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Cantata BWV 32
Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of April 6, 2014 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (April 6, 2014):
Cantata 32: “Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen,” Intro

Bach’s poignant Soul-Jesus dialogue Cantata BWV 32, “Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen” (Beloved Jesus, my desire) is a most personable and rewarding work. Lasting 24 minutes, it moves from minor to major keys, from doubt and questioning to assurance and certitude, and from seeking to finding with a simple text and engaging music of intimacy and sharing. Presented on the first Sunday after Epiphany at the beginning of the third cycle in January 1726, Cantata 32 is one of four such dialogues, beginning with Cantata BWV 57, Selig ist der Mann, for the 2nd Day of Christmas (St. Stephens) 1725), in a tradition dating to the medieval mystics that personalizes the relationship between seeker-believer and saviour-consoler.

Cantata 32 relies on one of 10 deceptively simple, disarmingly personable texts of Darmstadt poet Georg Christian Lehms with progressive music in concerto and dance form using a small orchestra. Following two annual church year cycles of often large-scale choral works with emphasis on traditional Lutheran chorales, Bach in his last extant cycle seemed content to present works for solo voice of simplicity and intimacy with borrowed instrumental materials. In addition, beginning with the Third Sunday after Epiphany and continuing until the end of the Easter-Pentecost season, Bach presented the first dozen of 18 pleasing two-part works of his Meiningen cousin, Johann Ludwig Bach, with orthodox Rudolstadt texts that intermingled with original solo works carried him through the end of Trinity Time.

Ease and convenience seemed paramount in Bach’s presentation of church works in 1726 and 1727 while focusing most of his creative vocal music energies on the composition of his grand-scale, dramatic St. Matthew Passion. Bach had ulterior motives. As he labored to create dramatic dialogues and intimate passages of the vox Christi in his oratorio Passion, Bach sought new forms and means of expression is the arias and ariosi, often paired, in his poetic commentaries with dance music to texts of Picander. Two of Bach’s dialogue cantatas, BWV 49, “Ich gehe und such mit verlangen,” for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, BWV 58, “Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid II,” for the Sunday after New Year 1727 bear some of the trademarks of Picander’s personal, pietistic, utilitarian poetry.

Premiered on January 13, 1726, a week after the Feast of the Epiphany fell on Sunday, January 6, Cantata 32 is scored for: Soloists, Soprano, Bass; 4-part Chorus for the final chorale; Orchestra: oboe, 2 violins, viola, continuo, in Dialogue: Soul (Soprano), Jesus (Bass) that Bach inscribed as “Concerto in Dialogo.” Cantata 32

begins with the Soul (soprano) in a reflective aria, followed by the questioning Jesus (bass) in recitative. The two unite in an extended, operatic scena dialogue of recitatives and ariosi, followed by their collaborative duet of unity, and a closing congregational chorale.1

The text of Georg Christian Lehms (1711) is Movements 1-3 and 5), the gospel (Luke 2:49) is quoted in Movement 2), and Paul Gerhardt’s hymn in the closing Movement 6 is “Weg, mein Herz, mit den gedanken” (Stanza 12), using the Chorale Melody: “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele,” composer anonymous (c1510) and Louis Bourgeois (1551).2

