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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 199
Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

A favorite aria: Tief gebuckt

Santu de Silva (Archimedes) wrote (January 17, 2001):
I have recently gotten very fond of the aria "Tief gebuckt und voller Reue" (I think I got that right) from the soprano cantata BWV 199. I have it sung by - I believe - Barbara Schlick, with Ton Koopman's Amsterdam Baroque CO [22].

I don't really like Barbara that much, but I simply love this aria, and somehow Schlick and Koopman have conspired to make me a believer in this lovely piece.

Can anyone recommend a better performance of this movement? There surely has to be one.

The strings seem to be one-per-part; it has the sound of a chamber ensemble. Oh, it is beautiful!

Donald Satz wrote (January 18, 2001):
[To Santu De Silva] Since the text of the soprano aria is all about submission, Barbara Schlick isn't a bad choice; she does well with submission and confusion based on a voice which often sounds like it's ready to break.

Schlick has also sung this aria with Christophe Coin at the helm on an Astrée disc [21], but I don't feel that Coin conveys the full expressiveness of the music. For that, just go to Monica Huggett directing Ensemble Sonnerie on a Virgin disc with soprano Nancy Argenta [20]. Huggett gives a wonderful and incisive performance; Argenta, not one of my favourites, does a very good job. I think that Huggett recorded 2 cantata CD's for Virgin, and that they have been combined in a 2-pack at bargain price.

Roy Reed wrote (January 18, 2001):
[18] (To Donald Satz) There is also soprano Barbara Bonney with the Leonhardt performance on Teldec. Wonderful!

 

BWV 199 and other obsessions

Santu de Silva (Archimedes) wrote (January 25, 2001):
I had remarked that I was very fond of the aria "Tief gebuckt und voller Reue" from BWV 199. I looked up the cantata Website, and I listened to reader's comments on the performances of this aria by various sopranos, and I decided to buy most of them. Every single one of them, actually, but for the moment, I have just these:

[22] Barbara Schlick / Koopman
[20] Nancy Argenta / Ensemble Sonnerie-Monica Huggett
[30] Magdalena Kožená / Gardiner
[12] Arleen Augér / Rilling

Well! I now have very educated opinions on these ladies.

Fist of all, I must say that ALL of them are really wonderful.

[12] My least favourite of them is Arleen Augér. I like the full-throated orchestra, simply as a contrast to the light, airy sound that I'm used to with Koopman.

Somehow the piece seems to inspire the women in a similar way, so that they project the same emotions, though I have thought of them (three of them, anyway; Magdalena Kožená is an unfamiliar name) as very different people. Arleen Augér takes great care with her diction; I really appreciate the care singers take with the words. But Augér sings out as if she was on a concert stage, while the others sing in a more intimate chamber style. Augér gives every note almost the same weight, with little ebb and flow in the dynamics.

The orchestra is gorgeous, of course, but not an authentic, late 20th century conception of Bach, but a more mid-century take on it. It's full and romantic, and just a bit heavy-handed. They manage to make it sound like a waltz.

[20] Nancy Argenta and Sonnerie are very convincing, but Nancy's flute-like little-girl impertinent voice has to work a lot harder than it usual does to get the proper weight for the sentiment in the aria. And she does it. The orchestra is very small and, like Koopman's performance, light and airy, yet thoughtful and serious. It is a pleasant surprise to hear Argenta sing this way. I have heard Sonnerie play live, and it is a wonderful experience. They have such fun playing; it's effortless. It's frustrating to sit in the audience; you want to get close--preferably on the stage.

[30] But the real surprise was Gardiner and Magdalena Kožená. I have never heard this woman before. Good lord, what a lot of feeling she pours into the singing! Unlike Gardiner does in the Matthew Passion (BWV 244), he doesn't rush this aria--or she doesn't LET him rush. It's slow and gorgeous--even more luscious than Rilling, since there's no vibrato to artificially thicken the texture. It's like pure sunlight cascading through stained-glass. I can imagine Kožená gesturing with her hands as she sings --so much emphasis does she put into particular words, it's heartrending. I have never heard Gardiner accompany an aria with more sensitivity.

