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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

Cantata BWV 193
Es ist dir gesagt, Mench, was gut ist
Cantata BWV 193a
Zion Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter
Discussions - Part 1

BWV 193 - reconstructions and recordings

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (November 22, 2001):
One of my two church choirs and our baroque ensemble will perform Bach's cantata BWV 193 "Ihr Tore zu Zion" next Sunday here in Cologne (Germany). This is one of the City Council Election (correct English term??) cantatas that have no place in liturgical order (and so no place in the discussions on this list), and it is only a fragmentary cantata - but it seemed to me quite appropriate for a Catholic parish, where next sunday is the "Feast of Christ the King" (again: correct English term?) and ont he other hand the last Sunday of the liturgical year... leading into advent season.

Ihr Tore zu Zion, ihr Wohnungen Jakobs freuet euch.
Gott ist unsers Herzens Freude, wir sind Völker seiner Weide,
ewig ist sein Königreich.

Rejoice, ye gates of Zion and ye dwellings of Jacob.
God is our heart's joy, we are people of his pastures,
everlasting is his kingdom.
(my translation - I don't know how idiomatic this might be...)

The cantata's sources are not complete: no score exists, only a couple of parts. Tenor and bass (including continuo) parts and trumpets and timpani that might be expected for such an occasion are missing.

I have found two recordings. One with Helmut Rilling [1], using (with slight alterations) the edition by Hänssler Verlag (HE 31.193, now published by Carus Verlag), reconstructed by Reinhold Kubik. The second recording is by Ton Koopman [2], using a different (seemingly his own?) edition/reconstruction - I don't know whether this one is published. I would like to hear your responses to these reconstructed versions (I suspect that some of you might have the one or the other recording in their Bach cantata CD collections).

If you would like to know what I'm doing: I have bought the Hänssler score, but being not entirely happy with the Basso continuo suggestion there, I have altered this part and the choir tenor/bass parts here and there (more or less heavily, not caring about copyright, I have to admit), and I have omitted the trumpets/timpani entirely, partly for economic reasons (our parish couldn't afford 3 trumpeters and a timps player who tend to increase their wages now, as advent/christmas is very close), partly as I didn't like too much what I heard on either Rilling [1] or Koopman [2]. As I am no brass player and as I have noticed how difficult it is to write even a continuo line that might sound and look more or less like Bach's bass lines, I have resigned to speculate on these parts myself too. This involved only 4 bars of additional oboe playing (frankly not "reconstructed" but added) in the opening choir to fill a gap between the full orchestra ritornellos (I refused to have those 4 bars played by continuo alone).

So, I would be happy to hear what you think, know and suggest on this cantata!

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 22, 2001):
To Thomas Gebhardt, who stated:
One of my two church choirs and our baroque ensemble will perform Bach's cantata BWV 193 "Ihr Tore zu Zion" next Sunday here in Cologne (Germany).

Ihr Tore zu Zion, ihr Wohnungen Jakobs freuet euch.
Gott ist unsers Herzens Freude, wir sind Völker seiner Weide,
ewig ist sein Königreich.

Rejoice, ye gates of Zion and ye dwellings of Jacob.
God is our heart's joy, we are people of his pastures,
everlasting is his kingdom.

So, I would be happy to hear what you think, know and suggest on this cantata! >
There seems to be some confusion here.

Bach's Ratswahlkantate BWV Anh. 193 entitled "Herrscher des Himmels, König der Ehren" has been almost entirely lost with the exception of the 1st 3 lines of the final mvt. which Bach had written above the soprano part of BWV 208. The complete text had been printed and the NBA I/32.2 KB has a facsimile of the entire text, none of which contains the words that you have indicated.

There is no Advent connection whatsoever.

Either you have a complete fabrication on the part of some individual written in the style of Bach, or perhaps this text/music comes from somewhere else, perhaps even another Baroque composer (Telemann?) Why don't you do a search on Ambrose's site where all the cantata texts are accessible for quick retrieval. I've misplaced the URL, otherwise I would have looked it up immediately.

Sorry to be the bringer of bad tidings just as we enter the Advent season!

Michael Grover wrote (November 22, 2001):
[To Thomas Braatz] Um...

