Cantata BWV 100Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan [III]
Discussions - Part 2
Continue from Part 1
Discussions in the week of September 21, 2008
William Hoffman wrote (September 20, 2008):
BWV 100, Introduction
Cantata BWV 100, Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan [III]. What God does, that is done well [III] (by Francis Browne). Event: Chorale Cantata for the 15th Sunday after Trinity. Readings: Epistle: Galatians 5: 25 - 6: 10; Gospel: Matthew 6: 23-34 or Unspecified occasion, or For any occasion. Composed: Leipzig, 1732-1735 | 1st performance: 1732-1735 - Leipzig; 2nd performance: c. 1737 - Leipzig; 3rd performance: c. 1742 - Leipzig. Text: Samuel Rodigast, Text (1675), "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (melody, Nürnberg Gesangbuch, 1690). Scoring: Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus Orchestra: 2 horns, timpani, transverse flute, oboes d'amore, 2 violins, violoncello, violone, viola, organ, continuo.
In the 1730s, Bach's interest in secular vocal music flourished with his celebratory cantatas, especially for the Dresden Court. Meanwhile, his involvement in sacred cantatas showed only sporadic although intentional interest. In contrast to his first four years in Leipzig when he created three complete cantata cycles, there was little activity presenting church service cantatas on a regular basis. The only new sacred cantatas Bach composed in the first half of the penultimate decade of his life are part of the genre of chorale cantatas.
Bach created as many as nine new chorale cantatas. Five filled gaps in his chorale cantata cycle (BWV 140, BWV 112, BWV 177, BWV 14, and BWV 9), which totaled 42 in his original second cycle. Four are without church year designation (BWV 192, BWV 117, BWV 97, and 100). Bach also repeated some eight of these chorale cantatas from the 1724-25 cycle (BWV 94, BWV 129, BWV 139, BWV 177, BWV 93, BWV 139, BWV 91, and BWV 96). Meanwhile, it is documented so far that Bach repeated only seven other sacred church-year cantatas from the other two cycles during this same half-decade (BWV 51, BWV 36, BWV 18, BWV 41, BWV 62, BWV 73, BWV 58), except for two-brief periods at Easter Season. Some commentators have suggested that, given Bach's continuing and abiding interest in chorales, his music activities may have included reperformances of the entire chorale cantata cycle between 1732-35. During this time, Bach also composed the opening Kyrie-Gloria setting of the B-Minor Mass, BWV 232, and in 1734-35 he presented the Christmas and Ascension Oratorios, all these works utilizing extensive parody.
By 1735, Bach's creation of original church service compositions, as part of a well-regulated church music, came to a close. The handful of "new" sacred compositions included the final expanded version of the Reformation Cantata, BWV 80, "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott"; the chorale funeral motet, BWV 118, "O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht"; the St. John's Day Cantata BWV 30, "Freue dich, erlöster Schar," a parody of a dramma per musica; and Christmas Latin Cantata BWV 191, "Gloria in excelsis Deo," involving contrafaction of the "Domine Deus" and the "Cum sancto spiritu" movements from the B-Minor Mass (BWV 232).
In the 1740s, Bach presented occasional reperformances of his church cantatas but regularly contributed only Town Council annual sacred cantatas and Passion presentations on Good Fridays. Passion revivals included his Oratorio Passions of St. John and St. Matthew; J.M. Molter's St. Luke Passion, BWV 246; the Keiser/Bruhns St. Mark Passion pasticcio with Handel's Brockes Passion; and other Passion Pasticcios as well as Passion Oratorios of Telemann and Graun.Interestingly, these two brief periods chronicled in the 1730s, when Bach returned to weekly church service cantata performances, both occurred during the intensely celebratory Easter Season of 12 services, in 1731 and in 1735. This period included the three major feasts: the Resurrection on Easter Sunday; Ascension Thursday, 40 days later; and Pentecost Sunday, 10 days later. This Easter Season also was the period in 1725 when Bach ceased to introduce new weekly chorale cantatas and returned to more diverse cantata forms. The de tempore or festival time in the first half of the church year, of Jesus Christ's activities, begins with Advent, and the last half of the church year is the Trinity Season of omne tempore, ordinary time, or his timeless teachings.
