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Cantata BWV 19
Es erhub sich ein Streit
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of December 16, 2007

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 15, 2007):
Week of Dec 16, 2007: Cantata BWV 19, ³Es erhub Sich ein Streit²

Week of Dec 16, 2007: Cantata BWV 19, ³Es erhub Sich ein Streit²

Feast of St. Michael (Michelmass) ­ Sept 29
Liturgical Note:
Michelmas is a moveable feast and fell on a Sunday in 1726 displacing Trinity 15 for which Bach did not have to write a cantata.
1st performance:
Sunday, September 29, 1726 ­ Leipzig
Previous Sunday:
Cantata BWV 17, ³Wer Dank Opfert²
Next Sunday:
Cantata BWV 27. Wer Weiss Wie Nahe²

Libretto:
Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander) (Mvts. 1-6);
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Picander.htm
Anon (Mvt. 7)

Texts and Translations: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV19.htm

Readings:
Epistle: Revelations 12: 7-12; (War in Heaven)
Gospel: Matthew 18: 1-11 (Who humbles himself shall be exalted)
Texts of readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Michael.htm

Other Cantatas written for St. Michael
BWV 130 Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir (Leipzig, 1724)
BWV 149 Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg (Leipzig, 1728)
BWV 50 Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft (Leipzig, ?1723)
[BWV 219 Siehe, es hat uberwunden der Lowe (probably by Telemann)]

Introduction to Lutheran Church Year: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm

Movements:

Mvt. 1: Chorus
³Es erhub sich ein Streit²
Instruments: 3 Tr, Ti, 2 Ob, Tle, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

The September 29 festival was clearly a major event in Bachıs Leipzig.Festive orchestras of this size were generally used only on principal days (Reformation Day on Oct 31 is the only other big day in the autumn before Christmas). The addition of the taille gives the music the 3x3x3 grouping in the winds, trumpets and strings which we see in the Sanctus of the B Minor Mass ­ is this a reference to the nine orders of angels?

Despite snarky comments about the da capo structure ruining the narrative, the opening chorus is one of Bachıs greatest choral movements. Like Cantatas BWV 80, ³Ein Feste Burg² and BWV 71, ³Gott is Mein kong², the cantata begins Oex abrupto² without an orchestral introduction. Evidence has been presented that BWV 71 was preceded by a brass piece which functioned as an ³overture² and gave the singers their opening pitch. One wonders if Bach preceded this choral fugue with an improvisatory ³prelude² or whether one of the existing organ preludes can be linked with this cantata.

Bach performed J.M. Bachıs equally splendid setting of the same text. It can be heard at: Yotta Music

Mvt. 2: Recitative - Bass
³Gottlob! der Drache liegt²
Instruments: Bc

The fall of the dragon is vividly depicted in the falling figures of the vocal line.

Mvt. 3: Aria - Soprano
³Gott schickt uns Mahanaim zu²
Instruments: 2 Oda, Bc

The contrast of angels and devils in the text is symolized in the confident sustained notes on ³stehen² and ³Ruh² and the agitated sixteenth runs on ³Feinde². We assume that the oboes also played the oboe dıamore parts here.

Mvt. 4: Recitative - Tenor
³Was ist der schnöde Mensch, das Erdenkind?²
Instruments: 2 Vn, Va, Bc

The protection of the angelic host is symbolized by the lovely ³halo² of strings in this accompanied recitative.

Mvt. 5: Aria - Aria & Instr Chorale
³Bleibt, ihr Engel, bleibt bei mir!²
Instruments: Tr, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Schweitzer saw a floating angel ³motive² in the dotted rhythm of the strings and compared it to the ³Pastoral Symphony² in Part II of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). For once I agree with his Wagnerian analysis! The oddly jerky motion of the rhythm seems to suggest that it is a Loure dance form. The chorale melody which lies in the angelic stratosphere of the first trumpet is the same funeral chorale which closes the St. John Passion (BWV 245).

Mvt. 6: Recitative - Soprano
³Laßt uns das Angesicht²
Intrumentents: Bc

A few diminished harmonies for sin do not adversely affect the major key depcition of heaven.

Mvt. 7: Chorale
³Laß dein' Engel mit mir fahren²
Instruments: 3 Tr, Ti, 2 Ob, Tle, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Bach used this chorale many times in the cantatas, sometimes in duple time and sometimes (as here) in the original triple time. The melody retains its Renaissance hemiolas, shifting back and forth from what we would call duple 6/4 and triple 3/2. The high-flying trumpet of the previous aria returns for an obligato part here, and the brass and timpani give the cadential harmonies terrific energy.