Movements, scoring, text incipit, key and time signature:3

1. Aria tripartite concerto style (Soprano; Oboe, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo): “Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen” (Dearest Jesus, my desire); c minor, 4/4.
2. Recitative (Bass, Continuo)” “Was ists, dass du mich gesuchet?” (Why is it that you looked for me?, Luke 2:49); b minor, 4/4.
3. Aria trio da-capo (Bass; Violino solo, Continuo): A. “Hier, in meines Vaters Stätte, / Findt mich ein betrübter Geist” (Here, in my Father's place / A distressed spirit finds me); B. “Da kannst du mich sicher finden” (Here you can certainly find me); G Major, 3/8 menuett style.
4. Recitative-Arioso (Dialogue, Soul [Soprano], Jesus [Bass]; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo): Soprano: “Ach! heiliger und großer Gott / So will ich mir / Denn hier bei dir / Beständig Trost und Hilfe suchen” (Ah! holy and great God, / Then I shall / Here by you / Constantly look for consolation and help); Bass: “Wirst du den Erdenttand verfluchen / Und nur in diese Wohnung gehn, / So kannst du hier und dort bestehn” (If you curse earthly trifles / And only go to this dwelling / Then you can overcome both in this world and the next). Arioso (Strings), Soprano: “Wie lieblich ist doch deine Wohnung” (How lovely is your dwelling place, Psalm 84:1). B minor-G Major, 4/4.
5. Aria dal segno (Duet) [Soprano, Bass]; Oboe, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo); Both: “Nun verschwinden alle Plagen” (Now all torments disappear); D Major, 4/4 gavotte style.
6. Chorale (SATB; Oboe, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo: “Mein Gott, öffne mir die Pforten / Solcher Gnad und Gütigkeit” (My God, open for me the gates / Of such grace and kindness)

The Readings are: Epistle: Romans 12:1-6 (We are all one in Christ); Gospel: Luke 2: 41-52 (Jesus in the temple); German text, Luther's translation (1545); English text, King James (Authorised) Version (KJV, 1611).

BCW, Lutheran Church Year, Readings for the First Sunday after Epiphany, The Introit Psalm is 121, Levave oculos (I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help, KJV), says Martin Petzoldt in his Bach Kommantar, vol. 2, which he describes as “Gott, ein Menschen hüter” (God, a guardian of men). The full text of Psalm 121 is found at Petzoldt describes the Epistle as “Vom vernünfttigen Gottesdienst” (concerning a rational main service) and the Gospel as “Der zwölfjährige Jesus im Tempel” (the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple).4

Gardiner: Cantata 32 Musical Character

The musical character of Cantata 32 is described vividly and in detail in John Eliott Gardiner’s liner notes to his Soli Deo Gloria recording of the Bach cantatas. Of particular interest are the obbligato oboe and violin in the arias, the Soul’s evocative response quoting Psalm 84, “How amiable is Thy dwelling,” in the initial recitative dialogue (No. 4), and the union of Soul and Jesus in the duet and closing chorale.5

“First performed on 13 January 1726 in Leipzig to a text by Georg Christian Lehms printed in 1711, BWV 32 Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen is cast as a ‘Concerto in Dialogo’. Although Lehms does not specify the two characters in this dialogue it soon becomes clear that it is not his anxious parents who are searching for Jesus (bass), but the Christian Soul (soprano), with whom we are expected to identify. It opens with an E minor aria in which the soprano engages with a solo oboe as her accomplice in spinning the most ravishing cantilena in the manner of one of Bach’s concerto slow movements. The upper strings provide a persistent accompaniment made up of three-quaver arpeggios marked piano e spiccato, to which the continuo adds its own faltering rhythm ‘as if the Christian were moving constantly about the world seeking for the Saviour’ (Whittaker). Here is none of the anguish we found in the tenor aria that opened the previous cantata. Always intent in successive cantatas on giving a new slant to the same biblical incident or theme, Bach alights on the word ‘Verlangen’ (‘desire’) to

