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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 103
Ihr werdet weinen und heulen
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of April 22, 2007

Julian Mincham wrote (April 22, 2007):
Cantata BWV 103 - Introduction

CONTEXT

This is the fifth cantata in the cycle after Bach had either lost his librettist or deliberately changed tack. It is the second of the four of these late cantatas, that opens with a large-scale chorus which is not a chorale fantasia. . The very first line of text establishes that it deals with one of Bach's favourite, and often most inspiring situations, the simultaneous expression of opposite emotions or arguments. How to convey, in the one piece of music, the seemingly opposing ideas of individual grief and communal rejoicing?

Bach, as always, rises magnificently to challenges of this kind and the scale and enormous complexity of the opening movement indicates that he must have given it a great deal of thought. In fact, this is the first extended opening chorus that he seems to have written since the 1725 Easter celebrations. The choir has rested long enough; let's now really put them through their paces!

Bach may well have temporarily relinquished the idea of the chorale fantasia but his penchant for composing massive, commanding opening choruses obviously remains. The entire text of this movement comprises only four short lines but they encapsulate three different ideas; you will weep, the world will rejoice, your personal misery will be transformed into joy. It is reasonable to assume that, in order to effectively combine these ideas within a single movement, Bach may have felt relieved to have released himself from the strictures imposed by the chorale cantus firmus. As in several other of these last cantatas, in dispensing with the chorale cantus firmus Bach creates a structure entirely suggested by the text.

THE CANTATA OF THE WEEK BWV 103 Ihr werdet weinen und heulen

You shall weep and wail, though the world will rejoice.
Chorus--recit (tenor)--aria (alto)--recit (alto)--aria (tenor)--chorale.
The forty-fifth cantata of the cycle for Jubilate. Librettist Mariane von Ziegler

The opening chorus is tri-partite, but not in the conventional sense of being in a balanced ternary (ABA) or da capo form; it simply inserts a recitative between two massive choral statements. It begins with a long orchestral ritornello which suggests an Italianate concerto structure but this does not eventuate; 'the ritornello' occurs at the beginning and the end but does not separate choral entries. However, its persistent rhythms and predominant melody are never far away, first supporting and later being taken over by the singers.

Four factors determine the character of this movement and the listener will better navigate his/her way through the music after becoming thoroughly familiar with them. The first is the choice of minor, rather than major key; serious and somber and, incidentally, also used for most of the latter movements. The second is the three-note figure of joy heard at the beginning on the oboes, then strings and finally combined on both. The third is the effervescent piccolo (or sopranino recorder) semi-quavers, re-sounding above everything. The last is the sinewy fugue subject first introduced on the tenor entry. The mood is guardedly buoyant, edgy and uneasy but neither tragic on the one hand nor ecstatic on the other. It lies somewhere between the extremes.

However on the tenor's vocal entry, things change. They introduce a new theme which Bach will treat fugally three times. The second and third expositions of this theme are separated by the short bass recitative and both conclude with yet another clearly defined and recognisable melodic idea.

Bach presents his first fugal theme in the order tenor, alto, soprano, bass. It is a melody of considerable tortuousness, intensified by the use of the awkward interval of an augmented second and the (now almost bizarre) lines of the piccolo and oboes. This is the pain of the individual soul, dismal and potentially depressing, given even greater poignancy by the chromatically descending counter subject. But on the words 'aber die Welt wird freuen'----the world will rejoice--the voices take up the initial orchestral theme where the joy motive dominates. At the same time, the bubbling piccolo returns. The musical structure perfectly reflects the textual statements.

The recitative section is a mere eight bars long but its context and piteousness give it great impact. Time appears to stand still'.

Following it, the act of transformation is completed. Bach now presents us with his third and final fugal exposition. Both 'tragic' and 'joy' themes are heard, but the former is never stated without being surrounded by the latter and streams of semi-quavers. If the individual's transformational joyousness is not entirely ecstatic, it is, at least elated and infused with energy. But tragedy, whilst temporarily relegated, has not been completely obliterated.

The alto recitative is almost a justification or explanation of earthly sorrow at times of bereavement (something of which Bach had had great experience). We are reminded that it is natural to lament at such times. Notable is the deeply moving melisma on the word 'Schmerzen'---sorrow. It is difficult not to interpret this as a moment when Bach's personal experience of pain and alienation touches our hearts directly across the centuries. This poignant phrase leads us perfectly to the arid beauty of the next movement.

The text of alto aria offers little in the way of concrete images---there is no doctor who can heal my sinful wounds; if you deny me, I must die----only hear me---I still have faith. Again there is a divergence of ideas; hopeless misery on the one hand but a glimmering of light on the other.

The key, F sharp minor, seldom used before Bach's time usually, in his hands, heralds a movement of haunting beauty. This aria never settles in a major key, unusual for Bach who, in a movement of this length would generally be expected to move to the relative major, either for imagic effect or simply for musical contrast. The unrelenting minor and deeply emotive melodic lines convey feelings of individual sadness. The flickering piccolo, with echoes from the first movement but employing a quite different figuration--ever striving upwards--moderates the underlying sense of potential tragedy. As so often with Bach's expressions of sadness and sorrow, one never feels totally bereft or without hope.

The alto recitative begins in the key of the opening chorus, B minor but, like the individual's misery, will be transformed to joy. The vocal line suggests this by moving exultantly from the darkness of B minor to the light of D major. The point is underlined by the sweeping melisa on the word 'Freude'---happiness or delight. Thus does Bach use a technical musical device not only to take us to the key of the final, decisive aria but also to subtly suggest the idea of personal transformation.

The trumpet is used as a solo instrument just in this one aria, for tenor. Given the strong hint offered in the closing bars of the preceding recitative, it hardly surprises as it bursts upon us with an energy, acclamation and jubilation unheard, as yet, in this work. The text is now entirely positive--leave your sorrow, Jesus is appearing and nothing can now match my happiness--and all this is perfectly matched by the music. The main theme is a combination of joy motive and brass fanfare and the direction is one of ever reaching upwards. All is positive and joyful; or almost all. Bach makes use of his 'Blues note' (the flattened third note of a major scale) to evoke occasional touches of sadness but such moments are now short and fleeting. The lengthening melismas on 'freude'---joy---dominate the movement. The message is clear and resounding.

The closing chorale melody has an interesting history. It can be found in the Saint Mathew Passion Part 1 and in Cs 67, 111 and 144. Again it stresses the transformation from pain to happinessand the harmonization is itself a metaphor of this process. It has alternating cadences in minor and major keys. Bach need not have harmonized it thus; it is perfectly possible to keep it within the keys of B and F sharp minors throughout. But the alternation of light and shade is symbolic.

The premise of the first movement is musically maintained until the very end.

