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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 33
Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
Discussions - Part 1

Discussions in the Week of August 25, 2002

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 25, 2002):
BWV 33 - Introduction

The subject of this week’s discussion (August 25, 2002), according to Klaus Langrock’s suggested list, is the Chorale Cantata BWV 33 ‘Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ’ (Alone towards you, Lord Jesus Christ). The background below is quoted from the liner notes to the Vanguard LP (unmentioned writer, early 1970’s):

Background

Cantata BWV 33, for the 13th Sunday after Trinity, was composed, according to the latest research, in 1724, Bach's second year in Leipzig. Patterned in Bach's more customary style of "chorale cantatas" in Leipzig, it closes with the chorale in most simple, four-part harmonisation, and opens with a magnificent, big scale chorale fantasia. In this fantasia of 153 measures the chorus presents the hymn in nine statements, homophonic or freely imitative. They are embedded in the orchestral flow which states its opening theme as a four-voice canon, and continuous contrapuntally throughout. After a bass recitative, one of Bach's most hauntingly beautiful arias follows, with its interplay between muted violin and alto voice over pizzicato strings. Then the tenor recitative introduces a spacious "fantasia" movement as a counterpart to the opening, but with a florid tenor-bass duet taking the place of the chorus. Again there is a canonic texture, and there are also engaging illustrative touches. In the closing chorale, each of the four parts in the chorus is given its own orchestral colouring.

Recordings

The details of the recordings of this cantata can be found in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: Cantata BWV 33 - Recordings

As you can see this cantata has only 4 complete recordings. Three of them are from the regular sources (Rilling [5], Leonhardt [3], and Leusink [6]). The 4th comes from the excellent partial cycle recorded by Cantate label during the 1960’s. This cycle, which was loosely connected with the editorial work of the NBA, was conducted by a variety of German Kantor-conductors, such as Gönnenwein, Ehmann, Kahlhöfer and others. You can see the details of the recordings of this cycle in the following page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Cantate.htm
Alas, most of the recordings in this cycle are out of print, and most of them have never been issued in CD form. The conductor of BWV 33 is Heinz Heintze [2], who made only one LP of Bach Cantatas. The other cantata on this LP is BWV 95, which has already been discussed in the BCML

Additional Information

In the page of recordings mentioned above you can also find links to:
The original German text (at Walter F. Bischof Website); English translations by Francis Browne and Z. Philip Ambrose; French translation. Hebrew translation will come later;
Score (Vocal & Piano version);
Commentary: in English by Simon Crouch and in Spanish by Julio Sánchez Reyes:

So, you are well equipped to start doing your ‘homework’ and listen to the cantata. I have already started to do mine. This morning I had a long drive and I used the opportunity to listen to all four recordings in my car. I have to admit that these are not the ideal surroundings for concentrate listening (driving, stops, noises, phone calls, etc.) but it was good for first impression. After this first round I do already have one favourite recording. But I shall better keep it to myself meanwhile. I have learnt that with repeated listening, of which I am never tired, I might draw conclusions, which might be different from the first impression that I had. Through the process of comparative listening to various recordings, HIP and non-HIP, old and new, large forces and OVPP, the picture of the ‘ideal’ performance is being built gradually in my head. This, the ‘ideal’ performance, is the one against which I compare the others, the ‘real’ recordings of the cantata under discussion.

I hope to see many of you participating in the discussion.

Roland Wörner wrote (August 28, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] I read your introduction to BWV 33 not until today. In the list of the recordings I miss the wonderful recording by Karl Richter [4] with the aria for alto, overwhealming sung by Julia Hamari. KR also did this cantata very often in his Cantata Evenings at S. Mark's in Munich. It was one of his very favorite cantatas and I think, one can hear this in the recording (DGA 1977, Box Sunday after Trinity I).

