Cantata BWV 202Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten
Discussions - Part 1
Bach Wedding Cantata, BWV 202
Cindy Gareinger wrote (April 18, 2001):
The other day, while listening to the radio, I heard the aria 'Sich uben im Lieben' from the Hochzeitskantate BWV 202 by J.S Bach. I wasn't able to get it on tape, so I logged onto Napster, and downloaded it there. I am very fond of this aria, and was hoping that someone on this list would know the words and could send them to me.
Aryeh Oron wrote (April 18, 2001):
[To Cindy Gareinger] The German text of Cantata BWV 202 appears in the following address:
A good English translation appears in the following address:
If you are interested in Bach Cantatas, you are invited to join the Bach Cantatas Mailing List.
Discussions in the Week of September 14, 2003 (1st round)
Neil Halliday wrote (September 17, 2003):
The cantata chosen for discussion this week (for solo soprano) was composed for an unknown occasion, and its date of composition is uncertain. A wedding celebration is the likely event - and the text compares the awakening of nature in Spring to the blossoming of love between individuals.
Mvt. 1.Aria (Adagio - 6:00.).
At first a gentle melancholy prevails: "Yield now, troubling shades, frost and wind, go to rest!"
Gentle upward moving arpeggios on the strings, accompanied by lovely arabesques on the oboe, engender the wistful mood. The middle section (andante) is at a quicker tempo which relates to the happy mood, while the soprano sings of the flowers of the new season.
I have the (relatively) recently released version from Rilling, featuring soprano Sibylla Rubens , who has recorded with Koopman, among others. This is the type of voice I enjoy - one which uses vibrato economically and tastefully and with variation, eg, on the long note at "Ruh", she uses no vibrato at all, and the beautiful timbre of her voice is magic at such times. Its a relief from the constant vibrato brigade. (Dawn Upshore also comes to mind, in her best-selling version of Gorecki's 'Symphony of Sorrowful Songs; other sopranos spoil the magic of this work, with excessive vibrato).
Mvt. 2. Recitative.
I was disappointed to hear Rilling adopting the HIP convention of shortened (cello) notes in the continuo, in this, as well as the other 'secco' recitatives in BWV 202. Has his musical intuition been beaten by historical dogma?
Such practice results in an entirely unmusical recitation of text, which leaves this listener hoping that the recitative will end as quickly as possible (or heading to the remote control button).
Actually, this CD (volume 62 of the complete Haenssler set) offers a unique comparison of the two practices (continuo cello notes played as written, as opposed to widely spaced short chords offering no support to the vocalist, as in the HIP convention.)
In BWV 204 on the same disc, we have a very tasteful presentation of the secco recitatives; here the cellist allows the note to slowly die away over its full (written) length, while ensuring that the harmonic structure supporting the vocalist is maintained. Such an approach also gives an oportunity for harpsichordists to tastefully
demonstrate appregiated figured bass chords - and be heard, since the only competition is a voice and a cello. There are many examples of this in Rilling's church cantata recordings.
I fail to see why 'accompanied' recitatives should differ from so-called 'secco' recitatives, in regard to this matter of continuo accompaniment. The style of presentation of the text is often (not always) the same in both cases; in other words, a recitative is a recitative.
In any case, I invite the music-loving public to compare the two approaches as shown in Rilling's BWV's 202 and 204, and decide which is the more musical.
Mvt. 3. Aria (Allegro assai. 2:59)
"Phoebus hastens with quick horses..."
Bach engages the cellist in some virtuosic writing here, with continuous streams of semiquavers at a quick tempo. Rubens' agile voice manages the melismas effortlessly.
Mvt. 5 Aria (Allegro. 2:20)
"When spring breezes waft through bright fields.."
The violinist closely follows Bach's dynamics (forte, mp, p, etc), and presents a well-phrased and lively version. Here we have contrast resulting from variation in the volume level and shape of phrases, rather than contrast achieved by exaggerated micro-management of individual notes that we often hear from period violinists, which destroys the sense (especially 'cantabile') of the musical line.
