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This aria has a somewhat care-worn feeling of inevitability. Bach omits the oboes, probably for the same reasons of colour for which he excluded the soprano. The solemn mood is reinforced by the muted first violins and the pizzicato of the other strings. The melodic sequences repeat themselves continually in a downward direction see bars where the initial motive is repeated three times successively on a lower note of the scale.

This process becomes a significant feature of the aria. The movement is in a major key signifying, perhaps, that Bach did not intend a sense of total dejection; sad, worn and weary, yes, but never tragic. In fact it is the only major mode movement in the whole cantata although all three notes which distinguish minor from major in this case b flat, a flat and e flat are used to colour the melody and consequently the harmony , even within the first four bars. Thus do the minor colourings, the melodic shapes, the instrumentation and the harmonic progressions all combine to cast shadows over any misconstrued suggestions of elation or exultation.

JS Bach - Cantatas BWV 33, 17 & 99

The duet effects a complete contrast of mood. The minor key returns, a playful, almost exultant dance with no feeling of dejection about it—-Oh God of love, encompass my soul and assist me.


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The instrumental accompaniment to the two voices is laid out in the form of a trio sonata, two oboes and continuo with a persistent rhythmic message. The addition of the two voices enriches the contrapuntal texture at times to five melodic lines, although the dance-like characteristic is never threatened. In several chapters in these volumes the reader may find further examples of Bach apparently seeking stimulation by looking over scores previously written for the same days of the church year.

At this point in the second cycle, one finds Bach experimenting with specific compositional approaches within cognate groups of cantatas; we have already observed him trying out various ways of combining recitative, arioso, and chorale. He also seems to have become very interested in the expressive possibilities of the duet. In Cs and he produced exquisite duos and one of the most delicate is to be heard in C 78, and yet another in C In these latter examples he used the higher voices of soprano and alto.

In C 33 however, and in keeping with the somewhat somber tone of the work, it is the turn of the lower tenor and bass, albeit lightened by the imitative cackling of the oboes. The vocal writing is of particular interest because it demonstrates yet again how Bach takes a textual idea and reflects it within the very fabric of his musical structure and textures. The verse begins with the individual solicitation—-light infuse my soul. It then moves to consideration of the neighbour whom one should cherish, a passing hint of the Gospel of the day, the Good Samaritan.

About 'Church Cantatas - BWV 33 Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ '

Thus does the text move from emphasis on the individual to that of the group or community. Bach takes this as his fundamental cue for the musical construction of the duet. All but one of the vocal sections begin with the two voices moving together in parallel thirds or sixths, seemingly acting as one. But as the phrases develop they become increasingly complex, taking up the semi-quaver movement and canonic entries of the oboes.

Thus we perceive the moving of focus from the i ndividua l to the wider community reflected in the configuration of the vocal lines and their increasingly intricate relationships. This is the musical representation of ideas and images at its most subtle and delicate level, an example of truly great art. Did Bach expect his congregation to be perspicacious enough to have noticed it? Or was it simply intended for God? The vocal lines twist and turn, finally dissolving into a series of expressive pleas on the last words—-send me aid!

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He returns to the traditional pattern of a fluid and expressive melody supported by a slow-moving continuo line and the harmonic structure supplied by the organ. The first, for bass voice, holds few surprises and displays nothing in the way of structural experimentation. Two contrasting emotions are thus highlighted and emphasised a few bars apart, one by harmonic and the other by melodic means.


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The second recitative, for tenor, asks God not to reject the sinner, despite the offences against His laws. There is little to set it apart from any number of equally workmanlike Bachian recitatives. It does the job dutifully but without displaying any particular uniqueness. We are left to consider the last and first movements where, as with all the chorale cantatas, the one generates the structure, scale and character of the other.

This is a long chorale comprising, when the repeated first section is taken into consideration, nine phrases. Christ is our only comforter and it is in Him that we should place our trust. There is a theme of alienation and isolation here and the unwary might be led to expect a chorus of the type which opens C ; a portrait of infinite sadness and exclusion amongst the trials and tribulations of this sin-begotten world.

