All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Selig ist der Mann

Selig ist der Mann performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Fabio Bonizzoni.

According to conductor Fabio Bonizzoni you don’t need to be religious in order to understand the power of Bach’s cantatas.

A martyrdom instead of a crib

On Boxing Day, the Feast of St Stephen dampens the party spirit

Bach did not often write the word ‘cantata’ above his pieces. In fact, most of his cantatas have no title at all. This one does, however. It is called ‘Concerto in dialogo’. And that is actually a much better description than our term ‘cantata’. Nowadays, we use the term ‘concerto’ mainly as a name for a three-part instrumental piece with a soloist. In Bach’s day, however, the term had a much more general meaning. All music with distinct groups could be called a concerto. And in this case, it is a concerto in dialogue. 
There are two ‘speakers’ Anima – the human soul – and Jesus. Here, as is often the case, the soul longs for death and to be united with the Creator. The soul is then put to the test. It all seems rather serious for Boxing Day, but 26 December was the day that the Feast of the martyr St Stephen was celebrated in Leipzig. In the first recitative, different emotions succeed one another in rapid tempo: relief, fear and hope are all dealt with, above adventurous modulations. Jesus provides a steadfast, stable beacon, showing his involvement in a powerful aria. The cheerful duet is followed by an intimate closing chorale.


BWV
57

Title
Selig ist der Mann, Concerto in dialogo

Genre
cantata

Year
1725

City
Leipzig

LYRICIST
Georg Christian Lehms

Occasion
St Stephen’s Day (26 December)

first performance
26 December 1725

Cast & Crew

publicatiedatum 10 juli 2015
Date 17 January 2015
Location Walloon Church, Amsterdam
Conductor and organ Fabio Bonizzoni
bass Matthias Winckhler (Jesus)
soprano Maria Keohane (Soul)
alto Barnabás Hegyi
tenor Robert Buckland
violin 1 Shunske Sato, Pieter Affourtit, Anneke van Haaften
violin 2 Sayuri Yamagata, Paulien Kostense, Annelies van der Vegt
viola Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
cello Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
double bass Robert Franenberg
oboe Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg, Yongcheon Shin
bassoon Benny Aghassi
church organ Leo van Doeselaar
concert Production Erik van Lith, Marco Meijdam
PRODUCER Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Joost Honselaar
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Simon Aarden
CAMERA Simon Aarden, Ruben van den Broeke, Jorrit Garretsen, Benjamin Sparschuh, Indy Hamid
FILM EDITOR Joost Honselaar
MUSIC RECORDING PRODUCER Leo de Klerk
GAFFER Zen Bloot
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Zoë de Wilde
Score reader Niek Wijns
MAKE UP Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch
CAMERA ASSISTaNT Izak de Dreu
Best boy Jur Oster
MUSIC RECORDING ASSISTANTS Jaap Firet, Jaap van Stenis, Bobby Verbakel
MUSIC EDIT AND MIX Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
Music edit and mix assistant Nina Kraszewska
Colorist Jef Grosfeld
interview Gijs Besseling, Kasper Koudenburg
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Nienke Meuleman

Vocal Texts

Original

1. Arie 

Jesus
Selig ist der Mann,
der die Anfechtung erduldet,
denn, nachdem er bewähret ist,
wird er die Krone des Lebens empfangen.

2. Rezitativ

Seele
Ach! dieser süsse Trost
erquickt auch mir mein Herz,
das sonst in Ach und Schmerz
sein ewig Leiden findet,
und sich als wie ein Wurm
in seinem Blute windet.
Ich muss als wie ein Schaf
bei tausend rauhen Wölfen leben;
ich bin ein recht verlass'nes Lamm,
und muss mich ihrer Wut
und Grausamkeit ergeben.
Was Abeln dort betraf,
erpresset mir auch diese Tränenflut.
Ach! Jesu, wüsst' ich hier
nicht Trost von dir,
so müsste Mut und Herze brechen
und voller Trauer sprechen:

3. Arie

Seele
Ich wünschte mir den Tod, den Tod
wenn du, mein Jesu, mich nicht liebtest.
Ja, wenn du mich annoch betrübtest,
so hätt' ich mehr als Höllennot.


