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Cantata BWV 162
Ach! ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe
Discussions - Part 1

Discussions in the Week of October 13, 2002 (1st round)

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 16, 2002):
BWV 162 - Introduction

The subject of this week’s discussion (October 13, 2002), according to Klaus Langrock’s suggested list (the last one in his list), is the early Solo Cantata BWV 162 ‘Ach! ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe’ (Ah! I see, now as I go to the wedding). The text by Salomo Franck refers to both to the Gospel for the day Matthew 22: 1-14 (the parable of the marriage of the King’s son) and Epistle for the day: Ephesians 5: 15-21 (relating the conduct between a man and his wife in marriage to the spiritual relationship between Christ and his Church).

This is an early cantata, composed and performed firstly in Weimar in 1715. This version arrived to us in an incomplete set of parts (SATB soloists, 4-part chorus, strings, bassoon, and continuo. Bach performed the cantata again in 1723, his first year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig. In this revised version he added part for corno da tirassi.


The details of the recordings of this cantata can be found at the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: Cantata BWV 162 - Recordings

As an early cantata, all its five complete recordings come from the recorded cantata cycles: Rilling [1], Harnoncourt [2], Koopman [3], Suzuki [4], and Leusink [5]. Rilling, Harnoncourt, and Leusink use the Leipzig version. Koopman’s offers us the possibility of hearing two movements (Mvts. 1 & 6) in both the Weimar and Leipzig versions. Suzuki adopts the Weimar, but adds an obbligato flute for Mvt. 3, in his own reconstruction. Some conductors use regular trumpet instead of de corno da tirassi. In short, there are many options to choose from.

Additional Information

In the page of recordings mentioned above you can also find links to:
The original German text (at Walter F. Bischof Website); English translations by Francis Browne and Z. Philip Ambrose; Hebrew translation will come;
Score (Vocal & Piano version);
Commentary: in English by Simon Crouch (Listener’s Guide); in Japanese (by Nagamiya Tutomu); in Spanish by Julio Sánchez Reyes:

All of Bach’s early cantatas (pre-Leipzig) have a special charm, and this one, although not as famous as BWV 4, BWV 71, BWV 106, BWV 131, etc., is no exception. Each one of the three arias (for bass, for soprano, and a duet for alto & tenor) has its own character. The first is about fear and anxiety; the second is sentimental; and the third is dance-like. There is a lot of material to captivate the ear, and the cantata as whole deserves many repeated listenings (but actually all of them are, aren’t they?).

I hope to see many of you participating in the discussion.

Juozas Rimas wrote (October 17, 2002):

The musical center of weight of this cantata is IMHO in the bass aria. The trumpet adds much to the gloomy mood - but the Harnoncourt's trumpeter [2] doesn't feel absolutely sure (or is it "Cor da tirassi" which is hard to play surely at all?). The bass, Robert Holl, sounds heavy, tired and almost awkward at times. Don't spoil your first impression about the aria and rather listen to Suzuki's [4] lively orchestra and Kooy's singing (cleaner and easier) first. Without the trumpet, part of the dark atmosphere is taken away though.

Equiluz [2] is more interesting in the recitative than Sakurada – very expressive diction. If I were at church, I'd be listening to him more closely :) Equiluz also controls his voice at loud points very aptly. Sakurada's [4] approach is more "official", reserved but it works too - I can't say the performance is much worse, although I definitely prefer Equiluz here.

Don't spoil your first impression about the soprano aria too and avoid listening to Harnoncourt's [2] boy soprano, who is loose and harsh from the very first notes. Simon Crouch suggests that the obbligato instrument is missing in the soprano aria: I don't know if it's likely to be true but with that kind of singing the aria was tiring to listen to.

Suzuki [4] uses a flute (which is not listed in the instrumentation of the cantata at ) for that missing obligato. Why the flute? (it does work with soprano but is it simply a Suzuki's guess or a result of some research?)

