Secular Cantatas 3
Although two of the works on this disc were composed for weddings, they are completely different in character. Weichet nur, betrubte Schatten is a charming and gracious garland of recitatives and arias for soprano solo in which Spring, Flora, Apollo and Amor are all invoked in a blessing of the newly wedded couple and their union. The Quodlibet (Latin for 'what pleases') on the other hand, is an altogether unceremonious composition which was probably intended for a private function in Bach's own circle or family. All we have is a fragment of the work - in Bach's own hand - and the beginning and ending of the piece, including the title page, are missing. It is therefore not even certain that it is Bach's own work, but may have been a collaboration between several of the wedding guests. Compositions of this kind belong to a tradition which combines quotations from songs, toasts, market traders' calls, proverbs and puns, and were especially popular at weddings - where they frequently got out of hand! The third disc in Bach Collegium Japan's series of secular cantatas also includes a birthday cantata composed in the honour of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Kethen, Bach's employer during years 1717-23. Durchlauchtster Leopold ('Most illustrious Leopold') celebrates the 'propitious day' while extolling the ruler's 'excellent attributes' and 'princely renown'. Two duets in minuet form lend the work the character of a courtly serenade, which didn't stop Bach from reusing it, with a new text, as a church cantata a few years later. The name of the recipient of Schwingt freudig euch empor, another congratulatory cantata, is no longer known, but the text tells US that he was a teacher of high standing and of an advanced age. Once again Bach, who must have been attached to the work, reused it as a church cantata, but also, with the new title Steigt freudig in die Luft, as a birthday tribute to Charlotte Friederike of Anhalt-Kethen, the wife of Prince Leopold.