On-line Book ReviewYO TOMITA
The most notable feature of this book is the excellent quality of translation, i.e. the clarity of meaning in English. Unlike Ambrose, Richard Stokes ignores the rhythm of Bach's original text in order to attain the better clarity in meaning, as seen in the example below:
|Bach's Original||Ambrose (1984)||Stokes (1999)|
|Es hat die Dunkelheit
An vielen Orten überhand genommen.
Woher ist aber dieses kommen?
Bloß daher, weil sowohl die Kleinen als die Großen
Nicht in Gerechtigkeit
Vor dir, o Gott, gewandelt
Und wider ihre Christenpficht gehandelt.
Drum hast du auch den Leuchter umgestoßen.
|Here hath the darkness now
Attained the upper hand in many quarters.
But wherefore is this come upon us?
The cause is simply that the humble and the mighty
Keep not in righteousness
Before thee, God, their pathway
And violate their duty now as Christians.
Thus hast thou e'en the lamp stands overturned now.
|Darkness has prevailed
In many places.
But wherefore has this come to pass?
Simply because the lowly and the mighty
Have not walked in righteousness
Before Thee, O God,
And have violated their Christian duty.
Therefore hast Thou removed the candlestick out of his place.
Although limited, this book can also be used for reference purposes: in addition to the cantata texts, it comes with "Glossary" (pp.377-8) where all the characters in the secular cantatas are explained; a list of "Dedicatees of Bach's secular cantatas" (p.379); a list of "The Poets" with the year of their birth and death.
Overall, this book serves well for the specific purpose for which it was written. The publisher informs me that this is the official translation for the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage 200 with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra under John Eliot Gardiner. For Bach scholars, this book offers very little; but for Bach fans who need good English translation, this book will not disappoint you.
Published on-line on 23 January 2000
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