She's singing the skipping last number (Wie freudig ist mein Herz) right now, and she keeps it light and rhythmic without making it trivial or flippant.

[22] All of them sing it better than Barbara Schlick. For all I dislike old Schlick's performance, I have a sentimental attachment to her. This aria makes me wish I were a soprano so I could sing it. There is no higher accolade I can give an aria than that.

[18] Arch, waiting for the Leonard/Barbara Bonney CD from Berkshire RO.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 26 2001):
[To Santu de Silva] I am glad that you sent your review of the recordings of this marvellous cantata couple of months after it was discussed in the BCML. One of the possibilities the BCML and the Archive Site offer is to leave the cantatas already discussed open for future additions. Your review proves how important this option is. Secondly, it gave me opportunity to re-examine my initial thoughts about the recordings this cantata and to see them in new light. The time that have passed, two important new recordings of this cantata that have appeared in the meantime on the map and your own ideas, caused my to enter into this small adventure. I sat down to listen, trying to avoid reading my previous review and listening with fresh ears (however impossible such a task might be).

I have listened to the four recordings you have mentioned and to additional new one, from a renowned singer on unfamiliar label. Here are the details: [28]

The second new recording is, of course, Gardiner with Kožená [30].

The cantata subject is about traversal, from the deepest misery, guilt, shame, remorse and agony to the utmost joy and comfort. Therefore it put a very heavy task on the shoulders of the singer. She must have a mature and flexible voice, variety of technical means, and ability to convey different kinds of feelings. This cantata is so demanding that it expose every fault the singer might have.

[12] I find the Augér / Rilling recording impeccable. Her singing is so moving and touching, not a 'concert stage' at all. I could not find any of the faults you were talking about. She gives every phrase a special treatment, according to its textual meaning. She is so convincing in her misery, so that when the concluding aria comes, she almost sounds as if she is forcing herself to outburst with joy, to say farewell to grief, because her salvation is assured. And the orchestra is not heavy-handed at all. Their playing reflects the internal happenings in the singer's soul.

[20] Regarding Argenta / Huggett I completely agree with your description of Argenta's voice and Sonnerie's airy and light playing. But I find that although this rendition is well balanced and that the match between the singer and the accompaniment is good, it lacks depth. It is not varied according to the different moods suggested along the traversal, which are not fully expressed and the emotions remain veiled. I know that there is more than one way to perform a cantata and be convincing, but here I fat the end only half satisfied.

[22] Schlick / Koopman - I have tried very hard to find to enjoy this performance, but I could not. Indeed, Koopman's orchestra has more volume than Sonnerie, its sound is warmer and their playing is more sensitive. However, the main focus here is the singer, and Schlick simply does not get into the heart of the matter.

And now to the two new recordings.

[30] Kožená / Gardiner is indeed a nice surprise. Kožená has all the components needed for a good performance of this cantata. She has a mervellous voice - full, lucid, poised and supple, and she is not ashamed of exposing her feelings. And Gardiner is revealed here as a sensitive partner. I find myself again agree with everything you wrote about this recording. I shall simply say that this is now my preferred rendition among the modern recordings of this cantata. I believe that the initial plan for the last CD of the 12 CD's of Bach Cantatas conducted by Gardiner from Archiv Produktion, did not include BWV 199. It is our luck that they chose to change their initial plan. It is out bad luck that they have not issued all 60 planned CD's.

[28] Kirkby / Goltz - I do not recall anybody mentioning this new recording. It is not generally available although it was issued only last year. I discovered it by chance and bought it from the German store JPC. To quote from the linear notes: "Emma Kirkby has become a legend within the concept of music as beginning not with the singer but with the words. Her name is always and above all associated with pure sound". Here exactly is the problem of this recording; The VOICE is not what its once was. The angelic sound and the smoothness production are not as limpid, fresh and bell-like as we have used to hear. And I think that although I have been always charmed by voice, deep expression of feelings has never been Kirkby's strongest side. I also believe that she feels more comfortable in the Baroque and pre-Baroque English composers environment, than in Bach's idiom. The accompaniment is very good and has more boldness than either Sonnerie or Koopman's (but not more than Gardiner's is). In some ways it compensates for Kirkby's deficiencies.

