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Cantata BWV 13
Meinen Seufzer, meine Tränen
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of September 16, 2007

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 13, 2007):
Week of Sept 16: Cantata 13, ³Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen²

Week of Sept 16, 2007

Cantata 13, ³Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen²

First Performed: January 20, 1726 - Leipzig
Second Sunday after Epiphany
Third Annual Cantata Cycle, 1725-27 (Jahrgang III)

After a hiatus in the Fall of 1725, Bach began composing cantatas again for Christmas Day until Epiphany 3. Before and after the 1725-26 Christmas season, he performed cantatas by Johann Ludwig Bach.

Libretto:
Georg Christian Lehms (Mvts. 1-2, 4-5)
also Cantatas 16, 32, 35, 54, 57, 110, 151, 170, 199

Johann Heermann (Mvt. 3)
also Cantatas 24, 25, 45, 71, 89, 102, 107, 136, 148, 156, 163, 194, 199

Paul Fleming (Mvt. 6)
also Cantatas BWV 44 & BWV 97

Texts & Translations: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV13.htm

Readings:
Epistle: Romans 12: 6-16 (Love and other duties are required of us)
Gospel: John 2: 1-11 (Christ turns water into wine)
Texts of readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Epiphany2.htm

Previous Sundayıs Cantata (Epiphany 1): ³Liebster Jesu²
Next Sundayıs Cantata (Epiphany 3): 13, ³Alles Nur Nach Gottes Willen²

Other Cantatas written for Epiphany 1:
BWV 155 Mein Gott, wie langı, ach lange? (Weimar, 1716)
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV155.htm

BWV 3 Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid (Leipzig, 1725)
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV3.htm

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

Movements:

Mvt. 1: Aria (Tenor)
³Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen²
Instruments: 2 Fld, Odc, Bc

The three cantatas written for this Sunday all ignore the story of the Wedding at Cana in the Gospel and explore the realm of human suffering. It would seem that theme is devloped from the Epistle reading with its verse, ³Seid fröhlich in Hoffnung; geduldig in Trübsal² (Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation.) The entire movement is infused with a langorous chromaticism which vividly illustrate the sighs and tears of the text. The two pairs of winds have strongly contrasting music which is further emphasized by the octave displacement.

Mvt. 2: Recitative (Alto)
³Was ists, dass du mich gesuchet?²
Instruments: BC

The recitative continues the extreme chromaticism which marks the cantata. The arioso which concludes the recitative is reminiscent of the first Kyrie of the B Minor Mass in its walking bass, dissonant suspensions and wide-ranging intervals.

Mvt. 3: Chorale (Alto)
³Der Gott, der mir hat versprochen
Instruments: 2 Fld, Odc, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

The warm major key chorale has a lyrical ritornello which is has the effect of ³Jesu Bleibet² (Jesu, Joy of Manıs Desiring) in Cantata BWV 147. The chorale tune was also used in the previous Sundayıs cantata. This movement appears in many modern arrangements as a stand-alone anthem for choirs.

Mvt. 4: Recitative (Soprano)
³Mein Kummer nimmet zu²
Instruments: Bc

Once again, sorrow and weeping are depicted with extreme chromatic modulations taking the harmony as far as E flat minor.

Mvt. 5: Aria (Bass)
³Ächzen und erbärmlich Weinen"
Instruments: 2 Fld, Vn, Bc

This extraordinary movement has two strongly contrasting themes: a tortured chromatic theme for ³Ächzen² which stretches the limit of diatonic harmony, and a sprightly, major key dactylic theme which illustrates the joy of heaven. The central B section calls for virtuoso singing: the voice has to sing a highly-ornamented line at ³Freudenlicht² and then jump down the octave for equally difficult music. The technical demands of this aria make us wonder if Bach had an exceptionally-talented singer at his disposal that Sunday.

Mvt. 6: Chorale (Choir)
³So sei nun, Seele, deine²
Instruments: 2 Fld, Odc, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

This chorale is one of the few Bach chorales which appears consistently in modern hymn books. Except in Lutheran books, there are only roughly 7 or 8 Bach chorales which are sung regularly in churches today. Historical note: The American Episcopal Church published a hymn book in 1940, but anti-German sentiment was judged too strong to use the German titles of the chorales. This chorale was renamed ³Innsbruck² and ³O Haupt Voll Blut² as ³Passion Chorale².

