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Cantata BWV 96
Herr Christ, der einige Gottessohn
Provenance

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 17, 2001):
The Text

The cantata text by an unknown author is based on the 5-verse chorale text by Elisabeth Creuziger (or Creutziger, Kreuziger, Kreutziger) whose biography was given in the discussion of BWV 164. The text and chorale melody are normally considered to belong to the church-year category of Epiphany, the same as "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" by Philipp Nicolai, whose chorale was also used as the basis of a chorale cantata, not designated as Epiphany, but rather used for the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin (always on March 25) by Bach in BWV 1. It was, however, part of a long-standing tradition to use the latter hymn (Nicolai's) for the 18th Sunday after Trinity as well.

In this chorale text for BWV 96, Christ is recognized and praised as the true 'morning star,' with the congregation fervently praying to Christ to send to them love and true understanding so that "der alte Mensch" ("the 'old' human being") in our hearts may die so that "der neue Mensch" (the 'new' human being) which searches only for God may become alive. Only the Creuziger's outer verses (1st and last) are preserved intact. The other verses were only used very freely as the basis for the other mvts. The connection between the cantata text and the Gospel reading, particularly as related in Mat 22:41-46
[NLT] Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question:
42 "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They replied, "He is the son of David." [2 Sam 7]
43 Jesus responded, "Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, call him Lord? For David said,
44 'The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.'
45 Since David called him Lord, how can he be his son at the same time?" [Ps 110:1]
46 No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
In Bach's time the answers to these questions found voice not only in the 1st verse (mvt.), but also in mvts. 2 and 5 (in the latter Christ becomes the leader.)

The Instrumentation

Although Bach's autograph score and original set of parts were always for the most part available for study, much confusion about what Bach really intended has not been sufficiently cleared up until the NBA I/24 KB was printed in 1991. A century ago, Bach scholars like Schweitzer said of the 1st mvt. that it was "exceptionally beautiful. It receives an individual physiognomy through the animated semi quaver figures in the flauto piccolo and violino piccolo that run through the whole movement." He discusses the "Quartgeige" [3/4 violin] and marvels at the fact that Bach makes the 'violino piccolo' play in octaves with the ordinary violin. So both 'special' instruments are playing simultaneously in the 1st mvt.! Voigt has the Zink and horn playing colla parte with the cantus firmus.

Here, then, is how the NBA editors resolved the problem:
The cantata was composed in 1724 (Dürr's assessment was accepted) and it had its 1st performance on Oct. 8, 1724 in Leipzig. After that time the cantata was again performed with changes in the instrumentation, obviously in response to the availability and non-availability of certain instruments (not the main group of strings or oboes). Another performance on Oct. 24, 1734 is definitely confirmed with a later one on either Oct. 9, 1746 or Oct. 1, 1747. The designation 'Fiauto [sic] piccolo" can only mean a sopranino recorder for the 1st performance (with no "Violino piccolo" being used at all.) The NBA editors are unable to identify which instrument is meant by "Corno." Is it a horn or a cornetto (Zink)? This is the question we have encountered recently about the proper instruments to be used in performing Bach's music. If "Corno" can mean "Tromba", does this also allow us to reverse this substitution by using a horn for a trumpet part (Güttler plays the horn in the 2nd Brandenburg and feels justified in doing so)?

In 1734 Bach had the original part of the Flauto piccolo ( the sheet for this part also contained the aria, Mvt. 3 for transverse flute and was almost certainly played by the same instrumentalist who simply switched instruments after Mvt. 1 in order to play Mvt. 3) changed in order to accommodate a Violino piccolo instead. Confusion arises because of numerous corrections and Bach's own 'cross outs' of the original part (he did not obliterate it - it still can be read)(Bach crossed out Mvt. 3 [originally for transverse flute] entirely. Did Bach intend to have the Violino piccolo replace the transverse flute part and use it in performance this way, or was this part copied out by mistake? Was this part simply a doubling of the solo parts to give them more support? There is no clear answer.

The 1746/47 performance: was the alto trombone simply a doubling of the corno or did it replace it? The NBA editors surmise that both instruments, Zink and trombone, were used in the final chorale, where the Zink (or more rarely a soprano trombone) would play colla parte with the soprano part, and the alto, tenor, and bass trombones with the other vocal parts respectively. So Bach used the alto trombone to duplicate the alto cantus firmus in Mvt. 1 and the Zink to duplicate the soprano part in the final chorale. Since the Flauto piccolo/Flauto traverso part (on one sheet) have nothing more to play after Mvt. 3, it is then quite obvious that these instruments would not be playing in the final chorale. For this there is additional evidence in other cantatas: BWV 8 and BWV 103.

 

Cantata BWV 96: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

References: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Vocal Works BWV Anh | BGA | NBA | BC: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | Sources
Discussions of BWV Numbering System: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: żAugust 21, 2012 ż13:43:13