Sunday, September 03, 2017

Sunday Bach - 12th Sunday After Trinity

September scene
Of the three cantatas Bach composed for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, the one I've chosen to post today intrigues me the most. BWV 35, Geist und Seele wird verwirret (Spirit and soul become confused) was composed in Leipzig in 1726, yet the text is a poem composed by Georg Christian Lehms in 1711, and the musical setting seems to be made up of a potpourri snippets of earlier Bach compositions which have become lost with the passage of time. A very interesting situation! The late Craig Smith of Emmanuel Music had this to say about it:

Bach Cantata 35 is set to an early cantata poem by Lehms, first published in 1711.  Because Bach seldom set older poems it is possible that parts of this work were earlier than the first recorded Leipzig performance in the 1720's.  The work has two large concerto movements for organ and orchestra.  These movements were presumably from a lost keyboard concerto and may have also been originally part of a violin concerto.  The whole cantata leans heavily on the organ, for the second of the three arias is also for solo organ.

The whole cantata is of a serious, even sober, cast.  The organ music is of particular complexity.  Bach wrote more solo cantatas for alto than any other voice type.  Certainly this one is the most crabbed and thorny, but also one of the most ambitious.

This is a solo cantata for alto voice, which seems to be Bach's favored solo voice. Hmmmmm... I wonder if Bach's second wife, Anna Magdalena (who was a singer) was an alto. It's also worth noting that structurally this is a very odd cantata for Bach: it's a two-part cantata, and both parts begin with a sinfonia; and there's no concluding chorale. See why this one intrigues me?

The video I've chosen for today is a 2009 performance by the Choir and Orchestra of the J.S. Bach Foundation at the Evangelical Church of Trogen, Switzerland. As you can see on the video, they perform on period instruments. Enjoy!

Photo © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger

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