Chorale Melodies:
³Freu dich sehr²: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Freu-dich-sehr.htm

³O Welt Ich Muss dich Lassen²: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/O-Welt-ich-muss.htm

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV13.htm

Recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV13.htm#RC

Music (free streaming download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV13-Mus.htm

Commentaries:
Crouch: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/013.html
AMG: http://wm05.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:3936~T1

Previous Discussion:January 14, 2001: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV13-D.htm

Jean Laaninen wrote (September 15, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Both chorales used in this cantata are old favorites, and as I go through the weeks I am discovering that many hymn tunes that I've known for a lifetime have been employed to develop or expand the cantatas. I've read through all the previous discussion just this evening, and I have to agree the chromaticism is heavy and ponderous. More and more I am inclined toward the understanding of the text painting explained by Schweitzer, in this regard, he explains what I have experienced musically, but have seldom formulated into words. This makes me inclined to think that the fullest expression that can be gained in understanding Bach's motifs and many times the manner in which he uses them comes down to the astute observations made so long ago. Today, of course, others may offer different interpretations with validity, but some of these examples truly express the heartfelt experience of Lutheranism and the struggle of life generally in a very profound manner.
It was interesting to read the past discussions and to also read Aryeh's translation of the cantata text.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 16, 2007):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< More and more I am inclined toward the understanding of the text painting explained by Schweitzer, in this regard, he explains what I have experienced musically, but have seldom formulated into words. >
Schweitzer postulated a detailed system of melodic motifs in Bach which was heavily influenced by a contemporary fascination with Wagner's symphonic language of leitmotif development and transformation. Many of his interpretations are too specific and contrived to be accomodated in the more generalized Baroque doctrine of affects. Schweitzer often creates extended programmes of motivic interplay which would be suitable for a Romantic tone poem. For instance, he frequently invents a narrative or symbolic meaning for sinfonias to cantatas which Bach probably intended to be formal introductions without specific "meaning." He was certainly a pioneer in the interpretation of Bach's music but his system needs to be sesnitively applied.

Jean Laaninen wrote (September 16, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] I'm interested in your comment above regarding sinfonias only being introductions, without specific meaning. I don't understand how Bach could put together a selection of pieces without considering the appropriate emotional connection to the text he was illustrating at a given time. His development of his textual work argues against such a view. Where does this detached idea originate? With a certain scholar or two? I don't believe it. I would really like to know who came up with this idea???

Some people say Bach did nothing without giving consideration to his choices, and if there is any truth in the matter the connection between sinfonias and the following textual material in my view and from my limited amount of listening, the listener can expect some connection. It seems to me that a listener and student would want to try to get inside the mind of the composer in such an event, and see for himself or herself if there might indeed not be some connection. In this regard, Bach was working in churches, and I cannot see for example, someone getting up and giving a little talk, or a musical presentation in a service that had no connection with the other parts. In my view good service planning from Bach's time and before would have had concrete ideas regarding the issue of total presentation. I am not saying here, for example, that Bach was or was not supervised closely, but only that I find a coherent aspect in his musical presentations that
argues against this viewpoint that I have heard mentioned before. I don't mean this personally, but rather in a way that could open up academic discussion

Perhaps at times there would be a connection between keys. Other times, some kinds of formal elements might bear some resemblance. Maybe a mixture of moods would be important. Perhaps the sinfonia in a certain case, or other instrumental interlude (?) might have been prepared for an event that has some parallel to the text chosen for the cantata. This is a kind of broad research based perspective that I am aspousing here...not automatic acceptance of the views of one or two scholars. My own training in Baroque Music Theory also argues against an automatic acceptance of this viewpoint. We were taught to dig in with the score and listen for elements that might have bearing upon one another. In this case among other things, I am referring to the idea of similar motifs, for example. It isn't that I am an advanced scholar in this regard, but would you say that in the case of Handel and The Messiah there is no real connection between the separate instrumental parts, or would you say there was a strong connection? Presentations are designed to be coherent, at least in the periods we are discussing and it just doesn't make sense to me at any level that Bach would just slap something on to the front of a cantata, and say good enough. If we have scholars in the group, and we do, I think our thinking should go a lot deeper.

