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Johann Sebastian Bach - Coffee Cantata, Peasant Cantata


Coffee Cantata
Peasant Cantata

Les Violons du Roy

Dorian 90199

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Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
The townsfolk of Leipzig in the early 1700's were overcome by a powerful and exotic addiction to a substance recently introduced from the New World. While much of the population were smitten by the bug, many others viewed is with suspicion and thought it dangerous to the health.

Coffee, that roasted, ground and percolated bean of the Coffea arabica plant was the new fad of the century. But what an unlikely inspiration for a Cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach! What's the story?

Bach was a career musician. Almost everything he wrote was for a practical purpose. Employed by the church, his main job was to write a sacred Cantata for the Lutheran service every Sunday. He wrote hundreds of them, at least five complete annual cycles, of which over 200 survive.

The Cantata is quite a varied work, with a mixture of Recitative or narration, combined with solo Arias, mixed Arias, orchestral interludes and Chorales. Their role was to make simple religious messages appeal to the general public. Much of the music from the Cantatas has become famous in their own right: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, Sheep May Safely Graze, Sleepers Wake and A Mighty Fortress is our God are all movements from Bach Cantatas.

But what possessed Bach to write a Cantata about so secular and even banal a topic as coffee?

Opening page of Bach's Coffee Cantata
Opening Page of Bach's Coffee Cantata
From 1729, Bach assumed direction of Leipzig's Collegium Musicum, founded by Telemann in 1702. The Collegium was a group of student musicians who met each Friday evening at Zimmermann's Coffee-House to give concerts.

It is very likely that some of Bach's best-known secular works, such as the harpsichord concerti and orchestral suites were written for and premiered by the Collegium. And it is certainly for this group of musicians that Bach wrote the Coffee Cantata.

The Coffee Cantata is lighthearted, as close as Bach comes to comic opera, in which he pokes fun at both coffee drinkers and their old-fashioned critics.

The story concerns the father Herr Schlendrian (“Mr Routine”) portrayed by a plodding lead-footed melody, and his daughter Lieschen, the coffee-lover. She is introduced by a lively and beguiliing Aria.

In an effort to rid his daughter of the evil drink, he progressively forbids her her luxuries. Lieschen refuses to give it up, saying that coffee is “more delicious than a thousand kisses, and sweeter than muscatel wine”. It is only when Schlendrian refuses to allow her to marry that she relents. But even then, as the father goes off to find a husband, Lieschen reveals that she will make it a part of the marriage contract that she be allowed her three cups a day.
Read the full English and German lyrics.

This is a charming introduction to Bach's Cantatas, with friendly melodies, cleverly reflecting the characters' personalities. And generously includes the other popular secular cantata the Peasant Cantata with its infectiously enjoyable tunes, Bach letting his hair down and obviously having much fun.

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Track Listing

Johann Sebastian Bach
Coffee Cantata BWV 211
Peasant Cantata BWV 212
Durchlauchtster Leopold BWV 173a

les Violons du Roy de Quebec
Bernard Labadie
Dorothea Röschmann, Soprano
Hugues Saint-Gelais, Tenor
Kevin McMillan, Baritone
    Serenata Durchlauchtster Leopold, BWV 173a
  1. Recit: Durchlauchtster Leopold
  2. Aria: Güldner Sonnen frohe Stunden
  3. Aria: Leopolds Vortrefflichkeiten
  4. Aria: Unter seinem Purpursaum
  5. Recit: Durchlauchtigster, den Anhalt Vater nennt
  6. Aria: So schau dies holden Tages Licht
  7. Aria: Dein Name gleich der Sonnen geh
  8. Chorus: Nimm auch, großer Fürst, uns auf

    Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211
    (Coffee Cantata / Cantate du café)

  9. Recit: Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht
  10. Aria: Hat man nicht mit seinen Kindern
  11. Recit: Du böses Kind, du loses Mädchen
  12. Aria: Ei ! wie schmeckt der Coffee süße
  13. Recit: Wenn du mir nicht den Coffee läßt
  14. Aria: Mädchen, die von harten Sinnen
  15. Recit: Nun folge, was dein Vater spricht !
  16. Aria: Heute noch, lieber Vater, tut es doch
  17. Recit: Nun geht und sucht der alte Schlendrian
  18. Chorus: Die Katze läßt das Mausen nicht

    Cantate burlesque Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet, BWV 212
    (Peasant Cantata / Cantate paysanne)

  19. Sinfonia
  20. Aria (duetto): Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet
  21. Recit: Nu, Mieke, gib dein Guschel immer her !
  22. Aria: Ach, es schmeckt doch gar zu gut
  23. Recit: Der Herr ist gut
  24. Aria: Ach, Herr Schößer, geht nicht gar zu schlimm
  25. Recit: Es bleibt dabei
  26. Aria: Unser trefflicher lieber Kammerherr
  27. Recit: Er hilft uns allen, alt und jung
  28. Aria: Das ist galant
  29. Recit: Und unsre gnädge Frau
  30. Aria: Fünfzig Taler bares Geld
  31. Recit: Im Ernst ein Wort !
  32. Aria: Klein-Zschocher müsse
  33. Recit: Das ist zu klug für dich
  34. Aria col Corne de Chasse: Es nehme zehntausend Dukaten
  35. Recit: Das klingt zu liederlich
  36. Aria: Gib, Schöne
  37. Recit: Du hast wohl recht
  38. Aria:Dein Wachstum sei feste
  39. Recit: Und damit sei es auch genung
  40. Aria: Und daß ihrs alle wißt
  41. Recit: Mein Schatz ! erraten !
  42. Chor: Wir gehn nun, wo der Tudelsack

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