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Cantata BWV 101
Nimm von uns Herr, du treuer Gott
Discussions - Part 1

Discussions in the Week of August 4, 2002 (1st round)

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 4, 2002):
BWV 101 - Introduction

The subject of this week’s discussion (August 4, 2002), according to Francis Browne’s suggested list (the last one in his list), is Cantata BWV 101 ‘Nimm von uns Herr, du treuer Gott’ (Take from us, you faithful God) for the 10th Sunday after Trinity. Although Dürr dates this cantata as far back as 1724 and Whittaker; following Terry, gives the date as late as 1745, when Frederick the Great’s second invasion of Saxony occurred, the libretto does stress the scourge of war as well as the time of plague in 1584, when Martin Moller wrote the hymn.

The unknown librettist – Schweitzer names Picander – arranged stanzas 1, 3 & 5 in their original form and paraphrased the other stanzas, which Bach se as arias. All verses of the poem reflect upon the sadness by war and plague. Bach illustrates their theme of lamentation with deep emotional appeal. The Gospel for the event ids Luke 19: 41-48. The libretto reflects verses 41-44 – Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem. This Scripture would have great significance for Bach and has the congregation so soon after the latest war, because Leipzig was the modern Jerusalem in their opinion. Did Bach imagine that the ‘real’ Jerusalem has rarely been ‘in peace and quiet’ (Mvt. 3) along its long history up to our time?


The details of the recordings of this cantata can be found in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: Cantata BWV 101 - Recordings

All the 4 complete recordings of this cantata come from cantata cycles: 3 complete ones (Rilling [2], Harnoncourt [3], and Leusink [5]), and the 4th, Koopman [4], still striving at that goal, and according to the latest news, has the chance of achieving it.

Texts & Translations

Original German text (at Walter F. Bischof Website):
English translation by Francis Browne:
Another English translation by Z. Philip Ambrose:
French Translation (Bischof?):
Hebrew translation by me:


Commentary in English by Simon Crouch:
Commentary in Spanish by Julio Sánchez Reyes:

I hope to see many of you participating in the discussion.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 4, 2002):
BWV 101 - Provenance:

See: Cantata BWV 101 – Provenance

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 6, 2002):
BWV 101 - Mvt. 2 Tenor Aria with obbligato Flauto traverso or Violino

It is a shame that with 4 available recordings of this cantata, none of the conductors have chosen to present the original version of this mvt. This due to a number of different reasons:
1) the original flute part is difficult to play
2) the editorial policy of the NBA is to present the latest version of the score and parts as the final intention of the composer. This policy seems to be a ‘no-brainer’ because you can normally assume that a later version means an improvement over the earlier one (the ‘work-in-progress’ notion,) but the circumstances surrounding Bach’s sacred compositions are fraught with conditions unlike those of most composers, e. g., he would lose good players and singers and have to adjust accordingly when he wanted to reuse one of his cantatas at a later date. Unfortunately, this meant having to change the scoring to make it still possible to use the cantata he had in mind for a later performance. There is a general notion that Bach’s music is so utterly adaptable to any new situation because he composed it that way. Someone can say, “I can play that cantata aria on a synthesizer, and it will still sound like Bach.” This is perhaps one of the goals that Bach had in mind for his sacred music so that it might once again be used to serve its original function. Bach wanted to write only a certain number of yearly cycles of cantatas from which he draw for the rest of his tenure as Kapellmeister/Kantor in Leipzig.

The reality of the situation is, as I have pointed out before, Bach would occasionally compose characteristically for a specific instrument and even a specific player or singer. When this instrument or the superior capabilities of the player or singer were no longer at his disposal, he had to resort to other methods to fill in the gap:
1) simplify the part to make it more easily playable or singable
2) use a different instrument as a substitute for the original
3) drop the mvt. entirely and substitute something else

In BWV 101 he obviously had a very good flute player for whom he wrote flute parts that made use of the characteristic features of the flute. In the second half of year 1724, Bach must have had such a player available since he composed special parts for the flute in cantatas BWV 107 (July 23); BWV 94 (August 6); BWV 101 (August 13); BWV 113 (August 20); BWV 78 (September 10); BWV 99 (September 17); BWV 8 (September 24); BWV 130 (September 29); BWV 114 (October 1); BWV 96 (October 8); BWV 180 (October 22); BWV 115 (November 5); BWV 26 (November 19).