Yumiko Kurisu [4], although not the best soprano I have heard, is still a revelation after the Harnoncourt's singer [2]. Anyway, there should be a better soprano performance of the aria, for sure (Holton/Schlick/Auger?)

Esswood [2] finally doesn't cross the scream-line in the recitative yet Mera's voice [4] is simply more pleasant. BTW, it was the 1st time I heard Mera and it sounded SO feminine, I wouldn't ever guess it's a male counter-tenor – just a very bright female alto or some other peculiar female voice. It's a nice discovery and I hope to listen to more of Mera in the Suzuki collection [4]. I prefer female altos generally but now I've found a male alto with no masculine traits - great!

The tenor-alto aria doesn't have moments which would make me want to listen to it dozens of times but with clear singing it's quite enjoyable for its forward motion and the intertwining tenor and alto lines (the word "erfreut" is so carefully elaborated). The Japanese team [4] seems to be more balanced to me although Equiluz and Esswood [2] are not far behind.

The final chorale is standard but still fine, especially the last few seconds (the ascending voice is such a little yet impressive detail that decorates many chorales).

Bottom line: Equiluz' [2] and Mera's [4] recitatives as well as Kooy's [4] bass aria (alas, without the trumpet) are my favorite performances of this cantata so far.

Thomas Shepherd wrote (October 17, 2002):
Apart from main feast days of the church, it is most unusual that the Gospel reading from the Lutheran lectionary that Bach was following for the 20th Sunday of Trinity and those of cycle 'A' of the (Revised) Common Lectionary used nearly universally in most denominations of modern Christianity, are the same. So this week we can contemplate a cantata that has direct relevance to the church services held this week and the sermons preached and listened to. One of the most striking points of the Gospel text is the message of the strongest condemnation of the hired wedding guest who is not properly dressed for the occasion. Bach's librettist, Salomo Franck, points to a reflection upon this part of the parable. It promotes the response that 'many are called by few are chosen' which is one of those proverbial sayings of the New Testament.

I have only Susuki's recording. These are reflections from listening to the work without reading anything about the cantata beforehand. I was thoroughly moved the instant I heard the first somesombre movement, thought the recitatives to be sensible and workmanlike without any particular frills. I did not understand what a flute was doing in the work ­ it did not make immediate sense. Yet it is prettily done. As I heard movement 5 for the first time, I thought that it was a somewhat dull continuo and voice set piece, yet it suddenly comes alive as the counterpoint of the two voices weaves the melody backwards and forwards.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 18, 2002):
This will be the last time that I will provide detailed information about the provenance of a cantata under discussion. The reason is that I have found a database site on the internet that will give the same, up-to-date information about each cantata that I have been including with one major difference: the database does not give answers in a narrative form. It reduces everything to searchable categories (a great advantage for anyone not able to read the long, NBA-KB narratives in the German language) over having to extract laboriously these bits of information from the NBA KBs. The searchable categories also enable research which would otherwise require examining each KB for certain bits of information – a formidable task!

The database does not cover everything that is contained in the KBs. If I notice something of importance, I will try to include this in future reports. I suggest that list members try to use the database (perhaps Aryeh will also include a shortcut to this reference database on his site.)

The URL for the English version of this database is:

Although the results of the search are given in German, I think that most individuals, nevertheless, will be able to figure out what these results mean.

Here is some information about the site (quoted directly):

Sources of J. S. Bach's Works

Database of the works of Bach and their handwritten Sources till 1850

Choose one of 4 catalogues for different searches:

A project of Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen/Germany in cooperation with Bach-Institut Göttingen/Germany
With help of DaimlerChrysler-Fonds, the Foundation of Commerzbank and VG Musikedition.

Here is information about the 4 catalogues:

1. Works:
You are looking for:
... a single composition. Please enter the number according to BWV and/or a title key-word (in German)!
... a group of compositions, which correspond in one or several parameters.

