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Cantata BWV 57
Selig ist der Mann
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of August 12, 2007

Russell Telfer wrote (August 11, 2007):
Introduction to cantata BWV 57 - Selig ist der Mann

Discussion for the week beginning 12th August 2007:

Introduction to Cantata BWV 57 Selig ist der Mann
Blessed is the Man

The first performance of this cantata was on the feast of St Stephen, 26th December 1725, following the Christmas day performance of cantata BWV 110 which was under review last week.

Text was mainly by Georg Christian Lehms with further text by Ahasverus Fritsch and from the Bible: James Book I.

BWV 57 is a solo cantata with roles for Jesus (baritone) and Die Seele - The Soul - (soprano). Bach's choir would have had a rehearsal day off, but be in attendance to sing the final Choral.

The text of this cantata is unusual: we have a dialogue between Jesus and the Soul, where the Soul is - at least in the final chorus - the collective soul of the body of the church.

With regard to cantata BWV 110, reviewed last week, I expressed my feeling that music did not match the text well in some verses. My online colleagues took a different view, which I acknowledge.

In the case of this cantata I believe that music matches text perfectly.

Here are some details of the eight verses. I quote translations [which I provide from the website, with continuing gratitude to the translators] of the opening text which usually give one an idea of the likely mood and tempo of the musical treatment.

Anyone who wished to look beyond the music to understand the unfolding dialogue between Jesus and the Soul would find it helpful to choose one of the translations on the following link: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/index.htm

Mvt. 1:
Blessed is the man who bears temptation with patience

The bass soloist, portraying Jesus, is supported by two oboes and taille, and four part strings plus organ continuo. Bearing in mind the conventions in the passions to place Jesus with rich string accompaniment, how does this compare?

Mvt. 2:
Ah! this sweet comfort doth Restore my heart as well,

Much more simply, musically, the Soul expresses humility and abasement in recitative form. Accompaniment by Continuo only.

Mvt. 3:
I would now yearn for death, If thou, my Jesus, didst not love me.

A sombre movement for the Soul, supported by strings. A modern commentary might invite readers to consider the boundaries between sacred and secular love.

Mvt. 4:
I stretch to thee my hand, My heart as well comes with it.

In the most basic form, accompanied only by organ, a short dialogue between Jesus and the Soul. A far cry from the lush strings of the passions.

Mvt. 5:
Yes, yes, I can thy foes destroy now

The agitated tempo and dance-like nature of this beautiful and musically uplifting aria for Jesus and string orchestra would, I believe, be more likely to suggest a secular cantata.

Interestingly, it is scored for strings only and yet (this is my purely subjective impression) after the event you might imagine that you had heard it performed by a full Bach orchestra. This does depend on a successful solo performance. Overall I slightly prefer Rilling's [9] soloist to Leusink's [13], although both are admirable.

Mvt. 6:
Within my lap life's peace abideth,
This I will once give thee forever

This presents continued dialogue in recit form between Jesus and the Soul.

Mvt. 7:
I'd quit now so quickly mine earthly existence, with gladness ..

An allegro aria for the Soul this time with obbligato violin and continuo. Yet again, I feel, music matches text perfectly. Note again the sentiments of verse 3.

Mvt. 8:
Bring, my belove'd, my hopes to fulfillment

Here we have a simple closing chorus to the tune of Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren heard recently in BWV 137.

In recent weeks I have studied Bach's sacred choral works closely. Like BWV 110, BWV 79, BWV 164, and others before them, I have realised how diverse was Bach's cultural span. Despite the gaps in our knowledge, it is amazing how much we can put together about his life and work.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 11, 2007):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< Anyone who wished to look beyond the music to understand the unfolding dialogue between Jesus and the Soul would find it helpful to choose one of the translations on the following link: >
Just to add that BWV 32, which will be reviewed in a month or so, also is constructed around a dialogue between Jesus and the Soul and consequently invites comparison.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 11, 2007):
Cantata BWV 57 - Selig ist der Mann - Christmas or St. Stephen?

Russell Telfer wrote:
< Introduction to Cantata BWV 57 Selig ist der Mann
Blessed is the Man
The first performance of this cantata was on the feast of St Stephen, 26th December
1725, following the Christmas day performance of cantata BWV 110 which was under review last week >
I am curious about December 26 being both the 2nd Day of Christmas and St. Stephen's Day. There are two sets of readings. The first has the Lucan Gospel of the Shepherds at the Manger. This is the controlling reading for Cantatas BWV 40, BWV 121 and Part Two of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248).

