Cantata BWV 42
Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbatas
Discussions - Part 5
Continue from Part 4
Discussions in the Week of April 2, 2017 (4th round)
William Hoffman wrote (April 4, 2017):
Quasimodogeniti, Cantata 42: “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats”
Bach’s Cantata BWV 42, “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats” (On the evening of the same Sabbath, Gospel John 20:19) has a double chorale and uses da-capo form of opening section repeat involving three arias and an extended, impressive -- possibly original -- orchestral sinfonia, all lasting about 25 minutes. It was composed for the First Sunday after Easter, known as Quasimodogeniti, which begins the Johannine Gospel series leading to Jesus’ Farewell Discourse to his disciples.1
In Cantata 42, Bach uses two comfort /peace chorales with multiple texts: Jacob Fabricus’ “Versage nicht, O Häuflein klein” (Do not lose heart, oh my dear little flock), as a soprano-tenor chorale duet (no. 4) set to the implied melody “Komm her zu mir, spricht Gottes” (Come here to me, said God’s son), and closes (no. 6) with the plain chorale setting of Martin Luther’s “Verleih uns Frieden, gnädiglich” (Graciously grant us peace) and Johann Wather’s 1566 text, “Gib unsern Fürsten und all'r Obrigkeit” (Grant to our princes and those in authority), Stanzas 6 and 7 respectively of Luther’s setting of the Latin antiphon Da pacem, Domine (Give peace, Lord), in the 1542 setting of Luther’s chorale prayer, “Erhalt uns Herr, ein deinem Wort” (Preserve us, Lord, with your word; full text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale142-Eng3.htm. A similar Aeolian four-part setting of both stanzas closes chorale Cantata 126, “Erhalt uns Herr, bein deinem Wort,” for pre-Lenten Sexagesima Sunday 1725, two months prior in February 4 and one of Bach’s last cyclic chorale cantatas.
Cantata 42 was premiered on the First Sunday after Easter, Quasimodogeniti, 8 April 1725, at the early main service of the St. Thomas Church, before the sermon of Pastor Christian Weise Sr. on the Gospel, John 20-19-31 (Jesus appears to the disciples), and the Epistle, 1 John 5:4-10 (Faith overcomes the world), says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2 The German text of Luther’s 1545 translation and the English Authorised (King James) Version 1611 is found at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Quasimodogeniti.htm. The polyphonic setting of the Introit is Psalm 116, Dilexi quoniam (I love the Lord), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 763) and the text is found at http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Psalms-Chapter-116/.
Cantata 42 was repeated on the same First Sunday after Easter in 1731 when Bach for the first time systematically reperformed his cantatas for the entire Easter Season, according to a printed service text book, following the premiere of his St. Mark Passion, BWV 247, on Good Friday, March 23 (see Bach’s performance calendar, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/1731.htm). Cantata 42 was reperformed again c. 1742, according to a violone part added and written in Bach’s hand (Back Digital https://www.bach-digital.de/rsc/viewer/BachDigitalSource_derivate_00005765/db_bachst0003_pa069.jpg).
The first Sunday after Easter is known as Quasimodogeniti infantes, being Latin for "Like newborn babes" (see BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/Quasimodogeniti.htm). It is the opening phrase of the Introit reading appointed for the church's worship today - "Like newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2: 2-3). Quasimodogeniti Sunday, also known as the Second Sunday of Easter as well as the Octave of the Resurrection. The early church at Easter on this Easter Season Sunday made special reference to the newly baptized neophytes, as well as in the general allusion to man's renovation through the Resurrection. In 1725, following the Good Friday to Easter Tuesday series of an oratorio Passion and the three-day feast of Easter Sunday to Tuesday, a period more intense that even the Christmas Festival, Bach gave his performers a needed break on the Sunday after Easter. As a result, Bach produced only one other original work for this Sunday: Cantata 67, “Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ” (Keep in memory Jesus Christ, Epistle 2 Timothy 2:8), 16 April 1724. On 28 April 1726, Bach was content to present Meiningen cousin Ludwig’s Cantata JLB 6, “Wie lieblich sind auf den Bergen” (Ah, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bring good tidings, Isaiah 52:7) KJV, the opening chorus and the second part with the Gospel dictum, “Der Freide sei mit dir (Peace be unto you, John 20:19b) as a bass vox Christi.3 A decade later on 8 April 1736, Bach conducted Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel’s twin bill, “Er heißet Friedefürst, auf daß seine Herrschaft groß werde” (Mus. A 15:157, recording, http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/May05/Stolzel_9998762.htm) and “Suche Friede, und jage ihm nach (Mus. A 15:158).
The seven-bar score sketch of an opening orchestral ritornello (3/4, e minor) exists in Bach’s hand for a cantata for Quasimodogeniti 1725, possibly the beginning of a chorale cantata. It is designated XXXII, Kirchenkantaten in the Werner Neumann Handbuch der Kantaten Joh. Seb. Bachs, 5th ed. (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1984: 264) and in Bach Compendium catalogued as BC A 64, and BWV deest (Bach Digital, https://www.bach-digital.de/rsc/viewer/BachDigitalSource_derivate_00002156/db_bachp0122_page010v.jpg). Preserved are seven bars of six staves: oboe I, oboe II, violin I, violin II, viola, basso continuo. It probably written close to BWV 103 (D B Mus. ms. Bach P 122) consists of the manuscript of BWV 103 and the fragment on the last page. Presumably the fragment was never completed, instead maybe BWV 42 was composed for the Sunday Quasimodogeniti. Cantata 103 was presented two weeks later on Jubilate Sunday, 22 April 1725.4 Given the sketch’s meter of ¾ time and key of e minor, it is quite possible that Bach planned an opening chorale fantasia setting of Nicolaus Herman’s 1560 14-stanza Easter hymn, “Erschiennen ist der Herrlich’ Tag” (Here shining is the splendid day, Paul Farseth trans., BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale091-Eng3.htm), which Bach set as plain chorales closing Cantata 67 for Quasimodogeniti 1725 and Cantata 145 for Easter Tuesday, probably 1729.
The Christian liturgical greeting, “Peace be with you” is the basic theme in Bach’s cantatas or musical sermons for Quasimodogeniti, BWV 67 in 1724 and BWV 42 in 1725), and perhaps the emblematic theme for the annual cycle of sermon preacher, Christian Weise Sr. at St. Thomas, beginning Easter 1724. It is Christ’s post-Resurrection first greeting to his disciples, Luke 24:36 (“Friede sei mit euch”), the Gospel for Easter Tuesday, and the corresponding greeting, John 20:(“Der Friede sei mit dir”), the Gospel for Quasimodogeniti. Bach also sounds the theme from John in the opening (and closing) of the beginning recitative of Cantata BWV 158 for Easter Tuesday 1725. Cantata 42 was the eighth of 10 double-chorale works opening with biblical dictum for mostly the Easter Seasons of 1724 and 1725 that Bach presented: BWV 144, Anh. 199, BWV 166, 86, 37, 44, 6, 42, 85, and 79). Cantata 67 was the last of a series of Cycle 1 cantatas in similar six-movement form with two chorales and biblical dictum followed by an aria.
