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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 32
Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of November 22, 2009

Neil Halliday wrote (November 22, 2009):
Intro to BWV 32: "Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen"

The last of the extant 1st Epiphany cantatas (first performed Jan.13th, 1726) is a solo cantata with modest instrumentation: oboe and strings.

The BCW page (with links to everything!): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV32.htm

The first aria (Mvt. 1) is beautiful and would not be out of place in a film score (but the music would steal the show!).

Dürr: "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".

Aryeh Oron: "The feelings of loneliness and longing has never been transferred by music in more convincing way, except perhaps the trumpet sound of Miles Davis."

The chromatic writing in bars 30-32, with the vocal line rising to "verlieren" (lose), followed by a two crotchet hiatus, is very moving, as are the subsequent melismas on "erfreue" (rejoice). The change in emotion - from alarm to relief - betwween these sections, is remarkable (relief occurs with the change to the 'circle of 5ths' harmony with major-key chords that accompany the "erfreue" melismas).

(I suppose the "concerto movement" mentioned by Dürr above relates to a possible pre-existing instrumental movement).

Aryeh also heard what I noticed in Rilling's recording [9]: "In Augér's performance there is an astonishing similarity between the timbre of her voice and that of the oboe".
Rachel Nicholls with Suzuki [17] also achieves this wonderful effect; this voice is a remarkably fine Bach soprano, IMO.
(Compare with Leonhardt's boy. I expect listeners will have strong preferences one way or the other.)

(In Rilling's recording [9], the continuo bassoon's vibrato may distract some listeners).

In general, the slower versions are more moving/expressive than the faster versions, IMO. Surprisingly, Scherchen [1] and Werner are both in the latter category, in this movement.

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The short secco recitative for bass (Mvt. 2) quotes the gospel reading for the day (Luke 2,49); this same text was more elaborately set as arioso in BWV 154/5, two years earlier.
[As for the accompaniments, Scherchen's harpsichord [1] is a non-event; Werner has better accompaniment, but the continuous legato is a drawback; Rilling's organ [9] has an unpleasant timbre and the bass strings are coarse; newer recordings have truncated accompaniment.]

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Bass aria (Mvt. 3).

Robertson: "The dignified melody on the solo violin breaks out into a flood of triplets and trills depicting the joy expressed in the middle section of the text 'your heart will be bound with Me in My dwelling'" etc..

The violin accompaniment in the syncopated part of this central section is remarkably free.

Scherchen's recording [1] of this movement is very pleasing, for the time; his vocalist, Alfred Poell, sounds a bit like Barry McDaniel, whose own recording with Werner is spoilt by the slow tempo.

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Accompanied SB recitative (and arioso) (Mvt. 4).

A beautiful movement with an arioso featuring repeated string chords in the baroque fashion. The movement is set as a dialogue between the Soul (soprano) and Jesus (bass). Craig Smith states that Psalm 84 which begins the arioso text has always been associated with the story of the 12 year-old Jesus in the temple (Luke 2,49,above). The harmony of the recitative is passionate right from the start, with 2-4-7 chords over pedal points, etc.

Doug asked: "How many recordings add apoggiaturas? ³heiliger² (bar 1), OGott¹ (bar 2), ³prangt² (bar 12), ³sein² (bar 18), ³heisst² (bar 19) and ³ein² (last bar) are all candidates."

There is an expressive example in Suzuki's recording [17], on "heiliger" (bar 1), with Nicholls 'caressing' the B natural of the apoggiatura (not in the score) before the A#. In comparison, Ruth Holton with Leusink sounds almost prosaic without the apoggiatura. (But would following this with another apoggiatura in the next bar be too much of a good thing? I suspect so.) Augér omits it in bar 1, but her voice is very expressive. I do agree the apoggiatura should always apply at the end (likewise often not in the scores, I wonder why?) to avoid a 'clunky' effect.

[BTW, in the first movement, opening vocal phrase, Bach has a trill rather than an apoggiatura, but I notice that Giebel (with Werner) and Nicholls (with Suzuki [17]) ignore the trill on the G (bar 10; see the BGA) in the opening vocal phrase, and simply sing an apoggiatura which Bach, however, reserves for the immediate repeat of the phrase (in bar 12); these singers thereby miss the subtle contrast and variation between the two phrases. Auger (with Rilling [9]) captures Bach's written variation beautifully. Thanks to Doug for raising the topic].

