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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Die Zeit, die Tag und Jahre macht  (Time, that makes the days and years)

Cantata 134a

  • New year celebration, 1719.
  • Rating: 1

Cantata 134b provides the original upon which the sacred cantata BWV 134 was based. Bach made a straightforward parody of this piece for a version of BWV 134 in 1724 but later revised it, improving the parody procedure, sometime after 1731. There's a very straightforward correspondence between the movements of this secular original and the sacred parody, except that there's an extra aria, for alto, just before the final chorus in this version. The libretto of this cantata really is rather forgettable, so just lie back and enjoy the music!

The cantata starts with a tenor recitative that leads into an alto arioso. Business really starts with the tenor aria where, as in the other non-recitative parts of this cantata, the excellent orchestral accompaniment provides tremendous pleasure. The tenor line goes quite high, especially in the opening Auf, auf that defines the aria, and a light high voice will probably make the best of this. The duet between alto and tenor that follows the next recitative is very fine indeed and benefits from a wonderful string orchestral introduction that has a mesmeric hook in it. As so often in the cantatas, one asks whether this is a hint of something greater, now lost to us. After a final recitative, the extra alto aria is pleasant but not particularly memorable. The cantata ends with soloists and chorus echoing the praise of their prince.. This makes a glorious conclusion to a musically, if not textually fine cantata.

As far as I'm aware, there's only one recording of this cantata, by Wolfgang Unger on Thorofon CTH2369.

Copyright © 1999, Simon Crouch.