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 29, 2002):
[To Roland Wörner] [4] Thanks for reminding me about Richter's recording of Cantata BWV 33. I do not know how has this one slipped out. Nevertheless, I updated the relevant page and added Ricther's recording to my listening list.
See: Cantata BWV 33 - Recordings

I intend to send my impression of this recording as well as the 4 others by the end of this week. Until then I shall be happy to see other's opinion, short as they might be.

Philippe Bareille wrote (August 29, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Please Aryeh do not shorten you comments. They are always illuminating.

Bach creative genius defies imagination. With the exception of the recitatives each cantata is different. So it is a pity that probably approx 100 of those were lost for ever. Fortunately we are still left with 200 to enjoy.

The BWV 33 is another deeply satisfying cantata, especially for the comforting alto aria (how frightened trembling steps I seek Him/but Jesus hears my supplication...). I have listened to Leonhardt [3] who captures marvellously the spirit of this music. I think the sweet and consoling atmosphere of this cantata suits him particularly well. The Hannover choir is not as eloquent as its counterpart from Tolz but brings out the clarity and the dancing element of the scoring very convincingly. The young René Jacobs purity of tone is remarkable and I particularly like the way Leonhardt emphasises the rhythmic element of the score in this aria. The duo is slightly marred by the tenor voice but he sings with great fervour and Egmond is as moving as usual.

I listened a few years ago to Rilling [5] (I borrowed the CD from a public library). I didn't like that version at the time partly because I felt that the modern instruments often fail to bring out the transparency, the tone and the contrasts that this music requires. However, it would be dishonest to pass a definite judgement without listening to it again.

Dick Wursten wrote (August 30, 2002):
BWV 33 - two opinions and one textual remark

Just to broaden the discussion I introduce someone else's opinion on BWV 33. It is the comment of a Dutch author, Maarten t Hart, Bach-lover from his early childhood, almost litterally 'surviving' on listening to Bach, esp. the cantatas. He contests the statement of Murray Young who said that the aria is very beautiful but perhaps too long because of its slow tempo and da capo.

"With that I totally disagree. In my opinion this alto-aria is one of the most beautiful, a splendid example of what Vestdijk (=other Dutch author, who commented in writing on all the cantatas of Bach, before recordings existed, i.e. by reading/playing/humming/singing the score at the piano I think.. and then imagining...) called Bach’s 'non-sentimental patience' (Dutch = 'onmeewarig geduld'; difficult to translate). For me the tempo of this aria can never be slow enough (Richter [4] - thank God - takes it very slow). The simple fact that it just goes on an on, for 10 minutes, makes this one of the most grandiose pieces of music Bach ever . By the way this aria is strongly related with the divinely beautiful soprano-aria from cantata BWV105."
[Maarten 't Hart, JSB, p 113]

I myself am also very much impressed by this cantata as a whole. After the solid statement of the opening chorus and the sober recitative of the Bass, the alto-aria indeed takes you away... What a sound! The singing of the violin 'en sourdine', the background pizzicato and then the conitnuous walking with 'wankenden Schritten'... Enchanting is the word for me. Personally I find 7'38 minutes a perfect length (Leusink version [6]). The duet also stole my heart... The Leusink version works again as an appetizer: I hardly can't wait to hear other performances/interpretations, because there must be more in it...

One textual remark: A. Dürr states that the both the hymn and the free paraphrasing of the two midde verses of the hymn to become mvts 2 - 5 in the cantata... have hardly any link with the text of the readings of that sunday: the good Samaritan (gospel) and a few words of st. Paul about the interdependence and interaction of the jewish law and the promise of God to Abraham (Galatians 3: 15-22).

My consideration is, that the textual links (on the level of identical words and phrases) may well be not very numerous, but that I the thematical and substantial link is very tight.

The parable of the good samaritan is part of a discussion about: How should I fullfill the commandments of the law of Moses... In the reading of Galatians Paul introduces Jesus as the inheritor and fullfiller of Abraham’s promise, and at the same time the law becomes a temporarily instrument to make people realize that they are trespassers of it and need a 'mediator'.