I also do not really understand the connection to Wagner here, even though I've listened to Wagner, and sung a little Wagner (at my level). Of course Romantic Period music appeals in some way to heightened emotions, but Bach appeals to the intelligentsia, and even they have emotional responses. I woulds like to hear from a variety of people on this topic.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 16, 2007):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< I'm interested in your comment below regarding sinfonias only being introductions, without specific meaning. I don't understand how Bach could put together a selection of pieces without considering the appropriate emotional connection to the text he was illustrating at a given time. His development of his textual work argues against such a view. >
A good example would be the concertante sinfonia for oboes and bassoon which opens Cantata BWV 42, "Am Abend Aber desselbigen Sabbats". This virtuoso allegro movement has no narrative or symbolic connection with the rest of the cantata. It simply can't be allegorized in any way. It's just an overture which arrests the listener's attention by its brilliance.

The same thing could be said of the Overture to Messiah. The E minor Grave of the Overture was allegorized by Romantic commentators as the lament of Israel before the coming of the Messiah. There's nothing in the libretto to suggest such a program. Handel wrote a French overture because he opened nearly all his oratorios and operas with this musical form.

Jean Laaninen wrote (September 16, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] If Bach used a particular sinfonia to brilliantly arouse the attention, and it was used in another context, did it arouse the audience in a manner similar to the cantata you point out? This is one of those endless questions that requires more thought and study if there is a possibility that the context is meaningful and something may have been omitted.

My take on the Overture to Messiah has not been as specified as the Romantic composers, though I have heard that point of view. However, the depth of the work suggests a universally profound quality of need to me, and the Pastoral Symphony a calm and beautiful depiction of the response to that need. I see a connectedness between the pieces. Am I shaped by the context of the rest of that work? I think I am. But a point I'd like to make is that I think Schweitzer used the language of his training and his good ear and knowledge of scores to present a system of understanding--not that his recommendations were so much in the Romantic tradition vein, but that this was the language that had developed in the academic world for the purpose of putting some kinds of explanations on the works he studied. Even though this academic language developed during the Romantic Period, it seems to me that the use, for example of motives could have well been chosen (remember, Bach's training was within the family and then extended, but not a university oriented curriculum) from experience with meaning and creative development ahead of the language that came to be used later. Such is often the case and I think Schweitzer is a good example of how such an explanatory process can be borne out. To be sure I am not going to take the time to research everything that comes up deeply, but I am going to try to draw connections on some cantatas in the future that I think may have been overlooked. Or, I will continue to question some perspectives. I don't disagree that the formal structure would have called for an opening that catches the attention, but I am not so sure I would ever accept the idea that there isn't some connectedness or relevance to what has been given.

I appreciate all the work everyone does to make these weekly discussions available. This is a wide field, and it takes time to absorb. I tried listening to all the cantatas a while back during a three month period, but I did not retain too much. The weekly discussions are an awesome format and I appreciate all people share.

Alain Bruguieres wrote (September 16, 2007):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< I don't disagree that the formal structure would have called for an opening that catches the attention, but I am not so sure I would ever accept the idea that there isn't some connectedness or relevance to what has been given. >
I entirely agree with the point of view expressed by Jean.

I'm not completely convinced by Schweitzer-like analyses, if only because, very often, Bach uses a pre-existing concerto movement. Such a piece cannot have been written as a perfect musical summary of a yet non-existent libretto.

This doesn't mean that any brillant instrumental piece could serve as an introduction to any cantata. Even if you assume that instrumental intros are merely decorative (meant to capture the attention of the audience), surely you don't expect to find the same sort decorations at a wedding, a birthday party, or a burial. For example a symphonia in a pastoral mood introducing a text revolving around the birth of Christ, is not something unexpected.

Now could any piece in a pastoral mood do for any cantata on such a text? I'm not so sure. For one thing I'm not confident enough to decree 'these two pieces bear no musical relationship whatever'. At best I could state that I can't detect any formal link.However I sense that those symphonias 'fit in'. I believe that Bach thinks deep. The discussions on this list have convinced me over the months (years) that a Bach cantata is a marvellous construction with a general pattern motivated both by musical and non-musical considerations, and not a juxtaposition of nice pieces of music written on a text which serves as a mere pretext.

The Chateau de Versailles' Gardens were not conceived independently from the Chateau itself.

Julian Mincham wrote (September 16, 2007):
Re Bach's use of earlier instrumental material he did this much more in the 3rd and 4th than in the second cycle. BWV 146 and BWV 35, soon to come up on list are good examples, but there are a number of others. My own view is that he had very good judgement in what was 'fit for purpose' and chose a previously composed work when he knew it would 'fit well' into the new design--it may even have had some commonality of musical motives.

The sinfonia of BWV 42, recently mentioned as an example, is the only one from the second cycle and it gives a good example of how massively wrong Schweitzer could be on occasions (although I am the first to acknowledge his achievements at a time when scolars knew far less about Bach or his practices than we do now). Schweitzer (vol 2, pp 339-440) offers an extraordinary interpretation of this movement. Firstly he states, mistakenly, that it ends in a minor key. The opening ritornello section is in the jubilant D major key and the score terminates with a cadence in F sharp minor. Were Bach to have intended ending it here, it would have been a completely unique moment in his output. Nowhere else does he end a large-scale allegro of this type in a key other than the tonic. True, he sometimes concludes a slow movement of a concerto on the dominant chord of the following (final) movement (e.g. keyboard concerto in Fm---BWV 1056 and the concerto for two keyboards in Cm--BWV 1060) but this is a different matter, relating to the overall structure of the work. He does not do this in the large-scale cantata movements, especially the opening choruses and sinfonias (the recitatives are an entirely different matter).

The answer is that Bach would have left a 'da capo' direction at the minor cadence, requiring a return to the beginning and concluding at the perfect cadence in the tonic key over bars 52/53. ( as in a number of examples, including the E major keyboard and violin concerti). This is the obvious place to end, following a statement of the original ritornello. Was the 'da capo' indication missing from Schweitzer's score? Even so he might have worked it out.

Schweitzer's further interpretation of the music (vol 2, pp 339/340) is also nonsense. He must have thought of it as a much slower tempo than we now believe it to be because he claims it has a similar mood to the opening chorus of BWV 6. The strings, he suggests, paint a picture of 'the hovering shades of evening' which 'melt into each other and become darker and darker'. The first oboe 'sings a hymn of longing, that dies away in the light'. Schweitzer was, of course, not fully aware of the extent of Bach's recycling which modern scholarship has revealed although, ironically, he is sometimes quick to condemn a movement as brought back from another (inferior?) work if he doesn't like it e.g. the tenor aria from BWV 38.

There's still much in Schweitzer which is worth re-reading and in any case massive minds should be excused some massive errors!

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 16, 2007):
re: BWV 42
< Schweitzer (vol 2, pp 339-440) offers an extraordinary interpretation of this movement. Firstly he states, mistakenly, that it ends in a minor key. The opening ritornello section is in the jubilant D major key and the score terminates with a cadence in F sharp minor. Were Bach to have intended ending it here, it would have been a completely unique moment in his output. Nowhere else does he end a large-scale allegro of this type in a key other than the tonic. True, he sometimes concludes a slow movement of a concerto on the dominant chord of the following (final) movement (e.g. keyboard concerto in Fm---BWV 1056 and the concerto for two keyboards in Cm--BWV 1060) but this is a different matter, relating to the overall structure of the work. He does not do this in the large-scale cantata movements, especially the opening choruses and sinfonias (the recitatives are an entirely different matter). >
There are some multi-movement keyboard pieces by Bach that (arguably) do this also. For example:

- The G minor Toccata BWV 915, in its first real Allegro (starting at bar 18 after a brief introduction and Adagio) is in B-flat major, but ends with an extraordinary deceptive cadence at bar 68...on a D major 7th chord! After a prolongation of one more bar, that harmonic stroke has lurched us back into G minor for the next Adagio.

- The C minor Toccata BWV 911, all of its internal cadences separating the movements are on the dominant.

- The C minor Fantasia and Fugue BWV 537 starts with a 6/4 movement of 48 bars, and the last two of those are a descending tetrachord cadence from C minor down to dominant. Connective tissue there to the fugue.

And the "Aus der Tiefen" cantata, BWV 131, sort of ends on the dominant, doesn't it? It's in the "correct" key, G minor, but then there's tacked on those three bars where it does a Phrygian cadence with 7-6 back onto G (major), Adagio, and sounds as if it's supposed to go on to C minor next. Something in the original liturgy at that point, in either C minor or major?

