Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 74
Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of June 3, 2007

Julian Mincham wrote (June 3, 2007):
BWV 74 Introduction

CONTEXT

Since the Easter celebrations of 1725 we find little in the way of truly festive cantatas. If we leave aside the sinfonia to Cantata BWV 42, only Cantata BWV 128 seems to radiate a similar mood. Cantata BWV 74 stands, therefore, as a rare example of truly festive writing in the cantatas of the final quarter of the cycle. It is the third of the four cantatas beginning with a chorus not based upon a chorale melody.

Written for Whitsunday 1725 it radiates the joyousness of the faithful Christian, open to and duly receiving, God's noble gift. True, the chorale suggests that we may still be unworthy of this gift and the latter arias remind us of the chains of hell and Satan's wiles. But overall the mood is one of celebration and rejoicing.

One characteristic to be found in this cantata is the re-workings of earlier movements. The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) and second aria originate from Cantata BWV 59, the Whitsunday cantata from the first cycle. Bach is well known for the re-cycling of his own works, but probably less in the second Jahrgang than anywhere else, so this rare event is noteworthy. The obvious explanation would seem to be that, working under pressure he was forced to cut corners. But when we see the scale of this cantata, that argument has less force. It has eight movements. It is richly scored throughout and contains four arias. The norm, for at least two thirds of the cycle, is two. Only one, Cantata BWV 20 a work in two parts, has more. Also the two borrowed movements have been substantially reworked. It would seem, then, that Bach, rather than cutting corners, went out of his way to produce a work of some scale and substance.

On the other hand, none of the movements is particularly long. But it is still surprising that Bach should have reused movements that had been presented to the Leipzig congregations only a year previously. There are numerous occasions, particularly in the first cycle when he brought back cantatas and individual movements from his pre-Leipzig years, but to repeat himself so soon in his current position was unusual.

The cantata of the week BWV 74 Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten
He who loves me will obey my commands
Chorus--aria (sop)--recit (alto)--aria (bass)--aria (tenor)--recit (bass)--aria (alto)--chorale
The fiftieth cantata of the cycle for Whitsunday. Librettist:- Christiane Mariane von Ziegler.

The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) employs the instruments of celebration, a trio of trumpets and tympani. These combine with the usual strings and continuo and there are three oboes, the third being the lower oboe da caccia. The opening string motive is immediately imitated by the oboes, trumpets interjecting. Oboes then double violins for the rest of the ritornello which is fully restated at the end of the movement. Once the choir enters, on the fanfare-like call to attention 'Wer mich liebet'---whosoever loves me---the orchestra is relegated to an accompaniment role. There are no extended central ritornello sections, although oboes and violins declaim complex contrapuntal lines, the trumpets and timpani reinforcing. In virtually eliminating ritornello sections in the middle of the movement Bach is following the same broad structural pattern we saw in the earlier chorus of Cantata BWV 103.

The vocal writing is transparent, frequently relying upon pairs of voices in imitation; soprano/alto, bass/tenor and alto/tenor. This betrays the genesis of the work; the original version was a duet for soprano and bass and this
further suggests that the re-working may have been accomplished quite quickly. The pairs tend to progress towards two sections of substantial four part writing encapsulating the idea suggested by the text:- a coming together for the purpose of making our dwelling with the Lord.

The second movement (Mvt. 2) is a reworking of Cantata BWV 59/4, originally for bass with violin obligato. Here it is for soprano and oboe da caccia. The higher voice is very much in tune with the sentiments of the text; come, come, my heart is open to you---I do not doubt that I will find my comfort in you. But why the choice of the lowest and least bright member of the oboe family when its higher cousin was clearly available?

Furthermore, might one muse as to whether Bach may also have reworked these first two movements partially to disguise, from congregation members with good memories, the fact that he had resurrected them from the previous Whitsunday. To do so would only be human! Almost nothing, apart from these movements and BWV 4 are repeated from the first cycle in this second year so clearly this was something at which Bach took pains to avoid.

The alto recitative (Mvt. 3) is short and to the point; the dwelling has been prepared--- I will never allow myself to be parted from you. The vocal line ends on a diminished chord prior to the final conventional cadence conveying a moment of strong emphasis.