The link to the cantata page can be found at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV103.htm

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 22, 2007):
Cantata BWV 103 - Opening Chorus

Julian Mincham wrote:
< Four factors determine the character of this movement and the listener will better navigate his/her way through the music after becoming thoroughly familiar with them. The first is the choice of minor, rather than major key; serious and somber and, incidentally, also used for most of the latter movements. The second is the three-note figure of joy heard at the beginning on the oboes, then strings and finally combined on both. The third is the effervescent piccolo (or sopranino recorder) semi-quavers, re-sounding above everything. >
I don't have a full score. A couple of questions:

1) What do the original parts/score mark for the flute/recorder part and how is it notated? I was surprised to hear a sopranino recorder in the Leusink recording [6]. Is the part really supposed to sound in that upper octave? I can't think of another instance in the cantatas and I really didn't like the sound.

2) When the opening chorus shifts into the cental adagio, all the recordings introduce a solo bass. Are there any solo/tutti markings? If the bass part is continuous, the lack of markings might suggest OVPP.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 22, 2007):
Cantata BWV 103 - Recorder

Brad sent me the BG full score, but I'm still confused.

The flute part for the opening chorus is marked for Violin Concertato or Travserse Flute with Flute Piccolo (the latter presumably sounding at the octave). The aria is marked for traverso. The piccolo flute does not play in the closing chorale.

Leusink [6] uses sopranino recorder alone for chorus and aria.

I know we had a long discussion about flutes last year, but was there a suggestion that piccolo flutes and recorders were different insruments?

Neil Halliday wrote (April 22, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>"Is the part really supposed to sound in that upper octave? I can't think of another instance in the cantatas and I really didn't like the sound".<
The instrument (termed 'flauto piccolo' in Rilling's booklet [4]) sounds utterly charming (IMO) in Rilling's recording, in the opening chorus, alto aria (though traverso is designated in the BGA), and closing chorale. Have a listen to the BCW samples and see what you think.

Birschof's site lists 96/1 and 103/1 as the only movements with flauto piccolo, in the cantatas.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 22, 2007):

Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>I know we had a long discussion about flutes last year, but was there a suggestion that piccolo flutes and recorders were different insruments?<<
Wherever Bach used the term 'Flauto' or 'Fiauto', he meant only the "Diskantblockflöte in F1" The combination 'Flauto piccolo,' is analogous to other instruments where Bach uses the term 'piccolo' as well: 'Violino piccolo' etc. This always means that the instrument is/sounds an octave higher than the one without this descriptive term 'piccolo'. Hence, the 'Flauto piccolo' is not a part written for a 'Sopranino' (a C-based recorder), but rather the next smaller instrument above that which is based upon the lowest f being an octave above or higher than the Flauto (Alto or F-based recorder) most commonly used by Bach.

The information above comes courtesy of Ulrich Prinz on p. 230 of his "J.S. Bachs Instrumentarium" Stuttgart/Kassel etc., 2005 where, for instance, on p.238 he points out:

Two mistakes in the newest MGG2 edition have reduced the ranges of the Flauto piccolo in BWV 96 and BWV 103 by one octave. This is obviously wrong and may relate to an error commonly made (Prinz, p. 240): the incorrect assertion made by numerous commentators is based upon wrong information supplied by the BGA for both BWV 96 where it has indicated "Violino piccolo col Flauto piccolo" and BWV 103 where it has "Violino concertante o Flauto Traverso col Flauto piccolo". These mistakes have commonly led people to believe that the same part could be played at the lower octave because Bach had wanted it to sound an octave lower than the Flauto piccolo. This, of course, is not true. Here is Prinz's listing of the correct ranges:

Flauto piccolo

Notation Sound

BWV 96 mvt. 1: f1-f3 f2-f4

BWV 103 Mvt. 1: g1-a3 e2-f#4
mvt. 3: g1-f3 e2-d4

For comparison
Violino piccolo (later performances after 1724)

BWV 96 mvt. 1: d1-d3 f1-f3

The Flauto piccolo did not play along in the final chorales in either cantata; however, the Violino piccolo or Violino concertante or Traverso parts from later performances did play the final chorales.

Actual and possible articulation of the flauto piccolo
parts can be viewed at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV103-M1.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV96-M1.htm

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 22, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>Birschof's site lists 96/1 and 103/1 as the only movements with flauto piccolo, in the cantatas.<<
BWV 8 has an original part "Fiauto Piccolo' completely written out by Christian Gottlob Meißner, but then crossed out possibly for one of the later repeat performances of this work.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 22, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< the incorrect assertion made by numerous commentators is based upon wrong information supplied by the BGA for both BWV 96 where it has indicated ³Violino piccolo col Flauto piccolo² and BWV 103 where it has ³Violino concertante o Flauto Traverso col Flauto piccolo². These mistakes have commonly led people to believe that the same part could be played at the lower octave because Bach had wanted it to sound an octave lower than the Flauto piccolo. This, of course, is not true. >
But doesn't the term 'Flauto Traverso col Flauto piccolo' mean two instruments playng simultaneously, the traverese flute at the notated lower octave, the recorder at its resultant upper? That's what Bach usallly means when he links two instuments voices with "col". In the tenor aria of this cantata, the oboes and vioins play the same music ('Oboe d'amore I col Violino I), and in the final chorale, the instruments double the voices conventionally (e.g. "Viola col Tenore")

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 22, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>But doesn't the term 'Flauto Traverso col Flauto piccolo' mean two instruments playng simultaneously, the traverese flute at the notated lower octave, the recorder at its resultant upper? That's what Bach usallly means when he links two instuments voices with "col". In the tenor aria of this cantata, the oboes and vioins play the same music ('Oboe d'amore I col Violino I), and in the final chorale, the instruments double the voices conventionally (e.g. "Viola col Tenore")<<
Wilhelm Rust, who prepared the critical edition of the BGA, failed to recognize the different handwriting and watermark on one part, thus he simply conflated the existing parts and made up the 'col'. There is a "Flauto piccolo" part copied by Johann Andreas Kuhnau for the first performance and an inserted part "Violino Conc: ou Trav" copied years later by Johann Ludwig Krebs for the 1731 performance. Rust did not recognize the difference that the Krebs copy uses paper with a completely different watermark than allthe others in the original set of parts.

The NBA correctly recognizes these essential differences. It has printed the cantata with only the original Flauto piccolo part and has added the later "Violino Conc: ou [not 'col'] Trav" part as an appendix.

Bach's autograph title for his score includes only mention of the Flauto piccolo and not any of the later replacements which Bach may have been forced to use because he no longer had a good Flauto piccolo player available.

