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Cantata BWV 215
Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of September 28, 2008

William Hoffman wrote (September 28, 2008):
BWV 215, Introduction! and Xmas Oratorio


Cantata 215 Aryeh Oron wrote (December 6, 2003): BWV 215 - Introduction

The chosen work for this week's discussion (December 7, 2003) is the Drama per Musica `Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen' (Praise your good fortune, blessed Saxony)

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) [1], was written in 1966 by Alfred Dürr (English translation by Howard Weiner).

We are unusually well informed about the outward circumstance that led to the composition and performance of this cantata, and Werner Neumann has sketched a clear picture of the relationships in the New Bach Edition (Critical Report 1/37).

The Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, August III, announced - apparently unexpected - a visit to Leipzig, with his consort, for the period from 2-6 October 1734. And since the 5th of October was the first anniversary of his coronation as King of Poland, the students of the Leipzig University resolved to pay homage to him with a serenade and torchlight procession. The text was written by the Leipzig schoolmaster Johann Christoph Clauder. Bach composed the music - a task for which he must have had hardly more than three days time. The Leipzig town chronicler Salomon Riemer provides a vivid picture of the particulars of the event itself:

"Around nine o'clock in the evening, the local students offered His Majesty a most humble serenade with trumpets and timpani, so composed by Kapellmeister Joh. Sebastian Bach, Cantor of St. Thomas's, whereby six hundred students carried torches and four counts led the music as marshals. The procession came up from the Black Bret through the Ritter Street, the Brühl and Catharinen Street to the King's lodgings [on the Market Square]. As the musicians reached the Waage [the house on the corner of the Market Square and Catharinen Street], the trumpets and timpani also arrived there, as did a choir coming up from the town hall. At the presentation of the song, the four counts were invited to kiss the hand [of the King], after which his Royal Majesty, along with His Royal Consort, and the Royal Prince did not leave the balcony as long as the music lasted, but rather graciously listened, and it did please His Majesty greatly."

The next day, however, the joy over the success was dampened somewhat: Bach's first trumpeter, town musician Gottfried Reiche succumbed to a stroke, which is supposed to have been caused by the exertions of playing and the smoke of the torches at the "Royal Musique."

The text, which this time is not assigned to a group of antique gods or shepherds, refers directly to the events of the past months: Following the death of August the Strong, his successor as Elector of Saxony was indeed also elected in turn to the throne of Poland; but there arose against him, in Stanislaus Leszczyniski, a rival king, who first had to be defeated. Stanislaus fled to Danzig, and with the capitulation of this city on 6 July 1734, the outcome of the disorders was decided in favour of August. It is understandable that the events that occurred only a few months earlier should find expression in the libretto of the cantata: The first three movements praise the good luck that, with this king, has been bestowed on Saxony. After that, attention is directed to the reason: August is distinguished, so one learns, not only through descent, but also through his own virtue. But also dangers are inevitable: Such luck creates envy, which, however, has no success (Aria "Rase nur, verwegener schwarm" / "Rage then, audacious swarm"). The third recitative-aria pair of the cantata alludes even more directly to the events of the recent months: "The entire north", "the conquered Vistula" , and Danzig, "that city, which resisted him so long" , knows August's martial strength, but also his mercy. For the King does not punish, he repays "evil with good deed" (Aria "Durch die vom Eifer entflammeten Waffen" / "Through weapons inflamed by fervour"). Now, the Sovereign himself is addressed, he is thanked, and, finally, the heavens are called upon to provide protection in the future.

Even if the text hardly differs from that to which we are accustomed in terms of flattery in the veneration of rulers during the Baroque, it is certainly refreshing in its relatedness to the historical events of these days.

Considering the short space of time that remained for Bach to complete the composition, it might be supposed that much from earlier composed works found its way into the new cantata. In no case, however, has this been able to be proved on the evidence of existing compositions. Also the otherwise so successful method of establishing parody relationships to lost compositions (whose texts have been preserved) by means of the similarities of verse structure have failed here: Bach apparently did not have an opportunity to discuss the details of the parody process with the poet before the completion of the libretto, as he was in the habit of doing with Picander.

