Ein ungefärbt Gemüte

BWV 024 // For the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

(An undisguised intention) for alto, tenor and bass, vocal ensemble, oboe I+II, oboe díamore I+II, trumpet, strings and basso contiuno

Although cantata BWV 24, “An undisguised intention”, was first performed on 20 June 1723 in Leipzig, it is related in tone to Bach’s Weimar cantatas, perhaps to provide stylistic unity with cantata BWV 185, “O heart filled with mercy and love everlasting”, which was reperformed in the same church service. The libretto by Erdmann Neumeister, which rebukes and woos by turn, sets the stage for an unmistakably moralising cantata that was well suited to performance in the vice-ridden commercial cities of Leipzig and Hamburg.

J.S. Bach-Stiftung Kantate BWV 24

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Workshop
Reflective lecture

«Lutzogram» for the introductory workshop

Rudolf Lutz’s manuscript for the workshop
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Audio

The sound recording of this work is available on several streaming and download platforms.

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Performers

Choir

Soprano
Lia Andres, Mirjam Wernli Berli, Olivia Fündeling, Noëmi Sohn Nad, Alexa Vogel, Anna Walker

Alto
Jan Börner, Antonia Frey, Liliana Lafranchi, Damaris Rickhaus, Lea Scherer

Tenor
Marcel Fässler, Manuel Gerber, Sören Richter, Nicolas Savoy

Bass
Fabrice Hayoz, Valentin Parli, Daniel Pérez, Retus Pfister, William Wood

Orchestra

Conductor & cembalo
Rudolf Lutz

Violin
Renate Steinmann, Monika Baer, Yuko Ishikawa, Elisabeth Kohler, Olivia Schenkel, Anita Zeller

Viola
Susanna Hefti, Martina Zimmermann, Matthias Jäggi

Violoncello
Martin Zeller, Bettina Messerschmidt

Violone
Guisella Massa

Oboe
Kerstin Kramp

Oboe d’amore
Ingo Müller

Bassoon
Susann Landert

Tromba da tirarsi
Patrick Henrichs

Organ
Nicola Cumer

Harpsichord
Thomas Leininger

Musical director & conductor

Rudolf Lutz

Workshop

Participants
Karl Graf, Rudolf Lutz

Reflective lecture

Speaker

Aleida Assmann

Recording & editing

Recording date
17.06.2016

Recording location
Trogen AR (Schweiz) // Evangelische Kirche

Sound engineer
Stefan Ritzenthaler

Director
Meinrad Keel

Production manager
Johannes Widmer

Production
GALLUS MEDIA AG, Switzerland

Producer
J.S. Bach Foundation of St. Gallen, Switzerland

About the work

Librettist

Text No. 1, 2, 4, 5
Erdmann Neumeister, 1717

Text No. 3
Matthew 7:12

Text No. 6
Johann Heermann, 1630

First performance
Fourth Sunday after Trinity,
20 June 1723

In-depth analysis

The introductory aria is unusually catchy in nature, with the alto soloist accompanied by a continuo part that alternates between leisurely strides and sprightly movements. The repeated notes of the unison strings, too, could be interpreted as a currish gait or a sneering stance – but they may equally stand for the natural wholesomeness of a simple citizen of Thüringen, who, with his “faith and kindness”, reveals a certain charm “before God and man” and even dares choose a contested direction on “life’s compass”. Indeed, this unsophisticated but kind-hearted fellow may be a self-portrait of Bach himself. Yet the “undisguised” motive also calls to mind the noble simplicity of idealised ancestors, as found, for example, in Telemann, whose “Ouvertüre des Nations anciennes et modernes” was seemingly a bespoke composition for the ancient Germanic peoples. Such a character topos captures the stereotype of German selfperception in early modern times – an identity based on a clear disassociation from the fickleness of a foreign Pope and the menial fawning at the Spanish-Habsburg imperial court.
The tenor recitative then raises the moral discourse to a firm level. In this setting, the rare virtue of “sincerity” is distinguished as one of “God’s most gracious blessings”, which is then countered with a pessimistic understanding of humanity – God alone can preserve us from our “evil contrivance”. This leads into an arioso conclusion, expressed with the full grace of virtue, that declaims the golden rule: “Upon thyself impress the form, Which thou wouldst have thy neighbour own”. The tutti chorus then reinforces this message with a Bible verse from Matthew 7:12, finally employing the fullensemble sound of choir and orchestra, and adding a solo trumpet. With this double setting of the text, Bach returns to a successful approach from his first Leipzig cantatas, which often comprised a paired setting of a concertante prelude and a vocal fugue that successively increased in voicing (vocal solos + instruments + vocal ripieno). This chorus, which resembles a collective self-admonishment, thus acts as a postponed “opening movement” of the cantata; the complexity of the successive entries evokes the difficulty of truly seeing conflicts through the eyes of others.
Set to an accompagnato of hammer-like blows, the bass recitative attacks the devilish vice of hypocrisy, before taking falseness to task. In quasi buffoonish twists and turns, the music unmasks the “monsters” disguised as angels as well as the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. The arioso conclusion “May God above protect me now from this” thus approaches a hypocritical theatricality that recalls a caricature of a sanctimonious pulpiteer.
This mood is countered in the tenor aria by a hermetic world of “trust and truth” that nonetheless radiates warmth through the mellow timbre of the oboes d’amore. Here, the listener can retreat from the vice-ridden marketplace into a cosy room – perhaps one where grace is being said over a meagre, but lovingly prepared meal. While the imitative entries suggest followers of Christ, the motive of jolting, downward leaps plays on the difficulty of living a life of virtue. Ultimately, the aria imparts that only the unity of word and deed can make us “God and angels like”; the setting’s use of through-composed form rather than dacapo form is an apt reflection of this message.
Surprisingly, the chorale prayer “O God, thou righteous God” is not set in simple fourpart harmony, but instead features rich orchestration and instrumental episodes that, particularly through the low repeated notes of the trumpet part, recall the opening movement – indeed, Bach treats this chorale with an opulence and tenderness that is almost prescient of Mendelssohn. In this setting, the inner joy of a magnanimous spirit is revealed, while the interspersed sighs suggest the difficulty of abiding by Neumeister’s injunctions to his flock. The dense melodic progression that Bach assigns to the “uncorrupted” soul evokes a group of pilgrims huddled together in prayer against a storm; the chorale then closes with an extended phrase of rapturous tenderness. We can only speculate on whether the merchants and guild masters of Leipzig ultimately settled their bill of exchange to the Kingdom of Heaven – Bach and Neumeister, for their part, did all they could to honour such debts, and in doing so reached beyond the ancient Germanic tribes to all Christian people.

