Besides the fact that they both celebrate Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, there is a close connection between the two works included on the eighth volume of Bach’s secular cantatas. On 2nd October 1734, the King and his family made a surprise visit to Leipzig, and in all haste a festive event was planned for three days later, in celebration of the anniversary of Augustus’s ascension to the Polish throne. Bach was asked to provide the musical entertainment, and consequently had to put aside the work he was busy composing… namely BWV 206 Schleicht, spielende Wellen, intended for a celebration of the King’s birthday on 7th October!
The new cantata, Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, BWV 215, is a substantial work, and it is not surprising that Bach, with only a few days to produce it, had recourse to earlier compositions: the only parts that were written completely from scratch were the recitatives, the soprano aria (seventh movement) and the final chorus. In the meantime, BWV 206 – the birthday cantata that Bach had to put on hold – came to good use two years later, when the King’s birthday was celebrated with a concert at Zimmermann’s coffee house in Leipzig. Both works are richly scored with trumpets and timpani, and here receive suitably festive performances from Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki.