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Cantata BWV 107
Was willst du dich betrüben
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of July 13, 2014 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (July 16, 2014):
Cantata 107, “Was willst du dich betrüben”: Intro.

After the most exhaustive two months of original cantata creation in his second year as Leipzig Thomas Cantor, Bach took a composer’s holiday for the 7th Sunday after Trinity to complete a hybrid work that had all the marks of an original chorale cantata, BWV 107, “Was willst du dich betrüben” (Why do you want to distress yourself), premiered July 23, 1724. Bach had presented five Sundays of Trinity Time cantatas (BWV 20, 2, 135, 177, 93) and two festive works for St. John’s Day Baptism of Jesus and the Purification of the Virgin Mary (BWV 7 and 10). All had varied opening extended chorale fantasias, closing with accessible congregational plain hymns and in between both concertante arias and recitatives with chorale passages quoting melodies and important textual/biblical passages as mottos.

Always aware of demands and expectations, yet having established a practical work schedule, Bach used this opportunity to summarize the cantata composition needs and cycle he had already produced, with its special challenges and demands. He took stock of what he had done and how he had done it and for this new cycle he had secured librettists in advance. In his first cycle, Bach had played with elements of the chorale cantata. He had produced extended opening sinfonias as chorale fantasias, had struggled to write a series of arias with similar texts and themes, and composed recitatives that could be used as sermonettes with interpolations of citations of chorale texts and melodies.

For the previous 7th Sunday after Trinity in 1723, Bach had on hand an unused Weimar Cantata, BWV 186a, “Ärgre dich, o Seele, nicht” (Trouble thyself, o soul, not), originally composed for an Advent Sunday now closed in Leipzig, but appropriate for middle Trinity Time. Set to a text of Salomo Franck, Weimar Court poet, Cantata 186a had a series of four successive arias that Bach had mastered. Now, composing original two-part cantatas or expanding Weimar works, Bach had inserted new recitatives into Cantata 186 to make it a two-part work, the penultimate one in the first cycle, ending with two-part Cantata 70 for the last Sunday in Trinity Time, November 21, 1723. Cantata 186 had demonstrated his mastery of the expansion of his some 20 cantata previously composed in Weimar, particularly his crafting of the both the dramatic recitative form and the Lutheran chorale with its challenging permutations and combinations, including the first expansive, polyphonic chorale choruses. Those four successive arias in the original Cantata 186 could have given Bach the idea of trying his hand in the second cycle on a hymn with internal, song-like stanzas in strophic design, to set successive arias.

Good fortune repeated itself for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in 1723, which has a similar biblical theme and teaching at the 7th Sunday after Trinity, “Christian trust in God despite false teachings and appearances” through the parables, miracles, and teachings of Jesus. Bach chose a chorale also appropriate for the 7th Sunday after Trinity, the anonymous (Nürnberg 1561) “Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?” (Why are you afflicted, my heart), with the appropriate theme of “Cross, Persecution and Challenge.” He composed his first proto-chorale Cantata BWV 138, using Stanza 1 as an opening chorale chorus, an interpolated hymn stanza 2 sung by soprano and alto with an original bass recitative semonette, and closing (Mvt. 7) with Stanza 3 as a plain chorale.

Entering the middle Trinity Time omnes tempore period in 1724, Bach found the middle of summer a fortuitous time. The new school year had started and examinations months away, and there were no major sacred feast days or groups as at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost during de tempore time of the first half of the church year. Following the initial series of well-known Lucan parables, the middle Trinity Time of church teachings and themes centered on a positive “Right Manner of Life in the Kingdom of Grace," emphasizing the "new life of righteousness." Here was an opportunity to explore the Gospel lectionary with an established paired series of two miracles and teachings from the Gospel of Luke followed by an extended series mixing the three genres with a parable followed by a teaching or an appropriate miracle.

