Bach’s most famous duet

AlanFast_JulianneBairdOf this cantata 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele most people only know the  soprano-alto duet Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten. The best rendition of this I have ever heard in my life is by Julianne Baird and Allan Fast on the Rifkin recording from 1988. Listen to it here. (This picture shows Fast and Baird in a crop from a photo of the Waverly Consort from 1982. Fast passed away in 1995 at age 41.)

Bach wrote this cantata for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, September 10, 1724. It was not the first time he wrote a “cute” duet — there are gorgeous examples  in sacred and secular cantatas from his Weimar and Köthen years. However, at the start of his second Leipzig cycle, for the Trinity season of 1724, there are more and more duets in his cantatas.  Alto-tenor duets appear in cantatas 20 and 10, spaced three weeks apart. A series of soprano-alto duets follows on July 9 in cantata 93, a month later in cantata 101, and the next week in cantata 113. Then there’s the terrific tenor-bass duet in cantata 33 on September 3, and this duet on September 10.

This is why I like it so much to listen to Bach’s cantatas in the order he wrote and performed them. I would never have noticed connections such as these otherwise.

But, enough about the duet! The rest of the cantata is wonderful too, especially the opening chorus, which is among the most complex Bach ever wrote. For those who read Dutch, I encourage you to read Eduard van Hengel’s splendid article about this cantata here.

For the entire cantata I prefer Herreweghe’s recording, also from 1988. Soprano: Ingrid Schmithüsen; Alto: Charles Brett; Tenor: Howard Crook; Bass: Peter Kooy. Find the recording here on YouTube. Find the German text and English translations of the cantata here, and the score here.

More listening for this Sunday: cantata 25 from 1723. It has a much bigger orchestra, including many brass players. Find my explanation for that here.

Wieneke Gorter, September 17, 2017

Faltering steps à la Bach & Damien Guillon’s art of singing four consonants in a row


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Excerpt from the manuscript of the alto part for cantata 33 (copied out by Bach’s student Johann Andreas Kuhnau), Leipzig Bach-Archive.

It is now the 13th Sunday after Trinity — time for the story of the Good Samaritan. For a sublime cantata that stays close to that Gospel text, read my earlier post about cantata 77 Bach wrote for this Sunday in 1723.

When Bach receives the libretto for cantata 33 Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ in 1724, it is -except for one line- not related to the Bible story at all. Maybe he already knows this, since he himself was probably responsible for selecting the chorale to serve as the basis for this cantata: a hymn of penitence from 1540, asking Christ to be freed of the pressing burden of sins. The part of the libretto that probably moves him the most* is this:

Wie furchtsam wankten meine Schritte,
Doch Jesus hört auf meine Bitte
Und zeigt mich seinem Vater an.
Mich drückten Sündenlasten nieder,
Doch hilft mir Jesu Trostwort wieder,
Dass er für mich genug getan.

How fearfully were faltering my footsteps,
but Jesus listens to my entreaties
and bears witness for me to his Father.
The burden of my sins weighed down heavily on me,
but Jesus’ word of comfort reassures me
that he has done enough for me.

The first line probably made him think of the soprano aria he wrote a little over a year ago, for the ninth Sunday after Trinity in 1723. (click on the link to listen to it). **

The text of that aria is:

Wie zittern und wanken
Der Sünder Gedanken,
Indem sie sich untereinander verklagen
Und wiederum sich zu entschuldigen wagen.
So wird ein geängstigt Gewissen
Durch eigene Folter zerrissen.

How tremble and waver
the sinners’ thoughts
while they bring accusations against each other
and on the other hand dare to make excuses for themselves.
In this way a troubled conscience
is torn apart through its own torments.

Bach is in general also still working on how to get more drama and text illustration into the music of his cantatas without it coming across as too operatic. So after a delicate opening chorus (Gardiner describes this as “an antique ring” in which the ornate beauty of the orchestral setting almost eclipses the inner gem of the hymn setting) and a powerful bass recitative, he writes this alto aria on the moving text. Click on the link to hear the amazing interpretation by countertenor Damien Guillon and the instrumentalists of Belgian ensemble Il Gardellino. Nobody delivers such a fantastic combination of completely “getting” the text and wonderful, seemingly effortless singing.  And listen to how he pronounces the consonants r-ch-t-s in the word “Furchtsam” without any concession to the vowel sounds.