I predict (retro-jectively) that the sermon of that sunday followed the typical Lutheran lines of thought being that of the opposition of 'Gesetz und Evangelium' (law and gospel) in which the 'Verheissung' (Promise) of Gods redemption was strongly preached as being available to all listeners through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Allein zu Dir).

We should also not forget that the parable of the good samaritan was mostly not understood as an ethical imperative, but as a preaching of the love of Christ (he is the 'Good Samaritan' par excellence)for the 'lost man' who lay there beaten up at the road of his life and who was not helped by the passing priest and levite (= in Lutheran imagery: the 'old testament law' does not rescue, save a soul in agony). It even might be allegorized completely. I would not be surprised.

Now read again the hymn and the cantatatext and the substantial links will become evident.

Charles Francis wrote (August 31, 2002):
[To Dick Wursten] Maarten 't Hart's "Bach und ich" (written in German) can be bought for some 10 Euro, a price which includes a Ton Koopman CD! For reviews and on-line purchase see: Amazon.com

Marie Jensen wrote (August 31, 2002):
Allein zu dir Herr Jesus Christ mein Hoffnung steht auf Erden.....(opening):

Waiting, hoping , being patient, being disappointed, waiting, hoping again for something, haven't we all tried that? BUT... here it is a dance to hope for Christ. And that is good!

Wie furchtsam wankten meine Schritten:
indeed they do (did) - tiptoe-, but underneath are the safe, firm steps of Christ. It becomes a wonderful consolating alto aria - not one second to long....

And it all ends in a very beautiful duet prayer, reminding me of... is it a trio from the 1st Brandenburg?

I have forgotten what a great cantata this was. I just rediscovered it, totally wrapped up, listening to Leusink [6], without paying any attention to technical details at all…Text and music is a whole. How could I forget cantata BWV 33 for such a long time?

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 31, 2002):
The Recordings

Last week I have been listening to 5 complete recordings of the Cantata:

[2] Hans Heintze (1967)
[3] Gustav Leonhardt (1974)
[4] Karl Richter (1976-1977)
[5] Helmuth Rilling (1979)
[6] Pieter Jan Leusink (1999)

Background & Review

The background below is taken from the following sources:
Alec Robertson: ‘The Church Cantatas of J.S. Bach’ (1972), and
W. Murray Young: ‘The Cantatas of J.S. Bach – An Analytical Guide’ (1989).
The English translation is by Francis Browne, a member of the BCML.

Only the paragraphs related to the three odd movements are quoted, because these are the movements I chose to review this time.

Mvt. 1 Chorale
Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
(Alone towards you, Lord Jesus Christ)
Robertson: In this chorus each line of the nine in the hymn is separated from the next by ritornellos developed from the orchestral introduction. The chorale melody, sung by the sopranos, and the lower parts are always treated quite simply. It fall to the orchestra, therefore, to express the happiness that confidence in the Saviour brings, whatever troubles befall, and this it does in the uprushing scales for the oboes, followed by the violins, in the introduction. The pendant phrases with repeated notes, two or more bars at a time, are a distinctive and combative feature in the instrumental parts almost throughout. Whittaker points out that the treatment of the fifth line, ‘Von Anbeginn ist nichts erkorn’ (From the very beginning nothing has been decreed), gives the clue to these assertive repeated notes - which here also enter the lower voice parts – and was Bach’s way of hitting at the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination.
Young: A joy-motif predominates in this chorale fantasia, while the instruments play in a step-rhythm, symbolic of steadfast faith, both the orchestral introduction and in the ritornelli after each line sung by the choir of their prayer to Christ. The fifth line affirms the Lutheran doctrine of free-will against predestination.