Bach's apparent inability to resist portraying images of steps and movement is apparent in the bass aria, the first movement other than the recitative to use a minor key. The text is again in the first person, a characteristic of von Ziegler's personalised stanzas:----- 'I depart from here but return to you'. Bach must surely have had in mind the opening aria from Cantata BWV 108 written only three weeks previously. But in BWV 108 it is God who is speaking; in Cantata BWV 74 it is mere man.

The last two arias are amongst the most richly accompanied in the cycle. Mvt. 5, for tenor, uses only strings and continuo certainly, but the string parts are particularly active. And so they should be, when the first line of text calls upon us to tune our strings and rejoice in song. Bach does not actually give us a representation of strings being tuned; that would be left to Mozart! But the violins are actively ebullient and dominate throughout When mention is made of Satan presenting himself as an obstacle between God and the Christian, major becomes minor, the harmonies darken and the tenor melodic line becomes ever more convoluted, even bizarre. But through this suggestion of the devil's wiles emerge the long notes on 'globe'; an assertion of unshakable faith

The return to the joyous first section is simply a further confirmation of this important truth. Almost as if to provide structural balance within the overall work, the arias are long and complex, the recitatives short and simple. That for bass is accompanied by the three oboes, which create a somewhat doleful aura. The text contains a single thought: - those who live through Christ cannot be destroyed. Note the particular warmth in the melodic line on the words 'Christi Jesus'.

The alto aria (Mvt. 7) is extraordinarily richly orchestrated using the full string section, all three oboes and a solo violin. The ritornello contains many of the elements of joyous exaltation and has a fanfare quality while the repeated semi-quaver ideas push the music along with an infectious vigor. But in the middle section, all this changes. The text here simply states a fundamental Christian truth i.e. that which we inherit from Christ's sacrifice is of great value and it enables us to laugh at the anger of Satan and hell. The instrumental accompaniment becomes sparser leaving little but the voice and continuo. The mode changes from major to minor. The bizarre tron the word 'lache'---laugh, represent a sort of manic chortling. This suggests a deliberately mocking mirth, rather than a spontaneous outpouring of happiness.

Of particular interest is the relative proportions of the two sections. Bach is often quite happy to make his contrasting B sections shorter than the outer ones which enclose it. But here the middle section is a mere twenty-four bars long, about a fifth of the length of the substantial A section. Hell's anger is mentioned; but we can brush it aside and even disparage it. Even the musical proportions are constructed so as to make a point!

The closing chorale (Mvt. 8) is in the minor and like Cantata BWV 42 and Cantata BWV 108, a cantata which had begun in the major. This is something that Bach could not do in the first forty works where the opening movements were tied to the mode of the closing chorales. But in the final thirteen cantatas he has no such constraints. And it is interesting that, although he uses the pattern major--transforming--to--minor, he seems not to have reversed the process. Here the final message is typically austere; no-one on earth is really worthy of the gifts of Christ's love and blessing. There is a sober quality which suggests that perhaps the somber tone of the minor mode was the only possible artistic choice.

Cantata link: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV74.htm

Neil Halliday wrote (June 4, 2007):
The Rilling recording [2] of the ritornello of the opening chorus (Mvt. 1), with its slower tempo, has the kind of well-behaved, civic solidity that might be heard ,eg, in the Brahms Academic Festival Overture; however, the excitement increases with Rilling capturing the splendour of the increasingly complex music as it moves toward its conclusion. Listeners who prefer a more contemporary (HIP) sound with faster tempo may find the latest Suzuki recording [8] to their liking - it has the strength that is sometimes lacking in lighter period performances, eg, Koopman [7] and Gardiner [5], and flows more naturally than Leonhardt's quite vivid performance [3], but whose strong accents and separation of notes is a drawback for many of us.
------------
The soprano aria (Mvt. 2) has an (at first hearing) somewhat rambling `tune' that, in the ritornello, is easily learned, this increasing my enjoyment of the aria. This version with `alto' oboe has a pleasingly mellow expression; Rilling's BWV 59 version with violin has a brighter ambiance which is also attractive.