Mvt. 7. (No tempo indication. 4:17).
Oboe and continuo bassoon join the soprano to continue the happy sentiments.
Mvt. 9. Gavotte.
"May you see in contentment a thousand bright days of prosperity."
The full ensemble returns for a lively, dance-like conclusion to the cantata.
Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Recitatives in Bach’s Vocal Works - Part 8 [General Topics]
Aryeh Oron wrote (September 20, 2003):
BWV 202 - Introduction
The chosen work for this week’s discussion (September 14, 2003) is the solo soprano wedding cantata ‘Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten’ (Give way now, dismal shadows). It was performed during the period in which Bach was Court Concert Master to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. The librettist is unknown. Bach composed it as Tafelmusik (table-music), probably sung by Anna Magdalena Bach with the accompaniment of Köthen’s court musicians, but where or for what wedding is also unknown. The cantata would have been lost, had not a music student, Rinck, copied the score in 1730.
The details of the recordings of the cantata can be found at the following pages of the Bach Cantatas Website (BCW):
Cantata BWV 202 - Complete Recordings
Cantata BWV 202 - Recordings of Individual Movements
With at least 31 complete recordings, this cantata may be considered as one of the most popular in the oeuvre of Bach Cantatas. It is also one of the earliest to be recorded, its first two recordings are both from 1939: To van der Sluys (with Mengelberg ) and Elisabeth Schumann (with Robert Reibold ). No wonder that several soprano singers recorded it twice: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (both recordings from 1957  ), Elly Ameling (late 1960’s , 1973 ), and Emma Kirkby (1981 , 1996 ). Ameling recorded the 4th aria (Mvt. 7) for the 3rd time (1983 [M-2]), and Kathleen Battle recorded another aria (Mvt. 5) (1989-1990 [M-4]) as well as the complete cantata (1977 , at the beginning of her career). I believe that with so many first-rate soprano singers from every period and school, every listener should find at least one rendition of this spring-time cantata to his/her taste. If I have missed a recording of the complete cantata or of individual movement from it, please inform me right away.
I intend to add some Music Examples later, but why shouldn’t you help me? Every member who would like to contribute a Music Example from this cantata (or from any other of Bach’s vocal works), should send it to my personal e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (and not to the BCML) as an attachment to a message which includes the details of the performers. My part is uploading the Music Example to the BCW and updating the relevant page accordingly.
In the page of complete recordings mentioned above you can also find links to useful complementary information:
a. Original German text and various translations, two of which were contributed by members of the BCML: English (Francis Browne) & French (Jean-Pierre Grivois).
B. Score from BGA Edition.
c. Commentaries: in English by Simon Crouch (Listener’s Guide) and Blair Johnston (AMG), and in Spanish by Julio Sánchez Reyes (CantatasDeBach).
I hope to see many of you participating in the discussion. Only 13 cantatas (3 sacred, 10 secular), including this one, remained to be discussed in the BCML!
Aryeh Oron wrote (September 27, 2003):
BWV 202 - Background
The commentary below, quoted from the liner notes to the Kirkby/Parrott recording on Hyperion , was written by Clifford Bartlett.
Nothing is known of the origins of Cantata BWV 202 Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten. It survives in a single manuscript score copied in about 1730 and now owned by the German music publishers, Peters. But there seems no reason to doubt the assumption that it dates from Bach's time at Cöthen. He was employed by music-loving Prince Leopold from 1717 until 1723 in a position of such eminence (he was the second highest paid in the Princely household) that must have made the less-respected and harder-worked position in Leipzig, which he held for the rest of his life, hard to bear. Much of his instrumental output seems to have originated during his Cöthen days. He was also expected to compose cantatas for the New Year and the Princely family birthdays. This modest cantata must have been written for the secular part of a wedding celebration, perhaps at springtime if the text is to be taken literally. It is one of Bach's happiest works.