unlock his reserves of improvisatory invention: the music makes it clear that the Soul will indeed find the Saviour and rest secure in his embrace. Jesus’ answer (No. 2; again, it is a twelve-year child speaking, but with the grave voice of a grown man) is initially curt – four bars of recitative in place of the twenty-two in BWV 154 No.5 – but continues in much mellower tone in a B minor da capo aria (No.3). The violiobbligato encircles the voice with triplets and trills, benign in mood for the most part but clouding over as the voice veers towards the minor with the words ‘ein betrübter Geist’ (‘a troubled spirit’). One of the cantata’s most striking moments occurs in the dialogue recitative (No.4): in answer to Jesus’ admonition to ‘curse worldly trifles and enter this dwelling alone’ the Soul counters by quoting Psalm 84 with ‘Wie lieblich ist doch deine Wohnung’ (‘How amiable is Thy dwelling’) in an evocative arioso with a pulsating string accompaniment. Stylistically it reveals Bach as the midway point between Schütz and Brahms, both of whom left us memorable settings of this psalm. Before rounding things off in a chorale, the twelfth strophe of Paul Gerhardt’s hymn, ‘Weg, mein Herz, mit dein Gedenken’ (1647), and with Jesus and the Soul now joyfully reunited, Bach celebrates the event by combining their associated obbligato instruments (oboe and violin), so far heard only separately. It is one of those duets (another is the delicious ‘Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten’ from BWV 78) in which he seems to throw caution to the winds, rivaling the lieto fine conclusions to the operas of his day, but with far more skill, substance and even panache. The Hamburg audience showed their delight, so that it felt right to repeat the duet as an encore in this city where opera has always been such a magnet and an attraction. © John Eliot Gardiner 2010

Biblical Narrative & Dialogue

The biblical narrative involving the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple and the significance of the dialogue between the Soul and Jesus are the main interests in Klaus Hofmann’s liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS recording of the Bach cantatas.6

<<Bach’s ‘Concerto in Dialogo’ was written for the first Sunday after Epiphany, 13th January 1726. The gospel passage for that day, Luke 2:41–52, with its title ‘The Boy Jesus in the Temple’, tells the well known story of a visit by Jesus and his parents to the feast of the passover in Jerusalem. On the way home his parents notice that he is not with them; they search for him for days, and finally find him in the temple, talking to the scribes. Reproachfully Mary asks him: ‘Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?’ and he replies: ‘How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?’ Lehms, the librettist, takes up the general motifs of the story: the loss, the search for Jesus and his rediscovery, and places them in the context of the believer’s relationship with Jesus. He gives his text the overall form of a dialogue between the soul and Jesus and thereby follows an ancient, rich tradition that also involves elements of medieval mysticism and of the bridal metaphors in the Old Testament Song of Solomon.

Following the tradition of musical dialogues, Bach has allocated the role of the soul to the soprano, and the words of Jesus, as was the convention, to the ‘vox Christi’, the bass (despite the fact that in the Bible passage Jesus is still a child). The cantata starts with an aria for the soul, searching yearningly, in which the sighing cantilenas of the soprano and solo oboe compete. This is followed by Jesus’ answer, only slightly modified from the gospel: ‘Was ist’s, dass du mich gesuchet?’ (‘How is it that ye sought me?’). The following bass aria, accompanied by the concertante solo violin, paraphrases Jesus’ answer that he is to be found ‘in meines Vaters Stätte’ (‘in my Father’s place’), in the temple, in the church. The festive accompagnato recitative (fourth movement) brings together the soul and Jesus, and the ending is a veritable love duet of a kind that could have graced any opera stage of the period – and, moreover, it is in the fashionable gavotte rhythm. The Leipzig audience would have been reminded that the Thomaskantor had a few years earlier been court kapellmeister. The final chorale was not foreseen by Lehms but was an addition by Bach. A setting of a strophe from Paul Gerhardt’s Weg, mein Herz, mit den Gedanken (Away, my heart, with the thought, 1647) returns the cantata – also in terms of style – to the sphere of reverence appropriate for a church service.>> © Klaus Hofmann 2008

|Lehms, Telemann, J. L. Bach Connection

The Lehms 1711 text as Bach used it in 10 cantatas, as well as the Johann Ludwig Bach and Telemann connection are found in the BCML Discussion, Part 3 (as updated).7 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 to Lehms texts 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. All were presented during the third cycle except for two composed in Weimar: soprano Soul monologue Cantata 199, “Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut (My heart swims in blood) and alto solo Cantata 54 for Oculi and possibly Trinity +11 in 1723 on a double bill with Cantata 179.

