuo:
"Nun! wir erkennen es und bringen dir,
O höchster Gott,
ein Opfer unsers Danks dafür
."
(Now!* We acknowledge this and bring to thee,
O God on high,
An off'ring of our thanks for this.)

This vote of thanks, as it were, leads right into the celebratory chorus that follows:

(7) Chorus -- full orchestra:
"Der Herr hat Guts an uns getan,
Des sind wir alle fröhlich...
"
(The Lord hath good for us achieved,
For this we're all rejoicing.)

Oh, what a beautiful, grand chorus! This is Bach at his best. If not as contrapuntally complex as some of his most celebrated choruses, this one shows Bach's genius at even homophonic writing.

Leusink's forces [10] do justice to this chorus, and indeed to the entire Cantata. It seems to me that this particular work would show that at least in some works, one singer-per-part would not do them justice.

(8) Recitative -- Alto+continuo:
"Zuletzt!
Da du uns, Herr, zu deinem Volk gesetzt,
So lass von deinen Frommen
Nur noch ein arm Gebet vor deine Ohren kommen
Und höre! ja erhöre!
"
(And finally!
Since thou didst, Lord,
join us to thy people,
Then let from these thy faithful
Still one more humble pray'r
Come now before thine ears.)

This functions as a sort of benediction, and is followed by a brief chorale --a sort of 'grace' or or doxology, and an extended Amen:

(9) Chorale:
"Hilf deinem Volk, Herr Jesu Christ,
Und segne, was dein Erbteil ist.
Wart und pfleg ihr [sie? ihn'?] zu aller Zeit,
Und heb sie hoch in Ewigkeit! Amen!
"

(The pronoun in the penultimate line caused some doubt in my German-speaking friend's mind.)

Well! What a lovely cantata, to lighten our gloom in these difficult times! How wonderful it must have been to have such a genius as J.S. Bach near, to bring sparkle to the inauguration of a town council!

I read somewhere, though I can't remember where, something to the effect that BWV 119 is pivotal in some argument about Bach's continuo group - - was that recently on this list? At any rate, the continuo group here - -in the performance that I listened to- - seemed quite similar to those of other cantatas from the few we've been studying: essentially organ+cello, possibly a bassoon, too.

Note: Leusink's recording of 119 [10] is preceded by BWV 25, so naturally I listened to that, too. I found that the trombones were notably absent, and not mentioned in the credits.

Archimedes, wishing you all a good year.

*And now, for something completely different! ...

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (October 2, 2005):
[To Santu de Silva] Yes I would agree. It is even grander than BWV 29 written or the same occaision but different year. Thank you for using the word "Blockflote".

In the 1990s; Blockflute players who speak English have been trying to get the English speaking Public to stop using "recorder" for the musical istrument because it is very confusing and if the purpose of language is to communicate clearly ---the term can leave one wondering what is being communicated ---for instance in the sentence---"he played the music on the recorder". Does this mean that he played back some music on an electronic device or he played it on the Blockflote.(or if you will Blockflute).

In discouraging the term 'recorder' for the musical wind instrument--we have brought into English the German word for this instrument which clearly tells us it is a musical instrument, that it is a flute and something about the way it is made. Nothing could be clearer. However, the term 'Fipple Flute' is also acceptable but somewhat less clear.

There are several other English words that can be very confusing depending on what country you are in. For instance the word "jock" which in England (Yorkshire) means someone's lunch. IN the United States "jock" is an athlete. So can you imaging the shock of an American hearing someone say that he is going to eat his jock -----mmmh the American thinks ---is he about to fellate someone someone or he is going to attempt eat an article of clothing or is he a cannabal and eating his latest victim???