It is possible that this flautist was an outsider, but it is remarkable that it appears that he was given the task on occasion to copy his own flute part from the score. [A different watermark on the paper points to this possibility.] However, it is just as likely that this excellent flautist was either a Thomaner pupil or a student from the university who may also have been a music student of Bach’s. There are two names that are reasonable possibilities: Friedrich Gottlieb Wild (1700-1762) whose “wohlerlernte Flaute-traversiere” [“well-learned flute playing”] Bach praises in his testimonial/assessment given on May 18, 1727, and Christoph Gottlob Wecker (1706-1774), whose “Geschicklichkeit und Erfahrenheit auf der Flaute Trave.”[Skill and experience in flute playing”] in which “er wenig seines gleichen” [“he has few equals.”]

It appears possible that the obbligato violin version of Mvt. 2 (tenor aria) of BWV 101 was added for a later performance.

From one standpoint it might appear that this is a simple substitution that no one would really notice. But it is certainly not an improvement and should not be considered to be Bach’s final intention (implying that this is an improvement over the original obbligato with flute.)

How did Bach change the original so that the violin could substitute for the flute? There is the problem of “Stimmknickung” [“sunddenly jumping up or down an octave in the middleof a melodic line” because of the limitations of range and sound quality imposed by the nature of the instrument. In attempting to emulate the sound of the flute, Bach also changes the phrasing for the violin indicating many ‘dots’ (staccato) over the notes so that the notes are enunciated more distinctly and not simply run together. This effect has a definite drawback on the violin. If you listen to the recordings available, you will see what I mean.

Hopefully Suzuki [7] will find a very good flautist to play this mvt. as originally intended. It should then indeed sound better than on the violin.

Here are the recordings of Mvt. 2 of BWV 101 that I listened to [all of them use a violin instead of the original flauto traverso:

[2] Rilling:
Wilhelm Melcher plays a modern instrument (for all I know, this could be an instrument from the 18th century, but it has been modified as all violins, even period instruments, have been since 1800) at a modern pitch, a semi-tone higher than the HIP recordings and with some steel strings plus a modern bow. The violinist here has a wonderful ‘Strich’ playing with a full bow and beginning to sound like one of the great violinists of the mid 20th century. I can almost hear him playing the double concerto BWV 1043 the same way. What has happened to all of the staccato markings (‘dots’) that Bach has put over the notes? They are definitely played ‘portato’ which sounds like something halfway between a strict staccato and an legato. It is not legato because you can hear each individual clearly, but there is not ‘dead’ moment behind each note.

[3] Harnoncourt:
Alice Harnoncourt, the wife of the maestro, plays what some people consider to be an imitation of a period instrument (such an instrument may have been built by Jakobus Stainer in the 17th century, but certainly has not survived the watershed around 1800, when all violins were substantially modified. What is different here is that she may be using a different bow, all gut strings, and the instrument is playing a semi-tone lower than modern standard pitch. Her playing is very soft, actually not in balance with Equiluz. Whether this is due to bad miking, the acoustical environment which sounds more like a telephone booth, or the fact that the staccato playing which already sounds bad enough, would become unbearable because everything sounds very scratchy. There is a pip-squeak sound quality in her playing. So this is what it sounds like when you play all the notes staccato as Bach indicated them in the violin part (not the flute part!)?

[4] Koopman:
Margaret Faultless, who, I suppose, is also playing a period instrument at a lower pitch (with a shorter bow?), is in much better balance with the voice. The voice and the violin are engaging in a true dialogue on an equal basis. Where did all the scratchiness go? Faultless is using a ‘portato’ to avoid the extreme scratchiness of staccato on an almost never-ending stream of 16th notes. ‘Portato’ allows for the clarity of each note to be heard without slurring except where Bach indicates this on the 1st 3 notes of each measure. Of the 3 HIP versions, Faultless has solved the problem of how to play this on a period instrument.

[5] Leusink:
John Wilson Meyer, also on a period instrument, I assume, similar to Alice Harnoncourt. He takes his cue from her in emulating her harsh staccato scratchiness. The violin sound is rather thin and lifeless. The balance with the voice is better than that in the Harnoncourt recording.