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, 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 Day 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).

Telemann Epiphany Cantata

It is possible that on the Feast of Epiphany, Sunday, January 6, Bach performed Telemann Cantata TVWV 1:795, Hier ist mein Herz, geliebter Jesu (Here is my heart, loving Jesus) scoring: soprano, tenor, 2 violins, continuo (12:56), based on the Lehms 1711 text. The movements, scoring , incip, and timing are:

I. Duet (tutti) Hier ist mein Herz, geliebter Jesu (4:26)
II. Recitative (Soprano, continuo) Ich war ein Sklavenkind (:29)
III. Arioso (soprano, strings, continuo) Wollten doch die Augen brechen (2:37)
IV. Recitative (tenor, continuo) Indessen leg ich mich vor deine Füße (:28)
V. Chorale aria (tenor, strings continuo) Du willst ein Opfer haben (1:17)
VI. Recitative (soprano, continuo), So nimm mein Opfer hin (:48)
VII. Duet (tutti), Ach Mein Gott, ach vergonne mir (2:45)

The tenor chorale aria (Mvt. V) is “Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe” (Awake my heart and sing), Stanza 6; text, Paul Gerhardt (1647/1653), melody, “Nun laßt uns Gott dem Herren” of Nikolaus Selnecker (1587, Zahn 159); (NLGB No. 222, Communion). The hymn text is:8

Du willst ein Opfer haben,
hier bring ich meine Gaben:
mein Weihrauch und mein Widder
sind mein Gebet und Lieder.

You wish to have an offering,
here I bring my gifts:
my incense and my ram
are my prayers and songs.

The chorale text is related to Penitental Psalm 51:17 is found in Bach’s adaptation Motet, "Tilge, Höchester, meine Sünden" (Blot out, Highest, My Sins), BWV 1083’ 1746/7 arrangement of Pergolesi Stabat Mater (1735), German text paraphrase of Penitential Psalm 51, "Have Mercy on me, O God," possibly by Picander. The Psalm 51:17 text (KJV) is: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

Fortuitously, there is a YouTube Recording and Carus score of the Telemann Epiphany Cantata.9

Remnants from earlier works have been found or suggested in Cantatas BWV 32, BWV 145/3,5, BWV 154, BWV 190, and BWV 193, based upon stylistic or literary influences, according to Friedrich Smend in Bach in Köthen and Alfred Dürr in The Cantatas of JSB. The arias from the two cantatas for Epiphany Time, BWV 32/1,3,5 and BWV 154/1, may have been developed in Köthen, especially 32/5 and 154/1 that have similar forms and music. Alfred Dürr points out that passages in Cantata BWV 32 show the influence of the Hunold/Menantes 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 Dürr concludes that Bach radically transformed the music in Leipzig in 1726.

Textual Influences and Chorale Usages

Cantata 32 opening slow soprano aria with oboe in concertante and strings, in concerto form, 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 (Nos. 24/59; second line) of the St. Mark Passion (BWV 247), "Mein Jesu, soll ich dich verlieren" (My Jesus, shall I then now lose thee), Z. Philip Ambrose translation), that begins with the incipit, “Mein Tröster ist nicht mehr bey mir” (My Helper is no more with me).

Not found in the original Lehms text for Cantata 32, the closing chorale (No. 6) "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, öffne 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 (No. 3, chorale aria, and No. 6, plain chorale), Lehms omitted chorales from Cantatas BWV 32 and 54.

The Bourgeois chorale tune is also found in the Trinity Time 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, also 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 a text by Lehms. The reference to Seufzer (sighing) is found in the Brahms Requiem 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."