2. From Works to Sources:
You wish to know which manuscript sources (or in some cases, original publications) exist for a specific work by J. S. Bach, or which sources have been declared lost.

3. Sources:
You are looking for:
... a single manuscript source. Please enter the call number (or a characteristic element of it) into the space marked "Library siglum, call number"!
... a group of manuscript sources, which share one or more of the criteria listed above.
Please enter one or more characteristic search key-words into an appropriate space!

4. From Sources to Works:
You wish to know which compositions by J. S. Bach are to be found in the source (or the original publication) and you wish to get further information about these compositions.
Please enter a call number or a characteristic element of it!

In the “Works” database/catalogue, try typing “162” in the box for BWV#.

In the “Works to Sources” database/catalogue, choose “Weimar Fsg.” To see the details of the Weimar version of this cantata, etc., etc.

I had completed the following before finding this database site:

BWV 162 - Provenance:

See: Cantata BWV 162 - Provenance

Thomas Shepherd wrote )October 18, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz] Although fairly new to the group, I have come very quickly to appreciate Thomas Braatz's learning and erudition. Clicking our way through layers of a database, however well constructed, will never be the same. as his NARRATIVE style about each of the cantatas. The short essays have always been illuminating and have often revealed hidden pointers as to why the cantata under scrutiny is the way it is.

For one, I will miss the weekly read!

Juozas Rimas wrote (October 18, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks to Thomas Braatz for the Bach's works information website URL!

I have some questions about the information you gave, though:

< Baßo [sic] >
what instrument is this and in which movement?

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 18, 2002):
Juozas Rimas Jr asked:
< I have some questions about the information you gave, though:
<< Baßo [sic] >>
what instrument is this and in which movement? >
This is the bass voice. Notice that its order among the parts follows the tenor part. What is unusual here is the odd spelling of "Basso", a spelling that defies rules of German orthography that were adopt 1 1/2 centuries later. In Bach's time some elements of German orthography (spelling) were still somewhat 'free-floating.' Simply read an original printing by Benjamin Franklin to get an idea as to just how flexible the rules of spelling can be. Bach usually writes "Basso" but not in this instance.

<< Missing from the Weimar set of parts is the 2nd violin part and the obligato instrument that played in the 3rd mvt. There was also probably another part for organ. what obligato instrument is missing in the 3rd mvt? Is Suzuki's [4] guess about the flute correct? >>
His guess is probably a good one if it fits into the time slot when Bach composed a number of cantatas for an excellent flauto traverso player. What you hear on the Suzuki recording is a recorder which was widely used early on in Leipzig. Then came a series of cantatas where Bach composed very difficult parts for a flauto traverso player. As far as I can remember, this flurry of activity (composing solo parts for the flauto traverso) extended over a period that lasted only a few months, after which solo parts became only sporadic. This would be something to check out on the database that I had referred to yesterday.

If BWV 162's repeat performance took place within the specific time frame that I refer to, then Suzuki [4] probably should have used a flauto traverso rather than a recorder.

Guessing which instrument (and don't forget the actual notes as well) has to be left to reasonable assumptions. In the NBA, the editors have left a blank part that runs above the other existing instruments (bc) and voice part. This part has to be recomposed and should sound stylistically like Bach. For this the soprano line offers many cues (the shape of the musical phrases, etc.).

Philippe Bareille wrote (October 19, 2002):
I prefer the Leipzig version with a slide trumpet which "contributes to the musical density of the aria that is developed from the rhetorically inspired motif "Ach, ich sehe" (Gerhard Schuhmacher).

I've listened to Harnoncourt [2] and Koopman [3]. The former uses the Leipzig version whilst the latter gives both.