Joost Jansen wrote (April 22, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Brad sent me the BG full score, but I'm still confused.
The flute part for the opening chorus is marked for Violin Concertato or Travserse Flute with Flute Piccolo (the latter presumably sounding at the octave). The aria is marked for traverso. The piccolo flute does not play in the closing chorale.
Leusink
[6] uses sopranino recorder alone for chorus and aria.
I know we had a long discussion about flutes last year, but was there a suggestion that piccolo flutes and recorders were different insruments? >
In the early 18th century any recorder smaller than an alto was called flauto piccolo. In a chamber cantata from Alessandro Scarlatti (I don't have the title right now) it is clearly a soprano in C, in Vivaldi concertos it can be either sopranino (in F, an octave higher than an alto) or a soprano in D (which was called sixth flute in English). Frans Brüggen uses a sixth flute in the Leonhardt recording [5], which I find very convincing.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 22, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>The NBA correctly recognizes these essential differences. It has printed the cantata with only the original Flauto piccolo part and has added the later "Violino Conc: ou [not 'col'] Trav" part as an appendix.<
Thanks for this information, which explains the rather strange designation of unison traverso and piccolo in the BGA.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 22, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Bach's autograph title for his score includes only mention of the Flauto piccolo and not any of the later replacements which Bach may have been forced to use because he no longer had a good Flauto piccolo player available. >
Thanks. This makes sense. Now I just need to listen to a recording other than Leusink [6] and see if the recorder can be played in tune.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 22, 2007):
Joost Jansen wrote:
>>In the early 18th century any recorder smaller than an alto was called flauto piccolo. In a chamber cantata from Alessandro Scarlatti (I don't have the title right now) it is clearly a soprano in C, in Vivaldi concertos it can be either sopranino (in F, an octave higher than an alto) or a soprano in D (which was called sixth flute in English). Frans Brüggen uses a sixth flute in the Leonhardt recording [5], which I find very convincing.<<
It is unfortunate that the Flauto piccolo used by Brüggen in the BWV 103/Leonhardt recording [5] is not specified beyond the maker and approximate date: Thomas Stanesby, jr. London c. 1720.

According to Prinz who quotes P. Thalheimer's research ("Der Flauto piccolo bei Johann Sebastian Bach", BJ, 1966, p. 143, the Flauto piccolo used in BWV 103 should be (because of the transposition involved) a recorder in d2 (lowest note being a d2) while the one to be used in BWV 96 is a recorder in f2. Notice how Prinz avoids the confusing terminology of sopranino or sixth flute.

Quoting a number of German music theoreticians and lexicographers on the subject of 'small flutes', Prinz comes to the following conclusions:

Based upon the fingering charts available from Bach's time, there is a basic difference between the 8-hole recorder (7 holes in front + one thumb hole in back - c1-c3) which can appear as a "Quart-Flöte" ('Fourth flute' with a range of c1-c3) and the 6-hole 'Flageolet' (4 holes in front and two in back - d1-c3 ). In 1708, J. G. Walther defined the 'Flageolet' as a little flute with 4 holes above and 2 thumbholes with a range of d1-c3, also called a 'Flautino'; while 'Flauto piccolo' is simply a little flute. In his Music Dictonary (1732), Walther states flatly: "Flautino, Flauto piccolo (Italian), Petite Flûte (French) are all the same as 'Flageolet'. A "Fourth flute" has a range of c1-c3 and a 'Flageolet' from d1-e3 (in a table Walther has c3 instead of e3.

From English language sources:

A 'Sixth flute' is a Recorder with lowest note d2, a 6th above the treble instrument.

Flautino (It.: 'little flute').
Diminutive of 'flauto'. In early 17th-century Italian music a synonym for 'flauto' (treble recorder, lowest note g'); in late 17th- and early 18th-century Italian practice (as in Vivaldi), probably a small 'Flageolet' (see also 'Zuffolo'); in German practice of the second half of the 18th century, generally a 'piccolo,' occasionally (as in Mozart's 'Die Entführung aus dem Serail') a 'small flageolet'. Since the early 19th century it has not been used for the piccolo, which in Italian is called 'flauto piccolo,' or more commonly 'ottavino'. The 'flautino alla vigesima seconda' (small recorder at the 22nd, or third octave) listed in the first print of Monteverdi's 'Orfeo' (1609) is probably a sopranino recorder in g2.

Flageolet.

A kind of 'Duct flute': the term, a diminutive of the earlier 'flageol (flageot, flaiol, flajo,' etc.), appears in French literary sources from the 13th century onwards and seems to have been used for a variety of 'pastoral' pipes, including panpipes and reedpipes, the three-holed tabor pipe and other duct flutes that were not true recorders.

From a modern perspective (contributors: Jeremy Montagu, Howard Mayer Brown/Jaap Frank, Ardal Powell) relate the following:

>>(Fr. 'petite flûte'; Ger. 'kleine Flöte, Pickelflöte, Pikkoloflöte, Oktavflöte'; It. 'ottavino' or, more rarely, 'flauto piccolo'). A small flute pitched an octave higher than the concert flute. It is a transposing instrument, its music written an octave lower than sounding pitch. The piccolo is fingered like its larger relative but, as it has no separate foot joint, its range usually extends down only to d2; although Verdi in his 'Requiem' and Mahler in his 'First Symphony' wrote for it down to c2. 'Old-system' piccolos were used well into the 20th century even after the Boehm-system flute had displaced other types. The most common model at the end of the century was a wooden, two-piece instrument with Boehm-system keywork, having a conical bore and either a wooden or a metal head and a range of d2-c5.

In the 18th-century 'petite flûte' or 'flautino' could indicate a flageolet or small recorder as well as the piccolo, and it is thus not always clear which instrument a composer had in mind. However, the transverse piccolo was used in 18th-century France: Michel Corrette mentioned it in his 'Méthode' (1740), and Rameau ('Dardanus,' 1739) and Gluck ('Iphigénie en Tauride,' 1779) scored for it. Since Beethoven ('Egmont' Overture, Symphonies 5, 6 and 9) it has been an integral part of the symphony and opera orchestra, often used for special effects. Late 19th-century composers such as Richard Strauss and Mahler made the piccolo a full member of the orchestra, integrating its sound into the orchestral colour. As parts became increasingly difficult, piccolo playing became a speciality, and by the end of the 20th century most large orchestras had a principal piccolo player ranking with the other principals. The piccolo's brilliance is a feature of the military band repertory, and the military piccolo appears occasionally in the orchestra (as for example, in Berlioz's 'Grand Symphonie funèbre et triomphale,' 1840, originally for military band, which also includes third flutes in F).

Before the late 18th century, the term 'flauto' or its equivalent, without a modifier, almost always referred to the 'Recorder', evidently the dominant instrument of the two during much of their history, and sometimes specificato the treble (alto) recorder, the most characteristic member of the family.

Similarly 'flautino' or 'flauto piccolo' referred to a small recorder, a descant or even a sopranino. If, in earlier times, a transverse flute was intended, a modifier had to be added to the noun (e.g. cross, German, transverse, 'traversière, traverso').

