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Cantata BWV 41
Jesu, nun sei gepreiset
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of December 24, 2006 (2nd round)

Roar Myrheim wrote (December 24, 2006):
Introduction to BWV 41 - "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset"

Week of December 24, 2006

Cantata BWV 41, "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset", for New Year's Day
Composed for 1st performance January 1, 1725 in Leipzig.

Main Cantata page:
Previous Discussion:

Provenance: (Origin & Owner history):
Comentaries: (Voigt, Schweitzer, Dürr, Melamed, Chafe, Cantagrel, Basso):


English, interlinear:
Other translations:

Score Vocal & Piano:

Listen to Leusink recording (free streaming download):

Libretto: Unknown
Based on the hymn of Johannes Herman: with the same name as the cantata (1593). There is also a short quotation from Martin Luther's "Die Litanei"
Chorale Text:
Text "Die Litanei":
Chorale Melody:
Melody "Die Litanei":

Epistle: Galatians 3: 23-29 Through faith we are heirs of God's promise
Gospel: Luke 2: 21 Circumcision. His name shall be called Jesus



Mvt. 1. Chorus SATB (1st verse of chorale)
Tromba I-III, Timpani, Oboe I-III, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Mvt. 2. Aria S (parts of 2nd verse of chorale paraphrased + new material)
Oboe I-III, Continuo

Mvt. 3. Recitative A (part of 2nd verse of chorale paraphrased + new material)

Mvt. 4. Aria T (part of 2nd verse of chorale paraphrased+ new material)
Violoncello piccolo solo, Continuo

Mvt. 2. Recitative B and Chorus SATB (part of 2nd verse of chorale paraphrased + new material + quotation from Die Litanei)

Mvt. 6. Chorale SATB (3rd verse of chorale)
Tromba I-III, Timpani, Oboe I-III, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo


Themes of the cantata:

This cantata celebrates new year, praying for God's help to get the strength necessary for the coming year, thanking him for protection here on earth and when we die, and singing his praise for giving us an abundance of blessing. There is no obvious reference to the gospel reading about the circumcision and name of Jesus, or to the epistle reading saying that through faith we are heirs of God's promise.

Gilles Cantagrel (from the booklet accompanying the Coin recordings) describes it this way: "On this 1st day of the new year Bach was thus led to develop two very different expressive registers in his music: the great festive laudation befitting the occasion - hence 3 trumpets, 3 oboes and timpani -and the intimate fervor of prayer, for which he uses the violoncello piccolo in a concerted role, along with the strings and continuo. And, of course, 4 soloists in turn, and a 4-pt. chorus."

The chorale "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset" consists of 3 very long stanzas. The 1st and 3rd are quoted in Mvt. 1 and Mvt. 6 respectively. Stanza no. 2 is partly paraphrased in all the remaining movements, as demonstrated by Dürr:

Mvt. 2: "Lass uns . das Jahr vollbringen" Stanza 2 period 1: "Lass uns das Jahr vollbringen"

Mvt. 3: "Ach! deine Hand, dein Segen ... " Period 9: "Dein' Segen zu uns wende"

Mvt. 4: "Woferne du den edlen Frieden ... " Period 10: "Gib Fried an allem Ende"

Mvt. 4: "So lass . dein selig machend Wort" Period 12: "Dein seligmachend Wort"

Mvt. 5: "Doch weil der Feind be Tag und Nacht . " Period 13: "Die Teufel mach zuschanden"

Mvt. 5: "Den Satan unter unsre Füsse treten" (Litanei) Period 13.


As introductions to cantata BWV 41 "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset", I recommend Thomas Braatz' presentation of commentaries:

I find the commentaries by Dürr and Cantagrel especially worth reading.


New recordings since the last time this cantata was discussed are:
Suzuki [11]:

I wish you all a merry Christmas filled with Bach's music!

Neil Halliday wrote (December 27, 2006):
Introduction to BWV 41 (Suzuki) [11]

Suzuki has a very moving `molto adagio' performance of the tenor aria (Mvt. 4), with attractive singing from Jan Kobow, who I have not come across before. The tempo matches that of the first recording by Ramin back in the 50's, and allows the piccolo cellist to fully bring out the pathos in that part. The organ realisation is just about the best I have heard in this type of aria, with attractive timbre, unobtrusive realisation, yet adding substance and musical sense to the scoring:


The adagio section that Bach inserts into the jubilant opening chorus is remarkably expressive, with the soft (`piano') trumpets and timpani looking forward to Beethoven's orchestration of the last quiet section toward the end of the Ninth symphony.


BWV 41

Chris Kern wrote (March 27, 2007):
I know it's been a while since this was the topic of discussion, but I was on vacation the week this cantata was discussed and it's one of my favorite ones, so I'm going to throw some thoughts in now -- especially since only one person contributed to the discussion at the time.

This is a mocantata. Bach used elements of both choral fantasia and older motet style in the chorale cycle, but in the massive opening movement (Mvt. 1) of this cantata he combines them both. After the opening section is done in chorale fantasia style, the next lines are done in an extended fugal motet, after which they are repeated in the chorale fantasia. The tenor aria (Mvt. 4) is also notable for the rare violincello (piccolo) obbligato, and it is a masterful, emotional obbligato line. I bet cello players have fun with this, since they're usually restricted just to BC. (Actually next week's BWV 6 has obbligato cello as well...)

I listened to Rilling, Harnoncourt, and Leusink.

[3] Rilling:
This my preferred version. The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) is excellent, with great choral singing and a very effective legato treatment of the middle motet section. The soprano aria (Mvt. 2) is a weak point; the singer seems to be almost screeching at times. The tenor aria (Mvt. 4) is the best of the three -- the cello playing is very emotional and affecting, and the singing is good as well.

[4] Harnoncourt:
I like his opening chorus (Mvt. 1). The way he does the motet section is staccato, but it works surprisingly well in the context of the whole. The boy soprano in the aria (Mvt. 2) is the best of all the singers, and this is the only version of the aria that I really like. The tenor aria (Mvt. 4) is fine, but not as good as Rilling.

[10] Leusink:
I found this version to be sub-par, not only in relation to the R&H but also in relation to Leusink's other performances. The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) is sloppy, and the motet section doesn't hang together as well as H's. Ruth Holton is not as good in the soprano aria (Mvt. 2) as usual (it's too fast, for one thing), although she does put some interesting embellishment on the da capo. The tenor aria (Mvt. 4) just lacks something that the other two versions have.


New Year's Day cantata

Neil Halliday wrote (January 1, 2009):
Last night I heard Suzuki's [11] BWV 41, a cantata first performed on 1st January 1725. The tenor aria (Mvt. 4) was particularly striking, with an expressive cello piccolo obbligato, fine singing by Jan Kobow, and subtle continuo organ realisation. Suzuki adopts what is probably the slowest tempo of the recordings - 9.44 - to create a very moving aria, which as a previous correspondent stated has similar impact to the "Come sweet cross" aria in the SMP (BWV 244).

It's amazing how impressions differ - I was very surprised to read Robertson's remarks that this "is not a very interesting aria"!

Julian Mincham wrote (January 2, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< It's amazing how impressions differ - I was very surprised to read Robertson's remarks that this "is not a very interesting aria"! >
Your email prompts me to say how much I find myself in disagreement with Robertson nowadays--which is why, I think, an up to date listeners' and students' guide to the cantatas is now necessary.

PS sorry I missed you in Oz this year--I expected you would be in warmer climes considering the particularly cold winter!?


Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 41: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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