Of the congratulatory cantata Erwählte Pleißenstadt (“O chosen Pleisse Town”, BWV 216.2 / BWV 216.a), a reconstruction of which has been attempted here for the first time, only the libretto is still extant. But we also still have a fragment of its immediate parody model, the wedding cantata Vergnügte Pleißenstadt (“Contented Pleisse Town”, BWV 216.1 / BWV 216) – the two vocal parts Canto and Alto of the original set of performance materials have also been preserved.
Two of the altogether seven movements of BWV 216.2 were adopted from different contexts. Movement 3 goes back to the soprano aria “Himmlische Vergnügsamkeit” (“Heavenly contentedness”) from the cantata Ich bin in mir vergnügt (“I am content within”, BWV 204) written around 1726/27. And the concluding duet was taken from the cantata Zerreißet, zersprenget, zertrümmert die Gruft / “Demolish, disrupt it, destroy the lair” (Der zufriedengestellte Aeolus / Aeolus Appeased; BWV 205.1 / BWV 205) written for the nameday of the Leipzig university professor Dr. August Friedrich Müller.
Regarding its text, the parody of the wedding cantata was written by Bach’s private student and copyist Christian Gottlob Meißner (1707–1760). Since Meißner left Leipzig in 1731, the congratulatory cantata must have been composed
between 1728 (performance of the parody model BWV 216.1) and the year of his departure. In the arias and duets he retained Picander’s verse structure, changing only those passages that allude directly to the wedding. The result was
an allegory about Leipzig as the city of music and commerce, in which the river nymphs Neiße and Pleiße of the first version were replaced by Apollo and Mercurius. With these guardians of music and commerce BWV 216.2 addresses the
center of trade fairs and commerce, which was also famous for its flourishing cultural life. The reference to Leipzig as “beloved market place” and the indirect mention of the municipal government (“Who at the helm are sitting”) suggest that the cantata was addressed to wealthy merchants or members of the town council. Contrary to the Town Council Election Cantatas, however, BWV 216.2 was probably performed in a much more intimate surrounding, e.g. as a repertoire piece of the Collegium musicum that Bach took over in the spring of 1729. Due to the apparently irretrievable loss of the music, questions regarding the instrumentation of BWV 216.2 will probably never be answered.
From the preface by Alexander Grychtolik