Cantata 42 movements, scoring, texts, key, meter (German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV42-Eng3.htm):
1. Sinfonia for concerto da cheiesa (church) da capo form with double choir (woodwinds, strings) [Oboe I/II, Fagotto, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. Tempo ordinario (52 mm); B. Cantabile (22 mm); D Major; 4/4.
2. Recitative secco [Tenor; Continuo, Fagotto]: “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats, / Da die Jünger versammlet / Und die Türen verschlossen waren / Ahus Furcht für den Jüden, / Kam Jesus und trat mitten ein.” (On the evening of the same Sabbath / as the disciples were gathered together / and the doors were locked for fear of the Jews / Jesus came and stood in the midst of them. John 20:19); b minor; 4/4.
3. Aria da capo with ritornelli [Alto; Oboe I/II, Fagotto, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. 4/4 Adagio [51 mm), “Wo zwei und drei versammlet sind / In Jesu teurem Namen, / Da stellt sich Jesus mitten ein / Und spricht darzu das Amen.” (Where two or three are gathered together / in Jesus's beloved name [Matthew 8:20], / then Jesus appears in the midst of them and says to them Amen.); B. 12/8 (pastorale), Un poco andante (continuo only, 17 mm), “ Denn was aus Lieb und Not geschicht, Das bricht des Höchsten Ordnung nicht.” (For what happens from law and necessity / does not break the arrangements of the most high God.); G Major.
4. Aria (Chorale) Duet (canon) in two parts with short ritornelli (chorale “Komm her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn” implied in instruments) [Soprano, Tenor; Fagotto e Violoncello, Continuo]: A. “Verzage nicht, o Häuflein klein, / Obschon die Feinde willens sein, / Dich gänzlich zu verstören” (Do not lose heart, oh my dear little flock, / even if your enemies intend / to destroy you completely); B. Und suchen deinen Untergang, / Davon dir wird recht angst und bang: / Es wird nicht lange währen.” (and seek your downfall, / so that you're really distressed and fearful: / this will not last long.); b minor; 3/4.
5. Recitative secco & arioso [Bass; Fagotto e Continuo]: “Man kann hiervon ein schön Exempel sehen / An dem, was zu Jerusalem geschehen; / Denn da die Jünger sich versammlet hatten / Im finstern Schatten, / Aus Furcht für denen Jüden, / So trat mein Heiland mitten ein, / Zum Zeugnis, dass er seiner Kirche Schutz will sein.” (An excellent example of this can be seen / in what happened in Jerusalem; / for when the disciples had gathered together / in dark shadows / for fear of those Jews, / then my saviour came into the midst of them, / As witness that he will be the protection of his church.); arioso (Animoso, mm 10-11), “Drum lasst die Feinde wüten!” (Therefore let the enemies rage); G Major to a minor; 4/4.
6. Aria trio sonata in two parts with ritornelli [Bass; Violino, Fagotto, Continuo]: “Jesus ist ein Schild der Seinen, / Wenn sie die Verfolgung trifft.” (Jesus is a shield for his people / when persecution strikes them.); B. “Ihnen muss die Sonne scheinen / Mit der güldnen Überschrift: / Jesus ist ein Schild der Seinen, / Wenn sie die Verfolgung trifft.” (For them the sun must shine / with the words written in gold: / Jesus is a shield for his people / when persecution strikes them.); A Major; 2/2.
7. Chorale [SATB; Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Fagotto, Continuo]: “Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich, / Herr Gott, zu unsern Zeiten; / Es ist doch ja kein andrer nicht, / Der für uns könnte streiten, / Denn du, unsr Gott, alleine.” (Graciously grant us peace / Lord God, in our time; / there is no one else / who could fight for us / except you , our God, alone.); “Gib unsern Fürsten und all'r Obrigkeit / Fried und gut Regiment, / Dass wir unter ihnen / Ein geruhig und stilles Leben führen mögen / In aller Gottseligkeit und Ehrbarkeit. Amen” (Grant to our princes and those in authority / peace and good government / so that we under them / may lead a calm and peaceful life / in all godliness and respectability. Amen); f-sharp minor Aeolian; 4/4.
7: German version of ‘Da pacem Domine’ by Martin Luther (1531) together with a stanza by Johann Walter paraphrasing 1 Timothy 2:2 (1566); first libretto printing: Leipzig 1731
Cantata 42 Protection, Peace Chorales
Bach uses comfort and peace-related chorales for his only extant Quasimodogeniti cantatas, BWV 67 and 42, which, like the 1724 Cantata 6 for Easter Monday 1724, are in the traditional cantata form (biblical dictum/internal chorale) began in the first cantata cycle of 1723-24. The hymn text of Cantata 42/4 soprano-tenor duet is “Verzage nicht, o Häuflein klein” (Do not lose heart, oh my dear little flock, Luke 12:32), Jacob Fabricius (1593-1654) 1632 hymn (music, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqdG1bh6SMA) . The five-stanza six line (AABCCB) hymn is found in Bach’s Das neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682 as No. 317, “Word of God & Christian Church.” The Fabricus text that may have originated as a marching song of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. The associated melody (Zahn 2496c) is “Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn” (Come here to me, said God’s son), set to the 1530 Georg Grunwaldt text. The Grunwald’s text, “Kommt her zu mir,” is found in the NLGB as No. 234, “Christian Life & Conduct,” as a 16 stanza hymn by Bartholomäus Ringwald. It is based on Mat. 11:28, Jesus preaching.
Bach used the “Verzage nicht” melody in more readily recognizable forms as closing plain chorales in the 1725 Mariane von Ziegler texts of Cantatas BWV 108 (Cantate Sunday, Easter 4,) and BWV 74 Pentecost Sunday), to texts of Paul Gerhardt’s popular 1653 hymn, “Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist” (God Father, send thy spirit), and initially in 1724 in the soprano chorale aria setting, Grunwald Stanza 7, “Und was der ewig gütig Gott / in seinem Wort versprochen hat” (And what the eternally good God / has promised in his word), of double-chorale Cantata 86 (Rogate Sunday, Easter 5), text author unknown, possibly Christian Weise Sr. This melody can be traced back to south Germany around 1490 (see melody and text information, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Kommt-her-zu-mir.htm). The Grunwald text and Francis Browne English translation is found at BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale095-Eng3.htm. The text "0 Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe," attributed to Johann M. Altenburg, 1584-1640, translated by Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878) is found in the current LSMS Lutheran Service Book, No. 666, “The Church Militant” all four stanzas http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh263.htm).