From the samples, Leonhardt [3] is my favourite, with forward presentation of the `alto' oboe (sounding a bit like a saxophone in places) and a boy soprano with a `pure' voice (decide for yourself, ofcourse).
-------------
Leonhardt [3] and Suzuki [8] present the bass aria in a very similar fashion, with high-lighting of the cello as an obbligato instrument. This is the way to go, IMO, provided the `severity' of this cello line is ameliorated/coloured with the right organ accompaniment, which both of them do.
----------
Rilling [2] is my firm favourite in the next two arias, because both arias have important, vivid and complex strings parts that respond well to Rilling's more powerful strings.

The tenor aria (Mvt. 5), with strong rhythmic impulse resulting from emphasis of the first note in the first two bars, followed by driving quavers in the continuo in following bars, is exhilarating with its high spirits and vivid 1st violin line.

One of the highlights of the alto aria is the scintillating concertante violin part that has extended broken-chord passages of 1/32 notes. Unfortunately, most of the period violinists appear to have difficulty making themselves audible, on the recordings. After Rilling [2], Suzuki's [8] violinist is most successful in this regard.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 4, 2007):
BWV 74 Introduction - Alto Aria (Mvt. 7)

Julian Mincham wrote:
< the string parts are particularly active. And so they should be, when the first line of text calls upon us to tune our strings and rejoice in song. Bach does not actually give us a representation of strings being tuned; that would be left to Mozart! But the violins are actively ebullient and dominate throughout >
The alto aria is quite extraordinary in the contrast of three rhythmic patterns: the steady eighths of the voice (almost like a minuet), the repeated sixteenths of the winds, and the flamboyant 32nd note passagework in the strings. A nightmare for the conductor: too slow and the voice would sound plodding, two fast and the violin part would be a blur.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 5, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<The alto aria (Mvt. 7) is quite extraordinary in the contrast of three rhythmic patterns: the steady eighths of the voice (almost like a minuet), the repeated sixteenths of the winds, and the flamboyant 32nd note passagework in the strings. A nightmare for the conductor: too slow and the voice would sound plodding, two fast and the violin part would be a blur.>>
Yes, this is the trap Koopman [7] falls into - the quick tempo, fastest of the recordings (C.5.00 mins), means that the scintillating violin part becomes little more than a blur.

But not only tempo is involved: Leusink's violinist [6], at the slowest tempo of the recordings (c. 5.55) is only intermittently heard (if at all) with those 1/32nd notes, at the beginning, improving as the aria progresses.

At the same tempo of 5.48, Rilling's violinist projects shimmering accuracy, while Leonhardt's [3] is not audible at all.

At the same tempo of 5.23, Gardiner's violinist [5] sometimes seems to be struggling to maintain the flow of notes (and Gardiner's approach to the instrumentation in general is on the light side). Suzuki's sound [8] is stronger, with the violinist generally successfully keeping up with the tempo.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 5, 2007):
In listening now to the Leusink version [6] (Cantata BWV 74) while I am writing, I am becoming accustomed to the simplicity places in the recitatives where the choice has been made to simply play the basso continuo line and no more notes with the soloist. In Cantata BWV 52 the recitatives are given in my score without (one exception) figured bass markings included. Can anyone say how a continuo player would have traditionally approached such notation sans these figures. Would he have automatically assumed that he should add notes or have avoided them?

The piano reductions we have available (Cantata BWV 52) are in the form or an arrangement and I am curious about the scores from which the piano reduction was created...a later invention perhaps? In the case of the alto recitative (Cantata BWV 74) the sound works well perhaps because of the simplicity of line I think. My voice teacher from last year favors the recitatives in Cantata BWV 52 to be done with the simple bass line on organ as given in the score and no more added. I'm still giving a lot of thought to the accompaniment matter, and still reading more to grasp the intention.

In the soprano aria I especially enjoyed the oboe and the soprano interplay in the ornamentations. Over-all the whole cantata has quite a joyous feel, but the chorale has more of the minor tonalities. Bachseems to be a master of surprise elements at times.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 5, 2007):
I wrote recently about the balance of discussions on list.

