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Cantata BWV 107
Was willst du dich betrüben
Provenance

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 1, 2001):
Regarding the first performance of this cantata on July 23, 1724, there is no doubt, but all sorts of theories abound concerning the circumstances surrounding the text and a possible earlier date of composition. Again we have W.F.Bach to thank for his carelessness that allowed the autograph score for this cantata to disappear. The experts know that Forkel (see discussion on BWV 9) saw the score for this cantata when he paid dearly to take a peek at the famous 'chorale' cantata cycle in Friedemann's collection (my conjecture is that he made a list of the names of all the titles, and this is what the experts are referring to.) BWV 107 is the only cantata in this cycle that has retained the text of the chorale unchanged, contrary to the usual practice of rewriting/rephrasing the text of the inner mvts. so as to give more opportunity for expression and to make a looser musical form possible. Dürr states that it is a pointless endeavor to concoct the possible scenarios that may have led to this unique result. Here are some idle speculations:

1) the librettist/poet (possibly an pastor at one of the Leipzig churches) was unable to supply the text (he may have been ill, and because these modified chorale texts suddenly stopped altogether around Easter of the following year, it is likely that he died then;)

2) for some unspecified reason, Bach found the text supplied for this Sunday to be entirely unacceptable and was forced to use the chorale directly without any changes;

3) the cantata is from a pre-Leipzig period of composition;

4) Because Bach was in Cöthen (see again BWV 9) the preceding Sunday and for a good portion of the following week, the usual arranger/librettist was not available to him when Bach began composing (Finscher.)

5) Here is a good place for any other reasonable suggestion/possibility that you might come up with on your own.

6) By being forced to use the text directly, Bach decided, "This is a great idea! Why don't I make a tradition out of this discovery caused by these fortuituous circumstances?"

Thus this expedient becomes the basis for the later 'chorale' cantatas (BWV 97, BWV 100, BWV 112, BWV 117, BWV 129, BWV 137, BWV 177) This is Finscher's contention that is not supported anywhere else. 7) In the previous year/cantata cycle Bach had composed a cantata for the 15. Sunday after Trinity, "Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?" BWV 138, using only the first 3 verses out of a total of 14 verses for the cantata.

Dürr points out a Gospel reading connection that has always existed between this chorale and the 7. Sunday after Trinity. Since Bach had already composed one cantata using this chorale (and its subject matter), he may more readily have been encouraged to experiment with a per omnes versus cantata type thinking perhaps, "Been there, done that." In any case, the technical term that Bach himself used for this type of chorale cantata, 'per omnes versus,' implies that all the verses of the chorale are used with each verse being the basis of one cantata mvt. In this instance however (BWV 107) there is in the middle section an uninterrupted succession of four arias without an intervening recitative.

Although Aryeh usually includes all this information correctly in his commentary, and at the risk of being redundant, I will nevertheless include some very obvious information because it has been listed incorrectly to Simon Crouch's Listener's Guide: This cantata is designated to be performed on the 7th Sunday after Trinity with the Epistle reading from Romans 6: 19-23 (Death is the Result of Sin; but God's Gift is Eternal Life) and the Gospel from Mark 8: 1-9 (The Miracle of the Feeding of the Four Thousand.)

Simon Heighes (1999-Oxford Composer Companions: J.S.Bach [Boyd]) sees no direct connection of the Gospel or Epistle with the text of the cantata, written by Johann Heermann, whereas Dürr states that it is easy to relate the libretto to the Feeding of the Four Thousand.

Mark Audus (1993) in the notes to the Herreweghe recording (3) finds quite remarkable the use of the "Key of Suffering: B minor." It appears in the framing, outer mvts. as well as the 5th mvt. (Soprano aria). The cantata scheme seems to represent an anabasis as it gradually works its way from sadness and suffering at the beginning, and follows a path through the mvts. that wishes to lift or resolve these states into a more hopeful state of mind by introducing more dance-like mvts and eventually resolving everything into a B major chord at the end of the final mvt.

Schweitzer has problems with arias based directly on the strophes of a chorale: "When Bach composes arias to the regular strophes of a chorale, this type of strophic aria is wearisomely long." Too bad that Schweitzer did not hear some the recordings we now have of this music!

 

Cantata BWV 107: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

References: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Vocal Works BWV Anh | BGA | NBA | BC: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | Sources
Discussions of BWV Numbering System: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ŭSeptember 26, 2011 ŭ21:47:28