The second set of readings has the Acts account of the martyrdom of Stephen and the Matthean gospel about the stoning of prophets. Cantata BWV 57, "Selig ist der Mann" is clearly a meditation on the perseverance and death of Stephen. Bach even retains the pun on the name "Stephanos" meaning "crown" in the opening movement (Mvt. 1).

This appears to be the only time that Bach used the St. Stephen's Day readings as a basis for a cantata. Do we know why? Who made the decision which set of readings was used? Do Dürr or Stiller address the question?

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 11, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Quoting Dürr: "Among Bach's cantatas for the 2nd Day of Christmas, this work, first performed on 26 December 1725, is the true St. Stephen's Day cantata, for it makes no reference at all to the celebration of Christ's Birth and from the very beginning praises martyrdom. It is also the most personal cantata for the day, for, as we see at once in the second movement, its subject is not external temptation or persecution but rather the distress caused by the temptation of sin, over which Christ is celebrated as victor. The personal theme is reflected in Bach's setting: he himself designated the two characters of this dialogue cantata as 'Jesus' and 'Anima' (the Soul); and the dialogue form of the work is even carried out to the concluding four-part chorale (Mvt. 8)."

He also develops the matter in a long paragraph related to the texts and the old and new covenant. The soul is promised the Kingdom of Heaven. There is more... I find Dürr gives this particular cantata a great deal of information. He indicates a parallel with opera, and as Russell has mentioned the music and text hold together very well.

Peter Smaill wrote (August 13, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Of the works for 26 December this is indeed as Dürr states the only one that reflects on the Martyrdom of St Stephen, along with St Michael the Evangelists, one of the few Saints recalled in the Lutheran Kalendar; many Lutheran chuches are named after him. The Lehms text is unusual, however, in another respect.

More striking is the choice of the text for BWV 57/1 "Selig ist der mann", from the Book of James. It is, per Unger, the only quotation from this Book of the New Testament in the whole of the Cantatas.

James is given out by St. Paul as the brother of Jesus, and is considered by scholars to have continued a judaic branch of Christianity - for example, insisting on circumcision- at Jerusalem . Some scholars think him not a brother but a cousin; others a son of Zebedee or James the Less. Whatever, the point is that Luther did not consider the Book of James to be canonical since it denies justification by faith(Jms 2-26); he describes it as an "epistle of straw".

Such considerations obviously did not prevent Lehms and Bach from quoting from it and setting it to music-just once.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 13, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Whatever, the point is that Luther did not consider the Book of James to be canonical since it denies justification by faith (Jms 2-26); he describes it as an "epistle of straw". >
"Throw Jimmy on the fire" was Luther's impatient riposte to the biblical book which didn't fit his theology.

One of the reasons that I am so interested in the use of the St. Stephen readings is that I hear many echoes of a Passion -- and Bach was working on the SMP (BWV 244) at the time. I think that the wonderful sarabande in the opening aria (Mvt. 1) has many similiarities to the closing chorus of the SMP (BWV 244), "Wir setzen" -- those sinking bass lines. The Brandenburg Concerto ritornello in "Ja, Ja Ich Kann Die Feinde Schlagen" is closely related to "Der Held von Juda siegt" in the SJP (BWV 245).

Did Bach have the personal option of using the St. Stephen's readings or were they controlled by a liturgical ordo? If he did ask to use these readings, is the cantata a spark from the creative blaze of the SMP (BWV 244)? Like the "Wesendock Lieder" and "Tristan und Isolde"?

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 13, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] For as long as I can remember St. Stephen's day has been observed in the Lutheran Churches I have known, and although I do not have any academic evidence on this issue, I think this day was probably on the calendar, and therefore an option for a cantata. I read in Schweitzer last night (now I have finally finished this intensive book) that Bach considered religion to be art, that is to say, a form of worship, and in that context even the difficult subject of martyrdom was probably a dramatic and worth-while project. As I have opportunity to explore the cantatas I become more and more intrigued with Bach's way of painting the story with his innumerable skills.

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 13, 2007):
[To Peter Smaill] Please tell us about the text by Unger. Thanks.

Peter Smaill wrote (August 13, 2007):
[To Jean Laaninen] Thanks for this question -"what does unger actually say about the text of BWV 57/1-which me allows a moment to expand on how Unger's "Handbook to Bach's Sacred Texts" is helpful, and its limitations.

