Cuando Johann Sebastian Bach dedicó sus "Conciertos de Brandenburgo" al Markgraf Christian-Ludwig, los etiquetó como "pequeños talentos" que le regalaron los cielos. Bajo el título "pequeños regalos", Dorothee Oberlinger y Andreas Scholl, dos artistas destacados de la escena de la música antigua, junto con Ensemble 1700 presentan un programa exclusivo Bach con una selección de obras vocales e instrumentales que da una impresión viva de la retórica musical de Bach.

Andreas Scholl | Countertenor // Dorothee Oberlinger | Flauta y dirección // Dimitry Sinkovsky | Solo Violin.

Ensemble 1700
Wolfgang Gaisböck, Trompeta // Alfredo Bernardini, Oboe Barroco // Lorenzo Cavasanti, 2nd Recorder // Dmitry Sinkovski, Concert Master & Solo Violín // Christian Voss, Violín // Liana Mosca, Violín // Evgeny Sviridov, Violín // Jonas Zschenderlein, Violín // Adrian Bleyer, Violín // Manuel Hofer, Viola // Marco Testori, Cello Barroco // Riccardo Coelati Rama, Contrabajo // Axel Wolf, Lute // Olga Watts, Harsichord /  Organ

Imagen de Dorothhe Oberlinger y Andreas Scholl

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

Cantata BWV 81 (1724): "Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen"

Aria: "Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen"
for contralto, 2 recorders, strings and basso continuo

Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major BWV 1049 (1720)
for 2 recorders, solo violin, strings and basso continuo

Solo Cantata BWV 170 (1726): "Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust"

Aria: "Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust"
for contralto, oboe d’amore, organ, strings and basso continuo

Recitativo: "Die Welt, das Sündenhaus"
for contralto, oboe d’amore, strings and basso continuo

Aria: "Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen" 
for contralto and basso continuo

Recitativo: "Wer sollte sich demnach wohl hier zu leben wünschen"
for contralto, organ, violins and viola

Aria: "Mir ekelt mehr zu leben"
for contralto, organ, recorder, oboe d’amore, strings and basso continuo

Concerto for fourth flute, strings and basso continuo after the harpsichord concerto in F minor BWV 1056 (1738)
for fourth flute, strings and basso continuo

Cantata BWV 182 (1714): "Himmelskönig, sei willkommen"
Sonata Concerto
for recorder, solo violin, 2 violas and basso continuo

Aria: "Leget euch dem Heiland unter"
for contralto, recorder and basso continuo

Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major BWV 1047 (1720)
Allegro assai
for trumpet, recorder, oboe, solo violin, strings and basso continuo

Cantata BWV 119 (1723): "Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn"

Aria: "Die Obrigkeit ist Gottes Gabe"
for contralto, 2 recorders and basso continuo

Cantata BWV 147 (1723) : "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben"

Choral: "Jesus bleibet meine Freude"
for contralto, trumpet, 2 recorders, oboe, strings and basso continuo

Booklet Text (Dorothee Oberlinger):

“Small talents” for alto and recorder

Works by Johann Sebastian Bach for contralto and flauto dolce or recorder provide the bedrock of the present recording as well as constituting the element that links together the choice of works that are featured here. The Second and Fourth Brandenburg Concertos – named on their title-page as “Six Concerts Avec plusieurs Instruments” and described in their dedication as the product of their composer’s “small talents that Heaven has given me for Music” – form a framework for a selection of arias and chorales from Bach’s sacred cantatas.

Our programme opens with an aria from Cantata BWV 81, Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen?, for the fourth Sunday after Epiphany. The cantata dates from Bach’s first year in Leipzig and was first performed on 30 January 1724. Its imagery is derived from the appointed Gospel reading for the day, Matthew 8:23–27, which tells how Jesus calms a great tempest. While He is asleep, the boat on which He is sailing with His disciples is beset by a storm. He is woken by His anxious followers and, chastising them for their lack of faith, calms the storm. The words and music take as their starting point the fear of Jesus’s disciples in the face of the tempest on the one hand and their fear of their sleeping Lord on the other. “Jesus is asleep: what hope is there for me? / Can I not already see / With ashen countenance / Death’s abyss lying open?”

