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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten (United discords of quivering strings)

Cantata BWV 207, BC G 37

  • Installation of Gottlieb Kortte as Professor of Jurisprudence at Leipzig, 1726
  • Editions: BG 20.2; NBA I/38
  • Rating: 1

Apart from the recitatives, BWV 207 provides a straight parody model, movement for movement, for  BWV 207. So, a celebration of the inaugural lecture of a professor of law is recycled as a homage to the elector of Saxony upon his name day and panegyric is replaced with obsequiousness. The curious thing is that there are many more recordings available of BWV 207a than of BWV 207. Neither libretto would win a prize but that for the good professor is surely the least bad!

The cantata opens in familiar fashion with a spectacular chorus. In this case it's more familiar than usual, since Bach adapted the third movement of the first Brandenburg concerto, BWV 1046 (or possibly an earlier common model), to serve here. It's a brilliantly succesful adaptation that helps to remind us that many of the wonderful choruses in the cantatas may very well have originated in concertos, now lost to us. A recitative praising the youthful vigour of the professor leads to the first aria, for tenor, introduced by a catchy figure from the orchestra. Despite some very attractive ideas, the connective material is less interesting and one is left with the impression that more could have been made of this. Another recitative leads into a duet between the bass and the soprano, in which hard work and industry is applauded, to a simple accompaniment from the continuo section. Thirty four bars of very attractive orchestral ritornello (a la Brandenburg, again) provide an interlude. The alto then has his (or her) chance in a movement whose instrumental ritornello is drawn again from the first Brandenburg concerto, and very nice it is too. A final recitative leads in to the closing chorus, fully orchestrated and most splendid.

Included with the material of this cantata is a very splendid march that deserves to be much better known. It's not clear whether the march belongs here or with twin brother BWV 207a. If performed with this cantata, it seems to make sense to stick it on the front.

Poor old Kortte, although installed as professor at twenty-eight, did not live long to enjoy his position, dying five years later.

Copyright © 1999, Simon Crouch.