The same is true in Australia. Americans say a phrase (which I can not recall at the moment) which is very insulting in Australia. This phrase is said without anyone being offended in the US. I once told one of my friends about an American Actress visiting there who did not know that what she was saying was offensive. He about rolled in the floor with laughter.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 2, 2005):
Ludwig wrote:
< In the 1990s; Blockflute players who speak English have been trying to get the English speaking Public to stop using "recorder" for the musical istrument because it is very confusing and if the purpose of language is to communicate clearly ---the term can leave one wondering what is being communicated ---for instance in the sentence---"he played the music on the recorder". Does this mean that he played back some music on an electronic device or he played it on the Blockflote.(or if you will Blockflute). >
No, he played it on the "recorder", the accepted English term for the instrument for six centuries.

Give this delusion a rest!

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Flute in Bach's Vocal Works - Part 2 [General Topics]

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 2, 2005):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< BWV 119: Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn
For the
Leipzig Town Council Inauguration,
August 30, 1723 >
The opening chorus raises some interesting questions about ornamentation in choral movements. Most choirs, unless they are Baroque specialist ensembles, simply ignore trills in the music of Bach. The ability of several voices to produce a unified ornament is simply not present in contemporary choral technique.

It is pretty hard to avoid the issue in this chorus: the sopranos have no less than three trills in bars 48-49 (2 notated, 1 implied), all prepared. Some choirs cut the difference and will add the upper appogiatura but leave the actual trill to the doubling instruments: it's hard to hear, but Leusink's singers [10] seem to sing the apog but not the trill.

Of course, some would argue that this is yet another argument for OVP. I'm more likely to speculate that the technique of singing choral trills was simply lost in the 19th century. Some exceptional choirs, such as The Sixteen, produce superb choral trills, but then the singers are all soloists in the their own right and can ornament cleanly on demand.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 2, 2005):
Santu de Silva wrote:
>>(9) Chorale:
"Hilf deinem Volk, Herr Jesu Christ,
Und segne, was dein Erbteil ist.
Wart und pfleg ihr [sie? ihn'?]zu aller Zeit,
Und heb sie hoch in Ewigkeit! Amen!
"
(The pronoun in the penultimate line caused some doubt in my German-speaking friend's mind.)<<
And well it might! It [ihr'= ihrer] appears to be a genitive pronoun (because of the verb 'pflegen') which has to be either feminine or plural. This means that it does not necessarily refer back to 'das Erbteil' or 'das Volk' which do not have the correct gender to fit this particular pronoun.

If we can determine without a doubt what the pronoun 'sie' in the following line refers back to, then we should have the correct answer.

Possibly 'die Diener,' all those serving the Lord including all the saints, 'die Heiligen' which are referred to earlier. Much earlier yet in this Tedeum is a reference to "die ganze werte Christenheit" (Christianity, a feminine noun) but this is very far removed spatially from the pronoun which would be used to replace it, but then the congregation may be thinking that "Erbteil" and "Volk" are simply replacements for "Christenheit."

Any other ideas or suggestions? Does anyone have the original Latin version and is it clearer in this regard?

I have not checked any of the English translations of this segment of the Tedeum. Perhaps some translator has been able to figure this out.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 2, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>The opening chorus raises some interesting questions about ornamentation in choral movements. Most choirs, unless they are Baroque specialist ensembles, simply ignore trills in the music of Bach. The ability of several voices to produce a unified ornament is simply not present in contemporary choral technique.
It is pretty hard to avoid the issue in this chorus: the sopranos have no less than three trills in bars 48-49 (2 notated, 1 implied), all prepared.<<
There may be quite a number of implied trills, but Bach notated only 4 trills (in the NBA) for soprano and 1 for bass throughout this entire mvt. This raises a number of questions:

1. There are many places where trills could be sung because the musical figure/phrase resembles the one where the trills appear. (so-called implied trills)

2. Why were there no trills indicated for alto and tenor and only one trill for bass? These other voices are singing essentially the same figures for which Bach wrote trills in the soprano part. Why is the soprano part favored? Did trills in the soprano part sound better/clearer when all voices are singing because they add brilliance at the top? Do trills in the other parts (when all other parts are singing simultaneously) tend to 'muddy' the musical lines? (notice that the only trill in the bass part occurred when the bass is singing alone.) Was Bach being more explicit with the soprano part because some of the youngest boys were singing this part? Does this mean that all the other parts having similar musical figures would use trills even if they were not marked in the parts?