The Brandenburg Concertos were dedicated to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg (1677–1734) in 1721. The margrave was a younger stepbrother of King Frederick I of Prussia. The Second and Fourth Concertos were probably the last to be written and are believed to have been composed in Cöthen around 1720. The Second, BWV 1047, is scored for string ensemble and, by way of contrast, a group of four concertante instruments: trumpet, oboe, recorder and violin. It is assumed that there was an earlier version of this concerto with the same solo instruments and continuo but without the accompanying ripieno strings. The Andante is a dialogue between violin, oboe and recorder over an ostinato-like continuo. In terms of its sonority, this Andante differs from the two outer movements by virtue of the fact that the trumpet is silent, whereas the trumpet writing in the outer movements places great demands on the soloist.

In the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto BWV 1049 the string orchestra and solo violin are contrasted with two solo recorders, which Bach describes – unusually – as fiauti d’echo. The bright key of G major produces an open sound and, to quote Johann Mattheson, is “quite brilliant and suited to both serious and to cheerful things”. Bach often uses recorders in pairs and in unison, a use also dictated by questions of volume. In turn this requires two recorder players who are well attuned to one another.

The meaning of the term fiauti d’echo in the middle movement of the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto – a sarabande with gently flowing sigh-like figures that recalls the sort of sommeil scene pioneered by Lully – has yet to be adequately explained. Many recordings use replicas of double flutes modelled on 18th-century instruments. With their varying dynamics, these are able to create an echo effect. It is possible that the effect that Bach wanted to achieve was borrowed from the Echo division of an organ, allowing a quieter registration to sound on a second manual. This produces a difference in timbre underscored by placing the source of the sound some distance apart. The differences in volume are also grounded in the work itself, considerable dynamic gradations being achieved through the interplay between solo episode – with two recorders and violin – and tutti. Many commentators have also suggested that the recorders in this movement illustrate the rivalry between Pan and Apollo, who in turn is symbolized by the violin.

Both concertos are in three movements and, as such, are typical of Baroque concerto form. The outer movements are both in their respective tonic, with the first movement markedly longer than the last, while the middle movement is in the relative minor by way of contrast. Another feature that the two concertos have in common is that the final movement is a fugato or a fugue interspersed by extended solo episodes. In this way fugue form is combined with ritornello form, a form typical of Baroque instrumental concertos and based on the alternation of an orchestral ritornello and contrasting solo episodes. Another typical feature of Bach’s instrumental concertos – and it is one that sets them apart from Bach’s Italian models such as Corelli and Vivaldi – is the gradual obfuscation of the difference between solo episodes and ritornellos, a process that is clearly audible. Bach is fond of adding further instruments to the reduced scoring of the episodes, which are dominated by the solo instruments, and of allowing the musical argument to grow increasingly dense until in the end the whole orchestra is involved.

During his years in Leipzig Bach reworked his Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, resulting in his Harpsichord Concerto BWV 1057. The work was transposed to F major and the original solo violin replaced by a solo harpsichord. The new version was made for the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, a body of professional and amateur musicians that met weekly to give concerts together in public and that Telemann had founded in 1701. Bach took over its running in 1729.

Bach’s concertos for one or more harpsichords were likewise prepared for his Collegium Musicum. For the purposes of the present recording, the work has been arranged for a soprano recorder in B flat, enabling us to retain the original key of F minor. Very few of these concertos are original compositions by Bach but are based on earlier works scored for very different solo instruments. In the case of the outer movements of the Harpsichord Concerto in F minor BWV 1056, it is believed that the original was a lost violin concerto in G minor, while the middle movement is thought to be based on a lost concerto for oboe d’amore. The beginning of this movement recalls the slow beginning of an older Flute Concerto in G major TWV 51:G2 by Telemann on which Bach may have drawn for inspiration. This Largo is also largely identical to the instrumental introduction to Bach’s Cantata 156, Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe, of 1729.