There are nine movements. The even-numbered ones are recitatives, each short and quickly turning into arioso, uneventful except in number 8 when the bass suddenly becomes active at the mention of thunder. The da capo form is used for only three of the arias. In the first we do not expect it, since the opening section has the freedom of an arioso. The opening string arpeggios suggest something unfolding - one might fancifully think of the buds opening in spring. When the oboe enters it has a sinuous, florid line from which the voice borrows melismas for "Weichet" ("Withdraw", "Be gone") and "betrübte" ("melancholy", "dull".) Bach varies the scoring for each aria; the next uses the minimum accompaniment, continuo only. The vigorous theme illustrates the sun-god restlessly driving his horses through the sky and is borrowed from the 6th sonata for violin and harpsichord. (This may be adduced to justify the unconventional performance without cello.) In the following aria the solo violin impersonates the breezes caressing the flowers; the diminuendi in the ritornelli are, unusually, indicated in the score. The oboe returns for a trio with voice and continuo, very much in the manner of the chamber music Bach was writing at the time. (It also strongly resembles the jig-like aria "Doch weichet" in Cantata BWV 8 of 1724, also thought to derive from an instrumental movement.) The cantata closes with a brief gavotte, first on the instruments, then sung, with accompanying figuration passing from instrument to instrument and finally played by the ensemble. The wedding celebrations can now continue with dancing.
During last week I have been listening to 25 complete recordings (out of 31) of Cantata BWV 202. The recordings can be roughly divided into 3 groups:
A. Older Generation
 To van der Sluys w/ Willem Mengelberg (1939)
 Elisabeth Schumann w/ Robert Reibold (1939)
 Erna Berger w/ Bach Aria Group (1951)
 Anny Felbermayer w/ Felix Prohaska (1954)
 Elisabeth Schwarzkopf w/ Otto Klemperer (1957)
 Elisabeth Schwarzkopf w/ Thurston Dart (1957)
 Maria Stader w/ Karl Richter (1959)
 Ursula Buckel w/ Rudolph Ewerhart (1965)
 Agnes Giebel w/ Jaap Schröder (1966)
B. Middle period
 Elly Ameling w/ Collegium Aureum (1964-1968)
 Carole Bogard w/ John Moriarty (1969)
 Elly Ameling w/ Neville Marriner (1973)
 Edith Mathis w/ Peter Schreier (1976)
 Teresa Zylis-Gara w/ Dominique Debart (1986)
 Barbara Hendricks w/ Peter Schreier (1989)
 Emma Kirkby w/ Andrew Parrott (1981)
 Kathleen Livingstone w/ Dolmetsch Festival (1990)
 Mária Zádori w/ Pál Németh (1990)
 Friederike Wagner w/ Christian Brembeck (1991)
 Nancy Argenta w/ Ensemble Sonnerie (1993)
 Emma Kirkby w/ Christopher Hogwood (1996)
 Ton Koopman w/ Lisa Larsson (1996)
 Heidi Grant-Murphy w/ St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble (1996)
 Sibylla Rubens w/ Helmuth Rilling (1997)
 Christine Schäfer w/ MAK (1999)
Although it is rather clear that this cantata calls for light accompaniment, I agree with Bradley Lehman’s observation that the division into HIP/Non-HIP is sometimes not so applicable. So you can find in the third group the recording by Rilling, whom nobody would consider as an HIP conductor, where in the second group we have Collegium Aureum , one of the first ensembles to use original instruments. The division above has more to do with the general approach and especially with the soprano singer, who has to carry most of the happy burden of the cantata. Of course, unsuitable accompaniment might make her task more difficult to accomplish.
Short Review of the Recordings
Although, as the commentator above has written, BWV 202 is one of Bach’s happiest cantatas, it has also its gloomy moments. As usual with Bach’s music, he wants to show us that the happier moments are combined with sadder ones, as human life are multi-sided. But there is another reason for this: the sunny atmosphere is much more impressive when compared to the darker past. The best renditions depict the spring-time atmosphere with scintilla of sadness. Others blur the differences, preferring to bring out only the optimistic side. The least successful, and there are a few of them also, sound alien to the message of the cantata, and are heavy and too serious.
