Jesu meine Freude
BachWerkVokal/Gordon Safari (MDG)
Jesu meine Freude
Cantata and motet settings by JS Bach, Doles, JL Krebs and Telemann
MDG MDG9232207 (CD/SACD) 65:35 mins
Here are welcome incursions to music which, in all but one instance, will be unfamiliar to readers. Johann Franck’s poem, Jesu meine Freude provides the basis of this programme. Telemann set the poem on five occasions, the cantata recorded here, dating from 1715, being the second. The three arias of this strikingly original work are effectively contrasted: the first a bravura piece for bass, the second a lyrical soprano number and the third, again for bass, imaginatively evoking funeral bells with pizzicato double bass.
Johann Friedrich Doles was a Bach pupil who later became Thomaskantor. His motet leans towards the sensitive style of Bach’s older sons, though the influence of his teacher is also evident, as in the motivic string figurations of the concluding section.
Johann Ludwig Krebs was another Bach pupil, who was enrolled at the Leipzig Thomasschule between 1726 and 1735. He was highly thought of by his teacher both as versatile performer and able composer. His cantata is stylistically the most forward-looking work here and melodically is of considerable appeal. The funeral bells of the soprano aria positively resound with good cheer, as does the concluding chorale verse of Philip Nicolai’s joyful hymn ‘Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’.
Bach’s well known motet Jesu, meine Freude crowns the programme. Luminous vocal textures are sustained here and throughout by an eight-voice ensemble from which the two sopranos and the first bass make outstanding solo contributions. The instrumental group of strings, woodwind and continuo provides lively partnership, setting the seal on a praiseworthy endeavour, stylishly directed by Gordon Safari.