The nine new chorale cantatas of the 1730s involve pure-hymn verses only, without chorale text lyrical paraphrases in arias or free-verse madrigalian recitatives. Other characteristics include familiar chorales, elaborate orchestration, and some use of borrowed materials. No chorale cantatas involved parodies since it would have been extremely difficult to fit old, non-chorale texts into new stanzas of a set chorale text. The only opportunity for text substitution involved the use of different stanzas of the same hymn text, a sort of "parody," or new text underlay, in a figurative sense.
One characteristic is Bach's exemplary use of instruments, especially in his last chorale cantatas. There are pairs of hunting horns (BWV 100, BWV 112, and BWV 192) with the added air of festivity and joy. Striking horn solos are found in BWV 14 and BWV 140. In addition, Bach uses pairs of horns for his full instrumental setting of three wedding chorales, BWV 250-252, composed in the early 1730s. One of these, BWV 250, also has Bach's favorite chorale, "What God does, that is done well."
Bach's Cantata BWV 100, "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan [III]," was one of his last original sacred compositions. It is infused with the special characteristics and is an exemplary summation of his compositional technique. Most significant is his pervasive use of galant style in this valedictory cantata. Bach's generic four-part plain chorales contain three galant characteristics: singable melodies, symmetrical phrases, and homophonic textures. In the two chorale choruses with independent orchestral parts, there are strong rhythms and a sense of uplift. Dance style is found in three of the four chorale arias, as well as transparent scoring with pleasing, virtuosic solo instruments. Alfred Dürr in The Cantatas of JSB (p.793) points out another galant-style characteristic: the strict symmetrical phrases in the Bar-form folk song of the bass aria (Mvt. 4). Bach continued to sustain a high level of creativity through transformation of his materials, and also found opportunities to make varied use of these chorale cantatas.
Bach had systematically employed other homophonic harmonizations of the "Was Gott tut" text and melody in church cantatas. According to the notes of Marianne Helms and Artur Hirsch in Helmut Rilling's recording  of BWV100, Bach began in Weimar in Cantata BWV 12, "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" for the Third Sunday after Easter in the closing chorale. He repeated it in the Cantata BWV 69a, "Lobe den Hernn, meine Selle," for the 12th Sunday after Trinity in 1723, with obbligato oboe or trumpet. He also used it in Cantata BWV 144, "Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin," for Setuageisma Sunday in the Epiphany season of 1724 in his first cantata cycle; and in Cantata BWV 99, "Was Got tut" [II] for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in the chorale cantata cycle in 1724. Bach as well employed the chorale twice in chorale choruses: closing Part 1 of his 1723 inaugural Leipzig Cantata BWV 75, Die Elenden sollen essen," beginning the Trinity Season, and as an opening chorale chorus in Cantata BWV 98, "Was Gott tut" [I], for the 21st Sunday after Trinity in 1726 in his third cantata cycle.
The score lists no service for performance. Walter Blankenburg in his notes to the Karl Richter recording of BWV 100  says: "We do not know for which Sunday Bach intended the work, but like BWV 99, it is perfectly suited to the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, whose Gospel contains the passage "Sorget nicht" [take no thought] (Matthew 6: 25) from the Sermon on the Mount."
When it came to this final utilization of the chorale, Bach clearly made his ultimate statement regarding this beloved hymn, using all six stanzas verbatim (per omnes versus). As was his custom in the chorale cantatas, he used the opening chorale chorus, Verse 1, borrowing the material from Cantata BWV 99. The rhythmic meter was changed from common time 4/4 to march-like cut time in 2/2, with the addition of two horns and drums supporting the strings, with the interplay of solo flute and oboe d'amore. He did the same with the closing chorale chorus, Verse 6, borrowed from Cantata BWV 75, adding elaborate instrumental texture.