And now I have to do my homework for BWV 14 - next week's cantata and something totally different from BWV 199.

Santu de Silva wrote (January 26, 2001):
Hello everybody, and especially Aryeh Oron:

Aryeh Oron wrote:
< I am glad that you sent your review of the recordings of this marvellous cantata couple of months after it was discussed in the BCML. One of the
possibilities the BCML and the Archive Site offer is to leave the cantatas already discussed open for future additions. >
As I mentioned, I did some reading there, and that's where I got the leads to some of these performances, and why I bought the Augér/Rilling recording. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with that recording for various reasons.

< The cantata subject is about traversal, from the deepest misery, guilt, shame, remorse and agony to the utmost joy and comfort. Therefore it put a very heavy task on the shoulders of the singer. She must have a mature and flexible voice, variety of technical means, and ability to convey different kinds of feelings. This cantata is so demanding that it expose every fault the singer might have. >
Right.

< I find the Augér / Rilling recording impeccable. Her singing is so moving and touching, not a 'concert stage' at all. I could not find any of the faults you were talking about. She gives every phrase a special treatment, according to its textual meaning. She is so convincing in her misery, so that when the concluding aria comes, she almost sounds as if she is forcing herself to outburst with joy, to say farewell to grief, because her salvation is assured. >
I agree about your description of the essential facts about the recording; yet I do not like it as much as the Kožená / Gardiner. That is essentially matter of individual preference.

I can at least try to explain why the Augér performance feels like a concert stage; I mean, it's obvious: she has to sing over the much larger forces wielded by Rilling. (I think the sizes of the three orchestras Rilling/Gardiner/Sonnerie are in the ratios of something like 3:2:1.) For such a large orchestra, Rilling does marvellously. I can imagine times when only something that substatial will satisfy my aural hunger, to coin a phrase. So the feelings expressed by Augér though very much the same as Schlick, have a different *tone*, a more public tone, in contrast to the more intimate tone of Schlick/Koopman and Argenta/Sonnerie. Augér's singing is also more declamatory (as is Kožená's). Kožená, though, manages some very nice ppp's, whereas Argenta doesn't go below an mp. I do not suggest that the number of ppp's
in a performance is any kind of measure of it's expressiveness. I merely give this as evidence of the much more public tone of Augér's performance than any of the others.

< And the orchestra is not heavy-handed at all. Their playing reflects the internal happenings in the singer's soul. >
We have to agree to disagree here!

< Regarding Argenta / Huggett I completely agree with your description of Argenta's voice and Sonnerie's airy and light playing. But I find that although this rendition is well balanced and that the match between the singer and the accompaniment is good, it lacks depth. It is not varied according to the different moods suggested along the traversal, which are not fully expressed and the emotions remain veiled. I know that there is more than one way to perform a cantata and be convincing, but here I felt at the end only half satisfied. >
I agree. But relative to Argenta's normal range of emotion, I can testify that this is at least a 50% increase in expressiveness. Sometimes you have to take these things in perspective. For most people, Argenta is just another singer trying to sing BWV 199 as well as she can. For me, she's someone who's singing has lacked strong emotion---until now. So this is something of a subjective issue for me. The very first line of "Tief gebueckt", that lovely low note, is at once a sign of a new improved Argenta.

< Schlick / Koopman - I have tried very hard to find to enjoy this performance, but I could not. >
Again, I like this one for sentimental reasons.

< However, the main focus here is the singer, and Schlick simply does not get into the heart of the matter. >
Well, emotionally she does, possibly; musically, she misses. I think Schlick has the heart (as other list members have pointed out!) but she doesn't have the voice / technique.

< Kozená / Gardiner is indeed a nice surprise. Kozená has all the components needed for a good performance of this cantata. She has a mervellous voice - full, lucid, poised and supple, and she is not ashamed of exposing her feelings. And Gardiner is revealed here as a sensitive partner. >
As I said, I was shocked. For once he laid aside his very British stiff upper lip, and wore his heart on his sleeve. I have never, ever heard Gardiner play like this. It was a shock, and a delightful surprise.

