Cantata BWV 97In allen meinen Taten
Discussions - Part 2
Continue from Part 1
Discussions in the Week of October 5, 2008 (2nd round)
William Hoffman wrote (October 5, 2008):
BWV 97, "In allen meinen Taten," Introduction
The undesignated Chorale Cantata BWV 97, "In allen meinen Taten" (In all my deeds), like its sister, BWV 100, "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan," contains one of Bach's favorite chorales, has common characteristics, and has a broad application of possible usage. Like BWV 100, also composed sometime in 1734, Cantata BWV 97 has been encumbered by its nebulous status. Possibly, it also may have been a sacred wedding cantata or even a town council cantata. Moreover, Bach also chose to repeat BWV 100 twice (BCW Recordings), perhaps in the church year as one of only 50 documented cantata reperformances from his repertory of some 200. It's second performance is dated to 1735-1740, Leipzig; third performance, 1740-1747, Leipzig or elsewhere.
As to the chorale, Thomas Braatz (BCW Discussion, March 12, 2001) BWV 97, "Name that tune," wrote: "Well, what does Bach give us? Including this cantata BWV 97 there are 11 different 4-part chorales using this melody, "Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen." Here is a listing of their occurrences:
1) BWV 13/6 (this means the 6th movement of cantata BWV 13) "Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen" (2nd Sunday after Epiphany;
2) BWV 44/7 "Sie werden euch in den Bann tun" (Sunday after Ascension);
3) BWV 67/7 "Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ" (1st Sunday after Easter);
4) BWV 97/9 "In allen meinen Taten" (undesignated);
5) BWV 244/10 (SMP) after the chorus asks, "Am I the one to betray you?" the chorale begins with "Ich bins, ich sollte büßen.";
6) BWV 244/37 (SMP) after the chorus asks, "Tell us, Christ, who hit you?" the chorale begins with "Wer hat dich so geschlagen, mein Heil, und dich mit Plagen so übel zugericht'?";
7) BWV 245/11 (SJP) after Christ asks, "Why did you hit me?" the chorale begins with "Wer hat dich so geschlagen, mein Heil, und dich mit Plagen so übel zugericht'?" ; [Ah, so you ask, "If this is exactly the same text, surely Bach could lift or tranto another key one of his numerous harmonizations and use it here?" Nope! It's another new and interesting one.]
8) BWV 392,
9) BWV 393,
10) BWV 394,
11) BWV 395("
Concerning its designation and at the expense of being redundant, here are my fugitive notes from BWV 100:
The parts of chorale cantatas BWV 97 and the score and (presumably) the parts of BWV 100 were found in C.P.E. Bach's estate catalog (1790). The rest of the manuscripts of the chorale cantata scores presumably were taken by Wilhelm Friedemann. Thus, these two cantatas were not considered part of Bach's Chorale Cantata Cycle (2), which were inherited by W.F. (scores) and Anna Magdalena (parts). In C.P.E. Bach's estate catalog, the materials of Cantatas BWV 97 and BWV 100 were not found in the listings by church year occasions, beginning with Advent (BWV 61 and BWV 36) and ending with the Feast of St. Michael (BWV 19). Cantata BWV 97 appears early in the listing of Sebastian's vocal music, following the oratorios, among the occasional works, both secular and sacred mixed together on catalog pages 70-72, followed by Mass movements, motets and the Church Year cantatas. These three pages list secular works with generic descriptions such as congratulatory cantatas (BWV 213, BWV 215) or drama (BWV 214). The interspersed sacred occasional works were for the town council, weddings, and two Passions, BWV 245 and BWV 244. It is believed that C.P.E. stored - and catalogued -- the works in the same manner as his father had done and in the same pattern that he had received of this inheritance at his father's death.
Obviously both BWV 97 and BWV 100, listed only by the first vocal line incipit, were considered by Sebastian as not being part of the church year cycle, treated instead as occasional pieces. While both BWV 97 and BWV 100 were based on chorales listed for weddings at St Thomas Church, neither is divided into two parts to be presented before and after the service. Instead, many church uses have been suggested, primarily in the Trinity Season, based on prior usage of the chorale melody in other cantatas.