In between, Bach composed four non-da capo arias in succession, set to the original text, Verses 2-5 respectively, with varied accompaniment: continuo only for the alto-tenor duet (Mvt. 2); soprano aria with flute (Mvt. 3), bass aria with strings (Mvt. 4), and alto aria with oboe d'amore (Mvt. 5). The three arias all use dance style, from the feel of the gigue in 6/8 time, then 2/4 pastorale, and finally 12/8 polyphonic siciliano. While 35 of Bach's some 50 chorale cantatas contain movements in dance style, all nine final chorale cantatas have at least one dance-style, three have two (BWV 112, BWV 117, BWV 97), and BWV 100 has three.
As Ludwig Finscher writes in the notes to the Gustav Leonhardt recording: "the three arias, with their sensitive writing. . .display Bach at his most modern: the Soprano aria has a most taxing flute part, the oboe d'amore is given a dulcet, affective solo to play in the Alto aria (Mvt. 5), and ingratiating parallel third and sixths played by the violins introduce an element of the gallant into the Bass aria (Mvt. 4)." By contrast, the alto-tenor duet (Mvt. 2) is in traditional motet style in the manner of an Italian chamber duet of Handel and Steffani, ideal fare for Bach's Collegium musicum.
And this wasn't Bach last statement on the matter of "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan." Besides the initial performance between 1732 and 1735, Bach repeated BWV 100 about c1737 and again c.1742. In what settings, we don't know but we can assume that Bach made "well-done" use of this work, quite possibly for a church wedding and then in the omnes tempore season of Trinity, the time of teaching and proclamation.
The commentary below, quoted from the liner notes to the Beringer's recording on Rondeau Production , was written by Dr. Theodor Glaser, Member of the High Consistory (retired). The author used to be suffragan to the Lutheran Bishop of Bavaria. In his clerical capacity, Glaser is in particular demand in the leading of sung services, above all in the performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas.
Was Gott tut, das ist wohl getan ("What God doth, that is rightly done") - the text of this chorale is by Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708), rector of the Gymnasium des Grauen Klosters (Grey Cloister Grammar School) in Berlin. He wrote just the one hymn text, dedicating it to his seriously-ill friend, cantor Severus Gastorius. The invalid was so moved by the comforting words, that he at once composed an accompanying melody. The chorale, full of hope and faith, quickly became a firm favourite in religious circles.
Johann Sebastian Bach was also an admirer of the song, which is perhaps why he composed three cantatas around it (BWV 98, BWV 99 and BWV 100). However, only in BWV 100 does he take the trouble to set all six verses in their original wording to music. Perhaps he felt his own fate signed and sealed in these lyrics. Doubtless, he often experienced, particularly in times of musical triumph, that "what God doth, that is rightly done". However, he also suffered tragedy and deprivation. He experienced problems with his sacred and secular superiors, for which he himself was to blame to a certain extent. He saw the deaths of his first wife and eleven of his twenty children. But he also recognised that his God had supported him during those times of trouble. Both joy and suffering find expression in his cantatas - composed from the heart - in the joyful, festive majors and the plaintive, questioning minors.
When, and for what occasion, this cantata was composed remains unknown. It is possible that it dates from between 1732 and 1735. Not being assigned to a particular Sunday in the church calendar possibly meant that the cantata was performed more often - a work per ogni tempo (for all seasons).
In a setting full of musical fantasy and variety, maintaining the theological tension between doubt and devotion, the lyrics find their expression in (two) choral movements, three arias and a duet. For the first and last movements, Bach drew on earlier compositions. The opening chorus is taken from the cantata BWV 99 ("What God doth, that is rightly done"), the closing chorus from BWV 75 (Die Elenden sollen essen - "The hungering shall be nourished"), composed by Bach when he took up his post in Leipzig. In addition, he inserted parts for pairs of horns and timpani, which lend the piece a certain festivity and also lead to a string of associations. The horns sound lustily; are they perhaps intended as hunting horns - calling to mind the folksong Aut aut zum fröhlichen Jagen - "Rise up, rise up, join the happy hunt" following a contented and peaceful existence? Should we be reminded of the post horn, trumpeting abroad the glad tidings, the good news of the Gospel, or should we - on hearing the oboe d'amore - think on the messenger of love, so desirous to sing the love of God into our hearts? "What God doth, that is rightly done", is reiterated in an exchange between the festive horns and timpani and the lightly tripping flute and two oboes, as if the Christian congregation in the opening chorus are urging each other on in song, convinced and convincing, full of trust and hope.