< "Emma Kirkby has become a legend within the concept of music as beginning not with the singer but with the words. Her name is always and above all associated with pure sound". >
I'm afraid I agree with you. Argenta seemed to be a step up from Kirkby. I've never heard Kirkby sing Bach, and I'm dying to do it. I've always loved Kirkby's voice but always despaired of her singing.

I'd better find a recording of BWV 14 in preparation for your next opus

P.S. What nationality is Magdalena Kožená? I'm guessing Czech or Hungarian.

P.P.S. Another favourite singer of mine is Maria Zádori. Has she made any Bach recordings?

Charles Francis wrote (January 27, 2001):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< I find the Augér / Rilling recording impeccable. Her singing is so moving and touching, not a 'concert stage' at all. I could not find any of the faults you were talking about. She gives every phrase a special treatment, according toits textual meaning. She is so convincing in her misery, so that when the concluding aria comes, she almost sounds as if she is forcing herself to outburst with joy, to say farewell to grief, because her salvation is assured. And the orchestra is not heavy-handed at all. Their playing reflects the internal happenings in the singer's soul. >
I can only agree wholeheartedly! Take, for example, the aria "Tief gebückt und voller Reue", where at the phrase "Habe doch Geduld mit mir!" Bach in 1714 arguably anticipates Mahler, and Arleen Augér with the help of Helmuth Rilling achieves something quite transcendent, a unique moment.

Santu De Silva (Archimedes) wrote (January 29, 2001):
BWV 199, etc.


[23] Well, the Suzuki/BCJ recording of BWV 199 arrived today, and I'm seriously underwhelmed. The recitatives were much too deliberate and slow-paced, and the aria "Tief gebückt" very ordinary.

[18] I think I ordered the Bonney-Leonhardt recording from Berkshire RO; they're backed up, supposedly, and promise that they'll have it in in 2 weeks. More opinions at that time!

Meanwhile, I'm hunting for a good recording of BWV 100. The Leonhardt/Harnoncourt recording sounds at least good. (it's the opening chorus I'm looking for, here.)

Riccardo Nughes wrote (January 30, 2001):
BWV 199

Well I think BWV 199 is one of the greatest of our "hero". I have the Rilling-Augér [12], Leonhardt-Bonney [18] and Coin-Schlick [21] recordings. The last one is my favourite: it is the fastest version and it features a bassoon in the continuo as noted in the second Bach manuscript of this cantata.

Barbara Schlick is one of my favourite baroque singers and even if I admit that she's not the same since some years (…time passes for everyone...), well she's very great in this recording.

C. Coin version may be "strange" at first hearings but I think it' s really great!!!
The Leonhardt-Bonney version is great too, but I think Barbara Bonney voice here is a lttle too...light.

Santu de Silva (Archimedes) wrote (January 30, 2001):
[To Riccardo Nughes] After hearing so much criticism of Schlick's singing, I'm hearing two favourable opinions in quick succession! (I myself like her sometimes,
and hate her other times. In certain instances she seems to almost whimper, an unfortunate failing.)

I played an aria sung by Schlick to a colleague of mine, after having played him the Kožená and the Argenta performances of the same aria. He seemed to like the Schlick the best. He said she sounded more mellow than the other two. (I haven't played him the Augér yet.)

 

199

David Harbin wrote (June 10, 2001):
I read a review of Lorraine Hunt singing canatata BWV 199 (staged) at the Barbican in London. In it, the reviewer said that BWV 199 was considered almost unbearable to perform.

Could anyone explain this.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 10, 2001):
(To David Harbin) Is this part of the new trend to make an operatic/ballet production of Bach's sacred works? What does "staged" otherwise mean? I hope this was not performance art with blood actually being presented for the audience to see. That might be enough for some sopranos to have difficulty with the performance.