When the libretto finally comes to the only quote of the Good Samaritan story: “I may love my neighbour as myself” in the fifth movement, Bach takes the opportunity to write a striking “love duet,” completely with parallel thirds and sixths that were used for amorous duets in Venetian operas of the time. If you thought that the famous soprano-alto duet from cantata 78 came out of the blue, here is the  artist’s study for it, one week before 🙂

Listen to the entire cantata, performed by Bach Collegium Japan (with Robin Blaze, countertenor; Gerd Türk, tenor; and Peter Kooij, bass), here on Spotify. Find the text here, and the score here.

Wieneke Gorter, September 8, 2017


*of course I don’t know for a fact that this was the part of the libretto that moved Bach most. It is the text that moves me most, and of course that is partly because of Bach’s beautiful setting of it.

**and of course I don’t know this for a fact either, but it is the first thing I wrote down when I listened to this cantata, without having read Gardiner’s notes, which state that this alto aria from cantata 33 “bears a striking kinship in mood, subject-matter, and even melodic outline” to the soprano aria from cantata 105. So I am not alone in noticing this.


No cantata for Trinity 12 in 1724

Six weeks ago, it was easy to guess why there was a cantata missing from Bach’s collection of all-new chorale cantatas he wrote in the summer of 1724. Bach had probably been granted a short leave of absence because his presence was required in Köthen. But for today’s missing cantata there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason.

After his death, Bach’s compositions were divided over his sons. Most of them took care of these manuscripts, but apparently Wilhelm Friedemann often sold his father’s music to supplement his income. And of course it was always possible that the score and parts were at one point used by a colleague or relative and got displaced, or burnt in a fire.

While we don’t know how Bach’s cantata for the 12th Sunday after Trinity in 1724 disappeared, I can assure you all the other cantatas he wrote for the fall of 1724 as well as the 1724/1725 Christmas season did survive, so please keep following this blog. There are many cantatas coming up that I am not familiar with, so it will be a great journey of discovery for me, and it is great to know that I have so many readers traveling with me 🙂

For another cantata for this 12th Sunday after Trinity, please visit my post from last year about cantata 69a.

If you don’t want to miss an episode of this 1724/1725 chorale cantata exploration, please consider signing up  to receive an email every time I’ve posted a new story. How to do this: If you are on a desktop computer, look to the left of this text, where it says “Follow Blog via Email,” enter your email address, and press the “Follow” button. If you are reading this on a smartphone, keep scrolling down until you find the same text.

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Wieneke Gorter, September 3, 2017

Something with this Sunday & Robin Blaze’s art of singing a chorale melody


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In 1723, Bach wrote an exceptional cantata for this Sunday, the 11th after Trinity. I liked that cantata 179 so much that I gave my blog post last year the title “Bach on a roll” and I’ve been listening to it again this week. In 1724, Bach wrote cantata 113 Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut for this same Sunday. Both these cantatas truly move me. I feel as if Bach was especially humbled by this particular Sunday.

The only recording that does Cantata 113 Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut justice and gives me the good kind of stomach ache is the one by Bach Collegium Japan, because of Peter Kooij’s and Robin Blaze’s terrific singing, beautiful oboe and flute playing, and the fact that Yukari Nonoshita and Robin Blaze make the duet into a lovely piece of music instead of struggling through it the way it is on some other recordings. Listen to this recording by Bach Collegium Japan through a playlist on YouTube I created.

Find the text and translation here, and the score here.

That Bach might have might have felt a special touch or inspiration on this 11th Sunday after Trinity makes sense when you look at the Gospel reading for the day. It is the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (or Pharisee and the Tax Collector), a story Jesus tells as an illustration on how to pray: the Pharisee is full of himself, telling God how good he is, while the Publican in his own prayer merely asks for mercy, and tells God how bad he is. This concept of how to be a good Christian before God, to be true, not fake, was very important to Bach.

In cantata 113 the chorale melody turns up much more often than in most of the other 1724/1725 chorale cantatas. It is even present in some of the arias that don’t have the chorale text. For the first time since starting this series of chorale cantatas, Bach doesn’t use the chorale melody as a cantus firmus in the opening chorus. Instead, he writes a simple four-part harmonized setting of the chorale melody. But, then there’s the unusual twist: Bach changes the usual 4/4 beat in which a chorale is normally sung to a 3/4, which allows him to write long suspensions in the vocal lines, thus intensifying the pleading character of the music (and the good stomach ache I get when I listen to it).