Luther’s prayer for peace “Verleih uns Frieden” (Grant us peace, Dona nobis pacem) is a setting of the plainsong melody Veni redemptor gentium, and text from the Latin antiphon litany, Da pacem, Domine (Give peace, Lord). Luther’s setting was published in the Kirchē gesenge, mit vil schönen Psalmen unnd Melodey, edited by Johann Walter (Nürnberg, 1531), and Geistliche Lieder by Joseph Klug (Wittenberg, 1535). The melody of the additional stanza (Gieb unsern Fürsten) was first published in Das cKinderlied D. Martini Lutheri in Wittenberg, 1566. Melody information is found at BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Erhalt-uns-Herr.htm; Cantata 42/6 Video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAKn25Bw-XU; music, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BllU2bd9SGE. Bach’s other four-part setting of Stantas 6 and 7 closes Chorale Cantata 126, “Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort” (Lead us, Lord, with Thy Word) for Sexageisma Sunday 1725. Luther’s text also is the closing chorale in Bach’s lost Cantata BWV 4a, “Wünschet Jerusalem Glück,” for the Town Council Installation in August 1725, to a Picander setting. Details of “Ehalt uns Herr” are found in the Cantata 126 BCML Discussion Part 4, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV126-D4.htm.
Quinquagesima: Johannine Perspective
Quinquagesima Sunday concludes the Feast of Easter and begins the Johannine cycle of cantatas. The day’s Gospel, John 20:19-31, is similar in content to the Gospel for the Third Day of Easter (Tuesday), Luke 24:36-43, but adds a special perspective. Both gospels begin with Jesus greeting his disciples, “Peace be to you,” followed with Jesus showing them his crucifixion wounds to affirm his identity. The narrative only in John continues with verses 22-23: “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” Thus is followed in John with the narrative of Thomas’ disbelief, verses 24-25, and Jesus’ reappearance eight days later when Thomas sees the wounds and accepts Jesus, who says (verse 29), “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
John “intensifies both the miraculous and the faith-centered character of the narrative,” emphasizing the disciples hiding behind closed doors “from fear of the Jews” (verse 19), says Eric Chafe’s recent study.5 The librettist of Cantata 42, as well as the preceding Cantata 6 and the succeeding Cantata 85 for Misericordia Domini, makes no mention of Holy Spirit’s permanent presence (verses 22-23), Chafe observes, perhaps leaving all references to the central Pentecost appearance of the Holy Spirit in the Easter Season cantatas of 1724. Meanwhile, librettist Mariane von Ziegler’s 1725 texts from Jubilate Sunday onward “are more in keeping with the Farewell Discourse in which Jesus introduced the coming of the Spirit frequently,” says Café.
Instead, “Bach might have intended a ‘hidden’ musical reference to the Spirit in Cantata 42,” Chafe suggests, with Cantatas 42 and 85 emphasizing the “need of the faithful for God’s protection,” especially in the emblematic greeting, “Peace be with you.” The “distinct echoes of the Christus Victor (Cantata 42), then [Jesus] in the role of the good shepherd (Cantata 85)” lead to the celebration of these attributes at Pentecost. “The darkness” of Cantata 42 “is refuge from the world that persecutes the disciples, representing the coming historical Christian Church, while the Johannine light is Jesus “aiding the faithful to overcome worldly persecution” in the bass aria (no. 6), “Jesus ist ein Schild der Seinen” (Jesus is a shield for his people; music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZhKnXcvBHs).
Following the opening sinfonia account which paints the sense unrest in the concitato (excited) style into which the disciples have gathered, the opening tenor Gospel dictum recitative (no. 2, sets the stage for Jesus’ appearance and the bass recitative and aria (nos. 5-6) that reinforces the sense of protection so that the enemies may rage against them (music, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLGjAT_WUwo). These become Luther’s enemies – the Papists and Turks in the chorale, “Erhalt uns Herr, ein deinem Wort” (Preserve us, Lord, with your word), from which government authority brings order and peace in the Cantata 42 closing chorale. Meanwhile, the succeeding alto lullaby aria (no. 3), “Wo zwei und drei versammlet sind / In Jesu teurem Namen” (Where two or three are gathered together / in Jesus's beloved name, Matthew 8:20), describes Jesus’ presence in the midst of the disciple,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 417) “is an oasis of Trost (music, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gu0sYszSDUw). The sense of persecution of the faithful is portrayed in the central soprano-tenor chorale duet, “Verzage nicht, o Häuflein klein” (Do not lose heart, oh my dear little flock, Luke 12:32; music, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4BWRqVmzEg.
Easter Season: 50 Days Contrast
The Great 50 Days” from Easter to Pentecost is rooted in the Jewish tradition of observing seven weeks, the Jubilee Time, plus one day between Passover (the feast of Unleavened Bread), and Pentecost/Shavout (The Feast of the Weeks) and also the day of the Ceremony (Bikkurium of First Fruits, harvest, says John Eliot Gardiner in his Bach musical biography.6 In the New Testament, these days “signalled the completion of Jesus’ work on earth, his last appearance to his disciples, his valedictory message [final discourse] to bolster their faith, and his promise to protect them through the coming Holy Spirit.” The contrasts are of joy at Christ’s resurrection and appearances, “clouded by the prospect of his departure and the adversarial pressures of the temporal world,” says Gardiner.
In particular, this “duality between a world deprived of Jesus’ [Johannine] light and physical presence and a world of increasing spiritual darkness is very palpable” in Bach’s Easter Monday festival Cantata BWV 6, “Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend warden” (Stay with us, for evening is coming), Gospel, Luke 24:29). This eighth in a series of ten such striking musical sermons is a sharp contrast to the Easter Sunday 1725 Easter Oratorio, BWV 249, with its festive atmosphere, its dark c minor key “sweet-sad sonority” similar to the closing, dance-style chorus, “Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen gebeine” (rest well you holy limbs), in the St. John Passion of 1724. Where the Passion “rest in the grave” chorus is “elegiac and consolatory, Cantata 6 is “tinged with the sadness of bereavement. “Its tender pleadings for enlightenment become even more gestural and urgent in a darkening world from which Jesus’ presence has been removed. It manages t be both narrative (evoking the grieving disciples’ journey to Emmaus as darkness falls), and universal at the same time (the basic fear of being left alone on the dark, both literally and metaphorically).”
From a religious perspective, the “Great 50 Days” of Easter Season “is not only unified in its theological character, but it is also the oldest and most fundamental part of the Christian liturgy, embodying the very core of Christian belief as it arose in relation to Judaism in the first century and reflected in the books of the New Testament,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 11)recent study. This perspective was “well-understood in Bach time,” says Chafe, and the Easter Season is the only time in the Bach’s and today’s lectionary where “the majority of the Gospel readings” are drawn from John, the last of the four and the only one known as the “spiritual” symbolic and teaching Gospel, in contrast to the three accounts of the synoptic (“seen together”) gospel trilogy. John’s unique Gospel focuses on “the ideas embodied in Jesus’s often extended discourses rather than the narrative of historical events.”