Summary of the substitute violin part playing in Mvt. 2
In the HIP group, Faultless has the best sound, treatment of the staccato, and balance with the voice.

In the non-HIP group, not by default, Melcher carries this part confidently and allows us to really enjoy the musical figures that Bach originally intended for the flute.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 9, 2002):
BWV 101 - Commentaries:

See: Cantata BWV 101 - Commentary

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 9, 2002):
BWV 101 - Commentary Footnotes

See: Cantata BWV 101 - Commentary

Marie Jensen wrote (August 9, 2002):
A short note:

One thing hit me, when I listened to the opening of BWV 101. It sounds unpleasant. A little three note motive comes again and again, and cuts through everything. The Leusink booklet [5] says it represents sin.

Some times Bach’s music is so beautiful, that it is consolation itself, even if the text deals with sad and unpleasant topics. This can certainly not be said here. One can really hear how sin can be a burden penetrating mind again and again..

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 10, 2002):
BWV 101 - Background

The background below is taken from the following books:
Alec Robertson: ‘The Church Cantatas of J.S. Bach’ (1972), and
W. Murray Young: ‘The Cantatas of J.S. Bach – An Analytical Guide’ (1989);
The English translation is by Francis Browne, a member of the BCML.

Mvt. 1 Chorus
Corno col Soprano, Trombone I coll'Alto, Trombone II col Tenore, Trombone III col Basso, Flauto traverso, Oboe I/II, Taille, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Nimm von uns Herr, du treuer Gott
(Take from us, you faithful God)
Robertson: This is one of Bach’s most austere and splendid choruses, made more sombre by the nature of the scoring with the brass doubling the voices parts. The orchestral prelude ends with a short mourning motif constantly present throughout and movingly developed in the third and fifth ritornellos. The only ray of light is provided by the flute doubling the chorale melody, sung in the long notes by the sopranos, an octave above. The text prays that out sins may be taken from us, and that we may be spared ‘from plague, fire and great misfortune!’.
Young: This chorale fantasia is unlike any other movement in any of Bach’s cantatas. All the above instruments are involved in a grief-motif, which begins as a prelude before the voices of the choir enter, and is then developed in the ritornelli. This theme of intense mourning has a beauty all its own in the style of a Pachelbel motet or one of Buxtehude’s choruses. The solemn, march like rhythm impresses the listener with its austere dignity. Its mysterious grandeur is irresistible.

Mvt. 2 Aria for Tenor
Violino solo, Continuo
Handle nicht nach deinen Rechten
(Do not deal according to your justice)
Robertson: If Bach means the lively violin solo which continually contradicts the sense of the text to represent the light-mindedness of a sinner he has certainly succeeds; or was it an ingenious way of beguiling the ears of the congregation with the obbligato part so that the medicine of the vocal part, which does reflect the sense of the text, would be much more palatable?
Young: A solo obbligato violin brightens this movement considerably after the complex melancholy heard in the opening chorus, yet his text is still a prayer for God’s protection.

Mvt. 4 Aria for Bass
Oboe I/II, Taille, Continuo
Warum willst du so zornig sein?
(Why do you want to get so angry about this?)
Robertson: The bass sings the opening line only of the chorale melody twice in this remarkable movement, following it each time with a free part, greatly developed after the repetition but always in the voice and oboe parts with phrases imitative of the four last descending notes of the chorale. The same phrase is given to oboes and taille in the middle section of the aria. The prayer here is for the flames of God’s jealousy to cease, for Him to have patience with out weak flesh.
Young: This is a strange setting of the librettist’s equally strange text. Only the first line of the chorale stanza is given; the remaining lines are paraphrased but retain the chorale tune of the beginning line. The woodwinds illustrate the menace of God’s wrath on sinners, mentioned in thetext. The movement is another prayer that God will cease punishing us and have patience with out weak flesh.

Mvt. 6 Aria (Duet) for Soprano and Alto
Flauto traverso, Oboe da caccia, Continuo
Gedenk an Jesu bittern Tod!
(Think of Jesus' bitter death!)
Robertson: The chorale melody, but not all of it, is woven into this beautiful duet, heartfelt plea for mercy at all times and a realisation of the payment and the ransom money the love of the Saviour gladly gave to us.
Young: Two lines of the chorale stanza occur in the middle of the text; the rest is a free paraphrase. It seems that this movement resembles more an elaborate quintet for transverse flute, oboe, continuo, soprano and alto than a vocal duet. Schweitzer point out the theme is similar to the sobbing, sighing melody in the aria ‘Erbarme dich’ (Have mercy) of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244). Both movements have a similarity in their beautiful plea for God’s mercy.