[2] Heintze’s rendition of the opening chorus is the slowest of all five. Yet, although it is also the oldest, it has internal clarity of voices and instruments and kind of tenderness, which makes it almost irresistible with every repeated hearing. No joy can be found here, only deep despair and agony.
[3] The opening chorus under Leonhardt’s baton has apparently more vividness and joy than Heintze’s. The flow is disturbed by the usual fragmentation, which usually characterises this cycle. I do not feel that any feeling is conveyed through this rendition.
[4] Richter supplies in the opening chorus much more vigour and boldness than Leonhardt does. You fill the outburst of joy from all the participants, in this large-scale rendition. The gloomy side of this chorus is not revealed here.
[5] One can easily find many similarities between the performance of the opening chorus by Richter and Rilling. The latter is a little bit slower, but still emphasises the jolly side of this movement. It is also more colourful and has more legato.
[6] Leusink gives the lighter and most transparent performance of the opening chorus. It does not have the sadness of Heintze, neither has it the boldness of Richter and Rilling. But I still find it very attractive.

Mvt. 3 Aria for Alto
Violino I con sordino, Violino II, Viola, Continuo
Wie furchtsam wankten meine Schritte
(How fearfully were faltering my footsteps)
Robertson: A superb aria, most imaginatively scored. The arpeggios in the continuo are marked organ staccato, string bass pizzicato, violin II and viola pizzicato, above which the muted first violin plays the poignant melody, with a motif that prevails throughout in one for another. The burden of sin, continually reiterated, still lies heavy on the soul, but hope is not dimmed and leads to a moving expression of humble gratitude at the line ‘Doch hilft mir Jesu Trostwort wieder, / Daß er für mich genung getan.’ (but Jesus' word of comfort reassures me / that he has done enough for me.)
Young: Bach depicts the sinner’s wavering steps in the beginning of this text by a step-motif for pizzicato strings above the continuo accompaniment with organ. This march-like melody continues throughout the aria, even when the latter part of the text states that Christ’s comforting words have done enough for her. It is an aria of great beauty, but seems, perhaps, too long with its slow tempo and da capo.

[2] Bornemann (with Heintze) holds the listener attention along the long aria with her true contralto voice, her the outmost expressiveness and heart-rending plea. The sensitivity and the warm with which her singing is surrounded by the first violin and the pizzicato strings are a lesson of tasteful accompaniment. Very rarely the burden of sin is expressed so convincingly. When it is finished you fill indeed tired.
[3] Leonhardt knew what he was doing when he chose Jacobs for this aria. His timbre of voice and moving singing suits this aria like a glove. Yet, even he, is not up to the level of a real woman contralto like Bornemann or Hamari in terms of expressiveness. The consequence is that the listener might lose interest along the way.
[4] Hamari’s singing is a lesson in taste and gentle expression. Her voice is less deep than Bornemann’s, but no less warm and her singing is very moving. Her vibrato is also less prominent than the former. She gets full and supportive accompaniment from Richter.
[5] Watts definitely has taste and intelligence, yet at this stage of her career her voice is somewhat behind its prime. She holds the listener’s attention with the power of her expression, and not with the beauty of voice. I still find it fascinating to listen to. The accompaniment she is getting from Rilling is a little bit too strong for me and lacks some sensitivity.
[6] The shortcomings of Buwalda (with Leusink) have been expressed many times in the weekly cantata discussions. I would not like to repeat them here. What is a problematic singer? This is singer that through his rendition you afraid that the thin layer of ice, on which he is walking, might be broken under his feet almost every second. This is a singer that when he sings you wish he were somebody else, somebody like Andreas Scholl or Matthew White.

Mvt. 5 Aria (Duet) for Tenor & Bass
Oboe I/II, Continuo
Gott, der du die Liebe heißt
(God, you who are called love)
Robertson: The essential sentence is, ‘Gib, daß ich aus reinem Triebe / Als mich selbst den Nächsten liebe;’ (Grant that from a pure impulse / I may love my neighbour as myself.). The last section, which prays that if enemies disturb his rest Go will send help, has some lovely phrases on ‘Ruh’ (peace, rest), a word Bach always dwells on tenderly.
Young: Two oboes support their prayer to God that He will fill their spirits with love for their neighbour, as in the case of the good Samaritan. If enemies should disturb their good intentions, they pray that God will help them to achieve their works in love. They sing each pair of lines in imitation but conclude them in unison. Bach’s setting is unusually artful, but the overall result is not too noteworthy, as the parts do not blend very well.