Seriously, however, there is enough in this cantata for a soprano to 'worry about' without asking them to perform any additional movements on stage. Bach pushes the envelope here by requiring a more considerable range of voice with a particular ability to hover on the low notes (C below the treble clef) on the words, "mein Mund ist geschlossen" ("my mouth is closed"). In the high range, an A flat in the original Weimar version becomes in later versions a B Flat. Since most normal sopranos have gifts in either the higher or lower ranges, it is difficult to find a soprano who will be able to accomplish both in a larger acoustical space (as in a church without a microphone) rather than in a sound studio. Then there is also the problem of singing a simple chorale. Most sopranos are unable to sing these slower, full note values without overdoing it. Just listen to the great sopranos of the past, such as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, as they struggle with Bach in a situation such as this. A truly good soprano with experience in singing Bach should be able to 'work around' the weaker points of her range, but if the top or the bottom suffer (the top being to narrow, forced, or harsh, the bottom without much volume at all), then this cantata certainly can be considered a problem for certain singers and could become 'unbearable' for the listeners as well.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 12, 2001):

On the subject of Lorraine Hunt and Cantata BWV 199, although I do not know that facts, her singing of Bach, if anything like her singing of Charpentier's Medée, cannot be boring or unendurable except in a magnificent sense. Her Medée is unbearable.

I make a distinction between singers of opera in the Classical sense and those of Baroque opera.

 

BWV 199 – Dawn Upshaw

Jonathan D. Garcia wrote (July 13, 2001):
[24] Forgive me if this has been discussed already, as I am new here, but a very beautiful performance of BWV 199 has recently been released by soprano Dawn Upshaw on a new Bach and Purcell CD entitled "Angels Hide Their Faces."

BWV 199 is one of my favorite of all Bach's cantatas, and I own recordings by Augér/Rilling [12], Kozena/Gardiner [30], BCJ/Suzuki [23], Holton/Leusink [29], as well as those by Schwartzkopf [3] and Richter [11]. But I think that this new performance by Dawn Upshaw is the finest out of all of them, especially in the beautiful central aria "Tief Gebuckt," which is neither too slow nor too fast, and sung and played with a tenderness and feeling that no other performance quite matches. It is simply radiant.

I particularly like what the CD booklet author, John Harbison, writes about this movement: "[Bach] begins with a straightfoward Handelian instrumental phrase, which sounds like it will end after 4 measures. Instead, it lifts off at that moment, and soars on, constantly renewing itself for the whole twenty-four measures of the Prelude (and postlude). When the soprano enters the instruments have created and expressive world so articulate and eloquent that she must only learn to inhabit it."

Dawn Upsahw's voice may not be to everyone's taste, but she is a tasteful and intelligent singer who sings with geniune feeling througout. The orchestra is composed of a small but excellent group of one-per-part instrumentalists playing modern instruments, and the sound quality is excellent.

I think that this is one of the most beautiful Bach Cantata recordings that I have heard in quite some time, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves BWV 199, or anyone who would like to get to know what is surely one of Bach's most lovely cantatas.

Andrew Oliver wrote (July 13, 2001):
[To Jonathan D. Garcia] This sounds interesting, Jonathan. What is the reference number of the CD? My personal favourite rendition of this cantata is that recorded by Helmut Winschermann with Elly Ameling [10] as the soloist. It is produced by Philips as part of a 5CD set (ref. 454 346-2), but I gather that it is not easily available in the U.S.A.

Santu de Silva wrote (July 22, 2001):
[24] I sent out for this one as soon as I heard of it, and it arrived yesterday.

I have to agree, it is one of the most satisfying recordings of BWV 199. (I prefer a viola for the chorale, and for that reason a mezzo-soprano, but except for that minor preference...)

I used to be a believer in HIP, and now I'm beginning to realize that my preference for HIP was simply that it sounded better, and I the soundscape (is that the word I want?) of it, and, really, the skill that HIP players had for making lines more transparent. I was, to some extent, a subscriber to HIP philosophy, but that's less the reason I listen to HIP performances.

But here, I'm enjoying Upshaw's semi-HIP or non-HIP performance. And a couple of months ago, I was enjoying Rilling's Lass, Fürstin (BWV 198), also decidedly non-HIP. (And I must say, Gabriele Schreckenbach is very, very impressive there.)