So, what happened to the manuscript score of BWV 97, since only the parts were found in the C.P.E. Bach estate? The provenance is uncertain until the ownership of Bach manuscript collector Franz Hauser in the 19th century. Gerhard Herz in Bach Sources in America (p. 71f, 1984) attempted to fill in the gap. Former Thomas School perfect C.F. Penzel made a score copy of BWV 97 from Bach's autograph score, as well as a parts set, in 1767 in Merseberg, close to Halle. This was where Wilhelm Friedemann resided, and for a fee had allowed Nicholas Forkel to copy the scores of three chorale cantatas from his cycle of scores. While Herz suggests that this "could be construed to speak in favor of Wilhelm Friedemann's ownership" of the autograph score BWV 97, Herz also suggests that this occasional "late cantata may just as well have been one of the few remnants of Bach's estate that had remained" in Leipzig, in the possession of Anna Magdalena, their daughters or the Altnikols, or the publisher Breitkopf. Says Herz: "It is well known that Breitkopf & Härtel eagerly bought these last survivors from Bach's estate. In any event, the [score] ownership by Breitkopf & Härtel is documented."
Meanwhile, Penzel in 1767 placed copies of the score and parts set together in one wrapper (cover) and inscribed it with the incipt "In allen meinen Thaten" for the fifth Sunday after Trinity, as recounted in NBA-KB 1/34: 91, the NBA Critical Commentary saying: "If this determination originated with Bach, it can neither be proven nor refuted." In the mid-1750s Penzel had written out scores for performance of some 20 chorale cantatas from the parts sets of the cycle at the Thomas School. These included the cantatas for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity as well as the Eighth through the 17th Sundays after Trinity. Later, in Merseberg between 1767 and 1770, Penzel copied other scores, including chorale cantatas BWV 97 and two others not in C.P.E. Bach's estate, BWV 112 for Misericordias Domini as well as BWV 38 for the 21st Sunday after Trinity. Apparently, Penzel was trying to assemble a cycle of Bach cantatas as well as occasional works such as BWV 150, BWV 106, and BWV 211, copied from Leipzig sources.
Cantata BWV 97 Critics.
Simon Crouch's voices this opinion in BCW: "This cantata really is, with a couple of honourable exceptions, a really rather depressingly dull affair! The problems really spring from an exceptionally poor text that is not very far from doggerel." Ludwig Finscher in the Harnoncourt recording  (cited in BCW) says, "The brittle intellectuality and pictorial poverty of the text confronted Bach with singular problems. They were solved with extraordinary compositional extravagance and above all in concealed symbolism which only a careful study of the score reveals." The basic challenges in any pure-hymn text chorale cantata are inherent: There is potential monotony in setting the six-line texts as four arias (without the chorale melody), especially three in succession, as well as, Finscher points out, "the inappropriateness of [usually free-verse] recitative for depiction of the hymn verses." Crouch's view of the "poor text" may relate to the difficulty of translating the German text, literally or figuratively, rhythm or not. Take the opening sentence: "In allen meine Taten/Lass ich denn Höchsten raten,/Der alles kann und hat:" Here are four translations: 1. Z. Philip Ambrose: "In all my undertakings/I let the Master counsel,/Who all things can and owns." 2. Rilling 1975 : "In all that I am doing/each enterprise pursuing/each undertaking/I follow God's advice." 3. Unknown, chorale book: "Whate'er the task He sendeth,/To God my soul submitteth,/Who all things well did plan." 4. Dürr Cantatas of JSB (2005): "In all my deeds/I let the most High Counsel me,/He who can do and has everything;". Dürr's, IMHO, is the most understandable and literal.