Each group has its excellent, good and disappointing renditions. It is hard to fail with this cantata and I found that most of the renditions I have heard could easily please. Therefore I chose to single out only the excellent and the disappointing recordings. My choices within each group were done independently due to two factors. Firstly, it is almost impossible to carry in your mind almost 30 different recordings for comparative listening. Secondly, it is almost meaningless to compare recordings of four or even seven decades apart. Tastes have changed, our understanding of the Bach’s idiom has developed, new approaches have entered into the scene, recording techniques have improved, etc. Naturally, our mind is more attuned to recent recordings. Never, I found a strange charm even in the very first recording of the cantata by To van der Sluys with Mengelberg . On the other hand, Ursula Buckel’s rendition with Ewerhart  has passed very well the test of time and even today it could hold a place of honour among the best recordings of this cantata of all times. The same could be said of Elly Ameling, the nightingale of the 1960’s and early 1970’s . Our time seems to be the most blessed regarding the number of fine singers who took upon themselves to record this cantata and came out with an all-around excellent production.
Group A: Older Generation
Excellent: Buckel/Ewerhart  & Berger/BAG 
Disappointing: Schumann/Reibold  & Stader/Richter 
Group B: Middle period
Excellent: Ameling/Marriner 
Disappointing: Mathis/Schreier 
Group C: Contemporary
Excellent: Rubens/Rilling , Kirkby/Hogwood  & Argenta/Sonnerie 
Disappointing: Livingstone/Dolmetsch 
With the next cantata to be discussed in the BCML, BWV 17, we are back to the sacred world and to a more reasonable number of recordings to listen to.
Rodrigo Maffei Libonati wrote (September 28, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] Maybe I haven't read it thoroughly, but I haven't seen James Levine's recording of cantata BWV 202 in Tanglewood with Kathleen Battle as soloist . If you want me to provide more detailed information, please let me know.
Aryeh Oron wrote (September 28, 2003):
[To Rodrigo Maffei Libonati] The recording of Cantata BWV 202 with Kathleen Battle and James Levine is listed in the page of complete recordings. See: Cantata BWV 202 - Complete Recordings 
I have not mentioned it in my review simply because it is not at my disposal. I plan to purchase it some day, but at the moment it is not rated high in my priorities. Not because I undervalue it. On the contrary, it might be intriguing comparing Battle's rendition with Barbara Hendricks, who recorded the cantata with Peter Schreier . Hendricks presents a very lively and convincing rendition and the conductor cooperates with her with pleasure (what cannot be said on his previous recording of the same cantata, with Edith Mathis ). But after listening to 25 complete recordings, most of them at least twice, I am exhausted.
BTW, last week I heard and saw in the local TV the delicious and moving concert of Spirituals from Carnegie Hall with Kathleen Battle and Jessie Norman under the baton of James Levine.
Peter Bloemendaal wrote (September 29, 2003):
Please, retreat, sorrowful shadows,
frost and wind, you too, retire!
What first lines for a wedding cantata. With this rather startling, gloomy impression of pre-marital or indeed single life, the unknown poet, maybe Salomon Franck (Dürr), sets the atmosphere for this peculiar wedding music. The metaphor is obvious. The marital state implies a new happy stage in life. Dismal winter finally makes place for long expected spring, in which the heart will delight. Greek –Roman mythological figures, so popular at the time, are introduced to illustrate the delights of love and married life. Flora will provide flowers in abundance, Amor will unite their hearts. Love is in the air. Apollo, the god of music and arts makes quite an appearance to wake up nature. The eternal adolescent, enraptured himself, races his chariot and horses through the newborn world, adrenalin pumping, courting Graces and Muses, chasing mortal fair ladies that cross his path.
