"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

January 22, 2012

Bach Cantatas (6): 3rd Sunday after Epiphany (Jan 22)

Here are the cantatas for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, which in 2012 fell on Jan. 22.

Readings:
Romans 12:17–21, overcome evil with good
Matthew 8:1–13, the healing of the leper

The Gospel reading for this day consists of two stories, the healing of the leper and the faith of the Centurion. The emphasis is on blind faith. Romans, in contrast, extols the virtue of charity towards one's enemy.

References:
BCWBDECNLSGJNLVHWPText

Cantatas:
  1. Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir, BWV 73, 23 January 1724

    Chorale e recitativo (Tenor, Bass, Soprano): Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir
    Aria (Tenor, Oboe): Ach senke doch den Geist der Freuden
    Recitativo (Bass): Ach, unser Wille bleibt verkehrt,
    Aria (Bass): Herr, so du willt
    Choral: Das ist des Vaters Wille


    A short, but very original cantata. It takes its cue from the leper story which contrasts human frailty with God's will, and the leper's plea "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." The oboe motif of the chorus morphs into the recurring "Lord, if Thou Wilt," a sort of leitmotiv for the whole cantata. The chorus is interspersed with recitatives from each of the soloists. The emotional center of the cantata is the tenor aria (again with oboe accompaniment) "Oh enter thou spirit of joy into my heart." The ensuing bass aria describes the soul's readiness for death. In the final stanza, pizzicato strings suggest funeral bells. The cantata is concluded with the usual quiet choral. (****)

  2. Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit, BWV 111, 21 January 1725

    1. Coro: Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit
    2. Aria (bass): Entsetze dich, mein Herze, nicht
    3. Recitativo (alto): O Törichter! der sich von Gott entzieht
    4. Aria (alto, tenor): So geh ich mit geherzten Schritten
    5. Recitativo (soprano): Drum wenn der Tod zuletzt den Geist
    6. Chorale: Noch eins, Herr, will ich bitten dich


    Choral cantata. The story of the Centurion who has faith that Jesus will cure his servant leads to a meditation on steadfast faith. The very elaborate opening chorus with soprano cantus firmus is very intense and dynamic. It is introduced by a 16 bar instrumental statement. The bass aria is more like a resolute admonition. In their radiant duet, alto and tenor sing in canon to bring out the meaning off the text "following God with courageous footsteps." So we get a walking rhythm - full of profound joy, as the main theme is the salvation of the soul through death. But this duet is a dazzling jewel. (****)

  3. Alles nur nach Gottes Willen, BWV 72, 27 January 1726

    Coro: Alles nur nach Gottes Willen
    Recitativo und Arioso (Alt, Violinen): O selger Christ, der allzeit seinen Willen
    Aria (Alt, Violinen): Mit allem, was ich hab und bin
    Recitativo (Bass): So glaube nun
    Aria (Sopran, Oboe, Streicher): Mein Jesus will es tun, er will dein Kreuz versüßen
    Choral: Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit


    The cantata takes the readings as a testimony to the blind faith that the believer, in good times and in bad times, should place in the Lord. Bravura work opening with a brilliant chorus in concertante style - the word "alles" is repeated almost obsessively. This is followed by a complex recitative-arioso-aria for alto. The sweet soprano aria brings a balmy peace, as does the short final choral. (***)

  4. Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe, BWV 156, ?23 January 1729

    Aria (Tenor) and Chorale (Soprano): Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe
    Recitative (Bass): Mein Angst und Not
    Aria (Alto): Herr, was du willt, soll mir gefallen
    Recitative (Bass): Und willst du, dass ich nicht soll kranken
    Chorale: Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir


    Solo cantata showing Bach's late cantata style at its most subtle. The theme is Jesus healing the sick, based on the reading about the healing of the leper. Starts with a deeply felt sinfonia for oboe and strings. The second movement is a combination of a tenor aria with a chorale cantus firmus. A bass recitative and arioso express anguish at "the longer here on earth, the later in Heaven." This is followed by an airy alto aria with lively contrapuntal accompaniment. The whole cantata is suffused with a longing for death. (****)