In the previous BCW discussion in March 2001, several other sources were cited, all finding roses among the thorns and a quite an appealing cantata, once the inherent limitations are overcome. They are the BCW BWV 97 Recordings, Emmanuel Music; the Ludwig Finscher notes to the Harnoncourt recording , and the 1999, J.S. Bach in the Oxford Composer Companions series, edited by Malcolm Boyd and published by Oxford University Press. The initials at the end of the BWV 97 article identify Alberto Basso as the author of this one.
As the discussion leader PPP (Point of Personal Privilege) and editor of the PD (Previous Discussion), I include the following: Aryeh Oron wrote (March 11, 2001):
This cantata is among the least popular. Robertson does not write about it, because it is not exactly sacred. Schweitzer mentions it only briefly. Crouch calls it 'a really rather depressingly dull affair'. And I? I know from past experience that even a cantata that does not belong to the best crop has something to offer. If we listen to it enough times, investigate it from different angles, and try to judge it on its own terms, and not in comparison to other cantatas, we shall find enough substantial material to enjoy from. After reading carefully the text of this cantata (and translating it into Hebrew), I can say that IMHO the main subject of BWV 97 is submissiveness and humbleness. In such circumstances, no joy is allowed to be expressed too loudly, and no grief is too deep. How can we expect these moods to be expressed other than in low profile music of subdued nature, not too colourful, not too catchy, not too attractive? I find that the multi-facets genius of JSB is revealed
here through a new and unexpected angle.
Mvt. 1 Chorus
This opening chorus begins with an instrumental introduction (grave), followed by a faster section (vivace), in the first two movements of a French overture. The soprano voices sing first, imitating fugally by the other vocal sections, while the instruments embellish the text with Bach's setting of it as a chorale fantasia. The voices sing the vivace section only after the introduction. There are instrumental ritornelli interludes halfway and at the end, with a choral repeat of only the last half of the stanza (i.e., no da capo)."
Mvt. 4 Aria for Tenor
"This is an exceptionally beautiful number. The solo obbligato violin weaves a remarkable tapestry of sound around his vocal assertion of trust in God's unfailing protection. In spite of the confident lines of the text, there seems to be an underlying grief-motif, ending the stanza in a tear-motif.
Worthy of note is the fact that in the opening chorus and in all the solo arias for the rest of the cantata, Bach divides the six-line stanzas so that the vocalists repeat only the last three lines, instead of the usual da-capo. Could the length of the cantata be the reason for this? [text of the aria]
With his coloratura runs on 'allem Schaden' and 'allem Ubel', and in the generally tragic or elegiac tone of his aria, there seems to be more emphasis on his present suffering than on God's protection. However, his forceful repetition of 'nichts' obviates this somewhat at the end. The solo violin playing is magnificent and could stand alone as a violin sonata movement."
Andrew Oliver wrote (March 13, 2001):
(2) For those who do not have the Harnoncourt recording  of this cantata, here are the notes which accompany it, issued by Teldec, and written by Ludwig Finscher.
'In allen meinen Taten' (BWV 97) is dated 1734 in the autograph version and is thus a very late cantata; nothing is known about its liturgical background. Bach composed the hymn 'per omnes versus', but, while retaining all verses, used the song melody only in the opening chorus and the final chorale. The conspicuously small number of recitatives (two compared to four arias and a duet) is probably due to the inappropriateness of recitative for depiction of the hymn verses. The brittle intellectuality and pictorial poverty of the text confronted Bach with singular problems. They were solved with extraordinary compositional extravagance and above all in concealed symbolism which only a careful study of the score reveals. The opening chorus is, most unusually, a French overture (dotted rhythms - fugal vivace). Its form and its vocal, instrumental and contrapuntal brilliance are perhaps intended to symbolise the majesty of the "highest", "der alles kann und hat" (who can do everything and has everything). The arias are in ascending voice ranges (bass-tenor-alto-soprano and bass/soprano). Moreover, the first four are designed as contrasting key pairs (G minor- B flat major, C minor- E flat major, the soprano leading with F major back to the basic key of B flat major). The instrumentation, compositional technique and accents are just as carefully and closely related to the text in varying ways (albeit also in intricately encoded form): bass aria with thoroughbass (worries, effort); tenor aria with concertante violin (superabundance of Godly
grace); alto aria with string tutti (cadence of the slumbering aria, as well as antithetic images - sleeping and awakening, lying and moving away, weakness and consolation); duet only with thoroughbass (singing voice largely canonic: God's decree as the law of human action); soprano aria with concertante oboes (cadence and movement structure, apart from tone symbolism and image-like details, of surprisingly fashionable sensitivity - "Ihm hab' ich mich ergeben" to be understood as a love poem to Jesus?). The final chorale movement departs from the norm in the sense that the independently led strings expand the four-voice songlike setting into a tonally magnificent seven-part texture; the symbolism of the figure 7 (perfection) undoubtedly also played a part.
© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose
V 97 In allen meinen Taten
Based on the nine verses of the hymn by Paul Fleming, 1642 (Fischer-Tümpel, I, #439).
BG 22; NBA I/34.
1. C[Verse 1] (S, A, T, B)
In all my undertakings
I let the Master counsel,
Who all things can and owns;
He must in ev'ry matter,
If it's to be accomplished,
Himself advise and act.
2. Aria [Verse 2] (B)
Nought is too late or early
Despite my toil and labor,
My worry is in vain.
He may with all my dealings
Dispose as he is willing,
I give it to his care.
3. Recit. [Verse 3] (T)
For I can nought accomplish
But what he hath provided,
And what shall make me blest:
I take it as he gives it;
What he of me desireth
Is also what I choose.
4. Aria [Verse 4] (T)
I trust in his dear mercy,
Which me from ev'ry danger,
From ev'ry evil guards.
If I love by his commandments,
There will be nought to harm me,
Nought lacking that I need.
5. Recit. [Verse 5] (A)
May he seek from my error
In mercy to release me,
Extinguish all my wrongs!
He will for my transgressions
Not strict be in his judgment
And yet with me forbear.
6. Aria [Verse 6] (A)
Though I be late retiring,
Arise in early morning,
Rest or continue on,
In weakness and in bondage,
With ev'ry blow about me,
Yet comforts me his word.
7. Aria [Verse 7] (S, B)
For if he hath decided,
Then will I uncomplaining
Unto my fate press on!
No mishap midst the many
Will seem to me too cruel,
I will them overcome.
8. Aria [Verse 8] (S)
To him I am committed
For dying and for living
Whene'er he me doth bid.
If this day or tomorrow
I leave to his attention;
He knows the proper time.
9. Chorale [Verse 9] (S, A, T, B)
To thee be true, O spirit,
And trust in him alone now
Who hath created thee;
Let happen what may happen,
Thy Father who's in heaven
In all things counsels well.
© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose
Cantata BWV 97 has specific dance connections. It is a "baroque suite; each aria, duet and the opening chorus are identifiable as movements in the suite form," as Craig Smith says above at Emmanuel Music online (BCW, BWV 97, Recordings, no date) He describes the opening 2/2 Grave-Vivace chorus as a "grand French Overture, the traditional beginning of the form." "The second verse [movement Mvt. 2] in 6/8 is set for the bass voice and continuo as a lively and virtuoso gigue." He calls the 4/4 aria (Mvt. 4) for tenor, violin obbligato and continuo, a "broad Allemande." He offers no dance-style description for the other lyric movements. The basic description of Baroque Suite is a group of instrumental dances (OCC: JSB, Richard D.P. Jones, p.471f). The generic German Suite usually has, following a French Overture, four movements: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue.
The remaining individual lyrical movements and their time signatures in Cantata BWV 97 are: Mvt. 6, alto with strings in 2/2; Mvt. 7, free da-capo duet for soprano and bass in ¾; and Mvt. 8, soprano aria with two oboes in 2/4. Although meter does not always determine the style or type of dance, the two remaining dances of a traditional German Suite may be considered a sarabande in ¾ or in triple meter for Mvt. 7; however, the Courante is always in triple meter and the 2/4 time signature for Mvt. 8 could be for a bouree, gavotte or rigaudon.