The 7th Sunday after Trinity Sunday marks a milestone in Bach's cantata production. It is the beginning of a series of 11 consecutive Middle Trinity Time Sundays with three surviving main service musical sermons each Sunday (and occasionally a fourth). This series is followed by another group of five Sundays, from the 19th to the 23rd Sunday After Trinity with at least three cantatas each Sunday. For almost three months or the middle two-quarters of Trinity Time each summer Bach was free from feast day observances between the Visit of Visitation, July 2, and the Feast of St. Michael, September 29.1

Cantata 107 became a unique work in many respects. Besides using an entire hymn of unaltered stanzas, as he had done with his first work, Easter Cantata 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden (1708); Bach composed two unusual, elaborated chorale cantata choruses to open and close the work (both in b minor), with interludes between lines using a concertante orchestra of pairs of tranverse flues and oboi d’amore (similar to Cantata 198 Trauerode); set Stanza 2 as a sermonette recitative for bass and oboes, his only such setting of an unaltered hymn stanza; set four contrasting arias, including a tenor “rage” aria, and three with song-dance like flavor for bass, soprano, and tenor; and closing with a “siciliana” chorus in B Minor 6/8, similar to the soprano 12/8 in pastorale-giga style.2

Readings for 7th Sunday after Trinity

The Readings for the 7th Sunday after Trinity are: Epistle: Romans 6:19-23 (“The wages of sin is death”); Gospel: Mark 8: 1-9 (Miracle “Christ feeds the four thousand”); 1545 Martin Luther German translation, English translation Authorised (King James) [KJV] Version 1611; Text, Gospel patterns, Part 2 Paired miracle and teaching (Trinity 5-8): * Trinity 7: Mark 8: 1-9 ­ Miracle of feeding of the four thousand. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. * Trinity 8: Matthew 7: 15-23 ­ Teaching: Beware of false prophets. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.

The Introit Psalm is 145, Exaltabo te, Deus (I will extol thee, my God, David’s Psalm of Praises, KJV), says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Kommentar, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.3 The sermon following Cantata 107, on July 23, 1724, at the early service of St. Thomas church was preached by Pastor Christian Weise (1671-1736) but is not extant (Ibid.: 158).

Chorale Text & Melody

The chorale “Was willst du dich betrüben” author was Johann Heermann (1585-1647), 1630, omnes versus 1724 (6 verses). The Verse 7 Bach added is S. 14, of David Denicke’s “Ich will zu aller Stunde” (1646, see Terry below). Heermann BCW Short Biography,; seven stanzas, Francis Browne English Translation, BCW Bar form Stollen 1 = lines 1 and 2, Stollen 2 = lines 3 and 4, Abgesang = lines 5-8.

The Chorale Melody is “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen,” Composer anon. (1557), “Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works,” BCW Zahn: 5264b. Melody appears in Cantata 107 Mvt. 1 (all 8 lines), Mvt. 5 (fragment, V. 5, m. 23, text line 8, “Was Gott will, das geschicht”), and Mvt. 7 (all 8 lines) [see Movements below]. Three text settings of 1557 melody: Text 3, Heermann (1630) omnes versus; Text 1, Ludwig Helmbold 1563 (poetic); Text 2, Gottfried Wilhelm Sacer (1697), “Gott fähret auf gen Himmel.”

Charles S. Terry identifies the melody as “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen,” in Bach’s Chorals Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts, Vol. 2.4 (a) <<A Choral Cantata [BWV 107], on Johann Heermann’s Hymn, “Was willst du dich betrüben,” first published, to the melody, “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen,” in his Devoti Musica Cordis (Leipzig, 1630). In Freylinghausen’s Gesangbuch (1704 [1703]) the Hymn is set to a tune obviously derived from that melody. Bach uses the latter in the first and last movements of the Cantata (see Cantata 11,>> Sacer (1697), “Gott fähret auf gen Himmel”). (b) <<The words of the closing Choral (Verse 7, Mvt. 7) are the fourteenth stanza of David Denicke’s (?) Hymn, “Ich will zu aller Stunde,” first published in the New Ordentlich Gesang-Buch (Hanover, 1646), and set there, as here, to the tune “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen” (see Cantata BWV 11)>> V. 7 text (see below), “Herr, gib, dass ich dein Ehre / Ja all mein Leben lang / Von Herzensgrund vermehre” (Lord, grant that I your honour / throughout my life / may increase from the bottom of my heart). David Denicke (1603-1680) BCW Short Biography, Heermann Texts of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works: BWV 5, BWV 13, BWV 24, BWV 25, BWV 45, BWV 71, BWV 89, BWV 102, BWV 107, BWV 136, BWV 148, BWV 163, BWV 194, BWV 199.

