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Cantata BWV 43
Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of October 7, 2007

Julian Mincham wrote (October 8, 2007):
BWV 43

Has the intro for the?week of Oct 7th come out yet---I think it should be BWV 43?

If so it hasn't reached me as yet.?

Uri Golomb wrote (October 8, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] Mea culpa, I'm afraid. I've been assigned to do the intro to Cantata 43 for this week, but due to reasons that need not concern this group I have neglected my duties in this regard. This message caught me as I was listening to the cantata in preparation for my belated introduction.

My apologies -- and I will send something soon. Since this is the not the first time this work had been discussed, it is possible, of course, to start by looking at the previous discussions (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV43-D.htm); I will do my best to send, ASAP, an introduction that complements -- rather than repeats -- the discussions and commentaries (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV43-Ref.htm, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV43-Guide.htm) already available. As it happens, I believe one of the best recordings of this work (to my taste, that is) came out after the previous discussions... so I might use that as a starting point.

Again, my apologies,

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 8, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] Uri is on for Oct 7 & 21. I'm on for Oct 14 & 28.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 8, 2007):
[To Uri Golmb] Ui?? I wasn't getting at anyone--I thought that with the Yahoo problems that it might have been late coming to me.?

Uri Golomb wrote (October 9, 2007):
Weekly discussion - Cantata 43

This Ascension cantata was first performed on May 30, 1726; Christoph Wolff (in the notes to Koopman's recording [10]) notes that there were probably subsequent performances. In on of these, Bach replaced the violin obbligato in Mvt. 7 (the bass aria "Er ists, der ganz allein") with a trumpet obbligato. Most performances use the later, trumpet version; Koopman includes the original violin version as an appendix.

As I said before, several commentaries on this cantata are available on or through the Bach Cantatas website, and I do not see much point in repeating them. Some points, in any case, recur in most of them -- such as the observation that, for a cantata with such a lengthy text, the work itself is quite concise. There are recitatives and arias for each of the four vocal parts, yet each of them is quite short. That said, the work does not feel at all perfunctory.

One point might be so obvious that it is hardly ever mentioned -- the generally positive, uplifting (literally, especially in Mvt. 1) atmosphere of this work. In several recordings (Herreweghe [7], Gardiner [8], the Werner re-issue [2]), this work is coupled with the Ascension Oratorio (BWV 11), an obvious coupling as such. This does highlight my point: a generally positive feeling is expected in a work celebrating Christ's Ascension, but the Ascension Oratorio does give more space for more melancholy feeling, occasioned by human sadness at his departure (expressed, in the oratorio, in the alto aria "Ach bleibe doch" -- whose music later served for the Agnus dei of the B-minor Mass (BWV 232)). In Cantata BWV 43, Bach does pay due attention to darker tinges in the text -- such as "Schmerzen, Qual und Pein" (grief, torment and pain) in the bass aria (Mvt. 7), or "seine Feinde schmeisst" (striking his enemies) and "Jammer, Not und Schmach" (distress, woe and shame) in the alto aria (Mvt. 9). This aria is generally the more melancholy in this work, yet these emotions still emerge as darker tinges that do not seriously detract from the generally festive atmosphere.

On the other hand, I was struck by the absence of references, in all the commentaries I read (which, BTW, should not be read as "all commentaries ever published"), to the peculiar character of the opening movement. The fact that the work begins with a short 'adagio' introduction, before the alla-breve entry of the chorus and fuller orchestra, has been mentioned. None of those I've read, however, asks why Bach did this -- what's the point of the introduction? I'm not sure myself. I do find it musically convincing, at least in those performances, like Herreweghe's [7] and Koopman's [10], where the 'adagio' is not all that much slower than the alla-breve. In such versions -- especially in Koopman's -- the alla-breve entry of the trumpets and choir, while still a startling moment, at the same time seems to emerge naturally from the adagio. (Leusink [9] is very unconvincing here -- his opening chorus (Mvt. 1) sounds like cut-and-paste).

However, Bach probably had a point (illustrative? dramatic? theological?) which I seem to miss, and which most others don't even seem to look for. The only answer that occurs to me is that the slow introduction gives a peaceful yet majestic depiction of Christ rising to heaven, whereas the faster chorus represents humanity's worldly rejoicing in response to this event. This is a tentative hypothesis, and I'll be interested in hearing arguments for and against it -- and/or alternative answers.