Bach composed at least one other cantata, based on a Baroque Dance Suite, BWV 194a, no title, written about January 1, 1723 in Köthen. It begins with a French Overture with a slow introduction in 2/2 followed by a ¾ lively middle section. Its four dance-style movements are: No. 3, a giga in 12/8; No. 5, a gavotte in 2/4; No. 8, a gigue in 4/4; and No. 11, a concluding menuette in ¾. The work, interspersed with recitatives, was parodied as the two-part Cantata BWV 194, "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest" ("Highest, Wished-for Joy Feast," possibly it's original title), for a church and organ dedication in late1723, and repeated in whole or parts, for Trinity Sunday, 1724, 1726, and 1731. Progressive lombard rhythm is found in the aria, Mvt. 4, "Ich traue seiner Gnaden, according toGerhard Herz, "Lombard Rhythm in Bach's Cantatas," Bach Essays , UNM Research, 1985, pp. 248, 253.
There are four other Bach sacred cantatas for major occasions which begin with French Overtures: BWV 61, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I, for Advent, 1716; BWV 119, Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn, for the Town Council, 1723. BWV 20, O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort I, for the First Sunday after Trinity, 1724; and BWV 110, Unser Mund sei voll Lachens, for Christmas, 1725. It is possible that the lost opening movement of Christmas Cantata BWV 197a, Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, c.1728, may have been modeled after the opening Ouverture to Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D, BWV 1069. Many of these Ouvertures, including the opening of BWV 97, were composed originally in Köthen or even in Weimar (BWV 61).
The origin, genesis and application of these cantatas with French Overtures for major occasions, as well as the Four Orchestral Suites, BWV 1066-69, reveal an interesting saga with pre-history, according to the extensive article in the program notes to the 2002 recording, "JSB: The Early Overtures: BWV 97a, BWV 119a, BWV 1066, BWV 1067a, BWV 1068a and BWV 1069a (Siegbert Rampe, Nova Stravaganza, MDG 341 1131-2). Rampe suggests that these introductory movements "express power," both secular and ecclesiastical, beginning with BWV 61 in 1714, where Bach integrated four-part vocal music into the orchestral texture. He did likewise in BWV 119 in August 1723, adding three trumpets and drums. Possibly, Bach was able to use Leipzig stadfeifer and members of the Collegium musicum in his Town Council annual cantatas at the Nicholas Church.
In the past decade, Rampe and other Bach scholars have shown not only that Bach's Overtures (Orchestral Suites) originated in Köthen and possibly earlier, but also that two, BWV 1068 and BWV 1069, had the trumpets and drums added in Leipzig. First came BWV 1069 in the first movement "parody" for Cantata BWV 110 on Christmas Day 1725. Bach may have done likewise with the opening of BWV 1068 to open Cantata BWV 197a, about 1728. Finally, after he assumed directorship of the Collegium musicum in 1729, Bach added the trumpet and drum parts to the other movements of Orchestral Suites 3 and 4. Rampe also suggests that Bach then used these works "as introductory pieces for the secular cantatas he presented in the open air.."
As for the instrumental origin of the chorale chorus French Overture in BWV 97/1, Rampe also suggests Köthen, citing Alfred Dürr's "Thoughts on Bach's Later Cantatas," in the collection of essays, JSB's Later Works and Their Connections (Christoph Wolff, ed., 1988). Says Rampe: "In the middle section of the opening movement of BWV 97 it is perfectly clear that Bach later split the existing fugal structure in order to create an opportunity for the choir to sing a chorale setting."
