Cantata BWV 184Erwünschtes Freudenlicht
Cantata BWV 184a
Discussions - Part 2
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Discussions in the Week of May 21, 2006
Eric Bergerud wrote (May 21, 2006):
Introduction to BWV 184: Erwünschtes Freudenlicht
One of the many things that made Bach great was his ability to match his music to the occasion. BWV 184 is a case in point. Pentecost was a hopeful celebration for believers and Bach delivered a lovely work. The long aria for tenor and soprano (nine minutes for four lines of text) is delicate, almost pastoral. The concluding chorus received most of the attention in the earlier discussion and a joyous piece it is. Let me put a plug in for the tenor aria. It may not conjure butterflies or lambs in spring, but it suits the text very well indeed. Anyway, this is a good one, and if the earlier discussions are any guide, most on the list found it well performed. Naturally the comments by members will be most welcome.
BWV 184 Details
BWV 184: Erwünschtes Freudenlicht (‘Longed-for light of joy’)
Cantata for Whit Tuesday [3rd Day of Pentecost]
First Performance Leipzig May 30, 1724
Readings: Epistle: Acts 8: 14-17; Gospel: John 10: 1-10
Text: Anarg von Wildenfels (Mvt. 5); Anon (Mvt. 1-4, 6)
BWV 184 2003 Discussion:
Complete Leusink Performance :
Excerpt from liner notes by Nele Anders accompanying Leonhardt performance :
Cantata No. 184 was performed on May 30, 1724. The work in fact is based on a secular “original”: Cantata No. 184a, whose text has not survived. The unknown author of the text portrays Jesus as the Good Shepherd, whose blissful herd of blessed Christians follows him joyously unto the grave. It is these same joys, then, that characterize with a distinctive flute motif (four semiquavers followed by a quaver) both the opening recitative and the recitative No. 3, which has the arioso transition to the following aria typical of the early Bach cantatas. In both arias (Nos. 2 & 4) the instrumental ritornelli correspond in many points to the vocal part. The final chorus takes up the dancelike air one last time: the “Gentle Shepherd” gives solace in the rhythm of a gavotte.
Structure and Timings (From Leusink )
1. Recitative [Tenor] (3’26)
Flauto traverso I/II, Continuo
2. Aria (Duetto) [Soprano, Alto] (8’00)
Flauto traverso I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
3. Recitative [Tenor] (2’00)
4. Aria [Tenor] (4’35)
Violino solo, Continuo
5. Chorale [S, A, T, B] (1’08)
Flauto traverso I/II, Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo
6. Chorus [S, A, T, B] (3’03)
Flauto traverso I/II all' unisono, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Ed Myskowski wrote (May 30, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< Introduction to BWV 184: Erwünschtes Freudenlicht
One of the many things that made Bach great was his ability to match his music to the occasion. >
And one of many things which can make a discussion website interesting is the ability of correspondents to match their comments to the occasion, in analogous (to Bach) fashion.
A brief summing up for the Jahrgang I finale, prep for the beginning of II, and a reasonably confident statement that my Apple iBook is back from the shop, and I am again able to write from home, while listening. I can hear the cheers, in my mind's ear.
After a few months of listening and writing, I have to tell you (both and all) that two of my favorite people in the world are Tom Braatz and Brad Lehman. There was a recent NPR show (Ellen Kushner, Sound and Spirit)) devoted to jazz (and other music) cutting contests. Sidenote to Brad: I actually can tune my clarinet in much less than fifteen minutes, I just don't play it so good. Sort of an ill wind.
Listening to the Bach cantatas with weekly introductions is illuminating. I am certain many others feel the same way. Somewhere deep in the archives I noticed a comment from Aryeh: even if you post to say "I like this record" (OK, CD), it is worth doing. Because you will have listened a bit more carefully
before making the post.
The importance of the alto (or counter tenor) arias in so many of the weekly discussion selections was a surprise to me. Such a surprise that I will need another round to absorb it completely. I used the BCW search function and found:
Jeremy Vosburgh wrote (March 1, 2006):
For example, you have the extremes of expression by having a man sing the very low voice of Jesus/God. You also have a male singing the high part of the Christian soul. The tenor is the most normal sounding voice and represents a commentary or narration. That leaves the alto which is by far the most interesting. The alto voice represents the holy spirit and allusions/conversations about it. >
I did not look further, although I intend to. Are the identifications of voices and roles common knowledge, which I have missed, or is there an easy reference someone can save me some time with?
Given the identification of the alto with the spirit, I thought it particularly clever to omit the alto aria from the Whitsun, (Pentecost, the day of the Holy Ghost) cantata, BWV 59. Then bring it in for Whitsun I (BWV 173/2), and finally combine it for the superb sop/alto duet in BWV 184/2, which gets me up to date. Without giving it a bit more additional thought, does the duet represent the merging of the individual Christian soul with the Holy Spirit?
I am especially happy to have these three cantatas combined with BWV 44 on the Suzuki selection. I dug a bit deeper and realized that BWV 44 was the actual last new music for Jahrgang I. The other three in BCW and Suzuki's chronology were actually adaptations and updates. And at Leipzig in 1724, three other "non-chronological' cantatas were performed as well, before the beginning of Jahrgang II: BWV 172, BWV 194, and BWV 165. I still find Wolff (Bach: Learned Musician) the most useful (and not overly weighty) single volume, details on the performance chronology and transition to Jahrgang II are on pages 269-274, including the useful table of 1723-24 cantata performances, with chronology of composition footnoted.
Before I (or you) feel like a palm tree drooping (or striving not to) with overipe coconuts, until next time.
Russell Telfer wrote (May 30, 2006):
I haven't posted much recently - too much time reading!
Jeremy Vosburgh wrote (March 1, 2006):
For example, you have the extremes of expression by having a man sing the very low voice of Jesus/God. You also have a male singing the high part of the Christian soul. The tenor is the most normal sounding voice and represents a commentary or narration. >
I agree that in this cantata the tenor is the most normal sounding voice. Recently I've been listening to a Paul Steinitz recording from about 1978, marvellous in many ways, but he is badly served (or chose badly) boy soloists for the Duett second movement, Gesegnete Christen, glückselige Heerde. This, as Jeremy points out, is very special All the time I hear it, I am conscious of the fact that the singers weren't right. I've heard a better boys' version but I can't remember which.
Continue on Part 3
Cantatas BWV 184 & BWV 184a: Complete Recordings of BWV 184 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 184 | Details of BWV 184a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3