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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

Cantata BWV 213
Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen
Discussions - Part 1

Previous Messages

Alexei Zouboff wrote (February 14, 2000):
I need some help, probably, from native-German speakers. We are going to perform JSB's Dramma per Musica "Hercules at the Cross-Roads" ("Herkules auf dem Scheide-Wege", catalogized as "Lasst uns sorgen, lasst uns wachen", BWV 213; this is one of the cantatas whose music was almost completely exported to the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248)).

I would like to change a text, since the performance is planned to be dramatized, though, the "action" will be minimal (doesn't mean "minimalistic" here! The Dramma was dedicated to kuerprinz Friedrich of Saxony's birthday, and I (actually following Albert Schweitzer's recommendations) would like to eliminate all allusions to Friedrich in the final recitativo and choir, since these allusions would break the planned "dramatic action". Here are these recitativo and choir:

**** Recitative (Merkur): *****
Schaut, Gutter, dieses ist ein Bild
Von Sachsens Kurprinz Friedrichs Jugend!
Der muntern Jahre Lauf
Weckt die Verwunderung schon itzund auf.
So mancher Tritt, so manche Tugend.
Schaut, wie das treue Land mit Freuden angefullt,
Da es den Flug des jungen Adlers sieht,
Da es den Schmuck der Raute sieht,
Und da sein hoffnungsvoller Prinz
Der allgemeinen Freude bluht.
Schaut aber auch der Musen frohe Reihen
Und hört ihr singendes Erfreuen:

*** Chor der Musen ***
Lust der Völker, Lust der Deinen,
Blühe, holder Friederich!

Deiner Tugend Würdigkeit
Stehet schon der Glanz bereit,
Und die Zeit
Ist begierig zu erscheinen:
Eile, mein Friedrich, sie wartet auf dich.

The main idea is to replace Friedrich by Hercules himself (a hero, defender etc.). I can't risk to try to do it myself, since I know German even worse than English, which is far from perfect, as you may see here :).

The recitativo may be varied rather freely, not necessarily equirythmically (it may be even eliminated from the performance).

But the choir should be kept in exactly the same rhytm-word proportions.

I think that the texts require a minimal change: say, "Fried_e_r'ich" in the choir is easy replaced by "Herkul'es", though "Fr'iedrich" can't, unfortunately (English "hero" would be pasted good :-))

The full text (for understanding the collision) may be found at W.F. Bischof's site
http://uofapsy.psych.ualberta.ca/cantatas/213.html
its wonderful English translation - at Dr. Z. Philip Ambrose's
http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/

I would highly appreciate any advice.

Jill Gunsell wrote (June 8, 2000):
Following an earlier ticking off from an expert on the List, please may I preface my post with a plea to the musically learned and the professional musicians to tolerate the odd question from a non-musician (and untutored Bach lover) who wishes to learn?

Here goes.

BWV 213 Herkules am Scheidewege
-- I have the Rene Jacobs version (Harmonia Mundi HMX 2951544-45) --

I am curious as to the use of a tenor in the role of Virtue in view of the following.

Having rejected Lust in favor of Virtue, Hercules (Andreas Scholl, CT) sings a duet with Virtue (James Taylor, T) of which the text is about kissing (in whatever cultural/metaphorical/literal sense). The mutual embrace/commitment of the protagonists is equated with that of betrothal. Ardor and tenderness are expressed.

[Virtue earlier calls himself (?) Hercules' "zeugerin". (Feminine?) ]

Is Virtue in fact female?
If not, why "zeugerin"? (It's not in my small German dictionary so I cannot check.)
If yes, why a tenor?
Is the role ever sung by a female?
What was Bach's intention for this role/duet?

If you can help, thank you.

BTW the apparent conundrum does not diminish my enthusiasm for this brilliant cantata.

 

Discussions in the Week of November 23, 2003

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 23, 2003):
BWV 213 - Introduction

The chosen work for this week’s discussion (November 23, 2003) is the Dramma per Musica ‘Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen’ (Let us take care, let us keep watch), known also as ‘Hercules at the Crossroads’.

The extensive commentary below, quoted from the liner notes to Rilling’s first recording of this cantata on the German label Cantate (reissue on Musicaphon), was written by Alfred Dürr (English translation by Howard Weiner).