The alto/tenor duet (Mvt. 2), in which - as in the arias - the melody of the chorale is merely hinted at, has a continuo accompaniment, measured even steps charting "the proper path". The musicaldetails are lovingly, sighingly depicted. "betrayal and contentment, misfortune and forbearance". The third verse sees the introduction of the new and highly fashionable flauto traverso with a virtuoso coloratura. "God keepeth faith." It calls to mind the flute of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He is the healer and miracle-worker, playing the melody of love. In the fourth verse, written in an optimistic major key, and in a mood of joyous, dancing merriment, the bass sings of "my light and my being" .It almost sounds as if the Catholic court organist Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart glanced backwards in time over his shoulder to influence the Protestant cantor of St Thomas'. In the alto aria (Mvt. 5) which follows, in minor contrast, the oboe plays around the theme of the "bitter cup" and the "sweet hope" with harsh, yet somehow still pastoral tones. The closing chorus is an unshakeably triumphant hymn of faith. It doesn't invite the listener to take a step into the void, but a step of faith into the enfolding arms of a loving Father.
BWV 100 Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan III
Unspecified occasion (or For any occasion, Per ogni tempo?, cf. Dürr, p. 639).
The six verses of the hymn by Samuel Rodigast, 1674 (Fischer-Tümpel, IV, #467)
After 1732, Leipzig; again after 1735 (Neumann Hb).
BG 22; NBA I/34.
1. Chorus [Verse 1] (S, A, T, B)
What God doth, that is rightly done,
His will is just forever;
Whatever course he sets my life,
I will trust him with calmness.
He is my God,
Who in distress
Knows well how to support me;
So I yield him all power.
2. Aria [Verse 2] (A, T)
What God doth, that is rightly done,
He will not e'er betray me;
He leads me on the proper path,
So I will find contentment
Within his care
And then forbear,
He shall turn my misfortune,
In his hands rests the outcome.
3. Aria [Verse 3] (S)
What God doth, that is rightly done,
He will me well consider;
He doth, my healer, wonders work
And will no poison give me
As healing balm.
God keepeth faith,
I'll make him my foundation
And to his mercy trust me.
4. Aria [Verse 4] (B)
What God doth, that is rightly done,
He is my light, my being,
Who me no evil can allow;
I'll be to him committed
In joy and woe!
The time is nigh
When manifest appeareth
How faithful is his favor.
5. Aria [Verse 5] (A)
What God doth, that is rightly done;
Though I the cup must savor
Soon, bitter to my maddened sense,
I will yet be not frightened,
For at the last
I will find joy
And sweet hope in my bosom;
And yield shall all my sorrow.
6. Chorale [Verse 6] (S, A, T, B)
What God doth, that is rightly done,
To that will I be cleaving.
Though out upon the cruel road
Need, death, and suff'ring drive me,
E'en so God will,
Within his arms enfold me;
So I yield him all power.
© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose
Jean Laaninen wrote (September 21, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Bach's Cantata BWV 100, Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan [III]," was one of his last original sacred compositions. It is infused with the special characteristics and is an exemplary summation of his compositional technique. Most significant is his pervasive use of galant style in this valedictory cantata. Bach's generic four-part plain chorales contain three galant characteristics: singable melodies, symmetrical phrases, and homophonic textures. In the two chorale choruses with independent orchestral parts, there are strong rhythms and a sense of uplift. Dance style is found in three of the four chorale arias, as well as transparent scoring with
pleasing, virtuosic solo instruments. Alfred Dürr in The Cantatas of JSB (p.793) points out another galant-style characteristic: the strict symmetrical phrases in the Bar-form folk song of the bass aria (Mvt. 4). Bach continued to sustain a high level of creativity through transformation of his materials, and also found opportunities to make varied use of these chorale cantatas. >
Mvt. 1 - I find the woodwind parts a heightened feature of the opening chorus, though the clarity of the horns is certainly a delight, too. The woodwind feature, however, makes me feel like getting up and dancing. I find that it is difficult to sit absolutely still to Bach. Even when I attend live performances the excitement of the music causes me to quietly tap at least my index finger (and hope no one notices). I notice on a second listening to this chorus how well the strings support the work of the other instruments, and yet their independence also adds to the richness of the ornamentation by other instruments.
Mvt. 2 - The strong and smooth flow of the scalewise (also broken scalar motives) pattern in the continuo (in strings) (Rilling ) undergirds the duet so beautifully. There is a great deep quality here. I find that I like this
duet very much.
Mvt. 3 - The virtuosity by flute in the opening motives of this movement (in contrast to the scalar motives in the opening of Mvt. 2), and then picking up again after the solist offers her words sails along carrying the verse forward with great freshness. The pairing with the continuo part is exquisite. The descending passage at the end leads to a most desirable simple cadence lending finality to the text.
Mvt. 4 - By way of contrast the strings in the bass predominate in opening the next movement as they support the bass solist in his delightful presentation. I find the ornamentation at the end of some phrases very desirable. The swinging (upswinging) feeling in the strings in some passages lends freedom to the text.
Mvt. 5 - A more minor quality introduces the alto solo. Here Bach returns to the predominate quality of woodwinds, using the oboe. Of all the woodwinds I often think the oboe presents the most heart-rending emotional quality. Although the singing by the alto is quite different from the vocal demands in the duet, the strength that is present in the duet also is evident in this aria. The independence of the oboe heightens to my the tensions of this verse. Perhaps the duet and this aria stand out for me as new elements to enjoy.
Mvt. 6 - Horns accentuate the celebratory nature of this verse with full scoring in the last movement. Certainly the singable qualities William Hoffman mentions, wonderful symmetry in the phrases, and homophonic texture is fully available here in this familiar chorus. I have started to pay attention to motives used in opening and closing movements in the opening passages. There is a similarity between them in this cantata, with the weightiness being used in the final movement to give force to the affirming nature of the text.
Nearly every time I listen to Bach I am struck by the contrasts between darkness and light, and they are masterfully presented in this cantata - yet there is no issue of difficult listening in this case.
Thanks again to William Hoffman for so ably setting the context of this work and for the notes added in as presented by Aryeh in 2003.
Neil Halliday wrote (September 22, 2008):
In the opening chorus (Mvt. 1), the opening part of the ritornello with horns can sound crude and/or rigid unless played with flexible expression and articulation. Koopman  and Gardiner  perhaps succeed where others fail, in this regard, judging by the short samples. Leusink's ensemble  sounds particularly amateurish.
The continuo line of the entire AT duet (Mvt. 2) consists of a three and a half bar long phrase that is repeated over and over in different keys, with risscale passages of complex, shifting key structure in the centre of the movement. Organ coloration is needed to accompany this austere string line; Richter  is quite successful in this regard, though his string line is too soft in places to hear the actual pitch of the notes, and the sempre staccato articulation of this line is not to my liking. He has superb singers.
Beringer  has a lovely, ecstatic, obbligato (modern) flute in the soprano aria (Mvt. 3); a wooden baroque flute can be weak in recordings unless it is properly miked.
The bass aria (Mvt. 4) has something of the feel of 121/4 "Johannis freudenvolles Springen"; I particularly like Beringer's version .
The 12/8 time is an attractive feature of the alto aria (Mvt. 5) with obligato oboe.
Once again, in the last movement lively articulation of the horns is critical.
Jean Laaninen wrote (September 22, 2008):
[To Neil Halliday] Interesting comments...
