Cantata BWV 127: Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott (11 February 1725)
1. Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott (Chorus) 2. Wenn alles sich zur letzten Zeit entsetze (Recitative: T) 05:15 3. Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen (Aria: S) 06:25 4. Wenn einstens die Posaunen schallen (Recitative: B) 13:51 5. Ach, Herr, vergib all unsre Schuld (Chorale) 17:41
Soloists: Soprano: Dorothee Mields Tenor: Jan Kobow Bass: Peter Kooy
Performed by Collegium Vocale Gent under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe. Recorded by Harmonia Mundi in 2007.
"The cantata 'Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott' (BWV 127) belongs to the second cycle (Jahrgang) of Leipzig cantatas, the so-called 'chorale cantata' cycle (1724/5), which Bach - as in his other Leipzig Jahrgänge - chose to commence not on the first Sunday of Advent, as the liturgical calendar dictates, but with the first Sunday after Trinity. For no apparent reason, he broke off this ambitious project towards the three-quarter mark, at Quinquagesima (11 February 1725). The cantata BWV 127 is therefore at once the highpoint and the conclusion of the second cycle. Bach emphasised this exceptional position in musical terms. The monumental opening chorus once again recapitulates all the ingenious compositional devices of chorale arrangement in programmatic fashion, and takes the complexity thus achieved one stage further. The chorale melody sung in long note-values - here a funeral hymn written by Paul Ebner in 1562, which was used in Leipzig at the time as a Passion chorale - is a component of a four-part vocal setting in motet style, which is itself embedded in an independent instrumental texture for large forces. In addition to this, first the strings, then later the recorders and oboes play as a second cantus firmus the German Agnus Dei (Christe, du Lamm Gottes), the text of which the informed listener is expected to supply mentally. After a short recitative comes a particular gem, the extensive aria 'Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen', in which soprano voice and oboe, accompanied by staccato chords from the two recorders, engage in a moving elegiac dialogue. In the second part of the aria, the strings enter with pizzicato figures at the keyword 'Sterbeglocken' (funeral bells). In the ensuing movement, halfway between recitative and aria, Bach contrives a dramatic depiction of the Day of Judgment. The sound of the last trump (in German 'Posaunen', that is trombones) evoked by the bass soloist is portrayed in the fanfares of the trumpet which joins the strings here. The cantata ends with a chorale setting, extremely colourful in its harmonies but otherwise straightforward." - Peter Wollny (trans. Charles Johnston)