Is that REALLY Tom Braatz who responded? Never seen that email address before, plus, I've never seen Tom make a mistake before! :-)

Herr Gebhardt was not referring to Anh. 193, rather to BWV 193. According to Simon Crouch's page: (http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/193.html) BWV 193 is, in fact, entitled "Ihr Tore zu Zion". Simon states that reconstruction is needed, (just like Thomas said) but the soprano, alto, oboes I & II, and string parts are extant. Here's the link to Philip Ambrose's translation: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV193.html.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 22, 2001):
[To Michael Grover, Thomas Gebhardt and all] Very sorry about that slip -- did I have too much turkey? The moment I signed off to take the dog for a walk, it all occurred to me: I had even discussed this particularly title on this site before (in regard to Bach's penchant to use puns)! Talk about being absent-minded!

To Michael: You are absolutely right about the parts extant. It should be pointed out that the trumpet parts never existed, but that does not keep others, like Bach's sons from adding trumpet parts at will. In this instance, however, nothing of that sort has come down to us. This is what the NBA KB editors indicate: The tenor and bass voice parts, both types of continuo (not transposed and transposed) and several instrumental parts are missing. They suspect that on the repeat of the 1st chorus (Mvt. 1) there may have been trumpets and timpani, and perhaps even flutes. They also mention the "Ergänzende Rekonstruktion des Fragments" by Reinhold Kubik (Hänssler Verlag, Stuttgart, 1984) which Thomas Gebhardt had written about.

Sorry about the confusion that was caused by me and no one else.

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (November 22, 2001):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you for sorting this out already... I read the messages now in the order of writing and got slightly shocked by the first reply... went to my bookshelf, took out the score, read in the Music Dictionary... BWV... and was self-confident enough again... ;)

Yes, what you say then later on is exactly what I had found out. Anyone who has seen or herad the reconstructions? Any opinions on that?

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 23, 2001):
[To Thomas Gebhardt] Some remarks:

< Thomas Gebhardt wrote: One of my two church choirs and our baroque ensemble will perform Bach's cantata BWV 193 "Ihr Tore zu Zion" next Sunday here in Cologne (Germany). This is one of the City Council Election (correct English term??) cantatas that have no place in liturgical order (and so no place in the discussions on this list), >
The aim of the BCML is to discuss all the Bach Cantatas, both sacred and secular, both complete and fragmantary. We have already discussed the secular cantatas BWV 208, BWV 211, and the cantata movement (or a motet) BWV 118. So are Cantatas BWV 71, BWV 120 & BWV 137, all of which were also written for the TownCouncil Inauguration. Therefore Cantata BWV 193 will probably be discussed sometimes during the coming two years.

< and it is only a fragmentary cantata - but it seemed to me quite appropriate for a catholic parish, where next sunday is the "Feast of Christ the King" (again: correct English term?) and ont he other hand the last Sunday of the liturgical year... leading into advent season.
Ihr Tore zu Zion, ihr Wohnungen Jakobs freuet euch.
Gott ist unsers Herzens Freude, wir sind Völker seiner Weide,
ewig ist sein Königreich.
Rejoice, ye gates of Zion and ye dwellings of Jacob.
God is our heart's joy, we are people of his pastures,
everlasting is his kingdom.
(my translation - I don't know how idiomatic this might be...)
The cantata's sources are not complete: no score exists, only a couple of parts. Tenor and bass (including continuo) parts and trumpets and timpani that might be expected for such an occasion are missing. >
I hope that you will find what W. Murray Young wrote about this cantata useful:

"The librettist of this truly magnificent Ratweschsel cantata is unknown. However, Picander wrote the libretto for Bach's 1727 secular hommage cantata, BWV 193a , 'Ihr Hauser des Himmels" (Ye houses of Heaven), which celebrates the name-day of Augustus II. Three movements are borrowed from this work, of which only the text survives, to permit a reconstruction in this sacred cantata. Even the sacred version is incomplete, because Bach noted that a recitative was omitted before the final chorus, itself a repeat of the opening chorus. This note in the score may indicate that Bach had a part in the composition of the text, which is original throughout and based on four diffrent Psalms, referred to in the first four numbers. The soli are only SA, with four-part chorus. The ochestra is brilliant as befits the occasion: 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, an oboe d'amore, a bassoon, unison violins, a viloncello, a viola, organ and continuo.