Partly arising from his unfailing optimism and natural tendency to accentuate the positive and partly because of his ability constantly to wrong-foot us in our preconceptions, this is far from our expectation. Bach presumably selected the lower voices all solos are taken by the bass and tenor with the exception of the crucial alto aria because he felt that the darker vocal colourings were more appropriate. At first glance this might seem surprising, particularly bearing in mind the extrovert energy of the opening chorus.

His vision was always far-reaching and all-encompassing.

As a consequence, answers to these sorts of questions are usually to be found by viewing works as a whole rather than by pinpointing specific moments. It can last the best part of ten minutes in performance, a very long time, even in the Baroque age of experimentation with extended movements. The text describes the faltering and fearful paces towards Jesus, a stepping image that Bach seldom ignores. It continues to describe the weight of sin which, nevertheless, the word of Jesus expiates. We immediately recognise the continuous treading image depicted in the pizzicato bass.

Above it the yearning violin and vocal lines express the sadness of sin and the expiation of it. Thus we are touched by a group of contrasting images all within the one, albeit extensive, movement; just the sort of challenge Bach responds to in the most imaginative of ways. This aria has a somewhat care-worn feeling of inevitability. Bach omits the oboes, probably for the same reasons of colour for which he excluded the soprano. The solemn mood is reinforced by the muted first violins and the pizzicato of the other strings. The melodic sequences repeat themselves continually in a downward direction see bars where the initial motive is repeated three times successively on a lower note of the scale.

This process becomes a significant feature of the aria.


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The movement is in a major key signifying, perhaps, that Bach did not intend a sense of total dejection; sad, worn and weary, yes, but never tragic. In fact it is the only major mode movement in the whole cantata although all three notes which distinguish minor from major in this case b flat, a flat and e flat are used to colour the melody and consequently the harmony , even within the first four bars.

Thus do the minor colourings, the melodic shapes, the instrumentation and the harmonic progressions all combine to cast shadows over any misconstrued suggestions of elation or exultation. The duet effects a complete contrast of mood. The minor key returns, a playful, almost exultant dance with no feeling of dejection about it—-Oh God of love, encompass my soul and assist me.

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Allein Zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ (BWV 33) by Johann Sebastian Bach | Waterstones

The instrumental accompaniment to the two voices is laid out in the form of a trio sonata, two oboes and continuo with a persistent rhythmic message. The addition of the two voices enriches the contrapuntal texture at times to five melodic lines, although the dance-like characteristic is never threatened. In several chapters in these volumes the reader may find further examples of Bach apparently seeking stimulation by looking over scores previously written for the same days of the church year. At this point in the second cycle, one finds Bach experimenting with specific compositional approaches within cognate groups of cantatas; we have already observed him trying out various ways of combining recitative, arioso, and chorale.

He also seems to have become very interested in the expressive possibilities of the duet. In Cs and he produced exquisite duos and one of the most delicate is to be heard in C 78, and yet another in C In these latter examples he used the higher voices of soprano and alto. In C 33 however, and in keeping with the somewhat somber tone of the work, it is the turn of the lower tenor and bass, albeit lightened by the imitative cackling of the oboes. The vocal writing is of particular interest because it demonstrates yet again how Bach takes a textual idea and reflects it within the very fabric of his musical structure and textures.

The verse begins with the individual solicitation—-light infuse my soul. It then moves to consideration of the neighbour whom one should cherish, a passing hint of the Gospel of the day, the Good Samaritan. Thus does the text move from emphasis on the individual to that of the group or community.

Chapter 13 Bwv 33

Bach takes this as his fundamental cue for the musical construction of the duet. All but one of the vocal sections begin with the two voices moving together in parallel thirds or sixths, seemingly acting as one. But as the phrases develop they become increasingly complex, taking up the semi-quaver movement and canonic entries of the oboes. Thus we perceive the moving of focus from the i ndividua l to the wider community reflected in the configuration of the vocal lines and their increasingly intricate relationships.

This is the musical representation of ideas and images at its most subtle and delicate level, an example of truly great art. Did Bach expect his congregation to be perspicacious enough to have noticed it? Or was it simply intended for God? The vocal lines twist and turn, finally dissolving into a series of expressive pleas on the last words—-send me aid! He returns to the traditional pattern of a fluid and expressive melody supported by a slow-moving continuo line and the harmonic structure supplied by the organ.