Both renditions are quite enjoyable despite a few glitches. In the soprano aria I was surprised that Harnoncourt [2] did not replace the missing solo instrumental part. It's out of character for him. Koopman decided to improvise a part in the right hand of the organ accompaniment. The young Tobias Eiwanger from Tölz (Harnoncourt) [2] has a lovely voice but unfortunately the soprano aria is too demanding for his small voice which is overstreched throughout the aria. The sound he produces is quite unpleasant (squeaky) especially in the higher register. I found Barbara Schlick (Koopman) [3] hardly better in the higher range but all in all she is more comfortable with the exacting demands of the music.

The opening bass aria is a "must have." Harnoncourt's trumpeter [2] and ensemble are first rate as well as the bass Holl. Koopman [3] is also satisfying here in both versions (with and without the trumpet). Otherwise I would like to add that Koopman's tenor Paul Agnew is no match for Equiluz.

NB: I bought a CD of cantatas by Herreweghe that contains one of my favourite cantatas the BWV 107. With the exception of the opening chorus what a disappointment after Leonhardt! It would be cruel to compare H. Crook to Equiluz!! As for the Soprano Agnès Mellon, she is no match for the outstanding Marcus Klein. Listen to the way the boy sings the trills, how he colours his voice in the lower register, his expression in the most awkward passages! and then listen to Agnès Mellon. Marcus Klein demonstrates that in Bach a good boy soprano can be more adequate, expressive and comfortable than a more confirmed female soprano.

Juozas Rimas wrote (October 20, 2002):
Philippe Bareille wrote:
< NB: I bought a CD of cantatas by Herreweghe that contains one of my favourite cantatas the BWV 107. With the exception of the opening chorus what a disappointment after Leonhardt! It would be cruel to compare H Crook to Equiluz!! >
I haven't listened to the cantata before but now I listened to the tenor aria "Darum ich mich ihm ergebe" and Equiluz [2] is superb in it - definitely one of the best tenors I have heard. No harshness or meowing. Great!

BTW, in the tenor aria "Wenn auch gleich aus der Höllen", what instrument is playing? Also, didn't you get an impression that something went wrong with the bow in the very beginning?

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 19, 2002):
BWV 162 - The Recordings

Last week I have been listening to the following recordings of Cantata BWV 162:

[1] Helmuth Rilling (1975-1976)
[2] Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1986)
[3] Ton Koopman (1995)
[4] Masaaki Suzuki (1996)
[5] Pieter Jan Leusink (2000)

Background & Review

Only the Arias (Mvts. 1, 3 & 5) are reviewed.

The background below is taken from W. Murray Young’ book: ‘The Cantatas of J.S. Bach – An Analytical Guide’ (1989).

Mvt. 1 Aria for Bass
Corno da tirarsi, Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto, Continuo
Ach! ich sehe, / Itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe,
(Ah! I see / now, as I go to the wedding)

The bass expresses his fear and anxiety at being found worthy to attend the Lord’s wedding feast, and not be rejected to remain in the world’s confusion. On his way to the wedding (i.e. of his soul to the Lord), he notices the welter of his thoughts, represented by the opposing nouns juxtaposed in his text, which beset himself and all humanity. He hopes he can endure all this turmoil he sees in the world. Although the impression made by the music is tragic, the aria has a swinging melody which is very beautiful.

Schöne [1] succeeds to convey both the enthusiasm and the fear. I doubt if the trumpet Rilling uses is a right substitution for corno da tirarsi. However, the player plays splendidly and helps to establish the pessimistic instrumental line. Holl’s singing (with Harnoncourt) [2] is not varied enough to do justice with the message of the aria. He has a pleasant, deep, and authoritative voice, yet heavy and one-dimensional. Here at least we hear ‘real’ corno da tirarsi. The opening ritornello of Koopman [3] is the most charming of them all. Mertens has endless expressive means in his arsenal, and indeed the aria is getting full exposure with him. With some more weight it could been even more convincing. The instrumental introduction sets the right atmosphere to Suzuki’s rendtion [4]of the aria for bass. It is the most balanced with the right amount of drive and momentum. Kooy sounds even more truthful than Mertens. No corno da tirarsi or its equivalent can be heard here, but it is not really missed. The phlegmatic playing of the trumpet in Leusink’s rendition [5] obstructs any heroic effort of Ramselaar to overcome the strange obstacle.

