Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Weekly Sunday Morning Walk

My usual Sunday morning walk in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park yielded some nice shots today. I was especially pleased to see the Jewelweed blooming; it's a sure sign that Autumn approaches!

A Silver-spot Skipper butterfly by the north pond
Young Mallards - this tear's hatchlings - on the north pond
The north duck pond
Moth Mullein growing by the north pond
The Jewelweed is blooming!
© 2017 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday Bach - Ninth Sunday After Trinity

Of the three cantatas Bach composed for the ninth Sunday after Trinity, my choice for this week's Sunday Bach is considered one of his masterpieces - BWV 105, Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht (Lord, do not pass judgement on thy servant), first performed in Leipzig on July 25, 1723. With the opening chorus a setting of Psalm 143 and the theme of the entire cantata the parable of the unjust steward from Luke 16, Bach perfectly matches the music to the text and creates a masterpiece. Here's what Simon Crouch had to say about it:
There are two essays concerning Cantata 105 in Robert Marshall's collection of essays The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The first The Autograph score of Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht describes what we can deduce from the autograph about Bach's composing practice and the second The Genesis of an Aria Ritornello attempts to "get inside the composers head" while he's composing the first aria Wie zittern und wanken. They both make for fascinating reading. The most astonishing deduction is that of the speed with which Bach was able to compose this masterpiece. Marshall's analysis suggests that the score was completed within two or three days!

Masterpiece it is. This is one of those "perfect" cantatas where there is a wonderful text exactly allied with excellent music. The mood is contemplative and reflective, meditating on the meaning of Christian faith. The opening chorus is a prelude and fugue, taking as text the second verse of psalm 143. The first sentence is accompanied by a sighing, lamenting theme and the second sentence is a magnificent choral fugue. I would love to sing this one! The first aria, which follows a recitative, is beautifully balanced over a trembling viola/violin line: How tremble and waver the sinners' thoughts, while they accuse one another and again dare to excuse themselves. Following a lovely bass arioso, there is a change of mood in the driving, optimistic tenor aria If I can only make a friend of Jesus, Mammon is worth nothing to me. Even the closing chorale receives extra special attention from Bach. That's really the feeling that I'm left with, that Bach paid extra special attention when composing this cantata, inspired by an outstanding text.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.
It seems that the definitive performance of this cantata is the 1990 recording by the Collegium Vocale Ghent under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe; there are at least four videos on YouTube using the recording. I agree. I find the performances of Bach cantatas by Herreweghe, Ton Koopman, and John Eliot Gardiner to be my favorites; they all eschew the full orchestral treatment of German conductors like Richter and Rilling, stripping back to Bach's original chamber orchestrations and small choirs, Gardiner even using period instruments. It's a more intimate sound, aiming for the experience of the congregants in Bach's churches in the 18th Century. This recording of BWV 105 by Herreweghe fits that bill perfectly. Enjoy!


Photo © 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Sunday Bach - Eighth Sunday After Trinity

Again, Bach wrote several cantatas for this Sunday in the liturgical calendar, and I chose this particular one, BWV 45, Es ist dir gesagt, Mensch, was gut ist (It has been told to you, oh man, what good is), from 1726 in Leipzig. Of the three choices I find this one the most beautiful, and also the most complex. Here's what Simon Crouch has to say about it:
An energetic orchestral introduction leads the opening movement to the choral entry on Es ist dir gesagt whose frequent repetition throughout certainly gets the message home. (He showeth to thee, man, what right is, from Micah). This is one of Bach's very fine choral opening movements where there's something for everyone. It's a joy to sing and it certainly sounds as if the violins and oboes enjoy their part. Oh, and there's a fugue too, what more could you want? The tenor aria, which follows the first recitative, has a very attractive string accompaniment and the melody itself, particularly at the opening, is a joy to sing. Bach takes particular care to emphasise Qual und Hohn (pain and scorn) and Drohet (threaten), the latter with extended vocal runs. The second part of the cantata opens with an extended arioso, directly quoting the Gospel of the day, with an agitated violin accompaniment that adds to the strength of the denunciation of the false prophets. The following alto aria is perhaps a little too musically gentle for words that include Hell's fires will sore oppress thee but the flute accompaniment is irresistible! The cantata closes with a recitative followed by a straightforward chorale setting.
Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.
Today's performance was recorded at Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam in 2002 by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of Ton Koopman. Enjoy!

Photo © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017


I have the day off so I went over to the Brookside Ave. wetland to see what might be going on there this morning. I was going to check out the butterfly situation, but instead I stumbled across some White-tailed Deer, a doe and her faun. I saw Mama first; she was staring intently into the adjacent cornfield, but I couldn't figure out what she was staring at. Then the faun wandered out of the corn next to her. It stared with Mama for a while, then looked around. It saw me, but I was standing stock still with only my index finger moving on the camera's shutter button, and I guess it figured I was a tree. Eventually Mama looked around, too, and saw me; she stomped her left front foot on the ground and boogied for the woods, and the faun followed. So I continued to walk along the trail and found out what Mama was looking for; I flushed a second faun not too far away from where the original two were standing, and it ran off in Mama's direction. So that was my excitement for the morning!

© 2017 by A. Roy Hilbinger