“In the BGS score the chorale melody is stated to be ‘Von Gott will ich nicht lassen’; that is incorrect, although the tune associated with Heermann’s hymn bears a close resemblance to it and was possibly derived thereform,” says W. Gillies Whittaker in The Cantatas of Johan Sebastian Bach.5 Whittaaker also notes that to the six verses of Heermann’s “Was willst du dich betrüben” was added stanza 14 of David Denicke’s “Ich will zu aller Stunde” “to form the final chorale, the melody of the other hymn being used” (Ibid.).

Cantata 107 movements, scoring, initial text, key, time signature:6

1. Verse 1, Extended chorale chorus, dal segno, ritornelli (SATB; C.f. Corno da caccia col Soprano, Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo): Stollen 1, “Was willst du dich betrüben, / O meine liebe Seel?” (Why do you want to distress yourself, / o my dear soul?); Stollen 2, “Ergib dich, den zu lieben, / Der heißt Immanuel!” (Give yourself up to love of him / who is called Immanuel!); Abgesang, motto “Vertraue ihm allein” (Have trust in him alone), blessing “Er wird gut alles machen / Und fördern deine Sachen. / Wie dir's wird selig sein! (he will make everything good / and promote your affairs. / What blessings there will be for you!); b minor, 4/4.
2. Verse 2, Recitative (Bass; Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo): “Denn Gott verlässet keinen” (For God abandons no one); arioso (Lines 7, 8): “Mit Freuden wirst du schauen, / Wie Gott wird retten dich.” (With joy you will behold / how God will rescue you); f-sharp minor; 4/4.
3. Verse 3, Aria two-part song-like/dance like (stolen-abgesang) with ritornelli (Bass; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo): A. “Auf ihn magst du es wagen / Mit unerschrocknem Mut” (With him you may dare / with a courageous spirit); B. “Was Gott beschlossen hat, / Das kann niemand hindern” (What God has decided, / that nobody can change); A Major; 4/4.
4. Verse 4, Aria rage (Tenor, Continuo): A. “Wenn auch gleich aus der Höllen / Der Satan wollte sich / Dir selbst entgegenstellen / Und toben wider dich.” (Even if at once from hell / Satan should want / himself to oppose you, / and rage against you); conclusion (line 8), “Denn dein Werk fördert Gott.” (for God helps your work.); e minor, 3/4.
5. Verse 5, Aria two-part, C.f. line 8 (Soprano; Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo): A. “Er richt's zu seinen Ehren” (He directs all for his honour); B. “Will's denn Gott haben nicht, / So kann's niemand forttreiben.” (But what God does not want, / no one can carry on with.); C.f. “Was Gott will, das geschicht” (What God wants, that happens); b minor; 12/8 pastorale-giga style.
6. Verse 6, Aria two- part song/like/dance like (Tenor; Flauto traverso I/II all' unisono, Continuo): A. “Darum ich mich ihm ergebe” (Therefore I devote myself to him); B. Abgesang: “Drauf wart ich und bin still” (For this I wait and am still); D Major, 4/4.
7. Verse 7, Extended Chorale with interludes (SATB; C.f. Corno da caccia col Soprano, Flauto I/II e Oboe I coll'Alto, Oboe d'amore II col Tenore, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo): final five lines as Doxology: “Dir sage Lob und Dank! / O Vater, Sohn und Geist, / Der du aus lauter Gnade / Abwendest Not und Schaden, /Sei immerdar gepreist.” (and give you praise and thanks / O Father, Son and Spirit / you who out of pure mercy turn away distress and harm, be praised for evermore!); b minor, 6/8 siciliano style.

