Apart from the recitatives, BWV 207a is a parody, movement for movement, of 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 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 very fine 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. Recitative 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 the favoured and peaceful state of Saxony is applauded, to a simple accompaniment from the continuo section. 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 BWV 207 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 207. If performed with this cantata, it seems to make sense to stick it on the front.
Copyright © 1999, Simon Crouch.