Koopman's version [10] seems to be the only one that came out after the previous discussion of this work. While I have some reservations with it (the clarity in the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) is less than ideal; the alto aria is a shade too fast, the tempo transitions within it not entirely convincing), it is overall a very fine performance. To quote myself (in a review of vol. 16 of Koopman's cantata series), Koopman and his musicians are often at their best in energetic, celebratory choruses and elegant, dance-like arias; and cantata BWV 43 receives a consistently rewarding performance: the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) is exhilarating, and the four arias are rendered (as appropriate) with vigour, elegance and gentle melancholy, with superb contributions from all soloists (Zomer, Bartosz, Pregardien and Mertens). Pregardien also appears on Herreweghe's version [7], which has its own advantages (the alto aria, in particular, is more convincing: I like the soloists in both versions, but Herreweghe's slower tempo is more convincing and the aria seems to be breathe more naturally).

On the other hand, I prefer the more dramatic impact of Koopman's [10] opening chorus (Mvt. 1) and bass aria (Mvt. 7). Of course, I can well imagine that Gardiner [8] gives an even more thrilling dramatic performance of these movements; but I have not heard his Archiv recording, and as far as I'm aware the Bach Pilgrimage version has not yet been issued. I'll look forward to hearing it when it does.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 9, 2007):
In haste:----Uri's question about the unusual short intro to the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) are interesting--my own feeling is that bach may, for symbolic reasons may have wished to envoke the feeling of the French overture (as in BWV 20) without actually producing one.

An impressive chorus uplifted by brass and woodwind is?an appropriate way to begin the proceedings, perhaps especially because there have been rfew of them in the cycle so far. In the eight cantatas following Cantata BWV 110 only two begin with a chorus (Cantatas BWV 16 and BWV 72), neither uses trumpets or horns and that for the former work is unusually concise.? Nevertheless there is evidence that Bach was regaining interest in providing expansive first movements for his cantatas at this time, be they choruses or sinfonias.

?

The structure of Cantata BWV 43/1 is slightly unusual although clearly based upon fugal principles. The text simply states that God has risen to the sounds of pealing trumpets:----Praise Him! This is no more than the standard requirement to glorify the Lord before the detail of the story begins.

?

Bach commences with a short slow introduction invoking the dignified mood of the occasion. Violins (doubled by the first oboe) and continuo imitate each other freely in a theme that, had it been given dotted rhythms would have strongly suggested a French Overture. Another connection with this form is the fugal nature of the main section.??

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 10, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< my own feeling is that bach may, for symbolic reasons may have wished to envoke the feeling of the French overture (as in BWV 20) without actuallu producing one. >
That courtly aspect would certainly underline the notion of the Lord making an a ceremonial "entree" into the throne room heaven. The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) is also fascinating in the way that the fugue is hidden with counterpsubject flourishes in the voices -- not unlike "Fecit potentiam" in the Magnificat (BWV 243).

Neil Halliday wrote (October 10, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) is also fascinating in the way that the fugue is hidden with counterpsubject flourishes in the voices<
- with the operative word being "hidden"; many of the fugue subject entries are inaudible in the recordings, necessitating some study of the score for 'intelligent' listening (at least that's my experience in listening to this brilliant chorus). Even the second entry (of the fugue subject) on the 1st trumpet in Werner [2] and Rilling [6] are difficult to hear, despite their use of modern trumpets.

A quick run down of the entries of the fugue subject is as follows:

1st section: 1st trumpet, continuo, B,T,A,S, 1st trumpet;
2nd section: A,T,B;
3rd section: (after the central instrumental interlude) A,T,B,S.

Fortunately, the entries have the unusual quality of beginning on the same named note as the last note of the preceding entry, making each entry relatively easy to hear "mentally" (in one's mind), given that the fugue subect itself is relatively easy to delineate/remember. [In the 'second' and 'third' sections, each entry occurs several beats earlier, in comparison to the arrangement in the 1st section].

