"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

July 8, 2012

Bach Cantatas (38): Trinity V

The fifth Sunday after Trinity treats the theme of Peter (Simon) as a "fisher of men."

1 Peter 3:8–15 "Be patient in affliction"
Luke 5:1–11, "The miraculous draught of fishes"


  • Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, BWV 93, 9 July 1724

    Coro: Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten
    Recitativo (+ chorale, bass): Was helfen uns die schweren Sorgen?
    Aria (tenor): Man halte nur ein wenig stille
    Aria Duetto (soprano, alto): Er kennt die rechten Freudenstunden
    Recitativo (+ chorale, tenor): Denk nicht in deiner Drangsalhitze
    Aria (soprano): Ich will auf den Herren schaun
    Chorale: Sing, bet und geh auf Gottes Wegen

    ("If you but permit God to prevail") A symmetrically composed choral cantata, as the choral melody " Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten" by Neumark (which Bach often used and must have liked very much) stands at the beginning, the end and in the central duet, and both halves also contain a recitative and aria. The opening choral fantasia is like a small concerto, it has been composed with unusual care, even for Bach. In both recitatives individual passages of the chorale are interspersed with recitative commentary. This is an interesting technique. The moving tenor aria is a classical slow movement. Note the brief pauses every two measures - after all the text says "Only hold oneself still a little." In the central duet, again based on the chorale, the soprano, alto and continuo form a sort of independent trio, while the chorale melody is heard in the unison strings. Bach would later transform this movement into an organ chorale (BWV 647). The final soprano aria (in Bach's time sung by a child) is - as Bach often did after a difficult theological argument - , a child-like affirmation of faith. The concluding chorale harmonization is consciously simple. (****)

  • Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden, BWV 88, 21 July 1726

    Part I
    "Basso solo": Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden
    Recitativo (tenor): Wie leichtlich könnte doch der Höchste uns entbehren
    Aria (tenor): Nein, Gott ist allezeit geflissen
    Part II
    Arioso (tenor, bass): Jesus sprach zu Simon: Fürchte dich nicht
    Aria Duetto (soprano, alto): Beruft Gott selbst, so muss der Segen
    Recitativo (soprano): Was kann dich denn in deinem Wandel schrecken
    Chorale: Sing, bet und geh auf Gottes Wegen

    ("Behold, I will send out many fishers") The two parts of this cantata are like exposition and solution. The cantata starts with bass as voice of God, announcing the sending out of many fishers. The music also paints a seascape here, with an undulating barcarolle. Then suddenly on the words "And afterwards I will send out many hunters," the music changes to a hunting scene and horns join the orchestra. As it is not a real aria, Bach called it "Basso solo," but this is easily the musical highlight of the whole cantata. The recitative ends with a question, whether God will abandon us, to which the answer is immediately given with "Nein, nein" in the tenor aria. This then changes to "Ja, ja" when the aria sings about the right path and the clear, even structure of this piece might very well symbolize that path. The second half of the cantata starts with an arioso for bass as Vox Christi: "Do not be afraid; for from now on you will catch people." This is followed by a buoyantly confident duet for soprano and alto on the theme that if God calls us, "then blessing upon all our deeds must rest in abundance." After a brief injunction in the soprano recitative to be patient in tribulations, the cantata closes with a straightforward setting of Neumark's chorale "Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten." (***)

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