Part 1 No 01: Einleitung
Part 1 No 02. Chorus: Gott, Du wirst
Part 1 No 03. Recitative: Judäa zittert!
Part 1 No 04. Aria: Mein Geist, voll Furcht und Freuden
Part 1 No 05. Chorus: Triumph!
Part 1 No 06. Recitative: Die frommen Töchter
Part 1 No 07. Aria: Wie bang hat dich mein Lied beweint!
Part 1 No 08. Recitative: Wer ist die Sionitin?
Part 1 No 09. Duet: Vater deiner schwachen Kinder
Part 1 No 10. Recitative: Freundinnen Jesu!
Part 1 No 11. Aria: Ich folge dir
Part 1 No 12. Chorus: Tod! Wo ist dein Stachel?
Part 2 No 01: Einleitung
Part 2 No 02. Recitative: Dort seh' ich aus den Toren
Part 2 No 03. Aria: Willkommen, Heiland!
Part 2 No 04. Chorus: Triumph!
Part 2 No 05. Recitative: Elf auserwählte Jünger
Part 2 No 06. Aria: Mein Herr, mein Gott
Part 2 No 07. Chorus: Triumph!
Part 2 No 08. Recitative: Auf einem Hügel
Part 2 No 09. Aria: Ihr Tore Gottes
Part 2 No 10. Chorus: Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen
Ramler’s libretto is not a dramatic narrative, but a lyrical description of the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, highlighting the feelings aroused by these events, without depicting actual personalities. Although the text is entirely a work of the imagination, it nevertheless contains several paraphrases from the Old and New Testaments. The work has twenty-two numbers and is divided into two parts of almost identical length. Although Bach’s musical language is as varied as possible, there are several recurring features. Each part opens with a short, dark orchestral introduction for strings; all the recitatives begin secco, with a description of a particular event, and continue, accompanied, with Christ’s own words—the only exceptions being No 3 Judäa zittert!, which is accompanied throughout, and No 17 Elf auserwählte Jünger, which is secco from start to finish. There is one unusual chorus which appears three times to different words and is treated like a refrain; it is first heard as the fifth movement to the words ‘Triumph! Des Herrn Gesalbter sieget!’, and then returns in Nos 16 and 19, retaining each time its powerful and largely homophonic character. The arias and the single duet are characterized by a heightened expressivity—‘a composer cannot move unless he himself be moved’, as C P E Bach liked to say—and irregular structure that is often adapted to suit the text. It should also be mentioned that the choruses which conclude each part are both of the ‘prelude and fugue’ type, even if the final chorus alternates with the first theme in a complex manner. True contrapuntal writing is therefore reserved for the end of each part, as an ultimate expression of divine power and majesty. The work ends with the words of Psalm 150: ‘Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord! Hallelujah!’.
Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu can be considered to be one of the most significant oratorios composed between those of Johann Sebastian Bach and Haydn, who was himself inspired by C P E Bach’s example. The richness of the musical language and forms, the subtlety of the details and the dramatic depth of a work without a plot show us to what extent Carl Philipp Emanuel was a past master in the subtle art of organization, while seeming to write with the greatest freedom. The work is the perfect example of the aesthetic of ‘feeling’, of a modern and contrasting expressivity, less stereotyped and also less obvious than compositions of the Baroque period. Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu left its mark on succeeding generations and justifiably aroused the admiration of, among others, both Haydn and Beethoven.
from notes by Benoît Jacquemin © 2003
English: Richard Stokes