Here the essential spiritual theme reflects the 50 days “as a symbolic transition from the era of Jesus and the disciples to that of the church under the Holy Spirit, embody, “more than any other time of the year, the core questions around which Christianity arose, questions that are particularly prominent in John.” As such this time of the church year was a transition, a preparation for the second half of the church year, known as the Church’s Time of omnes tempore (Ordinary Time), in contrast to the de tempore (Proper Time) of first half of the church year recounting the major events in Jesus’ incarnation to and ascension from earth. The Johannine Farewell Discourse, found nowhere else in the Gospels, sets the stage for the Church’s teaching of parables and miracles that interpret the foundation of Christianity in the synoptic gospels. Thus, in Bach’s post-Reformation time, the original Lutheran Church considered only the three feast days of Easter and Pentecost, Sunday to Tuesday, and the Ascension Day Feast as part of the de tempore (Proper, Feast Time) portion of the church year.7 The six Sundays after Easter, Quasimodogeniti to Exaudi, are part of the feastless period, known as omnes tempore (Ordinary, Feastless Time), which involves the Sundays after Epiphany, the so-called three “gesima” Sundays, and all the Sundays after Trinity, called Sundays after Pentecost in today’s lectionary.
Cantata 42 Opening, Borrowed Material
The shift to a sedate opening of Cantata 42 with its use of borrowed material from Cöthen and Bach’s perspective are considered in John Eliot Gardiner’s 2007 liner notes to his 2000 Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.8 << For the first Sunday after Easter 1724, Bach produced Cantata 67, “Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ” (Keep in memory Jesus Christ, Epistle 2 Timorthy 2:8), with a stirring opening choral fantasia. <<The following year, 1725, Bach came up with a very different solution. For the opening of BWV 42, “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats,” he assigns the first verse of the Gospel text not to his exhausted choir but to a tenor, as Evangelist. This is preceded by an extended Sinfonia cast as a kind of concerto a due cori with strings versus woodwinds (two oboes and bassoon). Tempting as it is to see an illustrative, theological purpose behind Bach’s choice of an instrumental overture – Eric Chafe, for example, considers that it ‘invites interpretation’ as the appearance of the risen Christ in the midst of His apprehensive disciples – it is in fact lifted from a lost birthday serenata for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen (BWV 66a). As another of those instances where Bach is parodying pre-existent secular material, you wonder whether he allowed for its dual purpose at the moment of its inception or, as a result of his unique penetrative insight into the manifold yet apt re-use of material, fished it out of the bottom drawer as the thought flashed across his brain when he sat down to compose this cantata.
However, abstract instrumental music is one thing: any subjective interpretation can neither be proven nor repudiated. Texted music is another matter altogether. I could not detect any signs of ‘Jesus “in the midst” of an agitated world’ (Chafe again) in the alto aria (No.3), and would not have expected to do so in music whose original text (also from the Cöthen serenata) opens: ‘Fortunate land of sweet calm and quiet, / in your breast flows but a sea of joys’. Yet as with some of Rameau’s pastoral music, I found it almost unbearably pained and sad at our first performance and far more serene and consoling at the second. Perhaps there is less of a contradiction between these two subjective impressions than may at first appear. Could it be that Bach’s own accumulated experiences of grief and disappointment lie at the heart of the calm acceptance of the power of prayer and forgiveness ‘where two or three are gathered together’ and (as in the B section) ‘that which occurs out of love or need does not contravene the Highest’s order’?
Bach inserts a ‘chorale’ in the centre of this cantata, to intensify the vulnerability of his ‘little flock’ in a hostile world, but disguises it almost completely in the instrumental (and occasionally vocal) lines. C. S. Terry once suggested that the curiously bucolic bassoon obbligato was intended to accompany a chorale melody ‘never actually sounded’, which might lead one to suppose that it is a device to convey the ‘hiddenness’ of the church in the world. This seems to be confirmed in the bass recitative (No.5), which describes Jesus’ sudden appearance to His disciples ‘to prove that He would protect His church’. Bach switches to ‘animoso’ for the last couple of bars, in which his entire continuo group (cello, violone, bassoon, harpsichord and organ) seem intent on booting the raging enemy into the bottomless pit – and continue to do so for much of the final A major aria (No.6). The bass soloist meanwhile celebrates the power of light to overcome darkness: Jesus, by shielding His persecuted followers, guarantees that ‘for them the sun must shine’. Whittaker refers to the violins ‘gleaming in thirds’ by way of illustrating the golden superscription, which made me glance up at the gold-emblazoned ‘SDG’ on the pulpit. Bach’s scoring here is for twin violin parts, specifically apportioned between the four first violins, two per part. Outwardly this seemed so implausible that we tried it as a straightforward trio sonata (two per part being much harder to blend than one or three). It sounded well but nothing more; so we experimented with three per part, antiphonally arranged. Finally we reverted to the two per part apportionment exactly as Bach instructs, and of course it proves that he knew exactly what he wanted. The final chorale is Luther’s version of Da pacem, Domine cleverly stitched on to Johann Walther’s prayer for good governance and peace. © John Eliot Gardiner 2007, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage
Cantata 42 Sinfonia Dialogue
Bach’s Cantata 42 opens with a dialogue between winds and strings in the sinfonia, followed by a the Gospel dictum set as a personal recitative in the manner of the St. John Passion, observes Klaus Hofmann’s 2007 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete cantata recordings.9 Bach’s cantata “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats” was first heard on Quasimodogeniti Sunday, 8th April 1725, at the main church service in Leipzig. The gospel passage for this Sunday, John 20, 19–31, tells how – owing to his disciples’ fear of persecution – the resurrected Jesus appears secretly and behind closed doors to them. As with the cantata “Bleib bei uns,” performed the previous week, the text begins with a verse from the gospel. As the following sequence of movements (aria–chorale–recitative–aria–chorale) is the same and, moreover, both texts have a similar, rather dry and unpoetic style, we can assume that they are the work of the same, unknown author.