Nevertheless, Werner Neuhaus was able to identify the original version of the opening chorus: It is the chorus "Es lebe der König, der Vater im Lande" ("Long live the King, the Father of the Country") from the cantata of the same name (BWV Anh. 11), which Bach performed with the Collegium Musicum in honour of the name day of August the Strong on 3 August 1732 - at that time, however, not in the presence of the court. With its vocal (eight-voiced) polychoral writing and sumptuous instrumentation, including trumpets, timpani, flutes, oboes, strings, and continuo, the movement satisfies all the requirements that were placed on an open-air performance in the presence of the King. Only the dissimilarity of the verse structure necessitated a number of changes in the voice leading of the choral parts.

Thus, at the very beginning, the upbeat syllable had to be discarded, and

BWV Anh. 11/1
_#_____________|\_____|\_____|\______________|\__
3__________||__|_\____|_\____|_\___||___<>___|_\_
__#____|\__||__|__\___|__\___|__\__||___|_/__|__\
8______| \_||__<>____<>____<>______||___|_/__<>__
_______|_\_||______________________||___|/_______
<>
Es le -- be der Kö - nig

BWV 215/1
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Prei -- se de -- ine Glück - e

BWV 232V
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O san - na, o san - a,

Only more than a decade later, when Bach finished the B-Minor Mass (BWV 232), did the movement, as the "Osanna", again receive the original form of the opening motif, the one familiar to us today from this large work.

In the following movements, Bach dispensed with the polychoral vocal writing. He restricted himself to three vocal soloists (soprano, tenor, bass) and united all the singers to a single four-voiced choir in the final chorus. On the other hand, the instrumentarium was richly endowed, as befitted the occasion. Moreover, of the four recitatives, only one was composed as a secco, two others as motivically characterized accompagnatos with oboe and flute accompaniment, respectively, athe last, the salutation to the King, even with alternating employment of all the instruments.

The work's arias are carefully harmonized with one another. The festive-joyful melody "Freilich trotzt Augustus' Name" ("Certainly August's Name defies") is an enthusiastic hymn of praise to the King (the long-drawn-out beginning syllable, on the other hand, may perhaps indicate a hidden parody relationship), while at the words "Rase nur, verwegner Schwarm", a veritable satirical song aimed at the King's enemies sounds. Bach's Presto marking, and for the oboe staccato sempre, make this intent clear. Entirely different is the third and last aria of the cantata "Durch die vom Eifer entflammete Waffen", in which the King's kindness is praised. Already the unusual instrumentation with obbligato flute, soprano doubled by oboe d'amore, and fundamental part known at that time as "Bassettchen" (little bass), consisting of violins and violetta (a sort of viola), make obvious what was important to Bach: The continuo fundament, the symbol of the "standing on the ground with both feet", is missing; for the repaying of "evil with good deed" ("die Bosheit mit Wohlvat vergelten") is an entirely unearthly characteristic - we recall the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), in which Bach also left the aria "Aus Liebe will mein Heiland ste" ("Out of love, my Saviour will die") without continuo to illustrate the words "von einer Sünde weiß er nichts" ("of a sin, he knows nothing"). Bach later used the cantata aria in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) with the text "Erleucht auch meine finstre Sinne" ("Illuminate also my dark thoughts"), but this time with continuo, for which, to be sure, a less elaborate setting was indicated than for the other movements.

For the concluding homage, the tenor, bass, and soprano first come forward one after the other in an accompagnato recitative, They then unite in an arioso terzet to beseech the heavens for protection, before all the participants come together in a hymn-Iike final prayer, composed in rondo form (ABAB'A) and predominantly homophonic, to the "Stifter der Reiche, Beherrscher der Kronen" ("Founder of empires, Sovereign of crowns").

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 21, 2003):
BWV 215 - Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen

Short Background

Dürr`s exemplary commentary, quoted in the introductory message sent to the BCML about two weeks ago, is so well written, that not much has left to say about this work.