In the aria that follows, Bach makes up for the missing cantus firmus from the opening chorus. Any late-comers to that church service on Sunday August 20, 1724 would not have missed what chorale this cantata was based on: the alto sings the text as well as the melody of the chorale’s second stanza in long notes, against strings playing in unison. Singing a chorale melody like this is not easy, and most recordings were unsatisfying to me because of this aria (as well as the duet). But Robin Blaze knows how to do it: sing with a brilliant sound, clearly placing each note, but also sustaining the sound throughout every note, and keeping it moving, while not forgetting word accents. It is a special art, and he masters it. I can listen to that five times in a row and not tire of it.

The bass aria could -as far as the music is concerned- easily have been inserted into the Christmas Oratorio, with the pretty oboe accompaniment. Note the word illustrations on “Zittern” (trembling) and “zerbräche” (would break), expertly sung by Peter Kooij. If this is all not pretty enough, Bach presents his talented flute player again, and gives him a beautiful but unbelievably challenging part, more virtuoso than ever before,  in the tenor aria “Jesus nimmt die Sünder an.” And then there is the duet.

I don’t write this blog for religious reasons, nor do I generally support Bach’s dogmas, but on this Sunday in 2017 I will try to be a good Christian. When I moved to the USA in 1999 I never thought it would come to this, that people in this country would want to move the clock back 50 years or more. On the morning after the 2016 presidential election I promised my kids that we would go into the streets when I would feel that equality, justice, and tolerance would be in danger. So while it stresses me out for several reasons, I strongly feel that we do have to go to the peaceful counter-protest, to help make the crowd as large as possible, and that my children need to be there too. Inspired by pictures of the rally in San Francisco on Saturday, we wrote our messages of love, tolerance, inclusion, and equality on balloons — easier to carry than signs and obviously not symbols of hate.

Wieneke Gorter, August 27, 2017

No nonsense for Trinity 10, 1724


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Christ Driving the Merchants from the Temple by Jacob Jordaens, circa 1650. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

After the stunningly beautiful music of cantata 94 from last week, it is a bit hard for me to go back to a “regular” chorale cantata: cantata 101: Nimm von uns Herr, du treuer Gott. But then again, maybe the beauty and lightness of last week’s cantata is the key to understanding this week’s …

I was not familiar with this cantata, because for this Sunday in the liturgical year, the 10th after Trinity, my mother would probably have played the more impressive 46 (written in 1723, its opening chorus later used for the Qui Tollis of the Mass in B minor – see my discussion of it here) or 102 (written in 1726, its opening chorus later used for the Kyrie of the Missa Brevis in g minor – see a short discussion at the end of this post).

There is a nice live recording of cantata 101: Nimm von uns Herr, du treuer Gott on YouTube by the Gesualdo Consort, part of a well-constructed program of Bach works based on the Vater Unser melody (Luther’s German version of the Lord’s Prayer). However, this performance doesn’t include trombones doubling the vocal parts in the opening chorus. If you would like to hear that important feature of this cantata, you can listen to Bach Collegium Japan’s recording of the opening chorus here.

Please find the text and translations here, and the score here.

Why does Bach take a starker approach for this Sunday in 1724 than in those other two years? One reason might be that in 1724, he is more strongly bound to his commitment of using a chorale tune as basis for the cantata than he is to the Gospel text for this Sunday (Jesus predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and him driving the merchants from the Temple). And the chorale for this Sunday is terror-inspiring: written during a time of the plague in 1584, on the melody of Luther’s Vater Unser.

If we go back to last week’s cantata, we should realize how frivolous it was of Bach to compose such a lighthearted cantata, featuring the flute, an ultra-secular, and French instrument! And this only to show off a University student, who didn’t even attend the St. Thomas School! It might very well have upset his employers, and afterwards they might have urged him to write something more appropriate next time, something inspiring devotion in the members of the Leipzig congregations, instead of treating them to the stuff he used to write at the court in Köthen. We will never know, but we can imagine.

So, while not directly quoting the Gospel of Jesus banishing the merchants from the Temple, but perhaps inspired by that story nonetheless, Bach goes back to the basics, the core of the Lutheran faith. And we know that whenever the hymn is based on a melody written by Luther himself, Bach shows the utmost respect for that, and often uses references in his music to remind the congregations of the timeless character of the music and of the dogma.

