About the album
The two cantatas chosen for this album represent works composed by the younger Bach when he held positions as organist in Arnstadt (1703-07), Mühlhausen (1707-08), and Weimar (from 1708) and was not yet primarily responsible for vocal music. Supplying regular pieces for Sundays and holidays (“music of cantors”) was not part of the duties of an organist. Organists, however, frequently wrote works for funerals, weddings, and other special occasions. Bach apparently engaged in this kind of compositional activity from the very beginning even though only a fraction of pertinent works have survived.
Bach’s earliest vocal works demonstrate impressively that he understood how to operate on the level of the greatest composers of the late 17th century, indeed how to compete with Buxtehude, Pachelbel, and the older members of the Bach family, including above all Johann Christoph and Johann Michael Bach. Moreover, he knew how to introduce new musical elements into composing sacred pieces. Works like BWV 106 and 21 demonstrate how, in a deliberate confrontation with traditional and modern trends, Bach laid the foundation for a ifelong and extraordinarily productive occupation with the cantata genre.
The cantata “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit” BWV 106 was composed for a funeral or memorial service. It must have been written at around 1707. The oldest source is a copy dated 1768 and made in Leipzig. It bears the heading “Actus tragicus,” a title that clearly sets the tone of the piece.
The cantata “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis” BWV 21 shows a compositional design of a manner typical of the early Weimar period. It was not written for a specific liturgical occasion but could be performed “at any time.” However, the first documented performance took place in Weimar on the 3rd Sunday after Trinity in 1714. Yet the work is clearly of earlier origin even though its first version - most likely a setting of various psalm texts - did not survive.
11Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit (Actus Tragicus) BWV 106 Sonatina
12Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit (Actus Tragicus) BWV 106 Chorus: “gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit” Arioso: (tenor): “Ach Herr, lehre uns bedenken” Arioso (Bass): “Bestelle dein Haus: denn du wirst sterben”
13Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit (Actus Tragicus) BWV 106 Aria (Alto)
14Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit (Actus Tragicus) BWV 106 Chorus: “Glorie, Lob, Ehr und Herrlichkeit”
15Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Sinfonia
16Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Chorus: “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis”
17Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Aria (soprano): “Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not”
18Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Recitative (soprano): “Wie hast du dich, mein Gott”
19Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Aria (soprano): “Bäche von gesalznen Zähren”
110Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Chorus: “Was betrübst du dich, meine Seele”
111Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Recitative (soprano, Basso): “Ach Jesu, meine Ruh”
112Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Duet (soprano, Basso): “Komm, mein Jesu”
113Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Chorus: “Sei nun wieder zufrieden”
114Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Aria (soprano): ”Erfreue dich, Seele”
115Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV 21 Chorus: “Das Lamm, das erwürget ist”