1 CD - 442 779-2 - (p) 1995


Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) SCHWEIGT STILLE, PLAUDERT NICHT, BWV 211 - Coffee Cantata

25' 51"

Text: Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander)

- Recitativo (Tenor): "Schweight stille, plaudert nicht"
0' 34"

- Aria (Bass): "Hat man nicht mit seinen Kindern"
2' 57"

- Recitativo (Bass, Soprano): "Du böses kind, du loses Mädchen"
0' 40"

- Aria (Soprano): "Ei! Wie schmeckt der Coffee suße"
4' 32"

- Recitativo (Bass, Soprano): "Wenn du mir nicht den Coffee läßs"
1' 02"

- Aria (Bass): "Mädchen, die von harten Sinnen" 2' 52"

- Recitativo (Bass, Soprano): "Nun folge, was dein Vater spricht" 0' 50"

- Aria (Soprano): "Heute noch, lieber Vater, tut es doch" 6' 42"

- Recitativo (Tenor): "Nun geht und sucht der alte Schlendrian" 0' 47"

- Choir (Terzett: Soprano, Tenor, Bass): "Die Katze läßt das Mausen nicht"
4' 55"

LAßT UND SORGEN, LAßT UNS WACHEN, BWV 213 - Hercules auf dem Scheide-Weg
48' 00"

Text: Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander)

- Choir (Ratschluß der Götter): "Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen"
5' 52"

- Recitativo (Alto): "Und wo? Wo ist die rechte Bahn"
0' 40"


- Aria (Soprano): "Schlafe, mein Liebster" 9' 42"

- Recitativo (Soprano, Tenor): "Auf! folge meiner Bahn" 1' 16"

- Aria (Alto): "Treues Echo" 5' 19"

- Recitativo (Tenor): "Mein hoffnungsvoller Held!" 0' 52"

- Aria (Tenor): "Auf meinen Flügeln sollst du schweben" 5' 28"

- Recitativo (Tenor): "Die weiche Wollust locket zwar" 0' 37"

- Aria (Alto): "Ich will dich nicht hören" 4' 26"

- Recitativo (Alto, Tenor): "Geliebte Tugend" 0' 43"

- Aria (Duett: Alto, Tenor): "Ich bin deine" 8' 24"

- Recitativo (Bass): "Schaut, Götter, dieses ist ein Bild" 1' 08"

- Choir and Arioso (Choir of the Muses, Bass): "Lust der Völker" 3' 14"

Barbara Bonney, Soprano (Lieschen; Wollust)
Ralf Popken
, Alto (Herkules)
Christoph Prégardien
, Tenor (Erzähler; Tugend)
David Wilson-Johnson
, Bass (Schlendrian; Merkur)
Richard Wynn Roberts
, Countertenor (Echo in BWV 213)
Elizabeth Wallfisch
, VLeader, firs violin
Jan Schlapp
, Viola (BWV 213)
Annette Iserius
, Viola (BWV 213)
Lisa Beznosiuk
, Flute (BWV 211)
Anthony Robson
, Oboe and Oboe d'amore (BWV 213)
Richard Earle
, Oboe (BWV 213)
Susan Sheppard
, Cello
John Toll
, Harpsichord

, Direction


Luogo e data di registrazione
Henry Wood-Hall, London (England) - Gennaio 1994

Registrazione: live / studio

Artist and reppertoire production

Stef Collignon

Recording producer
Hein Dekker

Balance engineer

Ko Witteveen

Recording engineer

Frans van Dongen

Tape editor

Gosia Jankowska


Stidio R + M

Prima Edizione LP

Edizione CD
Philips | LC 0305 | 442 779-2 | 1 CD - durata 74' 01" | (p) 1995 | DDD

Cover Art

Coffee House, England (Anon. c.1704), London, British Museum


In 1723 Bach was appointed Kantor of the St Thomas School in Leipzig and Director of Music at the city’s main churches. His first five or six years at Leipzig were spent mainly in composing, rehearsing and performing an incomparable repertoire of church music: cantatas, Passions and other works. He seems to have immersed himself in the task with wholehearted devotion, as though his earlier career had been in some way a preparation for it. Then, in the spring of 1729, he found an entirely new and completely different outlet for his creativity when he took over the directorship of a collegium musicum, or musical society, which the composer G.P. Telemann had founded in Leipzig in 1702. There are scarcely half-a-dozen original church pieces that can be dated to the last two decades of Bach’s life (1730-50); his sacred compositions from this period, including the B minor Mass and the Christmas Oratorio, consist almost entirely of reworkings of earlier pieces.
The collegium musicum, which met each week at the coffee house of Gottfried Zimmermann in the Catherinenstrasse, was attended mainly by university students along with some professional musicians; Bach’s eldest sons, who were by that time competent performers, were also no doubt regular attenders. The society had two spheres of activity: one was the “ordinary” concerts (advertised as such) on a relatively modest scale that took place at Zimmermann's premises: the other was the provisivn of music for royal or academic occasions at various venues in Leipzig, often in the open air, for which the regular resources of the collegium would be augmented by extra players and singers, frequently in very large numbers indeed.
The present recording exemplifies both types of activity. We do not know for certain what music was played at the “ordinary” concerts; the programmes presumably included concertos (esepcially harpsichord concertos) and sonatas by Bach himself. But we do know that they also included vocal music, and it is very likely, given the subject matter and the relatively small forces involved (three vocal soloists, flute, strings and continuo), that the so-called “Coffee” Cantata was included in them; it dates from about 1734. The text, by Bach’s favourite Leipzig librettist, C.F. Hemici (known as “Picander”), presents a little drama in which the young Lieschen (soprano) earns the disapproval of her father Schlendrian (bass) because of her addiction to coffee, and then uses the situation to her advantage by agreeing to give up the beverage if she is allowed to marry the one she loves. But then, in a surprising addition to Picander’s printed libretto, we learn that her marriage contract will contain a clause obliging her husband to allow her to continue her indulgence.
This extra twist to the tale was no doubt designed to appeal to to Zimmermann and his clientele, but it also allows the narrator (tenor), who has not been heard since the opening of the work, to sing another recitative and to join with the other two soloists in a final trio which points the moral in suitably springhtly fashion: "Just as the cat won't leave the mice alone, so the young lady remains wedded to her coffee." The final ensemble of soloists also benefits from some agile divisions on the flute, which is otherwise heard only as an obbligato instrument in Lieschen's first aria, where it serves to convey something of her coquettish demeanour, Schlendrian's first aria, accompanied by the string band, is no less expressive of his blustering, irascible character.
The other two arias effectively point to the "generation gap" separating father and daughter: Schlendrian attempts to lay down the law in an oldfashioned aria, "Mädchen, die von harten Sinnen," with ponderous chromaticism and fussy chord changes; Lieschen's response to his offer of a bridegroom, on the other hand, is expressed in light, galant phrases supported by simple harmonies and a hint of modish "alberti" figuration from the harpsichord. The "Coffee" Cantata is the nearest that Bach came to writing an opera (though some of the church cantatas in dialogue form are scarcely less dramatic in concept); it gives us some idea of where his strenghts and weaknesses might have lain if he had been given the opportunity of trying his hand at a genuinely operatic genre.
During the summer months Bach's collegium musicum transferred its activities from Zimmermann's coffee house to his garden outside the city walls, and it was there that Hercules at the Crossroads was performed on 5 September 1733 in celebration of the eleventh birthday of the Elector of Saxony's son, Prince Friedrich Christian. Strings and continuo  joined for this by two oboesm two horns and a fourpar choir. The librettist was once again Picander,  but this time his verses do no more than eulogise the young prince in vapid and conventional terms, Friedrich Christian is represented by the Greek hero Hercules (alto; an unlikely impersonation, since the royal child was, by all accounts, delicate and suckly), who must choose between Pleasure (soprano) and Virtue (tenor) to be his guiding principle in life, Pleasure sets out her attractions in a languorous aria accompanied by the strings, but in the succeeding recitative Virtue intervenes to urge Hercules to take a different path. In a duet with Echo (alto; the obbligato oboe d'amore furnishes a second echo for many of the singer's phrases) he is persuaded to renounce the allurements of Pleasure, and in an ebergetic, clean-limbed aria, accompanied by oboe, violin and continuo, Virtue urges his claims to the hero's affections. Predictably enough, Hercules renounces Pleasure and, in what is remarkably like a love duet, unites himself ith Virtue, Mercury (bass) calls upon the gods to witness Hercule's choice and the people express their approval of the young Friedrich Christian in a chorus which resembles the final ensemble of the Coffee Cantata in its folk-like and dance-like qualities and in its rondo structure (A-B-A-C-A) with substantial ritornellos and instrumental divisions (this time on first violin).
Like several other Bach works of this type, Hercules at the Crossroads is described in the printed text as a "Drama per musica," a term commonly employed (with slightly different spelling) for italian opera of the period. There is little in the way of drama in Bach's celebratory cantata, however, and he and his librettist found little difficulty in adapting most of the work (all of it, in fact, except the recitatives and the final chorus) as movements in the Christmas Oratorio (1734-45), where the music has, of course, become much better known. The adaptations are on the whole very successful. The opening chorus required no alteration beyond a change of text to introduce Part 4 of the oratorio; Pleasure's languorous "Schlafe, mein Liebster" became a lullaby for the Christ-child in Part 2, with a change of key and instrumentation; and the other movements were similarly adapted to their new role with a minimum of alteration, though Hercule's solo aria, familiar in English translations of the oratorio as "Prepare thyself, Zion," required a new, smoother type of articulation (a staccato delivery  is specified in the cantata). Only the aria "Treus Echo dieser Orten" may be said to fit rather uncomfortably into the oratorio, where, to moderm ears at least, its playful echo phrases are apt to sound out of keeping with an earnest religious text.
The Christmas Oratorio is not likely to be replaced in the affections of most audiences by Hercules at the Crossroads and th other secular cantatas that Bach parodied for his sacred masterpieces, but it is salutary to be made aware of the original text, and context, for which the music was written, and to be reminded of how a composer committed to perfection in his art will clothe even the most mundane and conventional sentiments and occasions, with music of the highest quality and originally.
Malcom Boyd