>>Some choirs cut the difference and will add the upper appogiatura but leave the actual trill to the doubling instruments: it's hard to hear, but Leusink's singers [10] seem to sing the apog but not the trill.<<
Leusink [10] did not really make much of an effort to check with or use the NBA scores. He used different, older editions. With little time to prepare and practice, he may have wisely chosen not to execute the trill properly, but find a way to 'fake it' (make it appear as if it might be.)

>>Of course, some would argue that this is yet another argument for OVP. I'm more likely to speculate that the technique of singing choral trills was simply lost in the 19th century. Some exceptional choirs, such as The Sixteen, produce superb choral trills, but then the singers are all soloists in the their own right and can ornament cleanly on demand.<<
I tend to agree with you on this. This is a lost art which can be regained with proper practice and experience the same way that tromba playing does not have to sound like some of the natural trombae renditions offered on past recordings. This type of thing takes time and practice, but with serious application over a longer period, good results can be achieved.

This is certainly an example of a cantata where OVPP would appear ridiculous and completely out of proportion to the actual forces that Bach employed.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 2, 2005):
BWV 119: Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn - - Choral trills

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< This is certainly an example of a cantata where OVPP would appear ridiculous and completely out of proportion to the actual forces that Bach employed. >
I'm not so sure. The choral lines in the opening movement are extremely difficult even without all those trills. Neither Harnoncourt [6] nor Leusink's choir [10] give a clean performance. I have no problem with lines being occasionally out of sync -- that's polyphonic rubato -- but in both of these performances, the singers' enthusiasm covers a lot of faulty unison singing in each individual part. OVP would remove this problem.

This is also a difficult movement because Bach employs a contrast of low and high tessituras in the voices, especially in the sopranos. Thus, the sopranos enter on middle C and sing the principal theme in a register which barely cuts through the dense instrumental texture. At bar 68, when the principal theme returns, the sopranos are an octave higher in the stratosphere. It's as if Bach was treating his vchoir like an organ with 8' and 4' octave stops!

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 2, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>The choral lines in the opening movement are extremely difficult even without all those trills. Neither Harnoncourt [6] nor Leusink's choir [10] give a clean performance.<<
I do not believe that the 'extreme difficulty' of Bach's choral lines with "all those trills" should be judged on the basis of the performances of the two conductors and choirs which you have mentioned.

Certainly Bach knew what he could expect his choirs to execute with reasonable accuracy, otherwise he would not have composed these choral mvts. as they have come down to us.

>>I have no problem with lines being occasionally out of sync -- that's polyphonic rubato -- <<
I have difficulty believing that Bach would have allowed this.

>>but in both of these performances, the singers' enthusiasm covers a lot of faulty unison singing in each individual part.OVP would remove this problem.<<
while at the same time removing most of the grandeur that Bach had wanted to present in this mvt.

>>This is also a difficult movement because Bach employs a contrast of low and high tessituras in the voices, especially in the sopranos. Thus, the sopranos enter on middle C and sing the principal theme in a register which barely cuts through the dense instrumental texture.<<
Because present-day voices are not properly trained to have equal volume throughout their entire range which should easily cover the notes from the low c to a high a (an octave and a 6th) (even with the low and high tessituras which you mention), such soprano parts as this become a problem for present-day singers. From the standpoint of vocal training during Bach's day (read the Tosi/Agricola Instructions for the Art of
Singing, and it will become clear that such voices were considered fairly standard with larger ranges (2 octaves or more being unusual, but not unheard of), the voices selected for performing in the 1st/primary choir were able to handle such a part and not allow a section of a choral mvt. in the mid or low range tessitura to become lost in the mass of sound when the rest of the choir was singing. The latter is very frequently the case with the choirs and conductors you have mentioned. I have listened to all of their recorded cantatas with the NBA score in hand and have frequently reported my findings to this list: certain vocal lines completely disappear from the musical landscape from time to time. At least you have begun to notice this. Do not blame it on Bach's 'dense instrumental texture' but rather place the blame where it really belongs: the inadequacy of choral groups mentioned.