Just to show how crazy I am about "Tief Gebück": over the weekend I made a MiniDisc of 9 versions of the aria sung by 9 different women. They are:

Magdalena Kozena (Gardiner) [30]
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Klemperer) [3]
Wencesclawa Hruba-Freiberger (Pommer) [15]
Barbara Schlick (Koopman) [22]
Midori Suzuki (Suzuki/BCJ) [23]
Barbara Bonney (Harnoncourt) [18]
Arleen Augér (Rilling) [12]
Nancy Argenta (Huggett) [20]
Dawn Upshaw (?)[24]

which left 4 minutes of space at the end...

I love the first three and the last most of all.

 

Dawn Upshaw and BWV 199

Riccardo Nughes wrote (August 5, 2001):
[24] Andante Magazine - Review

 

BWV 199

Pam wrote (February 15, 2002):
Hello to all. I've been lurking on the list for a few days. I'm a rather new Bach collector, but I do have a few cantata recordings.

I recently picked up a CD that includes BWV 199, Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, with text by Georg Christian Lehms. Can anyone give me some information about this cantata - for whom and what occasion it was written? Thanks in advance.

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 15, 2002):
[To Pam] Welcome aboard.

Cantata BWV 199 was discussed in the BCML more than a year ago. You can find the basic infomation about this cantata, as well as a list of all its known recordings, in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV199.htm
And the discussions in the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV199-D.htm

Enjoy and I hope to see you contributing to the weekly cantata discussins.

Pam wrote (February 15, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you! I really enjoyed reading all the discussions of the different recordings. I have the Dawn Upshaw recording [24], and I'm looking forward to trying some of the others for comparison. Like many others in the discussion, I simply love the "Tief gebrucht" aria.

Santu de Silva wrote (February 15, 2002):
[To Pam] Another Tief gebueckt fan! I compiled ten versions of this one aria in a single CD, and listened to it for days (months, actually). I must say that Upshaw's performance [24] has some nice characteristics, though hers is by no means what would be called a straight authentic performance. It's a definitely romantic performance, but in moderately good taste.

Magdalena Kozena [30] is my second favorite, closely followed by Vencesclawa Hruba-Freiberger (who sings with Max Pommer and the Leipzig University choir and orchestra) [15].

 

Cantata 199

Barbara Kurtz wrote (May 30, 2002):
Can someone answer the following. Is the phrase "My heart is swimming in blood" original to Bach, or did he take it elsewhere?

Pieter Pannevis wrote (May 30, 2002):
[12] The first cantata (though not a church cantata) on this CD is actually a Funeral Ode for Queen Christiane Eberhardine of Saxony (BWV 198) performed on 17 October 1727. She was a Protestant in an arranged marriage with the Elector Frederick August, who for purely political purposes had converted to Catholicism back in May 1697 in order to annex the Polish throne. The pious and reclusive Queen Christiane was exceedingly popular with the people of Leipzig, and on her death on 5 September 1727 they decided to hold a memorial service for which Bach was commissioned to write the music. He produced a magnificent cantata in two parts (divided at the occasion by a spoken eulogy), the highlight of which is a miraculous recitative (track 4) to depict tolling funeral bells, followed by a wistful aria for alto accompanied by gambas and lutes commemorating the courage of the late Queen. The work concludes with a charming, dancing choral gigue, the populace celebrating the life of their benefactress. All involved give committed performances, in particular Gabriele Schreckenbach's breath control arouses much admiration in the long-breathed phrases in her aria for alto, in which the great man almost seems to have forgotten the capabilities of the human frame.

The solo cantata BWV 199 was probably written between 1713 and 1714 and is full of distinctly expressive music beautifully sung by the late Arleen Augér from the first recitative which takes its text from the title. The miracle of this cantata lies in its emotional journey beginning in the depths of despair ('My heart is swimming in blood') but concluding joyfully ('How happy is my heart'). Augér's declamatory style of singing recitative is a lesson to all young singers for its power of communication. Despite her excellent clarity of diction one neither needs to know what she is singing about nor understand the German text itself, her voice says it all. Her purity of tone and accuracy of intonation is revelatory, the blend of sound which she achieves in her first aria 'Stumme Seufzer' with oboist Ingo Goritzki and in the chorale 'Ich dein betrubtes Kind' the violist Hans Eurich both masterful. Recorded at the height of her vocal powers ten years before her untimely death in 1993, this is a fitting testament to her extraordinarily lovely Bach singing (it was Mozart's music with which she was particularly associated but the results here are no less beautiful), the astounding moment before the recapitulation of the aria 'Tief gebuckt und voller Reue' (track 14) nothing short of heart-stopping. If you buy this disc for that moment alone you would not have wasted your money.

