BWV 51 "Jauchzet Gott"
solo cantata written for the 15th Sunday after Trinity,
and presumably used for other joyful occasions, as Bach writes "et
In ogni Tempo" (for any occasion) as the subheading. This was
likely written in 1730 and first performed on September 17 of that
year. This is one of only 12 cantatas which require only solo voice,
and one of only nine which do not have at least an SATB ensemble,
let alone a full choir.
work is scored for solo soprano and solo trumpet accompanied by
strings, a common Italian scoring, used by composers such as Alessandro
Scarlatti and Alessandro Stradella, among others. It is set in five
trumpet, strings, continuo
major [implies F, am, em, G]
slow to moderate [Andante is marked in the middle]
minor [implies C, em, Fm, dm]
[2 clear sections, neither repeated]
minor [implies C, dm, G, em, F]
2 solo violins, continuo
moderate to fast
major [implies G, dm, em, am, F]
trumpet, strings continuo
major [implies G, dm, am, F]
is quite a showcase and a workout for the soprano, who
carry most of the melodic material in all five movements (fortunately,
the violins and trumpets occasionally spell a rest for her);
have a light, flexible voice for the quick, virtuosic passagework,
especially in the final movement;
have a large range, covering two octaves (middle C to two octaves
above that); and
add vocal ornamentation in the two da capo arias
(movement 1 and the dal segno aria, movement 3), which would be
expected in Baroque performance practice.
of this, this cantata is well-suited for concert, rather than church,
performance. In fact, one wonders how Bach was able to pull this
work off in his day; a boy soprano would have had to work awfully
hard to compete with the trumpet part -- even thinking of the softer
trumpets of Bach’s day (women didn't sing in church in Bach's day)
-- and the high C would have been out of reach of many. Simon Heighes
thinks that Christoph Nichelmann (1717-1762), a particularly gifted
singer who came to the Thomasschule the same year this cantata was
written, may have been the singer, though clearly a professional-quality
performer is needed. Another possibility was the castrato Giovanni
Bindi, who Bach may have heard in nearby Dresden. The difficult
trumpet writing was probably intended for Bach’s friend Gottfried
Reiche, as were many of Bach’s trumpet parts.
text of the second movement is based on Psalms 138 and 26. This
is not the kind of recitative we’re used to hearing, as it is a
fully accompanied recitative with a very melodic vocal part, what
we would characterize really as an arioso.
Look at some of the complicated melismatic writing here:
the melisma on the word "schwacher" (faltering) and "lallen"
(stammer). Also see the chromatic, twisted passage to conclude the movement.
Is this indicative of the final sentence of the text?
Muß gleich der schwache Mund
Von seinen Wundern lallen,
So kann ein schlechtes Lob
Ihm dennoch wohlgefallen.
Although the mouths are feeble
Which stammer about His wonders,
Even such poor praise
Can be pleasing to Him.
this our continuing babbling? Wandering, attempting to articulate what
we cannot? Yet, by reaching a traditional cadence, we realize that this
effort alone is still pleasing to God? Hear
third movement is a dal segno aria,
similar to the da
capo aria in that it is an ABA form, but instead of returning to
the very opening, the singer returns to the sign, which looks in the
score like an S with a slash through it, plus two dots.
This movement provides stark contrast to the opening aria, which was
joyful, boisterous, jubilant, and strongly in C major. This movement
is more gentle, contemplative, and almost prayful, and set in a minor.
The cantata closes with a chorale, which was common of course among
Bach’s works, but unusually this concludes with a chorale fantasy, rather
than with a traditional 4-part arrangement. The orchestra weaves a complicated
texture while the singer presents the chorale tune in long notes, with
occasional ornaments as the cadence nears. Listen...
2003 Carol Traupman-Carr