Bach’s Creative Process: Cantata 107

Bach’s creative process involving Cantata 107 is explored in Julian Mincham’s Commentary, Chapter 8 BWV 107 Was willst du dich betrüben?7 <<The perceptive cantata listener will notice the unusual movement structure; nowhere else in this cycle does Bach present four consecutive arias. Even in C 4, which uses no recitatives, the flow of arias is interrupted by a central chorus. We can only speculate as to why Bach chose this particular configuration for this work.
Whereas in the previous cantata (C 93) Bach made the chorale melody an explicit part of every movement, here he applies similar thinking to the text stanzas; every movement sets an unaltered verse of the chosen chorale. His more typical approach is to set the first verse as the opening chorus and the last as a concluding four-part harmonization. For other movements, chorale verses may be used unaltered but more often the stanzas would be paraphrased, rewritten or have additional lines or a completely new text inserted. This would obviously give the composer a maximum of flexibility in the choosing of the various formats of which there were six available options i.e. aria, duet, trio, chorus, recitative secco and hybrid recitative. (NB a list of the nine cantatas which Bach set in this manner may be found at the end of the essay on C 97: vol 2 chapter 59).

It would seem that Bach's unknown librettist for the first two thirds of this cycle had a clear notion as to what sort of verse formed a suitable text for a recitative, aria or chorus. If this were so, then obviously it would make for a productive working relationship with a composer like Bach.

But, for a moment, let us speculate about Bach's own creative processes. We know that he must have worked extremely quickly and seldom repeated himself. We know that he was stimulated by emotional, intellectual and physical images. But further, it seems that his fertile imagination worked best not when given totally free reign but when it had restrictions placed upon it, either from external or self imposed conditions. His various, often abstruse and sometimes virtually impenetrable fixations with number combinations, complex metaphors and the bringing together of apparently contradictory images under the one structural umbrella, all offer good evidence of this. So does the very premise of this cycle, especially when we consider the tonal and structural restraints that the chorales imposed upon the opening fantasias.

Dürr (p 446) speculates that in this case the librettist may have supplied no text or that what he did offer was unsuitable to Bach. But it is equally likely that Bach imposed the restriction upon himself; it is not unusual to find him imposing his own limitations almost as if he could not function without them. In C 93 it was the decision to incorporate the chorale melody explicitly into each movement, a gesture neither artistically nor musically essential, as other works in the cydemonstrate. Here it is the adhering to the precise, unaltered verses which constrains him. This decision would have had clear implications for both the individual movement settings and the overall structure.

Dürr’s hypothesis that there may have been a problem with the librettist seems unlikely as the text had to be written, probably approved and certainly printed, some time before the cantata was due to be performed. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this was an experimental artistic decision related to the types of restriction upon which Bach thrived. One fact remains clear. This is the seventh cantata of this cycle and in every one Bach actively sought out or set himself stringent, self imposed structural constraints. In every case he triumphed over them magnificently, responding anew to the diverse challenges which stimulated his artistic imagination. The decision to write four successive arias (following the single recitative, for bass) would have been a direct consequence of the resolution to set each verse unaltered. As they stand, these stanzas are not necessarily an ideal length for setting either as arias or recitatives. Although not a practice he turned to often, Bach applied the same process of adopting unchanged verses in the later chorale cantatas C 117 and C 137 (see part 2, chapter 52 and vol 3, chapter 3). The former is a setting of nine verses, three of which are recitatives! Certainly the block of four arias requires contrast and this Bach partially achieves by the variety of voices (bass, tenor, soprano and tenor again---why no alto one wonders?) There is also contrast of mode: major, minor, minor, major. And finally there is an abundance of instrumental colouring. The instrumental forces are relatively large incorporating a pair each of flutes and oboes d’amore, one horn, strings and continuo (which probably included a bassoon). Above the continuo the first aria uses full strings, the second continuo only, the third two oboes and the last flute doubling oboe and strings. There is, therefore, a wealth of colour available from what might seem by later practices, quite modest forces. Additionally, the final chorale is turned into a suite-like gigue and given an orchestral setting of a ritornello nature, a rare event and the first if its kind in this cycle. Four Consecutive Arias