The following important excerpt is by David Lasocki from his article on the 'recorder':

>>Recorder.

The verb 'to record', meaning 'to remember for oneself, to recall to another', derives from the Latin 'recordari' = 'to remember'; thus a recorder was a rememberer or relater, such as a minstrel or, by extension, his instrument (E. Partridge: "Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English," New York, 1958). The first known use of the word to refer to a musical instrument was in 1388, when the household accounts of the Earl of Derby (later King Henry IV) listed 'i. fistula nomine Recordour mpta London pro domino' (the name of the instrument was misreported as 'Ricordo' by Trowell, D 1957). In English literature the term 'recorder' first appeared in the poem 'The Fall of Princes' by John Lydgate (written 1431-8) where it apparently referred to the pan pipes: 'Pan, god off Kynde, with his pipes sevene / Off recorderis fond first the melodies'. A Latin-English dictionary from 1440, 'Promptorium parvulorum', gave 'recorder or lytyll pipe' as the translation of 'canula' (the 'Campus florum' cited as the authority for the term has not been traced). In most European languages, the first term for the recorder was the word for flute alone: in German 'Fleite' (von Aich, LXXV-'hubscher Lieder', 1519) or 'Flöte' (Virdung, 1511, rendered as 'flute' and 'fluyte' respectively in the French and Dutch translations of 1529 and 1568); in Italian, 'flauto' (letter from G.A. Testagrossa, 1518) or 'fiauto' (Verona, list of city musicians, 1484); in Spanish, 'flauta' (testament of Antón Ancóriz of Saragossa, 1472). Beginning in the 1530s, an appropriate adjective was often added, describing either the nine holes of the medieval and Renaissance recorder ('fleute a neufte trous'; see J. Palsgrave: 'Les clarissement de la langue francoyse,' 1530), the eight holes of the Baroque recorder ('flauto da 8 fori,' 'Tutto il bisognevole', ?1630), the vertical orientation ('flauto diritto', letter from Giovanni Alvise, 1505), the soft or sweet tone ('fluste douce', Mersenne, 1636; 'flauto dolce,' Küsser, 'Erindo,' 1694; 'flauta dulce', Pedro Rabassa, 'Miserere', 1715), the supposed association with England ('fluste d'Angleterre', Mersenne, 1636; 'litui anglicani', rector of the English Jesuit College in St Omer, France, first decade of the 17th century) or with Italy ('flauto italiano,' Bismantova, 1677, rev. 1694), the block ('Blockflöte,' Praetorius, 1619), the 'beak' of the Baroque recorder ('flûte à bec,' Hotteterre, 'Pièces,' 1708; 'flauta bocca,' Reynvaan, 1795), or the ability of the recorder in c2 to fit well into the hand ('handfluit,' Matthysz, Bc1649).

When the Baroque recorder was introduced to England by a group of French professionals in 1673, they brought with it the French names, 'flute douce' or simply 'flute', which overlapped with the traditional name until at least 1695. From 1673 to the late 1720s in England, therefore, the word 'flute', hitherto reserved for the transverse instrument, always meant recorder - a switch of terminology that has caused endless confusion among modern writers and editors. When the transverse flute overtook the recorder in popularity in England in the 1720s, the latter began to be distinguished further by the terms 'common flute' (John Loeillet, 'Sonata's for Variety of Instruments,' 1722) or 'common English-flute' (Stanesby, c1732), later contracted to 'English flute' ('The Compleat Tutor for the Flute,' c1765). John Grano used 'German flute' and 'flute' interchangeably for the transverse instrument by 1728-9, although a few writers were still using 'flute' to mean recorder until at least 1765. Standard 20th-century names for the recorder include: 'flûte à bec' or 'flûte douce' (Fr.), 'Blockflöte' (Ger.), 'flauto dolce, flauto a becco' or 'flauto diritto' (It.), 'blokfluit' (Dutch), 'furulya' or 'egyenesfuvola' (Hung.), 'flauta de pico' (Sp.) or 'flauta dulce' (Latin-American Sp.) and 'tatebue' or 'r&#299;k&#333;da' (Jap.). The neologism 'blockflute,' derived from the German 'Blockflöte,' goes back at least to F.J. Giesbert's recorder tutor (Mainz, 1936). The German terms 'Längsflöte' and 'Schnabelflöte' have long since gone out of fashion.

Although several sizes of recorder have been known since at least the 15th century, a consistent terminology for them was not established until the modern revival. In 18th-century England the smaller sizes were named according to their distance from the treble (lowest note f1) and notated as transposing instruments in relation to it: third flute (lowest note a1), fifth flute (c2), sixth flute (d2) and octave flute (f2). The term 'flute du quatre,' or fourth flute (b-flat1), was used by Charles Dieupart, although curiously he treated it as a transposing instrument in relation to the descant rather than the treble. In Germanic countries, the equivalent of the same term, 'Quartflöte,' was applied both to the tenor, with lowest note c1 (Walther, 1732) - the interval being measured down from the treble in f1 - and to a recorder with lowest note c2 (Speer, 'Grunde-richtiger . Unterricht der Musikalischen Kunst,' 1697; and as late as J.D. Berlin, 'Musikalske elementer,' 1744) - the interval of a 4th apparently being measured up from a treble with lowest note g1. In the early 20th century, Arnold Dolmetsch established the standard British terminology of sopranino (f2), descant (c2), treble (f1), tenor (c1) and bass (f). In recent years the recorder with lowest note 'f' has sometimes been termed the basset, because larger sizes have become more widespread: great bass (c), contrabass (F) and even subcontrabass (C) also called bass, great bass and contrabass, respectively.<<
(David Lasocki Grove Music Online ©Oxford University Press, 2007, acc. 4/22/07)

Summary:

As pertaining to Bach's use of the 'Flauto piccolo', it is highest sounding member of the recorder family to which it belongs. It is held vertically and generally sounds an octave above the standard 'alto' or 'treble' recorder being based upon f2 as its lowest note. Dolmetsch (standard British terminology) would call this a 'Sopranino' which seems to be the equivalent to what Bach would call 'piccolo' as added to 'Flauto', 'piccolo' always sounding an octave higher than the standard instrument (i.e., 'Violoncello piccolo' or 'Violino piccolo').

However, due to the special transposition involved in BWV 103, the 'Flauto piccolo' sounds a major 6th above its actual notation. This has caused P. Thalheimer to suggest theoretically a recorder with its base note being a d2 for playing mvts. 1 & 3 of BWV 103. This must be the 'Sixth flute' which Joost refers to in Frans Brüggen's performance of BWV 103.

[See comments on results of this performance of BWV 103 from the previous round (2002) of discussions.]