As the opening Bible verse is not suited for a choral setting, Bach prefaced it with an instrumental movement in da capo form. In all probability he did not write a wholly new piece but used a movement from an existing (though nowadays unknown) composition. After an introduction from the strings and continuo, a concertino of two oboes and bassoon joins in; these instruments strike up a lively dialogue in alternation with the strings, and only in the middle section of the movement does the music briefly become more lyrical. The tenor recitative with the evangelist’s story must have strongly reminded the Leipzig congregation of the evangelist’s part in the St John Passion, which had been performed just ten days earlier. The continuo part, however, has an unusual feature: Bach calls for incessant repeated semiquavers, an effect akin to trembling – an image of the disciples’ fear. The alto aria [no. 3] ‘Wo zwei und drei versammlet sind’ (‘For where two or three are gathered together’), which may have its roots in an earlier (now lost) work by Bach, surrounds its rather modest text with elegiac tones and calm solemnity. In the outesections of this da capo aria, the orchestra – led by the oboes – provides a sonorous and finely chiselled back ground for the very free vocal line. The chorale strophe that follows is on this occasion set as a duet for soprano and tenor, without recourse to the associated hymn melody. Each line is presented with a theme of its own, in a dense contrapuntal setting. This movement is framed and divided up by a ritornello from the continuo which, with its chromatic writing and sighing figures, emphasizes the emotions of sorrow and distress that are mentioned in the text. In the bass aria Bach was evidently inspired by two textual elements: the key word ‘Verfolgung’ (‘persecution’) and the phrase ‘Jesus ist ein Schild der Seinen’ (‘Jesus is a shield for his people’). The image of ‘persecution’ is depicted by means of the imitative ‘follow-my-leader’ of the two solo violins and the tumultuous figurations of the other instruments, including the continuo. Bach contrasts this with the vocal line, which seems to be untouched by the vicissitudes of battle.
The work is rounded off by Martin Luther’s ‘Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich’ (‘Grant us peace mercifully’; 1524), in association with the strophe ‘Gib unsern Fürsten und aller Obrigkeit Fried und gut Regiment’ (‘Give to our princes and all the authorities’) by his musical collaborator Johann Walter (1496–1570). Both were well aware to what extent the entitlement to worship and freedom from religious persecution were dependent upon peace and the ‘good judgement’ of the ‘authorities’, and how indispensable they were as a precondition for ‘ein geruhig und stilles Leben’ (‘a restful and quiet life’ – which Bach illustrates by allowing the continuo to hold a pedal point on these words). The cantata concludes with a brief, festive ‘Amen’. © Klaus Hofmann 2007
?Cöthen Serenata Source
The origin of the Cantata 42 opening sinfonia and the alto aria in the lost 1718 Cöthen serenata, BWV 66a, “Der Himmel dacht' auf Anhalts Ruhm und Glück” (Since heaven cared for Anhalt's fame and bliss, Z. Philip Ambrose), was first proposed by Joshua Rifkin in “Verlorene Quellen, verlorene Werke.”10 No original “materials survive from the congratulatory dialogue work but the original Hunold-Menantes text shows a parody relationship with Bach’s Easter Tuesday 1724 Cantata 66, “Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen” (Rejoice, you hearts) in the three arias and two recitatives of the latter. The Fama aria, BWV 66a/6, “Beglücktes Land von süsser Ruh und Stille!” (O happy land of sweet repose and quiet!, Ambrose), was omitted from Cantata 66 but Rifkin believes it survives in the Cantata 42 alto da capo aria (no. 3), “Wo zwei und drei versammlet sind” (Where two or three are gathered together, Gospel, Matthew 8:20).
Besides Chafe, two other Bach scholars have accepted Rifkin’s thesis, Alfred Dürr and Richard D. P. Jones.11 Jones (Ibid.: 163) notes that both the Cantata 42 sinfonia and alto aria use the Lullian trio of two oboes and bassoon with “a warm placid background on help string chords” while the original aria, BWC 6a/6, “describes a scene of peace” and the “music seems ideally suited to the text.” Mitigating against Rifkin’s argument is the fact the new text has no philological correspondence to the original Hunold-Menantes text: the number of lines is different, with the original having two more lines in the da-capo B section, and different meter and rhyme scheme: ABCCBAB in BWV 66a/6 (http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV66a.html, and ABCBDD in BWV 42/3 (see above, “3. Aria da capo with ritornelli”).
Because of the questionable declamation in the alto aria, it has been suggested that it is an “adaptation, possibly a slow movement from a two-violin sonata or concerto,” says W. Gillies Whittaker.12 The da-capo aria’s concerto-like structure and dimension (video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZhKnXcvBHs) suggest that it may “have once belonged to the same instrumental work from which Bach perhaps borrowed the preceding sinfonia,” suggests Nicholas Anderson in his Cantata 42 essay.13 Whittaker is ambivalent about whether the sinfonia is a borrowing while describing it as “worthy to be ranked with the greatest orchestral literature” with “its heavenly picture of evening” (Ibid. 296). “It may be questioned whether Bach ever wrote an original sinfonia to open any Leipzig cantata,” says Whittaker (Ibid.: 295). “In his earlier days they were common but after Cöthen, the apparently relied solely on adaptations.”
Whittaker’s historical perspective before mid-20th century was, like Bach scholarship in general then, that the instrumental works were composed exclusively in Cöthen between 1718 and 1723, including the keyboard concertos, whose origins are still obscured, despite various persuasive reconstructions originally as violin or oboe concertos. A recent view of the dating of the Cantata 42 sinfonia with a historical view of Bach’s pursuit of orchestral music is offered in Gregory G. Butler’s “J. S. Bach’s reception of Thomaso Albinoni’s mature concertos.”14 Bach’s instrumental ritornellos in early 1725 reveal a new technique possibly modeled after Albinoni’s Opus 9 concertos of 1722, says Butler. Beginning with the concerto-like allegro movements of the original version of the Easter Oratorio, the Weissenfels Shepherds Birthday Cantata, BWV 249a/1/3, and 10, and particularly prominent in the Cantata 42 sinfonia (mm. 2-5) is “the use of the same characteristic sequential passage immediately following the fanfare-like antecedent passages,” says Butler. “What I am suggesting is that Bach encountered and assimilated these particularly details of harmony and scoring in the ritornello around the time of his sojourn in Weissenfels during the last week in February of 1725. If so, they would provide us with a chronological marker helping to identify concertos written at this time or later.” These sequences in every case trace the same harmonic progression: V7//ii-ii—V-I” (video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJxH_6A6UJ8; music, , http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BGA/BWV042-BGA.pdf).
The Weissenfels Court had an extensive music library, particularly Italian opera, instrumental and Latin stile antico church works. Bach’s first “modern” cantata, BWV 208, “Was mir behagt, / Ist nur die muntre Jagd!” (What pleases me, is above all the lively hunt!), adopted the Italian opera forms of recitative and da capo aria for Duke Christian’s birthday, 23 February 1713. A decade later in 1725, Bach’s 2nd Weissenfsels celebratory tribute, BWV 249a, and first active collaboration with Picander, marked a watershed period in his compositional life. It not only stimulated new orchestral and instrumental music, it enriched his occasional vocal music to become a platform for his Christological cycle of dramatic oratorios based extensively on parody. By the Easter Season spring of 1725, Bach had ceased his composition of the chorale cantata cycle, instead extending a Johannine mini cycle of theologically-driven Christus Victor musical sermons to inaugurate a new, third cycle and to craft his monumental St. Matthew Passion embracing the synoptic gospel’s contrasting view of Christ’s sacrificial atonement through satisfaction.