[2] Young rightfully mentioned why it is so difficult to deliver a successful rendition of the duet. Yet, if the first recording was the only one we heard we would not know what he is talking about. The match between the voices of the tenor Jelden and the bass Kunz (with Heintze) is so splendid that is easy to follow each vocal line and to enjoy the blending of their voices. There is a tension between the singing and the accompaniment that seems to play in different rhythm. I have not heard this tension in any of the other recording of the duet.
[3] The team of Altena and Egmond (with Leonhardt) is not a good one. Firstly, the match between the voices is not pleasant to hear. Secondly the level of expressiveness in this performance is low. Thirdly, They fail to hold the listener’s attention. The playing of the oboes in this duet is better than the singing, but the whole package is not held tight. Somewhere in the course of this performance I had the impression that it is breaking into pieces.
[4] A singer of the higher level controls his technique both physically and intellectually so masterly that he is free to express whatever his soul guides him to do. With Richter we have not only one singer of the highest calibre, but two. And these two have also many years of participating in the same performances. The result is a dreamy duet, which eliminates any doubt regarding Bach’s art. You feel as you are looking at a couple of singers who indeed listen to each other. There is a drama there and there is expression. With repeated hearings I found myself wishing that the two would save some of their expression and give a more restrained singing.
[5] The duet of Rilling is not satisfactory. Firstly, it is performed so fast, that the relaxation, which is needed for a good performance of the duet, is simply missing. The singers seem to have difficulties to follow the progress of the movement with this breakneck tempo. Secondly, the match between their voices is not good.
[6] Schoch and Ramselaar (with Leusink) are relatively a competent pair. The match between the voices is good, the singers are well balanced, and therefore it is easy to follow them. The tempo is also fine and the accompaniment is exemplary. In this surroundings Schoch sounds better than when he is given a full aria to himself.

Conclusion

Personal preferences:
Chorus (Mvt. 1): Heintze [2], Richter [4], Rilling [5], Leusink [6], Leonhardt [3]
Aria for Alto (Mvt. 3): Bornemann/Heintze [2] = Hamari/Richter [4], Jacobs/Leonhardt [3], Watts/Rilling [5], Buwalda/Leusink [6]
Duet for Tenor & Bass (Mvt. 5): Jelden & Kunz/Heintze [2] = Schreier & DFD/Richter [4], Schoch & Ramselaar/Leusink [6], Altena & Egmond/Leonhardt [3], Lang & Huttenlocher/Rilling [5]

A recording to take away: HEINTZE [2]!

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

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 1, 2002):
BWV 33 - Provenance:

See: Cantata BWV 33 - Provenance

Commentaries: [Schweitzer, Smend, Dürr, Daniel R. Meladmed (in an article on the choral mvts.)]

See: Cantata BWV 33 – Commentary

The recordings:

This week I listened to 4 recordings of BWV 33, two of which were non-HIP and the other two HIP: Richter (1976-77) [4]; Rilling (1979) [5]; and Leonhardt (1974) [3]; Leusink (1999) [6]

The HIP recordings are, as usual, a half-tone lower in pitch than the non-HIP recordings.

