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Bach: Matthäus-Passion, Aria "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein"

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Uploaded on Apr 12, 2009

For this Easter season, the recitative and aria "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein" from Bach's St Matthew Passion.

Notes based on The Sacred Dramas of J.S. Bach by W. Murray Young:

Recitative: The climax of the entire work comes in this recitative/arioso movement with its following aria for the same bass voice. Joseph of Arimathea is the actor expressing his personal emotions as he attends the burial of his Master. A motif of celestial peace permeates the whole movement a mystical aura unique in Bachs works which moves the listener by its text and entrances him by its sound. Schweitzer thinks that Bach expresses the tranquil peace of the falling twilight in this arioso. It is certainly a miniature tone poem well suited to the descent from the cross.

Aria: This aria is the other outstanding movement in this Passion. Its rhythm shows the suave melody of a siciliano in 12/8 time, but it is the soloists feeling for the emotions expressed in his text that makes the listener realize that he is listening to a pure, spiritual music, as Joseph of Arimathea proclaims his lifelong devotion to Christ and his rejection of the world. The motif of calm in the first two lines (the da capo brings it back) is replaced by a motif of joy in the last four lines. The soloists artistic runs on begraben (bury) and the effective orchestral ritornelli before, halfway, and at the end, make this aria a masterpiece.


Nr. 74: Rezitative (Bass)

Am Abend, da es kühle war,
Ward Adams Fallen offenbar;
Am Abend drücket ihn der Heiland nieder.
Am Abend kam die Taube wieder
Und trug ein Ölblatt in dem Munde.
O schöne Zeit! O Abendstunde!
Der Friedensschluß ist nun mit Gott gemacht,
Denn Jesus hat sein Kreuz vollbracht.
Sein Leichnam kommt zur Ruh,
Ach, liebe Seele, bitte du,
Geh, lasse dir den toten Jesum schenken,
O heilsammes, o köstlichs Angedenken!


At evening, hour of calm and peace,
Was Adams fall made manifest;
At evening, too, the Lords redeeming love.
At evening homeward turned the dove
And bore the olive-leaves as token.
O beauteous time! O evening hour!
Our lasting peace is now with God made sure,
For Jesus hath His Cross endured.
His body sinks to rest.
Go, loving servant, ask thou it,
Go, be it thine, the lifeless Saviours body.
O, wondrous Gift! O precious, holy burden.


Nr. 75: Arie (Bass)

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein,
Ich will Jesum selbst begraben.
Denn er soll nunmehr in mir
Für und für
Seine süße Ruhe haben.
Welt, geh aus, laß Jesum ein!


Make thee clean, my heart, from sin;
I would my Lord inter,
May He find rest in me,
Ever in eternity,
His sweet repose be here.
World, depart, let Jesus in!


Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Munich Bach Orchestra
Karl Richter cond.


Various artworks picturing the Entombment of Christ.
Opening painting is "Joseph of Arimathea" by Lord Frederick Leighton
Title painting is "Homage to JS Bach" by Georges Braque

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