Chorale Melodies:
³Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr" (Mvt. 5)
³Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele² (Mvt. 7)
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Freu-dich-sehr.htm

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV19.htm

Recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV19.htm#RC

Music (free streaming download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV19-Mus.htm

Commentaries:
Crouch: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/019.html
AMG: http://wc08.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:65185~T1

Previous Discussions:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV19-Guide.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV19-D.htm

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 16, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Like Cantatas BWV 80, ³Ein Feste Burg² and BWV 71, ³Gott is Mein kong², the cantatabegins Oex abrupto² without an orchestral introduction. >

I neglected to mention that BWV 50 Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft, written three years previously for St. Michaels also begins without an orchestrsal introduction.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 16, 2007):
The introduction is indeed to Cantata BWV 19, one of my all-time favourites. I first heard it when I was 15 and it never fails to thrill me.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 17, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote (of the tenor aria (Mvt. 5)):
>The chorale melody which lies in the angelic stratosphere of the first trumpet is the same funeral chorale which closes the St. John Passion (BWV 245).<
Also, it is the melody of the closing chorale of BWV 149, written for the same festival as BWV 19 - St. Michael - two othree years later.

In BWV 19/5, the trumpet melody is set against the fervent minor key string harmonies of the aria; it's interesting to compare this - especially in the closing phrase - with the CM's setting in the blazing major harmonies of the closing bars of the other two examples mentioned.

The first line of the text is repeated many times (as is the first line of text in the opening chorus (Mvt. 1)).

Robertson notes some similarities in this tenor aria (Mvt. 5) to the Sinfonia at the start of Part 2 of the XO (BWV 248), but I found greater likeness to the opening of BWV 68/1; apart from the same "siciliano" rhythm and minor keys (the XO (BWV 248) Sinfonia by contrast is in the major), the intervals between the first several notes in the tenor voice in BWV 19/5 are the same as those at the start in the soprano voice in BWV 68/1 (but with different note lengths).
------

Soprano aria (Mvt. 3):
> The contrast of angels and devils in the text is symolized in the confident sustained notes on ³stehen² and ³Ruh² and the agitated sixteenth runs on ³Feinde².<
Also, The outrageously long melisma on "Wagen" is musically attractive; I think Rilling's [4] soprano manages it in one breath, but Werner's [3] requires several breaks.

The imitative writing for the two oboes d'amore is attractive (as was the writing a week earlier for the two violins in BWV 17's soprano aria).

I was surprised to see Edith Mathis appearing in Beringer's 1990 recording [6]; she sang regularly with Richter almost two decades earlier; of the sopranos, my preference would tend towards Monika Mauch with Milnes' Montreal Baroque [11] (pleasing minimal vibrato, avoidance of exaggerated mannerisms, eg, 'inaudible to loud'
dynamics on individual long notes a la Koopman [10]).
------

The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) must present the ultimate challenge for a choir!

Werner [3] does surprisingly well, nimble and with audible lines, Rilling [4] likewise with a better acoustic. Koopman [10] also captures the excitement, and you can hear an OVPP example (Montreal Baroque) in the BCW samples; works well, but I think the multi-voice choirs bring greater drama to the music.
----
<The high-flying trumpet of the previous aria returns for an obligato part here, and the brass and timpani give the cadential harmonies terrific energy.>

It's interesting to note that the three complete St. Michael's cantatas, BWV 130, BWV 19, and BWV 149, all have virtually the same large orchestration with the 3x3x3x trumpets, woodwinds and strings in the opening and closing movements, though trumpets and timpani only appear briefly in the last two bars of BWV 149's closing chorale.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 17, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Robertson notes some similarities in this tenor aria (Mvt. 5) to the Sinfonia at the start of Part 2 of the XO (BWV 248), but I found greater likeness to the opening of BWV 68/1; apart from the same "siciliano" rhythm and minor keys (the XO (BWV 248) Sinfonia by contrast is in the major), >
I don't want to start the Loure Flameout that we had last year, but it strikes me that the angularity and shortness of the musical phrases don't fele like a siciliano -- there's a similar effect in the Pastoral Symphony of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). This must be a bery difficult aria to sing.