Bach’s deliberate decision to set a rigid series of strophes or song lines in four consecutive arias is apparent in his setting of the Heermann hymn, says John Eliot Gardiner in his 2009 liner notes to his 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage recodings on Soli Deo Gloria.8 <<The following year (23 July 1724) Bach came up with yet another winner. (How often have I had cause to write these words in my diary in the course of this year!) BWV 107 Was willst du dich betrüben is a chorale cantata which this time reverts to a seventeenth-century design ‘per omnes versus’. Any other composer, when pressed for time as Bach undoubtedly was, would have been tempted to take a few shortcuts, such as paraphrasing several of the hymn verses in the cantata’s middle movements. Here is a prime example of how Bach differs from the Stölzels, Telemanns and Graupners of his day. They also fulfilled self-imposed assignments to provide cycles of new music for every feast day in the liturgical year (though usually not in consecutive years). But only Bach is prepared to make life consistently difficult for himself, as here, for example, by choosing to incorporate verbatim all seven stanzas of a rather obscure chorale by Johann Heermann from 1630. The last time he had done this was back in Mühlhausen in 1707 with BWV 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden, though here he confines the melody to the first and last verses. Maybe his success on this occasion inspired him to fire several other shots at the same target in his later chorale cantatas. Bach rises to the challenge: to overcome the limitations of being confined to a rigidly structured hymn without monotony or repetitiveness. [All three of Bach’s cantatas for this day (BWV 186, 187 and 107) have masterly opening movements. None of them is particularly flamboyant or festive, yet each in its way is individually expressive. This time Bach is using pastel shades rather than primary colours.”] He converts only a single verse into a recitative (verse 2), managing to mask the inexorable symmetry of the metre (∨-∨-∨- - /∨-∨-∨-) by adding a pair of oboes d’amore to punctuate it with their own counter-rhythm and by breaking into extended melismas on the words ‘Freuden’ and ‘retten’. All this means that four arias, none of them da capo, are placed back-to-back to form the spine of the cantata. Here again Bach manages to avoid monotony, not simply by the usual devices of changing voice type (bass, tenor, soprano, tenor), key, metre and Affekt, but by blurring the obvious tri-partite structure of Heermann’s verse and its predictable division into Bar form (AAB, or Stollen, Stollen and Abgesang).

In the first of these arias Bach seems momentarily to forget that he is depicting the unruffled security of those who undertake God protected ventures, and instead paints a lively hunting scene for bass and strings (verse 3). He teases the singer (and the listener) by breaking up the vocal line with jagged leaps on the word ‘unerschrocknem [Mut]’ (‘unaffrighted [heart]’) – offering, in other words, a direct negative – jitters in place of the guarantee of calm. A little later he seizes on the word ‘erjagen’, meaning ‘to achieve by great exertion’ but with literal resonances of ‘to hunt down’, and even assigns an outrageous hunting call trill to the bass in evocation of the divine huntsman calling to his hounds. More striking still is the tenor aria with basso continuo (verse 4), a vivid pen-portrait of Satan and his wiles, delivered with typically Lutheran relish. Bach seems to be making whoopee with the rhythm by alternating one bar in 6/8 with another in 3/4, until you discover that the pattern he is establishing is less schematic and more ambiguous than that. The bass line (marked organo e continuo) is extravagantly animated and angular – Albert Schweitzer likens it to the contortions of a huge dragon – and persists even when the tenor enters with a free inversion of it, seemingly in direct contradiction: Satan flagrantly confronting the Will of God. This is an operatic ‘rage’ aria with a difference. The mood now begins to soften, first in a soprano aria with two oboes d’amore (verse 5) and a vocal line that begins by hinting at a decorated version of the chorale tune and later confirms this reference by quoting its last line to the words ‘was Gott will, das geschicht’ (‘God’s will shall be done’). Doubts are banished in the fourth of the arias [verse 6], scored for unison flutes and muted violin and providing the tenor with a vocal line that (at last!) is mellifluous and grateful to sing. Bach places the last verse [7] of Heermann’s chorale in a sumptuous orchestral setting scored for two flutes and two oboes d’amore in addition to the regular string ensemble, and a corno da caccia or Zugtrompete to double the soprano melody. The orchestra’s persistent, lilting siciliano maintains its independence even when combined with the choral passages. It is the same autonomous instrumentation that he uses in the opening movement, where it served to soften the admonitions of the chorale text.