Following the death of Augustus the Strong (1733) and the accession to the throne of his son Friedrich Augustus II, Bach began a period of increased activity with performances by his student Collegium Musicum of congratulatory cantatas in honour of Saxony's ruling house. Perhaps he hoped to add weight, also from this side, to his petition for the title of Hofkapellmeister that he had advanced in the dedication of the B minor Mass (BWV 232). Even if the Elector was usually not personally present in Leipzig, Bach surely reckoned that he would be informed of the performances, and be convinced that favour and title would not be bestowed upon someone unworthy of them.

Bach conceivably also considered the possibility of later reusing the music already while composing these cantatas. Their purpose, after all, was fulfilled with the single performance. In any case, Bach was to have recourse to two such congratulatory cantatas, namely Tönet, ihr Pauken (BWV 214) and the present Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen, reworking their choruses and arias as he set out in 1734 to compose his Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248).

Hercules auf dem Scheidewege (Hercules at the Crossroads) - so the title of the libretto in the printed text by the poet Christian Friedrich Henrici (called Picander) - was performed by Bach and his student Collegium Musicum in Zimmermann's Garden on the afternoon of September 5, 1733, the birthday of Crown Prince Friedrich of Saxony. Whereas many other congratulatory cantatas, lacking a plot, make do with a lyrical poem in praise of the dedicatee, Picander created here a true "Dramma per musica". Hercules, a popular symbolic figure for Baroque personages of the ruling houses, was more appropriate than any other mythological hero to glorify the eleven-year-old grandson of Augustus the Strong. For the son of Zeus and Alcmene had already distinguished himself as a hero at an early age, for example as he simply crushed the serpents that his enemy Hera, the mother of the gods, placed in his cradle. Picander chose for his plot the myth related by Prodiclos in which Hercules encounters two women at a fork in the road. One of them promises him a pleasant, opulent life if only he follows her path. The other however offers hardship, but also virtue and fame if he decides upon her path. Hercules resolves to take the path of virtue. The poet then allows the actual meaning of what has taken place to be revealed by the god Mercury: Hercules is a likeness of Crown Prince Friedrich; he too decided already in earliest childhood upon the path of virtue.

The present-day listener who is familiar with Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) will find much in the music of this cantata that he already knows. Yet, he should keep in mind that the Hercules cantata is actually the original, and that the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) represents a later reworking. An overview of the movements re-employed should help make this clear:

Cantata 213: Mvt. 1. Chorus: Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen
Christmas Oratorio: Part IV, Opening chorus (No. 36): Fallt mil Danken, fallt mil Loben

Cantata 213: Mvt. 3. Aria: Schlafe, mein Liebster, und pflege der Ruh
Christmas Oratorio: Part II, Aria (No.19): Schlafe, mein Liebster, genieße der Ruh

Cantata 213: Mvt. 5. Aria: Treues Edieser Orten
Christmas Oratorio: Part IV, Aria (No.39): Flößt, mein Heiland, flößt dein Namen

Cantata 213: Mvt. 7. Aria: Auf meinen Flüeln sollst du schweben
Christmas Oratorio: Part IV, Aria (No.41): Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben

Cantata 213: Mvt. 9. Aria: Ich will dich nicht hören
Christmas Oratorio: Part 1, Aria (No.4): Bereite dich, Zion

Cantata 213: Mvt. 11. Aria: Ich bin deine, du bist meine
Christmas Oratorio: Part III, Aria (No.29): Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen

Cantata 213: Mvt. 13. Chorus: Lust der Völker, Lust der Deinen
Christmas Oratorio: Part V, Opening chorus (No.43): Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen
(Adoption of the music planned [recognizable from the strophic structure of the text] but not realized.)

In the opening chorus, entitled "Ratschluß der Gotter" ("Resolution of the Gods"), the motifs at the beginning correspond exactly to the words of the text. In the descending tendency of the "Laßt uns sorgen" ("Let US take care") melody, one has the impression of an affectionate gesture of protection; in the upwards striving "laßt uns wachen" ("let us watch"), on the other hand, the vigilant watchfulness against danger. The two motifs are joined by a staccato counterpoint. All three lend the movement a colourful liveliness as they are tossed back and forth by the horns, oboes, and strings. Through the use of horns, rather than the usual trumpets and timpani, the cantata also has something cheerful-radiant, almost introspective about it: Hercules is not yet the valiant hero, but rather a lad over whose well-being the gods must keep watch - after all, Crown Prince Friedrich turns a mere eleven on this day.

Therefore it is also appropriate that the part of Hercules, who in the following secco recitative asks the branches of the tree to show him the way to go, is sung by an alto. Of course, in Bach's time this would have been a boy alto or a countertenor, and not a woman.