The vox Christi or voice of Christ is the bass voice representing Christ in the music of Bach and other composers. The vox Christi is particularly found in Bach’s oratorio Passions of Matthew, John, and Mark as well as selective cantatas in all three extant cycles. The bass voice either speaks biblical texts of Christ or poetic paraphrases found in cantatas with soprano-bass duets or bass solo arias and ariosi. An extensive list of these are found in Wikipedia at ,,_mein_Verlangen,_BWV_32


1 Cantata 32, BCW Details and Discography,
2 BCW Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works,;

Lehms BCW Short Biography,; Gerhardt BCW Short Biography,; and Chorale text and Francis Browne English translation,
3 Cantata 32 Lehms German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW,; Score Vocal & Piano [1.50 MB],; Score BGA [2.19 MB],; References: BGA VII (Church Cantata BWV 31-40; Wilhelm Rust, 1857; NBA KB I/5 (Epiphany Cantatas; Werner Neumann 1957), Bach Compendium BC A 31 (1985).
4 See Petzoldt, Bach-Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1.Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 407, text 425f; commentary 427ff).
5 Gardiner liner notes,[sdg174_gb].pdf, BCW Recording details,
6 Klaus Hofmann liner notes,[BIS-SACD1711].pdf, BCW Recording details
7William Hoffman wrote (November 25, 2009), BWV 32: Fugitive Notes,
8 Text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW
9Telemann, CW Details & Recording,; YouTube Recording,; Recording details,, “Telemann: Perpetuum Mobile - Cantatas & Chamber Music / Balthasar Neumann Ensemble; Carus CD 83165 11/30/2004; Score (Carus Verlag),
10 Smend in Bach in Köthen (Concordia: St. Louis MO, 1985: 74ff) and Alfred Dürr in The Cantatas of JSB, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 190f). Recent studies suggest all the music of Cantata 32 was composed in late 1725 with a revised text of Lehms, according to Peter Wollny (Bach Arkiv Leipzig) and Jones, The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume 2,: 1717-1750 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 8, 2014):
Cantata BWV 32 - Revised & Updated Discography

The discography pages of Cantata BWV 32 “Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen” for solo soprano & bass, oboe, 2 violins, viola & continuo (with 4-part Chorus for the final chorale) on the BCW has been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (29):
Recordings of Individual Movements (18):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this beautiful solo cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 32 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.

Luke Dahn wrote (April 10, 2014):
More on Chorale 32/6

Thanks once again to William Hoffman for his wonderfully thorough introduction to Cantata 32. In that introduction, it was stated that Bach "harmonized [Bourgeouis's tune "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele"] at least eight times as closing chorales, mostly in his Trinity Time cantatas, to six different texts." I am only aware of seven such settings, all of which are listed in William's introduction immediately following this quotation. The seven are listed below, though I would be very interested in knowing of any other four-part chorale settings of this tune.

Seven Four-part Chorale Settings of
Bourgeois’s “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele”


First Performance


Chorale Collections


29 August 1723. 14th Sunday after Trinity

Treuer Gott, ich muss dir klagen, by Johann Heermann

Breitkopf 254 & 282, Riem 254 & 282, Dietel 11


2 November 1723. Dedication of church and organ

Treuer Gott, ich muss dir klagen, by Johann Heermann

Breitkopf 63 & 256, Riem 64 & 256, Dietel 18


21 November 1723. 26th Sunday after Trinity

Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele, by Christoph Demantius



13 January 1726. 1st Sunday after Epiphany

Weg, mein Herz, mit den Gedanken, by Paul Gerhardt

Breitkopf 29, Riem 29


23 June 1726. 1st Sunday after Trinity

Kommt, lasst euch den Herren lehren, by David Denicke

Breitkopf 67, Riem 67, Dietel 116


29 September 1726. Feast of St. Michael and Angels

Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele, by Christoph Demantius

Breitkopf 297, Riem 298, Dietel 87


24 June 1738?, Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Tröstet, tröstet meine Lieben, by Johann Olearius

Breitkopf 76, Riem 76

Only two other tunes appear more frequently in the entire catalogue of extant four-part chorales – Heinrich Isaac’s “O Welt, ich muss dich lassen” (BWVs 13.6, 44.7, 97.9, 244.10, 244.37, 245.11, 392, 393, 394 395) and Hans Leo Hassler’s “Befiehl du deine Wege” (BWVs 135.6, 153.5, 161.6, 244.15, 244.17, 244.44, 244.54, 244.62, 248.5, 248.64, 270, 271, 272).(Six other tunes appear seven times in the catalogue, just as the Bourgeois tune.)