Mvt. 1 Chorus
A stunning tutti produces a panoply of majestic music, with trumpet fanfares to honor the presence of royalty in the case of the secular cantata. Here the hommage is being paid to God. Zion represent Leipzig as its modern counterpart; Bach's music fits this religious text equally well as it does the opening secular text. This same chorus will be repeated at the end of the cantata as Bach indicated (Chorus ab initio repetatur).
The first line is based on Psalm 87: 2. The noun 'Tore (gates) was leter changed to 'Pforten' (portals), so that noe this cantata may have two titles.

Young's translation:
Ye gates in Zion, ye dwellings of Jacob, rejoice!
God is the joy of our heart,
We are people of His pasture,
Eternal is His Kingdom."

< I have found two recordings. One with Helmut Rilling [1], using (with slight alterations) the edition by Hänssler Verlag (HE 31.193, now published by Carus Verlag), reconstructed by Reinhold Kubik. The second recording is by Ton Koopman [2], using a different (seemingly his own?) edition/reconstruction - I don't know whether this one is published. I would like to hear your responses to these reconstructed versions (I suspect that some of you might have the one or the other recording in
their Bach cantata CD collections). >
I do have both recordings. I am not aware of any other recording of this cantata, either in complete (?) form or of individual movements from it. Following your message I have been listening to both recordings. The Rilling's rendion [1] is so much better, with festive atmospehere and clear and bold playing and singing. Koopman's [2] sounds lightweight in comparison. I do not think that it stems only from the different reconstructions. There is a big contradition between the direction in which the music is going and Koopman's treatment of it. This cantata deserves a discussion in the BCML. I hope that when its time comes to be discussed, there will be more recordings of it to listen to and to choose from. Now I have to dedicate my listening time to the coming week's cantata - BWV 60.

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (November 23, 2001):
Thomas Braatz wrote: To Michael:
< You are absolutely right about the parts extant. It should be pointed out that the trumpet parts never existed, but that does not keep others, like Bach's sons from adding trumpet parts at will. In this instance, however, nothing of that sort has come down to us. >
You're right, that the trumpet parts are missing. But I cannot believe that they never existed or had not been intended by Bach: In the opening chorus ("Ihr Tore zu Zion") in bar 2+3 and 67+68 respectively the 2 oboes, strings and choir are silent - I cannot believe that Bach implied a gap of 2 bars of silence (or continuo alone) between the ritornello-like tutti playing before and after. So I'm sure trumpets and timps would have been in there!

What do you think of my choice of this cantata for next sunday (not advent, yet, of course, but last sunday in the liturgical year and in the roman catholic church Sunday of "Christ the King". I think it one of the possible solutions to make this cantata useful for performance in holy service.

 

Discussions in the Week of August 24, 2003

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 24, 2003):
BWV 193 - Introduction

The chosen work for this week’s discussion (August 24, 2003) is the Cantata for the Town Council Inauguration (Rastwechsel) BWV 193 ‘Ihr Tore zu Zion’ (You gates/doors to Zion).

Background

As Cantata BWV 190, discussed in the BCML only two weeks ago, this one has also survived in incomplete form. Its starting point is the Drama per Musica BWV 193a, ‘Ihr Häuser des Himmels’ (Ye houses of heaven), which was performed on August 3, 1727, Augustus II (the Strong) name-day, but from which only Picander’s text (11 movements) survived. Its 1st, 7th and 9th movements and possibly others too, were parodied, probably later that same year in Cantata BWV 193, which is believed to have been performed for the first time in Leipzig on August 25, leaving Bach short time to rework the piece. In the first two movements, the unknown librettist (could it be also Picander or maybe Bach himself?) draws on two verses from Psalms, 87: 2 and 121: 4. The opening chorus is repeated at the end of the work, an infrequent practice on Bach’s part and further proof that the work was written under pressure of time. The sections require reconstruction include the continuo part, the recitative (Mvt. 6) for bass or tenor and two of the choral parts in the opening chorus. The extant material is sufficient to permit a convincing reconstruction.