He is answered by "Wollust" ("Pleasure") with the famous lullaby, known from the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), that is intended to put the young hero to sleep and to lead him astray. The orchestra, consisting only of stringed instruments, - the oboe timbre of the Christmas version is lacking - supports the seductive character of the aria. On the other hand, the higher tessitura dictated by the key of E-flat Major (as opposed to G Major in the oratorio), deprives the aria of some of that warmth that we so admire in the oratorio version.

Virtue (Tenor) now appears, and the two allegorical figures begin a dispute in recitative form. Hercules, apparently yet uncertain, asks the Echo to indicate the right path - a true Baroque drollery that simultaneously serves to increase the tension by postponing Hercules' final decision - but, of course, only apparently. For if one examines the youthful hero's works more closely, it becomes obvious that his decision was determined already from the start, as indeed courtesy towards the royal house required!

Now Virtue steps forward and, after an introductory recitative, announces to the young Hercules: "Auf meinen Flügeln sollst du schweben" ("On my wings you shall soar"). Bach chose, rather unusual for solo song, the form of the fugue: Oboe, solo violin, continuo, and tenor enter successively with the theme (not counting the initial bass notes in the continuo), and are united as equal voices in the contrapuntal writing. Almost at once there appear inversions of the theme's beginning (oboe), stretto (violin, oboe, tenor) and, at the end of the first and middle sections respectively, complete inversions of the theme in the continuo.

Virtue again admonishes in a short secco recitative, but Hercules has decided, and proclaims his decision in the aria "Ich will dich nicht hören, ich will dich nicht wissen, verworfene Wollust, ich kenne dich nicht" ("I will not hear you, I will not know you, depraved Pleasure, I do not recognize you"). Albert Schweitzer has already pointed out the entirely different "affect" of this aria in comparison to that of its revised version in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) ("Bereite dich, Zion, mit zartlichen Trieben"). The indication "unisoni e staccato" in the obbligato violin part (here too the oboe was only to be added later in the Oratorio version) underlines the determined character of the aria with its resolute cries "ich will nicht, ich mag nicht!" ("I will not, I may not!")

Now Hercules and Virtue join in a duet "Ich bin deine, du bist meine" ("I am yours, you are mine"). Two solo violas (the upper string parts are silent here) lend the movement fervour and warmth.

Inasmuch as all the previous recitatives were composed as continuo accompanied secco numbers, Mercury's recitative (in whose text the mythological "connection" of the preceding story to the actual occasion for the cantata is established) is emphasized all the more by the string accompaniment. The choir, which at the beginning represented the voices of the gods, intones now as the "Chorus of the Muses" the concluding hymn in praise of the Prince. The composition has the character of a gavotte. It derives from a congratulatory cantata from the Cöthen period, and was originally not for four-part choir, but rather for just two solo voices. The extended bass parts inserted between the rondo-like recurring tutti ritornelli are reminiscent of the original version. So superbly suited this chorus is as the joyous conclusion to the Hercules cantata, it would hardly have been a satisfactory introduction to the fifth part of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). We may surely consider it fortunate that Bach rejected the plan to reuse this music for setting the already prepared text "Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen."

Recordings

I am aware of 8 complete recordings of this cantata, 7 of which are available in CD form. The recordings are listed at the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website (BCW): Cantata BWV 213 - Recordings

Additional Information

In the page of complete recordings mentioned above you can also find links to useful complementary information:
a. Original German text and various translations, two of which were contributed by members of the BCML: English (Francis Browne) and French (Jean-Pierre Grivois).
b. Score from BGA Edition.
c. Commentaries: in English by Simon Crouch (Listener’s Guide) and “Blue Gene” Tyranny (AMG), and in Spanish by Julio Sánchez Reyes (CantatasDeBach).

As we are approaching rapidly the final line of the first round of the weekly cantata discussions, and as a major part of the music is familiar from the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), I do really hope to see many of you participating in the discussion. Only 3 cantatas, all of them secular, remained to be discussed in the BCML!

Neil Halliday wrote (November 28, 2003):
Not being an opera lover (I would happily keep the aria "The stars were shining brightly" from Puccini's 'Tosca', and give away the entire remainder of the opera), I listen to these 'Dramas per Musica' by deleting the secco recitatives, and simply enjoy the music of the choruses, arias and accompanied recitatives.

