All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society
Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde
The violin of Pisendel?
Extraordinary virtuosity in a cantata from 1724.
During his first year as cantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Bach wrote relatively simple violin parts in his cantatas. This changed drastically on 2 February 1724, the feast of Candlemas. The cantata Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde opens with a triumphant alto aria, in which Bach opts for a strikingly rich orchestral setting. Besides the string ensemble, there are two oboes, two horns and a solo violin that has to cope with an extremely active part. Which violinist could have played this demanding music? The Dutch musicologist Pieter Dirksen investigated this question and put forward the hypothesis that it could have been Johann Georg Pisendel (1687-1755). Dirksen’s view is supported by violinist Shunske Sato, who says, “It’s a gut feeling, a bit like recognising a good pasta sauce”. For the greater part of his life, Pisendel worked as Kapellmeister at the court of Dresden, and his virtuoso violin playing was the musical pride of Germany.
The opening aria sounds almost like an instrumental sinfonia with an added singing voice. If you imagine it without the alto, it becomes a ‘Brandenburg’ concerto. In his later cantatas for Candlemas, such as Ich habe genung, BWV 82, Bach adopted a milder tone. Rather than focusing on the purification of the Virgin Mary, the gospel of the day talked about the presentation of Jesus in the temple and old Simeon, who was ready to die after holding the blessed child in his arms (Luke 2). The Lutheran congregation liked to identify with this willingness to die.
In the third aria, Eile, Herz, voll Freudigkeit, for tenor, the solo violin plays a prominent role again, with racing passage work that illustrates the words in great detail. Here, the strings form the accompaniment and the wind instruments are silent. The solo violin plays a version of the first violin part ornamented with skipping triplets. Or in other words, the first violins play just the main notes of the solo violin (each first note of the triplet).
The intervening bass aria is quite unusual in Bach’s oeuvre. The soloist sings verses of the Song of Simeon, switching to a recitative in between. The accompaniment is for strings in unison and basso continuo. The cantata closes with a short recitative and a chorale.
location and organ
This recording was made in the Walloon Church in the heart of Amsterdam. Not only does the church have good acoustics, but it is also a place of pilgrimage for organists due to its Müller organ from 1739.
Organist Leo van Doeselaar: “This is one of the finest small Baroque organs in the Netherlands. Gustav Leonhardt was the organist at the Walloon Church from 1959 to 1982. He had the organ restored to its original state as early as the 1960’s. It’s a real pioneer’s organ”. For this performance, we are actually using this ‘great’ organ. A box organ is an anachronism, which was never used in Bach’s day.
“In Bach’s church music, the great church organ always played the continuo parts. In principle, it had the same soft registration as a box organ, but the much wider scaled pipes of the church organ form a more important component of the timbre of a Baroque ensemble. For chorales and choirs of the Baroque period, stronger registers were used and the bass line was played on the pedal, with a 16-foot double-bass register. The fact that it was never done like this before is actually one of the unintentional falsifications of the historical sound approach”, says organist Leo van Doeselaar.
- Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde
- Lyricist unknown, final chorale from Martin Luther’s Mit Fried und Freud (1524)
- First performance
- 2 February 1724
- Special Notes
- Violin part written for star violinist Pisendel?
Cast & Crew
|release date||2 February 2018|
|recording date||21 January 2017|
|LOCATION||Walloon Church, Amsterdam|
|conductor and violin||Shunske Sato|
|ripieno soprano||Marjon Strijk|
|violin 1||Sayuri Yamagata, Lidewij van der Voort|
|violin 2||Annelies van der Vegt, Paulien Kostense, Anneke van Haaften|
|viola||Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis|
|cello||Lucia Swarts, Ruth Verona|
|double bass||Robert Franenberg|
|oboe||Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg|
|Horn||Anneke Scott, Jocelyn Lightfoot|
|organ||Leo van Doeselaar|
|Director and editor||Bas Wielenga|
|Music recording||Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee|
|Music edit and mix||Guido Tichelman|
|Camera||Merijn Vrieling, Martin Struijf, Chris Reichgelt, Thijs Struick|
|Camera trainee||Klazina Westra|
|Lighting assistant||Henry Rodgers, Teun Pulles|
|assistant director||Ferenc Soeteman|
|Video engineer||Vincent Nugteren|
|video engineer trainee||Jildert Hof|
|Set technique||Justin Mutsaers|
|Data handling||Jesper Blok|
|Projectmanager NEP||Peter Ribbens|
|Interview||Onno van Ameijde|
|Producer concert||Imke Deters|
|producer film||Jessie Verbrugh|
1. Arie (Alt)
Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde,
da unser Glaube Jesum hält.
Wie freudig wird zur letzten Stunde
das Grab bestellt!
2. Arie (Bass)
Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener
in Friede fahren,
wie du gesaget hast.
Was uns als Menschen
ist uns ein Eingang zu dem Leben.
Es ist der Tod ein Ende
dieser Zeit und Not,
ein Pfand, so uns der Herr gegeben
dass er's herzlich meint
und uns will nach vollbrachtem Ringen
zum Frieden bringen.
Und weil der Heiland nun
der Augen Trost,
der Herzen Labsal ist,
was Wunder, dass ein Herz
der Todesfrucht vergisst!
Es kann erfreut den Ausspruch tun:
denn meine Augen haben
deinen Heiland gesehen,
welchen du bereitet hast
vor allen Völkern.
3. Arie (Tenor)
Eile, Herz, voll Freudigkeit
vor den Gnadenstuhl zu treten.
Du sollst deinen Trost empfangen
und Barmherzigkeit erlangen,
ja, bei kummervoller Zeit,
stark am Geiste, kräftig beten.
4. Rezitativ (Alt)
Ja, merkt dein Glaube
noch viel Finsternis,
dein Heiland kann der Zweifel
ja, wenn des Grabes Nacht
die letzte Stunde schrecklich macht,
so wirst du doch gewiss
sein helles Licht
im Tode selbst erkennen.
Er ist das Heil und selig Licht
für die Heiden,
zu erleuchten die dich kennen nicht,
und zu weiden.
Er ist deins Volks Israel
der Preis, Ehr, Freud und Wonne.
Martin Luther, 1524
Joyous time of the new order,
when our faith keeps Jesus in our midst.
How joyfully at the final hour
will the place of rest, the grave,
Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant
depart in peace,
according to Thy word.
What seems dire
to us mortals
gives us an entrance into life.
this time of woe to an end,
a pledge the Lord has given us,
as a token that He means well
and will lead us, when the fight is over,
And since the Saviour
now is the eyes’ comfort,
the heart’s refreshment,
small wonder that a heart
forgets the fear of death!
With joy it can say:
For my eyes have seen
which Thou hast prepared
before the face
of all people.
Hasten, heart, full of joy
before the throne of grace!
You must receive your comfort
and obtain mercy,
yea, in times of need,
pray with vigour, strong in spirit.
Yea, though your faith
still sees much darkness,
your Saviour can scatter
the shadows of doubt;
yea, when the grave’s night
fills the final hour with dread,
then you shall
His radiant light in death.
He is the salvation and the blessèd light
for the gentiles,
to illumine those who know Thee not,
and to nurture them.
He is the praise, glory, joy and rapture
of Thy people Israel.