J.S. Bach: The Church Cantatas, Vol. 12: Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21

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One of the most extended and colourful of Bach’s cantatas is BWV21. Its history is complex and there are many different versions, the first possibly as early as 1713. It begins with a beautiful sinfonia, adagio assai with a few dramatic pauses, and then the choir starts by calling out `Ich! Ich! Ich!’ – a dramatic opening ridiculed by Bach’s colleague Mattheson, but extremely effective. Sopranos and tenors enter canonically and then altos and basses, singing about great affliction, punctuated by orchestral interludes. After another piece of drama (`Aber!’) a lively vivace sings of the consolations to be found with Christ A superb soprano aria follows in which the oboe sings a mournful dirge, with once more dramatic pauses; the motives of the first seven bars return in one or another form all through this lovely number. The tenor sings a colourful recitative and then an aria in which the `Bäche’ are clearly illustrated. Another tremendous chorus follows, slow and fast fragments alternating. Bass and soprano open part II of the cantata with a recitative and then a duet, in which Christ and the soul converse. Once again the choir takes over, introduced by the four soloists, an intense expression of contentment set off against the chorale `Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten’ which expresses the same idea. A final recitative brings us to the closing chorus, a prelude and fugue of impressive dimensions, ending in an immense ‘Amen’.

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Artists: Netherlands Bach Collegium, Holland Boys Choir, Pieter Jan Leusink (conductor), Ruth Holton (Soprano), Knut Schoch (Tenore), Bas Ramselaar (Basso) & Sytse Buwalda (Alto)

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Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21:
00:00 I. Sinfonia
02:53 II. Coro. Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis
06:06 III. Aria. Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not (Soprano)
10:08 IV. Recitativo. Wie hast du dich, mein Gott (Tenore)
11:48 V. Aria. Bäche von gesalznen Zähren (Tenore)
17:11 VI. Coro. Was betrübst du dich, meine Seele (Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso)
20:44 VII. Recitativo. Ach Jesu, meine Ruh (Soprano, Basso)
22:10 VIII. Duetto. Komm, mein Jesu (Soprano, Basso)
26:47 IX. Coro. Sei nun wieder zufrieden (Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso)
31:36 X. Aria. Erfreue dich, Seele (Tenore)
34:39 XI. Coro. Das Lamm, das erwürget ist (Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso)

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