Joel Figen wrote (April 22, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Hence, the 'Flauto piccolo' is not a part written for a 'Sopranino' (a C-based recorder), but rather the next smaller instrument above that which is based upon the lowest f being an octave above or higher than the Flauto (Alto or F-based recorder) most commonly used by Bach. >
In today's terminology, that's the sopranino recorder. The transposing C recorder is called the "soprano" of the family. The nontransposing C recorder is called the tenor.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 23, 2007):
< Dolmetsch (standard British terminology) would call this a 'Sopranino' which seems to be the equivalent to what Bach would call 'piccolo' as added to 'Flauto', 'piccolo' always sounding an octave higher than the standard instrument (i.e., 'Violoncello piccolo' or 'Violino piccolo'). >
...Which interpretation of course does not resemble the truth when it comes to the "violino piccolo" in Brandenburg Concerto #1: no playing an octave higher there. The "violino piccolo" there is simply tuned with tighter strings, and the part read correspondingly in a different key, to yield a different musical effect.

Therefore, the word "piccolo" did not for Bach simply mean an octave displacement. It could sometimes mean something else. This rather takes the varnish off the word "always"; oh well.

[Incidentally, Mozart also used such a scordatura effect himself, for the viola solo part of the "Sinfonia concertante"...tuning the viola a semitone higher than normal and then having the part written in a lower key, with a more brilliant sound coming out of the viola because of the greater tension on it.]

But the rest of the report about recorders (most of it coming directly from reliable books and all) was remarkably accurate in most respects; fantastic progress, to stick to accurate reportage before the misstep in the summary.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 23, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>...Which interpretation [my misleading report on Prinz's generalization that when Bach adds 'piccolo' to an instrument, it means that it is an octave higher than the standard instrument of its type] of course does not resemble the truth when it comes to the "violino piccolo" in Brandenburg Concerto #1: not playing an octave higher there. The "violino piccolo" there is simply tuned with tighter strings, and the part read correspondingly in a different key, to yield a different musical effect. Therefore, the word "piccolo" did not for Bach simply mean an octave displacement. It could sometimes mean something else.<<
Thanks for catching this error on my part, although I could do without the patronizing comments which accompany your observation.

Yes, this is correct, as we have already seen with the 'Flauto piccolo' which is not always an exact octave above the standard corresponding type of 'Flauto' (Alto recorder). With string instruments the variation is even much greater owing to the possibilities afforded by tuning the instrument to different pitches and using scordatura. For instance, the tuning of the 'Violino piccolo' in BWV 1046 (Brandenburg #1) varies from mvt. to mvt (mvts. 1-4), each time having a lowest sounding base-note different from the others.

A 'Violoncello piccolo' sometimes had 5 strings rather than only the usual four. The variety of lowest sounding notes is indeed great, even at times having the same lowest base-note C as the Violoncello but having an additional higher string in the high range.

Upon rereading Prinz's statement about this, I discovered that he simply stated that 'piccolo' for Bach meant a smaller form of the instrument than the standard form. However, now I am beginning to wonder whether the 5-string 'Violoncello piccolo' is really smaller in size than the standard 'Violoncello' because the former has the same lowest-pitched string as the latter and only differs from the latter by having an additional higher string at the top.

Thanks for catching this error. There are enough erroneous notions about Bach's music (BGA claims about 'col' in BWV 103, etc.) still circulating about after 130 years without my adding any more misinformation to what already exists 'out there'.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 23, 2007):
Cantata BWV 103: opening chorus

Expanding a bit on Julian's excellent introduction: he identifies three fugal expositions, the last two being separated by the bass `recitative'.

The first fugal exposition, on "you will be weeping and howling" (in the order TASB) has as its countersubject the chromatic scale that is first heard ascending rather eerily high on the piccolo, as the tenor begins with the three repeated crotchets that are the incipit of the rather severe fugue theme. The contrapuntal arrangement of this chromatic motif throughout this section is quite electrifying. Separating the 1st and 2nd fugal expositions is the section set to the words "but the world will be joyful". The second fugal exposition (in the order TBAS) combines both these subjects (textually and musically!), such that the counter subject of this fugue is now the `joy motif', not the chromatic motif seen in the first exposition. The OCC refers to this second exposition as a double fugue. This section is rounded off with brief recapitulations of three-note incipit (`grief') of the fugue theme, and the `joy' theme.

After the moving bass `recitative', the third fugal exposition is similar to the second, but notice that instead of the upward leap of a 7th, the theme continues down a tone, and continues an octave below, though in the same manner as before.

The commentators have various ideas on the meaning of the piccolo part. Robertson writes: "(the piccolo) is the voice of an unbelieving world maliciously mocking the Christians apparently deserted by their leader." For the OCC, the piccolo "presumably represents the idea of rejoicing". I would say its use is a good example of Bach using the same instrument to represent contrasting ideas, in the same movement. The rejoicing of the high-pitched broken chord passages (though coloured by the minor key) is obvious, but the quite unsettling effect of the chromatic scale passages on the instrument, referred to above, is also noteworthy.

Rilling [4] achieves wonderful forward momentum, and great clarity of the vocal lines, for a most impressive performance. I'll give Werner [3] a spin, and listen to some BCW samples later in the week.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 23, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>The second fugal exposition (in the order TBAS)<
This should ofcourse read BTAS.

BTW, two more observations (among many which could be made of this imposing chorus):

In the ritornello, Bach increases the rhythmic vitality over the 6-bar pedal point in the continuo, by having the oboes and upper strings alternate pairs of quavers in duple time, to the triple time of the semiquavers in the piccolo part.

The `joy' motif (quaver and two semiquavers) occurs - near the end of the second and third fugal expositions - in all eleven staves! (except the piccolo) for a tremendous climatic expression of rejoicing in the choir and orchestra. (This occurs in the bar before the 6-bar pedal point that corresponds to the one noted above.).

Overall this chorus demonstrates great rhythmic vitality and contrapuntal brilliance, in Bach's manner.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 23, 2007):
Cantata BWV 103: Double Fugue?
Neil Halliday wrote::
< The OCC refers to this second exposition as a double fugue. >
Is this really a double fugue where two subjects are introduced at the beginning?

The "Weinen" theme is followed by the "Freude" counter-subject -- it's almost a textbook example of how contrapuntal subject and counter-subject are balanced and contrasted. The real genius of the movement is that Bach introduces the counter-subject FIRST as the theme of the non-fugal orchestral introduction. The listener expects the choir to pick up this theme perhaps as a chorale fantasy, but instead it begins with a wholly new theme, symbollically contradicting the orchestra. That's a phenomenal musical effect.

As an example of a double fugue in the cantatas, I would suggest the final section of Cantata BWV 131, "Aus den Tiefen", where the sopranos begin at "Und er wird Israel" with running 16ths on "erlösung" while the tenors introduce the rising chromatic theme on "aus allen seinen Sünden".