Recordings

The details of the recordings of the cantata can be found at the following pages of the Bach Cantatas Website: Cantata BWV 193 - Recordings

This cantata has only 2 complete recordings: Helmuth Rilling (1983, reconstruction by Reinhold Kubik) [1] and Ton Koopman (1999, reconstruction by Koopman himself) [2]. Both Harnoncourt/Leonhardt and Leusink did not include this work in their complete cantata cycles, and Suzuki has not yet reached this point in his progressing cycle. Based on his article on the reconstruction of BWV 190, it is most likely that he will try his hands also in the reconstruction of BWV 192. Actually, Koopman is also not yet there, but he recorded the cantata for Erato in advance, allowing the producers of the Bach-2000 Edition (Teldec) to include his rendition in their complementary Volume 5 (Secular Cantatas and other cantatas missing from the original Harnoncourt/Leonhardt cycle).

Due to some technical difficulties, thereare not Music Examples at the moment.

Additional Information

In the page of recordings mentioned above you can also find links to useful complementary information:
The original German text and various translations, three of which were contributed by members of the BCML: English (Francis Browne), French (Jean-Pierre Grivois), and Hebrew (Aryeh Oron).
Links to the Score in Vocal & Piano version and BGA Edition (temporarily unavailable).
Links to commentaries: in English by Simon Crouch (Listener’s Guide), and in Spanish by Julio Sánchez Reyes (CantatasDeBach).

Its only two recordings and the incomplete form should not in any way, deter you from listening to this truly magnificent cantata. Incomplete Bach is still a much better proposition than lost Bach. I hope to see many of you participating in the discussion. Only 16 cantatas (5 of which are sacred), including this one, remained to be discussed in the BCML!

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 31, 2003):
BWV 193 – Ihr Tore zu Zion

Recordings & Timings

Last week I have been listening to 2 complete recordings of Cantata BWV 193. The reconstructed recitative (Mvt. 6) is included only in Koopman’s recording.

No

Conductor

Year

Mvt. 1

Mvt. 2

Mvt. 3

Mvt. 4

Mvt. 5

Mvt. 6

Mvt. 7

TT

[1]

Rilling

1983

4:56

0:40

6:16

0:58

3:26

-

4:36

20:45

[2]

Koopman

1999

4:18

0:38

5:41

0:47

3:17

0:47

4:22

19:50

Commentaries

In the continuous absence of the knowledgeable Thomas Braatz from the discussions, I have compiled for you most of the commentaries on this cantata I could find.

General & Mvt. 1 Chorus [S, A, T, B]
W. Murray Young (1989): A stunning tutti produces a panoply of majestic music, with trumpet fanfares to honour the presence of royalty in the case of the secular cantata. Here the homage is being paid to God. Zion represents Leipzig as its modern counterpart; Bach’s music fits this religious text equally well as it does the opening secular text. This same chorus will be repeated at the end of the cantatas as Bach indicated (Chorus ab initio repetatur).
Wolfgang Marx (1999, liner notes to Koopman recording): Cantata BWV 193 begins with a choral appeal to the gates of Zion and all the dwellings of Jacob to rejoice. Two oboes and the full complement of strings express this joy through their elaborate figurations.
David Schulenberg (1999, Oxford Composer Companion): The opening movement is a grand D major chorus in compact modified da capo form, parodied from the opening chorus of BWV 193a (there sung by a 'Council of the Gods' - a flattering coincidence for any members of the Leipzig council who noticed it!). In addition to the surviving parts, it must have included at least three trumpets, timpani, and continuo, and perhaps two flutes and a third oboe as well. [snip] Unfortunately, the version published by Reinhold Kubik (Stuttgart, 1983) requires modern brass instruments and makes other departures from Bach's style.

Mvt. 2 Recitative [Soprano]
Young: In secco, she declaims Psalm 121: 4 in her first line, followed by her own thoughts on this. A summary would be: the Guardian of Israel does not fall asleep or slumber. His countenance is the shadow of our right hand. The whole country has increased in its abundance. Who can exalt Thee enough for that, Lord?
Marx: -
Schulenberg: -

Mvt. 3 Aria [Soprano]
Young: An oboe and strings accompany her fervent prayer of thanks to God, which is also a plea to Him that He pardon our transgressions. Her text is well interpreted by a rhythm of solemnity throughout. There is a beautiful reverence in this melody. The last line of her text refers to Psalm 65: 2.
Marx: In her aria, the soprano soloist thanks God for His goodness in forgiving her sins and granting prayers.
Schulenberg: A soprano recitative leads to a da capo aria in E minor, 'Gott, wir danken deiner Güte', also for soprano, accompanied by oboe and strings. Although parodied from Salus's aria 'Herr! So groß als dein Erhöhen' in BWV 193a, its untroubled minuet rhythm and relatively simple formal structure have led to suggestions that both works derive from a lost secular cantata of Bach's Köthen period. Christine Fröde suggests that the aria was parodied again in a lost cantata for the Thomasschule in 1734.

