This document is an expansion of the information presented at a lecture-recital on March 24, 2017, at Arizona State University. The program consisted of ten arias selected from the cantatas and oratorios of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), all for soprano with oboe, oboe d'amore, or oboe da caccia obbligato.
The document first discusses the place and importance of oboe obbligatos in Bach's vocal works. In all, there are 173 arias with oboe obbligatos from the sacred and secular cantatas, oratorios, and the passions. Of these, 56 are arias for soprano. The ten selected for this document are intended to illustrate the rich variety of this repertoire and especially the ways in which Bach interprets and conveys the meaning of their texts.
Most of Bach's arias that feature the oboe, or the short-lived oboe d'amore or the oboe da caccia, come from his early years in Leipzig (1723-1726). The document examines the circumstances there that led to so much music for these instruments, discussing Bach's connection with instrument-makers and musicians, notably the oboist Johann Caspar Gleditsch (1684-1747).
The body of the document describes individually the ten arias performed on the May of 2017 recital, which come from BWV 1, 21, 74, 94, 98, 144, 187, 199, 202, and 248. Texts and translations are provided, and background information is given for each. The da capo structures and any distinctive features are discussed. Each description focuses on the meaning of the text, the musical character that conveys the overall affect, and specific devices of mood- and word-painting. In all cases, the close affinity of the voice and the oboe is a central concern.