Magnificat

Magnificat

Magnificat performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
Grote Kerk, Naarden

  • Menu
  • 1. Magnificat (chorus)
  • 2. Et exsultavit (aria)
  • 3. Quia respexit (aria)
  • 4. Omnes (chorus)
  • 5. Quia fecit (aria)
  • 6. Et misericordia (duet)
  • 7. Fecit potentiam (chorus)
  • 8. Deposuit (aria)
  • 9. Esurientes (aria)
  • 10. Suscepit Israel (trio)
  • 11. Sicut locutus est (chorus)
  • 12. Gloria Patri (chorus)

Behind the music

Story
Story
Extra videos
Extra videos
Texts
Texts
Credits
Credits

The mighty arm of God

The expressive power of this song of praise about God’s justice is overwhelming.

The Magnificat is the first large choral work that Bach composed after his appointment in Leipzig in the spring of 1723. It is an ‘old-fashioned’ but delightful five-voiced work that uses Latin, just like the other rarity among Bach’s works, the Mass in B minor. The text comes from the Gospel of Luke, and is about the visit made by Mary to her cousin Elisabeth, who was also pregnant. She welcomed Mary with the words: ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!’ Mary answered, saying: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord (Magnificat anima mea Dominum), and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour, for he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden’. The religious feast day associated with this event, the Feast of the Visitation, was held in Bach’s day on 2 July, although nowadays it is celebrated on 31 May. Bach may have planned the Magnificat to have been sung at this first important religious feast day after his appointment. But as his aim of composing a new cantata for each Sunday turned out to be rather a high one, he might have postponed the completion of the Magnificat until the next feast day, Christmas 1723. In any case, that was when it was first performed, supplemented by a few suitable hymns in German.

Bach revised his Magnificat ten years later. He replaced the recorders with transverse flutes, transposed the work to a different key, gave the solo trumpet passage in the tenth part to two oboes playing in unison, and left out the songs related to Christmas, which made the piece suitable for other occasions as well.

The Magnificat has twelve parts, each lasting no more than three minutes. But the expressive power of this song of praise about God’s justice is overwhelming. He lets rulers bite the dust while the humble are raised up, and he feeds the hungry while sending away the rich. The text is given warm colour by using brass for the martial sounds and woodwind for the more loving passages, alongside strings and basso continuo. The full ensemble plays only at the beginning, in the central section and at the end. In the intervening parts, different vocal and instrumental combinations alternate, in order to support the text as expressively as possible.

Bach also uses expressiveness down to the last detail; for example in the second part with dancy sounds to the word ‘exultavit’, in the fourth part by suddenly using almost the whole ensemble for the words ‘omnes generationes’ and in the sixth part through the triplets for the word ‘timentibus’. In part 7, Bach applies this same principle to the maximum, with a furious, six-voiced fugue to the text ‘fecit potentiam in brachio suo’, to illustrate with conviction how far the mighty arm of God extends.

BWV
243
Title
Magnificat in D major
Genre
Latin church music
Year
1723 / 1733
City
Leipzig
Lyricist
Mary’s Song of Praise, Luke 1: 46-55
Occasion
Christmas Day / Feast of the Visitation
First performance
25 December 1723 / 2 July 1733
Special notes
There are two versions, the first of which (in E flat major) is less common.

Extra videos

Conductor Jos van Veldhoven

“Jos van Veldhoven guides us through one of Bach's most beautiful manuscripts.”

Lucia Swarts and Richte van der Meer

“Cellists Lucia Swarts and Richte van der Meer about their fundamental role in 'Quia Fecit'.”

Tenor Thomas Hobbs

“What is it like for a soloist to sing the choir parts as well as the arias? Tenor Thomas Hobbs explains.”

Soprano Hana Blažíkova

“Bach had a talent for writing things that are quite impossible to sing.”

Trumpet player Robert Vanryne

“It's not about taking any prisoners when you're playing this sort of music.”