A PDF file containing all seven settings is linked below:

The settings demonstrate a particularly rich variety. Keys range from as low as G and as high as C. Two of the settings are in 3/4 meter as opposed to 4/4, and two contain obbligato instrument parts. Only two of the settings contain strong similarities: the Chorale 32.6 currently under discussion and Chorale 39.7 composed five months later. Though in different keys, phrases 1 and 2 and parts of 4 are near identical.

In Chorale 32.6, Bach seems particularly interested in symmetrical and palindromic structures, perhaps inspired by the palindromic components of the Bourgeois tune – the first five notes of the Aufgesang (G-A-B-A-G), the entire second phrase (G-A-B-C-B-A-G), the first five notes of the Abgesang (B-C-D-C-B), and the fifth phrase (B-D-C-B(-A-)G-A-B-G).You can read a more thorough analysis of the symmetries in this chorale here:


Lucian Gabriel Popescu wrote (April 13, 2014):
BWV 32 - Interpretations

here are my impressions on recordings I have on this beautiful cantata.

Mvt. 1: Aria [S]:
Werner: restrained performance from both oboe and soloist
Leonhardt: expressive oboe playing that shows the difference between interpreting and performing, very good dialogue between oboe and boy, who sounds insecure at times but certainly shows relation to what he's singing.
Winschermann: too fast, both orchestra and soloist show little relation to text
Rilling: heavy, way too slow, exceptionally good operatic female soloist
Gardiner: good, but soprano is typical HIP "half-voice", with restricted range, little expressive capabilities and a grating vibrato-less artificial voice
Suzuki: very slow, very good oboe playing, stiff conducting typical of Suzuki, soprano is better than Gardiner's vocally but is in the same class and doesn't compare to Auger.
Koopman: subdued oboe playing, soprano is hard to distinguish from latter two (same boring "half-voice"), but at least tries to interpret

Favorites: Leonhardt, Rilling, Winscherman, Suzuki, Werner, Koopman, Gardiner

Mvt. 2: Recitative [B]:
Werner: round true bass voice (McDaniel), great interpretation, perfect!
Leonhardt: Egmond is like Equiluz in terms of interpretation quality, but he has a light baritone voice
Winschermann: dark baritone voice (Prey), good interpretation
Rilling: superior to Prey in voice quality, no vibrato, but sings with little expression
Gardiner: bleating half-voice impossible to withstand
Suzuki: nasal rather unpleasant baritone voice, gobut formulaic interpretation
Koopman: dark tenor voice (so unappropiate in itself), but otherwise interpretation is good

Favorites: Werner (gap), Winscherman, Leonhardt, Rilling, Suzuki, Koopman (gap), Gardiner

Mvt. 3: Aria [B]:
Werner: too slow, but McDaniel's voice is a joy to hear. Violin performance is impeccable, as well. I would have liked less restrain, though.
Leonhardt: perfect tempo, excellent violin performance (the best), Egmond is very good, but doesn't compare to McDaniel
Winschermann: too fast,good dialogue between violin and soloist, whose voice I find too shaky. Interpretation is not helped by the fast tempo.
Rilling: too fast,
Gardiner: Harvey's interpretation is nonexistent, and his performance forgettable
Suzuki: stiff interpretation with impecable playing but no interpretation
Koopman: Mertens is like Egmond, he certainly knows how to interpret but his voice is even lighter (would have been an acomplished tenor 40 years ago). There is excellent dialogue between violin and soloist.

