Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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 11
Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen
[Himmelfahrts-Oratorium]
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of December 5, 2010

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 5, 2010):
Introductio to BWV 11 -- Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen

This weeks discussion continues the ongoing series of cantatas spanning from Easter to Ascension , Pentecost, and Trinity. With BWV 11, we have the last of four Ascension Day works, this one from 1735. Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV11.htm

The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham} is especially recommended as an introduction to listening. Other commentary by Craig Smith, [Emmanuel Music] link, and the 2008 discussion introduction by Therese Hanquet are also worth seeking out. Selected recordings for the current weeks discussion are highlighted on the BCW main (home) page, as well as on the BWV 11 recordings page.

The OVPP recording by Kuijken [25] is especially recommended, and relevant to current BCML discussion. Kuijken includes a statement regarding the use of vocal forces in Bachs music, as part of the General Introduction booklet provided with all recordings in the ongoing series on Accent label. Specific to BWV 11, Kuijken also notes:

<The Evangelist (Mvt. 7) tells how suddenly, after the actual Ascension, two men in white apparel appeared (as stated in Acts 1:10-11), who proclaimed to the Apostles that the ascended Jesus would return as they had previously seen him go into heaven.

Here Bach allows the Evangelist (tenor), together with the bass, to present the words of the two men as a duet. This is an example that shows, in Bach’s concept, the Evangelist is not only the Evangelist absolutely. He also sings words which are outside his role. One can see in this a confirmation of the practice, in general, of working with only four singers, and no chorus in the modern sense. It would in fact have been quite simple and obvious to give the role of the two men to two other singers, if they had been available.> (end quote)

The conclusion of the works for Ascension Day is a convenient opportunity to look back through the period beginning with Easter, and review Bachs use of the scriptural appearances of the resurrected Jesus. I have previously expressed my disappointment that there are not more, and I also followed Craig Smith in stating that BWV 128 was a missed opportunity for the classic vision of the Ascension, from Acts. In fact, here it is, in BWV 11. Characteristic of Bach, he uses it once, and only once, avoiding repeating himself. I expect the same will turn out to be true of the other appearances of Jesus in this period, specific cantata citations to follow.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 5, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< The conclusion of the works for Ascension Day is a convenient opportunity to look back through the period beginning with Easter, and review Bachs use of the scriptural appearances of the resurrected Jesus. I have previously expressed my disappointment that there are not more, and I also followed Craig Smith in stating that BWV 128 was a missed opportunity for the classic vision of the Ascension, from Acts. >
Actually, I think we'd have to say that all of the oratorios for Christmas, Easter and Ascension Days are a dramatic disappointment when compared with the Passions. However, all of the concerted works for those days have some of Bach's most beautiful and most spectacular music. The closing chorus in BWV 11 is one of the most arresting moments in all of Bach: I've seen audiences literally electrified and sit up when that trumpet solo begins. It is the equal of the end of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248).

I've written before about the idea of rankings of importance in Bach's church year, and it seems to me that the scale and scoring of this cantata indicates that Ascension Day was one of the principal holidays along with the Three-Day festivals of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. We forget that, although it was a Thursday, Ascension Day was a civic holiday as well: government and businesses closed and the streets were chained and sanded to stop carriage trade and muffle sound on a religious holiday when the populace was expected to attend church. Ascension Day is still a civic holiday in Germany.

However, it's interesting to note that Ascension Day was not the climax of the Easter season. Despite it's title as the "Sunday after Ascension", the following Sunday resumes the sequence of weeks after Easter which are titled
by the name of their Latin introit, in this case, Exaudi Sunday, with Gospel readings from the Gospel of John.

