Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 57, "Selig ist der Mann," BWV 57 (BC A14)

    Description by James Leonard

    Composed for the Second Day of Christmas in 1725, Bach's Cantata No. 57 "Selig ist der Mann" (Blessed is the Man) (BWV 57) sets a cantata poem by Georg Christian Lehms. Lehms' 1711 poem is structured as a dialogue between the soul and Jesus, which Bach sets with the soul as a soprano ("my distress and pain would torture me forever, a feeble wounded worm writhing in its own juices") and Jesus as a bass ("Afflicted soul, leave off they sorrow, the sun will brightly shine tomorrow, the clouds of woe will roll away"). The cantata is scored for a dour orchestra of two oboes, taille, strings, and basso continuo, plus chorus in the final chorale. "Selig ist der Mann" starts in G minor, but ends in the relative major of B flat major with its first, second, and seventh movements in the tonic and its third, fourth, fifth, and eighth movements in the relative major of B flat major. The brief sixth movement starts in B flat major and ends on the dominant of G minor, the tonality of its seventh movement. The first movement is a triple-time aria for the bass soloists, with the strings doubled by oboes in an imitative counterpoint above a flowing basso continuo. The second movement is a terrified secco recitative for soprano soloist and continuo. The third is a triple-time aria for soprano soloist and strings continuo. The fourth is very brief secco recitative for both soloists and continuo. The fifth is a joyful triple-time Vivace aria for bass soloist, strings, and continuo. The sixth is a second secco recitative for both soloists and continuo. The seventh movement is a vivid triple-time Allegro aria in the form of a trio sonata for the soprano soloist and solo violin over a staccato continuo. "Selig ist der Mann" concludes with a simple chorale harmonization for chorus and full orchestra colla parte.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Selig ist der Mann
    2. Ach! dieser süsse Trost erquickt auch mir mein Herz
    3. Ich wünschte mir den Tod
    4. Ich reiche dir die Hand
    5. Ja, ja, ich kann die Feinde schlagen
    6. In meinen Schoss liegt Ruh' und Leben
    7. Ich ende behende mein irdisches Leben
    8. Richte dich, Liebste, nach meinem Gefallen und gläube

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Brilliant Classics 95853
    2018 Harmonia Mundi HMM 902368DI
    2018 Harmonia Mundi HMM 902368
    2017 CPO 5550682
    2016 BIS BIS 9055
    2016 Oehms Classics OC 1815
    2015 J.S. Bach-Stiftung A 997CD
    2014 Brilliant Classics 94947BR
    2012 SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) / Soli Deo Gloria SDG 718
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2011 Accent ACC 25314
    2011 Warner Classics 671365
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2009 BIS 1761
    2008 Teldec 69943-7
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 0010052
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon
    2006 Soli Deo Gloria 127
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Teldec Classics 8573811975
    2006 Warner Classics 381197
    2005 Challenge Records 72217
    2005 Berlin Classics 0032912BC
    2004 Erato 4614012
    2003 Leipzig 1800
    2003 Harmonia Mundi 2908135/39
    2002 Harmonia Mundi 908119
    2001 Haenssler 92561
    1999 Teldec 25705
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Haenssler 92018
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 2951594
    1999 Teldec 3984-25707-2
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 901594
    1994 Teldec 4509-91757-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91765-2
    Brilliant 99703/8
    Brilliant Classics 99703
    Brilliant Classics 93102/54
    Brilliant 99705/33
    Brilliant Classics 99705
    Brilliant Classics 93102-VOL3
    Edel Records 1801
    Harmonia Mundi 2981594
    Accord 202652
    Haenssler
    Haenssler 98825