The tone of the cantata text is light-footed and casual, more concerned with the physical pleasures of love than with spiritual depth. No Christian message. Just the fleeting observation that Amor’s pleasures outlive those of Flora. Even the few obligatory edifying words in the final movements can not hide the rather superficial character of the ideas. No big words, no eternal love and devotion, faithfulness, divine blessing or self-sacrifice, which we find in cantatas addressed to royalty. Here down-to-earth lust for life prevails. Song and dance with just a touch of seriousness.
The instrumentation is rather limited, just a solo oboe, strings and BC, and the vocal score looks pretty poor, too, only one soprano. But then, she could have been Anna Magdalena, depending on the date of origin. It is obvious that the bridal couple can not have been of royal birth. Probably they belonged to the lower country nobility or the high society of Bach’s whereabouts at the time. The place of performance was probably a large room or a small hall. However limited in ideas and means, this cantata once more proves Bach’s genius to make the most out of the least.
It is still the question where Bach may have been at the time of composition. Experts have various reasons for pointing at Cöthen, Weimar or Leipzig, but no conclusive evidence has yet been found. Isn’t it strange that, where it was custom to present the bridal couple with a fair, adorned copy of the wedding music, this beautiful document has not been passed on to their descendants? Did some ignoramus just dispose of it, was it destroyed in a fire or does it still lie hidden in an unknown library waiting to be found?
The structure is a regular alternation of five arias and four recitatives, in which the outer movements are scored for all the instruments, the recitatives and the second aria for BC only, the third for violin solo and BC and the fourth for oboe and BC. The recitatives begin secco and develop into arioso towards the end, characteristic for the Weimar and Cöthen periods.
The opening aria has a wonderful impressionistic exposition, a mythical musical painting, immediately reminding me of Richard Strauß’s “Vier letzte Lieder”. In the ascending string arpeggios we hear the retreat of winter. Then an expressive oboe tone announces the arrival of spring, developing into a wonderful melody of its own. The andante middle section dealing with Flora’s delight is both in tempo, metre, theme and atmosphere in shrill contrast with the adagio winter painting, which then returns in the da capo conclusion of this truly magnificent aria. The soprano has to really dig deep to render the moving “geht zur Ruh” audibly and convincingly. The elegiac mood radiating from this effusion of mourning at the funeral of frost and wind, makes one wonder if Bach did not love the winter-season above all other times of the year. The least one can say is that the end of the festive season must have filled him with melancholy. Could it also be Bach’s spiritual winter that we hear in this music, having lost his son Leopold Augustus in September 1719, his wife Maria Barbara in July 1720 and his brother Johann Christoph in February 1721? The deferential tone of the soprano suggests a deeply felt experience of personal loss. Meeting Anna Magdalena in September 1721 and their subsequent marriage two months later must have lifted his spirits. Being in love again at the age of 36 with a pretty 20-year old with great musical talents, yet willing to give them up for her revered husband, must have filled Bach with great joy. Bearing this in mind I think this cantata could well have been written in the early spring of 1722.
In the second aria there is a major role for the continuo, unmistakably representing the swift feet of Phoebus’s horses, trotting the world with eager ex. It is generally known that there is a striking relation between this aria and the violin sonata in G-major BWV 1019. The third aria featuring a lovely obbligato violin solo depicts Amor in his quest to unite two hearts in a fervent kiss. The following recitative tells us that real happiness only exists if two souls receive one crown shining with health and blessing.
In the aria “Sich üben im Lieben” no more lofty thoughts. Joy and mirth should be practised and pursued. Victory is to be found on lips and breath. With its obbligato oboe accompaniment we hear an upbeat dance in three-four time. The easy-listening melody, which at once invites to humming along, especially with the catchy oboe tune, makes this aria an appealing highlight. The cantata is closing with an elegant gavotte, one of Bach’s favourite dances to express bliss and happiness. Extremely pleasing and, unfortunately, extremely short. Even so, the librettist has managed to squeeze into his congratulatory wishes the hope that the marriage would be a fruitful one.