Personal preference: Kooy/Suzuki [4], Schöne/Rilling [1], Mertens/Koopman [3], Holl/Harnoncourt [2], Ramselaar/Leusink [5]

Mvt. 3 Aria for Soprano
Jesu, Brunnquell aller Gnaden,
(Jesus, source of all mercies)

Sings with ecstasy at the possibility of being admitted to the Lord’s feast. Her urgent supplication is shown when she repeats ‘Jesu’ three times. This ethereal theme is well interpreted by the high soprano voice.

Augér’s rendition [1] is the most emotionally loaded. She takes this aria to planes no other singer of this aria reaches. Harnoncourt’s boy soprano [2] has too much technical difficulties to do justice with his aria. Schlick’ voice (with Koopman) [3] does not have the purity this aria calls for. On the other hand her interpretation barely sounds as a supplication. It is a passable performance, but not much more. The reconstruction of the flute part by Suzuki [4] sounds natural and (almost) original. I prefer Kurisu’s clean voice to that of Schlick. She sounds fresh and naive, almost boyish. Holton (with Leusink) [5] takes when Kurisu left and adds a dimension of spontaneity that makes her rendition almost irresistible. This is the best part of Leusink’s rendition.

Personal preference: Augér/Rilling [1], Holton/Leusink [5], Kurisu/Suzuki [4], Schlick/Koopman [3], Eiwanger/Harnoncourt. [2]

Mvt. 5 Aria (Duetto) for Alto & Tenor
In meinem Gott bin ich erfreut!
(In my God I delight!)

Has the form of the Italian aria; it is like two-part song, evoking a picture of a festal dance. This is Bach’s first use of this type of duet-aria, in which the voices repeat each line alternatively. Lovely tuns on ‘erfreut’ (rejoiced) at the end of the first line enliven this due from its beginning.

The lively flow of the duet with Rilling [1] is marred by Rogers’ excessive use of vibrato. Equiluz achieved better results with his next partner. Under Harnoncourt’s hands [2], Esswood and Equiluz make a good team in the duet. There is a nice match between their voices and it seems that they sing in one mind. Although each one has a good voice, one can hear that there is no much chemistry between von Magnus and Agnew (with Koopman) [3]. They seem to sing in parallel rather than complementary lines. The voices of Mera and Sakurada [4] blends beautifully, and the whole performance is transparent and well-balanced. It has flow, it has joy. Should one ask for more?

Personal preference: Mera & Sakurada/Suzuki [4], Esswood & Equiluz/Harnoncourt [2], Equiluz & Rogers/Rilling [1], Magnus & Agnew/Koopman [3], Buwalda & Meel/Leusink [5]


A movement to take away: The Duet (Mvt. 5) with Mera & Sakurada [4].

As always, I would like to hear other opinions, regarding the above mentioned performances, or other recordings.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 20, 2002):
BWV 162 - The Recordings:

This week I listened to the following re:

Rilling (1975-6) [1]; Harnoncourt (1986) [2]; Koopman (1995) [3]; Suzuki (1996) [4]; Leusink (2000)

Mvt. 1:

[1] Rilling:
Rilling gives a non-HIP performance of the Leipzig version of this cantata. This means, among other things, that the performance style is predominantly legato with a very heavy bc (with harpsichord) that lends this interpretation a somewhat ponderous quality. The Leipzig version is the one for which Bach added (and personally copied out the corno da tirarsi part.) Here a modern valve trumpet is used as a replacement for the corno da tirarsi. This seems to be a viable solution in that the trumpet becomes part of the instrumental texture and does not engage in any antics that would call special attention to this part, which, essentially, is an extension of a viola part and certainly not one of the high parts such as those normally given to the 1st violin, oboe, 1st trumpet or horn. Schöne, the bass, has a commanding bass voice that this part demands. Thus the listeners can identify properly with this strong voice when he sings, “Jesu, hilf, daß ich bestehe!” [“Jesus, help me to stand firmly amidst all these trials!”] This is the only version that is heard at standard pitch with the cantata sounding as normally heard in B minor.