William Hoffman wrote (September 23, 2008):
BWV 100: Fugitive Notes
Designation. The parts of chorale cantatas BWV 97 and the score and (presumably) the parts of BWV 100 were found in C.P.E. Bach's estate catalog (1790). The rest of the manuscripts of the chorale cantata scores presumably were taken by Wilhelm Friedemann. Thus, these two cantatas were not considered part of Bach's Chorale Cantata Cycle (2), which were inherited by W.F. (scores) and Anna Magdalena (parts). In C.P.E.'s catalog, the materials of Cantatas BWV 97 and BWV 100 were not found in the listings by church year occasions, beginning with Advent (BWV 61 and BWV 36) and ending with the Feast of St. Michael (BWV 19). Cantata BWV 97 appears early in the listing of Sebastian's vocal music, following the oratorios, among the occasional works, both secular and sacred mixed together on catalog pages 70-72, followed by Mass movements, motets and the Church Year. These three pages also include all of the secular works with BWV 213-215 together with generic descriptions as congratulatory cantatas (BWV 213, BWV 215) or drama (BWV 214). The interspersed sacred occasional works included those for the town council, weddings, and two Passions, BWV 245 and BWV 244.
It is believed that C.P.E. stored - and catalogued -- the works in the same manner as his father had done and in the same pattern that he had received of this inheritance at his father's death. BWV 100 is found at the end of the vocal music, after the Feast of St. Michael, with two incomplete works, an early version of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and Cantata BWV 190 for New Year's. C.P.E. apparently never examined these three works since there is no mention in the catalog listing of the specific materials as being scores, parts, or doublets. Obviously both BWV 97 and BWV 100, listed only by their first vocal line incipit, were considered by Sebastian as not being part of his established church year works, treated instead as occasional pieces.
While both BWV 97 and BWV 100 were based on chorales listed for weddings at St Thomas Church, neither is divided into two parts to be presented before and after the service. Instead, many church uses have been suggested, primarily in the Trinity Season, based on prior usage of the chorale melody in other cantatas.
Incidentally, BWV 100 is the only chorale cantata where Bach borrowed music from a previously written cantata. Clearly, Bach was very deliberate, purposeful, intentional, as he also was with the general distribution of the cantata cycles to his sons (see Wolff, JSB:TLM, p.457ff).
Corentin Bresson wrote (September 23, 2008):
BWV 100: Richter & Harnoncourt's complete audio streams
Richter : http://www.jiwa.fr/playlist/Bach-Cantata-BWV-100-Richter-147591.html
Leonhardt : http://www.jiwa.fr/playlist/Bach-Cantata-BWV-100-Harnoncourt-147592.html
If Jiwa doesn't work for you, Leonhardt's stream  is also on www.deezer.com. Both websites stroke deals with the majors, so their streams are legal. Their interfaces are available in various languages. If you have pop ups or too many ads under IE, you can get Firefox with the AdBlock Plus plugin.
Neil Halliday wrote (September 24, 2008):
[To Corentin Bresson] Wow! Thank you very much. What an incredible resource, with a good quality stereo stream.
In Leonhardt's recording  there is none of the unpleasant 'scraping' noise with the cello sound in the continuo of the the AT duet (Mvt. 2) that can be heard in Rilling  and Gardiner ; and his (boy) soprano is much more suitable than Mathis (with Richter), who should not be singing Bach, IMO.
Here's hoping this wonderful resource doesn't disappear, as has happened in the past (remember the Zale site?).
Jean Laaninen wrote (September 24, 2008):
[To Neil Halliday] I posted the jiwa link to my Facebook page...this is a great site. There are 265 J.S. Bach listening opportunities alone.
BWV 100, Trinity 15 (?), Sep. 20, 2009
Ed Myskowski wrote (September 20, 2009):
Brian McCreath chose the Koopman performance of BWV 100  for broadcast and webcast (WGBH-FM, www.wgbh.org) earlier this morning. The association of BWV 100 with Trinity 15 is by implication of the text; Durr suggests that it is in fact a reworked wedding cantata, and so categorizes it in his book.