To reinforce the timeless character, he uses the “old” ensemble of cornetto and trombones to double the vocal parts in the opening chorus — the same way he did this for cantata 2 and cantata 25. Bach pushes the doctrine down everyone’s throat even more, or as Gardiner says, he “subjects his listeners to a twin-barrelled doctrinal salvo” when he not only presents the 1584 chorale melody in all but one movement of the cantata, including in the recitatives, but also quotes Luther’s hymn Dies sind die heil’gen zehn Gebot (These are the holy Ten Commandments) in the instrumental opening of the first movement.*

To further rub in the need for penitence, Bach presents strong dissonances on the words “schwere Straf und grosse Not” (grave punishment and great distress). Also, in the terrific Bass aria**, Bach instills horror in his audience when he makes an abrupt move from E minor to C minor on the word “Warum” of the sentence “Warum willst du so zornig sein” (Why wilt thou be so angry). Gardiner calls this a “Mahlerian swerve” and says “Not even Purcell, with his penchant for a calculated spotlit dissonance, was capable of matching this when setting the same words in his anthem “Lord, how long wilt thou be angry.”

In 1726 Bach wrote cantata 102 Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben! for this same Sunday, the 10th Sunday after Trinity. It is a terrific composition. Bach was proud of it too, because he later re-used it in the Missa Brevis in F Major (BWV 233) and the Missa Brevis in g minor (BWV 235). Listen to Il Gardellino’s recording of it here on YouTube, with Damien Guillon, countertenor; Marcus Ullman, tenor; and Lieven Termont, bass. Especially the aria Aria Weh der Seele, die den Schaden (perhaps better known today as the soprano aria Qui Tollis from BWV 233) by countertenor Damien Guillon and oboist Marcel Ponseele is to die for.

Wieneke Gorter, August 18, 2017.

* It is not the first time he quotes this hymn in an opening chorus either, see my post about cantata 77 here.

** This bass aria is the best movement of the piece in my opinion, and probably also the reason why the leader of the Gesualdo Consort, Harry van der Kamp, himself the bass soloist, programmed this cantata in the first place.

The flute player in the spotlight

In the spring of 1724, Bach had flutes* doubling oboe or violin parts for the first time. For the first Sunday after Easter that year, he wrote a separate part for flute, in cantata 67. It is a pretty part, but not extremely challenging. In cantata 107 things get more serious for the flute players. If Bach was trying out a new player, he has now passed the test. So now, two weeks later, it is time for a truly virtuoso flute part. Bach goes all out in this cantata 94 Was frag ich nach der Welt for the 9th Sunday after Trinity, writing the opening chorus as a flute concerto, and including an exquisite aria for alto and flute. The cantata also includes a fabulous tenor aria with full string accompaniment, and a pretty soprano aria with oboe.

I recommend Bach Collegium Japan’s recording of this cantata, with Kiyomi Suga, Baroque flute; Yukari Nonoshita, soprano; Robin Blaze, counter-tenor;  Jan Kobow, tenor; and Peter Kooy, bass. Listen here on YouTube via a playlist I created.

If Bach was trying out a new flute player, scholars think this must have either been Friedrich Gottlieb Wild (1700–1762), or Johann Gottlieb Würdig. Wild studied Law at the University of Leipzig, and thanks to a letter of recommendation Bach wrote for him on May 18, 1727, we know that he studied with Bach at least from 1723 to 1727 and also played the flute and the harpsichord in some of his cantatas. Bach writes:

“… during the four years that he has lived here at the University, [he] has always shown himself to be diligent and hardworking, in such manner that he not only has helped to adorn our church music with his well-learned accomplishments on the Flaute traversiere and Clavecin but also has taken special instruction from me in the clavier, the thorough bass, and the fundamental rules of composition based thereupon, so that he may on any occasion be heard with particular approval by musicians of attainment.”

Wild didn’t get the job of Kantor at the Jacobikirche in Chemnitz in 1727, but was appointed organist of the St. Peter’s Church in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1735. It is thus assumed that he continued as a student of Bach’s until 1735.

Würdig was a flute player at the Köthen court, and it has been suggested (by William Scheide, Bach Jahrbuch 2003) that Bach convinced him to travel back to Leipzig with him when he visited Köthen in July 1724. If that was the case, Würdig stayed in Leipzig for a few months, because until November 19, 1724, there would be an almost weekly flute solo in Bach’s cantatas.

Wieneke Gorter, August 13, 2017.