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SB Duet (Mvt. 5).

Jane Newble: "It is a union of the two instruments (oboe, violin) 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."

The joyful opening 4-note quaver figure on the oboe, beginning with the downward leap of a sixth, recalls the same figure that first occurs in bar 14 (alto) of BWV 154's duet (written for the same event two years earlier; both duets are in D major and 4/4 time.) Smith calls this a "bouncy yodeling motive"! Quite so.
I surmise the 1/32 note passages on the 1st violin (bars 6 and 7, etc.) picture the "vanishing cares and tribulation".

Is Suzuki's tempo a bit slow (5.33) [17]? Koopman (5.13) [13] and Sarasa Ensemble (5.07) [15] have a livelier tempo. Rilling's version [9] is enjoyable (4.57), but with a slightly rigid continuo articulation, IMO.

Happy listening.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 22, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote:
> The last of the extant 1st Epiphany cantatas (first performed Jan.13th, 1726) is a solo cantata with modest instrumentation: oboe and strings. <
Two initial observations:

Once again we see Bach responding to the search for Jesus allegory inspired by the biblical narrative by using extensive dialogue structure, in this case the love longing of the soul for God. Again Bach uses a duet to express this allegory: all of the cantatas for Epiphany 1 have duets. One could also say that there is a dialogue between the oboe and violin solos representing the Soul and Christ respectively.

There are a lot of articulation and dynamic markings in this cantata:
Mvt. 1 - piano e spiccato
Duet (Mvt. 5) - staccato sempre

Anyone want to start the discussion on the difference between "spiccato" and "staccato"? Assuming these are authentic markings by Bach.

Note the rare use of double-stopping in the violin solo in the bass aria.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 22, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Anyone want to start the discussion on the difference between "spiccato" and "staccato"? Assuming these are authentic markings by Bach. >
When words aren't used, I think the articulations you see in manuscript sources are lines, wedges, or daggers, or strokes instead of dots, and the lines are used a lot in the baroque, but of course, there is some debate if these symbols mean something different than staccato. From what I understand, the difference between a spiccato is a more rounded sound, and engraving software such as Sibelius plays them rather nicely. Daggers/wedge are all over the place in Graupner and Telemann, cantatas included. These symbols are found even in Mozart's music (e.g. KV 606).

William Hoffman wrote (November 25, 2009):
BWV 32: Fugitive Notes

The Lehms, Telemann, J.L. Bach Connection

Cantata BWV 32, "Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen" (Dearest Jesus, my desire) is one of a series of 10 Bach cantatas based on texts of Darmstadt poet Georg Christian Lehms (1684-1717). All the texts were published in the 1711 annual cycle and are among the first to be considered in the new German cantata form, attributed to Hamburg pastor Erdmann Neumeister and Meiningen court poet Georg Kaspar Schurmann.

The 10 Bach cantatas are BWV 13, BWV 16, BWV 32, BWV 35, BWV 54, BWV 57, BWV 110, BWV 151, BWV 170 and BWV 199. They were composed for the three days of Christmas (BWV 110, BWV 157, BWV 151), New Year's (BWV 16), First and Second Sundays after Epiphany (BWV 32, BWV 13), Third Sunday in Lent (BWV 54) and the Sixth (BWV 170), 11th (BWV 199) and 12th (BWV 35) Sundays after Trinity.

Only one, Cantata BWV 110, has a larger text for morning services while the others with smaller texts were written for afternoon services, according to BCW Lehms biography, www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Lehms.htm. Bach composed only two for large forces for feast days in Leipzig: BWV 110 for Christmas 1725 and BWV 16, seven days later, for New Year's 1726. The rest are solo cantatas with more intimate texts. Two (BWV 32 and BWV 57) are dialogue cantatas for soprano (Soul) and bass (Jesus); three for alto (BWV 35, BWV 54, BWV 170), two for vocal quartet of SATB (BWV 13, BWV 151) and one for soprano (BWV 199).