Most telling is the fact that in the two surviving cantatas for Exaudi Sunday, Bach resumes his custom of giving the Vox Christi to a bass soloist. Ascension Day with its festival brass links the beginning of the Easter season on Easter Day and looks ahead to its conclusion on Pentecost.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 6, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Actually, I think we'd have to say that all of the oratorios for Christmas, Easter and Ascension Days are a dramatic disappointment when compared with the Passions. However, all of the concerted works for those days have some of Bach's most beautiful and most spectacular music. The closing chorus in BWV 11 is one of the most arresting moments in all of Bach: I've seen audiences literally electrified and sit up when that trumpet solo begins. It is the equal of the end of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). >
Yes, I agree that whatever the dramatic disappointment, it does not limit the quality of the music. In fact, I was trying to suggest that the Ascension Oratorio itself corrects some of the lack of drama in the three earlier Ascension cantatas we have covered in the preceding weeks. Also IMO, Therese Hanquet did a fine job a couple years age, emphasizing the pleasing architectural symmetry of the work. Bach at his absoolute finest.

DC:
< Most telling is the fact that in the two surviving cantatas for Exaudi Sunday, Bach resumes his custom of giving the Vox Christi to a bass soloist. Ascension Day with its festival brass links the beginning of the Easter season on Easter Day and looks ahead to its conclusion on Pentecost. >
EM:
I waited to see if anyone expressed potential interest, before suggesting that we expand our discussion topics a bit for the coming months, to cover not only the weekly cantatas individually, but also in relation to the entire season from Easter to Pentecost. Indeed, Doug effectively proposed this, along with Will Hoffman, with their posts which are archived with BWV 67 for Easter 1, and other posts from about the same time, as I recall.

I will try to cover some scriptural details, as promised. I hope others will join in with any items of specific personal interest. The convenience of such discussion is directly related to the liturgical orientation of our ongoing discussion cycle. Pentecost, or Trinity Sunday the following week, represent the climax of the first half of the liturgical calendar, and the transition to the long season of the Sundays after Trinity, which we will make in our discussions not too long into next year.

I know that a few others are using the commentary linked to BCW from Julian Michams website, for weekly listening. I hope there are many more who are doing so silently. This seems an ideal and relatively easy way to jump into the weekly discussions with comments and/or questons. I know from personal experience othe years that Julian is always happy and generous to share his accumulated knowledge and opinions, a unique opportunity for those (of any age) who enjoy lifelong learning.

William Hoffman wrote (December 7, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] Will Hoffman replies: Connecting dots with other services, the liturgical calendar, the seasons and the chorales, especially in the Easter season, opens many vistas and perspectives. Rather than being disappointed at the approach of the half-year Trinity Season, I am invigorated by the lead-in of Easter and the discovery of many timeless devotional Trinity themes for each Sunday, the related chorales, and the connections to the previous half-year. I also get a stronger sense of the significance of Easter Season for Bach.

Around Christmas, I'll have much more time to take up the Ascension cantatas' chorales and themes and to begin looking at a lost Pentecost Oratorio as the summation of the Pentecost cantatas.

Meanwhile, I'm taking some time, as I start to do each church year, with a review of Bach's Advent works going forward. We are still learning and maybe some day we'll have recordings of the original Weimar Advent cantatas 70a, 186a, 147a, and 132 and maybe even all 18 Johann Ludwig Bach cantatas for Cycle 3 so we can better understand Bach's well-order church music to the glory of God.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 8, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham} is especially recommended as an introduction to >listening. >
For example:

<The alto aria will be familiar to all Bach devotees as a version of the much loved Agnus Dei from the Mass in Bm. Dürr informs us, however, that it would be a mistake to assume that the one was paraphrased from the other; the original template for both comes from an earlier, lost cantata. Nevertheless, a comparative study of the two versions yields much of interest for the student, not least in Bach’s observance of seemingly insignificant detail. For example, whilst the bulk of the nine-bar ritornello theme is unaltered there are, besides the transposition to the lower key, a number of small but telling modifications.
Firstly the ornamental skirls from the first and seventh bars are removed in the version for the Mass. Secondly, three bars of the violin melody are raised one octave (from bar 5), partially a practical matter of one potentially unavailable note due to the lower transposition, but it also has a marked affect on the spaciousness of the melody. Thirdly, Bach changes the third to last note from the supertonic (b in Am) to the dominant (d in Gm). It is only one note which might be thought to be of little or no consequence but it has a profound effect on the expressive character of the phrase ending.> (end quote)