*not to be confused with recorders, which Bach had included in his cantatas many times before. Watch this All of Bach video in which Marten Root explains the development of the flute in 18th century Germany, and Bach’s use of the instrument in his cantatas (click on “interview flute player Marten Root” in the middle of the screen). A good video explaining this instrument is also this one by Lisa Beznosiuk of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Harnoncourt’s interpretation of cantata 178 reviewed in the New York Times

Today is a day of packing and organizing for our trip back “home” to California. I only have a little bit of time and very slow internet. So you’ll understand I was glad to realize (thanks to Eduard van Hengel) that for a discussion and recommendation of this Sunday’s cantata, I can refer you to The New York Times 🙂

In an article of January 27, 1991, reviewing Harnoncourt and Leonhardt’s entire series of cantata recordings, Richard Taruskin highlights Harnoncourt’s interpretation of cantata 178 Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält (8th Sunday after Trinity, 1724).

Find the Harnoncourt recording (with Panito Iconomou, alto; Kurt Equiluz, tenor; and Robert Holl, bass) here on YouTube. Find the text and translations here, and the score here.

Last week, for whatever reason, Bach didn’t use a librettist, and set the entire chorale text, every verse, to music. He either really enjoyed writing a chorale cantata that way, or his librettist was still a little bit under the weather, because for this cantata 178 Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält he used no less than six of the eight verses of the chorale verbatim.

Richard Taruskin’s entire review from 1991 can be found here. For your convenience, I’m directly quoting the excerpt that talks about cantata 178 here below:


“It feels not only invidious but ridiculous to be singling out one recording from a yard-high stack. But in Volume 41, released in 1988, the essential Bach speaks through Mr. Harnoncourt with a special vehemence. Cantata No. 178, “Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns halt,” begins with a French overture straight from hell, a portrait of a world without God in which (as Dostoyevsky later noted) all things are possible and there is no hope. Mr. Harnoncourt applies to the dotted rhythms the awful “gnashville” sound he has gradually developed for such occasions, the strings of the Concentus Musicus hurling their bows at their instruments from a great height, producing as much scratch as tone.

The “chorale-recitative” that follows illustrates the futility of human effort with a bass that is continually and arbitrarily disrupted. It is played with greatly exaggerated dynamics to underscore — needlessly, most proper authenticists would insist — the bare message of the notes. After an aria depicting a Satan-engineered shipwreck with nauseous melismas and a chorale verse evoking persecution with a crowd of discomfitingly close and syncopated imitations, we reach the heart of the cantata.

A glossed chorale verse about raging beasts finally dispenses with word-painting, which depends on mechanisms of wit and can be taken as humor. It harks back instead to the wellsprings of the Baroque in grossly exaggerated speech contours, something akin to wild gesticulation.

Now Bach the anti-Enlightener comes into his own, with a frantic tenor aria, “Shut up, stumbling Reason!” (“Schweig nur, taumelnde Vernunft!”). Past the first line the message of the text is one of comfort: “To them who trust in Jesus ever, the Door of Mercy closes never,” to quote the doggerel translation in the program booklet. But Bach is fixated on that fierce and derisive opening line — indeed, on just the opening word. Out of it he builds practically the whole first section of his da capo aria, crowding all the rest into a cursory and soon superseded middle. Over and over the tenor shrieks, “Schweig nur, schweig!,” leaping now a sixth, now a seventh, now an octave. Meanwhile, the accompanying orchestra, reason’s surrogate, reels and lurches violently.

This one is not for you, Dr. Burney. Hands off, Maestro Norrington. There is no way this music can be fun. In fact, it is terrifying — perhaps more now than in Bach’s own time, since we have greater reason than Bach’s contemporaries ever had to wince at the sound of a high-pitched German voice stridently shouting reason down.”

Wieneke Gorter, August 5, 2017


The perfect combination of Bach’s writing & Herreweghe’s interpretation


The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes by Jacopo Tintoretto, circa 1545-1550, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

1724: Bach has returned from his visit to Köthen (see previous post).

2017: I am still in Europe, but my daughter’s choir tour is done, and so is my daily commitment to write a blog for the parents who stayed back in California.