Many of Bach's cantatas to Lehms texts played important roles in Bach's development of his well-ordered church music and his cantata form. Cantatas BWV 199 and BWV 54 were among Bach's first cantatas for the church year, composed in Weimar in 1714 or earlier. They were part of his initial Weimar cycle of cantatas performed every four weeks on Sundays. The eight other Lehms texts were set selectively in Leipzig in December 1725 and in 1726 for Bach's heterogeneous, incomplete third cantata cycle, along with cantatas of cousin Johann Ludwig Bach.

The period of 1713-15 yielded several important connections for Bach in his cantata development. In 1713 Telemann stood as godfather to Bach's second son, Carl Philipp Emanuel. In 1715 Telemann composed one his first cantatas set to a Lehms 1711 text, TVWV 1:795, "Hier ist mein Herz, geliebter Jesu," which Bach may have performed at Epiphany 1726. Telemann was based in Frankfurt and composed a cantata cycle set to Lehms text. Also about 1715, J.L. Bach in Meiningen produced some of his cantatas which survived in Frankfurt and which Bach used in Leipzig services, almost entirely as part of the third cycle in 1726. In 1716, Telemann was approached to replace the deceased capellmeister Johann Samuel Dreise Sr. in Weimar. Eventually, Dreise's son was chosen over Bach.

In summary, for Epiphany Time 1726, Bach's cantatas may involved the following: Feast of Epiphany, ??Telemann TVWV 1:195 (Lehms text); 1st Sunday after Epiphany, BWV 32 (Lehms text); 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, BWV 13 (Lehms text); 3rd Sunday After Epiphany, BWV 72 (Frank text, Weimar 1715); 4th to 8th Sundays after Epiphany, JLB Cantatas 1-5 (Schurmann texts).

The Proto Cantata Connection

During the composition of his three cantata cycles in Leipzig between 1723 and 1727, Bach the Recycler resorted to using earlier materials, dating back to his first cantatas composed in Weimar. For the first cycle, he recycled and expanded some 20 cantatas composed in Weimar and at least five composed in Köthen, some 40% of Bach's first cantata cycle. The second cycled involved all new compositions, except perhaps for Cantata BWV 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," for Easter, one of Bach's first cantatas. For the third cycle, Bach continued to utilize older materials but now turned to instrumental pieces for sinfonias and to earlier vocal materials which could be reused through adaptation and text parody.

These earlier vocal materials began surfacing in the mid 20th century as Bach scholars began to examine closely the individual parts, using the new handwriting and manuscript watermark findings. Bach consistently salvaged not only earlier cantata scores but parts which could be used unaltered. The Neue Bach Ausgabe editors systematically and painstakingly examined and analyzed the original sources. These scientific techniques eclipsed previous associations, yet often built upon the earlier, haphazard technique of stylistic analysis, which had only suggested various possibilities.

Bach scholars have reconstructed the possible genesis and compositional process, as well as the later provenance of Bach's vocal works. Unknown and lost music such as the Weimar Passion and the St. Mark Passion (BWV 247), were partially uncovered. Along the way, other, more vague, isolated materials (remnants) began to be identified, using both parts and stylistic analysis, as well as early, associated cantata texts. It appears that some music underwent extensive and complex transformation, some originating in obscure utilitarian, possibly proto-cantatas, which provided Bach with raw materials and building blocks. Of particular interest are traces of music composed in Weimar, repeated in Köthen, and transformed in Leipzig.

Four Weimar cantatas were reperformed between 1717 and 1723, based on surviving additional parts. Two, the Pentecost Cantata BWV 172, and undesignated ("per ogni tempo") Cantata BWV 21, may have been for Bach's Hamburg test or probe, Dec. 23, 1720. The other two cantatas are BWV 132, for the 4th Sunday in Advent, which Bach never revised or presented in Leipzig, and BWV 199, with Lehms libretto, for the 11th Sunday after Trinity.