The "key" system is also interesting:

(Using the above structure): in the 1st section, the entries begin on the notes:
(trumpet) c2, (continuo) g, (B) c, (A) g, (T) c1, (S) g1, (trumpet) c2;

2nd section,

(A) d1, (T) a, (B) e; (observe that the first notes make descending fourths):

3rd section,

(A) d1, (T) g, (B) c, (S) g1 (this last S entry has a variation of the initial notes); the first notes of the A,T,B entries make descending 5ths).

The 2nd section entries are in minor keys.

Thomas Braatz drew attention to the effectiveness of the long drum rolls occuring near the end of the '2nd' and '3rd' sections.

------

I like the idea (courtesy of Julian and Douglas) of the opening 'adagio' representing the Lord's ceremonial entrance into Heaven.

I think Leusink [9] is the only conductor who 'de-synchronizes' the tempo of the 'adagio' from the 'Alla breve'; the 1/8th notes of the former are normally equivalent to the minims of the latter (ie, a factor of 4), but Leusink has (I think) sped up the 'adagio' in relation to the 'Alla breve', perhaps leading to Uri's observation that the two movements sound like 'cut and paste'.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 10, 2007):
Uri Golomb wrote:
>The only answer that occurs to me is that the slow introduction gives a peaceful yet majestic depiction of Christ rising to heaven, whereas the faster chorus represents humanity's worldly rejoicing in response to this event<
Actually, I read this rather too quickly, and on reflection, this does seem the most convincing argument - the instrumentation (of the 'adagio') is rather restrained for a representation of a ceremonial entrance, but the sense of a peaceful yet majestic 'rising' is palpable.

I agree with Uri's remarks about Koopman's soloists [10]. Harnoncourt's [5] are also very good; Werner [2] has a fine alto and bass, and good tenor; while Rilling [6] has an excellent alto. (I find Auger(Rilling), as good as she is, too forceful at times, and the male singers (T,B) have somewhat harsh vibratos).

BTW, I find the rising chromatic scale in the alto aria - virtually over an entire octave - a most effective device for expressing the yearning for union with Christ, especially following, as it does, the 'haunting' repeated note on "Ich stehe hier am Weg".

Randy Lane wrote (October 12, 2007):
[To Uri Golomb] With regards to the Gardiner, it appears BWV 43 was not performed on the Pilgrimage. It is not listed in any of the 27 known current or future SDG releases. The Archiv recording dates from 1993.

Being that the cantata was for Ascension Day, this is surprising. But I recall reading somewhere that decisions had to be made to not include some works from around Christmas and Easter because there were too many works to be performed in the short time appropriate for them on the Liturgical calendar.

On a similar note, I wonder if Gardiner will somehow record the following cantatas, which were not part of the Pilgrimage because they are not attached to a Liturgical event/day and he did not record them for Archiv.

2 10 15 29 53 76 119 141 157 160 189 191 193

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 22, 2007):
Randy Lane asked:
"On a similar note, I wonder if Gardiner will somehow record the following cantatas, which were not part of the Pilgrimage because they are not attached to a Liturgical event/day and he did not record them for Archiv.
2 10 15 29 53 76 119 141 157 160 189 191 193"

BWV 15, BWV 53, BWV 141, BWV 160, BWV 189 are not by J.S. Bach. I do not believe that J.E. Gardiner performed and recorded them during his BCP.

AFAIK, the other cantatas in your list were performed during the BCP and are planned for release by SDG.

The BCP albums released so far include several cantatas not attached to a specific event in the LCY. For example, Vol. 10 includes Cantata BWV 192 (occasion unspecified).

 

BWV 43 / Lost orchestral suite connection

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 11, 2009):
I was listening to the opening movement of this cantata and it certainly SEEMS like the start of a French ouverture movement. Has there been any chatter in Bach scholarship that some of the cantata movement was lifted from an existing Bach orchestral suite that didn't survive?

Thank you very much,

Russell Telfer wrote (October 11, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I can't help you, Kim but I certainly agree that the opening of BWV 43 has the grandeur that could have been applied to the opening of another orchestral suite. But there are many others that would qualify as well.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 11, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] There are half a dozen examples of Bach's use of the French Overture format in the cantatas, including the one which began the great chorale /fantasia cycle BWV 20. Thomas B has, I think listed them. As far as I know they don't have any specific or well attested links to possible lost works--at least i have never come across any such links.

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 43: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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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