"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

May 29, 2012

Bach Cantatas (30): Pentecost Tuesday

Pentecost Tuesday is also called Whit Tuesday. As other major feasts of the Lutheran Church in Bach's time (Easter and Christmas), Pentecost was celebrated over three days. There are two cantatas for this day. The gospel reading for this day proclaims Jesus as the good shepherd and the rightful owner of his flock.

Readings:
Acts 8:14–17, "The Holy Spirit in Samaria"
John 10:1–10, "The Good Shepherd"

References:
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Cantatas:
  • Erwünschtes Freudenlicht, BWV 184, 30 May 1724

    Rezitativ T: Erwünschtes Freudenlicht
    Arie (Duett) S A: Gesegnete Christen, glückselige Herde
    Rezitativ T: So freuet euch, ihr auserwählten Seelen!
    Arie T: Glück und Segen sind bereit
    Choral: Herr, ich hoff je, du werdest die in keiner Not verlassen
    Chor: Guter Hirte, Trost der Deinen


    ("Desired light of joy") Based on a secular cantata for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen’s birthday in 1721. Courtly in tone, the duet, aria and final chorus are in the form of minuet, polonaise and gavotte. After a long recitative follows a dancing pastoral duet between soprano and alto, with a great tune in the flutes, the musical heart of the cantata. After the pleasant tenor aria which sings of Jesus as bringer of a Golden Age, we hear a pleasant chorale. And as surprise, this is followed by a second chorus, a bucolic gavotte. The whole work is permeated by a suitable pastoral atmosphere. (***)

  • Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen, BWV 175, 22 May 1725

    Recitativo (tenor): Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen
    Aria (alto): Komm, leite mich
    Recitativo (tenor): Gott will, o ihr Menschenkinder
    Aria (tenor): Es dünket mich, ich seh dich kommen
    Recitativo (alto, bass): Sie vernahmen aber nicht
    Aria (bass): Öffnet euch, ihr beiden Ohren
    Chorale: Nun, werter Geist, ich folg dir


    ("He calls His sheep by name") The cantata is thematically divided in two parts, the first one dealing with Jesus as the Good Shepherd and the sheep who hear his voice, and the second one (starting from the bass recitative in movement five) with those who don't hear this voice. The opening recitative by tenor is interestingly accompanied by three recorders over a pedal bass, a musical structure continued in the next pastoral alto aria. The tenor aria was borrowed from a secular cantata, BWV 173a, and is usually considered a rather awkward fit for the new text. The next bass aria is accompanied by a rousing pair of trumpets and changes the character of the cantata from pastoral to martial. The cantata concludes with a great and lustrous chorale harmonization. (***)