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Cantata BWV 137
Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren
Commentary

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 4, 2001):
Background [Alfred Dürr]

As a background to the review of the various recordings of this cantata, I shall allow myself using this time the exemplary notes written by Alfred Dürr, and which appeared on the back cover of the Electrola/EMI LP (the recording by Hans Thamm).

“Bach cantata ‘Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren’ was written for the twelfth Sunday after trinity, August 19, 1725. The Theory that it was also used as the cantata in the service to mark the change of the town council is one that has been frequently put forward and which is quite possibly true, but there is no concrete evidence. Bach took as his text the words of the song written in 1680 by Joachim Neander; he made no changes and did not follow the normal cantata procedure of re-arranging the middle verses as arias.

To a greater extent than in most comparable cantatas, Bach’s approach to this one is determined by the chorale. Its melody is to be heard in each movement, in the opening and final ones in the soprano of the full choir and in the second in the solo contralto part. In the third, the opening bars of the melody are heard in the introductory motif from the voices, and in the fourth it is played in full by the trumpet combined with the tenor aria. Bach gives the five movements an overall symmetrical form, in the second half of which the fundamental chorale theme is given an increasingly individual character. In the first and the last movements it is sung in the full choir while in the inner movements it has a more concertante character, in the third movement expressively re-arranged and presented only by indirect suggestion.

The introductory chorus undergoes a splendid development as a concertante exchange with trumpets, oboes and strings. The chorale provides the upper part in this polyphonically loosely strung choral movement which then resumes a more compact character with the words ‘Kommet zu Hauf, Psalter und Harfen, wacht auf’. The second stanza is sung by the contralto, accompanied by the delightful figure playing from the concertante violin. Bach adapted this bright movement for the organ when he late published his Six Chorales with Schübler. The third stanza takes the form of a duet with two obbligato oboes; with the introduction of the voices, one notices immediately that the oboe line of the introductory ritornello is based upon the chorale, although transposed here into the minor. The next movement, a tenor aria with the text of the fourth stanza, is also in the minor, but is harmonically of particular interest In that that it is accompanied by the chorale melody from the trumpet in the major. The independent trumpet line in the final choral movement brings the cantata to a breath-taking seven part climax.”

 

Cantata BWV 137: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Commentaries: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal Works BWV 225-524 | Sources

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Last update: ýDecember 26, 2011 ý21:27:46