My impressions of Rilling's recording [7] of 'Hercules at the crossroads':

Mvt. 1 (Chorus): Joyful yet gentle. It's nice to hear the horns instead of the more usual (but always enjoyable) trumpets.

Mvt. 3 (Soprano aria): Rubens unfortunately 'lets fly' with a strident, unpleasant vibrato at times, otherwise this is a fine recording of this lovely aria. (BTW, Aryeh, I think the key is B flat, not E flat; your comment about the higher tessitura - c.f. the G major XO (BWV 248) version - makes more sense in this case.)

Mvt. 5 (Alto aria, with echo): This ariais, of course, operatic in its very nature, with the echo effects illustrating the text.

Mvt. 7 (Tenor aria): The unusual fugal form of this aria is very engaging. Rilling takes it at a brisk pace, typical of his recent style, and while the contrasting timbres of oboe, violin, and bassoon are extremely attractive, I would be interested in hearing the piece at a slightly more measured tempo.

Mvt. 9 and Mvt. 11: In the Rilling recording, both arias sound 'cool' to me, ie, lacking warmth, or weight, or something (I never experience this with his church cantatas), despite the excellence of the performers and the recording. (I notice Rilling's recording [7] of BWV 213 is the fastest of all those shown at the BCW - this could have something to do with it).

Mvt. 12: This is a beautiful accompanied recitative for strings and bass, well sung by Andreas Schmidt.

Mvt. 13 (Chorus): I can't fault Rilling's rendition of this very enjoyable music, which features alternating sections for full chorus, and bass soloist.

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 10, 2003):
BWV 213 - Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen

Personal viewpoint

Dürr‘s exemplary commentary, quoted in the introductory message sent to the BCML about two weeks ago, is so well written, that even non-scholar like me can draw enough guidelines for listening to this Dramma per musica.

Nevertheless, simple question regarding the performance of this work that no recording has not been resolved so far. Since it was written to celebrate the birthday of the eleven-year-old Crown Prince, Friedrich, it seems only natural that the role of Hercules, embodies the Crown Prince, will be sung by a boy alto. However, out of the eight complete recordings of this cantata, six are sung by female altos and two by counter-tenors. The challenge of singing it by a boy alto remains to be undertaken by future performers. What has left to us is to see, how childish, innocent, wondering, the singer is sound.

Recordings & Timings

No.

Conductor

M. 1

M. 2

M. 3

M. 4

M. 5

M. 6

M. 7

M. 8

M. 9

M.10

M.11

M.12

M.13

TT

[1]

Rilling

6:43

0:52

9:35

1:41

5:52

1:05

5:47

0:40

5:09

0:53

8:57

1:13

3:22

51:55

[3]

Schreier

4:56

0:53

7:53

1:25

6:00

1:24

4:42

0:44

4:20

1:04

8:01

1:26

2:33

45:20

[4]

Leonhardt

5:52

0:40

9:42

1:16

5:19

0:52

5:28

0:37

4:26

0:43

8:24

1:08

3:14

48:00

[5]

Jacobs

5:17

0:45

8:41

1:18

6:38

1:00

5:29

0:38

4:13

0:43

8:11

1:17

2:52

47:02

[6]

Koopman

6:41

0:43

9:21

1:14

5:12

1:02

4:38

0:45

3:39

0:48

7:35

1:14

2:42

45:41

[7]

Rilling

4:59

0:44

8:56

1:08

4:43

0:54

4:39

0:39

4:14

0:46

6:47

1:15

2:57

42:41

[8]

Hennig

5:35

0:41

9:05

1:20

5:54

0:58

5:11

0:40

5:08

0:53

7:42

1:19

3:00

47:26

Short review of the recordings

[1] Rilling (1967, 1st recording)
Rilling in his first recording presents four excellent singers in their prime. The gorgeous voice of soprano Sheila Armstrong can easily tempt anybody. Theo Altmeyer is a very convincing and reliable Virtue, and I cannot recall a recording by Jakob Stämpfli, which was less than very good. Here he makes the outmost of his small part. He proves that ‘There are no small roles; just small players’. If I have some reservations with this rendition, they can be found with Hertha Töpper’s performance of Hercules. Her alto voice is in good form, but too heavy for the demands of her role. The tempo is slow, as could be expected from a recording of the late 1960’s. Although our ears are attuned to faster tempi, I find this approach fully convincing, and it also gives the listener more time to enjoy the high-level singing.

