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Cantata BWV 17
Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of February 5, 2012

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2012):
Introduction to BWV 17 -- Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich

Weekly reminder:

This week we continue Trinity season cantatas with BWV 17, the last of three works for the 14th Sunday after Trinity.

Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17.htm

The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham] is especially recommended as an introduction to listening, music examples included.

The BWV 17 page has convenient access to notes from the Gardiner [6], Koopman [7] (notes by Christoph Wolff), Suzuki [11], and Leusink [5] CD issues, via link beneath the cover photo. The Kuijken CD also includes his own informative notes (not linked), and is recommended for those who enjoy (or would like an introduction to) OVPP performance practice.

The chorale text and melody are accessible via links at the BWV 17 page. Francis Browne has recently added new commentary on the cantata texts to his interlinear translations, linked via [English 3]. We can expect these to continue, not necessarily weekly. Douglas Cowling and William Hoffman are also posting relevant to chorales and other music for the Lutheran Church Year, accessible via LCY pages.

I do not always take the time to check all links before posting. Special thanks to the folks who provide timely corrections.

Francis Browne wrote (February 5, 2012):
BWV 17 Notes on the text

This cantata for the 14th Sunday after Trinity was performed on 22 September 1726. During that year Bach had performed 18 cantatas written by his cousin Johann Ludwig Bach who served at the ducal court of Saxe-Meiningen from 1703 to his death in 1731. Ernst Ludwig (1672-1724) the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, is said to have written two cycles of church cantata texts. Literary and historical evidence suggests that one of these might be the cycle from which Bach drew in composing Cantata BWV 17 ( as well as BWV 39, BWV 43, BWV 45, BWV 88, BWV 102 and BWV 187).

These cantatas and those of Johann Ludwig Bach generally follow a typical pattern : the work is shaped by two corres­ponding passages from the Bible, one from the Old Testament and one from the New. The
text of Mvt. 1 is from Psalm 50: 23; the fourth movement is based on the passage in St. Luke 17: 11-19 which tells of the Samaritan who, alone among the ten lepers that Jesus cured, returned to give thanks. The main subject of the cantata is therefore gratitude.

The first recitative refers to Psalm19: 5. As Z. Philip Ambrose notes "Luther translates "Ihre Schnur gehet aus in alle Lande" ("Their line goeth out into every land"). Luther means here "plumb-line." English versions, following another Hebrew reading, have "voice" or "sound" instead of "line.". I have translated accordingly.

Contrary to the normal construction of these cantatas, the text of the first aria for soprano is, strictly speaking, not based on 'free poetry' but on another quotation from the Bible (Psalm 36: 6): 'Thy righteousness standeth like the strong mountains.' This verse serves for the first part of the aria, which then continues with a 'free' strophe.

The last recitative refers to Romans 14:17. The cantata ends with the third strophe of the hymn Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren by Johann Gramann (1530). Hans-Joachim Schulze notes the fondness of this librettist for lists of nouns (movements 2 and 6) and alexandrines ( an iambic line of six feet or twelve syllables - movements 3 and 6)

(information taken mostly from Oxford Composer Companion :J.S. Bach)

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2012):
Francis Browne wrote:
< The last recitative refers to Romans 14:17. >
Kuijken [9] also mentions the biblical reference in his CD notes. In the English translation it is cited as Romans 14:5. I do not see specific chapter and verse in either Kuijken’s German original, or the French translation, English only. I believe the source Francis cites is accurate, and the Kuijken CD notes a minor, but poterntially confusing, error.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2012):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Kuijken [9] also mentions the biblical reference in his CD notes. In the English translation it is cited as Romans 14:5. I do not see specific chapter and verse in either Kuijkens German original, or the French translation, English only. I believe the source Francis cites is accurate, and the Kuijken CD notes a minor, but poterntially confusing, error. >
Apoologies for not being more thorough the first time. This detail is indeed the same (and different from Francis) in Kuijken’s original German notes [9] as well as the English and French translations.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 6, 2012):
BWV 17 & the Missa in G , BWV 236

While the opening chorus is fresh in our ears, it's worth listening to what Bach did with the movement 10 years later in the "Cum Sancto Spiritu" of the the Missa in G:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1KbIBUO-CU (Time: 4:55)

Some time in last decade of his life, Bach began what could be called his "Mass Project." He adapted settings of the Missa (Kyrie & Gloria), Credo and Sanctus by other composers, mostly Catholics; wrote four new Missae, almost wholly based on cantata parodies; and finally completed his "Great Catholic Mass", the Mass in B Minor.

