Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Köthener Trauermusik BWV 244a

The Ensemble Pygmalion directed by Raphaël Pichon commences its collaboration with Harmonia Mundi with this new recording of J.S. Bach’s lost music to the Köthener Trauermusik (Cöthen funeral music), BWV 244a.
Founded in 2006 at the European Bach Festival, Ensemble Pygmalion is a combination of choir and orchestra - all young performers with experience of authentic instruments and period-informed performance. Its repertoire concentrates primarily on Johann Sebastian Bach and Jean-Philippe Rameau. It does however play baroque music and also contemporary works. For this recording there are four vocal soloists. Pygmalion numbers seventeen singers and twenty-four orchestral players.
The work
Köthener Trauermusik (Cöthen funeral music), BWV 244a also known as the Klagt, Kinder, klagt es aller Welt (Cry, children, cry to all the world) was composed in 1729 for the state funeral of Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen who had died a few days prior to his thirty-four birthday. Almost five years earlier Bach served as Kapellmeister to the Prince at the Cöthen court between 1717/23. Two works were performed at the funeral service at the St. Jakobskirche, Cöthen but the music has not survived. First was mourning music heard on the evening of 23 March 1729 for the arrival at the church of the funeral cortège for entombment. The details of this music are not known but it is documented that “the mourning music was heard for some time.” It has been put forward by leading Bach scholar Peter Wollny in the booklet essay that the music is likely to have been instrumental but augmented by congregational singing.
The music for the next morning’s funeral service on 24 March was a large-scale cantata the Köthener Trauermusik (Cöthen funeral music), BWV 244a. Those participating were Bach, his wife Anna Magdalena and his son Wilhelm Friedemann plus musicians from neighbouring towns and cities. No music has survived, only the libretto to the four-part cantata in twenty-four sections prepared by Leipzig poet and librettist Christian Friedrich Henrici, known as Picander. Thanks to the work of musicologist Wilhelm Rust in 1873 it is now thought probable that Bach reused ten movements (nine arias and the final chorus) from his St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244 designed as part of the Good Friday Vespers for Thomaskirche, Leipzig. Another musicologist Friedrich Smend concluded in 1951 that for sections 1 and 7 Bach reused the opening and closing choruses from his Trauerode, BWV 198, a work composed for the funeral of Princess Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, Queen of Poland and Electress of Saxony. (Arkiv Music)

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