There also is a possible Köthen origin for Mvt. 4, the tenor aria with violin obbligato ("broad Allemande"). The "violin writing is more characteristic of the virtuoso writing of the solo violin partitas and sonatas written in Cöthen in the early 1720's," says Craig Smith in the Emmanuel Music listing of BWV 97 (BCW). Interestingly, while Friedrich Smend pointed out the Köthen connection between the Violin Sonata "Adagio Cantabile" movement in BWV 1019a and the soprano aria with violin obbligato as parodied in Leipzig sacred cantatas BWV 120(a,b), he didn't mention any such BWV 97 connection in his study, Bach in Köthen. Smend also failed to find any Cöthen connections with the Four Orchestral Suites.
BWV 97 Long Genesis
The genesis of Bach's Cantata BWV 97 developed in three stages over almost a decade. It began at Easter Season 1725 during the composition of the chorale cantata cycle. Stage 2 occurred during the renewed cantata presentations from Advent 1730 to Trinity Sunday 1731. Stage 3 in 1734-1735 brought its final form. These findings are part of a study paper I did in 1994, "Bach's Chorale Cantata Cycle: Genesis, Provenance, Gaps. Poets." The opening fantasia suggests "from evidence of different periods in the manuscript paper that this fantasia belonged originally to another cantata," says Philipp Spitta, JSB, Leipzig, 1873-80, Eng. 1951; II:703. Spitta determined that the autograph score with six sheets and the cover title was in the hand of Anna Magdalena. The 1734 watermark is found only on the wrapper and the first two sheets (opening); the rest have no watermark. The paper, ink and ruling of the staves on the last four sheets are different from the first two. "It is quite possible that a different composition originally followed the opening chorus; this is too short to have formed an independent cantata." At the end of the score in Bach's hand, is "Fine. S.D.G.. 1734."
Spitta also investigated the original parts set at the Thomas School. He concluded that it was "highly probable" that the work was a remodeling of an earlier cantata with only the first chorus retained. "These parts were copied in 1735," while the tenor and bass have watermarks that Spitta slightly misdated to 1723-27, actually being 1724-25 during the chorale cantata cycle. Spitta suggested that Bach used blank sheets of manuscript paper from the 1734 score for the later parts. As to its purpose, W. Gillies Whitaker in the Cantatas of JSB (OUP 1959, I:472), who also examined the score and parts, said, "The care and elaboration shown throughout this long work scarcely suggests an occasional composition."
"A through examination of the score and parts shows the differences in composing movements over much time," says Robert L. Marshall, "Composing Scores and Fair Copies," in The Music of JSB: The Source, the Style, the Significance (Shirmer NY, 1989; pp). "Here again, we encounter from movement to movement contrasting [Bach] handwriting types reflecting different stages in the genesis of the work." He summarizes his findings in each movement: 1. chorus, "composing score, although penned with unusual clarity"; 2. bass aria, the "same is true for the second movement"; 3. tenor plain recitative, a fair copy; 4. tenor aria, "is based on an earlier composition at least in the A section, and perhaps the first part of the B section as well"; 5. alto recitative with strings, string parts newly composed to a fair copy of voice and continuo lines from a previous period; 6, 7, and 9 (alto aria, soprano-bass aria, and closing chorale) composed in 1734; and Mvt. 8 soprano aria, "may well derive from a lost model."
There appear to be three compositional stages or components:
Stage 1. Opening chorus and bass aria are the oldest and since Bach usually composed his chorale cantatas from first movement to last, these two probably originated in the 1724-25 chorale cantata cycle, perhaps for the Sunday After Ascension (Exaudi, May 13, 1725), the service when Bach used the chorale melody, "O Welt, ich muß dich lassen," the previous year on Exaudi in the closing plain chorale of Cantata BWV 44/7. Apparently, in 1725, Bach set aside this chorus and aria and composed Cantata BWV 183 to a text by Mariane Ziegler, the fifth of nine such librettos set by Bach during the Easter season.