Neil Halliday wrote (April 23, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<<Is this really a double fugue where two subjects are introduced at the beginning?
The "Weinen" theme is followed by the "Freude" counter-subject -- it's almost a textbook example of how contrapuntal subject and counter-subject are balanced and contrasted.>>

I agree with this. Perhaps I have oversimplified the OCC's proposition, because they also recognise the "Freude" theme as a countersubject of this impressive fugue, but they then comment: " Up to this point (ie, before the commencement of the bass `recitative') the movement by and large resembles a common type of choral double fugue..."., words with which I suppose we can all agree, while also agreeing that it is not technically a double fugue.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 23, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote::
>> "The OCC refers to this second exposition as a double fugue."<<
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Is this really a double fugue where two subjects are introduced at the beginning?<<
Both David Schulenberg (OCC) and Alfred Dürr (Die Kantaten) refer this as a quasi double fugue. Schulenberg "by and large [it] resembles a common type of choral double fugue" and Dürr "Die Fuge...erweckt...den Eindruck einer Doppelfuge" ("The fugue gives the impression of a double fugue").

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 23, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Thanks for catching this error. There are enough erroneous notions about Bach's music (BGA claims about 'col' in BWV 103, etc.) still circulating about after 130 years without my adding any more misinformation to what already exists 'out there'. >
I find myself in 100% agreement with that statement.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 23, 2007):
> The commentators have various ideas on the meaning of the piccolo
> part. Robertson writes: "(the piccolo) is the voice of an unbelieving
< world maliciously mocking the Christians apparently deserted by their leader." For the OCC, the piccolo "presumably represents the idea of rejoicing". I would say its use is a good example of Bach using the same instrument to represent contrasting ideas, in the same movement. >
The fact that they disagree is important: they're both just making up a possible interpretation after the fact.

Music is richer than that -- and not only here. Both of these interpretations, and additional ones, are possible...and it's not necessary for us or anyone else to restrict it. Whatever Bach meant, if anything(!) specific, by the employment of an unusually high instrument here: that specific meaning (if there ever was only one) is lost to us forever.

What we do have is the resulting score and parts. Every listener may draw his/her own conclusions as to any "meaning" specific to the orchestration here, and it shan't be proven. Different people will draw different impressions from the same work of art. That's (in part) why it's art.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 24, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
<< The commentators have various ideas on the meaning of the piccolo part. Robertson writes: "(the piccolo) is the voice of an unbelieving world maliciously mocking the Christians apparently deserted by their leader." For the OCC, the piccolo "presumably represents the idea of rejoicing". I would say its use is a good example of Bach using the same instrument to represent contrasting ideas, in the same movement. >>
< The fact that they disagree is important: they're both just making up a possible interpretation after the fact. >
They have certainly covered the possibilities: the piccolo can represent: yes, no, yes OR no, yes AND no.

Did I overlook a concise summary of this thread? I am still unclear on the resolution to Doug's early thought:

<The flute part for the opening chorus is marked for Violin Concertato or Transverse Flute with Flute Piccolo (the latter presumably sounding at the octave). The aria is marked for traverso. The piccolo flute does not play in the closing chorale.
Leusink
[6] uses sopranino recorder alone for chorus and aria. <end quote>
I grasped that it is a misinterpretation to allow the possibility of traverso and piccolo together, but I am unclear as to whether the piccolo in the aria (per Leusink [6]) is an error, or a reasonable option?

One thing for sure, you can't help but hear it.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 24, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<I am unclear as to whether the piccolo in the aria (per Leusink [6]) is an error, or a reasonable option? >
Perhaps Thomas can pass on the NBA`s findings in regard to the aria (and also the final chorale - see below).

I can say that, on the strength of Rilling's recording [4], a piccolo obbligato is at least a reasonable (if not correct) option. Rilling reduces the continuo to cello and harpsichord, and the ensemble with piccolo (and Soffel's sympathetic contribution) has a bright, attractive sound.

However, Werner [3] has a solo violin, and though the aria sounds very different, it is equally if not more convincing in this form - the more emotional `Affekt' probably suits the text better, but I still note the attractiveness of Rilling's alto aria [4], as music.

But everyone seems to be confused: the Werner booklet [3] lists flauto piccolo for opening chorus (which he employs), flauto piccolo for the alto aria, but he uses the violin, and flauto piccolo in the closing chorale, which is definitely not heard.

At least Rilling [4] is consistent; as stated in his booklet, he uses the piccolo (to fine effect, IMO) in all three movements.

Regarding the final chorale, I happened to notice that, in the BGA, a traverso 'at the octave'(!) is designated in the closing chorale of BWV 102, which suggests that Bach liked the high-pitched effect of the `col' parte' instrument; so in the case of BWV 103, if you already have a talented piccolo player on hand for the opening chorus, why not use him/her in the closing chorale (even though a traverso, not a piccolo, is apparently listed)?

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 25, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>Perhaps Thomas can pass on the NBA`s findings in regard to the aria (and also the final chorale - see below)....Regarding the final chorale, I happened to notice that, in the BGA, a traverso 'at the octave'(!) is designated in the closing chorale of BWV 102, which suggests that Bach liked the high-pitched effect of the `col' parte' instrument; so in the case of BWV 103, if you already have a talented piccolo player on hand for the opening chorus, why not use him/her in the closing chorale (even though a traverso, not a piccolo, is apparently listed)?<<
BWV 103 has an original 'Flauto piccolo' part for mvts. 1 & 3 but not for mvt. 6 (Chorale). Prinz points out that this is the usual situation for the final chorale, not to have the 'Flauto piccolo' play along.

This 'Flauto piccolo' part has mvt. 3 crossed out after it had been completely written out. This points to the change to 'odd' later part copied by Johann Ludwig Krebs for "Violino Conc: ou Trav" which plays the final chorale colla parte with the Soprano part.
(No higher octave here!)

BWV 102 Mvt. 7 Final Chorale

Only 2 original parts have survived (Soprano & Continuo). The final chorale, as usual with Bach, does not show the instrumentation in his autograph score. BGA and NBA both note the higher octave flute (or 'Violino piccolo') part (octave higher than the soprano part), but the NBA KB discussion does not specifically list the details of the 'Traversiere' or 'Violino piccolo' part which, along with all the rest of the missing parts were recopied (with significant changes) as ordered aby CPE Bach circa 1760 (ten years after his father's death). All of this makes the rather unique occurrence of any higher octave part (octave higher than the soprano) played by the Traverso or Violino piccolo appear to be somewhat suspicious. [One reason why CPE Bach may have done this is because the chorale melody is set quite low compared to other Bach chorales where the cantus firmus can be rather high in range. Remember also that CPE Bach felt no special need to present his father's chorale settings exactly as his father had once written them - CPE Bach's modifications can be found in the Breitkopf collection of 4-pt chorales.]

