Trauer Ode

Johann Sebastian Bach

Trauer Ode

BWV198 • “Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl”

About this work

Bach's Cantata No. 198 "Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl" (Let, Princess, let one more tear) (BWV 198) is a grim and gloomy funeral ode. The text by Johann Christoph Gottsched, one of the leaders of the German Enlightenment, is arguably the best cantata text Bach ever set. Written for the funeral of Queen and Electress Christiane Eberhardine on October 17, 1727, "Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl" is one of Bach's greatest mourning works, ranking just below the great Passion in its musical and emotional depth. The cantata is richly and darkly scored for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists and chorus, pairs of transverse flutes, oboes doubling oboe d'amores and viola da gambas, strings, and a basso continuo that includes lute, harpsichord, cello, and bass. "Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl" is in two unequal parts of seven and three movements, the first part coming before the ceremony and the second after. The first part opens with a massive and mournful chorale fantasia for chorus and full orchestra. This is followed by a grief-stricken recitative and aria for soprano soloist and strings. Then there is a remarkable recitative and aria for alto soloist in which the sobbing recitative is accompanied by ringing transverse flutes and oboe d'amores above viola da gambas, lute, strings, and continuo and the aria is a slow and heartfelt trio sonata with obbligato viola da gambas. This is followed by a lyrical recitative for tenor soloist, oboe d'amores, and continuo. The first part closes with a dour chorale fugue with full orchestra colla parte. The second part opens with an anguished aria for tenor soloist, obbligato transvere flute, oboe d'amore, viola da gambas, strings, lute, and cello continuo. This is followed by a three-part movement for bass soloist and continuo: a resolute recitative, a more flowing adagio, and a brokenhearted arioso accompanied by pairs of transverse flutes and oboes. "Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl" concludes with a slow, stately, and deeply sorrowful dance in 6/8 for chorus and full orchestra.