There you can feel the heartbeat of the music, as it were, as the scoring reduces to the paired flutes over a pulsating violin/viola unison accompaniment in units of four beats at a time. A mere fifty-two bars long, its mood of soul-searching prayer culminates in the consoling words ‘er wird gut alles machen und fördern deine Sachen, wie dir’s wird selig sein’ (‘He shall set all in order, and promote all your affairs, so that you may prosper’), and is immensely affecting.>> © John Eliot Gardiner 2009; From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage Cantata 107: Unique Craftsmanship

The unique craftsmanship found in Cantata 107 is discussed at length in Klaus Hofmann 2003 liner notes to Masaaki Suzuki BIS Cantata recordings.9 <<“Was willst du dich betrübten.” BWV 107 Why do you let yourself be distressed? In Bach's chorale cantata year no work is like any other, and for an artistically receptive listener every cantata can provide a surprise. In the present case, an external circumstance was the cause of a peculiarity. The text of the cantata consists of the text wholly unaltered - of the hymn upon which it is based, and it is tempting to assume that the text author who had otherwise been responsible for the reworking of the central strophes into aria and recitative texts was for some reason unavailable. The hymn text, seven strophes in all, was written by the clergyman Johann Heermann (1585-1647) from Silesia, probably the most important writer of song texts between Martin Luther and Paul Gerhardt. The melody is of French origin, and had become known in Protestant Germany in the mid-sixteenth century with the text 'Von Gott will ich nicht lassen' ('From God will nought divide me'). Bach's cantata was written for 23rd July 1724, the seventh Sunday after Trinity. The gospel passage that is traditionally read (and is the subject of the sermon) on this Sunday – Mark 8, verses l-9 - tells of the feeding of the multitude, the miracle that Jesus worked when he was in the desperate situation of having only seven loaves and a few fish to feed a multitude of four thousand who had followed him into the wilderness. The song that was chosen as the basis for the cantata for this Sunday is only related to this story in very generalized terms, by the common theme of the Christian's trust in God. The instrumental introduction to the opening movement of the cantata alludes at first almost imperceptibly to the chorale melody, and then develops freely. Of note are the twom small (and later recurring) contributions for a 'concertino' consisting only of flutes, violins and a viola (without basso continuo), which might give the listener cause to suspect that the cantata was on this occasion being introduced by a purely instrumental movement, in the manner of a concerto grosso. This, however, is not the case: after twelve instrumental bars, the choir enters - although it also takes up the basic concertante concept, with ornamentations to the chorale melody in the soprano. In the concise and compact choral part, the soprano line (strengthened by coro da caccia and oboe) is initially contrasted with an independent chorus of lower voices; only in the closing lines, 'er wird gut alles machen' ('He will make all things well'), does order return to the proceedings.

Bach's artistry is such that the bass recitative that follows, 'Denn Gott verlässet keinen' ('For God forsakes no one'; second movement) may not appear especially striking to the listener. For Bach, the compositional challenge lay in transforming a metrically even hymn strophe into 'musical prose'. Despite all the skill with which he went about this adaptation, the content of the text is not short-changed: the word 'Frcuden' ('delight') is emphasized by a jubilant melisma, and the daring melodic leaps on 'rotten' ('saves') indicate the dangers from which God is capable of saving us. Then comes the bass aria 'Auf ihn magst du es wagen' ('You due to rely on him'; third movement): what a skilful bass singer Bach must have had, to write a solo such as this for him! Boldness and courage are the emotions conveyed by this lively concertante piece. In it, Bach follows a very traditional baroque practice in that, on the (in fact contradictory) words 'unerschrocknen Mut' ('undaunted courage), he portrays not courage but fright, depicting it with sudden faltering and breaks in the vocal line.

In the tenor aria 'Wenn auch gleich aus der Höllen' ('Even if out of hell '; fourth movement) derives his determining compositional concept from the continuation of the text, 'der Satan wollte sich dir selbst entgegenstellen und toben wider dich' ( The devil should want to rise against you and to threaten you with his rage'). The basso continuo has the characteristics of a basso ostinato, an obstinate' bass, and the vocal line steps forth in a confrontational manner. At its very first appearance, Bach sets the rising triad motif of the continuo theme against a falling triad in the tenor. Not until the end of the movement is the motivic conflict resolved in musical unanimity on the words 'denn dein Werk fördert Gott' ('For God is your helper'). The two arias that follow (fifth and sixth movements), accompanied by oboi d'amore (strengthened by violins) are lent a particular charm by various musical allusions to the chorale melody. The final chorale is a special case in this series of cantatas, as on this occasion Bach does not present it as a simple four-part homophonic setting in 4/4-time, but writes it as a stylized French gigue (of the Canary type) in lively 6/8-time. The reason for this must have been the joyful words in praise of 'Vater, Sohn und Geist' ('Father, Son and Holy Spirit) with which the final strophe culminates.>> © Klaus Hofmann 2003 Cantata for 7th Sunday after Trinity