[2] Harnoncourt:
Beginning with this HIP version and all the others that follow, the pitch is a semitone lower and sounds like Bb minor to the listener. Harnoncourt and Leusink use the Leipzig version (with the corno da tirarsi) and Koopman creates confusion between both versions, as I will explain later on. The bass, Holl, with a sometimes trembling vibrato, gives a timorous presentation of the text which is incongruous with the important line, “Jesu, hilf, daß ich bestehe!” This is a typical half-voice that loses expressive power when he sings sotto voce which he indulges in much too frequently. The accompanying figures of the corno da tirarsi played by Friedemann Immer are much too prominent. This is not a solo part as such! He does not follow the phrasing marks given by Bach.

[3] Koopman:
Koopman presents a hodge-podge of both the Weimar and Leipzig versions. In order to be authentic, he should have presented either the A minor Weimar version or the B minor Leipziger version with the corno da tirarsi, but he simply presents Leipzig B minor version twice at the same pitch a semitone lower. At the end of the CD is the version with the corno da tirarsi. There are some real problems here, had Koopman opted for the real A minor Weimar version: 1) Mertens, the bass soloist and another half-voice, would not be able to produce a low C#/Db [actual sounding pitch for our ears today] in measure 30 of the Weimar version. This note is almost inaudible in the higher Leipzig version the way it is. What remarkable bass voices Bach must have had available to him, for he certainly would not have written the part this way otherwise! 2) The corno da tirarsi (played by Jonathan Impett) is unable to play the phrasing indications as written out personally by Bach in mm. 6 and 65. He substitutes staccato notes for the slurs that are given by Bach. It is interesting, also how the horn slows down the tempo (3:49 vs. 4:14) in the 2nd version that Koopman gives. Is this because Impett is unable to play this part any faster? In any case, the horn, at this tempo (1/2 minute slower than the 1st version) seems to lend some weight and dignity to this mvt.

[4] Suzuki:
Suzuki records only the Weimar version. Perhaps he will still do the Leipzig version in the future? Kooy, another half-voice, gives a clean, convincing performance equal to that of Mertens’, but he also is unable to produce any sound on the low C#/Db in m. 30 or even on the D#/Eb note in m. 39 [these notes are the sounding notes using standard pitch and not the actual notes in the score.] Both Mertens and Kooy sing, “Jesu, hilf, daß ich bestehe!“ without conveying much of the sense that this is a matter of life and death, heaven and hell, pleasure and pain. It sounds too much as if they are simply reading/singing a passage from a narrative, “One day Jesus went….”

[5] Leusink:
This horn player, Susan Williams, is the only one that ‘blares’ many notes, an indication that the player is not in complete control of the instrument. Some notes are louder than others, as if to indicate to the listener that they “won’t come out” any other way. This simply is not professional playing. Her uneven playing is typical for this series and will remind the listener of the typical Leusink choir sound with individual voices popping in and out at random. In her defense, however, she at least attempts with some difficulty to play Bach’s phrasing correctly, which is more than Impett or Immer were able to accomplish. Ramselaar’s low notes in mm. 30 and 39 are barely audible. The strange thing about Ramselaar’s voice is that it gives the impression that it is singing very low, but the missing low notes reveal that real depth is not present.