Favorites: Werner (gap), Rilling, Leonhardt, Koopman, Winscherman, Suzuki (gap), Gardiner

Mvt. 4: Recitaitive (Dialogue) [S, B]:
Werner: ultra-romantic interpretation, Giebel has a pleasant voice. McDaniel is absolutely fantastic. Perfect!
Leonhardt: Boy sounds insecure (I don't like his voice at all to be honest) but interprets in a truly exceptional manner, Egmond's voice sounds bleating and subdued.
Winschermann: Very good soloists. Ameling is perfect, superior to Giebel (simply outstanding interpretation and voice that doesn't sound unappropriate for Bach). Prey is also impecable. Very good!
Rilling: romantic performance (with crescendos and dimminuendos) operatic female soloist but she certainly knows what she's singing about. Heldwein almost equals McDaniel (nothing can be improved here).
Gardiner: Harvey is suprisingly competent but now the female soloist with the typical HIP jagged-edge vibrato-less voice is insufferable.
Suzuki: Nicholls is very good (with the limitations of HIP singers) and Kooy is reliable. Good!
Koopman: Mertens far outshines Zomer, who has an unpleasant voice. Mertens' dark tenor voice reminds me of Ernst Haefliger...

Favorites: Werner = Winscherman, Rilling, Suzuki, Koopman, Leonhardt, Gardiner.

Mvt. 5: Aria (Duet) [S, B]:
Werner: workmanlike maneeristic performance from both soloists and orchestra. Both Giebel and McDaniel sound totally disconnected and just do their jobs. Interestingly, McDaniel sings sotto voce most of the time. Giebel sounds like a boy. Their voices do not blend well.
Leonhardt: good interpretation from both orchestra and soloists. Orchestra is jumpy. Gampert (whose voice I do not enjoy) outshines Egmond in interpretation. There is good balance between voices.
Winschermann: both soloists blend very well and orchestra is up to the high standards set by soloists. My only objection is that it is too fast...
Rilling: way too fast, doesn't let soloists interpret properly. Soloists, otherwise both excellent, sound rushed. Orchestra is competent.
Gardiner: very good orchestra, but soloists have nothing to sell compared to above (except maybe Leonhardt's)
Suzuki: metronomic performance with zero interpretation from both instruments and (half-voice) soloists.
Koopman: too fast, but displays good communication among soloists and also between soloists and orchestra. Very good!

Favorites: Winschermann, Koopman (gap), Leonhardt, Rilling, Werner, Suzuki, Gardiner

Mvt. 6: Chorale:
Werner: romantic version of chorale with the whole congregation singing. On the other hand, voices can be clearly heard.
Leonhardt: choristers are very good, but they sing in an awkward (typical TELDEC cycle) staccato manner
Winschermann: same as Werner, only better, with less voices and more clarity.
Rilling: the best. Firm and beautiful delivery of chorale. Exceptionally good chorales are Rilling's speciality.
Gardiner: same style as Leonhardt, but with a maneeristic interpretation
Suzuki: competent, but nothing more
Koopman: subdued romantic performance with exceptional clarity, but very forgettable in the end
Favorites: Rilling (gap), Winscherman, Werner, Leonhardt, Suzuki, Koopman, Gardiner

No recording excels in every parameter. Overall, I would say only Rilling and Leonhardt keep the standards high throughout movements...

William Hoffman wrote (April 19, 2014):
[To Luke Dahn] There are only seven plain chorale settings. I also counted Cantata 13/3 alto aria that has the melody (Zahn 6543). Sebastian Bach’s Chorale Buch c.1740 (Robin Leaver, Sibley Library, ABS 2012) lists "Freu dich sehr, o meiner Seele" (Zahn melody 6543) on page 249. The book has 200 chorales with harmonizations possibly in the hand of a Bach student or of Dresden origins.


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

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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 05:57