I note that of around 60 postings received in the last 2/3 days, only 3 are about the cantata under particular discussion this week!

Say no more!

Neil Halliday wrote (June 5, 2007):
BWV 74 opening chorus (Mvt. 1): an appreciation

The choral texture is relatively transparent in this chorus, because (as Julian noted) the vocal lines are often arranged in pairs.

It's worth being aware of the text's arrangement, for maximum listening pleasure.

The single sentence of the text is sung through five times.

[There are brief tutti sections on the words "Wer mich liebet" preceding each presentation of the entire sentence, except for the second presentation].

Here is the scheme of the vocal entries for each of the five expositions of the text:
1. S, A
2. B, T.
3. T, A, S, B
4. A,T; and B joins in near the end.
5. AS together, followed closely by TB together.

Note that there are only two vocal lines employed for the first, second and forth presentations of the text (except when the basses join in near the end of the fourth presentation); with these you will find it possible to follow the words that are being sung by each vocal line (depending on the quality of the recording). Further, a good deal of synchronisation of words occurs in the third and fifth exposition of the sentence (text).

Listening to this vocal structure within in its sophisticated, richly-coloured instrumental setting, one can conclude that we have nothing less than mini choral symphonies, in these wonderful Bach choruses.

Alain Bruguières wrote (June 5, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I wrote recently about the balance of discussions on list.
I note that of around 60 postings received in the last 2/3 days, only 3 are about the cantata under particular discussion this week!
Say no more! >
I should follow your judicious advice and say no more, I simply can't help adding that 19 of these postings contained the name of a particular list member in their subject. And if you count the mails devoted to commenting disapprovingly on the same list member's every utterance, you may account for most of the 57 mails which don't relate to the cantata of the week.

I suggest that a Thomas Braatz fan club (or a perhaps Anonymous Braatzoolics) be created somewhere on the web and all such stuff should be posted there. We would be left with 2 or 3 mails a day, but IMHO the gain in quality would compensate the loss in quantity.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 5, 2007):
BWV 74 opening chorus: an appreciation

Neil Halliday wrote:
< Listening to this vocal structure within in its sophisticated, richly-coloured instrumental setting, one can conclude that we have nothing less than mini choral symphonies, in these wonderful Bach choruses. >
Certainly the movements which Bach has re-arranged in this and next week's cantatas form a veritable text book demonstrating the comprehensiveness and range of his recycling yechniques.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 5, 2007):
[To Alain Bruguieres] Yes my point is not so much a plea for tolerance (as Jean comments upon in a separate email) but in order to raise a few basic questions.

If we have an introduction posted for a cantata each week, is it for the purpose of general discussion or not? (I had thought that this was the idea, but I may be wrong)

But if this is the avowed objective, is a forum which contains over 700 members but with only about half a dozen seeming to have an interest in the discussion of the works, the right forum?

Might not the works be better discussed amongst those who are interested in so doing with the many other related topics (but often related in the most periferal way) followed up elsewhere?

At the moment it feels a bit like a seminar in which almost anything is discussed except the published topic.

Fair enough in that a lot of interesting stuff does come up. But is it not reasonable for there to be some focus upon the music of the works selected for discussion each week?

I did join this group because I wanted to discuss the works and hear what others have to say about them--but this tends to be the exception.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 6, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<Might not the works be better discussed amongst those who are interested in so doing with the many other related topics (but often related in the most periferal way) followed up elsewhere?>
The discussion on temperament should obviously be happening on the Bach Musicology Mailing List, but the discussion on chorale tempos is probably appropriate here - sometimes there is a grey area where it's just as easy to discuss the topic on this list, eg, Jean asked a general question about varieties of oboes that Bach used in the cantatas, following on comments about a specific aria, and Brad answered that question here.

In any case, I will set an example; any further comments I make on temperament will be confined to the BMML.