4. Rezitativ

Jesus
Ich reiche dir die Hand,
und auch damit das Herze.
Seele
Ach! süsses, liebes Pfand,
du kannst die Feinde stürzen,
und ihren Grimm verkürzen.

5. Arie 

Jesus
Ja, ja, ich kann die Feinde schlagen,
die dich nur stets bei mir verklagen,
drum fasse dich, bedrängter Geist.
Bedrängter Geist, hör' auf zu weinen,
die Sonne wird noch helle scheinen,
die dir jetzt Kummerwolken weist.

6. Rezitativ

Jesus
In meinem Schoss liegt Ruh' und Leben,
dies will ich dir einst ewig geben.
Seele
Ach! Jesu, wär' ich schon bei dir,
ach! striche mir
der Wind schon über Gruft und Grab,
so könnt ich alle Not besiegen.
Wohl denen, die im Sarge liegen,
und auf den Schall der Engel hoffen.
Ach! Jesu, mache mir doch nur,
wie Steffano, den Himmel offen.
Mein Herz ist schon bereit
zu dir hinauf zu steigen.
Komm, komm, vergnügte Zeit!
Du magst mir Gruft und Grab,
und meinem Jesum zeigen.

7. Arie

Seele
Ich ende behende
mein irdische Leben,
mit Freuden zu verscheiden
verlang' ich jetzt eben.
Mein Heiland,
ich sterbe mit höchster Begier,
hier hast du die Seele,
was schenkest du mir?

8. Choral

Richte dich, Liebste,
nach meinem Gefallen und gläube
dass ich dein Seelenfreund
immer und ewig verbleibe,
der dich ergötzt
und in den Himmel versetzt
aus dem gemarterten Leibe.



Translation

1. Aria

Jesus
Blessed is the man
that endureth temptation:

for when he is tried,
he shall receive the crown of life.

2. Recitative

Soul
Ah! this sweet comfort
quickens my heart as well,
which otherwise finds endless suffering
in pain and lamentation,
and writhes like a worm
in its blood.
I must live like a sheep
among a thousand savage wolves;

I am a truly forsaken lamb,

and must submit to their rage

and cruelty.

What happened once to Abel,

draws from me, too, this flood of tears.
Ah! Jesus, if I did not know
that Thou wilt comfort me,
my courage and my heart would fail
and say with deepest sorrow:

3. Aria

Soul
I would desire to die, to die,

if Thou, my Jesus, didst not love me.
Yea, if Thou wert still to sadden me,
I would suffer more than the pain of hell.


4. Recitative

Jesus
I give you my hand,
and with it my heart as well.
Soul
Ah! sweetest pledge of love,
thou canst lay low my enemies
and diminish their fury.

5. Aria

Jesus
Yes, yes, I can strike your enemies,
who always accuse you before me,
so have no fear, troubled soul.
Troubled soul, cease your weeping;
the sun will soon be shining
that sends you clouds of sorrow now.

6. Recitative

Jesus
In my bosom lie peace and life,
which one day I shall give you forever.
Soul
Ah, Jesus, were I already with Thee!

Ah, were the wind

already wafting over my tomb and grave,
I could conquer every affliction.
How blest are they who lie in their coffins
and hope to hear the sound of angels!
Ah, Jesus, open for me too,

as for Stephen once, the gates of heaven!
My heart is already prepared
to soar aloft to Thee.

Come, come, blessèd hour!
And show me tomb and grave
and my own Jesus!

7. Aria

Soul
I swiftly end
my earthly life,

I long at this time
to depart with joy.
My Saviour,
I die with the greatest longing;
here is my soul,
what dost Thou give me?

8. Chorale

Comply, my beloved,
with my wishes, and believe

that I shall be your close friend
forever,
who shall delight you

and bring you to heaven
from out of your tortured body.

 



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