Remnants from earlier works have been found or suggested in Cantatas BWV 32, BWV 145, BWV 154, BWV 190, and BWV 193, based upon stylistic or literary influences, according to Friedrich Smend in <Bach in Köthen> and Alfred Deurr in <Cantatas of JSB>. The arias from the two cantatas for Epiphany Time, BWV 32 and BWV 154, may have been developed in Köthen. Dürr points out that passages in Cantata BWV 32 show the influence of the Hunold dialogue libretti written for the Köthen Court, as well as a concerto movement in the opening aria and two dance movements in the other two arias. Yet the music survives with the Lehms text so that Duerr concludes that Bach radically transformed the music in Leipzig in 1726.

Textual Influences and Chorale Usages

The opening soprano aria with oboe in concertante and strings, based on a concerto movement, has great beauty, without the anguish found in some Bach dialogue cantata arias. Aryeh Oron in his initial introduction to this cantata, BCW Jan. 10, 2000, expresses a personal viewpoint about the "feelings of loneliness and longing." In the aria's second phrase, "(Mein liebster Jesu. . .) So ich dich so bald verlieren" ([My dearest Jesus. . .] Shall I lose you so soon, trans. Francis Browne), the high point is the word "verlieren" (lose), repeated so plaintively. That word also is used in Picander's text for the tenor aria with similar affect, opening Part 2 (24/59) of the St. Mark Passion (BWV 247), "Mein Jesu, soll ich dich verlieren" (My Jesus, shall I then now lose thee?, Z. Philip Ambrose)

The closing chorale "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, O my soul), to Louis Bourgeois 1550 melody, is one of Bach's most versatile chorales settings. He harmonized it at least eight times as closing chorales, mostly in his Trinity Time cantatas, to six different texts. Cantata BWV 32/6 uses the final stanza of Paul Gerhardt's 1647 12-stanza text, "Weg, mein Herz, mit den Gedanken" (Away, my heart, with the thought), beginning "Mein Gott, oeffne mir die Pforten" (My God, open for me the gates). Gerhardt was one of Bach's favorite chorale text writers, with some 22 different hymns arranged by Bach.

Another alternate text to the Bourgeois melody is by Johann Heermann for the first plain chorale, Mvt. 3 in Cantata BWV 13. This cantata also has a Lehms text, for the next (2nd) Sunday after Epiphany, Jan. 20, 1726. While Lehms designated two chorales in his libretto for BWV 13, there is no closing chorale in his text Bach set in Cantata BWV 32, as is there none in Bach's Lenten Cantata BWV 54.

The Bourgeois chorale tune is also found in the Trinity Cantatas BWV 70/7 (last Sunday 1723), BWV 25/6, BWV 194/6, BWV 39/7, as well as the saints' feast days of John the Baptist in Cantata BWV 30/6 and St. Michael in Cantata BWV 19/6.

The Bach-Brahms Connection

According to the BCW notes, BWV 32, Mvt. 4, a soprano-bass unaccompanied recitative dialogue, is not part of Lehms' original 1711 libretto text. The soprano's arioso begins, "Wie lieblich ist doch deine Whonung" (How lovely is your dwelling), a paraphrase of Psalm 84:2-3 and the opening of the fourth movement of Brahms' "A German Requiem." Cantata BWV 13, "Meine Seufzer, meine Traenen" (My sighing, my crying) for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, also has text by Lehms The reference to Seufzer (sighing) is found in the Brahms second movement and is from Isaiah 35:10. "Die mit traenen saen," (They that sew in tears) from Psalm 126:5, is found in the Brahms first movement and is the dictum for J.L. Bach's Cantata JLB-8 for the Third Sunday in Easter, which Bach presented on May 12, 1726.

Dance Movements

Also showing possible influences from Köthen are the two extended arias in BWV 32: No 3, bass lento aria with strings in 3/8, is minuet-like, and Mvt. 5, vivace 4/4 love duet with oboe and strings, is gavotte-like, according to BCW Article on Little & Jenne "Dance Movements in Bach's Vocal Works."

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 26 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Only one, Cantata BWV 110, has a larger text for morning services while the others with smaller texts were written for afternoon services, according to BCW Lehms biography, www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Lehms.htm. Bach composed only two for large forces for feast days in Leipzig: BWV 110 for Christmas 1725 and BWV 16, seven days later, for New Year's 1726. The rest are solo cantatas with more intimate texts. >
Is there any evidence that Bach made a distinction between a morning cantata and an afternoon cantata? On Sundays and festivals, the cantata was sung twice, in the morning at St. Thomas and repeated in the afternoon at St. Nicholas: the pattern was reversed on the following Sunday/festival.