The Recordings

During last week I have been listening to 4 complete recordings of this cantata.

[2] Rilling (1979)
Rilling’s opening chorus has the dignified sombreness about which both Robertson and young are talking. However, it also sounds too large-scale to the emotional content of the chorus and therefore the melancholy is not really there. More intimacy would have helped here. Something in the balance between the voices and the interments is also not satisfactory. The strong and bright playing of the obbligato violin is the best part of the aria for tenor. Baldin has a nice voice to offer, but his expression is exaggerated and is not Bachian. John Brchöeler has an impressive voice, soft with inner depth and flexibility. The dialogue between him and the woodwinds is captivating. He tackles the flames quite easily. With two excellent singers as Augér and Watts are, one can expect a good rendition of the duet. The problem is in this recording Watts definitely passed her prime. Has voice lost some of its beautiful coolness, and her vibrato is too strong. I also like the playing of the instruments. But one weak component can destroy what be a beautiful picture.

[3] Harnoncourt (1980)
If one has to make up his mind regarding the opening chorus according to Harnoncourt’s recording, he might get at the wrong conclusions. Harnoncourt simply destroy everything here with his fragmented approach, and none of the characteristics of this movement, so aptly described by Robertson and Young, is revealed. We are compensated in the aria for tenor with the moving singing of Equiluz and the virtuosic, soft and clean playing of the violin (Alice, I presume). The match between the timbres of the violin and the tenor is irresistible. Hear, for example, how he is holding the long sad lines while the violin is dancing around him, trying to uplift his spirit. Huttenlocher’s is somewhat dry and stiff for my taste in the aria for bass. The playing of the woodwinds is not enough clean; however, I find it better than the singing. The match between the boy soprano Wiedl and the counter-tenor Esswood is not good, and the inner balance with the instruments is not satisfactory. What this rendition of the duet mostly lacks is some charm.

[4] Koopman (1998)
Untypical for him, Koopman takes the opening chorus with a slow pace, the slowest of all four. The slow tempo allows us to hear every detail clearly. Despite the slow tempo this is the most captivating rendition of the chorus, and the tension and intensity are kept along the whole 8:15 minutes. Koopman emphasises the solemn and morning aspect of the chorus, and does it with outmost inner conviction. Paul Agnew is not bad, although he still has something or two to learn from Equiluz, especially the care for every detail, and more sensitivity in expression. The playing of violinist Margaret Faultless is indeed faultless (as Ehud Shiloni once mentioned). Mertens’ singing is exemplary, as usual, and the aria for bass also benefits from the playing of the woodwinds - technically good and charming in terms of expression. Chemistry is a mysterious thing; you cannot create chemistry intentionally. When we are talking about singing in a duet, the chemistry between the two singers is very important. We can think of matching voices, good blending, mutual listening, sensitivity, and so on. But the most important factor of all is chemistry. With Stam and Chance in the duet of this cantata we have this factor. These two, combined with the sublime playing of Hazelzet on the transverse flute, Beaugireaud on the oboe da caccia and the continuo section, create a matchless quintet.

[5] Leusink (2000)
Not much to write home about regarding this recording. In the opening chorus Leusink follows Harnoncourt route, but achieves better results, with more flow and vigour; but we have to take into account that being better than Harnoncourt is not really a difficult obstacle in this case. Nevertheless, some imperfections in the playing of the instruments along this complicated chorus disturb the whole picture. Ramselaar proves himself once again as the best vocal soloist in this cycle. The aria for bass also has wonderful playing from the oboists.