-------

There are probably some barriers to a fuller discussion of the cantatas and their recordings: apparently quite a few people do not have broadband, so the samples of recordings cannot be accessed; access to only one recording might fail to elicit an enthusiastic response to the music; it takes time to listen, to formulate and post one's impressions/comments; and there might even be a view that only experts can comment. That last is nonsense, of course (although I hear what Brad is saying about expertise in relation to judging issues of temperament; I'll give some more thought to that). Conductors and recording engineers might even pick up some useful tips from comments made here; eg, Rilling's (admittedly 20+ years ago) sometimes heavy/shapeless continuo line, and his excessive vibrato on oboes and bassoon; or excesses of dynamic variation in some HIP examples, etc. etc. etc. etc.

I suppose the list will survive as long as there is a love of the music; getting more focused discussion on the cantatas is more challenging.

I concur with Julian - it would be good if there were more discussion of the particular cantata, each week.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 6, 2007):
[To Neil Halliday] To help ease the subject problem I have asked to join the BMML. I'm continuing to learn the ropes. Thanks.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 6, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< I concur with Julian - it would be good if there were more discussion of the particular cantata, each week. >
I certainly agree that the more discussion, the better. On a positive note, Aryeh has previously pointed out that the breadth of discussion participation in the second round, ongoing, is greater than during the first round.

Also, the two most regular participants have been you (Neil) and Julian. That means that when one of you is writing the introductions, as now, the proportion of discussion to introduction is likely to go down.

There were weeks when I wrote simply to add that I have read and appreciated the comments by both of you. I have not done that for a while, because it was feeling repetitious. Perhaps this is a good time to say it again: thanks to you both for your comments, always thoughtful and informative. I read them all with interest, and I would bet that a goodly percentage of the 700 or so BCML members do, as well. In any event, the introductions and much of the associated commentary are archived, providing durable reference value well beyond the immediate discussion.

Aryeh has often suggested that more people add listening comments, even if limited to 'I like (or not) this recording'. Most of my comments have been elaboration, of that nature. Again, I have tried to avoid being overly repetitious, especially with specific comments that are likely to be archived.

Repetition in the general chat is another matter. For many of us, it is difficult to remain silent in the face of comments we disagree with, especially if they are matters of fact or evidence, or of opinion misrepresented as such. I have expressed my thoughts on several occasions: the major burden of the volume of chat falls on the manager, Aryeh. He does a remarkable job of maintaining order without stifling anyone unnecessarily, but with a firm hand when it is necessary. When he complains, that is when we should change.

Your thoughts regarding the time necessary to listen and formulate comments are appropriate. In my case, I have found that I enjoy preparing, and listening, the most when I have a commitment in mind to write something. I have also found that this is a more time consuming commitment to make, when there are more recordings at hand, at least if the goal is to be reasonably thorough and objective. Perhaps a better goal would be to accept Julian's seminar analogy, and just try to say something relevant on a weekly basis.

As Julian noted, a lot of us (not least me) find the time to say much which is not especially relevant.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 7, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< BWV 74
[...]
Written for Whitsunday 1725 it radiates the joyousness of the faithful Christian, open to and duly receiving, God's noble gift. True, the chorale suggests that we may still be unworthy of this gift and the latter arias remind us of the chains of hell and Satan's wiles. But overall the mood is one of celebration and rejoicing. >

I agree that the mood is one of celebration, so much so that I find it difficult to find any relation to the characteristic negative aspects of the text. In particular, I do not hear in the music, any reflection of the text's subtle (or not so subtle) references to our (all humanity?) unworthiness.

In particular, I find the triumphant sound of the closing chorale to be almost thumbing its nose at the 'unworthy' aspects of the text. If Jesus, and now the Holy ghost, cared enough to come down and save us, how are we so bad?