Stage 2. The framework for movements Mvt. 3, Mvt. 4, Mvt. 5, and Mvt. 8, a sequence of recitative-aria-recitative-aria and all fair copies, suggests a proto cantata of unaltered hymn verses. These were probably composed after 1725, set to consecutive verses, when Bach virtually had ceased to compose paraphrases of chorale stanzas. The composition date could very well have been during the 13-service Easter Season of 1731, from March 26 to May 13. It is documented through two surviving church service cantata libretto books that Bach provided reperformances from his first two cantata cycles, except for a new work, Chorale Cantata BWV 112 for Misericordias Domini (Second Sunday after Easter), on April 8. There is no extant libretto book for the five services from the Third Sunday after Easter until the Sunday after Ascension, April 15 to May 6. Bach could very well have composed these four movements for Exaudi, May 6, adding the opening chorus and bass aria as Verses 1 and 2, and the four new moveents as Verses 3-6. He then composed a concluding plain chorale setting of Stanza 7, using one of four extant settings, BWV 392-395, probably the first. Chorale BWV 392 is found in the key of Bb Major, the same key as Cantata BWV 97. One of these other settings of BWV 393-395 was probably used in the lost 1731 St. Mark Passion, BWV 247/20(7), "Ich,, Ich und meine Sünde," most likely either BWV 393 or 394, both in A Major, closely related to the key of the core parody, Cantata BWV 198, B Minor-D Major.
Stage 3. In 1734, Bach took up and completed what is now Cantata BWV 97. He revised the first two movements, and finished the remainder of Mvt. 4, tenor aria, and composed the two new arias, Mvt. 6 and Mvt. 7, and composed a new closing plain chorale, Mvt. 9. It is possible that Bach presented this final version on Exaudi, April 22, 1735, when he had taken up weekly cantata presentations for the final time, again for the Easter Season. It is documented that following the six Christmas services for the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), 1734-35, Bach during the 1735 Easter Season presented at least four works: a version of the Easter Oratorio, BWV 249, and BWV 66 and BWV 134 for the three-day Easter Festival, and BWV 11, Ascension Oratorio. He also may have presented Chorale Cantata BWV 100 on Jubilate Sunday (Third after Easter), BWV 97 on the Sunday after Ascension, and the lost Pentecost Oratorio during the Pentecost Festival.
My personal view: This is probably Bach's last original cantata, of 200, 300 or however many. The performing parts are dated to 1735, and it may have been introduced at the Sunday Service After Ascension (Thursday) when BWV 11, the parody Ascension Oratorio, had been performed. It was the Sunday before the Pentecost three-day Festival, when, I believe Bach presented another parody of Dresden Court Music, the lost Pentecost Oratorio. This is the final Sunday in the de-tempore half of the church year, followed by the other half, the omnes tempore Trinity Season.
Cantata BWV 97, IMHO, is Bach's swan song as original vocal music, and part of his last hurrah to weekly, well-regulated church service music. Bach had ten years to bring this work into being. He is at the height of his powers. He is assured and focused, summarizing his original compositional technique. And, I think he overcomes all the challanges of a questionable text (from later perspectives) with all these straigjacketed verses. The arias are contemporary in style, mirroring the text in a compelling manner. Bach uses original melodies rather than the chorale tune, being at his most creative and imaginative. As for the brief recitatives, Bach keeps the original text and suports it with a straightforward, commanding, proclamative vocal line and resolute harmony. No wonder he would repeat this valedictory statement twice. Amen.