Mvt. 4 Recitative [Alto]
Young: This secco movement begins by apostrophising Leipzig as the present Jerusalem and then compares these earthly cities with the heavenly one. Leipzig should be delighted to hold such a municipal festival as this, having peace within its walls and justice in its law-courts and palaces. She prays that its fame and light may continually endure.
Marx: In the ensuing recitative, the alto soloist compares Leipzig with Jerusalem and thereby relates the whole cantata to the welfare of the city.
Schulenberg: -

Mvt. 5 Aria [Alto]
Young: A solo oboe d’amore obbligato with the continuo produces an enchanting melody to accompany her prayer that the Lord send us His blessing. This tune evokes imagery of a bud (the blessing) bursting into blossom.
Marx: The following aria takes the form of a prayer for the Lord to bless all ‘who administrater the law for you and protect the poor’.
Schulenberg: Less clear is the case of the G major alto aria 'Sende, Herr, den Segen ein', which follows a recitative for the same voice. Parodied from Pietas's aria 'Sachsen, komm zum Opferherd' in BWV 193a, it resembles the first part of a da capo aria; perhaps there was a B section in some earlier version. The affect is rather neutral, despite the ornate oboe part, which, with continuo, was apparently the sole accompaniment.

Mvt. 6 Recitative [Bass]
Young: -
Marx: The previous recitative had already spoken of judgement seats and the justice to the dwells in the palace there, implying a concrete allusion to the Leipzig magistracy and its jurisdiction.
Schulenberg: -

Mvt. 7 Chorus [S, A, T, B]
Young: The initial tutti chorus is repeated, living the listener enthralled by its grandeur. It is one of Bach’s most fascinating choruses; its repetition does not detract from the total grand impression of the work.
Marx: -
Schulenberg: -

Short Review of the Recordings

Reading the commentaries quoted above, one can only wonder why has not this cantata been recorded more often. Even more so after hearing its only two recordings, although none of them is ideal. Rilling [1] certainly has more grandeur in the opening (and closing) chorus, to which both the music and the text call for. The soft centred approach and the legato lines, diminish the dramatic aspect. It is a pity, because Rilling has shown us many times in the previous discussed cantatas, that he can do better with choruses of this type. Koopman [2], on the other hand, performs the chorus with too much elegance and lightness. It is very clean and transparent indeed, but almost no enthusiasm and grandeur are conveyed. I am sure that conductors like Richter and Suzuki could have achieved more convincing results with this chorus. The first has never recorded this cantata. For the rendition of the second, we have to wait couple more years.

Talking about reconstruction of the chorus, the one used by Rilling sounds somewhat more Handelian to me, where Koopman’s is more Bachian.

The prayer of the aria for soprano calls for a singer with emotional intensity, as Arleen Augér [1] is. Her heart-rending performance, supported by the equally moving oboe playing of Günther Passin, must reach everybody. Yes, she uses light vibratoand sometimes you can hear strain in her voice, but who cares. It is all about conveying deep human feelings. To this kind of singing one wants to listen ‘for ever and ever’. Caroline Stam, who sings this aria with Koopman [2], sounds simple, even superficial after Augér. She barely scratches the surface. The sensitive playing of the oboist in this aria (Ponseele, I guess) is the best part of Koopman’s rendition.

Julia Hamari (with Rilling) [1] is doing the outmost of her less interesting aria for alto. Michael’s Chance’s (with Koopman) [2] feminine counter-tenor voice suits the demands of the aria quite well, but his singing is not as interesting as Hamari’s.

Conclusion

A movement to take away: the aria for soprano (Mvt. 3) with Augér/Rilling [1].

