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Cantata BWV 129
Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of October 14, 2007

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 14, 2007):
Week of Oct 14, 2007: Cantata 129, ³Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott²

Week of Oct 14, 2007

Cantata 129, ³Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott²

Performances:
1st performance: June 16, 1726 - Leipzig;
2nd performance: 1732-1735 - Leipzig;
3rd performance: 1743-1747 - Leipzig
Trinity Sunday OR Reformation Festival (Oct 31)
Third Annual Cantata Cycle, 1725-27 (Jahrgang III)

Libretto:
Johann Olearius: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Olearius.htm

Texts & Translations: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV129.htm

Readings:
Trinity Sunday:
Epistle: Romans 11: 33-36 (The depth of the riches of God)
Gospel: John 3: 1-15 (Jesus and Nicodemus)
Texts of readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity.htm
OR
Reformation Sunday:
Epistle: 2 Thessalonians 2: 3-8
Gospel: Revelation 14: 6-8 (The everlasting gospel)
Texts of readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Reformation.htm

Other Cantatas written for Trinity Sunday
BWV 165 O heiliges Geist- und Wasserbad (Weimar, 1715)
BWV 194 Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest (Leipzig, 1724)
BWV 176 Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding (Leipzig, 1725)
OR
Other Cantatas written for Reformation Sunday:
BWV 80 Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott (Weimar 1715, revised Leipzig, c. 1730)
BWV 80b Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott (Leipzig, 1728-1731)
BWV 79 Gott, der Herr, ist Sonn und Schild (Leipzig, 1725)
BWV 192 Nun danket alle Gott (Leipzig, 1730- for an unidentified occasion, possibly Reformation)

Introduction to Lutheran Church Year: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm

Provenance: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV129-Ref.htm

Movements:

Mvt. 1: Chorus
³Gelobet sei der Herr²
Instruments: 3 Tr, Ti, Flt, 2 Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

The opening chorus is what we typically think of a Bach cantata opener: a large scale orchestral ritornello, the chorale sustained by the sopranos with the lower voices working out short contrapuntal figures sometimes drawn from the chorale. The dramatic repetiton of short phrases like ³mein Gott, mein Licht² give the music tremendous rhythmic drive. We see this chorus pattern in works like ³Wachet Auf².

Mvt. 2: Aria - Bass
³Gelobet sei der Herr²
Instruments: Bc

There are no recitatives in this cantata.. A sequence of three arias without recitatives can be found in ³Himmelskonig sei Willkommen² and in the Lutheran masses. The three arias may be symbolic of the Trinity. The high-lying bass aria is full of free canonic imiitation as in the opening vocal and continuo lines. The continuo line also displays many echo effects produced by octave displacments.

Mvt 3: Aria ­ Soprano
³Gelobet sei der Herr²
Instruments: Flt, Vns, Bc

Like the preceding aria, the movement uses an integrated ³dal segno² structure rather than a full da capo. The ornamentation of the vocal line is also carefully and colourfully worked out with great precision. Bach certainly kept a tight rein on his singers¹ opportunities for improvisastion.

Mvt. 4: Aria - Alro
³Gelobet sei der Herr²
Instruments: Oda, Bc

The pastorale shape of aria is enlivened with the flowing runs illustrating breezes.

Mvt 5: Chorale
³Dem wir das Heilig itzt²
Instruments: 3 Tr, Ti, Flt, 2 Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

The final chorus presents the chorale harmonized straightforwardly while the orchestral is given a grand movement of virtuosic rejoicing. The effect is very similar to the closing chorale of the Christmas Oratorio.

Chorale Melodies:
³O Gott, du frommer Gott²: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/O-Gott-du-frommer-Gott.htm

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV129.htm

Recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV129.htm#RC

Music (free streaming download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV129-Mus.htm

Commentaries:

Crouch: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/129.html
AMG:http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:3934~T1

Previous Discussion: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV129-Guide.htm

Julian Mincham wrote (October 15, 2007):
A few short points. There was no chorale cantata written for Trinity Sunday 1725 (second cycle)----? BWV 176 was one of the shortest of these last cantatas of that cycle. It is reasonable to assume that as Bach provided 8 new cantatas in 4 weeks at that time that he simply didn't have the time to produce another long and rigorous choral fantasia then. This is offered as evidence that BWV 129 was written to replace BWV 176 as a part of Bach's (supposedly, but I have argued against it) retrospective plan to provide chorale cantatas for the full second cycle.? He did in fact produce a dozen more over the next decade,?some of which would have 'filled gaps' in the second cycle.

Also cf BWV 107 which does contain one recit but uniquely has 4 consecutive arias.?Bach tends not to use recits as much when setting the unaltered verses of the chorale text?(i.e. without paraphrases or the insertion of additional lines.)? Incidentally according to Wolff's layout of the third cycle? Bach also reused BWV 129 within the cycle for the later Reformation festival--I think its unique for the same work to be used more than once in the same cycle.? The?issue disappears, however if we consider the 4th cycle to begin with BWV 39 on the first Sunday after Trinity (the day on which he began the first two cycles).

Finally its worth looking at the range of writing for the lower three voices in the fantasia of BWV 129 and see how it is determined by images in the text.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 17, 2007):
The outer movements of this cantata are real 'pick-me-ups', requiring little analysis for ready enjoyment (apart from requiring awareness of the chorale tune); and the arias are also charming, especially the soprano aria, with the little 1/16th note figure that is repeated endlessly (as in the manner of the B flat two-part Invention, perhaps) in the flute, violin, and continuo; and the alto aria with its somewhat whimsical oboe obbligato melody (heard complete in the ritornello). Robertson notes, of this oboe obbligato preceding the vocal entry: "the oboe has a little phrase of four descending (1/16th) notes which occurs many times and never fails to please.