Only one aria survives as a fragment of Cantata BWV 200; it was only discovered as late as 1924 and published in 1935. Written for two solo violins and alto (not soprano as stated in the booklet's text), Mechthild Georg sounds rather perfunctory and lacklustre after the joys of Augér but chronology defines the placement of this short aria at the end of a highly recommended recording.

Uri Golomb wrote (May 31, 2002):
[To Barbara Kurtz] The cantata's entire libretto is by the Darmstadt court librarian George Christian Lehms, from a colletction of cantata texts he published in 1711; so obviously the expression did not originate with Bach. (In fact, the same text was set to music by Christoph Graupne, the Darmstadt Kapellmeister, in 1712, two years before Bach wrote Cantata BWV 199). This information comes from Nicholas Anderson's entry on the cantata, in the Oxford Composer Companion to Bach, and from Nele Anders' note to the Harnoncourt recording. Anderson adds that "The images of torment, though out of tune with modern sensibilities, were in accordance with the Baroque concept of piety".

Hope this helps.

Dick Wursten wrote (May 31, 2002):
[To Barbara Kurtz] "My heart is swimming in blood" is from Georg Christian Lehms <Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer>

I don't know whether this is implied in the question, but I take the opportunity. To modern ears this phrase sounds overdone and a little bit 'shocking'. But : the use of the word 'blood' in preaching and spiritual meditation was much more common than in our days,esp. because of the redemptive character of 'the blood of Christ'. This was preached with all power of baroque imagination. A sermon about Christs redemptive work could be referred to as the 'dripping of the blood of Christ on the community'.
Spiritual realities in physical clothing.

'O haupt voll Blut und Wunden' for instance is a famous Lutheran choral, which meditates the spiritual blessings which spring from all kinds of physical sufferings of Jesus. This song stands in a long tradition. It is based on a much older Medieval contemplation of the wounds and body of Jesus: Salve Mundi Salutari (Buxtehude also used parts of this hymn in his membra Jesu).

Barbara Kurtz wrote (May 31, 2002):
[To Dick Wursten] Thank you for the response. The question was motivated by the following. I have come across the same phrase--"My heart is swimming in blood"--in a seventeenth-century Spanish playwright (my scholarly interest). The commonality would suggest a shared, common source--although it could be mere coincidence.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 31, 2002):
Actually, Uri Golomb and Dick Wursten have already answered the specific question that Barbara Kurtz had asked and both comments by the above individuals have also dealt with the differences between then and now from a theological perspective as well. I propose to shed some more light (not blood) on this matter as seen from a linguistic standpoint. But first a rehash and some elaboration on what has already been stated:

The NBA I/20 KB also assigns the entire text of this cantata to Georg Christian Lehms, “Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer,” Darmstadt, 1711, a collection of cantata texts of which the “Andacht auf den eilfften Sonntag nach Trinitatis” was set to music by Christoph Graupner in 1712. In a study published by Friedrich Noack, in the Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, Leipzig, 1919-1920, Noack compares both Graupner’s and Bach’s cantata settings and has determined that Bach did not use Graupner’s version of the text as Dürr had presumed (Bach Jahrbuch 1951/52.) This removes the possibility that Bach was aware of Graupner’s composition. Compared to Graupner’s text, Bach stayed even closer to the original Lehms text. The few changes that Bach made to the text are simply orthographical in nature, for example, Bach uses “Herze” instead of Lehms’ “Herz.” In the autograph score of the original Weimar version of this cantata, Bach, curiously enough, uses a pictograph of a heart in place of the word, “Herz,” and when the additional ‘e’ as in the title of the cantata occurs, he creates the pictograph (the symbol for heart) with an ‘e’ following it.

