This is by Bach. You’ll some­times hear it spo­ken of as “Cantata no. 131” but that’s mis­lead­ing, be­cause it’s among the first  —  maybe the first  —  of his can­tatas. The 131 is its en­try in the “BWV” works-of-Bach num­ber­ing sys­tem. It doesn’t ac­tu­al­ly have a name, but the text is from the 130th Psalm in Ger­man and be­gins Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Her­r, zu dir “Out of the depths I cal­l, Lord, to you”. It’s exquisite. As I write this, it’s 310 years old.

A mere twelve years ago, I blogged about this work and about can­tatas in gen­er­al; how they came to be and why there are so many of them. If you want to know more, go read that.

BWV 131

BWV 131 has five move­ments; I like all of them, but the mid­dle move­ments, two through four, are where the re­al gold is. Two is ba­si­cal­ly a two-part piece for bass soloist against the so­pra­no sec­tion, with a bit of oboe and cel­lo. Three has the choir sec­tions singing against each oth­er, as smooth as silk and as com­plex as spi­der silk. Four is a tenor and a cel­lo danc­ing in front of a back­ing vo­cal sec­tion. There was a time, in the first half of the sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry, where if you went to church in the right place in cen­tral Ger­many you’d get fresh mu­sic by J.S. Bach ev­ery week.

My fa­vorite record­ing is this one fea­tur­ing Bel­gian mu­si­cians led by Her­reweghe; the soloists are great but the pro­duc­tion lets the awe­some back­ing vo­cal­s, most­ly end­less as­cend­ing or de­scend­ing lines, be heard clear­ly. That Ama­zon link doesn’t have a stream­ing ver­sion of the per­for­mance, but you can find it here.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist.

  1. Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Her­r, zu dir: Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy.

  2. So du will­st, Her­r, Sünde zurech­nen: Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy.

  3. Ich harre des Her­rn, meine Seele har­ret: Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy.

  4. Meine Seele wartet auf den Her­rn von ein­er Mor­genwache: Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy.

  5. Is­rael hoffe auf den Her­rn; denn bei dem Her­rn: Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy.

As for live video, if you want some­thing in­ti­mate, with cool orig­i­nal in­stru­ments and even a The­o­r­bo (wow!), and great cam­er­a­work here you go. But this take led by Ton Koop­man, with a larg­er en­sem­ble, seems to have more feel­ing and touch­es me more deeply, ex­cept for the tenor so­lo in move­ment 4, which is clear­ly bet­ter in the first video. Here’s an­oth­er YouTube of the same per­for­mance, with a lousy pic­ture and on­ly the first move­men­t, but with a cou­ple of min­utes of eru­dite and af­fec­tion­ate com­men­tary from Koop­man, which I en­joyed lis­ten­ing to.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Takashi Shitamichi (May 12 2018, at 03:35)

Then, you'll refer to BWV 147, I believe.


From: David Magda (May 12 2018, at 05:04)


Your first link ("great cam­er­a­work") is actually a 'rip-off' from the All of Back project (who host their stuff on Vimeo):


Their goal:

<blockquote>Every Friday, you will find a new recording here of one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society and many guest musicians.</blockquote>

Some other excellent recordings:




From: Bram (May 12 2018, at 09:48)

I’m confused, J S Bach died in 1750.

How can the piece be 210 yrs old?


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