Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano

 

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Bach Cantata Notes

BWV 168

Today’s cantata is based on a text by Salamo Franck. While most of the Franck texts were set when Bach was cantor at Weimar, this was actually a Leipzig work. Bach scholars have been somewhat taken aback by all of Franck’s money metaphors, particularly, in this work, the movement “Capital und Interessen.” The old Breitkopf edition actually publishes an anonymous text replacing these words. Franck was the director of the mint in Weimar and seeing moral dilemmas in financial terms came naturally.

The work opens with a fiery and tempestuous aria for bass with strings. The thunderwords in the text are literally shouted by the bass over the din of the strings. Two oboes d’amore accompany the long and didactic tenor recitative. They play the obbligato in unison for the aria, an appropriately corporate sound. After a bass recitative there is an unusual and wonderful soprano-alto duet. The bass figure clearly represents the chains in the text. The text is unusually vividly characterized, with crabbed, disjunct lines for the chains and beautiful, lyrical lines depicting the deathbed. A gravely beautiful setting of “Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut” ends the cantata quietly.

©Craig Smith