Personal preferences:
Chorus (Mvt. 1): Koopman [4], Rilling [2], Leusink [5], Harnoncourt [3]
Aria for Tenor (Mvt. 2): Equiluz/Harnoncourt [3], Agnew/Koopman [4], Meel/Leusink [5], Baldin/Rilling [2]
Aria for Bass (Mvt. 4): Bröcheler/Rilling [2], Mertens/Koopman [4], Ramselaar/Leusink [5], Huttenlocher/Harnoncourt [3]
Duet for Soprano & Alto (Mvt. 6): Stam & Chance/Koopman [4], Augér & Watts/Rilling [2], Wiedl & Esswood/Harnoncourt [3], Strijk & Buwalda/Leusink [5]
Overall performance: Koopman [4], Rilling [2], Harnoncourt [3], Leusink [5]

A movement to take away: The Duet for Soprano & Alto with Stam & Chance (Koopman) [4]!

As always, I would like to hear other opinions, regarding the above mentioned performances, or other recordings.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 11, 2002):
BWV 101 - Review of the Recordings

This week I listened to the following recordings:
Rilling (1979) [2]; Harnoncourt (1980) [3]; Koopman (1998) [4]; Leusink (2000) [5]

[2] Rilling:
Mvt. 1:
This is the only non-HIP recording with a fuller orchestra and modern instruments playing a semi-tone higher than the other recordings. Rilling has the violins treat the repeated notes of the opening theme as a portato (Bach has not given these notes any articulation marks.) This portato, along with a more legato style of playing generally, has the effect of creating additional weight or heaviness which seems appropriate and needed here because the text calls for this dignity and seriousness. This version, more than any of the others, moves me sufficiently to want to sing or hum along as the music pulls me ever onward through the valley of sighs and tears. The balance between the voices is generally good, but not as good as it ought to be. I am bothered by the laof power, vitality, and clarity of the cantus firmus. Somehow Rilling has dispensed with the idea of a cornetto backing up the sopranos (this cornetto is clearly heard together with the boy sopranos in the Harnoncourt recording.) This is definitely a shortcoming here since the cf must always be loud and clear (not with the wobbling sopranos, very weak in the low range, and the modern flute with a wobbling vibrato as well plying colla parte. Despite this shortcoming, Rilling’s interpretation of this mvt. displays an intensity and conviction lacking in the HIP recordings. These voices are generally ‘singing their hearts out’ while the HIP choirs are generally not exerting themselves very much unless they occasionally resort to shouting rather than really singing.
Mvt. 7:
This is without a doubt the best recorded version of this chorale. Everything seems to be in complete balance here. The musical lines flow easily. There is at the same time power and yet simplicity.
Mvt. 2 & Mvt. 5:
Compared to other recordings in the Rilling series where Baldin often has to strain for high notes, he does quite well vocally in controlling his vibrato and his expression is very good as well.
Mvt. 3:
Augér has excellent expression in her recitative. She sings with a full voice, just as Baldin does, and does not have an objectionable vibrato.
Mvt. 4:
Bröcheler may lack the sheer expressive power of a Nimsgern, but he does give a very commendable peroformance here nevertheless. He delivers the words with complete conviction and honesty.
Mvt. 6:
Unfortunately, the vibratos of these two female singers, Augér and Watts do not blend well. Watts, in particular, is much too operatic for a Bach aria. In addition to this, this version sounds very belabored as both singers are overexerting themselves and never do discover true togetherness.