I listened to two performances, both “from the old school”, usually not my cup of tea, that is with the sacred cantatas. But these are different cake. One is by Edith Mathis with the Kammerorchester Berlin, conducted by Peter Schreier . According to www.bach-cantatas.com , this Brilliant Records edition was licensed from the 1976 Berlin Classics edition, total time 22’44. My Brilliant CD box informs me the recording was licensed from Edel UK, total time 22’46, and recorded in the Christuskirche Berlin in 1981. Are they different recordings? The other is a live recording of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam under Otto Klemperer, recorded on 6 February 1957 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam . The latter is a live recording in mono, which is somewhat detrimental to the quality of the sound, which is quite acceptable however. Both orchestras play very well. In the Schreier recording, there is a main part for the bassoon in the third aria, depicting Phoebus’s swift horses with a jingling harpsichord in the background, which works fine for the bassoonist but is a setback for the keyboard player. Klemperer discarded the bassoon and put the harpsichord in the spotlight. Very well played, but unfortunately I cannot tell who the soloist was.
Both sopranos are well-versed in Bach and quite renowned interpreters of the repertoire. I usually find these voices “over-gestural”, especially Edith Mathis  who is at times too forceful, especially in the higher register. Yet, in secular works, which have a much more theatrical character, this operatic approach often works very well. I enjoyed listening to both ladies, but still would love to hear Sibylla Rubens , Emma Kirkby  , Elly Ameling  , Kathleen Battle , Maria Stader  and Julianne Baird .
My favourite so far is Elisabeth Schwarzkopf . After purchasing the CD some years ago and listening to the first cantata on it, “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” BWV 51, I was so disappointed that I shelved it without listening to the rest of it. Very wrong. For you cannot blame Schwarzkopf for Peter Gellhorn’s decision to rush her through the opening aria at a pace she obviously can not keep up with. In “Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten”, however, Schwarzkopf shows what she is really up to. Accomplished singing, perfect timing and expression combined with a rich, warm voice. So, if you can lay your hands on this CD, do not let the first aria keep you back. The record is a gem.
Will G. Stoner wrote (September 29, 2003):
BWV 202 file
This MIDI file of BWV 202 sounds good except for one feature (which has kept me from listening to more than the first few measures)--the oboe part has /\/\/\'s above every single note. My MIDI software (Melody by Myriad Online) doesn't seem to have a feature which removes these other than individually. If someone can download the file and do the service of removing these /\/\/\'s and reposting the file, it would be greatly appreciated--
Rodrigo Maffei Libonati wrote (September 29, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] I can perfectly understand why the recording does not rate high in your priotities. I was given it as a gift and, as much as I like Kathleen Battle, I wouldn't have bought it. I haven't listened to it for ages, but I remember that the recorded sound was not really good, as if it was recorded live. Sometimes the lower string instruments were too loud - but I would have to listen again in order to have a reliable opinion. I also remember that Levine did surprise me - it is far far more stylish than I had imagined. Kathleen Battle is, of course, musicality itself and has a beautiful voice, but I don't think she could be taken for as reference (although I would prefer her for Hendricks  in this repertoire anytime). She has re-recorded one of the arias in this cantata (Wenn die Frühlingslüfte streichen) with John Nelson in a violin + soprano-aria disc and her performance there is far more mature than the previous one.
Aryeh Oron wrote (September 29, 2003):
Peter Bloemendaal wrote:
"I listened to two performances, both “from the old school”, usually not my cup of tea, that is with the sacred cantatas. But these are different cake. One is by Edith Mathis with the Kammerorchester Berlin, conducted by Peter Schreier . According to www.bach-cantatas.com, this Brilliant Records edition was licensed from the 1976 Berlin Classics edition, total time 22’ 44. My Brilliant CD box informs me the recording was licensed from Edel UK, total time 22’46, and recorded in the Christuskirche Berlin in 1981. Are they different recordings?"
This recording, as well as all other recordings in Berlin Classics - Vol. 7 & Brilliant Classic - Vol. 7, are identical. The correct recording date is indeed Nov 1976. Brilliant Classics notes are mistaken. I know, because I have both albums. Edel is the parent company of the labels Berlin Classics, Leipzig Classics, and more.
"Both sopranos are well-versed in Bach and quite renowned interpreters of the repertoire. I usually find these voices “over-gestural”, especially Edith Mathis  who is at times too forceful, especially in the higher register. Yet, in secular works, which have a much more theatrical character, this operatic approach often works very well. I enjoyed listening to both ladies”
As I wrote in my review, sent to the BCML couple of days ago, Cantata BWV 202 has many good recordings. Maybe the lack of 'religious burden allows more ladies to participate in the celebration and to be freer in their interpretation. Schwarzkopf in both of her recordings   is among the good ones. IMO, Mathis  is not, and the awkward approach of the conductor (quite untypical of Schreier, I must add) is also to be blamed.
"but still would love to hear Sibylla Rubens , Emma Kirkby  , Elly Ameling  , Kathleen Battle , Maria Stader  and Julianne Baird ."
I have prepared many Music Examples of the Aria 'Sich üben im Lieben’ (Mvt. 7) from various recordings of Cantata BWV 202 (mp3 ). I shall be able to upload them into the BCW from Oct 2, 2003. I shall inform the BCML when it is done and you (and other members as well) will be able to hear part of the recordings you have mentioned and send us your impressions.
Aryeh Oron wrote (October 3, 2003):
BWV 202 - Music Examples
I have uploaded into the Bach Cantatas Website Music Examples (mp3 format) of the 4th Aria (Mvt. 7) from 28 recordings of Cantata BWV 202. See: Cantata BWV 202 - Music Examples
I would like to hear your opinions.
Neil Halliday wrote (October 4, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] It seems that every soprano in the world wants to sing this light-hearted and tuneful aria!
My selections for the most enjoyable performances: (none of the sopranos can be severely criticized - they are all listenable.)
1st level: Kirkby  , Zadori , Argenta , Giebel , Hendricks , Wagner , Rubens , Ameling/Vries [M-2]. Also on this level, Buckel ; this is the slowest performance, but the bright recording and expressive, powerful voice, with well-controlled vibrato, make it a great performance.
2nd level: Stader , but Richter's staccato b.c. bassoon and tinny harpsichord are problematic. Augér [M-3], but Schwarz's b.c. is too heavy. Ameling/Colegium Aureum , but this performance plods along somewhat. Rosique/Apelaniz [M-11], however, her voice appears to be in the background in this bright recording with lively acoustic, otherwise this would be a first level performance. Mathis , and others - actually, as far as voices are comcerned, I don't think there is a third level amongst this fine group of sopranos.
In addition to those noted above, heavy basso continuo accompaniments are a problem in Berger/BAG , Felbermayer/Prohaska , Schwarzkopf/Klemperer  and Price/Plymouth [M-6]. The period instrument ensembles of Koopman and MAK also reveal a somewhat dull, heavy timbre in the basso continuo. Conversely, the Bogart/Moriarty recording seems altogether too light/quiet.
The Fisher/Woodward recording [M-9], featuring a modern trumpet(!) instead of oboe, is very interesting, with a nice acoustic surrounding the charming organ registration. Fisher's voice is attractive, and the trumpet well-played.
The ancient recording of Sluys/Mengelberg , as well as showing a nice performance from the soprano, has an interesting keyboard part (piano, I think, but the old recording makes it sound like a harpsichord in places). Naturally, the oboe is partly lost on this recording.
Finally, the piano, sensitively played by Emile Naumoff [M-4], shows the wonderful capabilities of the piano, for immitating a vocal/orchestral ensemble, in this transcription of the lovely first aria from BWV 202.
Also, here are two styles of continuo realisation, for so-called secco recitatives.
Needless to say, my preference is for the second (accompanied) style.
Continue on Part 2
Cantata BWV 202: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4