[3] Schreier (1978-1979)
This is not the first time that I find Schreier somewhat heavy-handed in his conducting of Bach’s secular cantatas. This work is full of light, optimism, and joy. One could hardly guess it from this rendition. The singers are also not very satisfactory, Edith Mathis sings relatively clean, but her singing lacks charm and sensuousness, so important for the role of Wollust, as Armstrong, for example, has abundantly. Watkinson’s wide vibrato eliminates any illusion that this is a boy singing. Schreier the singer is better than Schreier the conductor, and his singing reflects the confidence and belief so crucial for the role of Tugend.

[4] Leonhardt (1994)
Leonhardt’s rendition is dry up to avoid any showing of feelings. But unlike the approach of the conductor, so unsuitable to this work, this rendition is blessed with a roster of four fine singers. Barbara Bonney was born to sing the role of Wollust, and her operatic approach sounds in place here. The counter-tenor Ralf Popken has a young and fresh voice and tasteful singing, and the tenor Prégardien is almost as good as Schreier. So strange to find such a great contradiction between the conductor and his singers, almost schizophrenic

[5] Jacobs (1994)
Unlike Leonhardt’s, Jacobs has a light and easy-going approach, with inner drive and total approach, which is very much to my liking. The instruments are bubbling with joy and pleasure along the whole cantata. His singers are also excellent. It is so enjoyable to find here the counter-tenor Andreas Scholl in the role of Hercules. Every syllable from this singer is a joy to the ear. The soprano Efrat Ben-Nun, unfamiliar to me (an Israeli, I guess), is a nice surprise with assured singing, and a lot of grace, charm and sensuality. James Taylor is also in good shape, with clear and confident singing.

[6] Koopman (1996)
Koopman’s opening chorus is not very promising and gives an indication of his approach. It is soft-centred, lacking focus, vigour and momentum. Indeed the level of playing is high, the tone is beautiful and the texture is rich. But I find that the shortcomings dominates the whole rendition. Anne Grimm’s singing is simple, naive and pleasant, and her approach lacks the sophistication and sensuality needed to give a convincing performance of Wollust. Elisabeth von Magnus is an intelligent singer, who is doing her outmost to sound as a young boy and she almost succeeds convincing us. Prégardien is not as inspired as in his previous recording of this cantata, with Leonhardt. It might be that the break-neck tempo Koopman chose for his aria is to be blamed.

[7] Rilling (1999, 2nd recording)
In his second recording of the cantata Rilling adopts faster tempi for some of the movements than he did in his first one. This rendition sounds livelier and fresher than the previous one, the playing is brighter and cleaner, and the vocal soloists are almost on the same par. Sibylla Rubens has shown in her recordings of the soprano parts in Rilling 2nd cycle of the secular cantatas, that she always manages to find the right approach to a given movement. Here she is as attractive, as charming and as sensuous as the best of them. I know that some members find her vibrato a little bit annoying, but for me it is part of the charm. Ingeborg Danz’ voice is somewhat dark for the demands of Hercules’ role. Nevertheless, her singing is very tasteful. Markus Ullmann’s has a delightful golden voice and assured, clean singing.

[8] Hennig (2000)
Heinz Hennig, the late director of Knabenchor Hannover, has recorded with his choir many cantatas under the baton of Gustav Leonhardt. However he has recorded only a few under his own name. The recording of this cantata might give us partial explanation why he has not recorded more. The rendition is not very focused and lacks momentum and sense of clear direction. Of the vocal soloists, I find the young tenor, Jan Kobow, athe most convincing and the one with the most impressive voice. The role of Hercules is given to Barbara Hölzl, whose low voice is too dark and whose singing shows signs of insecurity. Soprano Elisabeth’s Scholl’s voice here is neither very attractive nor reflecting much lust.

Conclusion

With three of the seven recordings I have almost no reservations. The three complete renditions to which I would like to return most often are Rilling 1st, Jacobs and Rilling 2nd [7]. Regarding individual singers, my first choices are: Efrat Ben-Nun (Soprano), Andreas Scholl (Alto), Marcus Ullmann (Tenor) and Jakob Stämpfli (Bass).

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 11, 2003):
BWV 213 - Music Examples

I have uploaded into the Bach Cantatas Website Music Examples (mp3 format) of the concluding Chorus & Arioso (Mvt. 13) from 7 recordings of Cantata BWV 213. See: Cantata BWV 213 – Music Examples

I would like to hear your opinions.