Since Bach felt obliged to hastily produce a work to celebrate the first anniversary of The Elector's coronation, he produced, despite the short notice, this royal cantata in about three days. I doubt if anybody would have guessed it by listening to this cantata. The text of the cantata is rather uninspired and monotonous, since the subject of all the movements is praise to the King in various forms, from glorious choruses to flattering recitatives. Hearing the wonderful music without familiarity with the words, one would hardly guess it. An evidence for the quality of the music is that Bach have found it good enough to I reuse parts of this cantata in more famous works: the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) as the Osanna of the completed Mass in B minor BWV 232, and the aria for soprano (Mvt. 7) in Cantata 5 of the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248. The surprising thing is that Bach have not reused the best movement of this cantata, the concluding chorus (Mvt. 9), which is one of Bach's most impressive choruses. This movement could easily fit into one of Bach's sacred cantatas.

BWV 215 Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen
________________________________________
(Drama per Musica overo Cantata gratulatoria)
Anniversary of the Election of Augustus III as King of Poland (5 October 1734).
Johann Christoph Clauder; PT (Leipzig, 1734); Facs: Neumann T, p. 412.
5 October 1734, Leipzig; Parody: 1 <--- BWV Anh. 11/1 and ---> BWV 232/22; 7 ---> BWV 248V/5.
BG 34; NBA I/37.
________________________________________
A Drama in Music or Cantata of Congratulation(1)
1. Chorus (S, A, T, B; 3 tp., drums, 2 fl., 2 ob.[d'a], str., B.c.)
Praise now thy blessings, O fortunate Saxon,
For God the throne of thy King hath upheld.
[Long life to the King now, the nation's true father,
The prudent, the gentle, the valiant August! *BWV Anh. 11/1]
O happy land,
Thanks give to heaven and kiss now the hand
Which makes thy fortune each day ever greater
And all thy townsmen to safety hath brought.

2. Recit. (T, 2 ob., B.c.)
How could we then, O mightiest August,
The undisguised emotions
Of this our rev'rence, love and fealty
To thee but with the greatest joy
Before thy feet here offer?
Doth not through thy paternal hand
Upon our land
Now heaven's gracious blessing
In streams of bounty flow?
And if our hopes run not amiss,
Shall we now soon to our relief
Within thy grace, within thy nature
Thy mighty father's(2) form and his great deeds be reading.
3. Aria (T, 2 ob. d'a, Str., B.c.[+bn.])
True, Augustus' name defieth,
From the noble gods descended,
All force of mortality.
And the townsmen of the province,
Subjects of such virtuous princes,
Live now in the golden age.(3)

4. Recit. (B, Bc)
What else hath thee, Sarmatia,(4) persuaded
That thou to fill thy royal throne
This Saxon-born Piast,(5)
The great Augustus' worthy son,
Before all others gave thy preference?
Not just the fame of lustrous fathers,
Not just his lands' great might,
No! Rather, his own virtue's rays
Drew all of thine own loyal subjects
And all thy varied peoples' minds
To him alone.
This more than his clan's fame and brilliant legacy
Brought them before his feet with praise.
True, spite and jealousy,
Which, sadly, often gold of crowns will
Much less than even lead or iron honor,
Are yet enraged at thee, O mighty ruler,
And lay upon thy health their curse!
But soon their curse will be transformed to blessing,
And all their rage
Is truly much too meager
Such fortune, founded on a rock,
To weaken in the slightest.
5. Aria (B, ob., str., B.c.[+bn.)
Bluster on, presumptuous mob,
Now within thy very bowels!
Bathe at will thine impious arm,
Full of wrath,
In thy guiltless brothers' blood,
To our horror, to thy sorrow!
For the bane
And the fury of thine envy
Thee more than Augustus strike.

BWV 248V/5 (47). Aria (B, ob.d'a, Bc)
Illumine, too, my gloomy spirit,
Illumine my bosom
With the beams of thy clear light!
Thy word shall be my brightest candle
In all the works which I shall do;
My soul shall this keep from all wicked endeavor.