Jean Laaninen wrote (October 5, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< __,_My personal view: This is probably Bach's last original cantata, of 200, 300 or however many. The performing parts are dated to 1735, and it may have been introduced at the Sunday Service After Ascension (Thursday) when BWV 11, the parody Ascension Oratorio, had been performed. It was the Sunday before the Pentecost three-day Festival, when, I believe Bach presented another parody of Dresden Court Music, the lost Pentecost Oratorio. This is the final Sunday in the de-tempore half of the church year, followed by the other half, the omnes tempore Trinity Season. >
Cantata BWV 97, IMHO, is Bach's swan song as original vocal music, and part of his last hurrah to weekly, well-regulated church service music. Bach had ten years to bring this work into being. He is at the height of his powers. He is assured and focused, summarizing his original compositional technique. And, I think he overcomes all the challanges of a questionable text (from later perspectives) with all these straight-jacketed verses. The arias are contemporary in style, mirroring the text in a compelling manner. Bach uses original melodies rather than the chorale tune, being at his most creative and imaginative. As for the brief recitatives, Bach keeps the original text and suports it with a straightforward, commanding, proclamative vocal line and resolute harmony. No wonder he would repeat this valedictory statement twice. Amen. >
Thanks for this summary at the end of your article. I took the time
to read the Dürr commentary to supplement the amazing amount of detail you included in this article. There certainly are a lot of divergent opinions on each cantata. I am inclined to agree with Dürr that the recitatives are not particularly of note in this work, but the arias have an interesting and pleasing draw. The bookends...opening and closing differ dramatically from the inner content as Deurr points out. I find the fugal aspect of the opening chorus an absolute delight, creating anticipation of an expansion of a familiar theme. The simplicity of the closing returns one effectively to the mood of the service for the day. I also want to express appreciation to Francis Browne for his translation (English 3) which I felt was very good.
Douglas Cowling wrote (October 5, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< In the previous BCW discussion in March 2001, several other sources were cited, all finding roses among the thorns and a quite an appealing cantata, once the inherent limitations are overcome. >
I have to admit that I loved this cantata which I had never heard before. The extremely negative judgment of modern commentators as an evaluation of the cantata just doesn't wash with me. Bach thought the text was worthy of excellent music. and we need a critical hermanuetic which accomodates his judgment of the text. Just as there are texts which are "politcially incorrect" to modern sensibilities, we shouldn't impose our persepective on the composer.
Some of the high points of the cantata for me:
The elan of the French overture is postitively Handelian in affect: there are fewer more delightful sonorities than a solo trio of 2 oboes and bassoon. The movement is also full of "solo", "tutti", "trio", "piano" and "forte" markings which I think are "rehearsal" markings to help the instrumentalists feel their way through the movement (they're not dynamic markings). It would interesting to know if they come from Bach's hand.
The solo continuo in the bass aria has an exceptionally dramatic line with a wonderful rising seventh.
The violin solo of the tenor aria is beautifully embellished: it reminded me of both "Erbarme Dich" in the SMP (BWV 244) and "Wann kommst du" in "Wachet Auf". The contrapuntal effects of the double, triple and quadruple stopping are worthy of the solo partitas.
The polyrhythms between the instruments and the voice are quite daring and give the music a real feeling of expressive instabilty.
A wonderful counter-melody in the final chorale which I intend to use: this tune is a popular hymn in modern collections.
All in all, a very attractive cantata which I will remember (there are lots which fade quickly!). The text is simply an historic artifact for me.
Neil Halliday wrote (October 6, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>The solo continuo in the bass aria has an exceptionally dramatic line with a wonderful rising seventh.<
Harnoncourt  embues this bass aria with a charming melodiousness, with a well articulated solo cello and attractive organ realisation. Rilling's  relentless continuo strings and tediously tinkling harpsichord are not appealing.
But excessive use, in the strings, of the 'strong note/weak note' doctrine and excessively detached notes in the continuo line spoil Harnoncourt's  alto and tenor arias; interrupting the flow of music in which syncopation is already a marked feature. The oboes are expressive in his soprano aria (though once again the notes in the continuo line are excessively detached.
Overall, Rilling's singers  have too much vibrato, and his continuo line often displays the opposite problem to Harnoncourt's . I like the old-fashioned, legato style of Rilling's French Overture, though the tempo is a bit slow. The choir is better than Harnoncourt's in the vivace vocal section. Rilling's strings are richly expressive in the alto aria.
Thanks to Leo for pointing us to the www.deezer.com site.
I'll listen to Gardiner  later.
Continue on Part 3
Cantata BWV 97: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Number Symbolism in Bach Cantatas