Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 4 – Thomanerchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester, Georg Christoph Biller (Audio video)

Η εκκλησιαστική καντάτα "Christ lag in Todesbanden", BWV 4, γράφτηκε από τον Μπαχ το 1707 ή το 1708, πιθανότατα στο Μιλχάουζεν, για την Κυριακή του Πάσχα. Εκτιμάται πως είναι μία από τις πρώτες καντάτες που έγραψε ο μεγάλος μουσουργός, καθότι έχει τη μορφή χορωδιακού κοντσέρτου (τα φωνητικά μέρη μπορούν να αποδοθούν από σολίστες ή χορωδία), σε στυλ 17ου αιώνα, ενώ ο Μπαχ άρχισε να συνθέτει ρετσιτατίβι και άριες για τις εκκλησιαστικές καντάτες του μετά το 1714.

Το έργο απαιτεί μικρό σύνολο από τέσσερεις σολίστες (σοπράνο, άλτο, τενόρο και μπάσο), χορωδία, δύο βιολιά, δύο βιόλες και μπάσο κοντίνουο. Στην παρούσα ηχογράφηση χρησιμοποιούνται επίσης μία τρομπέτα και τρία μπαρόκ τρομπόνια (Posaune), ενώ το μπάσο κοντίνουο αποτελούν ένα φαγκότο, ένα βιολοντσέλο, ένα κοντραμπάσο και ένα κοντίνουο όργανο.

Την καντάτα "Christ lag in Todesbanden", BWV 4, του Γιόχαν Σεμπάστιαν Μπαχ ερμηνεύουν η Χορωδία Αγοριών του Αγίου Θωμά της Λειψίας και η Ορχήστρα Γκεβάντχαους της Λειψίας. Στα σολιστικά φωνητικά μέρη συμπράττουν οι Martin Petzold (τενόρος), Gotthold Schwarz (μπάσος), και από τα μέλη της Χορωδίας οι Paul Bernewitz (σοπράνο), Friedrich Praetorius (σοπράνο) και Stefan Kahle (άλτο). Διευθύνει ο Γερμανός αρχιμουσικός, βαρύτονος, συνθέτης και ακαδημαϊκός Γκέοργκ Κρίστοφ Μπίλερ, σημερινός Κάντορας της Χορωδίας, από το 1992, και 16ος μετά τον Μπαχ.

The style of this famous cantata clearly places it in the early part of Bach's career; it was probably composed for the Easter celebration in Mühlhausen in either 1707 or 1708, when Bach was in his early twenties. During Bach's early years as cantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, he presented the church with nearly five complete cycles of music for the weekly Sunday worship service, and the cantata, based on Martin Luther's Easter hymn "Christ lag in Todesbanden," was recopied and revived for this Leipzig repertory. Despite what would have been a decidedly old-fashioned style by the time of Bach's arrival in Leipzig, the composer seems to have surmised that it would make the same powerful impression at that time as it still does in ours.

Christ lag in Todesbanden shows no signs of the simplifying reforms and stylistic internationalization (as advanced by Erdmann Neumeister) so prevalent in this genre of Lutheran church music around the beginning of the eighteenth century. Nor is there evidence of Italianate operatic recitatives and arias. Rather, the successive movements stolidly expound the successive strophes of Luther's chorale.

Luther's 1524 melody (with echoes of the Gregorian hymn "Pange lingua gloriosi") permeates the musical substance of each movement. In the Lutheran service, the cantata would have been performed immediately following the weekly Gospel text, understood as an element of the worship immediately pertinent to its theological content, and perhaps even commenting upon it like the sermon that followed.

After an opening sinfonia (which contains strong motivic echoes of the chorale), Bach sets the first verse of text in the form of an extended chorale prelude, with passages of imitation crowned by the chorale melody sung as a cantus firmus in the highest voice. Though this austere, even archaic, structure produces a somber tone, the movement closes (as does each verse) with an exuberant Allelujah. The second verse, which describes the ancient power of death, adopts an appropriately forceful tone derived from octave leaps in the melody. The third chorale verse, sung as a cantus firmus by a tenor solo, has an accompaniment for obbligato violin.

The structure of the cantata is based on a symmetrical layout, Chorale–Duet–Solo–Chorale–Solo–Duet–Chorale, and the central fourth movement becomes the focal point of the whole work. This vibrant contrapuntal movement depicts the "wondrous battle" between life and death which Luther's text asserts was won by Christ's death. There follows a bass aria replete with rhetorical gestures, such as a famous melodic leap down a diminished twelfth when the vanquishing of Death occurs. Verse six invites all present in the worship service to celebrate the holy festival of this victory; the phrases of this duet dance above a festive dotted-rhythm in the accompaniment. The final verse is set homophonically, in hymn style, appropriate for congregational participation.

Source: Timothy Dickey (

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Cantata BWV 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden" (Mühlhausen, 1707/1708)

i. Sinfonia: strings and continuo
ii. Versus 1 (chorus): "Christ lag in Todes Banden"
iii. Versus 2 (soprano, alto): "Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt"
iv. Versus 3 (tenor): "Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn"
v. Versus 4 (chorus): "Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg"
vi. Versus 5 (bass): "Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm"
vii. Versus 6 (soprano, tenor): "So feiern wir das hohe Fest"
viii. Versus 7 (chorus): "Wir essen und leben wohl"

Thomaner Paul Bernewitz, soprano
Thomaner Friedrich Praetorius, soprano
Thomaner Stefan Kahle, alto
Martin Petzold, tenor
Gotthold Schwarz, bass

Thomanerchor Leipzig
Georg Christoph Biller

Rondeau Production 2014

(HD 1080p – Audio video)

Πρώτη δημοσίευση: 7 Απριλίου 2015 – First publication: April 7, 2015
Τελευταία ενημέρωση: 23 Απριλίου 2016 – Last update: April 23, 2016

See also

• Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 182 – Thomanerchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester, Georg Christoph Biller (Audio video)

• Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 23 – Thomanerchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester, Georg Christoph Biller (Audio video)

• Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 22 – Thomanerchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester, Georg Christoph Biller (Audio video)

• Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 67 – Thomanerchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester, Georg Christoph Biller (Audio video)

• Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 31 – Thomanerchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester, Georg Christoph Biller (Audio video)

• Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 190 – Thomanerchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester, Georg Christoph Biller (Audio video)

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