Easter Johannine Gospels
The Johannine Christological Christus Victor series focuses on the transformation of Jesus Christ, completing his earthly life and ministry as well as the second half of the Great Parabola, the ascent following the descent of kenosis or emptying. With the exception of the festive Three Days of Easter and Ascension Day, all of the gospel readings during the fifty days of the Easter season are from the Gospel of John. This is the pattern inherited from the pre-Reformation church and confirmed by Luther. The gospeland Bach’s cantatas for each Sunday are: Quasimodogeniti [1st Sunday after Easter, "As newborn babes"] John 20: 19-31, Christ Appears to Disciples; BWV 67, 42; Misericordias Domini [2nd Sunday after Easter, "Goodness/tender mercies"] John 10: 12-16, Good Shepherd; BWV 104, 85, 112; Jubilate [3rd Sunday after Easter, "Make a joyful noise"] John 16: 16-23, Christ's Farewell; BWV 12, 103, 146 (224); Cantate [4th Sunday after Easter, "Sing"] John 16: 5-15, Work of the Spirit; BWV 166, 108; Rogate [5th Sunday after Easter, "Pray"] John 16: 23-30, Christ's Promise to the Disciples; BWV 86, 87; Ascension Day Mark 16: 14-20; BWV 37, 128, 43, 11; Exaudi [Sunday after Ascension, "Hear"] John 15: 26 - 16: 4, Spirit will come; BWV 44, 183; Pentecost Sunday [1st Day of Pentecost] John 14: 23-31, Promise of the Spirit; BWV 172, 59, 74, 34, 218; Pentecost Monday [2nd Day of Pentecost] John 3: 16-21, God so loved the world; BWV 173, 68, 174; Pentecost Tuesday [3rd Day of Pentecost] John 10: 1-10, Parable of Sheep; BWV 184, 175; and Trinity Sunday Festival [John 3:1-15, Nicodemus Dialogue]; BWV 165, 194, 176, 129.
Provenance, Manuscript Sources
The Cantata 42 Provenance involving the original manuscript and parts set, as well as a 1732/33 score copy from the original by Bach student Christoph Nichelmann, and an accounting of the hurried copying of the parts, is found in Thomas Braatz’s “Cantata 42 Production & Copy Session” (April 9, 2007), based on BCML Cantata 42 Discussions Part 2, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV42-D2.htm (Braatz’s primary source is the NBA KB I/11.1 (Easter 1 & 2, Reinmar Emans, 1989). <<Provenance: I. The Autograph Score: At the time when the J. S. Bach's estate was settled in 1750, the autograph score along with the doublets went to C.P.E. Bach, with whom it remained until the latter's death in 1790 at which time it was acquired by the Berliner Singakademie. In 1855, the Staatsbibliothek Berlin, where it is found today, acquired both the score and the doublets. The cover page written by C.P.E. Bach at any time after 1750 and before 1790 gives the name of the cantata, but J. S. Bach's title at the top of the 1st page of the score reads only: “J. J. Do[min]ica Quasimodogeniti Concerto da Chiesa.” There are no conclusion markings at the end (like SDG or Fine or both). Score, D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 55, https://www.bach-digital.de/receive/BachDigitalSource_source_00000917
An early copy of the score was made by Christoph Nichelmann (1717-1762), a score which was later acquired by Johann Philipp Kirnberger and upon whose death in 1783 it went to the Amalien-Bibliothek, from there to the Joachimsthal Gymnasium and then, finally, to the BB (Staatsbibliothek Berlin). Documentary evidence (watermark used) proves that it was copied between 1732 and 1733 and that it was copied directly from the autograph score. The cover page has the title: "Joh. Seb. Bach | Concerto da Chiesa | auf den Sonntag Quasimodogeniti | Autographen." The score itself has as its title on top of the 1st page: "Doica Qvasimodogeniti Concerta da Chiesa | di Bach." Score Copy, D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 55, Nichelmann, Christoph (1717–1762), Leipzig, presumably 1732/1733. https://www.bach-digital.de/receive/BachDigitalSource_source_00000372.
In Breitkopf's catalog of manuscripts for sale (1770) there is an offering as follows: "Cantate, Domin. Quasimodogeniti, Wo zwey und drey versammlet sind, a 2 Oboi, Fagot, 2 Viol. Viola, 2 Voci e Fondamento. in Stimm." (Parts available for a cantata for the Sunday Quasimodogeniti called "Wo zwey und drey versammlet sind" [now Aria Mvt. 3] with 2 oboes, 1 bassoon, 2 violins, 1 viola, 2 voices and continuo.) If one can assume that cantatas were generally named after the first text that appears, then this entry may mean that the cantata, at a later repeat performance, began with the aria and not with the Sinfonia and tenor recitative.
The listing in Breitkopf's catalog is the only one pointing to this specific set of parts which has been irretrievably lost [perhaps by Friedemann Bach after the 1750 estate division of the third cantata cycle from which he possibly received the original parts set. It also could be Friedemann’s adaptation of his father’s cantata for a special performance in Halle before 1764 when he resigned. About 1770, Friedemann without proposer finances, began selling his inheritance, much lost and moved to Brunswick].
II. The Original Set of Parts: These parts originally belonged to Count Voß-Buch before going to the Berliner Singakademie where they were combined with the autograph score and doublets which were already there. Both were acquired by the BB in 1855. Both Voß-Buch's and Dehn's Singakademie registers show the title "Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbaths".
Johann Andreas Kuhnau's original cover page for the parts reads: Domin: Quasimodoge= | niti | Am Abend aber deßselbigen Sabbaths | â | 4 Voc: | 2 Hautb: | Bassono | 2 Violini | Viola | è | Continuo | di Sign: | J S. Bach
[This confirms the title of the cantata for its original performance on April 8, 1725, but what may have happened to this cantata subsequently when Bach revised it? Did the Breitkopf set of parts represent an earlier or later stage of the work as presented in 1725 and 1731 - for the former we have the autograph score and original parts and for the latter the cantata text booklet from 1731 which gives the same text as found in the former.]
II. Details about the copied parts: Parts Set, D-B Mus. ms. Bach St 3, https://www.bach-digital.de/receive/BachDigitalSource_source_00002307; Dubletten: J. S. Bach - C. P. E. Bach - Sing-Akademie zu Berlin - BB (1855); Copyists: Kuhnau, Johann Andreas (1703–nach 1745) = Main Copyist A ; Bach, Johann Heinrich (1707–1783); Anon. IId; Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann (1710–1784); Anon. IIf; Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685–1750); Group 2 [violone]: later performance (1742?).
