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Arcis-Vocalisten München & Thomas Gropper Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata „Aus der Tiefen" BW131 - Cantata „Himmelskönig, sei willkommen“ BWV 182 OC 783 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberOC 783
Barcode4260034867833
labelOehmsClassics
Release date11.01.2011
salesrank799
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Bach, Johann Sebastian

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      Johann Sebastian Bach

      Cantata „Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu Dir“ BWV 131
      Cantata „Himmelskönig, sei willkommen“ BWV 182 (first Weimar version)

      Arcis-Vocalisten München
      Regine Jurda, alto · Maximilian Kiener, tenor · Franz Schlecht, bass
      Barockorchester L’Arpa Festante · Thomas Gropper, conductor

      TThe Arcis-Vocalisten München consist of circa 50 members, all professionally trained, complemented by students from the Academy of Theater and Music in Munich. All have extensive experience in renowned Munich and Bavarian ensembles. Professor Thomas Gropper, the ensemble’s Artistic Director, is known not only from his vocal and teaching activities, but also as moderator and speaker at the Bavarian Radio Broadcasting Company.
      This CD consists of two early cantatas by J.S. Bach. “Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu Dir” is probably the earliest existing Bach cantata. It was written in 1707/08 while Bach was an organist in Mühlhausen. BWV 182, “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen” was Bach’s first commissioned work at the Weimar court, where he had to compose one cantata each month. It was first performed on Palm Sunday of 1714

      J.S. Bach (1685–1750)

      Cantatas bwv 131 and 182


      Earl y master y

      The cantatas selected for this recording are two of Bach’s early works: Cantata bwv 131 “Aus der Tiefen”, which is possibly the earliest of Bach’s cantatas to survive and which is likely to have appeared in 1707 or 1708 during Bach’s time as an organist at Mühlhausen; while the cantata bwv 182 “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen”, written for Palm Sunday (= 25 March) 1714, was the first such work for the court at Weimar. Thus the two works show characteristics of the young Bach: for example, bwv 131 does not consist of separate movements but rather of sections that merge into one another, indicating a proximity to other genres such as the “geistliches Konzert” and chorale settings. Typical of the 17th century cantata form, we hear the serial principle of the motet, as it were, transposed to the cantata. It is possible that small physical spaces (such as the castle church at Weimar) and a manageably sized ensemble led to less cluttered music, but Bach nevertheless added the use of solo instruments to an orchestration designed to reinforce the choral singers, thus lending an individual sound character to each cantata. The recorder features in bwv 182, while in bwv 131 the oboe is given prominence. It is in bwv 182 that Bach’s exploration of the modern Italian forms of the time – including opera – begins to bear fruit: Da-capo arias are to be found alongside echoes of the concert practice specially created in the style of Vivaldi.

      “Meine Seele wartet auf den Herrn ”

      No definitive order for the movements of the cantata bwv 131 (“Aus der Tiefe”), probably written for a service of repentance, can now be established, and the version of today’s performance is only an approximation. It is no longer certain what the occasion for the composition was. Alfred Dürr suggests a major fire that had raged in Mühlhausen shortly before, destroying parts of the town centre. It is interesting that the task of writing this cantata was given to Bach not by his senior at the Divi Blasii Church, Superintendant Frohne, but rather by Georg Christ, pastor of the Marienkirche. It is known that as a Lutheran, Frohne tended towards an orthodox point of view and had a somewhat skeptical attitude towards more lavish church music. The textual basis of bwv 131 is made up entirely of Biblical and chorale material and contains no added or arbitrarily written verse. For this reason and because of the clear, concisely symmetrical formal structure, parallels can be drawn with the funeral cantata “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit“ (bwv 106), also written in Mühlhausen and also known as the Actus tragicus. Its text is taken from Psalm 130 (complete) and verses 2 and 5 of “Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut“ by Bartholomäus Ringwaldt, composed in 1588.

