The University of Warsaw, Column Hall, Krakowskie Przedmieście 32 in Warsaw
The event is part of the long-running series of concerts BACH 200 UW – 200 Bach cantatas for the 200th anniversary of the University of Warsaw, launched in 2011 to celebrate the jubilee of the University in 2016. The Polish Royal Opera joins this special project, whose aim is to perform all of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas composed for the Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig.
The over two hundred works of this period that have survived to this day are only a part of the repertoire of this genre composed by one of the greatest musicians of all time. Perhaps even the same number of works was lost through the ages. However, those that have survived are a testament to not only the genius of their author, but also to the sophistication of the musical rhetorics of the Baroque era.
In Leipzig, five annals of cantatas were created for all Sundays and church holidays – each with slightly different stylistic and formal premise. The first volume from 1723/1724 contains the cantata Wer da gläubet und getauft wird BWV 37 for Ascension Sunday (May 18, 1724). The composition opens with the chorus repeating the words of Christ: “Whoever believes and is baptized, will be saved” (Mk 16:16). Despite the modest instrumental ensemble, the work amazes with its inventiveness in terms of sound color. The vocal part corresponds closely with the instrumental lines, and the word “getauft” (“he will be baptized”) – following the rules of musical rhetorics of the time – resounds with melodic passages illustrating pouring water on the person baptized.
While when creating the first volume, Bach was not always consistent when it comes to the selection of texts and the musical form of individual pieces; the volume created in the second year is much more consistent. The cantatas from this cycle, intended for 1724/1725, include works marked with catalog numbers BWV 33 and BWV 9 (a later piece added to the cycle in 1735). These are choral-type cantatas – each is based on a chorale intended for a given Sunday or holiday, with the first and last stanzas acting as the frame of the cantata’s form. In between them, the poetic paraphrases convey the theological meaning of the liturgy of the day for which they were prepared.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Cantata Es ist das Heil uns kommen her BWV 9
Chorus: Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
Recitative (bass): Gott gab uns ein Gesetz
Aria (tenor): Wir waren schon zu tief gesunken
Recitative (bass): Doch mußte das Gesetz erfüllet werden
Duetto Aria (soprano, altp): Herr, du siehst statt guter Werke
Recitative (bass): Wenn wir die Sünd aus dem Gesetz erkennen
Choral: Ob sichs anließ, als wollt er nicht
Cantata Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 33
Chorus: Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
Recitative (bass): Mein Gott und Richter
Aria (alto): Wie furchstam wankten meine Schritte
Recitative (tenor): Mein Gott, verwirf mich nicht
Duet Aria (tenor, bass): Gott, der du die Liebe heißt
Choral: Ehr sei Gott in dem höchsten Thron
Cantata Wer da gläubet und getauft wird BWV 37
Chorus: Wer da gläubet und getauft wird
Aria (tenor): Der Glaube ist das Pfand der Liebe
Choral: Herr Gott Vater, mein starker Held!
Recitative (bass): Ihr Sterblichen, verlanget ihr
Aria (bass): Der Glaube schafft der Seele Flügel
Choral: Den Glauben mir verleihe
KRZYSZTOF GARSTKA HARPSICHORD, CONDUCTOR