EM:
< The OVPP recording by Kuijken [25] is especially recommended, and relevant to current BCML discussion. >
If you also have the Kuijken BMM (BWV 232), you can hear alto Petra Noskaiova singing both versions of the aria, and enjoy the three-fold(!) pleasure of beautiful performances illustrating Julians point, non-authentic casting masquerading as HIP, and a Polish name to die for.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 8, 2010):
BWV 11 & the Magnificat

Is there a name for the little figure which appears in the soprano and tenor parts in the fourth bar after the chorus enters in the 1st movement? It consists of a written-out slide of a third followed by repeated staccato notes. It's a prominent figure in the opening chorus and "Esurientes" in the Magnificat.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 8, 2010):
[To Doug Cowling] I hazard a guess that its a variant on the Scotch snap or Lombard rhythm although in their strictest forms they only have one short note (on the beat) followed by a longer one.

It’s the same principle and a similar musical effect.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 9, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I will try to cover some scriptural details, as promised. I hope others will join in with any items of specific personal interest. >
Apparently others, including C.P.E. Bach, also saw the period between Ressurection and Ascension as an opportunity for dramatic presentation. New to me, as of today, is the Kuijken DVD [23] (not OVPP!) of the JSBach Ascension Oratorio, coupled with CPEBach oratorio: The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. The DVD is included in the BCW discography, I believe also with complimentary review comments, readily accessible.

More to come, but these weeks go by in a flash.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 10, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Apparently others, including C.P.E. Bach, also saw the period between Ressurection and Ascension as an opportunity for dramatic presentation. New to me, as of today, is the Kuijken DVD [23] (not OVPP!) of the JSBach Ascension Oratorio, coupled with CPEBach oratorio: The Resurrection and >Ascension of Jesus. >
That will teach me not to rush and/or multi-task: writing, watching, and listening all at once. The JSB Ascension Oratorio, BWV 11, is indeed OVPP with Kuijken [23] leading as first violin, making a nice contrast with the preceding (on the DVD) CPEBach oratorio, with Kuijken more conventionally conducting larger forces. That was still on when I wrote my previous commment.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 10, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< The JSB Ascension Oratorio, BWV 11, is indeed OVPP with Kuijken [23] leading as first violin, making a nice contrast with the preceding (on the DVD) CPEBach oratorio, with Kuijken more conventionally conducting larger forces. >
Rather than trying to accumulate ideas into a single post, I am going to pass along individual thoughts as they occur to me, re the Kuijken DVD performance of BWV 11 [23].

The documentation indicates: A performance from the Bachfest Leipzig 2004. Recorded live at the Church of St. Nikolai, 16 May 2004.

To me, it does not look like the same audience for the two works, and so not a document of a performance. A minor point, but bear with me. Doug Cowling recently indicated that he has experienced audiences physically moved by the closing chorus of BWV 11. That is not the case here, in fact the audience response to the CPE Bach is much more immediate, while that for BWV 11 seems to gradually grow. I wonder if that is a diffferent and/or tentative response to the OVPP performance, or perhaps just not the same people?

Note that both works are performed from the altar area, for audience visibility. As Doug frequently points out, not an authentic layout, especially for OVPP, and likely compromising the church acoustic. The recorded sound is not compromised, as best I can tell listening to the DVD through TV speakers.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 11, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
<< The documentation indicates: A performance from the Bachfest Leipzig 2004. Recorded live at the Church of St. Nikolai, 16 May 2004. >>
< You can watch extracts from this performance via Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1FQDkwavCg >
If you enjoy the extracts, is there a link to access the full performance?

I had a bit of off-list chat re my posts, and the extracts. Apparently it is not exactly clear what is CPEBach and JSB? I am thrilled to have my DVD, at bargain basement price. Now that I have it, I realize I would still be thrilled at full price. Shop, look, and listen?

Is it a pun if you need to explain? In the early days of autos and railroads in the USA, the only crossing warning was a sign (for the autos!): Stop, look, and listen.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 11, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< If you enjoy the extracts, is there a link to access the full performance? >
That was an ill-conceived response which I would retract, if that were possible. My thougwas that extracts do not capture the sense of a performance, without further explanation.