Vocal texs

Original

1. Coro
Magnificat anima mea Dominum

2. Aria (soprano)
Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo
salutari meo.

3. Aria (soprano), coro
Quia respexit humilitatem
ancillae suae:
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.

4. Aria (basso)
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
et sanctum nomen ejius.

5. Duetto (alto, tenore)
Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.

6. Coro
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
dispersit superbos
mente cordis sui.

7. Aria (tenore)
Deposuit potentes de sede
et exatavit humiles.

8. Aria (alto)
Esurientes implevit
bonis et divites
dimisit inanes.

9. Terzetto (soprani, alto)
Suscepit Israel puerum
suum recordatus
misericordiae suae.

10. Coro
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros,
Abraham et semini ejus
in saecula.

11. Coro
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.
Amen.

Translation

1. Chorus 
My soul magnifies the Lord. 

2. Aria 
And my spirit rejoices in God 
my Savior. 

3. Aria, Chorus 
For He has regarded the lowliness
of His handmaiden. 
Behold, from henceforth, I will be called blessed
by all generations. 

4. Aria 
For the Mighty One has done 
great things for me, and holy is His name. 

5. Duet 
His mercy is for those who fear Him 
from generation to generation. 

6. Chorus 
He has shown strength with His arm, 
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

7. Aria 
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. 

8. Aria 
He has filled the hungry 
with good things, 
and sent the rich away empty. 

9. Trio 
He has helped His servant Israel 
in remembrance 
of His mercy. 

10. Chorus 
According to the promise He made to our ancestors, 
to Abraham and to His descendants
forever 

11. Chorus 
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to 
the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, 
is now, and for ever and ever, 
Amen.

Credits

  • Release date
    12 September 2014
  • Recording date
    2 May 2014
  • Location
    Grote Kerk, Naarden
  • Conductor
    Jos van Veldhoven
  • Soprano 1
    Julia Doyle
  • Soprano 2
    Hana Blažíková
  • Alto
    Maarten Engeltjes
  • Tenor
    Thomas Hobbs
  • Bass
    Christian Immler
  • Ripieno soprano
    Lauren Armishaw, Griet de Geyter, Marjon Strijk, Kristen Witmer
  • Ripieno alto
    Leandro Marziotte, Elena Pozhidaeva
  • Ripieno tenor
    Kevin Skelton, Immo Schröder
  • Ripieno bass
    Jelle Draijer, Sebastian Myrus
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Paulien Kostense, Anneke van Haaften
  • Violin 2
    Hanneke Wierenga, Annabelle Ferdinand, Annelies van der Vegt
  • Viola
    Deirdre Dowling, Esther van der Eijk
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Traverso
    Marten Root, Doretthe Janssens
  • Oboe
    Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Trumpet
    Robert Vanryne, Neil Brough, Mark Geelen
  • Timpani
    Peppie Wiersma
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Positive organ
    Pieter-Jan Belder
  • Concert production
    Imke Deters, Marco Meijdam
  • Producers
    Zoë de Wilde, Frank van der Weij
  • Film director
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Director of photography
    Sal Kroonenberg
  • Camera
    Sal Kroonenberg, Robert Berger, Benjamin Sparschuh, Lonneke Worm
  • Film editors
    Lucas van Woerkum, Frank van der Weij
  • Music recording producer
    Leo de Klerk
  • Gaffer
    Victor Jas
  • Best boy
    Ravi Piccolo
  • Production assistant
    Joggem Simons
  • Score reader
    Eva Mulder
  • Make up
    Jamila el Bouch, Marloes de Jong, Hanneke de Hertog, Marjolein Vossenbeld
  • Music recording assistants
    Jaap Firet, Gilius Kreiken, Jaap van Stenis
  • Camera assistants
    Izak de Dreu, Indy Hamid
  • Music edit and mix
    Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
  • Music edit assistant
    Martijn Snoeren
  • Colorist
    Jef Grosfeld
  • Interviews
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Acknowledgements
    Angela Mast, Marlo Reeders