[3] Harnoncourt:
Mvt. 1:
Heavy accents to the point of being ludicrous characterize this rendition of the 1st mvt. Why should the oboes play a sforzando (reminiscent of the surprise in the Haydn’s famous symphony) in ms. 17 and 248? There is absolutely no logical reason for this since it is out of all proportion to all that goes on before and after that point in this mvt. In any case sforzandi, as far as I can determine, did not exist as such in Bach’s music. The closest that Bach would come to this is the use of a wedge over the note, but that is not indicated in the score. There is also no reason whatsoever (except Harnoncourt’s perverseness in shortening Bach’s note values wherever he can) to shorten the length of the chords in the sections with extensive sighing motifs (ms. 121-132 and 196-211.) Throughout all these measures Bach laboriously writes out half-notes, which Harnoncourt reduces to the crashing, abrupt sounds of staccato quarter notes. There is no reason why these Harnoncourt cantata renditions should not be renamed “Bach-Harnoncourt Transcriptions.” At least then the listener would be informed about the level of ‘authenticity’ of this music.
There are many mini-crescendi and mini-diminuendi. This type of micro-managing of the playing style is one reason why this mvt. soon begins to disintegrate. When the choir enters, it becomes very clear that any kind of continuity is abhorred because hiatuses appear after each note that is sung. Also, there is a thrusting form of accentuation that affects each note. It would take a tremendous amount of wild imagination to consider this treatment in any way remotely connected with Bach’s choral tradition and his performance style. With all these factors going on simultaneously, it is no small wonder that this marvelous mvt. undergoes almost complete disintegration under Harnoncourt’s direction.
About the only good thing in this rendition of the 1st mvt. is the way the cantus firmus, supported by a cornetto, is clearly sung by the boy sopranos so that it does not become lost in the muddle of the other voices. In contrast, the altos are quite unclear and uncertain in their part. The tenors and basses have their muddy passages as well because they have unsteady vibratos. The lack of good intonation in the instruments (the oboes are mainly at fault here) does not help the choir either. The occasional, almost shouting out of the vocal parts really does not make this performance more convincing. This shouting is sensed as a ‘cheap trick’ that Harnoncourt keeps in readiness so as to continually surprise his listeners.
HIP promises transparency and the ability to hear all the parts, but this does not always happen here: the entrance of the main theme in ms. 108, 188, 232 is not heard at all.
For all the effort expended in trying to uncover possible surprising details hidden in the score, Harnoncourt, nevertheless, fails to see the forest for all the trees. This sort of piecework which occasionally distorts completely Bach’s intentions can not create a unified feeling that should permeate the entire mvt. At most, you are left with the broken pieces that issue from Harnoncourt’s workshop.
Mvt. 7:
With a strong accent on almost every quarter note, Harnoncourt plods his way through yet another uninspired chorale rendition. There is nothing uplifting in such a performance as this. It sounds more like, “Boy, are we ever glad this cantata is finally over!”
Mvt. 2 & Mvt. 5:
What a relief to hear Equiluz even with the scratchy violin sound in the background. Throughout the aria you can hear a genuine, ‘pleading’ quality in his voice. He really knows how to sing the long, held notes properly with just the right amount of vibrato. The recitative, with sections of abbreviated bc notes where the secco portions are, is also of a very high quality.
Mvt. 3:
Wiedel, the boy soprano, gives an astonishingly good performance of this mvt. (The secco portions also have shortened notes in the bc.)
Mvt. 4:
This is the typical type of ingenuous performance that I have come to expect from Huttenlocher. The bluster of his voice in the agitated (vivace) sections sounds more like an act that he is playing in. As a half-voice here, he sings mainly sotto voce throughout this aria.
Mvt. 6:
With only occasional intonation problems on the part of the singers (Wiedel going sharp, whilte Esswood, as usual, tends to go flat), this performance, although not in the excellent category, nevertheless is worth listening to.

[4] Koopman:
Mvt. 1:
At over 2 minutes longer than the other 2 HIP recordings, the differences ought to be quite apparent, and that they indeed are. There is no place here for strong accents or abrupt termination of notes. Now everything has to become more legato than most HIP recordings. HIP adherents would normally criticize this legato treatment because it is too much like the overly romantic performance style of large orchestras when they try to play Bach. Actually, this type of treatment is uncharacteristic for Koopman who frequently wants to perform introductory choral mvts. such as this in a rather fast and light style. Perhaps Koopman had listened to Harnoncourt’s recording and realized that that was the wrong way to go, so he opted for the opposite extreme, a type of treatment that is much more characteristic of Herreweghe’s style. With Herreweghe the small choir and orchestra project an ethereal quality. Koopman seems to be imitating Herreweghe here. The style of singing is very much more cantabile and so soft and airy (the voices are singing sotto voce most of the time) that you will need to listen carefully to make sure that the voices are still singing. As a result of the slow tempo and this manner of singing a feeling of wistful sadness pervades this mvt.
Mvt. 7:
In this mvt. the choir is also very clear and well-balanced. The style of singing is more legato than either Harnoncourt or Leusink. What is lacking here is a singing that comes directly from a strong conviction. The last line of the chorale, “Auf daß wir ewig bei dir sein!” [“so that we will be with you eternally!” with an exclamation mark is treated contrariwise by Koopman who allows this phrase to simply die away with a diminuendo. This is anything but a logical choice to make under these circumstances.
Mvt. 2 & Mvt. 5:
Agnew sings with too much artificial affection for my taste. He has a disturbing way of applying his vibrato and uses far too much sotto voce. Let him sing Baroque operas this way, but not Bach arias and recitatives.
In the recitative, Agnew has ‘a moving moment’ in ms. 18-19 when he sings, “verführen tut.” This is worth listening for.
Mvt. 3:
Stam has problems controlling her half-voice vibrato, thereby making certain notes uncertain as to the correct pitch. She also uses far too much sotto voce
Mvt. 4:
Mertens is unable (again due to sotto voce sung by a half-voice) to provide sufficient contrast between the chorale and agitated (vivace) sections, a contrast that is only made clear through the change of tempo. His voice is simply not expressive enough for this aria.
Mvt. 6:
Both Stam and Chance have too much vibrato which disturbs the musical lines. There is no matching between the voices when they have the expressive, chromatically descending motif. They should try to sing it the same way, otherwise it sounds like each is simply interested in doing his or her thing without regard for the other.