Somehow, once again, I was unable to give a complete report oneverything that I heard. I have seen Aryeh’s preferences which agree fully with mine. I regret not having been able to the hear the rare Heintze recording [2]. My discussion on the Mvt. 1 recordings follows below. Just a few comments on aspects that stood out in my mind regarding the other mvts.: Hamari’s performance of the aria is excellent in the expressive warmth that she radiates. The contrast between the weight of sins and the hope that faith brings is beautifully presented along with a very sensitive accompaniment that is extremely effective. I noticed that Hamari swoops to a high note on occasion. While this is acceptable practice in opera, such a mannerism is frowned upon in a Bach sacred aria. I just happen to read about this in Agricola’s book on singing where he points out how important it is for a singer to practice leaps or jumps upward and be able to land right on the note. Jacobs’ [3] stentorian, trumpet-like voice seems quite out of place in an aria of this type because he is unable to vary the dynamics of his voice sufficiently in order to sing the words expressively. When he leaps upward, he often hits the higher note with a vengeance. This, too, Agricola criticizes as a trait of a voice not properly trained and under complete control of the singer. Jacobs has intonation problems as well. Watts [5] has lost vocal control as a result of a long career in singing and Buwalda [6] has a ‘Fistelstimme’ which in German does not only mean a falsetto-type voice, but also describes the thin, reedy quality which is often unpleasant to listen to. Regarding the duet, Schreier and Fischer-Dieskau [4] have a perfect blend on their parallel sixths and thirds, but when the text has words like, “kräftig” (powerful), Dieskau overdoes the punchiness that he gives this word. This is an example of overkill on Dieskau’s part. Dieskau, generally, for all his virtues, has his moments when he unpredictably bellows forth and becomes a destroyer of a musical line because he is overly intent on bringing out the maximum amount of expression possible. In such instances, when he is engaged in acting out a text more than he would have to, he is ruled more by his mind than his heart and musical ear.

Mvt. 1:

[3] Leonhardt:
The Leonhardt recording exemplifies many of the characteristics that are typical of the Teldec HIP Bach cantata series:
1) The oboists are unable or unwilling to control the sound of their instruments sufficiently to avoid the feeling of insecurity that they project. If you listen to the 1st mvt. Of BWV 32 at the beginning of the same CD, you will get an idea of how bad this sound can get. If Bach had to rely on oboists such as this, he would certainly have discontinued composing oboe parts for them in his sacred music. The vibratos of these oboists are shaky and their intonation rather poor at times. Perhaps Dürr’s description of the sound of modern oboes (above) applies more to these oboists than to modern players who are often quite excellent because they possess a higher level of musicality. The argument that Harnoncourt & Leonhardt’s oboists might offer, that these are period instruments, after all, and that Bach’s students probably could not play them any better, does not ‘hold any water’ for me. We have evidence of better sounding oboes in other HIP recordings. Such evidence refutes their arguments as well.
2) The squeaky, scratchy sound of the violins prevails. There is a harsh quality that they produce, a sound quality which is aggravated by Harnoncourt’s false assumption that violins in Bach’s time had to sound this way because of the shorter bow and the gut strings, and because the accents in the music at that time were much stronger and the phrases very much shorter. Where Bach marked a few quarter notes with dots, Leonhardt decides to make these notes extremely abrupt and loud, much louder than they should be, because here they attract too much attention to themselves.
3) In the bc, the 16th notes sound muffled with heavily accented quarter notes creating a thud-like sound. The cello ‘bites’ so hard into such notes that the neighboring strings begin to sound as well. This is the ‘playing on wood’ technique that some contemporary HIP groups favor. Such violent playing is uncalled for here. The wonderful, 16th-note, descending passages are not as clear as they should be. What ever happened to complete transparency promised by HIP here?
4) Certainly the choir is extremely important for this mvt. , but what happens is that the first entrance of the choir is quite tentative. Not a very auspicious beginning! There is no conviction expressed here, nor is the choir secure in the notes they are supposed to sing. The lower voices are muffled and weak, so weak that they become almost completely non-existent in ms. 99 to 102. Generally, the inner parts are difficult to discern.
5) When Bach does indicate dynamics (as he does very carefully in the alto aria, where he marks short sections as ‘piano’ or ‘forte’), these are often disregarded by HIP conductors. The prevailing trend among the latter is to abandon ‘tier’-dynamics in favor of extended crescendi and decrescendi which have always been a mainstay of late romantic performance practice. Go figure!