Vespers was hardly an intimate service: the Magnificat was written for exclusive use at the afternoon office. There are many solo cantatas which were sung both in the morning and the afternoon. I suspect that Bach ignored the librettist's designation used the texts knowing that there were two performances in the normal schedule.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 26, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< The Lehms, Telemann, J.L. Bach Connection
Cantata BWV 32, "Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen" (Dearest Jesus, my desire) is one of a series of 10 Bach cantatas based on texts of Darmstadt poet
Georg Christian Lehms (1684-1717). All the texts were published in the 1711 annual cycle and are among the first to be considered in the new German cantata form, attributed to Hamburg pastor Erdmann Neumeister and Meiningen court poet Georg Kaspar Schurmann. >
I have a digitial reproduction of the 1711 or 1712 Lehms cantata book as it was published in Darmstadt, I could clip a few pages and post them for the list. I find looking at these books fascinating on many levels: the graphic design, the typography, artwork used, even seeing the imprint of the press on the paper sometimes, and of course, the German and textand the connection to music (Bach, Graupner and Telemann).

For what its worth, almost all of the Darmstadt cantata cycles Graupner set were published as books and were available to the court and those pious enough to buy or read them. Most of these books were destroyed during a bombing raid on Darmstadt on 9/11/1944.

If anyone wants screenshots, let me know.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 26 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Please ask to archive them somewhere on the site: this material is fascinating.

It be interesting to see a couple of examples of Bach libretto booklets as well.

Evan Cortens wrote (November 26 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Please ask to archive them somewhere on the site: this material is fascinating.
It be interesting to see a couple of examples of Bach libretto booklets as well. >
I'm with Doug on this, it would be neat to have them on the BCW!

As far as Bach goes, some of the text booklets for his cantatas have been published in facsimile: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/45539872

Julian Mincham wrote (November 26 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< The second cycled involved all new compositions, except perhaps for Cantata BWV 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," for Easter, one of Bach's first cantatas. >
Not so

It is the case that there is no evidence of Bach reusing any material for the first 40 chorale cantatas of that cycle BWV20---2. But after BWV 4 there are at least three in which he reused material of which BWV 74 is an obvious example, being the only opening chorus which he parodied, in this case from a pre-existing duet. (there was some discussion of this on list earlier this year with regard to the adding of a third trumpet part).

It is the case that the second cycle is the one in which he least made use of earlier works but it is not the case that he avoided ir completely even leaving BWV 4 to one side.

William Hoffman wrote (November 26, 2009):
Cantata BWV 32, Lehms texts & Cycle 2

I would love to see examples of the original Lehms, as well as Bach's ?seven libretto books. Also, Werner Neuman's <Kantaten Vertoente Text> has the Lehms texts, showing the gaps in individual movements.

Re.: the last third of Bach's second cycle, Easter-Pentecost, there is much to learn re. the genesis of each piece or proposed piece, including remnants of chorales, recycle materials, possible choices for the missing chorale cantatas, and the unattached per omnes versus cantatas, 1725-1735.

When we get to this Cycle 2 season in our BCW discussion in 2011, there is still much to encounter and appreciate. Here was Bach at the Crossroads, still struggling to find good libretti while probing cantatas of Telemann and J.L. Bach, and not just because they were "easy" and pleasing. Common to the Lenten tempus clausum, 1724-27, and the hiatus in the last half of 1725 was the development of the great SMP (BWV 244).

 

Bach on radio (and web)

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2011):
The Sunday Bach cantata broadcasts continue on Boston (USA) radio, now in the 37th (+/- 1) year. Live (FM) at 8:00 PM EST (0100 the following Monday, UT), available on-line for the following week at www.995allclassical.org. Tonights program includes BWV 32 in an OVPP performance by Boston’s Sarasa Ensemble [15], with, for the chorale only, tenor Frank Kelley. We heard him just the other week (on another venue) in Elmer Gantry.

Thanks to BCML correspondent Brian McCreath for continuing the Bach cantata tradition on Boston (and now the world) radio (and web).

 

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

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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