III. Condition of Parts Copy Process
Just prior to Easter beginning with the Palm Sunday (A Marian Feast Day - BWV 1), continuing through the performance of the Passion on Good Friday and concluding with the Easter Oratorio (first version) and the other Easter cantatas for Easter Monday (BWV 6) and for Easter Tuesday (BWV 4 "repeat performance"), Bach was extremely busy with musical activities thus almost preventing him, once again, from reaching his intended goal: to have the cantata for the coming Sunday, Quasimodogeniti, ready for performance in time. This lack of available time for composing meant that he was under great pressure (as usual) to finish the complete score so that the members of his copyist team could complete their tasks on time. Realizing that this week's schedule of available time was already severely truncated and perhaps also in consideration of the boys of the primary choir who had recently been singing much more than usual [an opinion once expressed by Alfred Dürr and discussed here recently], Bach began to look into a pile of instrumental concerti that he had brought with him from Cöthen. He found one that looked like it could be adapted easily for use in the opening Sinfonia and even in parts of the other mvts. as well. His composing score reflects clearly what was being reused and what was newly composed: parts of the score based upon the earlier concerto appear to be 'clean copy' while other newly composed parts are definitely typical of a composing score (cross-outs, corrections, etc.).
Nevertheless, all his best efforts, Bach, once again, could not finish composing the score of BWV 42. The final chorale mvt. had to be composed during the time when the copy process had already begun. This was not an unusual situation, nor was it a problematic one, since his primary copyist, JAK [Kuhnau], could begin copying out the parts from the previous mvts. (on loose, unbound sheets) while Bach finished composing the final chorale on another sheet (only 14 measures/bar of Mvt. 6 were on the back of this sheet).
A quotation from the NBA KB I/11.1 p. 71 [reflecting an objective opinion by those directly involved with the detailed examination of the parts]: "Die Tatsache, daß insgesamt mindestens sechs Schreiber und Bach selbst an der Herstellung des Notentextes beteiligt waren, weist auf Zeitnot hin. Dies zesich besonders deutlich beim Hauptschreiber Kuhnau, der zunächst den vollständigen Stimmensatz (ohne Satz 7) mit Ausnahme der Dubletten und der transponierten Bc.-Stimme schreibt. Bereits ab Satz 4 wird die Bassono-Stimme jedoch nicht mehr von Kuhnau, sondern von Anonymus IIf fortgeführt. Offenbar hielt die Kopie Kuhnau zu sehr auf, so daß er die Aufgabe weitergab." "The fact that all together at least 6 copyists and even Bach himself were involved in the preparation of the parts points to [Bach] being in a rush and under the pressure of time. This is particularly apparent in the case of the main copyist, Kuhnau who at first prepares a complete set of parts (without Mvt. 7) with the exception of the doublets and the transposed continuo part. Beginning with Mvt. 4, however, Kuhnau does not complete the Bassono part which is taken over by Anonymous IIf. Evidently the copying of this part held Kuhnau up too much so that he turned this task over to someone else."
IV. The Copy Session: 1. JSB still has not finished composing Mvt. 7 (final chorale); 2. JAK first copies out all the vocal parts except Mvt. 7 which is still not yet available to him; 3. JAK then turns his attention to the instrumental parts: 1st and 2nd oboes (all except Mvt. 7); then the 1st and 2nd violin parts (all except Mvt. 7); the viola part (all except Mvt. 7); the bassoon part (except mvts. 4 & 7); the primary continuo part (all except Mvt. 7 and the figures). 4. When JSB finishes composing Mvt. 7, he turns this page of the score over to JHB so that JHB can complete the vocal parts and any of the main set of instrumental parts which JAK has already completed. However, JHB misreads the score when he copies the 2nd oboe part for Mvt. 7 from the alto part in the score. Likewise, he mistakenly entered the alto part of Mvt. 7 into the 2nd violin (doublet) part, which he then corrected himself, but the former error (2nd oboe part Mvt. 7) had to be crossed out and completely rewritten by JSB himself. A similar event occurred with the viola part! 5. As soon as JAK has finished copying the violin 1 & 2 parts, he turns his copies over to JSB for correction and further editing. JSB then gives these corrected parts to others so that they can copy from the revised 1st and 2nd violin copies in order to create the necessary doublets. 6. When JHB begins copying Mvt. 7 into the oboe parts, he runs into difficulties. He only begins entering the title and clefs of Mvt. 7 into the 1st oboe part when Anon IId arrives on the scene and completes it for him. Anon IId does the same with the 1st violin part, completing it with Mvt. 7. With Mvt. 7 of the 2nd oboe part, JHB creates a real disaster: JSB needs to cross out JHB's version and write out a new, corrected version. The very same thing occurs with JHB's version of the viola part for Mvt. 7. JSB needs to cross it out and write out an entirely new part for that mvt. 7. Once JAK finishes all but Mvt. 7 of the primary continuo part, Anon IId takes over to enter Mvt. 7. Anon IId then takes the completed primary continuo part and creates the transposed continuo part (B14). 8. JSB supplies the figures for the primary continuo part and the transposed continuo part before copying the greatest portion of the transposed organo part (all but the end of Mvt. 6 and all of Mvt. 7 which is added by Anon IId. Later JSB writes in the figures for the organo part as well.
9. WFB helps out only for a short while with the 2nd violin doublet after JHB gives up or is assigned another task after completing only 4 measures/bars of Mvt. 1. WFB copies Mvt. 1 from m 4 to the end of the mvt. Next JSB begins copying Mvt. 3 up to m 8, but then JHB returns to complete Mvt. 3 from m 9 to the end as well as completing Mvt. 7. 10. Anon IIf is called to the copy table only for a single mvt., Mvt. 4, of the bassoon part of which 3 mvts. had been completed by JAK. However Anon IId completes the final mvt., Mvt. 7. 11. Anon IId's major task is copying and transposing from the primary continuo part a second, transposed part to which JSB later adds figures. 12. Summarizing JSB's contribution to the copy session: JSB personally copies almost all of the organo continuo part (all except Mvt. 6 from m 46 to the end and Mvt. 7 which were added by Anon IId. In addition to some major corrections (recopying entire mvts. which JHB hat botched) and taking over temporarily where JHB and WFB had begun the 2nd violin doublet (JSB copies only the first 8 measures of Mvt. 3!), JSB adds figures to both of the other continuo parts (not to mention the extensive corrections and additions made to all the parts generally: dynamics, articulation, embellishments, etc.). As noted above, the violone part was created personally by Bach for a later performance circa 1742 and was not a part of the original copy session.