And now, to next week’s cantata (actually an aria for alto), BWV 200.

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (September 3, 2003):
It is a pity that neither David Zale nor Aryeh Oron could provide us with some music examples of this cantata, for - judging from the limited response - only few of us have the Rilling [1] or the Koopman [2] recording. Pending the acquisition of the Koopman performance, I can not write a review. Yet, I can provide some additional background information, drawn from Christoph Wolff's "Johann Sebastian Bach - The Learned Musician".

The group of cantatas for special occasions do not in principle differ from the cantatas for the Sundays and feast days of the ecclesiastical year. Within this group the eight "Ratswechsel" cantatas, which "Ihr Tore zu Zion" belongs to, have a special place.

The town council election pieces constitute a particularly important group, because they fall into the category of official state music for which the cantor and music director at St. Thomas's bore the responsibility. They were performed at the service that took place annually on the Monday after St. Bartholomew's Day (August 24) at St. Nicholas's, after the formal election of the new city council and the rotation of the burgomaster seats. Like the sermon, the cantata was separately commissioned, with both the preacher and the cantor receiving extra fees. "Have ordered from Mr. Superintendent, D. Deyling, the sermon for the inauguration of the new Council, on this coming Monday, likewise the doorkeeper ordered the music from Herr Cantor," notes the town scribe on August 22, 1729. The commissioned piece was due within exactly one week, but because the performance of the council piece always fell on a Monday, Bach had to prepare two different cantatas for the subsequent Sunday and Monday. And as the city council election service was a major communal-political event, Bach would have taken special care with a performance that invariably required a large ensemble and festive scoring with trumpets and timpani. The ceremonial nature of the music always included a processional march to accompany the exit of the town council at the end of the service. Bach's score of BWV 120 makes reference to such an "Intrada con Trombe e Tamburi", which has not come down to us. What has survived, however, are reports in the Leipzig papers of the so-called council sermon on August 31, 1739, on which occasion "the Royal and Electoral Court Composer and Kapellmeister (note Bach's promotion during his Leipzig years - PB), Mr. Joh. Seb. Bach, performed a music that was artful as it was pleasant. Its text was CHORUS. Wir dancken dir , Gott, wir dancken dir." The terms "artful" and "pleasant", however banal they may strike us today, are highly favourable judgments that far exceed what newspapers at the time generally wrote about a musical performance.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 4, 2003):
BWV 193 - Music Examples

I uploaded into the BCW Music Examples (mp3 format) of the Opening Chorus (Mvt. 1) and the Aria for Soprano (Mvt. 3) from the two available recordings of Cantata BWV 193: Rilling [1] and Koopman [2].
See: Cantata BWV 193 - Music Examples

Couple of days ago I sent my review to the BCML.
I would like to read your impressions.

Neil Halliday wrote (September 4, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron]
[1] Rilling's version:

Opening chorus (Mvt. 1). This is a rousing performance, but the trumpet part sounds simplistic in places - I dare say it's no easy matter trying to second guess the master himself. The existing parts of the score show quite intricate writing, which is not matched by the recreated parts given by Reinhold Kubik.

Nevertheless, the choral singing is commited, enthusiastic and clear, and the festive mood is well-captured in this recording. The timpani is balanced and effective.

Soprano aria (Mvt. 3). This is a charming aria, expressively sung by Arleen Augér, with a lovely instrumental accompaniment. There are some nice embellishmments from the oboe.

Taking a leaf from Brad's book, I would like to hear more variation in the phrasing given by the oboe, in those bars where all the instruments play only quavers, so that we have some contrast with the strings that are playing quasi staccato. (An occasional slur over two or three notes from the oboe, now and again, is all that is required).

For those following the 'gestural-equipollent' debate between Brad and myself, notice that I have elected the issue of phrasing only, as the cause of a somewhat excessively equipollent performance here (not including Auger); the tone production of the individual notes by all the instrumentalists is fine. It is this latter issue, namely the excessive variation of tone production on individual notes in excessively 'gestural' performances, that is far more lethal for musical expression, IMO.

[2] Koopman:

Opening chorus (Mvt. 1). The syncopated trumpet part at the beginning does not sound like Bach to me, in the context of this chorus. The choral singing is enthusiastic, but the orchestra goes soft in places, which detracts from the excitement of the piece.