Why he suddenly developed this interest in the concerted mass is the subject of scholarly debate. He may have just wanted the most fashionable church music in Leipzig. Stauffer suggests that all this activity was part of Bach's serious preparation for an appointment at the Catholic Chapel Royal in Dresden.

However, in the 1730's, Bach began to trawl through his cantatas to find movements to rework to Latin texts:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missa_%28Bach%29

The Gloria of the Neapolitan cantata-mass which shapes Bach's masses always concluded with a fugue which begins without introduction or a short preface: we can see this as late as the Mozart Great Mass in C Minor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEzy_UArOE4

Bach takes the BWV 17 chorus and lops off the orchestral introduction. He prefaces the fugue with a freshly-composed eight-bar adagio "prelude" which is very similar to Vivaldi's technique. A good example can be seen in Vivaldi's ubiquitous "Gloria" where the "Propter Magnam" fugue is introduced with the adagio "Gratias agimus"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h3dNCaVuhQ

Like Vivaldi, the text is declaimed in block chords with shifting chromatic chords: Bach moves a through C major, A major and F# major in three bars. Interestingly, the oboes echo the strings, almost as if the movement is for double-choir, another Italian convention.

The fugue of the cantata fits the Latin text remarkably well, which may be the reason that Bacchose the movement:

"Wer Dank opfert, der preiset"
=
"Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris"

"und das ist der Weg dass ich ihm zeige das Heil Gottes"
=
"Amen. In gloria Dei Patris"

The fascinating change in the mass is the addition of choral shouts over each entry of the fugue. Bach uses this device which masks the entries in "Fecit Potentiam" in the "Magnificat"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_WqJYFutfE

And in Cantata BWV 43, "Gott Fahret Auf".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzo6uqmcZ0k

If Bach had chosen to use trumpets and timpani, the effect would have been stunning. There is a scale to movements like this which is not distant from the Mass in B Minor. Although Bach's "short" prelude to the humungous "Cum Sancto Spiritu" fugue is among his most electrifying passages.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 8, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< While the opening chorus is fresh in our ears, it's worth listening to what Bach did with the movement 10 years later in the "Cum Sancto Spiritu" of the the Missa in G:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1KbIBUO-CU >
Thanks for continuing to point out these relations. It might make an interesting (speculative) study, as to the extent that Bach was *trawling* through previous works, or thinking ahead.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 8, 2012):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17.htm >
Additinal comments re text sources:

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 29, 2003):
< BWV 17 - Background
The commentary below, quoted from the liner notes to Thamm’s recording on Bayer [1] (originated from Cantate), was written by Alfred Dürr (English translation by Stanley Godman). Dürr wrote also the commentary on this cantata for Harnoncourt’s recording on Teldec [2].
[...]
The recitative which introduces the second part, Luke 17: 15-16, comes from the Gospel for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, and the last recitative ("Fried, Gerechtigkeit und Freud in deinem Geist") - ("Peace, righteousness and joy in Thy spirit") is a paraphrase of Romans 14: 17 ("for the kingdom of God is not meat' and drink; but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost"). >
All these allusions reveal a profound student of the Bible, though, from the specifically Christian standpoint, his praises denote a rather loose interpretation of the first clause of the Creed. [reference to text author, or Bach?]> (end quote)

For those following the fine print, note that the correct reference (Romans 14:17) has been archived at BCW for nearly nine years.

Presumably the loose interpretation of the first clause of the Creed is to give too much credit to the Holy Ghost?

The evolution of Durrs text, from the early liner notes to the Cantate LP recordings, is not often acknowledged. Fine work, beginning to end. Here is the phrase in question, from the published English translation of Durrs ultimate text:

<from a Christian standpoint, his praises remain partial in their restriction to the first article of faith.>

Plenty of latitude for theologic debate? The BWV 17 ntext is refreshing to me, with its emphasis on gratitude. Nice contrast with the emphasis on worldly misery from the previous Trinity 14 texts, and a nice benefit of the current BCW discussion format to highlight the contrast.

Charles Francis wrote (February 10, 2012):
BWV 17 -- Pflugbeil or Thamm ?

I was listening to examples of BWV 17 at THE BAROQUE MUSIC COLLECTION web site:
http://www.baroquecds.com/

and to my ears two performances of the opening chorus sound identical:

1) Hans Pflugbeil:
http://www.baroquecds.com/748Web.html

2) Hans Thamm:
http://www.baroquecds.com/762Web.html

Incidentally, on the following link to the Baroque Music Club is broken:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17-2.htm

 

Cantata BWV 17: 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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Last update: ýMarch 12, 2012 ý12:10:55