6. Recit. (S, 2 fl., B.c.[+bn.])
Oh yes!
God is to us yet with his help nearby
And shields Augustus' throne.
Through him hath all the northern region
In its own choice of king now found contentment.
Will not the Baltic soon,
The mouth of Vistula now won,
Augustus' realm
As well
And all his armor know?
And doth he not let that same town,(6)
Which hath so long been set against his pow'r,
More of his grace than of his wrath have knowledge?
This proves that he in this finds joy:
His loyal subjects' breast
Through kindness more than force to conquer.
7. Aria (S, 2 fl., ob. d'a, vns., va., no B.c.)
That through the weapons enkindled by passion
Foes oft are punished
Brings to many praise and fame;
But that the wicked with good be requited
Is but for heroes,
Is Augustus' proper claim.
8. Recit. and Arioso (T, B, S; instr. as No. 1)
(T)
Grant though, O cherished sovereign father, this,
That now our Muses' band
That day which thee such pleasure hath afforded,
On which one year ago
Sarmatia to be its king did choose thee,
Within their innocent repose
May honor and in song pay homage.
(B)
At just the time
When all around us lightning cracks,
Yea, when the might of Fra
(Indeed so many times already muffled),
On southern side and northern,
Doth pose our fatherland with sword and fire its threat,
Still can this town so happy be,
Great patron god of these our lindens,(7)
Thee, but thee not alone,
Thy wife as well, the country's sunshine,
Her loyal subjects' joy and comfort,
In its embrace to find now.
(S)
How could amidst so much prosperity
The Pindus(8) not content and happy be?
(Arioso: T, B, S, B.c.)
Heaven, let to spite's distress,
Under such divine defense
The good fortune of our era
In a thousand branches flower!
9. Chorus (S, A, T, B; instr. as No. 1)
Founder of empires and ruler of kingdoms,
Strengthen the throne which Augustus doth hold.
Enrich his house
With never ceasing prosperity blest,
Let us reside now in peace in those countries
Which he with justice and grace doth protect.
________________________________________
1. This subtitle is written by hand in the OP. The characters are not identified.
2. The father of Augustus III was Augustus II, "the Strong" (1670-1733).
3. There are similar references to the golden age (cf. the golden age of the Roman Augustus!) in other congratulatory cantatas for Augustus III, e.g. BWV 207/6 and BWV 207a/4.
4. Sarmatia is the ancient name for Poland and Russia.
5. A legendary peasant named Piast founded the first dynasty of Polish rulers, which lasted until the death of Casimir III in 1370.
6. Danzig.
7. Alluding to Leipzig's etymolgy: "Lindentown," from Slavic lipa 'linden tree.'
8. Perhaps Leipzig is here represented as the mountain home of the Muses in northwest Greece.
________________________________________
© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose
ADDENDUM:

II (BWV Anh. 11) Es lebe der König, der Vater im Lande
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Nameday of Augustus II (3 August).
Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander), Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte, Teil IV (Leipzig, 1737); Facs: Neumann T, p. 350.
3 August 1732, Leipzig; Parody: 1 ---> BWV 215/1 and BWV 232/IV (Osanna); 7 ---> BWV 213/5 and BWV 248IV/4(39); 9 ---> BWV 212/14.
NBA I/36, Krit. Bericht.
________________________________________
A Drama in Music
For the High Nameday-Feast of His Royal Majesty in Poland and Illustrious Prince Elector of Saxony etc. etc., 3 August 1732.
Love of Country, Good Fortune of Country, Providence of Country
*1. Chorus
Long life to the King now, the nation's true father,
The prudent, the gentle, the valiant August!
He is our true grace and fame,
He is also all we own,
He is heaven's very joy,
The prudent, the gentle, the valiant August! Da Capo.
Cantata BWV 215 was the third and final original work written for visits of members of the Royal Saxon Court Family between September 5, 1733 and October 5, 1734. All three yielded materials parodied in the Christmas Oratorio (XO) at the end of 1734. The three original cantata sources survive in scores and parts. They show that Bach designed three types of so-called drammi per musica in honor of the Royal Household: 1. BWV 213 birthday cantata for the 11-year-old Prince Friedrich Christian, grandson of the recently-deceased Augustus the Strong; 2. BWV 214 birthday cantata for the new Electress Maria Josefa; and 3. BWV 215, a congratulatory cantata on the anniversary of the ascension to the Polish Throne of the new Elector of Saxony, August III, during his visit in the first week of October 1734.

The first, BWV 213, "Hercules auf dem Scheidewege (Crossroads) was a true Picander drammi per musica, with three allegorical characters that the young mythological Hercules (Prince Friedrich Christian) encounters at the symbolic crossroads, deciding for Virtue instead of Pleasure, according to Mercury, the narrator. Cantata BWV 214, presented on December 8, 1733, is a static drama. Four goddesses from ancient mythology address the Electress on her birthday: Bellona, goddess of war (soprano); Pallas, guardian of the muses and of knowledge (alto); Irene, goddess of peace (tenor); and famma, goddess of fame (bass). Each praises the Polish Queen's virtue from their special perspective. Cantata BWV 215, is a serenade with no characters, only a trio of singers offering perfunctory praise in pairs of recitative-aria to the King of Poland.