[6] Leusink:
1) Here the oboe sound is much better controlled, sometimes even too much so as they begin to sound bland and lack character. But this is a definite improvement over Leonhardt’s oboists.
2) The violins, although thin in sound and not always playing together as a unit, have a less scratchy sound and do not hit the strong accents as hard as Leonhardt’s violins do.
3) The bc is muffled and very thick and heavy. This is a general characteristic of the entire series. The bassoonist’s playing style is dull and uninteresting. The descending 16th-note passages lack character.
4) The choir sound is better than Leonhardt’s with the notes in all the parts being heard more clearly, albeit with the caveat that now the listener is faced with a lack of unity, of a coherent sound, because individual voices hold sway from time to time as they reach for high notes which are then much louder and because their unique vocal sound, raspiness, etc. becomes apparent.
5) Of the two HIP recordings, this is the better one.

[4] Richter:
Despite the fact that modern oboes are being used, they seem retreat very much into the background when the choir enters. Perhaps this should not seem unusual given the size and vocal power of the choir, and the larger string orchestra.
The strings play in a variety of ways: staccato (on the 16th-note passages), portato, and legato. This is a reasonable blend of these articulation techniques that comes as a welcome relief after the Leonhardt’s performance.
The bc is excellently executed with a light staccato in the cellos, or even a pizzicato string bass coupled with a excitingly played bassoon. It’s not every day that one gets to hear a bassoon played this way in a Bach cantata.
Certainly the highlight here and the key element to the success of this mvt. lies in the exuberant conviction with which this choir sings. With this type of singing, the listener’s ears will really perk up. It is almost impossible not to get caught up in the excitement created by their commitment to sing these words ‘from the soul.’
In the beginning Richter seems to be pushing the tempo a bit as he tries to keep his large forces from slowing down. This tug-of-war is soon over and what we get is one of the truly great introductory cantata mvts well performed. It is not easy to find a recording performed with such fervor and dedication.
Yes, as a proponent of Bach performed in the Romantic tradition Richter also has crescendi, decrescendo, and ritardandi.

[5] Rilling:
The balance with the oboes is better hthan with Rilling. This is probably due to the lesser number of players and singers.
With a tempo a half minute slower than Richter, Rilling is able to indulge in more legato playing. The 16th-note passages in the violins are not as detached as Richter’s.
The bc is less distinct compared to Richter, this despite the fact that Rilling treats the bc similarly. The 16th-note figures and passages are less sprightly and lively than Richter’s.
I was particularly disturbed by the audacity of one of the sopranos (Rilling should have fired her on the spot, but she keeps cropping up relentlessly in this series and single-handedly brings good performances down to a lower level) who, with her completely uncontrolled vibrato, becomes a veritable Queen of the Night as she angrily sings the opening line of the chorale melody. Such angry determination is not a substitute for the solid strength evidenced in the Richter recording. Despite the use of trained voices who have difficulty controlling their vibratos, there are sections here that are musically more in balance here and have greater clarity (I can actually hear all the parts clearly) than in any of the other recordings, viz. the difficult passage in ms. 99-102.
Rilling’s version does not have the driving power that Richter has. In part this may be due to the slower tempo that Rilling takes: 5:03 compared to Richter’s 4:30. [Leonhardt came in at 4:50 and Leusink at 4:48.]

 

BWV 33

Christian Panse wrote (September 5, 2003):
And now back to Bach (at least I hope so). In eight days, I'll sing BWV 33 (Mvt. 2 and Mvt. 5), whoopee!

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 5, 2003):
[To Christian Panse] A good piece. Good luck with the performance! Is this for a church service or a concert?

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 33: 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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Last update: ýMarch 11, 2012 ý16:30:01