This cantata is only available in manuscript copies, which have, in past times, given scholars food for thought, as regards its authenticity.
The oboe d’amore orchestra, +additional taille, with 4-part chorus/soloists and continuo, is supplemented by a lone flute and a very large and expansive organ part.
This first movement
-and second, are in fact, extracted from an earlier violin concerto, the later version of which survived and is now known to us, as the concerto in d minor for harpsichord, BWV 1052.
This is a copy, of the first movement, from the concerto for harpsichord and strings, BWV 1052, transcribed, for organ.
The austere nature of this movement and the next,
-again, a transcription of the second movement of that same concerto, is most certainly a reflection, by Bach, of the title, taken from that second movement text.
Unison and short, taught, phrase-like loops, permeate the short introduction. The solo part, from the start, brings with it, a sense, of sliding ands slipping, with rushing, headstrong, demi-semi quavers, giving energy to calamity, bar 7 and ingenious stabbing-like keyboard writing, adding a metallic, tortuous-like edge, to the menace.
This cantata has a tendency to move from the experience, of ‘…tribulation…’, Trubsal, towards a sense of relief, ‘…calamity free…’, ‘kein Ungluck’.
-through much tribulation,
enter into the kingdom, of God.’
For this arrangement, the wind parts are dropped and the vocal parts lie, shroud-like, over a dead and unforgiving, corpse-like accompiament. Again, the opening strings, whose first phrase, ends on the flattened submediant, Eb, are in unison.
It is beautiful, static, in its chilling message of tribulation. Some semiquaver energy, eventually generating from the keyboard writing, is only occasionally reflected in the orchestra writing.
Bach persistently marries and imbeds the vocal into the orchestral, working the one, into the other, like a French polish and so much so, that it is almost possible to believe that these two, were always one, that there was never a time that the one lacked the nourishment, of the other.
Still, we are ultimately left with a dystopian language and landscape, cold and unforgiving.
Tribulation, it seems is a static state, rather than a active pain.
‘I want to go to heaven.
You and I from now on, are separated from each other.
My home town is not here
and never again shall I live with you, in your place.’
The urtext of the New Bach Edition, features this alto aria, with organ-only accompaniment. There is a question mark regarding this and some reconstruction with a solo instrument, violin or oboe, may sometimes be preferred.
The jagged, restless and emotionally unsettled first section, characterised with dotted notes and scurrying demi-semi quavers, is followed by a more settled and peaceful middle section, where the stable rhythm and accompaniment, complements the more philosophical and thoughtful text.
‘Ah, if only to be in heaven this moment.
How this wicked and evil world oppress me.
With weeping, I get up, out of bed,
and with weeping, I go back again.
How cleverly they all lie in wait for me.
O Lord. take note of this:
they hate me, without cause,
-as if the world had power, even to kill me.
And though I live with patience and sighing,
-forsaken and despised,
the world derives, from my sorrows, the greatest of pleasure.
My God, this is hard for me to bear.
If only, my Jesus, and this very day, I was with you in heaven.’
This melodramatic recit, sometimes excessive so,
-for instance, end of bar 10, through 16, especially the low Db, on ‘…schwer.’
is saved by its string accompaniment, which, as always when halo-like, gives regal status.
Apart from this, words and their settings, speak for themselves.
‘I sow my tears,
with an anxious heart.
Yet, my heart’s suffering, shall bring me glory,
on the day of the blessed harvest.’
This is a windy affair.
Shed tears, flute, are then sown, or ‘cried’, by accompanying and surrounding oboes,
-which incidentally always work, as if one,
the whole underpinned, by an anxious-heart bassline.
In effect, this is a trio sonata, the voice, weaving a tight inter-play, with its weeping self, in the form of that flute.
The general drift of the tonality, in the a minor middle section, seems to be towards F major and there is nothing strange about that, either in the musical mechanics or the musical setting, both being an appropriate depiction of such a text as this, where a release of anxiety, or heart’s suffering, ,…Herzeleid…’, brings glory,,…Herreleid…’, the realization, that suffering brings glory.
However, he musical repeat of these final three lines of text, bar 67 onwards, seems to bring a different perspective though, where suffering does not quite meet the the challenge of change, towards glory.
Any disappointment registered here, provide fuel, for the next movement.
‘I am ready to carry my cross,
-and with patience.
I know that all my sufferings are not worthy,
to be compared with the glory,
that God shall reveal to his chosen,
-and to me.
I weep now, as the hub-bub of the world,
seems to be glad, at my afflictions.
Soon, the time will come, when my heart shall rejoice.
One day, the world shall weep, without a comforter.
God bears everyone to heaven, not with his own hands,
but with the hands, of angels.’
A change, from suffering, bar 4, to glory, bar 7, is followed, by weeping, at bar 8 and a nice chromatic drop, in bar 9, leads to a worthwhile sorrow, bar 10.
An implied ‘running’, bar 10, second half, towards ‘rejoicing, bar 11, leads us to an unhappy world, without a comforter, bar 13.
A settling down, onto a 6/3 D major chord, implies that a coming struggle ,will end in victory, with an unexpected angelic transportation, laid on as well!
‘Here, I shall rejoice and be refreshed, when all passing torment, is gone.
Then, shall I glitter and gleam, like the stars and the sun
and my heavenly bliss shall not be disturbed,
by any more grieving, howling or shouting.’
There is a regal touch about this tight and light dancing-duet.
The pralltriller-like figurations,
-bars 2,3,4,5, etc and the bass line glissandos, bars bars 10, 12,14 and 15,
are surely the glitter and gleam of light, as rejoicing and refreshment overwhelm these two dancing singers.
An orchestra-free middle section, would no doubt, have given Bach and his continuo players an irresistible place, in which to mis-behave.
‘For the blessed one,
who goes where death no longer knocks,
to him, all is granted,
-his every wish.
He will live, in that fortified city, where God dwells,
and that mansion, where no calamity, will ever come.’
This choral comes to us, with no text.
This one, is traditionally attached.
To say that this choral is Bach-standard, is not to demean it in any way.
On the contrary, it gives us a chance, to step back from any slick or cleaver observations, that we might spot and just simply listen, to four musically perfect lines, as they blend, seamlessly, into one.
It is only then, that we can fully appreciate existence, in this fortified and calamity free dwelling.