      Structure: For each a chorus at the beginning, in the middle and at the end, and in between (second and fourth movement), a solo movement each with chorale strophe. The choral movements follow the principle of a prelude and fugue adapted for vocal music, with a more or less clear introduction and a fugue section; the arias have not yet assumed the da-capo form.

      The orchestral prelude exposes the motif of the first choral section, “Aus der Tiefen“, with an air of melancholic sighing, and the choir leads on with an accentuated call to God (“ruf ich, Herr“). A playful choral fugue ensues (Vivace, “lass deine Ohren merken“), structured around the recurring cry, “Herr, höre meine Stimme“. After this movement, the “Stimme meines Flehens“ is given form by the choir and orchestra in figures that directly evoke sighing.

      In the second movement Bach combines the voice of the bass soloist with the chorale “Erbarm dich mein in solcher Last“ as a cantus firmus in the sopranos; the oboe adds figures and motivic correspondences. In the fourth movement we hear the tenor soloist with a chorale in the altos, where an ostinato motif in the continuo provides cohesion.

      The introduction of the central choral section is only five bars long, broad and blocky, interrupted by brief interjections from the alto and tenor, and the choir cries out: “Ich harre des Herren!” This leads to the equally calm choral fugue, “meine Seele harret“, via motifs that touch it directly – the long spun-out and syncopated line on “harret“ and the confidently sighing “und ich hoffe“; the violin and oboe create figures above, joined later by the violas.

      The prelude to the final movement clearly shows the motet-based thinking of early Bach. Each section of text is given a new treatment in tempo, motif and compositional technique. The call of Israel is comes slowly and in block-like chords; while “hoffe auf den Herrn” is more fluid, with lively activity in the oboe and violin, freely polyphonic. “Denn bei dem Herrn in die Gnade” is calm once more, homophonic, with its characteristic oboe. “Und viel Erlösung bei ihm“ comes in rapid movement, again polyphonic and richly decorated. The final fugue, “und er wird Israel erlösen“, begins accompanied by the continuo, but the other instruments gradually enter to heighten the event together with the choir, bringing this early masterwork by Bach to a magnificent conclusion.

      A problem for today‘s performance practice is the divergence between “choir pitch“ and “concert pitch“. Concert pitch – introduced from France – was not entirely possible on older organs, since their pipe lengths did not allow them to be properly retuned to the new pitch. To compensate, Bach usually gave his woodwind instruments a part written higher before 1723; then in Leipzig, from 1723, he wrote the organ part lower. This dual notation has sometimes led to ambiguities about Bach‘s true intentions. Our cantata bwv 131 is performed today from a G minor version or ransposed into A minor. We selected A minor after lengthy considerations; firstly because problems would otherwise be encountered in the oboe part that would prevent some deep notes from being reached, and also because the choral parts would sound low and dull, which seems detrimental to the work in spite of its character.

      “So lasset uns gehen in Salem der Freuden ”

      When Bach was appointed Konzertmeister at the Weimar court in 1714, one of his duties was to compose a new cantata each month. The first of these was performed three weeks later on Palm Sunday, “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen“, bwv 182. The writer of the draft text was Salomon Franck, who was employed as the ducal librarian and the controller of the coin collection, with the rank of a secretary of the High Consistory in Weimar. This left him sufficient time to join the order of poets of the Fruitbearing Society (Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft) and to compose numerous texts for spiritual and secular cantatas between 1694 and his death in 1725. Alfred Dürr sees Franck as perhaps the most gifted and original poetic talent that Bach worked with, and emphasizes the richness of his fantasy and the depth of feeling in his texts.