All three cantatas, BWV 213-BWV 214-BWV 215, display Bach's affinity for the progressive galant style, popular at the Dresden Court. This is especially prominent in the dance-style opening and closing choruses and internal arias, most notably in 3/8 meter, often cast as gigue or pastorale. Cantata BWV 215 has three dance-style movements: the opening (3/8) and closing (6/8) eight-voice da-capo choruses in a gigue and bouree-like style, respectively, and the bass mock-rage lombard-rhythm aria, No. 5, "Rase nur," in 3/8. The syncopated lombard rhythm (emphasis on the second beat, short-long, in 3/8 time), also called "Scottish snap," is found in BWV 213 and BWV 214 in three arias: BWV 213/3=BWV 248II/10, "Schlafe, mein Liebster"; BWV 213/11=BWV 248III/6, duet "Herr, dein Mitleid"; and BWV 214/5=BWV 248II/6, "Frohe Hirten, eilt," the last adapted by Bach in the XO to lombard rhythm through the use of slurs and accents.

The best known aria in lombard rhythm is the "Domine Deus" soprano-tenor duet in the B-Minor Mass "Gloria," BWV 232I/7, a parody from the name-day drama per musica, BWV 193a/5, for August the Strong in 1727. "Bach adopted lombardic figures with particular intensity between 1732 and 1735, in the Ascension Oratorio [BWV 11] (1735), the Christmas Oratorio (1734-35), and a good number of progressive celebratory works written for the Leipzig Town Council, the Saxon Elector, and other secular patrons," says George B. Stauffer in "Bach: the mass in b minor, The Great Catholic Mass," p.246, 2003). Stauffer's source is the research of Gerhardt Herz, Essays on JSB: "Lombard Rhythm in Bach's Vocal Music," UNM Research Press, Ann Arbor MI, 1985.

Herz points out (p.252) that "from June of 1732 to October 1734 in not a single newly-written vocal composition was one of the two rhythms found missing." These works with Lombard rhythm begin with the opening chorale cantata chorus, BWV 177/1, "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ." Then follows the works for the Saxon Court: the double-parody choruses: "Es liebe der König" (8/3/1732), "Preise deine Glücke," and "Osanna, osanna," (see musical examples below); BWV 232IV (by 1749); BWV Anh. 12/1 (August name day, 8/3/33)= BWV 11/1, and in cantatas BWV 213/-15. Lombard rhythm is also found in the aria "Ich traue seiner Gnaden," from the anytime Chorale Cantata BWV 97, "In allen meinen Taten," score dated simply "1734."

Cantata BWV 215 was composed under limited conditions, Bach having three days to produce the work. "The Question of Parody" in BWV 215 is the subject of Stephen A. Crist's article in Bach Perspectives I essays (1995). After exhaustive study and analysis of the manuscript and extensive document readings, Crist concludes that 63% of the work (score measures), involving three movements, was based on earlier materials, the rest was newlycomposed. The parodies are the opening da capo chorus A section from BWV Anh. 11, as well as the two da capo arias from unknown models, No. 3 for tenor, and most of No. 5, the bass aria, except for 28 new measures in the second vocal period of the B section.

As to the intense composing effort, Crist cites Hans-Joachim Schulze, "The Parody Process in Bach's Music," BACH, Vol. 20, No. 1, Spring 1989. Schulze (pp. 18f) describes Bach's productivity in the second year in Leipzig, as "almost unbelievable," involving 40 weekly chorale cantatas as well as various other cantatas. "Never again did he venture such a compositional tour de force, and never again did he saddle himself with such a burden. Possibly a creative crisis resulting from fatigue caused the early demise of the chorale cantata cycle and prevented its completion." Crist observes (p.157): "To compose, copy the performing parts of, and rehearse such a large-scale work as BWV 215 in three days is an extraordinary feat of musical prowess." It was possible because Bach had a minimum of rehearsal and nine parts copyists (three times the normal). Crist concludes that the BWV 215 effort, considering the 1724-25 period, "was surely much less taxing" (p.158f).

