Cantata BWV 92Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn
Discussions - Part 3
Continue from Part 2
Discussions in the Week of February 28, 2010 (3rd round)
Peter Smaill wrote (February 28, 2010):
Introduction to Cantata BWV 92, "Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn"
Cantata BWV 92, “Ich hab gottes Herz und Sinn”
First Performed: January 25th 1725, Leipzig, for Septuagesima (Third Sunday before Lent)
Second Annual Cantata Cycle, 1724-25 (Jahrgang II)
Bach Cantata Website Link : http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV92.htm
Movements & Scoring
1: Chorus: “Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn”
Choir: SATB, Instruments: Ob d’A I II str Bc
2: Recitative (+Chorale) “Es kann mihr fehlen nimmermehr”
3 :Aria: “Seht, seht! Wie reisst, wie bricht, wie fällt”
Soloist: Tenor, Instruments: 2 str, Bc
4: Chorale: “Zudem ist Weisheit und Verstand””
Soloist: A, Instruments: Ob d’A I, II, Bc
5: Recitative; “Wir wollen nun nicht länger zagen”
6: Aria: “das Brausen/Stürmen von der rauhen Winden”
Soloist: Tenor, Instruments: Bc
7: [Chorale+] Recitative: “ Ei nun, mein Gott , so fall ich dir”
SATB, Instrument Bc
9: Aria: “Mein Hirten bleib ich treu”
Soloist: Soprano, Instruments: O d’A, str Bc senza org
6: Chorale: “Soll ich denn auch des Todes Weg”
Choir: SATB, Instruments+ Bc
BWV 92 is a puzzle. At 33 minutes, why is it so long? Against the general observation of Stiller- that Bach makes great efforts to set the Chorale associated with the day, there is here only a slight connection. Thirty seven lines to the recitative BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2)? Why the elaborated SATB setting of the Recitative BWV 92/7?
Bach’s longest Cantatas are placed at the beginning and end of seasons: the longest, BWV 75 (40 minutes) and BWV 76 (35 mins.) in fourteen sections mark his arrival in Leipzig for the first and second Sundays of Trinity; BWV 140 (31 mins.) marks the very end of the Trinity series (27th Sunday) and BWV 70 likewise (26th, 26 mins., in eleven sections). BWV 20 (31 mins.) is for the 1st Sunday in Trinity 1724 and begins Jahrgang II.
Quite why BWV 92 is so very long is problematic. Sexagesima is the beginning of preparation for Lent, but in the case of BWV 84 and BWV 144 a short work is presented. In the disputation over the introduction of new long chorales in 1730 Bach complained that new hymns introduced by church officials disturbed the length of the service; surely the same consideration must have applied to BWV 92? Nor was it performed, according to any of the usual sources, in two parts as is the case for BWV 75 and BWV 76. So it may actually be the longest single stretch Cantata in the repertoire.
Doctrine and Imagery
After the Quietist tendency of BWV 144 the much longer BWV 92 has a spread of theological ideas. The atoning Blood of Jesus appears in BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2); Lutheran solfideism also, in the line “If I keep firm/and am to be found rock-firm in Faith/then his hand /Which he already holds out to me from heaven/At the right time/Knows how to exalt me again”.
As with BWV 81 we are at sea again in a Satanic storm (BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2), BWV 92/3 (Mvt. 3) and BWV 92/6 (Mvt. 6)) as part of the “navigatio vitae” for which voyage of tribulation we can note further related emblemata:
The zeugma of the work is the call for a “new song for the Prince of Peace”. At this point the incursion of the most enchanting BWV 92/8 marks a change of purpose; we are no longer facing the world with stoic resignation to fate, but contemplating death and heaven. Bach here uses pizzicato, often if not always a sign of time and of awaiting an event. His first cantata usage is I think BWV 61/4 in 1714, where it is used to accompany the vox Christi, “See, I stand before the door and knock”. In BWV 8/1 the likely take is the ticking of the clock as death approaches; in BWV 95 Dürr senses the chiming of funeral bells.
At the risk of stealing from the review of next week’s BWV 84 it is worth noting that it likewise turns to death; for the final chorale as John Eliot Gardiner points out is marked “soprano solo e a 3 ripieni”, implying the vocal parts were not intended to be doubled by the instruments. As he says of the unaccompanied setting, “I found it very affecting”, and it is like the funeral bells of BWV 92 a reminder of mortality: for in Leipzig tradition Chorales were sung a capella at the deathbed. This recording (SDG 153, Vol. 20) of BWV 84 (including all the Septuagesima and Sexagesima works) can be recommended above all others due to this authentic and profoundly significant effect.
