Cycle »Weimar Cantatas«

The Weimar court chapel where Johann Sebastian Bach worked for nearly a decade was called »Weg zur Himmelsburg« – »Way to the Fortress of Heaven«. This name is to be regarded not just as symbolic, but as a concrete reference to the extraordinary architecture of the edifice: the tiny church rose up through three storeys to a height of nearly 30 metres and was crowned by a dome painted with a sky of clouds. The organist and musicians were placed on the uppermost gallery, their music seeming to come down from heaven to the pews beneath.


Die Weimarer Schlosskapelle


After six years as an organist in the »fortress of heaven«, Bach was promoted to the position of concertmaster, specially created for him, in 1714. The duties of his new post included the obligation to compose a sacred cantata once a month for the ducal church service. What until then had been a matter of sporadic composition of sacred vocal music now became a regular challenge for Bach, who took it up with ardour and outstanding results. Some 20 cantatas from his Weimar period have survived, most of them to texts by the court poet there, Salomon Franck. The works demonstrate fascinating stylistic variety, ranging from the intimate solo cantata to sumptuous music for festive occasions. Bach makes effective use of the very different instrumental timbres, adapting traditional forms of instrumental music, such as overtures or chaconnes, and transforming the given texts into moving pieces of church music with imagination and effect.

Bach must have been very fond of his Weimar cantatas even later: when he was Thomaskantor in Leipzig, many of them took their place again on his music lectern. Reason enough for us to put on all the Weimar cantatas in a five-part concert cycle for the Bach Festival – all with different performance practices and complemented by the first Passion that Bach ever performed: the St. Mark Passion »di Signore Keiser«.

Friday, June 21 | 5.00 pm | St. Mark Passion | No 113
Paulinum – Aula und Universitätskirche St. Pauli

Keiser (Reinhard oder Gottfried): Markus-Passion (aus der Notenbibliothek von J. S. Bach) · L. Busbetzky: Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott · J. S. Bach: Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn, BWV 132
Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor – Evangelist), Hannah Morrison (soprano), Leandro Marziotte (countertenor), Martin Petzold (tenor), Matthias Vieweg (bass), Ricercar Consort, direction: Philippe Pierlot


Friday, June 21 | 8.00 pm | Weimar Cantatas I | No 118

J. S. Bach: Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret, BWV 31 · Erschallet, ihr Lieder, BWV 172 · Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21
Dorothee Mields (soprano), Susanne Langner (alto), Wolfram Lattke (tenor), Andreas Wolf (bass), Thomanerchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, direction: Thomaskantor Gotthold Schwarz


Saturday, June 22 | 3.00 pm | Weimar Cantatas II | No 134
Weißenfels, Schlosskapelle in Neu Augustusburg

J. S. Bach: Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199 · Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange, BWV 155 · Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe, BWV 185 · Ach! ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe, BWV 162 · O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad, BWV 165
Hannah Morrison (soprano), Leandro Marziotte (countertenor), Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor), Matthias Vieweg (bass), Ricercar Consort, direction: Philippe Pierlot


Saturday, June 22 | 8.00 pm | Weimar Cantatas III | No 144

J. S. Bach: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61 · Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!, BWV 70a · Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147a · Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63
Katharina Konradi (soprano), Ingeborg Danz (alto), Patrick Grahl (tenor), Roderick Williams (bass), RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, direction: Rinaldo Alessandrini


Sunday, June 23 | 3.00 pm | Weimar Cantatas IV | No 155

J. S. Bach: Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, BWV 182 · Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt, BWV 18 · Komm, du süße Todesstunde, BWV 161 · Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12
Soloists, Vox Luminis, direction: Lionel Meunier