By the time Bach produced BWV 215, in the first week of October 1734, he was well on his way to composing his 6-part Christmas Oratorio. Crist's minute examination of the BWV 215 score shows that Bach put considerable effort into composing four introductory recitatives (leading to arias) for tenor, bass, soprano, and the trio recitative leading to an arioso, as well as the closing chorus, a gigue in 3/8. Like the elaborate accompanied recitatives in the concurrent Christmas Oratorio, the BWV 215 score shows Bach making many corrections (indicative of new composition instead of alterations through parody) in the instrumentation as well as details in the relationship between text and music (Footnote 48, p. 160).

At the same time, Crist observes (p.139) that Bach put considerable effort into the subsequent parody in the Christmas Oratorio, the soprano da-capo aria, No. 7, "That through the weapons enkindled by passion." Unlike Cantatas BWV 213 and BWV 214, this was the only lyrical movement adapted into the Christmas Oratorio in Part 5. "Bach changed not only the text and voice type (to bass) but several other fundamental aspects as well: the aria was transposed from B minor to F# minor; a normal continuo line was substituted for the (original) unusual bassetto (a high bass line), played by violins and violetta in the earlier version; and even the musical substance was revised, particularly in the B section."

During the composition of the Christmas Oratorio in late 1734, Bach used six lyric choruses and arias from BWV 213 and four from BWV 214 in the first four parts. Despite this extensive use, much of the XO is newly composed, original music. Part 1 has three chorales (four-part, canto lines interspersed with bass accompanied recitative, and four-part with trumpet choir interludes); an accompanied recitative (arioso), plus narrative recitatives. Part 2 has an introductory pastorale sinfonia, two chorales (four-part and four-part with pastorale interludes); two accompanied recitatives, plus narrative. Part 3 has an original aria, three four-part chorales, two accompanied recitatives, and narrative. Part 4 has two accompanied recitative-chorales, a four-part chorale with elaborate full orchestra interludes, and narrative.

Continuing with Part V for the Sunday after New Year, Bach composed an original opening chorus, a terzette aria, a turbae chorus with accompanied recitative, two four-part chorales, two accompanied recitatives, and narrative. The one aria from BWV 215 is the only parodied number in Part V, except for turbae choruses parodied from the St. Mark Passion of 1731, here and elsewhere in the dramatic narrative of BWV 248.

With the Christmas season fast approaching and wanting to produce a six-part for his Christmas Oratorio, ending with the Feast of Epiphany, Bach turned to a recent festive sacred cantata of unknown origin, BWV 248a, and adapted it wholesale through parody: opening chorus, three accompanied recitatives, two arias, and the closing chorale chorus. He composed three interspersed narrative movements and a central four-part chorale, providing a basic structure similar to the other five-parts.

The original cantata is explored in depth in Klaus Häfner's article, "Zum Problem der Entstehungsgeschichte von BWV 248a" (The Problem of the Origin History of BWV 248a), Die Musikforschung 30 (1977), pp. 304-8. The evidence survives in four doublet parts -- found in the Christmas Oratorio performing parts set -- for two violins, continuo (organ), and basso continuo transposed elaboration in Bach's hand. The copyist of the three other duplicate parts was Rudolph Straube, one of the nine copyists for BWV 215 (early October 1734). Since the organ part has a closing chorale movement, it is a sacred work. The scoring of the XO Part 6 includes three trumpets, as do four other XO Parts 1-3 and 5, suggesting a festive occasion for the original sacred cantata. The opening chorus is a parody of the opening chorus of a lost Congratulatory Cantata for the Birthday of Saxon Court Minister von Flemming., BWV Anh. 10, performed on August 31, 1731.