A similar problem occurs with solo voices such as Ruth Holton's, where the lower range of notes expected from a Bach soprano soloist under Bach's direction is weak
and practically non-existent (the 'demi-voix' phenomenon which affects other HIP-specialist soprano soloists as well.

Re: choral trills

Tosi/Agricola also report the tendency of vocalists and trumpeters to overdo trills (they include more than necessary or called for in the score or they hold them out longer than necessary in order to garner attention and approval from musically illiterate audiences ('Pöbel'= hoi polloi, rabble, etc.) "Der Triller, welcher sich gar zu oft hören läßt, gefällt nicht, und wenn er auch noch so schön wäre: der, welcher nicht mit gleicher Geschwindigkeit geschlagen wird, misfällt noch mehr." ["The trill {here in reference primarily to vocal trills, but the instruments emulating voices should be treated likewise} which is heard too frequently, is not pleasing - and it does not matter if all these extra trills were beautfully executed. Even worse is when a trill is not performed at exactly the same speed throughout the duration of the trill."]

Elsewhere in this chapter devoted to trills, we find out that the speed of trills varies from voice to voice (a bass voice trill is slower than that of a soprano's.) Is this one reason why Bach in this particular mvt. does not employ simultaneous, or nearly simultaneous trills in the other lower voices when the same musical figure occurs in close proximity to the soprano part?

The purpose of the trill is to impart a 'gleam,' 'shimmering' quality to the music at certain points where it seems needed. And who was the best judge of this in regard to mvt. 1? Bach, of course. He did not want the trills overdone, thus they would lose their effectiveness and also not be in 'good taste' which, in this instance, is Bach's own sense of musical 'good taste.' Compare the number of trills performed by the sopranos with the instruments and you will see that Bach was very chary with having the sopranos execute the trills (the instruments, often playing colla parte execute trills where the sopranos do not.) He does not even have any trills on the alto and tenor parts. Also, the trills are located in the high soprano range where the effect will be even more brilliant.

I am not certain how well these observations regarding Bach's actual use of trills in the vocal choral parts will hold up when all other similar choral mvts. are examined. These are only tentative observations based upon a very special type of performance (with large instrumental and vocal forces.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 2, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< I do not believe that the 'extreme difficulty' of Bach's choral lines with "all those trills" should be judged on the basis of the performances of the two conductors and choirs which you have mentioned.
Certainly Bach knew what he could expect his choirs to execute with reasonable accuracy, otherwise he would not have composed these choral mvts. as they have come down to us. >
* Of course. And on a big municipal blow-out like this occasion, I'm sure he would have had his best musicians on display. I'm just saying that, as Bach choruses go, this has very challenging vocal lines.

< I am not certain how well these observations regarding Bach's actual use of trills in the vocal choral parts will hold up when all other similar choral mvts. are examined. These are only tentative observations based upon a very special type of performance (with large instrumental and vocal forces.) >
* The larger question here is: in this movement, should only the trills noted by Bach be sung and played or should the "implied" trills be added? In bar 62, the sopranos have a sequence of three repetitions of a prepared trill figure. Bach marks the first two with trills, but the third is unmarked. It is hard to believe that the singers would not have conventionally ornamented the third, espeically as the ornament has the profile of a real motif -- much the same situation can be found at "Lasset das Zagen" in the opening chorus of the "Christmas Oratorio" (BWV 248) where the trills are motivic and not just embellishments.

