111_Chapter 29 BWV 56.doc - Chapter 29 BWV 56 Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen I will happily bear the cross staff A cantata for solo bass

111_Chapter 29 BWV 56.doc - Chapter 29 BWV 56 Ich will den...

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Chapter 29 BWV 56 Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen I will happily bear the cross staff. A cantata for solo bass. Aria--recit--aria--recit--chorale. For the nineteenth Sunday after Trinity. Of the three extant cantatas composed for this day, C56 is the smallest in scale. Being a solo work, it might be seen as having more in common with the three alto cantatas of this cycle, Cs 170, 35 and 169. It has a similar structure to C 170 except that it ends, as does C 169, with a conventional four-part chorale. Notions of the burdens of sin particularly underpin the first two cantatas written for this Sunday. C 48 from the first cycle opens with a chorus that includes a trumpet declaration of the chorale melody, clearly a precursor to the fantasias of the second cycle. The movement is a powerful depiction of the wretched being, steeped in sin and seeming not to know how to redeem himself. C 5 (from cycle 2) begins with a much more tempestuous movement, a fantasia which depicts the aggressive panic of the burdened sinner not knowing where to turn. A comparative study of these two choruses demonstrates Bach’s ability to breathe new life into virtually identical textual themes, constantly revealing different perspectives. Again he calls upon the trumpet to declaim the chorale melody (now doubling the sopranos) suggesting that he may have looked back over the score of the earlier work written for this same day. C 56 is less concerned with sin itself and more with the journey that must be made from this life on earth and, through death, into the next. Despite the lure of salvation, stress and sorrow remain to make our lives terrifying, and the thought of death itself is no less horrific. Images and metaphors of challenging treks and voyages abound but the decisive message underpinning the entire cantata, unlike that of the earlier two works, is ‘I am prepared for all that must ensue’. All three cantatas are couched in first person terms but C 56 is the most personal and also the most positive. It is the definitive statement of the shriven Christian, prepared to face and conquer all challenges en route to a salvation along the path to which God himself has shown the way. It is, therefore, doubly appropriate that this deeply personal work was conceived for a single voice and furthermore that of the bass, heavily symbolic of weight and influence. This is an uplifting message which needs to be delivered with strength and conviction.
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