< One characteristic to be found in this cantata is the re-workings of earlier movements. The opening chorus and second aria originate from Cantata BWV 59, the Whitsunday cantata from the first cycle. Bach is well known for the re-cycling of his own works, but probably less in the second Jahrgang than anywhere else, so this rare event is noteworthy. The obvious explanation would seem to be that, working under pressure he was forced to cut corners. But when we see the scale of this cantata, that argument has less force. It has eight movements. It is richly scored throughout and contains four arias. The norm, for at least two thirds of the cycle, is two. Only one, Cantata BWV 20 a work in two parts, has more. Also the two borrowed movements have been substantially reworked. It would seem, then, that Bach, rather than cutting corners, went out of his way to produce a work of some scale and substance. >
I could not see a convenient cut, so I repeated the entire paragraph. An important point, especially for future discussions of larger scale relations among works. Since this is clearly such an important composition, reusing ideas from the previous year, isn't it possible (likely?) that Bach was working out or perfecting important concepts. Compare Doug's suggestions re the B arias in 1725, with comparable 1724 cantatas.

< On the other hand, none of the movements is particularly long. But it is still surprising that Bach should have reused movements that had been presented to the Leipzig congregations only a year previously. >

Bach tightening up his chops? I already said that the other week.

< Furthermore, might one muse as to whether Bach may also have reworked these first two movements partially to disguise, from congregation members with good memories, the fact that he had resurrected them from the previous Whitsunday. To do so would only be human! Almost nothing, apart from these movements and BWV 4 are repeated from the first cycle in this second year so clearly this was something at which Bach took pains to avoid. >
A different take is that he planned for opportune rewriting or reperformance of works. Whether he originally planned to avoid this in Jahrgang II is an open question, including the possibility that he unexpectedly lost a text collaborator.

< But through this suggestion of the devil's wiles emerge the long notes on 'globe'; an assertion of unshakable faith. >
I remain puzzled by paradoxes in the theology (and hence texts), wily Devil versus all-powerful God, for example, but I agree that the music asserts unshakable faith, which I share.

< Almost as if to provide structural balance within the overall work, the arias are long and complex, the recitatives short and simple >
To my ears and thinking, the architectural balance, if not quite symmetry, of this cantata is its outstanding feature: two central arias, flanked by chorus/aria/rec. The structure is particularly emphatic in contrast to the preceding cantatas since Easter, with their frequent opening B arias.

I hope to add more comparative comments about recordings, but one quick early one: Neil mentioned that the 1/32 notes in the A aria, Mvt. 7 in the Leusink [6] performance are not evenly audible. I was not troubled by this, which makes me wonder if there are differences in the various editions of this set, or between the CDs and samples? In any event, I find that Leusink compares favorably with others I have listened to (not including Suzuki [8]). For those who rely on the Bach Edition, it is a very fair and enjoyable presentation of the music in this instance.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 7, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< A different take is that he planned for opportune rewriting or reperformance of works. >
Unknown of course--but the fact that rewriting is so rare in the second cycle (only 74 and 68) as to lead one to suppose that it was not part of a preconceived plan.

Addditionally, as mentioned earlier, these two cantatas are the 5th and 6th of a group of 8 cantatas performed within a month (Wolff p277/8) and it is reasonable to suppose that the pressure of deadlines was a significant factor

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 7, 2007):
< I hope to add more comparative comments about recordings, but one quick early one: Neil mentioned that the 1/32 notes in the A aria, Mvt. 7 in the Leusink [6] performance are not evenly audible. I was not troubled by this, which makes me wonder if there are differences in the various editions of this set, or between the CDs and samples? In any event, I find that Leusink compares favorably with others I have listened to (not including Suzuki [8]). For those who rely on the Bach Edition, it is a very fair and enjoyable presentation of the music in this instance. >
The basic problem here might be the expectation: that similarly-looking notes on a page, within a musical line, should all sound similarly audible. (Perhaps also an expectation that every single part printed on a page should be evenly balanced against the other musicians' parts?)

Take lessons with teachers who specialize in 16th-18th century music (i.e. probably not pianists...!). There are important principles of "good" and "bad" notes; there are deliberate inequities of emphasis/articulation within tongueing and bowing patterns; there are earlier keyboard fingerings where part of the point is not to be seamlessly smooth.

There is also a role here for the natural dynamic and pitch gradations in normal speech. Would anyone complain of "not evenly audible" in the delivery of an actress who spoke her lines with some syllables louder than others, or longer than others, according to the normal pronunciation of those words, and according to the sense of the sentences? That is, doing better than delivering the lines in a monotone?

