Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Bach - Trinity 10

Bach wrote three cantatas for the tenth Sunday after Trinity, and today I've chosen the last one he wrote for that Sunday - BWV 102, Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben! (Lord, thine eyes are looking for faith!, Leipzig 1726). The theme is the unrepentant sinner from the Gospel reading of the day, Luke 19: 41-48, and the mood of the music is both somber and reflective. Here's Brian Robins of All Music on this cantata:
Cantata No. 102 ("O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth") is a sacred cantata for the tenth Sunday after Trinity. It was first performed in Leipzig on August 25, 1726, a year that witnessed the largest number of new cantatas (twenty-three or twenty-four) composed by Bach after the intense activity of the first two cantata cycles dating from 1723/4 and 1724/5. The text is taken from a series believed to have been written by Ernst Ludwig, Duke of Saxe-Meinigen sometime before 1704, when they were set by the Duke's Kapellmeister Georg Caspar Schürman. Six other Bach cantatas are drawn from the same source. The early date of these cantata texts places them in the vanguard of the so-called "reform cantata," which introduced recitatives and arias set to free poetic texts, an important change from the Biblical texts formerly employed. The theme of Cantata No. 102 is that of the unrepentant sinner, the topic of the Gospel of the day (Luke 19:41). Like a number of Bach's cantatas, it is divided into two halves to be performed either side of the sermon. It opens with a large-scale chorus scored for SATB with an orchestral accompaniment for two oboes and strings. Employing a text taken from Jeremiah 5:3, it is in three distinct sections, linked by the return of the opening orchestral introduction at the end of each. Bach subsequently adapted the chorus as the Kyrie of the Lutheran Mass in G minor, BWV235. A bass recitative leads to the first aria for alto accompanied only by solo oboe and continuo, another movement later adapted by Bach, this time for the "Qui tollis" section of the Mass in F major, BWV233. The first part of the cantata ends with an arioso for bass based on words form Romans 2:4-5, "Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance?" the da capo structure enabling the question to be repeated at the end and lead straight into the sermon, an example of the close integration between cantata (which might be viewed as a musical sermon) and spoken sermon. The latter part of the cantata is brief, consisting of only a tenor aria accompanied by solo flute, an accompanied recitative for alto (with two oboes) and a chorale based on a Lenten hymn which underlines the stern message of the cantata--"Today livest thou, today convert thyself, before tomorrow comes." Few of Bach's cantatas were published during his lifetime. Cantata No. 102 was one of a group of three (No's 101 - 103) published in 1830, the first to appear in print after Bach's death, thus playing an important role in the nineteenth-century revival of his music. 
Today's performance is from a recording by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir under the direction of Ton Koopman. Enjoy!

Photo © 2019 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

No comments:

Post a Comment