About the album
Town Council Election Cantatas
Bach’s duties as town organist in Mühlhausen and later as cantor and music director in Leipzig included the composition and performance of ceremonial music for the annual church service celebrating the inauguration of the newly elected town council. Six works Bach wrote for this occasion have survived: the Mühlhausen cantata “Gott ist mein König” BWV 71 of 1708 and several Leipzig cantatas: “Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn” BWV 119, “Ihr Tore zu Zion” BWV 193 (incomplete), “Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille” BWV 120, “Wir danken dir, Gott” BWV 29, and “Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele” BWV 69. Two Mühlhausen cantatas for 1709 and 1710 Bach had been commissioned to write after he had left for Weimar are completely lost; not even their printed texts have survived. Of the Leipzig repertoire, three librettos for additional town council election cantatas are extant, but their music is lost without a trace. Hence, the overall picture of Bach’s activities regarding major works for political ceremonies remains fragmentary.
The present album contains three representative town council election cantatas from Bach’s Leipzig years. It includes the first and last works prepared for this occasion. The last town council election cantata performed by Bach in 1749 was actually a repeat performance of cantata BWV 29, an older work originating from 1731.
The service to celebrate the annual town council election always took place on the Monday after St. Bartholomew’s Day (August 24). This means that for all 27 years in Leipzig Bach had to perform two different cantatas on two consecutive days in late August, of which the work for the town council election required a particularly festive character and large orchestra suitable for the stately event. Bach knew, of course, that this political event occurred annually and he planned his schedule accordingly. Nevertheless, the official written commission was delivered by a town messenger to Bach’s house invariably only a week or so before the performance was due.
The cantata “Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn” BWV 119 is the first work composed by Bach in Leipzig for the annual town council election. Originally performed on August 30, 1723, the cantata was mentioned in contemporary newspaper reports and specifically described as “excellent music”- repeat performances in later years are likely. The unknown author of the text took Psalm 65: 2 for the first movement and part of Martin Luther’s German Tedeum (1529) for the concluding ninth movement. This final chorale anticipated the Tedeum that was traditionally performed as a processional at the very end of the festive service, sung by the choir in Latin and accompanied by trumpets and timpani. The musical forces of the cantata with an orchestra of 4 trumpets, 2 recorders, 3 oboes, strings, and continuo were the biggest Bach had assembled in Leipzig to date. The mention of “Violoncelli, Bassoni è Violoni” suggests a particularly opulent continuo group. In a manner that matches the ceremonial nature of the event, Bach set the opening chorus as a French overture, possibly recycling here an existing movement from a separate orchestral work proposed for a special occasion when he previously served as capellmeister to the prince of Cöthen.
The cantata “Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille” BWV 120 was performed on August 29, 1729 at the latest, but could possibly date from an earlier year. In the first movement the anonymous poet uses again Psalm 65: 2, but a different phrase, and as the final movement also Luther’s German paraphrase of the Latin Tedeum, “Herr Gott dich loben wir” (1529). Despite these similarities BWV 120 is designed in way very different from BWV 119. The unusual formal choice of opening the cantata with an aria and following it with a chorus is determined by the choice of text. The opening movement in tranquil praise of God (aria for alto with two oboi d’amore, strings, and continuo) is succeeded by the shouting of the crowd (choir with full orchestra). This particularly effective movement was later included as a borrowed movement in the B-Minor Mass as the ”Et expecto” at the end of the Credo section.
The cantata “Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele” BWV 69 was in all likelihood first performed on August 26, 1748 - Bach’s penultimate composition in this work category. It was however not newly created but represented a revised version of BWV 69a, a cantata originally written for the 12th Sunday after Trinity in 1723. The recitatives no. 2 and 4 were newly composed for the occasion in the late 1740s and set to a text by an unknown poet. Of these two movements, the second is a particularly fine example of Bach’s late style. Also newly is the final chorale, a setting of a strophe from Luther’s 1524 hymn “Es woll uns Gott genädig sein”. With its obbligato trumpets it neatly rounds off the work’s musical architecture.