Terejia wrote (December 18, 2007):
This is my first time of contacting with this piece. Again, no recording examples available to hand(I failed to notice amazon.com examples this time)so only by looking at the score on the web.

replies in between:
Neil Halliday wrote:
Douglas Cowling wrote (of the tenor aria (Mvt. 5)):
>>The chorale melody which lies in the angelic stratosphere of the first trumpet is the same funeral chorale which closes the St. John Passion (BWV 245).<<
< Also, it is the melody of the closing chorale of
BWV 149, written for the same festival as BWV 19 - St. Michael - two or three years later.
In BWV 19/5, the trumpet melody is set against the fervent minor key string harmonies of the aria; it's interesting to compare this - especially in the closing phrase - with the CM's setting in the blazing major harmonies of the closing bars of the other two examples mentioned. >
It took me a several looking at of piano score of this tenor aria (Mvt. 5) before I finally recognize chorale melody. I could imagine how it might sound. Interesting utilization of trumpet, which I see in other cantata piece in which trumpet has the chorale melody "Jesu, meine Freude" - probably BWV 13 or BWV 12, if I remember correctly (both are the pieces I came to know only recently).

On other subject, for me the tenor recitative just before this seems to be a decisive turning point of the whole mood of this cantata.

< (..)
The opening chorus (
Mvt. 1) must present the ultimate challenge for a choir! >
Again, only my personal impression from the only source of score-it captured my attention that the chorale fugue starts with abrupt octave-leap and that in Bass, which appears to be rather dry and a bit overwhelming. Interesting for me indeed.

I'll look for actual recordings or web-samples.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 18, 2007):
Web samples: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV19.htm

In the case of the most recent recording, Montreal Baroque (OVPP), click on "Buy the MP3 album..." to hear samples (after clicking the amazon.com link).

Neil Halliday wrote (December 18, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>it strikes me that the angularity and shortness of the musical phrases don't feel like a siciliano<
On re-reading Robertson's remarks, I see that he does not refer to siciliano rhythm; he comments that "the strings' and continuo's part recalls the Pastoral Symphony from the XO (BWV 248)".

Rather, the reference to rhythm occurs in the OCC: "...a lyrical but technically demanding tenor aria in E minor (Mvt. 5), in the rhythm of a siciliana".

On listening to some of the samples, I see that the particular peformance style chosen by the conductor is critical to one's characterisation of the aria's rhythm.

My reference recording - Rilling [4] - has flowing, legato, prominent upper strings, creating an entirely different - siciliano - effect, when compared to the short, detached ("angular phrasing") of, for example, Montreal Baroque.

[I find the latter's style to be lacking in some respects; apart from those little demisemi figures in the 1st violins being inaudible, the upper strings generally seem 'tentative' and disjointed to me. Rilling [4] ties the dotted crotchets to the dotted quavers in the upper strings, as shown in the score, but I know HIP conductors ignore such indications].

Terejia wrote (December 18, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Web samples: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV19.htm >
Oh, thank you again. I picked up the samples. Ibookmarked the page.

If I don't have recordings within my reach(not being a music professional, I don't have access to music libraries in my region and local CD store has its limitation, too), I look at the piano score on the web tracked from links section and use "analogy" from experiences of listening to my collections of cantatas. My local environment
doesn't seem to be really fit for learning Bach but I have no choice now. Analogy isn't quite as perfect as real listening to recordings.

As to the listening of the music examples of this particular cantata, the use of heavy timpani in the closing chorale (Mvt. 7) gave me a sort of scary and overwhelming impression, as I felt similarly when I listened to Mozart Requiem rendered by Harnoncourt. Only my personal impression concerns.

with appreciation,

Neil Halliday wrote (December 19, 2007):
Terejia wrote:
> the use of heavy timpani in the closing chorale (Mvt. 7) gave me a sort of scary and overwhelming impression,<
I notice that the timpani in Rilling's [4] otherwise grand closing chorale (Mvt. 7) are feeble (almost inaudible), whereas Harnoncourt [5] and Leusink [8] show the dangers of timpani that are too prominent. Koopman [10] seems to have achieved the finest overall balance between the various elements in this closing chorale (Mvt. 7). (Milnes' [11] seems fine in this regard as well; Gardiner's [9] final chorale sample is not available).

 

Cantata #19

Vivat205 wrote (June 27, 2010):
Suzuki's vol 46 [12] arrived today. It contains a superb performance of BWV 19 that, after several listenings, replaces Gardiner's marvelously sung one [9] as my all-around favorite. The difference seems to me to be that Suzuki's first section is dramatic where Gardiner's is "just" blazingly fast and dazzingly sung.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 19: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: 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

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