This situation is rather unusual for Bach who rarely leaves such questions unanswered. Handel, on the other hand, is a nightmare for performers and editors. He hardly ever maintains a consistent attitude but will write the same melodic figure (say in a French overture) two different ways and drop ornaments randomly through a movement. Much enjoyable time can be spent on "Awful Pleasing Being, Stay" in "Joshua", where literally dozens of ornaments, articulations, rhythmic alterations and even dynamics have to be added to the music to make it performable

Ludwig wrote (October 2, 2005):
[To Douglas Cowling] One must remember that Bach's choristers were probally called upon to sing everyday...and thus developed a very high level of proficiency that can be seen today in CANTATE ---a choral group in Tumon,Guam,USA, associated with St John the Devine Episcopal Cathedral School which can almost perform on very short notice at near professional levels almost any score given them as current and former members (now scattered throughout the Globe) can attest and that includes a full Operas as well as other works.

While officially Bach's choristers were amateurs--Bach probally whipped them up into a near professional levels of performance if we can judge by the misbehavior of his students whom he kick out of his chorus--that landed him in hot water with his higher ups.

John Pike wrote (October 3, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The opening chorus raises some interesting questions about ornamentation in choral movements. Most choirs, unless they are Baroque specialist ensembles, simply ignore trills in the music of Bach. The ability of several voices to produce a unified ornament is simply not present in contemporary choral technique.
It is pretty hard to avoid the issue in this chorus: the sopranos have no less than three trills in bars 48-49 (2 notated, 1 implied), all prepared. Some choirs cut the difference and will add the upper appogiatura but leave the actual trill to the doubling instruments: it's hard to hear, but Leusink's singers
[10] seem to sing the apog but not the trill.
Of course, some would argue that this is yet another argument fOVP. I'm more likely to speculate that the technique of singing choral trills was simply lost in the 19th century. Some exceptional choirs, such as The Sixteen, produce superb choral trills, but then the singers are all soloists in the their own right and can ornament cleanly on demand. >
Very interesting. I recently started buying the Suzuki cantatas [9] and am greatly enjoying them. i have come across a number of instances recently of choral ornamentation in the Suzuki recordings and the Gardiner recordings recently and very good it is too.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 4, 2005):
The BCW has links to samples of most recordings of this cantata (samples of Werner's cantatas [3] can be found at amazon.de)
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV119.htm

Notice that Ramin (1953) [1], and Suzuki (1999) [9] with the most legato of the HIP examples, have similar conceptions of the opening instrumental fanfare (a French Overture) - the main difference is the double dotting of Suzuki at the start, plus ofcourse the greater force of the modern instruments with Ramin. In fact, Ramin makes this music sound way too grand for a mere council investiture, creating
music gloriously suitable for the coronation of a king!

Werner [3], Rotzsch [4] and Koopman [7] also adopt a similar speed to these two. Harnoncourt [6] (and to a lesser extent Herreweghe [8]) emphatically separate the structure in minims, reading the time signature as cut C, but I believe we have established in previous discussions that the time signature of most if not all Bach's French Overture movements is common time (4/4). Rilling [5] (1st movement instrumental section) is the slowest of the recordings - probably too slow, suggesting as it seems an element of tragedy, perhaps a royal funeral - but his central choral allegro (1st movement) is very lively and well performed, and the trumpets and timpani are well recorded in the outer fanfare sections.

In the tenor aria, both Rilling [5] and Werner [3] read the score in triplets; I think the better reading, adopted by the other conductors, is as notated (dotted note figures), especially as Bach actually explicitly changes the notation to triplets in the middle section of the aria, and then reverts back to the dotted figure.

Werner [3] features the fine voices of Jelden (tenor) and McDaniel (bass) in his recording.

Listen to Rotzsch [4] for a subtle, non-obtrusive, musical accompaniment to the secco recitatives. (I'm not saying it's perfect, but its far less damaging to the overall flow of the cantata than the HIP method).

I prefer the livelier tempos of Rilling [5] and Suzuki [9] in the alto aria; Rilling's instrumentation is especially charming, but spoilt by Murray's excessive vibrato.