In full it is "An interlinear translations with reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions". Unger studied under Rilling, who writes a brief foreword, and this work was made possible by the arrival of computerised Bibles with search capability. Unger uses the 1971 US version of the Revised Standard Version for the English translations, sticking to literal word order, but he also sometimes reflects on the Lutheran text where it deviates materially.

Not always does this sublety get picked up. I was, for example , excited to discover a text set by Bach in the Ratswahl Cantata BWV 71, "Gott ist mein Konig" was also the inscription on the frame of a portrait of the Pietist/Bohemian Brotherhoof leader, von Zinzendorf. The text is "Dein alter sei wie deine Jugend" from BWV 71/3. The biblical RSV version by Unger is "As your days, so shall your strength be". This is not really the same as "May your old age be as your youth" , my literal translation of the German. Was this therefore an original text linking the poetic circle of Bach to that of Zinzendorff?

However, Michael Marissen pointed out that the Lutheran Bible gives the text from Deuteronomy 33:25 just as the German has it; the phrase was not an original invention by Bach's librettist, which would have been an interesting link!

Back to BWV 57. Unger does not "write up" the text, so any errors in the assessment of the Luther position are down to me! He simply records against the German text of 57/1: :

Jms. 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown (Greek:Stephanos) of life which god has been promised to those who love him . (Also Jms 1:2-4)

There are listed associated ideas relating to St Stephen and the general theme of suffering drawn from Acts 7, Matthew 23, and 1 Peter 4. These, however are really tangential to the clear main source in the Book of James.

Unger rather emphasises the outlook of Stiller, namely, that the Cantatas are completely rooted in Scripture. Perhaps this approach misses the additional importance of the mystical and Trinitarian impulses which are neither in conflict with Scripture nor they expressly stated in the Bible.

The useful index area cuts and dices the texts by number, Cantata incipit, movement themes, stanza incipit, chorale references, librettists and scriptural quotes. From the last I was able to make the bold statement that the Book of James occurs uniquely in BWV 57. Many of the books of the OT are never quoted but Sirach, from the Apocrypha, occurs four times according to Unger. This text, relatively obscure to us moderns, was not the particular love of a single librettist but seems to have been used by a number of unknown poets.

Even here I have slight reservations in that BWV 179/1 is attributed to the book of Sirach by Unger but to Ecclesiastes by Dürr. This may be a problem of the word-matching process of the computerised texts in Unger. The message is; Unger is a great resource, but needs to be used with care.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 13, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< There are listed associated ideas relating to St Stephen and the general theme of suffering drawn from Acts 7, Matthew 23, and 1 Peter 4. These, however are really tangential to the clear main source in the Book of James. >
I agree that this is primarily a theological cantata rather than a recreation of the martyrdom of Stephen, although it is worth noting that the biblical scene closes with Stephen's vision of Christ at the moment of death and his subsequent reception into heaven -- an encouragment perhaps to the librettist to use the Soul - Christ dialogue form.

Do we know on what occasion the concluding chorale, "Lobe den Herrn" (Mvt. 8) was usually sung? The cantata text refers specifically to the Acts passage.

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 13, 2007):
[To Peter Smaill] Thank you, Peter.

I have printed a copy of these notes and will take it with me to the library where I will take a good look at Unger. The translation you point out below is indeed very interesting. I recall from my studies at Fuller that translations vary through exegesis by the other sources that one can consult. I had a number of books from the Roman Catholic tradition that I used sometimes in connection with Greek at that time. Another top notch student told me once that translation is more of an art than one would imagine. Sometimes the translations fit with the over-all text and sometimes the choice of words is peculiar. This of course has led to insights or lack thereof, and the best work in translations can be very time consuming. And, translation can besubjective as well as understanding the material. But if one has parallel materials from the time period in which something has been written a far more educated perspective is possible. In the cantata translations when I translate I go word for word for singing, and in part on the assumption that the composer placed those words in a particular order either based on the language and its grammar, or for poetic emphasis. Maybe others would not feel either always applies.

I did not read the Apocrypha until later in life, but it makes sense to me that Bach might have had a copy even though the Reformation brought about the removal of various materials from regular use in the church. From what I have read on this list and in some texts on Bach's life just this summer he had an excellent library.