I expect Kim was suggesting that if you think you might be interested in this performance, samples are available, in order to get the flavor.

If those samples entice you (correctly, IMO), there are purchasing links available via the BCW discography pages.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 11, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1FQDkwavCg
If you enjoy the extracts, is there a link to access the full performance? >
I expect Kim was suggesting that if you think you might be interested in this performance, samples are available, in order to get the flavor.

If those samples entice you (correctly, IMO), there are purchasing links available via the BCW discography pages.

As Ed points out, I tiresomely complain that modern performances in Bach's churches are always located at the crossing of the nave, the one place where musicians were never positioned and where the sound is the most muddled.

However, in this clip we can see that the choir is pushed back into the chancel. This is the area which originally had choir stalls and where Bach's scholarship boys sang the office of Matins every morning at 5 am under the direction of one of the prefects. The service appears to have been unaccompanied and consisted of 2 or 3 psalms in Latin chant, a Latin canticle and unison chorales.

You can see that the chancel, like that in St, Thomas', is quite compact and the sound would have been quite intimate for the singers. At the same time, the apse focussed and amplified the sound as it emerged from the from the chancel.

In a real sense, this was vicarious worship offered in the name of the whole community but probably attended by only a handful of the most devout. Bach undoubtedly never attended, but he had the responsibility that this monastic daily regimen was properly executed as part of the well-regulated schema of services.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 12, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< As Ed points out, I tiresomely complain that modern performances in Bach's churches are always located at the crossing of the nave, the one place where musicians were never positioned and where the sound is the most muddled.
However, in this clip we can see that the choir is pushed back into the chancel. This is the area which originally had choir stalls and where Bach's scholarship boys sang the office of Matins every morning at 5 am under the direction of one of the prefects. >
Accuracy is never tiresome, at least to me. Thanks for added details, I was hoping we would get to that.

 

Easter & Ascension Oratorios - Matthew Halls, Retrospect Ensemble

Andrew White (Drew) wrote (March 8, 2011):
The samples for this recording sound very promising: http://www.linnrecords.com/recording-js-bach-easter-oratorio-ascension-oratorios.aspx

Two of my favorite vocal works by Bach, with my favorite Bachian tenor, James Gilchrist -- wonderful to hear him sing one of Bach's finest tenor arias, BWV 249:7 ("Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer").

Sampson and Harvey are great, as well. A strong line-up, to be sure.

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (March 8, 2011):
[To Andrew White] Thanks Andrew!

SOME modern flutists play so marvellously well the Baroque flute (like in Track 5-Aria-Seele ...) that we forget how devilishly difficult is to play in tune and with even sound that instrument.

A question for the "Cantatati": which Baroque evidence exists for the use of ostensible vibrato in all the long notes, whether by singers or instruments?

Thanks,

 

OT: BWV 11 St John's College, Cambridge

Chris Stanley wrote (May 9, 2013):
On Ascension Day it is appropriate perhaps to draw your attention to a performance of the Ascension Cantata yesterday on Choral Evensong (BBC iplayer): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s6bng

For those not wanting to hear the first part of the service BWV 11 starts at 29 minutes

Excellent IMO and great use of the St John acoustic. Enough to cheer anyone up!!

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 9, 2013):
[To Chris Stanley] Actually, even if you have no interest in the rest of the service, it's worth listening to this broadcast to get a feeling for what Vespers was like in Bach's time. The opening responses and the psalm are sung to modern chants but they are not dissimilar to the affect of the comparable 17th century pieces in Bach's hymnbook.

Most interesting is the inclusion of a concerted Magnificat by Durante. Bach had manuscripts of the composer who may have visited Dresden. This setting may very well have been known to Bach. It is a rare opportunity to hear a large-scale Magnificat as a complement to the cantata.

And of course, we get a chance to hear one of the greatest men-and-boys choirs in the world with an excellent period band.

 

Cantata BWV 11 [Himmelfahrts-Oratorium]: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýMay 12, 2013 ý08:15:15