It's interesting to hear an unnamed boy soprano singing without vibrato (sounding like a castrato?) in Ramin's 1953 recording [1].

After the rousing chorus, and another recitative, the final straightforward chorale concludes with a delicious `amen' that seems to alternate sopranos and altos with tenors and basses. I like Suzuki's dignified, serious rendition [9] of this simple chorale, in contrast to the `off-hand` style I have often heard from him in such movements.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 4, 2005):
BWV 119: movement 7

If you want to experience some good cheer, listen to the 2nd chorus (movement 7) of this cantata. With brilliant ritornellos and a lively fugue subject given to the choir, as well as homophonic writing, this chorus will perhaps remind listeners of the exuberant good spirits of some secular cantata choruses.

I can recommend the recordings by Herreweghe (5.40) [8] and Werner (6.10) [3], which I have on CD. Both respond to turning up the amp; perhaps they were recorded at a low volume level, but this done, they fairly bubble with joy and high spirits. Werner's choir is surprisingly clear, as is Herreweghe's; and Herreweghe's trumpets and timpani project plenty of brilliance, as do Werner's. (For some reason Herreweghe's choir sounds muddy in the first chorus; Werner's first chorus is a bit slow but very listenable on good speakers.).

Judging by the amazon samples, and Aryeh's report, Suzuki (6.07) [9], and Rotzsch (6.43) [4] are also excellent in this chorus.

Rilling's tempo (6.22) [5], is fine, and will have you conducting along with the music, but I agree with Aryeh that the individual instruments seem to be recorded too loudly, so that the recorders produce a strange effect in the ritornellos. (Hmmm.."recorders", and "recorded" in one sentence. I see William's point!).

Aryeh has pointed to problems with the Koopman (5.33) [7]; I have not heard Leusink (6 mins - the tempo should be right) [10], and Harnoncourt (7.05) [6] does seem too slow to capture the joyous element of this music. Ramin [1] is also very slow, and the playing surprisingly amateurish. (Apart from the atrocious recording engineering, the first chorus seems to show better musicianship).

Neil Halliday wrote (October 6, 2005):
It's worth noting some of the features of this movement's design.

After the brilliant and lively ritornello, the first choral section, fugal in nature, is based on two lines of text:

"Der Herr hat Guts an uns getan,
Des sind wir alle froehlich
".

The basses present the first half of the fugue subject with line one; the tenors enter while the basses continue with the second half of the fugue subject with line two - this latter in 1/8 notes is rounded off by an animated falling and rising melisma of 1/16th notes on "froehlich" (of course - this is Bach!); altos and sopranos enter in this manner, so the entries are in the order BTAS. The recorders and an oboe then cheekily, joyfully adopt the fugue subject, whereupon the sopranos take it back and resume the process in the reverse direction, SATB. At this point the trumpets and drums `strut their stuff' with the most brilliant exposition of the first half of the subject (listen out for the stretto-like lone entry of the 2nd trumpet which precedes the `double forte' entry of the other trumpets), and there is a general acclamation of the entire ensemble; this section concludes with a repeat of the opening ritornello.

The central section of the movement consists of a melodious, mostly homophonic setting of the next 5 lines of text. The third of the five lines (the central point of the whole movement) "Und spaete lange Jahre `naus" is eventually set to long notes in the choir, concluding with a pause - the shape of the music here suggesting a gentle entreaty to God for the councillors' longevity; and this section ends
with the next two lines of text in tempo.

The return of the `da capo' results in the ritornello being heard four times in the course of the movement, since we have an ABACABA form (where A is the ritornello). Hence several symmetries can be identified: the BTAS, SATB choral entries of the first and last choral sections; the slowing down of the middle line (of the five lines) of the central choral section, and the overall ABACABA form).

Perhaps Bach designed this remarkable symmetry to be powerfully symbolic of the majesty of authority, which is "Ja selber Gottes Ebenbild", as stated in the second line of the text of the alto aria (movement #5).

 

Continue on Part 5

Cantata BWV 119: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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