      Following on from the Gospel for Palm Sunday, the passage of Jesus‘ entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1–9), the introductory sinfonia greets the Savior; Bach selects (as he did for the first setting of “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland“ bwv 61 for the first day of Advent, on which the same Gospel is read!) the rhythm and air of a French overture, such as was customarily performed in the Parisian operatic tradition when the King entered and took his place in the royal box. What applied there to an earthly king here represents the King of Heaven. Bach achieves an intensification by having the strings begin pizzicato and only play broad notes at the end. In the following da-capo choral section (movement 2) the choir begins with a so-called permutation fugue, which avoids free interludes (otherwise typical in instrumental fugues) and constantly sets up counterpoints to one another. After a canonical and imitative section (“lass auch uns dein Zion sein“) the A section ends homophonically. Two canonic choral sections (“du hast uns das Herz genommen“) make up the B section.

      As occurs in a good sermon, Franck and Bach relate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to the individual Christian and his heart; Jesus should also have a dwelling place there. The solo sections that follow the introductory chorus, numbers 3–6, describe this first from the perspective of Jesus and then from that of the believer.

      The Biblical expression, “Siehe, ich komme“ (third movement) begins as a recitative but after a few bars becomes an arioso – a development that Bach liked to work with in his early years. Here, as in other comparable situations, he selects a bass for the “vox Christi“. The powerful bass aria “Starkes Lieben“ (4th movement), accompanied only by strings, praises Jesus, who has come down from the throne of God to make himself a sacrifice. The extended alto aria, “Leget euch dem Heiland unter”, which corresponds with the flute (5th movement), appeals to Christians to place their hearts at the feet of the Savior like a piece of stained clothing, just as the people spread their clothes before him as he entered Jerusalem. At this point the strongly lyrical and mystical side of the poetry can be seen, which lends it an inclination towards pietism. The continuo aria of the tenor, “Jesu, lass durch Wohl und Wehe” (6th movement) was surely, with its forceful expression, a modern and unfamiliar element to ears of that time; even in times of distress the believer must remain at Christ’s side.

      In some of the original performance parts there is an indication that after this aria the introductory chorus should be sung again to form the ending. However, it is generally undisputed that this plan was discarded at the first performance and Bach added two new choral sections. The first of these was the chorale setting “Jesu, deine Passion” (7th movement), set in Pachelbel’s style, i.e. new choral lines are prepared imitatively in the lower voices before they appear in long notes in the soprano. Here again Bach follows a model while taking a different direction by creating anticipations of the chorale lines according to their emotional content: using coloratura to signal joy and with heartfelt syncopations in “Meine Seel auf Rosen geht”. In the final choral movement, “Nun lasset uns gehen in Salem der Freuden” (8th movement), the wages of heaven are shown that Christ has reaped through Jesus’ passion: the way to the City of God. In structural terms this chorus links back to the introductory chorus. Light and lively, in a dance-like triple time, the flute accompanies the choir; only during the suffering that is to be found on this path does the harmony briefly fail.

      Thomas Gropper
      Translation: tolingo translations

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
        Kantate “Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu Dir”
        fÜr soli, chor und orchester, bwv 131
        • 1.Sinfonia (+ Chor): “Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu Dir”04:13
        • 2.Bass solo + Choral: “So Du willt, Herr, Sünde zurechnen”04:14
        • 3.“Ich harre des Herrn” [Chor]02:58
        • 4.Tenor solo + Choral: “Meine Seele wartet”04:37
        • 5.“Israel hoff et auf den Herrn” [Chor]03:55
      • Kantate “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen”
        für soli, chor und orchester, bwv 182 (Erste Weimarer Version)
        • 6.Sonata01:56
        • 7.“Himmelskönig, sei willkommen” [Chor]03:25
        • 8.Recitativ: “Siehe, ich komme…” [Basso]00:34
        • 9.Aria: “Starkes Lieben” [Basso]02:30
        • 10.Aria: “Leget euch dem Heiland unter” [Alto]07:40
        • 11.Aria: “Jesu, lass durch Wohl und Weh” [Tenore]03:42
        • 12.Choral: “Jesu, Deine Passion ist mir lauter Freude”02:55
        • 13.“So lasset uns gehen” [Chor]04:31
      • Total:47:10