The delivery style of the violin soloist (Pieter Affourtit) in that Leusink recording [6] (BWV 74/7) is not wrong; it just doesn't suit the expectations and value judgments of some listeners. As for his overall volume, that's what fast notes on gut strings with an 18th century bow tend tosound like.

There were a bunch of discussions about this, several years ago. Look up "equipollent" and/or "gestural" at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com
For example: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Perform-Gen6.htm

I wrote about it also in a CD booklet note: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/larips/cd1003.html
at the part around the sentence, "Musical time is a liquid."....

Neil Halliday wrote (June 7, 2007):
It may be informative to consider the "speaker" and the "addressee" in the 8 movements of this cantata.

Mvt. 1. Chorus: Jesus, to the disciples (and hence to the congregation). (John 14: 23).
Mvt. 2. Aria: Soprano, to Jesus. (Ziegler).
Mvt. 3. Recitative: Alto, to Jesus. (Ziegler).
Mvt. 4. Bass Aria: Jesus, to the disciples. (John 14: 28).
Mvt. 5. Aria: Tenor, to the congregation, but the tenor addresses the Lord directly in the line "I believe, Lord, in you", set to music that we all agree beautifully depicts strong faith. (Ziegler).
Mvt. 6. Bass recitative: St. Paul, to the - congregation. (Paul's letter to the): Romans 8,1.
Mvt. 7. Aria: Alto to Jesus. (Ziegler).
Mvt. 8. Chorale: Chorus to the congregation. (Gerhardt).

My paraphrase of the final chorale:

"No child of man here on earth is worth this noble gift (ie Jesus' blood, referring back to the previous alto aria). We are not deserving. Only the love and grace that Christ has earned for us with atonement and expiation is worth anything here".

Bach sets these words to powerful music in A minor, accompanied by strings, oboes and trumpet. Ed hears triumph in the music; and maybe triumph can be found in the text as well, if one considers the foremost ideas to be "the noble gift" and "the love and grace that Christ has obtained through atonement", thereby transforming our "worthlessness" into worthiness. I presume Bach read the words thus.

{Naturally, the doctrine of original sin is never far from the surface in these 18th century cantata texts).

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 7, 2007):
BWV 74 Introduction - Dramatic Structures

Neil Halliday wrote:
< It may be informative to consider the "speaker" and the "addressee" in the 8 movements of this cantata.
Mvt. 1. Chorus: Jesus, to the disciples (and hence to the congregation). (John 14: 23).
Mvt. 2. Aria: Soprano, to Jesus. (Ziegler).
Mvt. 3. Recitative: Alto, to Jesus. (Ziegler).
Mvt. 4. Bass Aria: Jesus, to the disciples. (John 14: 28).
Mvt. 5. Aria: Tenor, to the congregation, but the tenor addresses the Lord directly in the line "I believe, Lord, in you", set to music that we all agree beautifully depicts strong faith. (Ziegler).
Mvt. 6. Bass recitative: St. Paul, to the - congregation. (Paul's letter to the): Romans 8,1.
Mvt. 7. Aria: Alto to Jesus. (Ziegler).
Mvt. 8. Chorale: Chorus to the congregation. (Gerhardt). >
This is a fascinating dramatic scenario, a factor in the cantatas which we don't discuss enough. The dialogue of "characters" presenting scriptural dicta and commentary is obvious in a work like the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), but there is no less a complex theological drama going on in this cantata. For instance, it's no surprise to encounter a bass singing the words of Jesus -- we've had a whole series of Eastertide cantatas -- but why also as a chorus?

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 7, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
<< It may be informative to consider the "speaker" and the "addressee" in the 8 movements of this cantata. >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< This is a fascinating dramatic scenario, a factor in the cantatas which we don't discuss enough. >
I agree completely! Thanks, Neil, I will reexamine some of my comments andimpressions.

Peter Smaill wrote (June 8, 2007):
BWV 74 accords with the dramatic programme Bach creates following Easter 1725 - the depiction of a living Jesus. Here, the acclamation of the incipit by the choir and festive orchestra, "Wer mich liebet, der wird mein wort halten" accords with the bass aria introductions in previous Cantatas in that it is the words of Christ which are being asseverated.