Julian Mincham wrote (September 16, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote::
< There are some multi-movement keyboard pieces by Bach that (arguably) do this also. For example:
- The G minor Toccata
BWV 911, in its first real Allegro (starting at bar 18 after a brief introduction and Adagio) is in B-flat major, but ends with an extraordinary deceptive cadence at bar 68...on a D major 7th chord! After a prolongation of one more bar, that harmonic stroke has lurched us back into G minor for the next Adagio.
- The C minor Toccata
BWV 911, all of its internal cadences separating the movements are on the dominant.
- The C minor Fantasia and Fugue BWV 537 starts with a 6/4 movement of 48 bars, and the last two of those are a descending tetrachord cadence from C minor down to dominant. Connective tissue there to the fugue. >
Yes but the C minor toccata as a piece begins and ends in C as does the somewhat prolix fugue. This does not alter my view that whilst Bach did experiment with tonalities particularly with Inner movements, first and last movements were very unusually finished in a key other that that which they began. As to the Gm toccata, the adagio tacked onto the first movement proper does end in G, the tonic and seems to be almost a postlude to the 'allegro' rather than a separate movement (it's only 11 bars long). The toccatas were quite experimental in a number of ways and I would see Bach here doing something similar to that which was established in the French Overtures--slow, fast and slow, beginning and ending the whole process in the tonic key.

< And the "Aus der Tiefen" cantata, BWV 131, sort of ends on the dominant, doesn't it? It's in the "correct" key, G minor, but then there's tacked on those three bars where it does a Phrygian cadence with 7-6 back onto G (major), Adagio, and sounds as if 's supposed to go on to C minor next. Something in the original liturgy at that point, in either C minor or major? >
I'd beg to differ on this one. Isn't the key of the movement A minor, ending on an A maj chord with a tacked on phrygian cadence? Seems to me that the interesting tonal point here is not how it ends (although that final cadence is, of course striking) but how it begins----- on a dominant chord---which interestingly is in 1st inversion. An analogy here might be found in Beethoven's Tempest piano sonata, opening on a dominant chord, also in 1st inversion. Bach, it seems did it, like so many things, first.

I think that general point stands that large scale OUTER movements (particularly of concerti of which the sinfonia from BWV 42 is considered to have been taken) did not end in keys other than that in which they began.

BUT even here there are exceptions although they are extremely rare and there is usually some symbolic reason for it (which may explain why it occasionally occurs in the text based movements rather than in concerti). One is the chorale fantasia for 135 which ends on the dominant chord of E (uniquely, a fantasia with the CF in the bass which partially accounts for this but also following the pattern of Bach's particular harmonisation of the chorale) and the finale chorus of 68, the last 8 bars of which wrench the key from the tonic of Am to end in the subdom Dm (the key of the opening chorus and also possibly symbolising the 'higher plain' where God resides).

The last words have yet to be written on Bach's extraordinary experiments with (for him) the relatively new maj/min system. In many ways he wrote the text book--and then threw it away when it suited him

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 16, 2007):
Key of BWV 131

<< And the "Aus der Tiefen" cantata, BWV 131, sort of ends on the dominant, doesn't it? It's in the "correct" key, G minor, but then there's tacked on those three bars where it does a Phrygian cadence with 7-6 back onto G (major), Adagio, and sounds as if it's supposed to go on to C minor next. Something in the original liturgy at that point, in either C minor or major? >>
< I'd beg to differ on this one. Isn't the key of the movement A minor, ending on an A maj chord with a tacked on phrygian cadence? >
Different edition. It's G minor in the Bach-Gesellschaft, and A minor in some others. It's our old friend, the Chorton-Cammerton distinction at Mühlhausen...and different editions taking a different tack with it.

Peter Smaill wrote (September 16, 2007):
Of the ten Cantatas set to texts by Georg Christian Lehms, BWV 13 is perhaps the gloomiest of all; and most are sombre in tone. The illustration which very weakly (if at all!) links to the Gospel, the story of the wedding at Cana, illustrates Lehms' temperament well: whereas the Gospel tells of turning water into wine, with Lehms it is the astringent wormwood that turns to wine. The point is I think that wormwood (and gall) are OT -Lamentations- images for bitterness.

As to the poetic structure , the key is the fact that the last chorale is added (perhaps by Bach himself) to Lehms' text. Otherwise it is constructed in chiastic form:

Aria
Recitative
Chorale
Recitative
Aria

Lehms' text has line lengths 7 7 8 14 6, totaling 42; unusual, and mathematically producing three groups of 14. The odd numbered sections are forced to have non-rhyming odd lines accordingly.

Theologically the work inclines IMO to Quietist emphases on resignation to divine will. Quietism had been condemned within Roman Catholicism not long before Lehms was writing, in 1687 and the tendency is often attacked as deist; in this Cantata, for example, there is no direct mention of Jesus and it is God , not Jesus, who turns the wormwood into wine. The "light of gladness" is achieved not by faith, or grace or sacraments; simply by looking to heaven for comfort.