Häfner suggested a possible origin of BWV 248a in a Thanksgiving Service for the War of Polish Succession, July 6, 1734, at the Nikolas Church. There is no record of any music being presented at service, although the occasion and the music of BWV 248a is reminiscent of Handel's "Dettingen Te Deum" of 1743. Häfner considers less likely as the occasion a wedding service or the Town Council Service in late August 1743. He also suggests the possibility of another Dresden-related event, the Festive Service of Allegiance to August III, April 21, 1733, also at the Thomas Church. This event also was considered as the possible site for the first performance of the B-Minor Missa (Kyrie-Gloria), BWV 232I. There also is no record of the music at this service. This occasion was rejected by George Stauffer in his 2003 study of that Mass (p. 36f), in favor of the performance on July 27, 1733, before the Dresden Royal Court. Ulrich Siegele's 1995 article on the parody process in the XO, for the Ludwig Finscher Festschrift, suggests a special 1734 Michaelmas Fair church performance of BWV 248a at the same time as BWV 215 in honor of the visiting Saxon Court.

Like BWV 215/8, the penultimate movement in BWV 248VI/10 is an elaborate accompanied recitative for multiple voices, reminiscent of the same movement type and placement in the SMP, BWV 244/77(67). Although these ensembles have overtones of an opera seria scena-finale, Bach's purpose seems more an intimate summation preparatory to the closing chorus.

Observations concerning Gottfried Reiche, the noted Leipzig Statdtfeifer trumpeter who died October 6, 1734, the day after the performance of BWV 215. Reiche was 63 years old at the time of his death. In comparison, Johann Caspar Wülken, noted court trumpeter at Zeitz, Weißenfels, and Zerbst, and father of Anna Magdalena Bach, died in 1731 at the age of 68. Reiche, senior Stadtmusicus since 1719, lead and participated in all the serenades in Leipzig, always staged outdoors at night with artificial illumination, especially torches. At the same time, he played much more demanding trumpet music, probably including the solo in Bach's bass aria BWV 214/7, "Kron unPreis," later parodied in BWV 248I/8, "Großer Herr."

 

BWV 29 and BWV 215 in Brussels

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (June 26, 2011):
Ed's post reminded me that it has been a long time since I gave a report of performance, and precisely this morning, the Chapelle des Minimes performed two festive cantatas: BWV 29 ("Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir") and BWV 215 ("Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen") (actually only the opening chorus).

Next year, the Chapelle des Minimes will be 30 years old. At this occasion, we will perform the B minor Mass (BWV 232) in December. As we usually have only three or four rehearsals for each concert, our artistic director (Julius Stenzel) had the excellent idea of making us prepare this huge work by selecting for this year cantatas wich have been "parodied" in the B minor Mass. Hence the choice of the chorus of BWV 215 which will later become the Osanna of BWV 232.

Our conductor for this concert was Benoît Jacquemin, which is also organist, harpsichordist and musicologist. We had a large orchestra with notably 2 oboes , 2 flutes, 3 trumpets, and timpani. Our new organ was played for the first cantata by Andre Roe and for the second by Philippe Gerard (one of our regular conductors).

The soloists were Nadia Hidali (soprano), Piers Maxim (alto) and Jan Caals (tenor, but which also sang the short recitative for bass). The two latter, besides being excellent singers, have also conducted some of our concerts during the 2010-2011 season. And another one of our regular conductors, Julius Stenzel, played the cello.

I will not go into all details of the concert, but the choir had much fun, in particular with the requiring chorus (for double choir) of BWV 215, which was taken at a quite lively pace. While the melismas are not particularly difficult, the challenge is more to articulate distinctly (at this tempo) some parts of the texts such as "die deine Wohlfahrt lässt täglich wachsen"...

The tempo was also (unusually) quick for the closing chorus of BWV 29. This emphasised the (also unusual) dancing character of this piece in 3/4.

The audience seemed to have appreciated this last performance of the season. Not quite the last, actually, as next Sunday a part of the orchestra (called chamber orchestra) will perform two solo cantatas for soprano (BWV 84 and 204), with as soloist Charlotte Panouclias.

For those interested (and for Aryeh!), a link to the programme of our next season:
http://www.minimes.be/images/saisons/2011-2012/affiche_saison_2011-2012.pdf

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 29, 2011):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Ed's post reminded me that it has been a long time since I gave a report of performance, and precisely this morning, the Chapelle des Minimes performed two festive cantatas >
Thanks for the report, Therese! Always nice to hear from you, it reminds to have an occasional Chimay Bleu in your honor.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 215: Details & Complete Recordings | 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: żOctober 14, 2013 ż08:27:44