As I continue to follow Bach in 1724, the cantata for today, the 7th Sunday after Trinity, is cantata 107 Was willst du dich betrüben. If you only listen to one cantata this summer I suggest you listen to Herreweghe’s recording of this one. You will not regret the perfect combination of some of Bach’s best writing with Herreweghe’s sensitive interpretation. Find Herreweghe’s recording (from 1993, with Agnès Mellon, soprano; Howard Crook, tenor; and Peter Kooij, bass) here on YouTube. Consider purchasing it here — this album also contains the beautiful cantata 93 from two weeks ago. My favorite movements are the fabulous opening chorus, the bass recitative and aria that follows, superbly sung by Peter Kooij, and the tenor aria because of the flutes. I also love Agnès Mellon’s angelic singing in the soprano aria.

Find the text and translations here, and the score here.

A few weeks ago I explained that Bach started his second Leipzig cycle with a series of chorale cantatas, and that he would stick to that same format for nine and half months (read more about this in this post). He built all 44 cantatas in this period on a similar foundation: setting the verses of the chorale verbatim for the opening and closing choruses, while setting poetry based on the verses for the inner movements. While Bach collaborated with a librettist (probably the same one) for all of these cantatas, there was one exception within that 1724/1725 series: all of the words for cantata 107 Was willst du dich betrüben were copied verbatim from the chorale text.

We can only speculate as to why this happened. His librettist might have been sick or away.  Or did Bach perhaps compose this cantata during his visit to Köthen (see last week’s post)? We only know that he and Anna Magdalena performed at the court in Köthen, but we don’t know how long they stayed there.

I have loved this cantata 107 since I first heard it on the Herreweghe recording in the early 1990s. Just listen to that opening chorus: Bach’s excellent and poignant writing combined with the fabulous sustained lines of the Collegium Vocale chorus (read my posts about their sopranos here and their altos here) and Herreweghe’s calm tempo, and continuous focus on the direction and destination of the musical lines.

I am in movie-script mode again and taking the liberty to imagine Bach writing this cantata in Köthen, maybe even performing (parts of) it there too with all the wonderful musicians at that court, and Anna Magdalena singing the soprano aria. Bach could very well have been inspired by the change of scenery, time away from his hectic Leipzig house, and enjoying the company of his former colleagues in Köthen, all excellent musicians. If we follow this train of thought, it is not surprising that he assigns 2/3 of the principal music in the opening chorus to the orchestra and only 1/3 to the choir, and writes the closing chorus as if it were one of his orchestral suites. It has been suggested that Bach convinced one of the flute players at the Köthen court, Johann Gottlieb Würdig, to accompany him to Leipzig and stay there for a few months.

Wieneke Gorter, July 27, 2017.




A mini-break with Anna Magdalena


Köthen court plan

There is no cantata for Trinity 6 from 1724.  A little research gives the reason: Bach took a trip with his wife Anna Magdalena to the court of Köthen, where they had both worked until their move to Leipzig in 1723.

According to The New Bach Reader, the court account books state the following for July 18, 1724:

“To the Director Musices Bach and his wife, who performed, in settlement rthl* 60”

We don’t know what they performed and for exactly how many days they stayed, but Bach was back in time to compose and rehearse the cantata for Trinity 7 that year.

*rthl = Reichsthaler

Wieneke Gorter, July 15, 2017.

Blogging from Greece

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Kaisariani monastery near Athens, Greece

bloggingfromGreeceFor today, the 5th Sunday after Trinity, I’m running out of time to write a post about the beautiful cantata 93 Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten Bach wrote for this Sunday in 1724. So I’ll just give you my favorite recording (by Herreweghe, with soloists Agnès Mellon, soprano; Charles Brett, countertenor; Howard Crook, tenor; and Peter Kooij, bass), the text & translations, and the score.

My reason is a good one: I’m on tour with my daughter’s youth choir to Greece, and I’m in charge of the blog for that tour (so parents who stay at home know we’re still alive and happy) and that’s taking up most of my limited wifi time on the island of Syros. It’s a really hard life being a blogger here 😉

kaisariani_interior.jpgI’m very happy, because at the beginning of this week I got to see the 11th/12th century Kaisariani monastery, about 10 kilometers outside of Athens. I found out about this building once while looking for images for this blog. The cross-in-square, domed church has some beautiful wall and ceiling paintings dating from the 18th century; those in the narthex date back to 1682.

I loved seeing the paintings “live” and took lots of pictures to use in future blog posts, but also very much enjoyed the quiet (only a handful of other tourists were there), the forest air, and the gardens:


Wieneke Gorter, July 15, 2017.