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Cantata BWV 32
Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen
Discussions - Part 1

Discussions in the Week of January 10, 2000 (1st round)

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 10, 2000):
Background - Aria for Soprano

This is the week of cantata BWV 32, the sister of BWV 57, which has been discussed in this group couple of weeks ago. After the splendid opening Aria, everything that comes afterwards in this glorious cantata seems to be on lower level.

Mvt. 1. Aria (Soprano)
Soprano, Oboe, 2 Violins, Viola, Continuo

Regarding this Aria I would like to quote from Robertson’s book and Alfred Dürr (linear notes to Teldec recording).

Robertson wrote:
The oboe begins with the phrase sung by the Soprano to ‘Liebster Jesu’ and thereafter in most of the time in duet with the voice. The lovely music has none of the anguish of the opening Aria in cantata BWV . This is no dark night of the soul but a momentary feeling of the Saviour's Absence. The Words of the second section of the Aria are ’Ah! My refuge, rejoice me, allow Thyself most happily to be embraced’. Voice and oboe burst into joyous runs illustrative of ‘rejoice’. All the well.

Dürr wrote:
The introductory Aria, arranged on the pattern of the slow concerto movement, is of exceptional beauty: Superimposed on short string chords, the oboe and Soprano produce in concertante form widely spanning, richly ornamented arcs of melody.

Personal Viewpoint

And something personal:
The feelings of loneliness and longing has never been transferred by music in more convincing way, except perhaps the trumpet sound of Miles Davis. But here the subject is Bach cantatas and not Jazz music, both of which I love.

Review of the Recordings

The 4 performances I have listened to (in the order of listening) are:

[7] Helmut Winchermann with Elly Ameling (1970; Aria for Soprano: 4:33)
[9] Helmuth Rilling with Arleen Augér (1981; Aria for Soprano: 6:15)
[6] Wolfgang Gönnenwein with Edith Mathis (Early 1970’s ?; Aria for Soprano: ?)
[8] Gustav Leonhardt with Walter Campert (Soloist of the Tölzer Knabenchor) (1974, Aria for Soprano: 5:43)

The astonishing conclusion after listening to the 4 complete performances in succession one after the other, is the similarity of approaches from all conductors and soloists. All the 3 female singers are in fine form and it is hard for me to choose one of them above the others. There is of course difference in timing, but nevertheless the whole atmosphere is very similar despite this fact. I was expecting a close fight between Ameling and Augér (like in cantata BWV 57), but Mathis here is not less good. The music is so strong that all the 3 ladies are clever enough to keep themselves restrained and let the music speaks for itself. All of them have the special ‘Bach voice’ and they use their vibrato very economically. Augér is closer to my heart. Or, in the words of my wife: “There is a direct line from Bach’s music, through her voice, directly into your brain”. In Augér performance here there is an astonishing similarity between the timbre of her voice and that of the oboe. But one cannot go wrong with the other 2 performances. All 3 ladies and their conductors are doing justice to the words and to the music.

Good as the female soloists are, in this movement the boy Soprano is the one who steals the show. We know from previous listening to the Teldec series that the boy Sopranos are not always capable of transferring the deep human feelings of the music and words in the cantatas. But the boy Soprano here justifies every effort to give Soprano parts in Bach cantatas to boys. Maybe this movement, where the music dictates the general mood in such a strong way that very little is left to personal interpretation, helps him. He has an angelic and pure voice. He can handles long lines without break, a very rare gift for boy Soprano. He transfers naivete, which seems very right in this Aria. The slight trembling and hesitation here and there makes his performance in this Aria even more convincing. The colours of the old instruments blend so well with the boy’s voice. The Continuo does not let you forget that the time is passing very slowly while you are waiting. And the sensitive conducting of Leonhardt, who takes care for the right balance of all parts, make this performance an unforgettable one.

And as always, I would like to hear other opinions, regarding the above mentioned performances, or other recordings.

Enjoy and Happy Bach Year,

Wim Huisjes wrote (January 11, 2000):
On to BWV 32: Ameling [7], Mathis [6], Augér [9] & a boy Soprano [8]. Are there any more? Beforehand: my bet is on Ameling, but we'll see...

Jane Newble wrote (January 11, 2000):
As Aryeh has already said some wonderful things about the first Aria (Mvt. 1), I'd like to concentrate on the rest of this beautiful cantata. The only one I have (so far) is Helmut Winschermann/Deutsche Bachsolisten [7]. I tend to like the dialogue cantatas very much, as there is a sense of participation.

Listening to the Bass Aria (Mvt. 3) I was struck by the wonderful playing of the violin. Against the background of the quiet bass-voice singing: "Here, in the house of my Father will a burdened soul find me" the violin plays in hopeful and excited anticipation, almost like birds on a spring-morning. There is already the promise of fulfilment in the solidity of the bass voice and the Continuo. I find the contrast really exciting.

Then the Soprano (in this case my favourite Elly Ameling) comes in again, already sounding more assured than in that wonderful longing of the first Aria, and the dialogue builds up to the amazing duet.

It is a union of the two instruments who before had played in their separate Arias, and of the voices, but in a joyful dance-movement, almost polka-like, where all the torments and troubles have disappeared. The voices and the music come in alternately, almost impatient to get their turn, and pushing each other out of the way, and sounding more joyful each time. It's a good one to dance to!

The Choral prayer at the end (Mvt. 6) is beautifully sung, and is like a consolidation of the experiences before.

It makes me want to study music, to get to know more of what Bach meant by it.

This cantata must surely have cheered up his day!

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 14, 2000):
Thank you Jane for your compliment and for the enlightening things you wrote about the other movements of this cantata. I thought that I know it quite well by now. But your words pushed me to re-listen to this cantata once again in the Winschermann/Ameling recording [7], and I discovered some new things that I was not aware to before. The Bach cantatas seem to be an endless world.

Jane Newble wrote (January 14, 2000):
Thank you for your kind words. I had become a bit worried that my comments might have been too personal. It really came about as I was listening to it over and over again. Bach is more and more wonderful every time I listen to anything. It makes one wonder where it will end...? You are right about the cantatas seeming to be an endless world...


More Messages

Laszlo Zsidai wrote (July 4, 2000):
I'm working on creating Windows Media Audio (or MP3-s?, I haven't decided yet) files of my (currently) favourite cantata "Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen" BWV 32.

The first movement has been completed, I'm working on the other ones as well. You may visit my site, and listen to the first Aria at:


Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 32: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | 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
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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