[5] Leusink:
Mvt. 1:
At this faster tempo, Leusink simply ‘pokes at’ the repeated notes of the main theme (even more than Harnoncourt does), thus destroying their continuity. When the choir enters, the music becomes disconnected with the accelerated sighing motifs being treated as dance motif. This begins to sound silly. The voices in the choir sound worn out and the cantus firmus in the low range almost completely disappears. The tenors are raspy and the basses unclear. The altos sound like a couple of Buwaldas trying to get their act together. Leusink imitates Harnoncourt’s ‘trick’ in ms. 121-136 and 195-211, the only difference being that Leusink has a little less ‘whomp’ on the crashing chords than Harnoncourt has. The staccato notes are made too short. There is no connection between the text and the musical portrayal. The ‘sighing’ motif sounds like a sick bird chirping his last notes. The choir’s uneven performance does nothing to enhance the seriousness of this music as they also have to hurry through this music. The choir is simply trying to read the notes and the performance never really gets beyond this point. In ms. 141-152 the choir demonstrates its inability to create a secure, stable sound which this mvt. really demands. Compared to Harnoncourt, everything here is much more on the same plane with the characteristic soft, muffled sound of the orchestra and the rather worn-out voices of the choir.
Mvt. 7:
The warblers are present in the sopranos. The fermati are clipped too short which then takes away from the significance of the final word in each line as each final word is severely diminished. This de-emphasis makes the final word very indistinct.
Mvt. 2 & Mvt. 5:
Van der Meel does not have much a voice, hence it becomes difficult for him to put expression into the musical line. There is often a lifeless quality present. What little expression he does manage to put into the music displays too much affectation.
Mvt. 3:
Strijk’s voice has very much of a sameness throughout. It lacks expression. Just singing the right notes is not enough.
Mvt. 4:
Ramselaar sings correctly, but is not convincing in this role which needs to portray anger and confusion. Much of this is due to the fact that he sings this aria sotto voce. This does not allow for much in the way of expression.
Mvt. 6:
Here we have combined two reedy voices, Strijk and Buwalda, and, as a result they are balanced fairly well. The important flute part, when it has the chorale, is completely overwhelmed (inaudible) when it should be clearly heard.

My preferences:
Mvt. 1 & Mvt. 7 (Introductory Chorus): Rilling [2], Koopman [4], Harnoncourt [3], Leusink [5]
Mvt. 2 & Mvt. 5 (Tenor): Equiluz [3], Baldin [2], Agnew [4], van der Meel [5]
Mvt. 3 (Soprano): Augér [2], Wiedel [3], Stam [4], Strijk [5]
Mvt. 4 (Bass): Bröcehler [2], Mertens [4], Huttenlocher [3], Ramselaar [5]
Mvt. 6 (Duet – Soprano/Alto): Wiedel/Esswood [3], Stam/Chance [4], Augér/Watts [2], Strijk/Buwalda [5]

Philippe Bareille wrote (August 11, 2002):
[3] The endearing duo (soprano/alto) is the pick of this cantata. I've listened to Harnoncourt. The boy Willhem Wield is very expressive. Paul Esswood is fine but my personal taste is to give this music to a boy (or a woman) alto rather than to a countertenor. Yet both singers sing with great fervour and commitment. Otherwise I agree with the previous comments regarding this version.


Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 101: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 05:17