Cantata BWV 46: Schauet doch und sehet|
Look therefore and see, if any grief be found such as my grief
Lotte Wolf-Matthäus, alto / Georg Jelden, tenor / Jakob Stämpfli, bass
Barmen-Gemarke Singers and Chamber Orchestra
Conductor Helmut Kahlhoffer
Cantata BWV 105: Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht - Judge not Thy servant,oh Lord
Cantata BWV 25: Es ist nichts Gesundes - There is no health in me
Cantata BWV 103: Ihr werdet weinen und heulen - Ye shall weep and lament
The baroque period was a period of order, of form and pattern in music, and this was typified in the fugues, canons, and variations of Bach. Romantic he certainly was not, yet he was able to express the most powerful emotions in his music. The four cantatas gathered together on this disc are among his most moving, dealing with pain and judgment, the physical pain which was often endured in Bach's time which despite the relatively civilized surroundings of Leipzig, often lacked what we today would consider basic medicine.
There was also the pain of perceived sin, something clearly felt with more weight of guilt than is the case today. Death was often looked upon as a blessed relief, yet with death came judgment, one's past sins relieved only by the promise of redemption through Christ. Pain and guilt, judgment and redemption, these are the themes of this group of cantatas, and we believe that we have been able to select performances which truly and fully reflect Bach's expressive genius.
Cantata 46 expresses grief and horror at the destruction of Jerusalem as punishment for its sins. "Look now and see if any grief be found such as my grief that has struck me. For the Lord has filled me with misery at the time of his furious anger.... Lament, God's city now destroyed... Do not suppose, oh sinners, that Jerusalem alone is full of sin! Heed this judgment: since you do not improve, and daily your sins increase, so you shall all be destroyed."
Cantata 105 is a very moving plea for clemency at the time of our Judgment. "My God, cast me not away, for I bow before Thy countenance in humility. I know how great is Thine anger and how great are my offenses, and that Thou art a swift witness and a righteous judge. I lay my free confession before Thee, nor would I plunge into the peril of attempting to deny or conceal the failings of my soul."
Both cantatas 25 and 103 deal with the deep guilt which clearly weighed upon devout Lutherans of Bach's time. Cantata 25 opens with "There is no wholeness in my body because of thine anger nor any peace within my bones because of my sins."
Cantata 103 becomes even more specific, echoing the destruction of Jerusalem (cantata 46) with threats of world destruction. Yet there is hope: "Ye shall weep and lament, but the Earth shall rejoice. Ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrows shall be turned into joy." For after the Cleansing and Redemption comes a new life.
Powerful themes and powerful music, to which our performances do full justice.