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Cantata BWV 133
Ich freue mich in dir
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of December 10, 2006

Roar Myrheim wrote (December 10, 2006):
Introduction to BWV 133 - "Ich freue mich in dir"

Week of December 10, 2006

Cantata BWV 133, "Ich freue mich in dir", for 3rd Day of Christmas.

Second Annual Cantata Cycle, Leipzig
Composed for 1st performance December 27, 1724 in Leipzig.

Main Cantata page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV133.htm
Previous Discussion: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV133-D.htm
Provenance: (Origin & Owner history): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV133-Ref.htm
Comentaries: (Smith, Dürr, Spitta, Voigt, Schweitzer, Schumacher, Anderson): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV133-Guide.htm

Text:

German: http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/133.html
English: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV133.html
English, interlinear: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV133-Eng3.htm
Other translations: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV133.htm

Score Vocal & Piano: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV133-V&P.pdf

Recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV133.htm#RC

Listen to Leusink recording (free streaming download):
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Stream/BWV133-Leusink.ram

Libretto: Unknown.
Based on Kaspar Ziegler's (1697) chorale with the same name as the cantata.
Chorale Text: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale004-Eng3.htm
Chorale Melody: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/O-Gott-du-frommer-Gott.htm

Readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Christmas3.htm
Epistles: Hebrews 1:1-14 "Christ is higher than the angels"
Gospel: John 1:1-14 "Prologue"

======================================

Structure:

1. