Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 8, "Liebster Gott, wann werd ich sterben," BWV 8 (BC A137a) (first version)

    Description by James Leonard

    Composed for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, which fell on April 2, 1725, Bach's Cantata No. 8 "Liebster Gott, wann werd ich sterben" (Dearest God, when shall I die) (BWV 8) sets the five-verse hymn by Caspar Neumann, for which the unknown writer retained the first and last verses of the hymn for the outer movements of the cantata and paraphrased the hymn for the central movements. The text dwells on thoughts of inevitable death and just punishment for the wicked, but holds out the hope for redemption through the intercession of Jesus. The cantata is scored for tenor, alto, bass and soprano soloists, chorus, a transverse flute, a pair of oboe d'amore, strings, basso continuo, and a solo trumpet doubling the sopranos in the outer movements. The cantata is in E major with its first and sixth movements in the tonic, its second, third and fifth movement C sharp minor, and its fourth movement in A major. The first movement opens with a wonderfully evocative orchestral introduction for dueting oboes d'amore, a tolling transverse flute above gently plucked strings. The orchestra continues to dominate the texture even after the chorus has entered with brief statements of the first verse of Neumann's poem. The second movement is a duet in the form of a trio sonata between an oboe d'amore and the tenor soloist above a pizzicato continuo. The third movement is a mournful accompanied recitative for alto soloist. The fourth movement is a sprightly dance for solo transverse flute and strings with a manful bass soloists plus continuo. The fifth movement is a withdrawn Secco recitative for solo soprano. "Liebster Gott, wann werd ich sterben" closes with a magnificent setting of the last lines of Neumann's hymn performed by the entire chorus and orchestra.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?
    2. Was willst du dich, mein Geist, entsetzen
    3. Zwar fuhlt mein schwaches Herz Furcht
    4. Doch weichet, ihr tollen, vergeblichen Sorgen!
    5. Behalte nur, o Welt, das Meine!
    6. Herrscher über Tor und Leben

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16010
    2016 BIS BIS 9055
    2014 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 13054
    2014 L'Oiseau-Lyre / Decca 4786753
    2013 Archiv Produktion 002894791045AB55
    2011 Warner Classics 671962
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2008 Teldec 69943-7
    2007 Apex
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Challenge Records 72212
    2006 Teldec Classics 8573810145
    2005 Soli Deo Gloria 104
    2004 BIS 1351
    2003 Apex 7498042
    2002 Erato 85842
    2001 Haenssler 92561
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Haenssler 92003
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 2951659
    1999 Teldec 3984-25706-2
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 2908091/95
    1998 Harmonia Mundi 901659
    1997 L'Oiseau-Lyre 455706
    1996 Haenssler 98813
    1994 Archiv Produktion 439 368-2AX26
    1994 Archiv Produktion 439387
    1994 Teldec 4509-91755-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91765-2
    Brilliant 99703/30
    Brilliant Classics 99703
    Brilliant Classics 93102-VOL3
    Koch International Classics 7163
    American Bach Soloists
    Haenssler
    Teldec