Conclusion: It is quite evident from a careful examination of the parts which constitute the original set used for the first performance of this cantata on April 8, 1725, that the copy process was carried out in great haste due to the fact that Bach was running out of time before the actual performance would take place. If the target involved was a rehearsal on the day before the performance, there would probably be some form of evidence for such a rehearsal whether direct or indirect. Thus far no clear evidence for Bach's rehearsal schedule has turned up in the historical sources, whereas we do have evidence that sight-reading music during actual performances is more likely than not to have occurred. I still contend that a copy scenario as that clearly presented by the evidence above would have occurred in the evening (going into night time) before the actual performance(s) given the next morning in church and that no rehearsals as such would have taken place since Bach's hand-picked musicians were capable of sight-reading to Bach's satisfaction any music which Bach would place before them. Any rehearsals would ultimately leave various clues in the parts that were used by the performers who handled them; however, most reports on the condition of the original parts point to a remarkable feature: they do not display the usual signs of wear and tear normally encountered when parts are used for private study and/or rehearsals. Arnold Schering indicates that these performances would be very good considering the circumstances, but that we should not expect them to have been completely flawless or without some rough edges. On p. 184 of "J.S. Bachs Leipziger Kirchenmusik", Leipzig, 1936, Schering, for instance, comments on this matter as follows: "seine Aufführungen können als Ganzes unmöglich auf der Höhe technischer und künstlerischer Vollendung gestanden haben. Alles, die ungleiche Beschaffenheit des Sänger= und Spielerpersonals, die Überbelastung der Kantoreien, die Art des Übens, die Zersplitterung des Musikdienstes, Bach's eigene gemischte Anteilnahme an den Funktionen des Chors, deutet darauf hin, daß es bei allem Ehrgeiz der Mitwirkenden höchstens ausnahmsweise zu reiferen, abgerundeten Leistungen gekommenist." (".his performances [Bach's performances in Leipzig], taken as a whole, could not possibly have been at the high level of technical and artistic perfe[that we might want to expect]. Everything points to the fact that no matter how much Bach's performers in Leipzig would be driven by ambition to attain the best results possible, they would at most attain the goal of more mature, well-rounded first-rate performances as an exception and not as a rule, the reasons for this being: the unequal quality of personnel [singers and instrumentalists not all being of the same high level of proficiency], the 'overloading' [by placing too many demands/burdens upon] of the required duties in each of the churches under Bach's jurisdiction [some of Bach's best musicians at the Thomasschule might have to be assigned as prefects (choral assistant conductors) in the 3 other churches where the primary choir was not performing], the kind of practicing the musicians engaged in to prepare for performances [this could be music practice not involving the newest cantatas that were to be performed], the splintering [splitting apart] of the musical services which Bach had to provide into too many different categories, and Bach's own mixed interest and participation in the various functions of the choir [this probably refers to such things as the evidence from the complaints lodged against Bach for not teaching music classes as required and laxness in others matters concerning his obligations to oversee all his choirs and the music being performed in all the churches under his jurisdiction].")
1 Cantata 42, BCW Details & Discography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV42.htm. Score Vocal & Piano, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV042-V&P.pdf, Score BGA, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BGA/BWV042-BGA.pdf. References: BGA X (Cantatas 41-50, Wilhelm Rust, 1860, NBA KB I/11.1 (Easter 1 & 2, Reinmar Emans, 1989: 58), Bach Compendium BC A 63, Zwang K 117.
2 Martin Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 778).
3 JLB score in Bach’s hand, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (D-B): Mus. ms. Bach P 397; Bach Digital, http://imslp.org/wiki/Wie_lieblich_sind_auf_den_Bergen,_JLB_6_(Bach,_Johann_Ludwig. The Bach family also set the Isaiah 52:7 dictum as sacred concerto (not extant) of Georg Christoph Bach (1642-1697), Sebastian’s paternal uncle, and an extant sacred concerto of Johann Michael Bach (1648-1694), father of Sebastian’s first wife, Maria Barbara. Telemann also composed a special ordination cantata, TVWV 03:61a, “Wie lieblich sind auf den Bergen,” SATB with 2 oboes, 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 violins, viola, violoncello and continuo.
4 Sources: NBA, I/11.1 und I/11.2 (Reinmar Emans) – Critical report (1989), I/11.1 p. 56 (also music) und I/11.2, p. 31. “Where the performance of BWV 42 for Quasimodogeniti 1725 is proven, it is presumnedc that Bach prepared the original music for the cantata for this Sunday, the draft having not continued on, and began with the new composition BWV 42,” says Emans, NBA KB I/11.1: 57, cited in William Hoffman, “Bach’s Chorale Cantata Cycle: Genesis, Provenance, Gaps, Poets” (manuscript, June 1994, submitted to Robert L. Marshall). Further details, see Bach Digital, https://www.bach-digital.de/receive/BachDigitalSource_source_00000989.
5 Eric Chafe, J. S. Bach’s Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014: 425ff).
6 John Eliot Gardiner, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013, 334).
7 See Martin Petzoldt, “Liturgie und Musik in den Leipziger Hauptkirchen,” in Die Welt der Bach-Kantaten, Vol. 3 (Stuttgart Metzler: 1998: 69-93), translated by Thomas Braatz, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Leipzig-Churches-Petzold.pdf (p. llf).
8 Gardiner notes, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Gardiner-P23c[sdg131_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV42.htm.
9 Hofmann notes, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Suzuki-C36c[BIS-SACD1611].pdf; BCW Recording, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Suzuki-Rec2.htm#C36.
10 Rifkin, “Verlorene Quellen, verlorene Werke” in Bachs’s Orchesterwerke: Bericht über das 1. Dortmunder Bach-Symposium, ed. Martin Geck, 65-67 (Witten 1997), cited in Chafe (Ibid.: 415) but not listed in Bach Bibliography under Rifkin articles http://swb.bsz-bw.de/DB=2.355/SET=3/TTL=41/NXT?FRST=31?ADI_MAT=A&ADI_LND=&NOABS=Y
11 Alfred Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 296f), and Richard D. P. Jones The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750. “Music to Delight the Spirit” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 163).
12 Whittaker, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach (London: Oxford University Press 1958: 297)
13 Nicholas Anderson in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd (Oxford University Press: 1999: 12).
14 Butler, in Bach Studies 2, ed. Daniel Melamed (Cambridge University Press, 1995: 41f).
Charles Francis wrote (April 9, 2017):
A couple of live versions of the BWV 42 sinfonia to watch:
Gustav Leonhardt conducting Musica Antiqua Amsterdam (with a young Ton Kopmann on harpsichord): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJcJW4234XE
and an entertaining video featuring Nathalie Stutzmann with Orfeo 55: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gnxgxaNa8I
Aryeh Oron wrote (July 22, 2017):
Cantata BWV 42 - Revised & updated Discography
The Solo Cantata BWV 42 "Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbatas" (On the evening of the same sabbath) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for Quasimodogeniti [1st Sunday after Easter] of 1725. The cantatas was performed twice again in Leipzig on the same event in 1731 and c1742. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 violins, viola, violoncello & continuo.
The discography pages of BWV 42 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (19): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV42.htm
Recordings of Individual Movements (42): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV42-2.htm
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options as part of the recording details. When you click a link to video/audio, a new window will open above the discography page and the video/audio will start to play.
I also put at the BCW Home Page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/
2 audios & 2 videos of the cantata. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.
The number of recordings of individual movements has almost doubled since the previous version of these discography pages. I had to add many performer discographies & performer biographies, as you can see at the page "What New on the BCW?": http://www.bach-cantatas.com/New/index.htm
I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 42 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.
You can also read on the BCW the recent discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV42-D5.htm