Cantata BWV 63
2010, August 18
JS Bach Cantata BWV 63: Christen, ätzet diesen Tag
(Christians, engrave this day)
Christmas day December 25 1714
Scoring: Four trumpets, timpani, three oboes, bassoon, violin I,II, viola, violone, organo
Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass
Bärenreiter vol 1; p 151
Reading: Epistle Titus 2:11-14
Reading: Gospel Luke 2:1-14
Conductor: Philip Pickett
Soprano: Catherine Bott
Countertenor: Christopher Robson
Tenor: Paul Agnew, Andrew King
Bass: Michael George
Orchestra/Ensemble: New London Consort
L'oiseau Lyre 452920
Review and notes here.
Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe
Soprano: Carolyn Sampson
Alto: Ingeborg Danz
Tenor: Mark Padmore
Bass: Sebastian Noack
Orchestra/Ensemble: Ghent Collegium Vocale
Harmonia Mundi 901781/82
Review and notes here
Dürr p 91-93
Whittaker vol 1 p 705
C.S. Terry vol 2 p 255
Robin A. Leaver in Boyd's Oxford Companion p 95
Green p 141
An unusual cantata in that there are no arias, no chorales, no scripture references, and four trumpets are employed in the choruses. In a very small package this is wonderful music with duets, obbligato oboe parts, a choral concerto and remarkably melodic recitatives. Green states that the instrumental parts are quite challenging and require expert players, especially in the outer movements. Whittaker minutely describes the development of the music.
1 Christen, ätzet diesen Tag: exuberant celebratory opening chorus
Trumpets and timpani play during the instrumental interludes, the choir acts together as a concerto instrument.
Guaranteed to wake up a sleepy congregation.
2 O selger Tag! o ungemeines Heute: alto recitative
Rather quiet, the alto sings of the blessings of the Savior's birth.
3 Gott, du hast es wohl gefüget: soprano bass duet with oboe
Green: exposed and intricate oboe solo. Dürr: this oboe part was transferred to organ for a later performance; he considers both alternatives should be available to contemporary performers. This is a very intense duet, two voices and an obbligato oboe.
4 So kehret sich nun heut: tenor recitative
Short, starts as a dry recitative, then Whittaker states that it develops into an arioso. Personally, it seems to me a straight recitative.
5 Ruft und fleht den Himmel an: tenor alto duet
The blend of canonical device, straightforward tunes and the circling movement provides a delightful picture of the happy condition of believers swinging and swaying in a dance of unbounded joy. - Whittaker p 708
6 Verdoppelt euch demnach, ihr heißen: bass recitativ
Emphatic, marked for eight parts: three oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo contribute seven independent lines (Whittaker p 706). To me the instrumental parts sound more like block chords.
7 Höchster, schau in Gnaden an: final chorus
Back with the trumpets and timpani
Green compares the orchestration of the opening and final choruses to the Brandenburg concerti; trumpets and timpani alternate with the choir making the impression of a concerto stronger, particularly in the opening chorus.
Parts two, three and four are my favorites, part two so personal, part three truly a trio with two voices and the oboe and part four with such a persuasive tenor.
Emmanuel Notes BWV 63.
Emmanuel Translation BWV 63.
Discussion from Bach Cantatas Website.
Recordingsfrom Bach Cantatas Website.
Classical.net discussion, Simon Crouch.
London Bach Society Database entry BWV 63