Jeremy Thomas wrote (December 11, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for that. It was very interesting to listen to several versions of one short movement, for which I don't often get the oppportunity (or the time - I listened this morning as I was cleaning out my fishtank before work - oh the joys of waking early!).

Generally speaking, it confirmed my preferences:

* Period instruments
* Smaller ensembles (they sound tighter, more disciplined)
* Faster speeds (none of these recordings is excessively slow or fast, though the Rilling/Stämpfli version sounded rather sluggish and old fashioned, though)
* The less jangly the harpsichord, the better!

Neil Halliday wrote (December 12, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] All but one of these examples of the high-spirited and rousing final chorus of BWV 213 are suprisingly good.

The first two available examples in the list - Rilling (1st recording) [1] and Schreier [3], set the extremes of tempo (3:28 and 2:39 respectively), and both are quite effective, Rilling with a legato and Schreier with a staccato approach.

It is the next example which is the least satisfactory; Leonhardt's [4] staccato treatment at this relatively slow tempo (3:19) breaks-up the flow of the music, and the orchestra consequently lacks cohesion, resulting in a 'plodding' effect.

Jacobs [5] is very good; Koopman [6] satisfactory, but lacks some brightness in the horn parts.

Rilling (second recording) [7], as I commented in my original post on BWV 213, is very pleasing, and the final example, that of Hennig [8], is also good, but with bass Müller-Brachmann employing rather prominent vibrato.

(All of the other basses seem to be fine to me, though they have different characteristics, of course.)

Conclusion: most people will be happy with whatever version of this movemnent they happen to possess, but if I had to choose, it would be my own - Rilling's second [7]; I'm definitely attracted to the bright sound of the modern instruments.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 15, 2003):
In BWV 213 I have the Koopman recording [6] (and of course many recordings of the Xmas O). After the opening chorus, which is too slow and lacks energy, I think everything is terrific...and I have no reason to seek any other recording of this, being adequately satisfied with this one. Plus, Anne Grimm's performance in the soprano role of Pleasure is plenty sexy, as it should be.

I also have the first Rilling recording [1] (Nonesuch 71226 on LP) and listened to it once, dutifully. Got it somewhere at a used-LP sale, for free, in a carton of other records I wanted. Free, and worth every penny. I can't think of anything favorable to say about it, except that I liked Alfred Dürr's program notes on the album jacket.

 

Festive cantatas

Jack Botelho wrote (February 10, 2004):
"After the dedication [to the new Elector, Friedrich August II, in Dresden] of the 'Missa' [Mass in B minor (BWV 232)] in July 1733, Bach kept the Saxon royal family's interests in mind with his 'extraordinaire' concerts of the [Leipzig] collegium musicum. On 3 August, the name day of the new elector, Bach began his remarkable series of secular cantatas of congratulation and homage with BWV Anh.12 (music lost), followed by Cantata BWV 213 (5 September, for the heir to the electorate), BWV 214 (8 December, for the electress), BWV 205a (19 February 1734, for the coronation of the elector as King of Poland; music lost), an unknown work (3 August, again for the elector), and BWV 215 (5 October, also for the elector, who was at the performance). Much of the festive music was performed in the open air with splendid illuminations, and according to newspaper reports the music benefited from a resounding echo. (On the day after the performance of BWV 215 Bach's virtuoso trumpeter and the leader of the Leipzig Stadtpfeifer, Gottfried Reiche, died as a result of the exertions of his office.) During the following Christmas season Bach gave the people of Leipzig a chance to hear much of the music from his secular festive cantatas in modified form, as the "Christmas Oratorio" (BWV 248), which was heard in six sections between Christmas Day 1734 and Epiphany 1735 (and consisted predominantly of parodies of Cantatas nos.213-15)."

Wolff, Christoph: "Bach, Johann Sebastian" in
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
2001 edition.

The above is some basic information regarding the "remarkable series of festive cantatas" that contributed to the composition of the 1734 Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). It would seem that the highly skilled musical forces of the Dresden court instrumentalists and singers (male and female) contributed to Bach's enthusiastic hopes for an important appointment to this musical centre, especially in light of the succession of the new elector.

Please note the academic bull shit concerning the death of Gottfried Reiche "dying as a result of the exertions of his office". Reiche was (I believe) in his sixties at the time, so it may have been a case of over-enthusiastic playing of very tasty trumpet parts by this old man, rather than Bach himself pushing Reiche "too far".

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 213: 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: ýOctober 13, 2013 ý18:14:34