[1] Rilling/Schöne – in a class by itself near the top
[4] Suzuki/Kooy and [3] Koopman/Mertens – definitely above average and well worth listening to
[2] Harnoncourt/Holl – just average
[5] Leusink/Ramselaar – below average

Mvt. 3:

[1] Rilling:
The harpsichord in conjunction with the bc tries to provide the missing obligato, but does not succeed very well. The fast tempo probably attempts to make up for the missing obligato part. Augér does a commendable job of singing here, but this version definitely suffers because of the missing obligato part.

[2] Harnoncourt:
Here the organ tries to supply the missing obligato part. Harnoncourt’s personal bc accompaniment on the violoncello is the best aspect of this mvt. The organ playing is lifeless and dull, and the singing of the boy soprano, Eiwanger, is atrocious – lack of vocal control, intonation, etc.

[3] Koopman:
Another uninteresting chest organ attempts to improvise a missing obligato part. Schlick’s half-voice does not add much to this rather boring performance as she only slightly touches many notes that she is supposed to sing. There is one part that she fulfills very well: “Ich bin matt, schwach und beladen” [“I am tired, weak and heavy-laden.”] This is exactly how she sounds. The only problem is that the rest of the aria does not dwell on these words alone.

[4] Suzuki:
The wonderful recorder obligato is just what this mvt. needs to raise it to a higher level of enjoyment. Kurisu, the soprano, also has a small voice, but she is not as afraid as most of the other sopranos to put more positive feeling into singing the text. In the low range this voice loses volume, to be sure, but this is also true of the other 3 HIP recordings.

[5] Leusink:
This is another boring chest organ version using a string bass instead of a violoncello. Holton does her usual instrumental-imitation type of singing. This small half-voice lacks the ability to sing the text convincingly. An instrument playing her part would most likely work just as well, if a listener wanted to hear the part without the .

[4] Suzuki/Kurisu – this version is superlative in a class all by itself
[1] Rilling/Augér – good singing not adequately supported by the instruments
[3] Koopman/Schlick – average
[5] Leusink/Holton – slightly below average
[2] Harnoncourt – poor

Mvt. 5 Duet

[1] Rilling:
Equiluz and Rogers. Despite her rather operatic tendencies, Rogers provides a reasonable match for Equiluz. The bc, however, is quite heavy, a fact that is only made worse by Rilling’s very slow tempo (almost a minute slower than the fastest tempo used by Susuki.)

[2] Harnoncourt:
Harnoncourt’s tempo is almost as slow as Rilling’s, but what a relief not to hear the bc overpowering the voices with Harnoncourt playing the cello discreetly and not allowing other instruments to be added to the continuo group. This type of bc accompaniment is very suitable for the half-voices of Esswood and Equiluz whose voices blend well together here. Esswood has only a slight tendency to sing flat at times. Equiluz, of course, is excellent as one might expect.

[3] Koopman:
Koopman (Suzuki and Leusink as well) emulates Harnoncourt’s simple treatment of the bc. Although Koopman’s treatment of the bc is also restrained, it lacks delineation and clarity. There is simply less intensity or emotional commitment here. Although the singers, von Magnus and Agnew, may not have quite the ‘togetherness’ (musically and in emotional expression) that Esswood and Equiluz have, the Koopman version, nevertheless, gives a clear rendition of the music.

[4] Suzuki:
Suzuki also uses simply an organ and a violoncello. The organ stands out more than in the other HIP recordings and the cello part almost disappears at times. Suzuki, as already mentioned, has the fastest tempo, thus giving the best expression to the word, ‘erfreut’ [“joyful”.] The voices of Mera and Sakurada, thin and lacking much volume, are very well matched. There is just a bit of ‘he-he-he-he on the word, “Leben” [mm. 83-85, 125-129] that becomes perceptible when they sing the 16th note coloraturas.

[5] Leusink:
The main ‘spoiler’ in Leusink’s recording of this mvt. is Buwalda, whose voice does not blend well with van der Meel’s. There is a lack of expression which is mainly due to the fact that these are half-voices with a limited volume capacity and a limited voice range.