Julian Mincham wrote (September 17, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Different edition. It's G minor in the Bach-Gesellschaft, and A minor in some others. It's our old friend, the Chorton-Cammerton distinction at Mühlhausen..at Mühlhausen..<WBR>.and different editions taking a differe >
But is the harmony altered in these different editions?

I have the Barenreiter Urtext edition in which the final chorus of BWV 131 is in Am. The fourth to last bar has a perfect cadence in the tonic key of A, third to last bar has an A major chord, followed by the tarted up phrygian cadence built upon Bb and the final bar is again A major.

If this movement were to end on the dominant, in a Gm version the A major chords would be D major. Is this what happens? Can't see how the phrygian cadence works if it does. I guess it would function as a neapolitan.

Russell Telfer wrote (September 17, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Of the ten Cantatas set to texts by Georg Christian Lehms, BWV 13 is perhaps the gloomiest of all; and most are sombre in tone. The illustration which very weakly (if at all!) links to the Gospel, the story of the wedding at Cana, illustrates Lehms' temperament well: whereas the Gospel tells of turning water into wine, with Lehms it is the astringent wormwood that turns to wine. >
I knew I'd written about this cantata earlier this year, so I read the whole thread from 2001 to make sure I wouldn't contradict myself. I accept what Peter writes, and I think it is relevant that Julian Mincham and I have been having, I hope, a well-mannered argument about the dichotomy on the one hand of allowing the overall context of the cantata, and its purpose in Bach's immediate work week, to dictate the nature of all the music in the separate verses\movements of the cantatas; and my simpler wish: to see text match music in any separate movement.

I know I am right, but on the other hand, I can live with being wrong as well as right. No doubt more will follow. Peter's declaration almost assures it.

As an aside, Douglas Cowling deserves a vote of thanks for stepping in to replace the scheduled Discussion Leader. I haven't seen any mention of this elsewhere.

Julian Mincham wrote (September 17, 2007):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< I think it is relevant that Julian Mincham and I have been having, I hope, a well-mannered argument about and my simpler wish: to see text match music in any separate movement. >
well mannered discussion rather than argument Russell??

< I know I am right, >
Ah aren't we all??

< but on the other hand, I can live with being wrong as well as right >
here we might differ-----!!-----

Neil Halliday wrote (September 18, 2007):
Russell Telfer wrote:
>...and my simpler wish: to see text match music in any separate movement.<
In becoming more acquainted with this cantata, I must say I initially agreed with Russell's observation about the apparent miss-match between words and music in the lovely alto aria, with its delightful "perpetual mobile" ritornellos (Russell) in the "warm major-key" tonality (Douglas). One explanation is that Bach has taken the musical form from the first line(s) only of the text: "God who has promised me his constant support", and maintained this musical form for the whole aria, despite the strong despair expressed in the remainder of the text, in order to confirm (for the congregation) the constancy of God's support, despite apppearances to the contrary in many situations.

This is in contrast to the bass aria, where the music with its contrasting motifs of despair (an almost atonal "serial" motif) and joy (dactyl motif) does indeed reflect the contrasting ideas expressed in the text; and in any case the other parts of the cantata's music - and text - are indeed gloomy enough, so we can be thankful for the "warm" mof the alto chorale.

I think Julian made the point about seeing the musical setting of individual movements in the context of the whole cantata, which I am able to do by considering the above points.

BTW, while the "warm" alto aria has a structural form like the famous BWV 147 chorales, the actual "perpetual motion" figuration reminds me very much of that of the unison violins in the tenor aria BWV 165/5.

-------

Richter's BWV 13 [2] is one of his notably successful Bach cantata recordings, including a (unusual for him) gentle closing chorale without over-long notes at the ends of phrases. Rilling [4] misses out on the deeply felt emotion of the opening aria because of his quick tempo (Richter has a superb obbligato 'english horn' (oboe da caccia). Both Richter and Rilling use the alto sections of the choir in the alto aria, which I expect is the most satisfying method. (Haven't listened to the BCW samples of other recordings yet).

One point I want to explore further is the timbre of the unison recorders and solo violin in the bass aria. I'm not entirely happy with it (reminding me a little of the eerie sound perhaps of a horror movie soundtrack). Could the recorders cease playing in the 'joy motif' sections, leaving just the solo violin to accompany the ensemble, in these sections?

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 13: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ŭOctober 1, 2011 ŭ06:19:04