Theologically the interest is in the final Chorale , the words from the hymn to the Holy Ghost "Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist", but set to the tune "Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn". Bach is here emphasising again the relationship between Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit by this combination.

It is also I think the case that in the B Minor Mass (BWV 232) the expression "filioque", the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Son, is given the emphasis by note elongation, a sign that Bach wishes to highlight the Western tradition in this matter.

Leaver states "For Luther, the Trinitarian connections with music were explicit rather than implicit..."In Music, the Trinity is expressed in the three notes ,"re mi fa"..with the shift from modal to major/minor tonality in the late sixteenth century, Luther's melodic Trinitarian model was reinterpreted harmonically.... the Trinitarian harmonic triad beacame the model C, E, G.

Now what Bach actually does in BWV 59/BWV 74 in the opening Chorus is to sharpen the third note ( progression G A ornament, B), then invert the triad (G E C). But the reference to the Trinity is IMO apparent , especially given the text ("and my Father will him love, and we will come to him and dwelling with him make").

BWV 59 and BWV 74 are thus meditations on the Trinity as is appropriate to Whitsun, and Bach responds with not only two splendid and related Cantatas but each with a hermeneutic substrate.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 9, 2007):
BWV 74: tenor aria (Mvt. 5)

There is at least one example of rhythmic ambiguity in the tenor aria, made all the more obvious because of the very strong crotchet pulse in 4/4 time that is evident for most of this aria.

At the words "Geht er gleich weg, so kömmt er wieder", repeated (literally, goes he straight away, yet comes he again), the 4/4 rhythm seems to change into a triple time metre. In fact, one can quite reasonably (while listening to these words) `superimpose' four bars of 3/4 time over the (written) three bars of 4/4 time. {Either way, we have a total of twelve crotchet beats for the duration of the words).

Thus not only do we have a melodic representation of Christ's going away - or ascending to heaven - and coming back (down) to earth, in the short rising and falling figure that accompanies each half of the phrase respectively, we also have a rhythmic representation of the motion that is suggested by this same image, in the change of metre.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 9, 2007):
BWV 74 Provenance, Composing & Copy Process

See: Cantata BWV 74 - Provenance

 

BWV 74 for Whit Sunday (Pentecost), May 31, 2009

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 1, 2009):
Brian McCreath continues the longstanding series of Bach cantatas on WGBH (93.5 FM in the Boston USA area, now also available worldwide to the technologically hip via www.wgbh.org). For the past year or so, Brian has been orienting his weekly selection to the liturgiccalendar. Hence BWV 74 today, for the final major (three day) feast in the first half of the Lutheran calendar.

Brian played the LP copy of Rilling; those old LPs still sound warm to me, even through the FM airwaves and the bedroom radio. Perhaps it is all in the depths (not to say deep) of my mind.

Durr is at his best in elaborating details of the development of BWV 74 (1725), from the earlier BWV 59 (1724). Details are best deferred until these come up in the formal weekly discussion a year or so down the road, but there is a lot of support for Bachs freedom in choice of texts, at least in this instance. This pair also strikes me as a fine example of the virtues of the current discussion, by liturgical date relation. Of course, this is also the sequence Durr has used, so we are not exactly pioneers, so much as groping for the shoulders of a master.

More relevant to the current discussion, we are still lingering over Christmas, here in May - BWV 74 is joyous without restraint. A (theo?)logical conclusion to the Birth, Death/Resurrection, and Ascension, quickly followed by the Holy Ghost? Makes it a bit easier for me to grasp the conflicted joy of some of the Christmas music, and to see the crescendo from Advent through Christmas and Easter, to Ascension and Pentecost/Trinity, of the first half of the liturgical year.

Although OT, I cannot resist noting the ironic joy for me, that the Grateful Dead Orgy(r), 136 hours of Dicks Picks concert (complete) performances, broadcast over eight days (on another local station), should conclude on Pentecost. The plan of the Holy Ghost, or just a Simple Twist of Fate?

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 74: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýSeptember 29, 2011 ý13:22:18