The sweeping illustrations of tumultuous seas have been linked to word-painting in other stormy Cantatas such a BWV 150 and BWV 26. However, the closest allied Cantata is by comparison of the bar structure of BWV 92/1 with BWV 111/1, “Was gott tut das is wohlgetan". Hirsch notes that the layouts are identical despite totally different chorales and that this is unique in the cantatas (“Struktur vollkommen identisch- das einzige Mal in Kantatenwerke Bachs, das zwei Choralbearbeitungen identische Struktur haben. Dies kann nicht auf Zufall beruhen” (It cannot be a coincidence).
Bar Structure for BWV 92/1 and BWV 111/1:
It is also worth noting that, according to Hirsch, the Chorus in BWV 92/1 sing 807 notes, exactly the same number as are played by the oboe d’amore. The wonderful BWV 92/8 has 112 bars, the natural order alphabet score for “Christus”, an allusion noted in seven other Cantatas. It could be chance but then, the number of notes played by the violins and viola (excluding the da capo) totals 224, exactly double.
BWV 92 retains its mystery despite all the allusions- theological, emblematic,numerological and musicological – that can be found within it. It is perhaps best seen as an experimental work: for example, in advance of the Matthew Passion’s (BWV 244) ”Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh’ gebracht”, we have Bach here already deploying (in BWV 92/7) four soloists making individual remarks, rising from bass to soprano; and then, the work is crowned with the final lilting, intertwining aria, the “neues-lied” which H-J Schulze perceptively calls “eine veritable Serenadenmusik”.
The length of the work allows for a complex palette of contrasting ideas and images and indeed, the shading is vital to retaining the interest of the listener over such a sustained period. There is a sense that more can be deduced about the reason for its unusual features and further debate on this work is even more than normally called for!
Neil Halliday wrote (February 28, 2010):
[To Peter Smaill] Thanks for the interesting intro, Peter.
Just an observation regarding the BGA score of the first recitative:
the specific bars indicating 'chorale' and 'recitative' are inaccurately (or certainly misleadingly) marked. I noticed this when listening to Ramin's imaginative realisation ; he allotthe 'chorale' sections to the choir basses, and the 'recitative' sections to a solo bass. (Judging From Ramin's sample , this method certainly adds interest as well as clarity to this movement which Robertson calls "scrappy").
For example, bar nine and bar ten are separated by double bar lines, with the word "choral' written above the start of bar ten, whereas the chorale actually begins on the second beat of bar ten; and this situation applies in many places throughout the score, being particularly confusing to read when each chorale line itself is split into two parts, as occurs toward the end of the movement.
[Notice that Line 5 and 7 of the CM are split into two and separated by short recitative, certainly a strange design which might indeed be very scappy in effect; I would like to hear the whole of Ramin's method  to see how well it works]
Ramin  is aware of this, ensuring that the separation of the 'recitative' sections from the 'chorale sections' are made entirely audible.
The 7th bar from the end is particualrly poorly marked - the chorale in fact begins on the last beat of the bar; reading the score as marked one would miss the fact that the 'chorale' section here is in fact the last half of the second to last line (ie, the 7th of the 8 lines of the chorale) of the chorale melody (which itself is ofcourse is the same as the first line in this chorale) being the notes which in the unadorned form of the CM are GGF#G (in this section as in others the actual notes of the chorale are a variation; the chorale melody is highly decorated throughout this movement). With this in mind keyboardists should have no trouble extracting the decorated sections of the CM from this poorly marked BGA score.
Ramin's sample : Amazon.de
(This page can also be accessed from the BCW).
Douglas Cowling wrote (February 28, 2010):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Just an observation regarding the BGA score of the first recitative: the specific bars indicating 'chorale' and 'recitative' are inaccurately (or certainly misleadingly) marked. I noticed this when listening to Ramin's imaginative realisation ; he allots the 'chorale' sections to the choir basses, and the 'recitative' sections to a solo bass. (Judging From Ramin's sample, this method certainly adds interest as well as clarity to this movement which Robertson calls "scrappy"). >
Bach certainly was the master of wedding the measured form of the chorale with the freer rhythmic shape of recitative. "Scrappy" seems an odd complaint. His greatest examples occur in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) with the bass recits with soprano chorale (interestingly, Richter  also used the full soprano sections for the chorale -- with quite satisfying results). I've often wondered if the chorale sections in these recits were harmonized by the organ in a more elaborate way. Do any of the recordings use harpsichord for the recits and organ for the chorale?
Has anyone done a systematic study of Bach's "Valedictory Recitatives" in which all four soloists appear in a kind of vaudeville farewell? The conclusions of the Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) are the most notable, but I recall at least one more in the cantatas we've discussed. The BGA edition has no markings, but was this cantata meant to be performed in two parts, and is this the end of the first half? Bach has the bass in anticipated canon in each section of the chorale.
