History[ edit ] The court chapel at the Schloss in Weimar where Bach was court organist. The organ loft is visible at the top of the picture. Early versions of almost all the chorale preludes are thought to date back to —, during the period — when Bach served as court organist and Konzertmeister director of music in Weimar , at the court of Wilhelm Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Weimar. Here he also wrote most of his organ works.
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Subdued festivity In this Advent cantata, Bach juxtaposes the militancy and the vulnerability of the Messiah. For Lutherans, the festive start to the liturgical year on the first Sunday of Advent had a hopeful character.
After all, it was almost Christmas time. But this Sunday also heralded a period of austerity and reflection, which lasted until Christmas Day. Bach therefore orchestrated the enthusiastic and expectant opening of this cantata quite modestly. The festive timpani and trumpets are saved for the Nativity, although the chorale melody in the soprano is accompanied by a horn.
The worldly joy in anticipating the birth of Jesus is underlined by an extensive tenor aria in a dancing rhythm. Bach juxtaposes the militancy and the vulnerability of the Messiah. The bass sings a militant aria, whereby the strings play along with the continuo in fiery unison.
However, this warlike idiom is immediately softened by a recitative, in which the soprano and alto shyly approach the crib hand in hand. That would seem logical, as he wrote the piece in Weimar, and it was the first Advent cantata that he performed in Leipzig.
In that case, it could well have served as a personal prompt. One year later, he was completely at home in the liturgical practice of Leipzig, so he probably no longer needed prompts.
That may have been the case, for instance, when the cantata was revived in and Bach was away giving an organ recital at the Church of our Lady in Dresden as the newly appointed court composer.
J.S. Bach: Nun Komm' Der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659
Like leaves in the wind, the lower parts tumble gently to earth. At the same time, the rhythm resembles that of a French overture — music that was played for the entrance of the king — so also very apt. The descending lines also suggest the arrival of Jesus on earth, although the words of the chorale do not touch on that miracle. It appears to be no more than a tenuous background idea for a complex interplay of lines that dominates the sound picture with subtle dissonances.
Bach - Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland
Het antwoord op de vragen klinkt als een lyrisch en ritmisch arioso, waarin tenor en continuo elkaar imiteren; het continuo kan er maar geen genoeg van krijgen. De unisono begeleiding vertoont, evenals die van het continuo, veel dalende lijnen die het uit-de-hemel-neerdalen uitdrukken. Het middendeel onderscheidt zich door zijn mineur toonsoort en wordt nog slechts door de instrumentale inleiding gevolgd. Zie, ik sta voor de deur en klop aan. Zoals vaak zingt de bas hier als Vox Christi een tekst van de gearriveerde Messias zelf: hij klopt op de deur van het hart van de gelovige, zijn metaforisch beoogde woning. De ritmisch begeleidende, getokkelde pizzicato akkoorden van continuo en vierstemmige hoge strijkers verbeelden uiteraard dit kloppen.