The solo cantata BWV 170 Vergnügte Ruh, was written for the sixth Sunday after Trinity and was first performed in Leipzig on 28 July 1726. The words are by the Darmstadt court librarian and poet Georg Christian Lehms (1684–1717), who provided the words for several other cantatas by Bach, including Cantata 13, Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen. Here he laments our sinful earthly lives and the aberrations of perverted hearts and expresses the hope that we may finally find peace when united with God. Framed by ritornellos, the pastoral opening aria is in a gently gleaming D major, whereas the second aria (“Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen, / Die dir, mein Gott, so sehr zuwider sein”: “How I yet pity those perverted hearts / That have so offended you, my God”) lacks a continuo part, an omission all the more surprising in that Bach himself is reported to have described the continuo as “the most perfect foundation of music” and insisted that without it “there is no true music, rather, a devilish bawling and droning”. But in this way Bach creates a symbolic link between the instrumentation of the aria and the textual message of the cantata as a whole, man’s turning his back on God as the foundation of all life being lamented as devilish in lines such as “The world, that house of sin, / Breaks only into songs of Hell”. For the present recording the obbligato two-part organ part has been replaced by two recorders. The final aria, “Mir ekelt mehr zu leben” (“It sickens me to live any longer”), hymns our decision to turn our backs on a life of sin on earth. The words “mir ekelt” are illustrated onomatopoeically by a strikingly dissonant tritone. The present recording uses Bach’s later version of the cantata, a flute replacing the earlier version’s organ as the solo instrument.

The Palm Sunday Cantata BWV 182, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, dates from Bach’s years in Weimar and was first performed in the castle chapel there on 25 March 1714. It is one of Bach’s earliest church cantatas and was written in the context of his appointment as Konzertmeister in March 1714, an appointment that required him to write a new cantata every month. In terms of both its text and its music (note the dotted figures imitating a trotting gait) the work takes as its starting point Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on an ass, an entry symbolically equated with the entry of Christ into the hearts of the faithful. The instrumental opening movement was initially headed “Sonata” and is a five-part trio for solo recorder, solo violin and strings.

As so often with Bach, the aria “Legt euch dem Heiland unter” (“Submit to your Saviour”) is set out along the lines of a trio for voice, solo recorder and continuo. According to Johann Joachim Quantz, the key of E minor expresses “the sentiments of love, tenderness, flattery and melancholy”. The descending line of the aria’s melody imitates the gesture of submission and is supported by a pulsating continuo. In the present recording the end of the opening movement is repeated after the aria as a kind of petite reprise, or foreshortened repeat.

Cantata BWV 119, Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn, was written for the inauguration of the newly installed Leipzig town council and was first performed in the city’s Nikolaikirche on 30 August 1723 only months after Bach had taken up his new post as Thomaskantor. Central to the work is the aria “Die Obrigkeit ist Gottes Gabe” (“Authority is the gift of God”). It is the only one of the cantata’s nine movements that is in a minor key. Here, too, we are dealing with a typical trio movement in which the vocal line, the second voice – played by two unison recorders and notable for its striking staccato markings – and the continuo represent three independent lines. Opinions are divided over the question of whether the staccato markings imply a note of subtle mockery against the background of the lines “Authority is God’s gift, / Indeed, the very likeness of God”.

The well-known final choral “Jesus bleibet meine Freude” (“Jesus remains my joy”) from Cantata BWV 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, is a setting of the seventeenth verse from Martin Jahn’s chorale Jesu meiner Seele Wonne. With its triplet string accompaniment it is one of Bach’s most popular compositions. Famous the world over, it has frequently been arranged and reworked, even in the form of pop versions.

Fuente: Nota de prensa de Nicola Oberlinger