Libretto

1. Arie (Alt)

Ein ungefärbt Gemüte
an teutscher Treu und Güte
macht uns vor Gott und Menschen schön.
Der Christen Tun und Handel,
ihr ganzer Lebenswandel
soll auf dergleichem Fuße stehn.

2. Rezitativ (Tenor)

Die Redlichkeit
ist eine von den Gottesgaben.
Dass sie bei unsrer Zeit
so wenig Menschen haben,
das macht, sie bitten Gott nicht drum.
Denn von Natur geht unsers Herzens Dichten
mit lauter Bösem um;
soll’s seinen Weg auf etwas Gutes richten,
so muss es Gott durch seinen Geist regieren
und auf die Bahn der Tugend führen.
Verlangst du Gott zum Freunde,
so mache dir den Nächsten nicht zum Feinde
durch Falschheit, Trug und List.
Ein Christ
soll sich der Tauben Art bestreben
und ohne falsche Tücke leben.
Mach aus dir selbst ein solches Bild,
wie du den Nächsten haben willt.

3. Chor

Alles nun, das ihr wollet,
dass euch die Leute tun sollen,
das tut ihr ihnen.

4. Rezitativ (Bass)

Die Heuchelei
ist eine Brut, die Belial gehecket;
wer sich in ihre Larve stecket,
der trägt des Teufels Liberei.
Wie? lassen sich denn Christen
dergleichen auch gelüsten?
Gott sei’s geklagt! die Redlichkeit ist teuer.
Manch teuflisch Ungeheuer
sieht wie ein Engel aus:
Man kehrt den Wolf hinein,
den Schafspelz kehrt man raus.
Wie könnt es ärger sein?
Verleumden, Schmähn und Richten,
Verdammen und Vernichten
ist überall gemein.
So geht es dort, so geht es hier.
Der liebe Gott behüte mich dafür!

5. Arie (Tenor)

Treu und Wahrheit sei der Grund
aller deiner Sinnen;
wie von aussen Wort und Mund,
sei das Herz von innen.
Gütig sein und tugendreich,
macht uns Gott und Engeln gleich.

6. Choral

O Gott, du frommer Gott,
du Brunnquell aller Gaben,
ohn den nichts ist, was ist,
von dem wir alles haben,
gesunden Leib gib mir,
und dass in solchem Leib
ein unverletzte Seel
und rein Gewissen bleib.

Bibliographical references

All libretti sourced from Neue Bach-Ausgabe. Johann Sebastian Bach. Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, published by the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen and the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, Series I (Cantatas), vol. 1–41, Kassel and Leipzig, 1954–2000.
All in-depth analyses by Anselm Hartinger (English translations/editing by Alice Noger-Gradon/Mary Carozza) based on the following sources:  Hans-Joachim Schulze, Die Bach-Kantaten. Einführungen zu sämtlichen Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs, Leipzig, 2nd edition, 2007; Alfred Dürr, Johann Sebastian Bach. Die Kantaten, Kassel, 9th edition, 2009, and Martin Petzoldt, Bach-Kommentar. Die geistlichen Kantaten, Stuttgart, vol. 1, 2nd edition, 2005 and vol. 2, 1st edition, 2007.

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