Regarding the linguistic history behind this specific expression, “My heart is swimming in my blood,” an expression that may cause fear and abhorrence in a present-day listener, or in any case be “out of tune with modern sensibilities” as Nicholas Anderson put it, we need to be reminded of the fact that this expression is a figure of speech, or even perhaps two: it is definitely an example of hyperbole [= a figure of speech consisting in exaggerated or extravagant statement, used to express strong feelings or to produce a strong impression, and not intended to be understood literally] and it could also be an example of ‘pars pro toto” [=a part considered as representative of the whole.] In the latter case the heart really stands for the heart and mind of the entire individual, and as the heart and mind sense anguish, guilt, shame, etc. so also does the entire physical body react to these mental and emotional conditions and begin to show the complete involvement of the entire human being in this process. As far as the hyperbole in “Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut” [“My heart is swimming in its own pool of blood”] goes, English has similar gory statements that are used without batting an eyelash, but which, if understood literally, would have even greater shock value: “Eat your heart out!” “The heart is bleeding” (referring to feeling and not to be taken literally.) German has even earlier, similar expressions. This proves that not only the Baroque period favored this type of expression: Hans Sachs (1494-1576 “vom herzen entfiel mir ein kübl vol bluts” [“I lost a bucket of blood from my heart”]; Fischart (1579) “syn cardinal will im luther : blut schwimmen” [“his cardinal wants to swim in a lot of blood” – if this statement were to be taken somewhat more literally, it would mean that the cardinal would create a situation in which much blood would be shed, but I think it refers to the prolonged and sincere anguish that he felt.] Keisersberg (1445-1510) “alles schwamm im blute” [“everything was swimming in blood” this now seems to infer bloodshed]; Schottel (1612-1676) “das herz blutete mir, wie er mich von sich schickte” [“my heart bled when he dismissed me completely never again to return to him”]; Günther (1695-1723) “und glaube, daß mein hertz in heißem blute schwimmt, da unsers umgangs schutz so früh ein ende nimmt” [“and I believe that my heart was swimming in its own hot blood, when the power that protected us found such a premature death”] Goethe (1749-1832) “mein herz schwimmt noch in bangem zweifel” [“my heart is still swimming in fearful doubt”] and two lexicographers from Bach’s time attempted the following Latin definitions: Steinbach (1698-1744) “im blute schwimmen – sanguine madefieri” and Frisch (1666-1743) “im blute schwimmen – effuso sanguine perfundi.”

Personally, I find expressions of this sort make a greater impact on the listener, because it forces the listener to ponder the extreme picture and the emotions connected thereto. Perhaps some discomfort must be felt by hearing or using expressions of this sort that are rarely used, but in the end, such phrases are remembered longer than an abstract theological text that is very lofty but also bland because this type of theological abstraction can not easily find its way into a listener’s heart. It lacks the coloring and the contrasts that Bach looked for when he wanted to set a text to music.

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 1, 2002):
[To Pieter Pannevis] [12] Your reply to Barbara's query regarding Cantata BWV 199 seems like a review of Vol. 60 of Rilling's Bach cantata cycle (Edition Bachakademie). Am I right? If yes, have you written more reviews of this kind? Will you please be so kind to send them to the BCML? And more important, you are invited to participate more actively in the weekly cantata discussions.

BTW, I concur with every word written in the review about Arleen Augér regarding her rendition of Cantata BWV 199!

Santu De Silva (Archimedes) wrote (June 3, 2002):
Barbara Kurz wrote:
< Thank you for the response. The question was motivated by the following. I have come across the same phrase--"My heart is swimming in blood"--in a seventeenth-century Spanish playwright (my scholarly interest). The commonality would suggest a shared, common source--although it could be mere coincidence. >
Someone put forward the suggestion that the expression meant: I'm drowning in guilt.

that certainly fits the thoughts of the rest of the cantata.

The expression might have spread to other languages, including spanish, or indeed come from the Spanish.

The problem with figurative language of the past is that it need not be sensible to later generations. For instance you'd be surprised to learn the origin of the word "sucker".

Arch, off to suck up some supper. (heh heh; say that ten times quickly)

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 199: Details
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Last update: ýNovember 5, 2014 ý17:36:45