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (February 28, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Has anyone done a systematic study of Bach's "Valedictory Recitatives" in which all four soloists appear in a kind of vaudeville farewell? The conclusions of the Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) are the most notable, but I recall at least one more in the cantatas we've discussed. >
This is something that you find also in some profane cantatas, for example in BWV 206 (the last recitative, where the four "rivers" sing in turn) or BWV 207 (also the last recitative with the four "characters"). But in each case, there is a final chorus afterwards.
Neil Halliday wrote (March 1, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>"Scrappy" seems an odd complaint.<
I can see his point; I personally don't understand why Bach further split the 5th and 7th lines of the CM, which in their decorated form makes the CM very difficult to perceive. (Instead of 8 separated bits of CM representing the 8 lines of the CM - enough already - we now have 10 pieces, with short recitative in between).
>Do any of the recordings use harpsichord for the recits and organ for the chorale?<
Rilling is one ; I haven't heard Suzuki  yet (he is a possibilty).
>Has anyone done a systematic study of Bach's "Valedictory Recitatives" in which all four soloists appear in a kind of vaudeville farewell?<
Interestingly the third recitative in BWV 92 is a type.
Here we have SATB choir with the chorale lines (unusually without the instruments doubling these vocal lines, for obvious reasons (as Peter noted in his intro) and B,T,A,S soloists in succession for the intervening recitative sections. (Robertson is much happier with this movement; perhaps the non-splitting of some of the CM lines is a factor).
Note that five movements use this CM: 1,2,4,7 and 9.
Recall the continuo only bass aria "Entsetze dich" of BWV 111, written only a few weeks previously (in 1725- both there cantatas are from the chorale cantata cycle). This aria quoted the first two lines of the same CM, in a decorated manner similar to that seen in BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2).
(In BWV111, three movements have, or at least quote, this CM. It must have been on Bach's mind!)
Therese Hanquet wrote (March 1, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] Sorry this should have read "secular cantatas", I mixed up French and English.
Douglas Cowling wrote (March 1, 2010):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Sorry this should have read "secular cantatas", I mixed up French and English. >
C'est la meme chose ... Comme "tu" et "vous" pour nous anglophones.
Peter Smaill wrote (March 1, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] There is indeed (at least) one other SATB Recitative with chorale in the sacred Cantatas, and very fine it is too: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/INS/BWV138-02.htm
As often (e.g. the instrumental Chorale opening Part 2 of BWV 75) one wishes that Bach had developed the Chorale even more in such unusual formats (the exception to that prayer for me at least is BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2) I'm afraid!)
Douglas Cowling wrote (March 1, 2010):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< There is indeed (at least) one other SATB Recitative with chorale in the sacred Cantatas, and very fine it is too: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/INS/BWV138-02.htm >
Is there a precedent for all the soloists appearing to close a sacred work? Therese mentioned the operatic form of BWV 206. We certainly encounter the soloists singing the final chorus in Handel's 'La Resurresione" with solo and tutti sections. The interjections here and in the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) sound more like a vaudeville -- the finale of Mozart's "Die Entführung" is a late example. Except that strictly in a vaudeville the soloists sing the same music as verses.
Neil Halliday wrote (March 8, 2):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>one wishes that Bach had developed the Chorale even more in such unusual formats (the exception to that prayer for me at least is BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2) I'm afraid!)<
I reckon a much more "user-friendly" version of 92/2 (Mvt. 2) could be obtained by simply omitting the recitative 'scraps' that divide the 5th and 7th chorale sections respectively.
I can see that Bach inserted these particular bits of recitative for textual reasons, but the omission of these particular bits of text is no loss at all (see for yourself). The chorale halves can now be seamlessly joined with minute modification of the continuo line in each case.
This accomplished, the eight chorale sections will be much more readily identified and appreciated, especially when choir basses have the chorale, contrasting with a soloist who takes the recitative sections - listen to Koopman .
As well, there's plenty of scope for imaginative continuo realisation in the "cracking, and falling mountains" of the first recitative section (storming rising and falling scalar figures), and the "wrathful waves washing me to the depths" of the third recitative section (wave-like strings of turns).
Ed Myskowski wrote (March 8, 2010):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>>one wishes that Bach had developed the Chorale even more in such unusual formats (the exception to that prayer for me at least is BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2) I'm afraid!)<<
Neil Halliday wrote:
< I reckon a much more "user-friendly" version of BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2) could be obtained by simply omitting the recitative 'scraps' that divide the 5th and 7th chorale sections respectively.
I can see that Bach inserted these particular bits of recitative for textual reasons, but the >omission of these particular bits of text is no loss at all (see for yourself). The chorale >halves can now be seamlessly joined with minute modification of the continuo line in each case. >
Perhaps the insertion of particular bits of recitative was not textual, but musical? I did not yet see for myself, in this particular instance, but usually Bachs choices are remarkably satisfying, from a strictly musical perspective -- the intent is not to consolidate the chorale, but to expand it.