Representatieve Bachcantates voor de verkiezing van stadsraad van Leipzig
Bachs plichten als stadsorganist in Mühlhausen, en later als cantor en muzikaal leider in Leipzig, omvatten ook de compositie en uitvoering van ceremoniële muziek voor de jaarlijkse kerkdienst ter gelegenheid van de inwijding van de nieuw gekozen stadsraad. Zes van de werken die Bach voor deze gebeurtenis componeerde zijn overgeleverd.
Het huidige album bevat drie cantates voor de vierkiezing van de stadsraad uit Bachs periode in Leipzig, waaronder de eerste en laatste nieuwe werken die hij voor deze gelegenheid componeerde.
Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn BWV 119 is de eerste cantate die Bach voor de jaarlijkse verkiezingen van de stadsraad in Leipzig componeerde. Het werk, uitgevoerd op 30 augustus 1723, werd door de verslagen in de kranten beschreven als “uitstekende muziek”. De omvangrijke orkestbezetting en het openingskoor in de vorm van een Franse ouverture sloten aan bij de feestelijke en ceremoniële aard van de gebeurtenis.
Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille BWV 120 werd voor het eerst uitgevoerd op 29 augustus 1729. De vormgeving verschilt van die van BWV 119. De ongebruikelijke opening in de vorm van een aria gevolgd door een koor werd vastgesteld door de keuze van de tekst.
Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele BWV 69, Bachs voorlaatste cantate in deze categorie, was geen volledig nieuw werk maar een herziende versie van BWV 69a met twee nieuw gecomponeerde recitatieven en een nieuw slotkoraal. Het vierde recitatief vormt een voortreffelijk voorbeeld van Bachs late stijl.
Diese CD - die letzte aus der 12 CD umfassenden Einzel-Edition bei Challenge Classics - enthält drei repräsentative Ratswahlkantaten aus Bachs Leipziger Zeit. Die letzte Ratswahlkantate, die Bach 1749 noch selbst dirigiert hat, war eine Wiederaufnahme der Kantate BWV 29 von 1731. // Inhalt: Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn BWV 119 / Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille BWV 120 / Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele BWV 69
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Ton Koopman founded the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra in 1979. The group consists of internationally renowned baroque specialists who meet up several times a year and work together to prepare and perform new exciting programmes. For the musicians each concert is a new experience and Koopman's boundless energy and enthusiasm are a sure guarantee of the highest quality.
The Amsterdam Baroque Choir was founded in 1992 and it made its debut during the Holland Festival of Early Music in Utrecht performing the world première of the Requiem (for 15 voices) and Vespers (for 32 voices) by H.I.F. Biber. The recording of both of these works won the Cannes Classical Award for the best performance of 17th/18th century choral music. For its rare combination of textural clarity and interpretative flexibility, the Amsterdam Baroque Choir is considered among today’s most outstanding choirs.
In 1994 Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir embarked upon the most ambitious recording project of the last decades: the integral recording of Bach’s secular and sacred cantatas. For this extraordinary project Koopman and his ensemble received the Deutsche Schallplatten-Preis Echo Klassik. Next to the CD recordings three books have been edited and published by Ton Koopman and the musicologist Christoph Wolff and a series of six documentaries was produced and broadcasted by various TV stations.
Alongside Bach’s music the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir has recorded all major baroque and classical works. Major recognitions include the Gramophone Award, Diapason d'Or, 10-Repertoire, Stern des Monats-Fono Forum, the Prix Hector Berlioz and two Edison Awards. In 2008 the ensemble and Ton Koopman have been honoured with the prestigious BBC Award.
Since March 2003 “Antoine Marchand”, a new sub-label of Challenge Classics, took over the release of Koopman’s new recordings and among many others has published 22 CD boxes of the Bach Cantatas, a new recording of the St. Matthew Passion (on CD and DVD) and St. Markus Passion of J.S. Bach (DVD), live recorded in Milan, as well as the first seven volumes of the Buxtehude Opera-Omnia Edition.
Ton Koopman and the ABO & ABC are regular guests at the major concert halls of Europe, the USA and Japan. In the 2008/09 season they will tour extensively in Europe (Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Milan, Cologne, Dresden, Düsseldorf etc) and in Far East with concerts in Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo.