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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Ihr Tore zu Zion (Ye gateways to Zion)

Cantata 193

  • Installation of New Town Council, 1727
  • Rating: 1+

Considerable reconstruction has to be done before we can listen to cantata BWV 193, since only the soprano and alto voice parts together with the oboe I & II and string instrumental parts have come down to us. Luckily, most of it can be reconstructed (the exception is the final recitative before the closing chorus which is completely lost, text included). It is conjectured that both BWV 193 and BWV 193a originated in a lost Köthen original and BWV 193 was constructed a couple of weeks after BWV 193a. For more details, see the critical commentary to NBA I/36 and Smend's Bach in Köthen. Unfortunately, even more of BWV 193a than of BWV 193 is lost!

We should rejoice that so much of this fine work can be reconstructed, if only for the sake of the glorious opening chorus which has an instrumental hook that will stick in your mind for the rest of the day! As it happens the arias are good too. The first, for soprano, has a very attractive orchestral accompaniment with a lovely oboe line especially prominent. The alto aria (for which only the voice and oboe line survives) is necessarily sparely accompanied but still hints at a fine piece. Then the tune returns for the final chorus. I wonder how many more like this are lost?

Copyright © 1998, Simon Crouch.

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