Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano

 

uncommon intelligence, imagination and textual awareness...
PDme

 

 

Bach Cantata Notes

BWV 187

The cantata Es wartet alles auf dich, BWV 187, although more widely known as the Mass in g minor, BWV 235 (1738-39) for which the opening chorus and all arias were reused, has never been very well known in its cantata form. Composed in Leipzig in 1726, it is a two-part cantata. The gritty and complex chorus at the beginning is one of his best and most energetic fugues, truly rousing and satisfying. The bass recitative almost overflows with graphic images yet Bach chooses not to paint them, save the question that ends the recitative on a point of non-resolution.  The alto aria is a marvelous portrayal of the wavering believer with its halting and jerky continuity. It is the kind of piece that makes perfect sense with its text and would seem merely eccentric without it.

Bach often differentiates between personal and communal religious expression. Likewise, the two parts of the overall cantata contrast in a similar way. Bach scholar Alfred Dürr noted the change from third to first person in the second part, a shift in emphasis. The great striding bass aria with an obbligato of all of the violins is almost Handelian in its simplicity, but is purely Lutheran in its content. The gorgeous soprano aria with oboe is clearly the musical high point of the cantata. The falling octave in both the oboe and voice line is a perfect picture of God’s forgiveness. The quick middle section is interestingly followed by a repetition of the opening material but without the voice. While the soprano aria is stunning in its conception and musical expression, the essence of the cantata is to be found within the first line of the recitative that follows: “if I can only hold on to Him with a childlike trust.” The cantata ends with a harmonization of the rarely heard chorale, “Singen wir aus Herzensgrund.”

~ Craig Smith with Ryan Turner




The Cantata BWV 187 has never been very well known. The gritty and complex chorus at the beginning is one of his best and most energetic fugues, truly rousing and satisfying. The alto aria is a marvelous portrayal of the wavering believer with its halting and jerky continuity. It is the kind of piece that makes perfect sense with its text and would seem merely eccentric without it. The great striding bass aria with an obbligato of all of the violins is almost Handelian in its simplicity, but is purely Lutheran In its content. The gorgeous soprano aria with oboe is clearly the high point of the cantata. The falling octave in both the oboe and voice line is a perfect picture of God’s forgiveness. The quick middle section is interestingly followed by a repetition of the opening material but without the voice. The cantata ends with a harmonization of the rarely heard chorale, “Singen wir aus Herzensgrund.”

©Craig Smith