BWV 186 Ärgre dich, o Seele, nicht (Leipzig, 1723) BWV 107 Was willst du dich betrüben (Leipzig, 1724) BWV 187 Es wartet alles auf dich (Leipzig, 1726) BWV Anh 1 Geseget ist die Zuversicht (? - music lost) BWV Anh 209 Liebster Gott, vergißt du mich (Leipzig, 1727 - music lost) Weimar possible performance 1714-07-15 So - BWV Anh 209 Liebster Gott, vergißt du mich (Lehms 1711 text only survives) or Cantata 54, Wiederstehe doch der Stünde (Lehms) Leipzig Performance Calendar 1723-07-11 So - Cantata BWV 186 Ärgre dich, o Seele nicht (1st performance, Leipzig) 1724-07-23 So - Cantata BWV 107 Was willst du dich betrüben (1st performance, Leipzig) 1725-07-15 So: - ? BWV Anh 209 Liebster Gott, vergißt du mich 1726-08-04 So - Cantata BWV 187 Es wartet alles auf dich (1st performance, Leipzig) 1728-07-11 So - ?P-50, “Ach Gott, ich bin von dir und aller Welt vergessen” (Picander text only), Mvt. 5, “Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz” (Why are you afflicted, my heart); S. 11, “Der zeitlichen Ehrn will ich gern entbehrn” (Worldly honour I shall do without completely), cf BWV 420, 421. 1732-07-27 So - ? repeat Cantata BWV 107 Was willst du dich betrübe (cycle reperformance) 1735-07-24 So 7.So.n.Trin. - G.H. Stölzel: Wie sich ein Vater über Kinder erbarmet, so erbarmet sich der Herr (Ps. 103:13), Mus. A 15:257 + Fürchtet den Herrn, ihr seine Heiligen, Mus. A 15:258 FOOTNOTES

1 Materials from BCML Cantata 186 and 186a, Discussions Part 3, scroll down to: William Hoffman wrote (August 8, 2011): Intro. to BWV 186: Trinity +7 Cantatas, Readings, Chorales;
2 Cantata 107, BCW Details and Discography,
3 Petzoldt, Martin. Bach Kommentar: Die geistlichen Kantaten des 1. Bis 27. Trinitas-Sontagges, Vol. 1; Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs, Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2004: Trinity 7 Commentary 145-147, Cantata 107 text 156-158, Cantata 107 Commentary, 158-160).
4 Terry, Charles Sanford. Bach’s Chorals, 3 vols., The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921), Vol. 2;, scroll down to Cantata CVII (a) and (b).
5 Whittaker, W. Gillies. The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach (Oxford University Press: London, 1958: II:245).
6 Scoring, Soloists: Soprano, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: corno da caccia, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes d’amore, 2 violins, viola, organ, continuo. Score Vocal & Piano [1.49 MB],; Score BGA [2.00 MB], References: BGA XXIII: 181 (Church cantatas 101-10, Wilhelm Rust, 1876), NBA KB I/18 (Cantatas Trinity+7, Alfred Dürr 1966), Bach Compendium BC A 109, Zwang K 80; Provenance: BCW
7 Mincham,; The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
8 Gardiner notes,[sdg156_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details,
9 Hofmann notes,[BIS-CD1331].pdf; BCW Recording details,


To Come: Motets, Chorales, Liturgy for the 7th Sunday after Trinity.

William Hoffman wrote (July 16, 2014):
Cantata 107: Motets, Chorales, Liturgy for Trinity +7

See: Motets & Chorales for 7th Sunday after Trinity

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 20, 2014):
Cantata BWV 107 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 107 “Was willst du dich betrüben” for the 7th Sunday after Trinity on the BCW has been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of corno da caccia, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes d’amore, 2 violins, viola, organ, & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (12):
Recordings of Individual Movements (3):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this chorale cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 107 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.


Cantata BWV 107: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 05:22