Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen

BWV 043 // for Ascension

(God goeth up with shouting) for soprano, alto, tenor and bass, vocal ensemble, oboe I+II, trumpet I-III, timpani, strings and basso continuo

J.S. Bach-Stiftung Kantate BWV 43

Video

Listen and see the introductory workshop, the concert and the reflection lecture in full length.

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Workshop
Reflection lecture
Bonus material

Audio

The sound recording of this work can be found on all common streaming and download platforms.

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Performers

Choir

Soprano
Larissa Bretscher, Linda Loosli, Simone Schwark, Susanne Seitter, Anna Walker, Mirjam Wernli-Berli

Alto
Antonia Frey, Stefan Kahle, Lea Pfister-Scherer, Damaris Rickhaus, Lisa Weiss

Tenor
Manuel Gerber, Raphael Höhn, Nicolas Savoy, Walter Siegel

Bass
Fabrice Hayoz, Simón Millán, Valentin Parli, Daniel Pérez, Philippe Rayot

Orchestra

Conductor
Rudolf Lutz

Violin
Eva Borhi, Lenka Torgersen, Peter Barczi, Christine Baumann, Petra Melicharek, Dorothee Mühleisen, Ildikó Sajgó

Viola
Martina Bischof, Matthias Jäggi, Sarah Mühlethaler

Violoncello
Maya Amrein, Daniel Rosin

Violone
Markus Bernhard

Trumpet
Lukasz Gothszalk, Nicolas Isabelle, Alexander Samawicz

Timpani
Laurent de Ceuninck

Oboe
Philipp Wagner, Ingo Müller

Bassoon
Susann Landert

Harpsichord
Dirk Börner

Organ
Nicola Cumer

Musical director & conductor

Rudolf Lutz

Workshop

Participants
Rudolf Lutz, Pfr. Niklaus Peter

Reflection lecture

Speaker
Christoph Drescher

Recording & editing

Recording date
24/05/2019

Recording location
Trogen AR (Schweiz) // Evangelische Kirche

Sound engineer
Stefan Ritzenthaler, Nikolaus Matthes

Director
Meinrad Keel

Production manager
Johannes Widmer

Production
GALLUS MEDIA AG, Switzerland

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

On the work

Librettist

First performance
30 May 1726, Leipzig

Text
Psalm 47:6–7 (movement 1); Mark 16:19 (movement 4); Johann Rist (movement 11); anonymous (Herzog Ernst Ludwig von Sachsen-Meiningen; movements 2, 3, 5–10)

In-depth analysis

First performed for Ascension Day in 1726, cantata BWV 43 is associated with a Thuringian-Saxon network of relationships that links Bach’s cantatas from that year to texts from Meiningen as well as to compositions by his cousin Johann Ludwig Bach, who was a resident of that city. Indeed, both composers employed verses that had been printed in numerous editions after 1704 and that were most likely penned by Prince Ernst Ludwig of Meiningen; movements five to ten of this cantata are based on such works. In the first half of 1726, Johann Sebastian furthermore alternated between performing his own works and sacred compositions by Johann Ludwig. These cantatas typically employ two Bible dictums, one each from the Old and New Testament.

The two-part introductory chorus opens with an adagio introduction that, in its stylistic similarity to the overture from the C Major Suite BWV 1066, captures the moment of stillness and calm preceding Christ’s ascension. At the transition to the brisk allabreve section, the first trumpet opens with an impressive fanfare over the resounding string passages, after which the tutti instrumentalists and choir enter with block-like calls and melismatic coloraturas illustrating the word “Jauchzen” (jubilation). This compact musicmaking flows into a powerful chorus on the words “Lobsinget Gott!” (Sing praise to God!) ere the freely polyphonic orchestral gala draws to a thrilling, clamorous finish.

The tenor recitative features what is termed an “aufmerksame Seele” (attentive soul), who, in awestruck contemplation of the heavenly host accompanying Christ’s ascension, rhapsodises with rhetorical questions in praise of God. The ensuing aria, in swift 38 metre, opens with a fleet-footed semiquaver figure for two unison violins over a light, swinging continuo accompaniment that sets the scene for the entry of the soloist, whose compact melody is based on the key notes of the cascading string figure. In this efficient movement, the music’s dramatic focus is less the crowd of “thousands on thousands” (from Psalm 68) who accompany the victorious king, than the earth-shattering pace of the Ascension.

The following gospel passage from Mark 16:19 is presented in a short and unpretentious soprano recitative, ere the aria, a surprisingly elegiac E minor setting accompanied by oboes and strings, gives expression to the parting sorrow of those left behind. Considering the bell-like clarity of the boys’ voices in Bach’s St Thomas choir, this no doubt made for a highly poignant moment that paved the way for the sermon.