I am often reminded of John Harbisons comment, introducing a performance of Bachs Motet BWV 227, and his own fine composition <But Mary Stood>:
<I am going to talk to you about two pieces of music, one of which I wrote, and one of which I did not, not even in my wildest dreams.> (end quote)
Neil Halliday wrote (March 8, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>Perhaps the insertion of particular bits of recitative was not textual, but musical?<
At the expense of destroying the listener's comprehension of the CM? To my mind the necessity for these particular insertions is more likely to be textual, not musical.
IMO, Bach had to set the text at hand, forcing an unmusical expansion and breakage within the two chorale phrases being considered.
Interestingly, the first of the lines of text I would omit is in brackets, in Francis Brownes' translation (note the chorale text is in purple). http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV92-Eng3.htm
(But the second line of text in brackets should be maintained; I'm not sure why this line is bracketted).
The other musically superfluous (IMO) line of text (ie, destructive of the musical sense through dismemberment of the recognisable chorale phrase) begins with the words "Und lasse mich..."
BTW, Mvt. 7 shows no such internal division of any of the eight chorale phrases.
But to follow the argument one needs to identify and recognise the CM in the decorated CM phrases, which will require study of the score.
Who knows? But certainly the commentary (Smaill, Robertson, myself, all highly appreciative of Bach's music in general) suggests a problem for appreciation of BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2) as is.
Julian Mincham wrote (March 8, 2010):
[To Neil Halliday] For those interested in these combination (or the better term is 'hybrid') recitatives which combine elements of chorale, arioso, choral and/or ritornello sections interspersed amongst the recitative, I refer them to the article I had published in the BNUK journal last year. Ed posted the link onto this site a few weeks ago.
I don't deal specifically with BWV 92 but draw examples for BWV 2, BWV 101 and BWV 93. I argue that in being heard rather than seen, Bach's recitatives serve a quite different purpose from those used in contemporary opera, allowing for a much richer texture of text, meaning and musical expression instead of physical action aand reaction.
I think it is also worth mentioning that a general prejudice against such movements (of which there are a considerable number in the first half of the second Leipzig cycle} goes back to, and probably stems from Schweitzer's violent dislike of them and his wish to have the cantatas performed without them, a complete misunderstanding, in my view, of what Bach was trying to do--see for example his comments on BWV 101. It may be the case that these hybrids are a way of injecting interest into the setting of long slabs of text, sometimes up to 30 lines or more! But to dismiss them thus is to miss the fact that Bach always seemed to make a virtue out of a necessity and through such structures found ways of presenting a deeper tapestry of meaning to his listeners.
Julian Mincham wrote (March 8, 2010):
I meant to say in my last email that Bach's recitatives have attracted less critical attention than the arias and choruses, something that I hope may be corrected in the C21.
Douglas Cowling wrote (March 8, 2010):
Julian Micham wrote:
< a general prejudice against such movements (of which there are a considerable number in the first half of the second Leipzig cycle} goes back to, and probably stems from Schweitzer's violent dislike of them and his wish to have the cantatas performed without them, a complete misunderstanding, in my view, of what Bach was trying to do >
It would be interesting to look at how Schweitzer shaped the modern perception of Bach. It's been years since I've read any of his studies. What for instance was his attitude to the parody cantatas with secular sources? Certainly no one uses his elaborate quasi-Wagnerian motif system anymore.
Julian Mincham wrote (March 8, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] I suspect he influenced Bach scolars quite a bit in the early C20. There wasn't that much around about JSB when his volumes came out in the first decade.
I think his work (which I re-read in the course of work I was doing a couple of years ago) suffers principally from two problems. One was that he just simply didn't have access to the modern scholarship which has dated so many of the cantatas accurately and this meant that it was impossible for him to make informed contextural observations. Sometimes he suggested dates in the 1740s for cantatas written years earlier; and, on course now we know that Bach wasn't composing cantatas in that decade anyway.
The second is the idea that he proposed a 'system'. I think that he was feeling his way towards finding the links between textual images and the musical shapes which they generated in Bach's mind, a pretty mind boggling idea at a time when, if Bach was thought about at all it was more in the context of a the great composer of 'pure' non romantic/pictorial composer. He did notice various shapes recurring in similar pieces of music but I think too much emphasis has been put upon this 'quantification' aspect and not enough upon his drawing of attention to the significant connections between text and music.
Despite the faults I think that at a time when it must have been extremely difficult to ever heperformances of the cantatas ( and let us not even speculate upon how successful they might have been) Schweitzer's achievment was pretty good.
Continue on Part 4
Cantata BWV 92: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4