Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Song for Today: St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244; No. 65 Aria (Bass) "Mache Dich, Mein Herze Rein"

"The Talented Mr. Ripley" is one of my favorite films that I viewed it again last night. The 1999 movie stars Matt Damon as the title character. IMDB summarizes the film: "The 1950s. Manhattan lavatory attendant, Tom Ripley, borrows a Princeton jacket to play piano at a garden party. When the wealthy father of a recent Princeton grad chats Tom up, Tom pretends to know the son and is soon offered $1,000 to go to Italy to convince Dickie Greenleaf to return home. In Italy, Tom attaches himself to Dickie and to Marge, Dickie's cultured fiancee, pretending to love jazz and harboring homoerotic hopes as he soaks in luxury. Besides lying, Tom's talents include impressions and forgery, so when the handsome and confident Dickie tires of Tom, dismissing him as a bore, Tom goes to extreme lengths to make Greenleaf's privileges his own."

In a very early scene Tom is seen walking up a metal staircase from his basement apartment. From this below-stairs existence, he is chauffeured in a limousine to the cruise liner that will whisk him off to Europe in first class. In the background is melancholy melody which I thought all these years was an operatic aria. It feels mournful for his past he is leaving behind but is hopeful in a gentle way about what is about to come. In the video below, the music starts at about 6:33.

After nearly seventeen years, I finally took the time to find the music credit by pausing the ending credits of the film. Only about a minute is played in the movie so I wanted to find the full-lenth of the song.

After a search on iTunes I found the exact recording. It comes from Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion and titled BMW 244. No 65 Aria (Bass) "Mache Dich, Mein Herze, Rein" and written in 1727. Wikipedia indicates the full Passion composition is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music.

The recording is conducted by Karl Richter and the vocal is by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925-2012), a German lyric baritone and conductor of classical music.

It's a song I'll add to my "Music to Travel By Collection".  For some reason at a particular moment especially when I travel, I often imagine a soundtrack of what music would be playing at a moment. Somehow this captures a feeling of awakening or discovery maybe on a quiet early morning in some a city away from home.

The film is an excellent thriller with outstanding performances by the three leads and supporting cast. But most of all you'll love the Italian locations where most of the movie was filmed.

This portion of the Passion runs seven minutes and repeats a short lyric in German:
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!

This is translated as:
Make yourself pure, my heart,
I want to bury Jesus myself.
For from now on He shall have in me,
forever and ever,
His sweet rest.
World, get out, let Jesus in!

The video below includes the full seven-minute version.


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