The second part of the cantata opens with a contemplation of the heroic triumph of Christ, who is here addressed as the “hero of heroes” in a resonant recitative conceived for a powerful bass voice and agile string accompaniment. In the following bass aria, the trumpet responds with a highly exposed obbligato that is at once heroic and cantabile in style. (It is perhaps no coincidence that this exceedingly difficult part was transferred to the violin for a later performance; we have included the charming alternative arrangement as a bonus track on this CD, together with its preceding recitative.) In this industrious aria-trio setting, the tone is characterised by the wearisome “treading of the winepress” – its combined notion of crucifixion, resurrection and ascension audibly demands superhuman strength. The da capo of the aria, by contrast, is limited to the opening ritornello; it is possible that Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who at the Cologne musical festival of 1838 performed BWV 43 as the centrepiece of an ascensionpasticcio of Bach’s music, was inspired to make similar abridgements in his arrangement of the master’s St Matthew Passion.

Entrusted to the alto, the final recitative and aria pairing is introspective in style. For its part, the recitative reveals the auspicious message that because Christ as the first of the resurrected faithful wears the crown of life, the pious still confined to an earthly existence can look up to him in confidence. This atmosphere of blissful anticipation is embodied in the aria by a pair of oboes, whose gentle melodic figures help incorporate in a consoling whole both the edgy bass part and a text that, at least in part, calls for wrathful destruction of the enemy and dwells on the woes of earthly privation. After the closing soprano recitative, which evokes the promise of a final dwelling place with God and thus transforms all sorrowful parting into liberated gratitude, the two-verse closing chorus unifies the message of the Feast of the Ascension with archaic simplicity. While it is uncertain whether Bach intended the use of brass instruments in this movement, their inclusion in our recording transforms the closing section into a climactic celebration of a liturgical theatre designed for a faithful congregation.

Text of the work and musical-theological comments

1. Chor

Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen
und der Herr mit heller Posaunen.
Lobsinget, lobsinget Gott,
lobsinget, lobsinget unserm Könige.

2. Rezitativ — Tenor

Es will der Höchste sich ein Siegsgepräng bereiten,
da die Gefängnisse er selbst gefangen führt.
Wer jauchzt ihm zu?
Wer ists, der die Posaunen rührt?
Wer gehet ihm zur Seiten?
Ist es nicht Gottes Heer,
das seines Namens Ehr,
Heil, Preis, Reich, Kraft und Macht
mit lauter Stimme singet
und ihm nun ewiglich ein Halleluja bringet.

3. Arie — Tenor

Ja tausend mal tausend begleiten den Wagen,
dem König der Kön’ge lobsingend zu sagen,
daß Erde und Himmel sich unter ihm schmiegt
und was er bezwungen, nun gänzlich erliegt.

4. Rezitativ — Sopran

Und der Herr, nachdem er mit ihnen
geredet hatte, ward er aufgehaben gen
Himmel, und sitzet zur rechten Hand
Gottes.

5. Arie — Sopran

Mein Jesus hat nunmehr
das Heilandwerk vollendet
und nimmt die Wiederkehr
zu dem, der ihn gesendet.
Er schließt der Erde Lauf,
ihr Himmel, öffnet euch, und nehmt ihn
wieder auf!

6. Rezitativ — Bass

Es kommt der Helden Held,
des Satans Fürst und Schrecken,
der selbst den Tod gefällt,
getilgt der Sünden Flecken,
zerstreut der Feinde Hauf;
ihr Kräfte, eilt herbei und holt den Sieger auf.

7. Arie — Bass

Er ists, der ganz allein
die Kelter hat getreten
voll Schmerzen, Qual und Pein,
Verlorne zu erretten
durch einen teuren Kauf.
Ihr Thronen, mühet euch
und setzt ihm Kränze auf!

8. Rezitativ — Alt

Der Vater hat ihm ja
ein ewig Reich bestimmet:
Nun ist die Stunde nah,
da er die Krone nimmet
vor tausend Ungemach.
Ich stehe hier am Weg
und schau ihm freudig nach.

9. Arie — Alt

Ich sehe schon im Geist,
wie er zu Gottes Rechten
auf seine Feinde schmeißt,
zu helfen seinen Knechten
aus Jammer, Not und Schmach.
Ich stehe hier am Weg
und schau ihm sehnlich nach.

10. Rezitativ — Sopran

Er will mir neben sich
die Wohnung zubereiten,
damit ich ewiglich
ihm stehe an der Seiten,
befreit von Weh und Ach!
Ich stehe hier am Weg,
und ruf ihm dankbar nach.

11. Choral

Du Lebensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ,
der du bist aufgenommen
gen Himmel, da dein Vater ist
und die Gemein der Frommen,
wie soll ich deinen großen Sieg,
den du durch einen schweren Krieg
erworben hast, recht preisen
und dir gnug Ehr erweisen?

Zieh uns dir nach, so laufen wir,
gib uns des Glaubens Flügel!
Hilf, daß wir fliehen weit von hier
auf Israelis Hügel!
Mein Gott! wenn fahr ich doch dahin,
woselbst ich ewig fröhlich bin?
Wenn werd ich vor dir stehen,
dein Angesicht zu sehen?

Bibliographical references

All cantata texts were taken 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 introductory texts to the works including the texts " in-depth analysis" as well as the " musical-theological comments" were written by Anselm Hartinger and Rev. Niklaus Peter as well as Rev. Karl Graf (translations by Alice Noger) upon consideration of the following references:  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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