A fine alto performance by Bogna Bartosz  is an outstanding feature of the Koopman version, and that reminds me of our recent discussion of Nathalie Stutzmann in BWV 169 on Gardiner's latest release, Vol. 9. I heard from a BCML friend off-list, including a preference for Aafje Heynis, from the 1960s. I have not yet taken the time to do a side-by-side comparison, but in any case it is not my nature to try to rank performances, I enjoy them both. The Heynis recording has been reissued on the Phillips/Eloquence label from Australia, it remains available at reasonable cost via amazon.com, probably other sources as well.
Kathleen Ferrier is another historic alto who had a unique talent, perhaps unequalled at present. Nevertheless, I am grateful to Gardiner, Koopman, and Kuijken (Petra Noskaiova) for giving us the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest female altos around today, not to take any credit away from the many fine male singers who have seemingly in recent years been considered more authentic in Bach alto performances.
William Hoffman wrote (September 21, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Brian McCreath chose the Koopman performance of BWV 100  for broadcast and webcast (WGBH-FM, www.wgbh.org) earlier this morning. The association of BWV 100 with Trinity 15 is by implication of the text; Dürr suggestthat it is in fact a reworked wedding cantata, and so categorizes it in his book. >
William Hoffman replies: Karl Richter's recordings of Trinity Season cantatas includes BWV 100  for Trinity Sunday +15. While Bach usually designated the specific service on his score title page, I still believe Bach wrote those undesignated chorale cantatas for specific Sundays, perhaps more than one.
Thank you, Ed, for celebrating those marvelous female alto voices. I'm sure Bach would have done so in church, given the opportunity, as he actually did in his secular cantatas and perhaps in some out-of-town performances. I'm sorry but I can't stand those screechy kids, like in Harnoncourt/Leonhardt "complete" (sic) cantatas. Just imagine kids in one-voice-per-part settings! Yes, call me a kid singer bigot, although I do like Charlotte Church, but I will take Emma Kirkby as a substitute any day!
Evan Cortens wrote (September 22, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Thank you, Ed, for celebrating those marvelous female alto voices. I'm sure Bach would have done so in church, given the opportunity, as he actually did in his secular cantatas and perhaps in some out-of-town performances. I'm sorry but I can't stand those screechy kids, like in Harnoncourt/Leonhardt "complete" (sic) cantatas. Just imagine kids in one-voice-per-part settings! Yes, call me a kid singer bigot, although I do like Charlotte Church, but I will take Emma Kirkby as a substitute any day! >
[To William Hoffman & Ed Myskowski] I'm with you on the use of boys in the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt recordings. I believe, however, that the problem lies in the age of the children used, rather than in the fact that they're boys. I wanted also to address a comment you made in the BWV 58 thread to this effect:
"Also, a larger ensemble may have required more rehearsal time to get the right balance, especially with the use of boy sopranos and altos who can't produce the volume of sound that adults can."
Both of these statements reflect a modern sensibility about boy singers, i.e. that they're never more than about 12 years old, if that. This is certainly the case on the H/L recordings; it was not, however, the case for Bach. For all intents and purposes, his male sopranos were adults, being on average fifteen or sixteen years old, sometimes even as old as seventeen or eighteen. In addition to the vocal maturity that would surely have resulted, this also means they had several years of additional training, many of them having sung for ten or more years by the time they would have been singing Bach's cantatas. Again, hardly the case for the Wiener and Tölzer Knabenchoere, used on the H/L recordings. This was the case for altos as well, who may even have been older singers using falsetto. (In Hamburg, under C.P.E. Bach, where we often know exactly who the singers were for a given performance, one of the principal alto singers was Otto Ernst Gregorius Schieferlein, who sung under Telemann as well, and was still singing alto parts well into his sixties.)
Anyway, all this to say I ultimately agree with both you and Ed, if for different reasons. Because I believe we'll never be able to recapture exactly Bach's original singers, because we simply don't have sopranos that old anymore, we ought to use female singers as well.
Continue on Part 3
Cantata BWV 100: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3