In the text you mentioned the historical value and the poetic value might have been retained by the scholar due to his methods of translation. Translation and text criticism certainly can lead to a variety of interpretations, and when so many interesting questions come up regarding sources it certainly is enjoyable to look at the challenge of making some decisions as to validity. Thanks again.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 15, 2007):
The opening aria (Mvt. 1) is one of those that sets a biblical text for bass voice, accompanied by rich string writing (reinforced by col' parte woodwinds). It features long held notes on keywords, syncopation of some phrases, expressive trills in the rich instrumental polyphony, and lovely modulations, including some chromatic passages.

At the start, violins 1 and 2 present the basic instrumental motif via Bach's oft-employed little canon at the unison (listen for the successive trills), followed by violas an octave lower, and then continuo in inversion. The diminished harmony on the first "Krone" is striking; and the last "Krone" is held for four bars accompanied by the imitative figures with trills in the upper strings, to be concluded with a lovely melisma based on a segment of the cycle of fifths.

Werner [5] fully captures the beauty of this score, with the lovely string orchestra complemented by the powerful, yet gentle and most attractive singing of Barry McDaniel (see an interview at the BCW: Interview with the Baritone Barry McDaniel). Some of the detail noted above may seem `matter-of-fact' (if noticed at all) in Harnoncourt's fast tempo version. Of the others, Rilling/Heldwein [9] is fine, and the samples of the other recordings all sound attractive; but Werner is undoubtedly my favourite. (It seems Werner reserves the col' parte woodwinds for non-vocal sections - quite effective, IMO).

The first soprano aria (Mvt. 3) is also in the minor key and in triple time (all the non-recitative movements are in triple time). Once again the string writing is rich and expressive, with the expected striking harmonies on "Tod" and "Höllennoth". Rilling [9] takes this aria at nearly half the speed of Werner [5], and Auger (with Rilling) brings the required expressiveness to the vocal line, apart from a couple of places where she sings too forcefully. Werner's strings are lovely, with Giebel's singing satisfactory. All the BCW internet samples seem to be satisfying, with Harnoncourt's boy soprano [8] and Leusink's Holton [13] being pleasing to my ears (as far as the samples go).

The `5th Brandenburg' strings are most attractive in the lively major key bass aria. Once again McDaniel [5] is superb. Harnoncourt [8], Gardiner [14], and Koopman [15] seem to be `off to the races', with their fast tempos.

I especially like the `bariolage' sections for solo violin in the attractive soprano aria. All recordings are satisfactory, though Herreweghe's soprano [11] has a vibrato that I do not find attractive.

The Rilling booklet [9] notes that the final words of the chorale ("out of this tortured body") are set to `crude' harmonies, but a better description would be surely be `striking' harmonies. Gardiner's [14] final chorale seems disjointed and fast; however he can be commended for his performance of the other movements, if I can judge from the internet samples.

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 15, 2007):
Neil Halladay wrote:
< The opening aria (Mvt. 1) is one of those that sets a biblical text for bass voice, accompanied by rich string writing (reinforced by col' parte woodwinds). >
Please explain the term col'parte. Thanks, Neil.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 16, 2007):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
>Please explain the term col'parte<
I presume it's an Italian term (which appears in the scores occasionally) meaning on or with the part.

The oboes do not have independent parts. In 57/1, oboes 1, 2, and 3, simply double violins 1, 2, and violas, respectively.

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 16, 2007):
[To Neil Halliday] Thanks, Neil.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 16, 2007):
[To Jean Laaninen] Yes, that's right. Actually, it's usually written 'colla parte', and what it means is that the soloist is singing something where they can take a great deal of liberty with the tempo (e.g. there's a cadence in long notes, with cadenzas), and 'colla parte' is a signal to the orchestra that they are to play not strict note values as written in the score, but rather wait for the soloist to finish whatever embellishments are being added and only then go on to the next note along with the soloist.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 16, 2007):
'colla parte' (was: Introduction to cantata BWV 57 - Selig ist der Mann)

[To Cara Emily Thornton] Interesting. I thougtht I had seen the term used as I described, but maybe not. Certainly, the final chorales often have alongside the soprano clef, for example: oboe I, II, violin 1, col' Soprano; violin II col' Alto, etc.

Perhaps, to avoid confusion, I should have simply written (of Mvt. 1): woodwinds double the strings.