Soprano aria (Mvt. 3). You can hear the results of gesturalism here: certain notes in the score seem to glow like embers, which is an effect I have always disliked, while other notes sound as if they are wilting. Caroline Stam doesn't have the natural power and expressiveness of Auger; her rendition is also gestural (as defined above), which matches the orchestra, and consequently, I suppose this version will have its admirers.

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (September 5, 2003):
BWV 193 - Continued

Thanks to Aryeh Oron we can now listen to the Opening Chorus and the Soprano Aria of both performances that we have available on CD. While listening I tried to imagine how the people at St. Nicholas’s would have actually interpreted this cantata on that Monday in August 1727, with the inauguration of the new city council on their minds. For it is obvious that it was both Bach and Picander’s (?) intention to play on the chauvinism or even the self-conceit of the local authorities.

This is the message the Leipzig notables probably heard:

1. City of Leipzig, rejoice!
God is our happiness.
We are his people!
We belong to his kingdom.
We will last forever!

2. The Lord is guarding our city day and night.
His blessings have strengthened us.
This has rendered us great prosperity.
Lord, we cannot exalt you enough for this.

3. Lord, we thank you for your goodness.
Foreyou are to us like a father.
You make up for our faults.
You hear our prayers.
Therefore all Leipzig must come to your worship.

4. O Leipzig, city of God, have pleasure in this festivity.
Peace and justice are within your walls and palaces.
Pray that your fame and welfare be eternal.

5. Lord, bless those who govern our city by your grace.
Bless those who uphold our laws and protect the poor.
Bless them.

6. City of Leipzig, rejoice!
God is our happiness.
We are his people!
We belong to his kingdom.
We will last forever!

Bach must have been particularly happy with these Ratswechsel cantatas. They gave him a nice bonus, not unwelcome in a city with high costs of living. He was also given the opportunity to deploy full forces in accordance with the grandeur of the occasion. Moreover, he had plenty of time to work in advance in this relatively quiet period of the Lutheran church year, and with the children away for the summer holidays he had more time to himself. Last but not least, the attendance of all the municipal and clerical dignitaries at the service warranted that Bach had their ears, which contributed considerably to his status as the city’s leading musician. Therefore I can not believe that during his 26 Leipzig years he would have composed only 8 council election cantatas. Where have all the others gone?

Listening to the music examples, I was pleasantly surprised by the Rilling movements [1]. Preconceived that I prefer period instruments to modern ones, I must say that Rilling’s orchestra are doing a great job. In the first movement I like their tempo better than Koopman’s [2], which sounds a bit rushed at times and maybe a bit frivolous for the occasion. It is a pity though, that the Stuttgarters seem unable to strike a lighter pace. They invariably show this heaviness, caused by Rilling’s German “Grüdlichkeit” to hit all the notes thoroughly. Yet, I find their performance here more gestural than ever. Good dynamics and on top of that an excellent oboe player and an almost perfect trumpeter. What virtuoso brilliance. I also think the Rilling approach more fitting for the stately entrada or extrada as the procession of the newly elect was solemnly striding out of the church at the end of the ceremony.

Both choirs are very good but the Germans are granted more space to administer justice to the text. Both Koopman [2] and Rilling [1] make use of the reconstructed trumpet, timpani and BC parts that had gone missing. Their reconstructions are not similar. They vary at several places, but it does not bother me. Of course the missing tenor and bass parts of the choir have also been reconstructed and employed by both conductors.

For the soprano aria I prefer Koopman’s light approach [2]. The sound is nice and direct. The lightweight soprano Caroline Stam has a pretty voice and her performance is not bad at all. Yet it is fading next to Arleen Augér [1]. Eine herrliche Stimme! Yes, the pace could be a bit faster, but what excellent technical and interpretive sophistication. Her voice has this great overall range and she effortlessly produces both her high and low notes. Her expression is totally convincing. And do you hear that pretty harpsichord jingle in the background?

I was about to order the Koopman recording [2], but I have changed my mind. This time I am going for Rilling [1].

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantatas BWV 193 & BWV 193a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 193 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 193 | Details of BWV 193a | 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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Last update: ýApril 25, 2013 ý21:36:53