Neil Halliday wrote (April 25, 2007):
This week I have no trouble selecting the Rilling recording [4] as the best performance of the entire cantata. Aryeh has praised Graulich's recording [2]; for my part, I notice from the short BCW sample that, while in comparison to Werner [3] (whose recording I have), Grauli's opening chorus does seem to have more internal cohesion, clarity and momentum than Werner's performance, even though it is even slower than Werner, both of them sound somewhat laboured in comparison to Rilling.

I largely agree with Thomas Braatz's remarks on all of these recordings (except of course Werner [3], which was not previously discussed).

(BTW, Thomas, are you sure Graulich's `piccolo' [2] is not sounding at the higher octave? I seem to be hearing it - when it is audible - at about the same pitch as with Rilling [4], et.al, in the internet samples).

Tempos: Graulich [2] c.8mins. ; Werner [3] c.7mins. ; Rilling [4], Leonhardt [5], Leusink [6] c.6 mins.

Recordings not yet discussed.

Koopman [8] (from the sample):

The sample of Koopman's recording shows a tempo slightly faster than the 6 mins. group - probably about 5.30 - yet this speed still captures the powerful momentum set up by the incipit of the fugue subject, as in Rilling's recording [4]. The piccolo is clearly heard, which cannot always be said of the Leonhardt [5] and Leusink [6] recordings. In fact I might (if I heard the whole movement) place Koopman on the same high level as Rilling, in this chorus. I would not be surprised if many selected it as the finest of the period recordings of the opening chorus. BTW, Koopman also gives us a recording of the opening chorus with flute; in this case the music seems less colourful/distinctive, with the flute sounding at the lower octave.

As usual, I dislikeKoopman's tiny `portativ' organ [8] with its noisy mechanism, in the alto aria.

In the tenor aria, the baroque trumpet sounds weak to me, after the gloriously rousing modern trumpet renditions in the Werner [3] and Rilling [4] recordings.

The final chorale, with its HIP articulation - separation of syllables, curtailment of final notes of phrases etc, and brisk tempo that makes the whole thing seem light and insubstantial, is not to my taste.

Gardiner [7] (from the sample):

The opening chorus is too fast! The piccolo is mostly inaudible. OVPP. I won't be buying this performance to find out if the OVPP is successful.

The obbligato violin in the alto aria displays the worst excesses of HIP articulation, with wild variation in the dynamics on individual notes, resulting in comical distortions of the musical line (IMO).

This tenor's voice has plenty of vibrato that is not altogether attractive. Once again, the baroque trumpet, as in Koopman's recording [8], is weak/lacking strength and clarity in comparison to Rilling [4] or Werner [3].

Gardiner [7] has a `weightier', slightly improved version (IMO) of the final chorale; notice that, while he curtails the final notes of some phrases, he runs others into the next phrase, as if desiring a more flowing effect.
---------
My picks of individual movements: Werner alto chorale [3] (with violin), and Rilling [4] chorus and tenor aria. Werner has a fine tenor aria (with Maurice Andre on trumpet), but I prefer Rilling's livelier tempo and, though both singers are excellent, Schreier (with Rilling) is I believe the more expressive singer.

--------

Some of the points regarding secco accompaniment that caught my attention, in conjunction with previous discussions of this cantata (in 2002):

(from Andrew Lewis): "at the beginning of the eighteenth century, musicians in German and German-influenced centers began to shorten long values in the bass parts of simple recitatives. Authors offered various reasons for the convention: it relieved the monotony of sustained organ pipes and droning bass lines, allowed listeners to understand the text better,"

My observation: "began to shorten"...This implies that at some point in time secco recitatives were accompanied in some manner by notes of full length, but that "sustained organ pipes and droning bass lines" in practice proved to be unattractive. I'm thinking there has to be another way, rather than abandoning the harmonic support of the singer, as is heard with most HIP performances.

(Lewis): "Nevertheless, the convention (of shortened notes) was probably not universally known or practiced in the earliest years of the eighteenth century, since some writers prescribe it as a novel corrective to ignorance while others offer it as only one choice--albeit a desirable one."

My observation: "others offer it as only one choice--albeit a desirable one." Apart from whose choice is desirable, notice that word: "choice". I would like more evidence of such choices being taken in current performances. (I was totally bored by half of the two SJP's I heard over Easter, for the unvarying secco accompaniment thoughout the entire piece - a short stab of a single bass note on the cello, `augmented' (not) with an equally short weak/inaudible harpsichord or organ chord; and following with the score in hand revealed that half the figures (fair dinkum) in the score were completely ignored.

(Lewis): "Even the recommendation of Telemann and Petri to detach only the realized chords and not the bass ..."

Here we have a composer of the stature of Telemann confirming that there should be some kind of continuous support for the singer. As well, detaching chords is one thing, to have them separated by, in some cases, many bars, a la Harnoncourt, is another thing altogether.

(Lewis): ".confirm that, in order to understand the text, some form of shortening was required in recitatives".

My observation: This red herring keeps coming up, despite the fact that there is apparently no such problem with accompanied recitatives, which have sustaind chords on (usually) all the strings.

(Lewis): "In fact, Mr. Dreyfus tells us, and includes in his bibliography, of several sources that specifically deride short-accompaniment, most notably from French sources. But this, of course, only points further to a practice (of short notes)"

My observation: Three cheers for the French! And only "most notably" from French sources, implying other sources as well?

(Lewis): "Telemann argues that the organist should hold down the right hand while the organist and bass players should cut the bass note short."

My observation: This appears to contradict the quote above where Telemann is said to recommend detaching the chords and not the base note.

(Lewis): "Mr. Dreyfus is not arguing for any particular type of short-acompaniment, simply that a practice existed and that certain musicians rendered it differently, though most Germans agreed on some sort of shortening.

My observation: "Some sort of shortening" obviously does not mean total cessation of sound from the continuo, in Harnoncourt's manner, at least as far as Telemann (a German) is concerned.

In Rilling's BWV 103 recitatives [4], the bass strings are a bit loud (more reduction in volume over the length of the note would help) but the harpsichord does manage to convey some of the implied harmony to the listener. In any case, this is preferable to the extreme shortening of the entire continuo ensemble, and total absence of harmonic support, as with Harnoncourt's usual practice (IMO).

The 1st bass string notes in Leusink's tenor recitative [6] sounds coarse and ugly, so we can be thankful he cuts them short; however, he gives an example of more pleasant-sounding, longer-style accompaniment, with organ, in the subsequent alto recitative.

Thanks, Thomas, for clarifthe situation with BWV 103's instrumentation.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 25, 2007):
Naeil Halliday wrote:
>Gardiner [7] (from the sample):
The opening chorus is too fast! The piccolo is mostly inaudible. OVPP.<
Regarding Gardiner's tempo [7], I may have fallen into the 'comparisons trap' in stating that the tempo is too fast, because, when listening to it straight after Graulich [2], the tempo does indeed seem rushed, but coming to it fresh an hour later, the tempo sounds merely vigorous (but one wonders if the voices can tackle the upcoming 1/16th note passages).