Richard A.A. Larraga wrote (August 16, 2007):
My name is Richard Larraga and I'm a choral conductor based in Boston, Massachusetts. I'll be conducting Cantata 10 (Meine Seel erhebt den Herrn) this fall at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. I've conducted a number of cantatas and performed the b minor Mass with one voice per part a few years ago.

While Cara is correct about the use of colla parte in concertos, in the cantatas, colla parte just means the instruments are doubling the vocal parts for support.

Looking forward to some interesting discussions.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 16, 2007):
[To Neil Halliday] That sounds reasonable too, although I've never seen it myself. So what it would mean is that oboe I, II, violin I double the soprano, etc. The usage I was thinking of is written directly over that one little place where something like what I have described below is going on. I think I may also have seen something like this in recitatives where there are instruments playing long notes under the 'reciter', so that the effect is that the reciter will sing such and such words, and then the accompaniment will change on this or that word. So it seems from what you're saying that the term has more general application than either of us suspected.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 16, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] For the music of Bach, "colla parte" means that an instrument doubles another instrumental or vocal part. Bach uses it in almost every final chorale where the instruments are distributed over the four vocal parts. Even though the later meaning to follow the soloist is implicit in Baroque cadenzas, I don't think the marking appears before the Classical period.

Russell Telfer (August 16, 2007):
Introducing myself - and BWV 57

Richard Larraga wrote:
< My name is Richard Larraga and I'm a choral conductor based in Boston, Massachusetts. I'll be conducting Cantata BWV 10 (Meine Seel erhebt den Herrn) this fall at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge.
Looking forward to some interesting discussions. >
Welcome Richard, I'm sure you will be able to gather much useful information from this forum, and at the same time offer us your own perceptions on presenting Bach's choral music and related matters.

I've been following the many posts on cantata BWV 57 and have learned much from the correspondence this week. I get the impression some of my fellow posters are lurking round university libraries digging out primary sources at will. Some of us are not so lucky!

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 16, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Thanks for the elucidation, Cara. There are so many things to learn here--all a delight.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 16, 2007):
I haven't kept up with all the postings this week so apologies if this has already been commented upon.

It's worth noticing the tonal originality of the second soprano aria which is one of those few movements (recits excepted) that do not end in the tonic key. In fact this Gm aria ends on a Bb chord--a question is asked and left hanging in the air for the chorale to respond to. Incredible originality and yet another example of Bach's extreme sensitivity to aspects of the text leading him to moderate fundamental structural elements of the music.

Interestingly the other cantata of this period to bring together a dialogue of Jesus and the Soul, BWV 32 leads to a joyous operatic love duet between the two of them. This union is not consummated in the same way in BWV 57 where they never actually sing together.

Has anyone noticed that Bach's Christmas music for this year, particularly after BWV 110 on the day itself, seems more muted and introspective than that of the first 2 cycles? There doesn't seem to be any significant event in his life that might explain this--other than, perhaps an ever developing maturity??

Peter Smaill wrote (August 17, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] Julian and others detect that the Lehms phase of the Cantata cycle offers change to a more muted style and with texts and (music sometimes) borrowed from the past. Nevertheless Bach approaches this work with much skill in sustaining the dialogue; the curt ending to the second soprano aria,in a different key, answered immediately by the consoling Chorale is just one of several points of detail suggesting that BWV 57, despite its small forces, was not simply dashed off conceptually even though the Christmas workload remained intense.

Another very striking moment, exceptionally beautiful even for Bach, is the setting of the soprano words in Mvt. 3, "Wenn du, mein Jesu, mich nicht liebstest" (" If Thou, my Jesus, lovest me not..". A rising arcing motif in the vocal line is set against a minuet-like string arpeggio which seems to modulate so as to create a rapturous affekt. Yet the words set, being a conditional phrase, are of a possible horrendous doubt - what if Jesus doe not love me ? Bach's skill is in that the tenderness of the music affirms that indeed Jesus does love the believer; the instrumentalists as it were form a song without words in response to the "what if?" of the soprano.It is an example - a feature noted by Dürr- of Bach avoiding the obvious word-painting in favour of a conscius antipathy or disconnect between words and music.

Is Bach winding down ? Or busy writing the SMP (BWV 244)? These propositions can be doubted from a number of angles.