[1] Rilling, [2] Harnoncourt – among the very best
[3] Koopman and [4] Suzuki – above average
[5] Leusink – below average


In order of preference:

[1] Rilling – Notice the ‘enjambement’ effect which allows the choir to sing to the end of a phrase or line of text, yet allow a musical tension to be felt that spills over into the attack of the next phrase.

[4] Suzuki – This is a wonderful OVPP version which is very special. There is a high probability that the Weimar version was sung this way under Bach's direction. It sounds just great. If only I had a complete set of Bach chorales performed with these soloists who blend so well together (and another, of course, sung by a choir of 3 – 4 voices per part!)

[2] Harnoncourt – It is exceptional to hear Harnoncourt allow legato singing of a chorale, but he allows the phrase to die off completely at the end of each line – there is a definite dead point (no tension leading on to the next phrase) between the phrases or lines of text. What he gains in using a more legato style, he loses somewhere else by inserting lifeless moments between the phrases.

[3] Koopman – Here one can hear an overemphasis on constantly changing dynamics, a special emphasis on the French trill (beginning the trill with a strong accent on the note above), and lots of crescendi and decrescendo. Koopman is trying too hard to 'make something' of this chorale. The choir sings very softly, “Steh ich da für Gottes Throne.” Why” Am I afraid to stand there? If I am wearing the proper ‘wedding attire,’ what should I have to fear?

[5] Leusink – All the usual problems are present here.

Overall Choices from the Top Down:

[1] Rilling and [4] Suzuki
[3] Koopman
[2] Harnoncourt
[5] Leusink

Marie Jensen wrote (October 21, 2002):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Although the impression made by the music is tragic, the aria has a swinging melody which is very beautiful. >
This melody reminds me of a large procession walking through the darkness to the wedding feast, everyone carrying an oil lamp (The parable of the Wise Virgins)

Aryeh wrote:
< Mvt. 3 Aria for Soprano
Jesu, Brunnquell aller Gnaden,
(Jesus, source of all mercies)
Holton takes when Kurisu left and adds a dimension of spontaneity that makes her rendition almost irresistible. This is the best part of Leusink's rendition
[5]. >
I agree. She is like a young bride, humble and at the same time longing .

Suzuki’s version [4] is technically perfect, but Holton’s aria [5] was "my moment to take away "

Wie ist das Fleisch zu solcher Ehre kommen,
Daß Gottes Sohn
Es hat auf ewig angenommen?
(BWV 162)

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 22, 2002):
BWV 162 Mvt. 3

The NBA KB gives the reasoning behind assuming that there was a missing obligato part:

1) There is a consensus among Bach scholars that an obligato part is missing here.

2) "It might have been a violin" some have claimed, "because the original 1st violin may have been lost in the shuffle when the cantatas were divided between the sons and their mother in 1750 - the 1st violin doublet that survived would not contain the solo part of the 1st violin."

Problem: There is no evidence that the Weimar cantatas ever had doublet violin parts, so forget the 'Violin as obligato instrument' theory.

3) A woodwind is much more likely because of the predominant role that woodwinds, particularly the oboe, played in the Weimar cantatas.

Problem: Looking at the other cantatas from this Weimar period (BWV 31, BWV 161, and BWV 132), there is a transposition necessary that would force one to think of an oboe in F, but such an instrument is not documented anywhere during the entire Weimar period. Even without the transposition, an oboist would find that this part 'does not lie well,' that is, it is not technically written for an oboe in the normal range. With these considerations in mind, it is more likely that a recorder (the instrument that Suzuki [4] uses here) or an oboe da caccia would have been used. Another possibility would be to 'play with' the transposition interval that might then allow a normal oboe to be used -- but all of this is theoretical, so that one guess might be as good as another.


Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 162: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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