I have Rilling's recordi[3]. Quite satisfactory, except for the bass aria, which is spoilt by the unpleasant timbre of the continuo organ and continuo strings. The double bass doubling the cello does not help; all the period versions treat the cello as an obligato instrument which seems to give better results. But the organ realisations - mostly lame chords in all of them - seem unsuitable, which leaves Koopman [7], who has a lively harpsichord realistion (the only one with harpsichord, I think), with the liveliest and most charming performance of this aria.

In fact Koopman [7] probably has the most pleasing, polished performance of the cantata overall; even his baroque trumpets are surprisingly strong in the outer movements, if I can judge from the BCW samples. The main faults I perceive are weakness of the solo flute and violin in the soprano aria (a common weakness in period ensembles) and an un-necessarily fast tempo in the final chorus. This contrasts with the weaknesses of the Rilling recording [3], ie, feeble drums in the outer movements (which I became aware of when listening to the Koopman sample), the above mentioned problems with the bass aria, and too powerful singing by Auger (soprano; the bass and alto voices are fine).

Leonhardt [4] is too slow in the opening chorus; while a slow tempo works well in Leonhardt's opening choruses in BWV 1, BWV 7, BWV 39 (among others) - in comparison to Rilling's [3] fast tempos in these movements - BWV 129/1 definitely responds to a livelier tempo, as heard in Rilling and Koopman [7].

Melismas feature in the arias: the bass aria has a lovely melisma on "höchste", the soprano aria on "Leben" and "schafft") particularly charming) and the alto on "lobet" and (particularly elaborately) on "schwebet" (soar). Note also the brief coming together of the voice (alto), oboe and continuo on "God the Father, God the Son, and
God (the Holy Ghost)", a common device by which Bach represents the trinity.

 

BWV 129 : Manuscript sources?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 12, 2008):
Could anyone on the list give me a list of the sources for materials for this particular cantata? I do know there are at least two copies from around the mid 18th century, one of them was the St. Thomas Church archives.

If you have the shelf numbers, I'd be so grateful. I'm thinking of preparing an edition of this piece, since it's one my absolute favorite Bach cantatas; and it also seems it's included in Sir John Eliot Gardiner's latest releases.

Thanks for all your help!

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 12, 2008):
[To Aryeh Oron] Perhaps you could inform Kim Patrick Clow to look at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV129-Ref.htm

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 12, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow through Aryeh Oron] The NBA KB lists only the original parts (no original score) as still being extant. They have no special manuscript designation and are located in the Leipzig Bach-Archiv. There are 17 parts which have been copied by 7 different copyists. Evidence of Bach's revisions are found only in the tenor and vocal bass parts, the 1st violin part and the figured bass for the Organo part. Christian Friedrich Penzel copied the parts and the score in 1755. Both are in the BB (Staatsbibliothek Berlin) and are designated at Mus. ms. Bach P 950 and Mus. ms. Bach St 159. Another copy (not original) of the score by an unknown copyist from the middle of the 18th century is also at the BB and is listed as Mus. ms. Bach P 957. This copy is very similar to Penzel's. In 1802, Adolph Müller made another copy which appears to have been made from the original parts. It is listed as Mus. ms. Bach P 87 at the BB and is a copy of Mus. ms. Bach P 957. Another copy of the score at the BB from the 1st half of the 19th century is Mus. ms. Bach P 451 and is derived from the Penzel score. Four additional copies of the score made in the mid-19th century are scattered about in other other European libraries. One of these is a copy dated July 26, 1841 and made from the original parts as requested by Felix Mendelssohn (now in a private collection in Oxford, England)

Evan Cortens wrote (February 12, 2008):
[Kim Patrick Clow] If you're interested in Bach sources, I would suggest having a look at the Göttinger Bach-Katalog, made available online courtesy of the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen at: http://www.bach.gwdg.de/bach_engl.html

It's a little tricky to navigate at first (for instance, make sure when you're searching by BWV to include four digits, this messed me up at first... e.g., BWV 129 -> 0129), but that's a small price to pay for an excellent list of all Bach sources from the 18th and 19th centuries. In my experience, it's very rare that the Bach-Compendium has a more accurate list for a given piece, and the Katalog certainly contains much more info than Kast.

Hope you find this helpful!

P.S. Out of curiosity, since you mentioned making an edition, I wonder what your complaints might be with the NBA version? Certainly it has its flaws here and there, but I've found it to be generally accurate and reliable...

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 13, 2008):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< If you're interested in Bach sources, I would suggest having a look at the Göttinger Bach-Katalog, made available online courtesy of the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen at : http://www.bach.gwdg.de/bach_engl.html >
Thanks for that link Evan, I really appreciate that!

< P.S. Out of curiosity, since you mentioned making an edition, I wonder what your complaints might be with the NBA version? Certainly it has its flaws here and there, but I've found it to be generally accurate and reliable... >
Absolutely none: the Barenreiter NBA sets a lofty bar in terms of musicological standards and stunning engravings. I strive to match their excellence in editions I prepare. But doing my own edition allows me a chance to really get inside the music, if that makes any sense?

There is also an issue that some performance ensembles can't afford the rental fees for orchestral parts (if they're even available, in quite a few instances, they're not).

Again thanks for the help Evan!

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 13, 2008):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Thomas Braatz sent off-list me the following messages as answers to your query. >
Thank you very much Aryeh for that information and please send my hearty thanks to Herr Braatz. Also, great job on the site revamping; and I appreciate the love and care you dedicate to such a vitally important website.

Thanks

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 129: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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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