Chris Kern wrote (April 25, 2007):
This cantata presents a unique (as of now, at least) problem withBach's music for me. The music doesn't sound all that bad, but I am physically unable to listen to this cantata because the flauto piccolo is so shrill and piercing. Maybe my ears are more sensitive than other people's -- I don't know.

Rilling [4] is by far the worst in this regard. Especially when the instrument participates in the fugue and goes up to the really high E...ouch!

Harnoncourt and Leusink [6] are "better" simply in that you cannot hear the flauto piccolo as much, but I will not be reviewing the recordings enough this week to make any more detailed comments than that.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 25, 2007):
Chris Kern wrote:
<"Especially when the instrument participates in the fugue and goes up to the really high E...ouch!">
This cantata reaches the highest note in any Bach cantata, I believe - F#4 -which is just three notes from the top of my 85-note modern piano keybord.

Your hearing must be particularly sensitive in that range. I'm pleased to be able to hear practically all the piccolo notes, in the Rilling recording [4].

Neil Halliday wrote (April 27, 2007):
BWV 103: alto aria

An interesting rhythmic detail, which I found confusing at first hearing, is the arrangement of rests (silent beats) in the continuo in the first couple of bars; on the 6th beat of the first full bar, and the 1st and 4th beat of the next bar, etc - and corresponding places throughout the movement.

Also noteworthy (but not uusual in Bach) is the highly varied and effective arrangement of imitative passages in piccolo, continuo and voice.

Peter Smaill wrote (April 27, 2007):
An unresolved problem in this Cantata is the significance, other than as a source of orchestral colour, of the choice of the flauto piccolo/sopranino recorder.

As has been suggested , it both offers joy-motives - anapaests and arpeggio figures illustrating joy; and yet participates in the downward chromatic passus duriusculus which betokens sorrowing . In this the same instrumrnt , as has been pointed out, is used to heighten the inversion of joy and lamentation which the Christian encounters relative to the worldling.

We could leave it here. But could there be a Bachian meaning to the rare deployment of this instrument? Robertson says it is used but twice; but Thomas Braatz, supported by Duerr, identifies three occasions - the present BWV 103; BWV 96 "Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn"; and the first version of BWV 8, "Liebster Gott, wenn will ich sterben".

Of the associations BWV 96 is the clearest; it is "doubtless" (Dürr) indicating the Morningstar, i.e., Jesus. Could it be that, just as Bach uses the Bass voice for the earthly sayings of the Son, he is deploying the sopranino to represent the celestial Jesus?

On this reading, BWV 103/1 represents the two natures of one Person, both the human aspect of Jesus as a suffering fellow human; and the joy of his divine nature. In BWV 103/3 the hidden Jesus can thus be heard and interweaves with the human voice nonetheless.

However, the flauto piccolo in BWV 8 has such strong overtones of Time (the 24 pulses) and maybe even is representing image of the the death Owl, that I hesitate to push a third theory that suggests that the sopranino actually is a sort of representational vox Christi calling the soul to heaven.

Much as a connection would be consistent with's Bach hermeneutic use elsewhere of orchestral colour, particularly the relation between brass and the texts, in the case of the rarely used flauto piccolo I cannot find a consistent theological connection. Others may.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 27, 2007):
< (...)
However, the flauto piccolo in
BWV 8 has such strong overtones of Time (the 24 pulses) and maybe even is representing image of the the death Owl, that I hesitate to push a third theory that suggests that the sopranino actually is a sort of representational vox Christi calling the soul to heaven.
Much as a connection would be consistent with's Bach hermeneutic use elsewhere of orchestral colour, particularly the relation between brass and the texts, in the case of the rarely used flauto piccolo I cannot find a consistent theological connection. Others may. >
Or maybe Bach had no hermeneutic/theological implications to his orchestration, and simply decided to employ the flauto piccolo because it sounds nice. Or to give variety. Or because he happened to have a good player available on these several occasions. Or because some parishioner slipped him some side payment to use that instrument occasionally. Or because Bach simply wanted to try out something experimentally, or play around with the church's acoustics, or whatever. Maybe the whole thing was whimsy.

Those are also possibilities.

Can music be allowed to be "only" music? Why "must" it mean something symbolic or secretive, beyond the sounds it makes along with any sung text? Why does there have to be any consistent theological connection,
across pieces of music written several years apart?

I'm not saying that there isn't one; only that some other musical or extramusical factors could be in play here, shouldering out any such conjectural connections (or meanings) with more mundane reasons.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 27, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< However, the flauto piccolo in BWV 8 has such strong overtones of Time (the 24 pulses) and maybe even is representing image of the the death Owl, that I hesitate to push a third theory that suggests that the sopranino actually is a sort of representational vox Christi calling the soul to heaven. >
I stilll favour the notion that BWV 8 is depictiing a clockwork, the ticking of which is an image of the passage of mortal life.

Peter Smaill wrote (April 28, 2007):
An unresolved problem in this Cantata is the significance, other than as a source of orchestral colour, of the choice of the flauto piccolo/sopranino recorder.

As has been suggested , it both offers joy-motives - anapaests and arpeggio figures illustrating joy; and yet participates in the downward chromatic passus duriusculus which betokens sorrowing . In this the same instrumrnt , as has been pointed out, is used to heighten the inversion of joy and lamentation which the Christian encounters relative to the worldling.

We could leave it here. But could there be a Bachian meaning to the rare deployment of this instrument? Robertson says it is used but twice; but Thomas Braatz, supported by Duerr, identifies three occasions - the present BWV 103; BWV 96 "Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn"; and the first version of BWV 8, "Liebster Gott, wenn will ich sterben".

Of the associations BWV 96 is the clearest; it is "doubtless" (Dürr) indicating the Morningstar, i.e., Jesus. Could it be that, just as Bach uses the Bass voice for the earthly sayings of the Son, he is deploying the sopranino to represent the celestial Jesus?

On this reading, BWV 103/1 represents the two natures of one Person, both the human aspect of Jesus as a suffering fellow human; and the joy of his divine nature. In BWV 103/3 the hidden Jesus can thube heard and interweaves with the human voice nonetheless.

However, the flauto piccolo in BWV 8 has such strong overtones of Time (the 24 pulses) and maybe even is representing image of the the death Owl, that I hesitate to push a third theory that suggests that the sopranino actually is a sort of representational vox Christi calling the soul to heaven.

Much as a connection would be consistent with's Bach hermeneutic use elsewhere of orchestral colour, particularly the relation between brass and the texts, in the case of the rarely used flauto piccolo I cannot find a consistent theological connection. Others may.

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 103: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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Last update: ýOctober 3, 2011 ý01:57:13