In the absence of text booklets at this stage we cannot be sure that there was not also performed in the morning of 26 January 1725 a preexisting Cantata for the Christmas sequence. The Lehms collection from which this text is drawn are described as "Nachmittags" or afternoon works, and scores of these texts were set by Graupner. Recent discovery of the original texts in Darmstadt analysed by Schulze set out the position as follows:

The title in full of the Lehms collection is“Gottgefälliges Kirchen=Opffer. In einem gantzen Jahr=Gange Andächtiger Betrachtungen über die gewöhnlichen Sonn= und Festtags=Texte / Gott zu Ehren und der Darmstättischen Schloß=Capelle zu seiner Früh= und Mittags=Erbauung angezündet vonM[agister] Georg Christian Lehms / Hochfürstlich Hessen=Darmstättischen Bibliothecario.“

It was published toward the end of 1711 und was primarilyintended for the Court Capellmeister of Darmstadt, Christoph Graupner. Of the 1400 cantatas by Graupner,40 of them composed between 1711 and the end of 1712 use texts from this book. Lehms’ book (in subsequent years, he published additional books for use by Graupner) contains texts for the primary church services (most likely those based on the main Epistle and Gospel readings for Sundays and Feast Days), but also texts such as those which Bach used for BWV 57 (pp.40-42 of Schulze’s book) and BWV 151. Both cantata texts in Lehms’ book carry the subtitle and/or specific designation: “Nachmittags=Andacht. Auf den andern Weynacht-Feyertag. / Jesus / Seele”. BWV 151 issimply entitled: “”Nachmittags=Andacht. Auf den dritten Weynacht=Feyertag.”

Both texts were specifically intended for the Afternoon Services only.

Schulze explains on pp. 43-44, in his discussion of BWV 64 (set to music by Bach in 1723), that the librettist of this cantata was Johann Oswald Knauer,who, like Lehms, had also attended the Leipzig University and published a book of cantata texts for all Sundays and Feast Days. Johann Friedrich Fasch used most of Knauer’s cantata texts to compose a “Doppeljahrgang” (a yearly cantata cycle consisting of two different cantatas for each Sunday or Feast Day,one performed at the Early/Morning Service and the other at the Afternoon Service). When Bach composed BWV 64 in 1723, he skipped half of the movements for which Knauer had supplied texts. Thus the resulting music, one (the same) cantata, could be performed at both of the main churches of Leipzig.

Thus we find extensive interconnectivity of texts and composers in the various Cantata cycles being created at the time of Bach.It also raises the possibility that Bach was creating a double cycle for morning and afternoon use, supplementing the preexisting work with a secondary piece for afternoon use, dwelling on the other readings for the day.That idea fits for 26 December 1725 but whether the rest of the sequence confirms is for me, work in progress!

The activity of a weekly Cantata continues into the New Year such that the SMP (BWV 244) more likely began to be composed in the Lenten break or at the point where Bach borrows a set of Cantatas from his cousin, though on the precise date of commencement we have no hard evidence - Wolff is appropriately vague: sometime between 1725 and 1727.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 24, 2007):
BWV 57 recordings

Neil Halliday wrote:
< Werner [5] fully captures the beauty of this score, with the lovely string orchestra compby the powerful, yet gentle and most attractive singing of Barry McDaniel. >
The Werner [5] set is relatively new to me. I agree this is an outstanding performance. I do not have any traditional comparisons available in this instance, but I look forward to some more.

< The `5th Brandenburg' strings are most attractive in the lively major key bass aria. Once again McDaniel [5] is superb. Harnoncourt [8], Gardiner [14], and Koopman [15] seem to be `off to the races', with their fast tempos. >
I am writing mostly to point out that Leusink [13] does not share the fast tempo of Mvt. 5. The bass and soprano arias are all excellent, as well, and I find it the preferred HIP (period instrument) performance.

< I especially like the `bariolage' sections for solo violin in the attractive soprano aria. All recordings are satisfactory, though Herreweghe's soprano [11] has a vibrato that I do not find attractive. >
No question there is plenty of vibrato. I find the Mvt. 5 tempo (5:32 vs Leusink [13] at 6:40) even more of a shortcoming. With that qualification, Herreweghe [11] presents an enjoyable performance, if not quite the equal of Werner [5] or Leusink. The coupling with other Christmas cantatas, including the immediately previous BWV 110, makes a nice compilation for anyone wishing a convenient introduction to his performances, and the music.

Gardiner points out in his booklet notes [14] that the Christmas music we are presently discussing is unjustly neglected in relation to the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248. It is new to me, very welcome.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 57: 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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