Cantata BWV 111Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit
Discussions - Part 3
Continue from Part 2
Discussions in the Week of January 17, 2010
Jens F. Laurson wrote (January 16, 2010):
Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit BWV 111
(What my God wants shall always be done)
Written for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
First performance January 21st, 1725
(Bach's second year of Cantata-duties at the Thomas Church in Leipzig.)
1. Chorus: "Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit"
2. Aria (bass): "Entsetze dich, mein Herze, nicht"
3. Recitative (alto): "O Törichter! Der sich von Gott enzieht"
4. Aria (alto, tenor): "So geh ich mit behezten Schritten"
5. Recitative (soprano): "Drum wenn der Tod zuletzt den Geist"
5. Choral: "Noch eins, Herr, will ich bitten dich"
Church readings for that day are from
Epistle: Romans 12: 17-21 http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Epiphany3.htm;
Gospel: Matthew 8: 1-13 http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Epiphany3.htm
BWV 111 is one of the `chorale cantatas' where a hymn (of the same name) is the basis of the opening and closing choruses-both as far as the text and the melody is concerned.
Mvt. 1: Chorus: "Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit"
The concentrated, forceful opening chorus gives a `Christmassy' impression, especially in the interpretations that employ slower tempos and several singers per part. The familiarity probably stems from the chorale's cameo in the St. Matthew Passion.
Mvt. 2: Aria (bass): "Entsetze dich, mein Herze, nicht"
The slightly awkward and dry aria's second line refers to the chorale "Gott ist dein Trost." (God is your comfort and confidence), so Bach naturally detours to deliver the corresponding musical quotation, too.
Mvt. 3: Recitative (alto): "O Törichter! Der sich von Gott enzieht"
Mvt. 4: Aria (alto, tenor): "So geh ich mit behezten Schritten"
The most substantial movement at six to eight minutes-and about twice the length of the bass aria. The `valiant, spirited' steps taken that the text refers to find reflection in the bubbly, restlessly forward moving continuo figures.
Mvt. 5: Recitative (soprano): "Drum wenn der Tod zuletzt den Geist"
Mvt. 6: Chorale: "Noch eins, Herr, will ich bitten dich"
A selection of recordings:
BWV 111 is not a popular cantata and rarely features outside (variously) comprehensive cantata surveys. In fact, Kurt Thomas' (Berlin Classics)  seems the only one. Here is a selection of BWV 111 on single discs and the set in Koopman's survey that contains it:
Suzuki, BIS, vol.32 : Amazon.com, (Anniversary Edition No. 4: Amazon.com)
Koopman, Challenge, vol.12 : Amazon.com
Rilling, Hänsler, vol.35 : Amazon.com
Gardiner, Archiv, 463582 : Amazon.com
Complete discography at www.bach-cantatas.com:
Comments on recordings:
Harnoncourt has aged rather badly; the singers and choir are not a model of precision and bass aria is astonishingly choppy. Gardiner's  Blitz-Cantata approach makes it sound like the work is played at a few too many RPM; no one can keep up in the duet. One of my absolutely least liked Bach-efforts by Gardiner. Kurt Thomas'  broad, indeed sleepy, introduction makes the opening sound even more like a Christmas cantata, but not in a good way. BWV 111 is one of Suzuki's  finest moments; his opening chorus an ideal blend of dignity, vitality, and clarity-all at an intuitively `right' tempo, very much like Ton Koopman . Karl Richter's  symphonic chorale (5:06) is far more lively, compared to Thomas (6:06!), if not Suzuki (4:30). His oboes are particularly colorful. Theo Adam is a magnificent bass for Richter; but Peter Kooij more than makes up for lack of that booming quality with his lyrical gift and agile way about the aria
One really has to like counter-tenors to prefer Suzuki's  Robin Blaze over a mezzo like Anna Reynolds (Richter ) or the best thing about Gardiner's `111' : Sara Mingardo. Tenor (Suzuki) Andreas Weller (Suzuki) sounds far more at ease and in his natural environment than the stuffy Peter Schreier (Richter) or Gardiner's Julian Podger. As so often, Koopman  (among his veteran soloists Pregardien & Mertens) offers a wonderfully natural, very sinuous account that is not exactly enhanced by mezzo Annette Markert, but not let down. Soprano Lisa Larsson sounds lovely, in any case. His is the only really recommendable alternative to Suzuki, from my ears' perspective.
Neil Halliday wrote (January 20, 2010):
Jens F. Laurson wrote:
> Mvt. 2: Aria (bass): "Entsetze dich, mein Herze, nicht"
The slightly awkward and dry aria's second line refers to the chorale "Gott ist dein Trost." (God is your comfort and confidence), so Bach naturally detours to deliver the corresponding musical quotation, too.<
This time around, I like Leusink's  gentle, intimate approach to this aria; just one cello, a voice that clearly delineates the vocal line, and lovely 'surround' colouring from the organ.
I had trouble following the melismas on "widerstreben" previously; now these seem quite logical and effective.
In the 'da capo' section (varied in this aria), the decorated CM quote is sung a fifth below that heard in the first section (E minor instead of B minor).
The hesitant nature of the melody at the start is an obvious referencre to the opening text "Entsetze'... (affright you, my heart, not}.
I agree Suzuki's performance  of the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) is exhilarating, if you can accept such a pace; but I much prefer Koopman's  more measured tempo in the final chorale.
Bach on radio - BWV 3 and BWV 111
Ed Myskowski wrote (January 18, 2010):
Tonights selection for Epiphany 2 was BWV 3, in the Gardiner pilgrimage concert performance. I had to tune in midway, via car radio. It is a real joy to hear how good the Gardiner concert recordings are, when one is focusing to try to identify the performance. The radio and webcasts remain availthroughout the week, I believe, at www.995allclassical.org.
Next week will be BWV 111 (our work for current discussion, a neat coincidence) in the Suzuki performance. Aired on FM 99.5 at 8:00 PM EST (Sunday evening (0100 Monday, UT) for those of us who enjoy the illusion of communal experience. What the heck, it is just one planet, no?
The comparison/contrast of the use of hymn/chorale texts in BWV 3 and BWV 111 (from consecutive Sundays in Jahrgang II) is worthy of discussion, if it has not already been beaten to death. Eighteen (18) verses condense to 6 in BWV 3, 4 verses expand to 6 in BWV 111 (from memory, I hope it is not vice-verse). I intend to scan the BCW archives, and add some thoughts.
I also intend to get organized, resolution for 2010. A photographer friend (Elsa Dorfman, 20x24 (inch, not cm!) Polaroid portraits) sent out postcards urging:
<Stay out of the pen
including a portrait of herself and family behind a poster promoting the book:
Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey A. Silveerglate.
If I were innocent, I would be worried.
Bach on radio - BWV 111, Epiphany 3 (Jan. 24, 2010)
Ed Myskowski wrote (January 25, 2010):
Brian McCreath chose the Suzuki version of BWV 111  for today. I believe I heard that next week will be BWV 81, in the Herreweghe performance, for Epiphany 4. These cantata broadcasts (99.5 FM) are now included within a Bach hour, 8:00 to 9:00 PM EST, which is also available in a longer time window at www.995allclassical.org. I will try to provide brief updates on performances and accessibility.
Nicholas Johnson wrote (January 25, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] Have you heard the Bach triple concerto arranged for three recorders ? Try "Youtube Bach triple recorders" James Howard Young is very talented.
Cantata BWV 111: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3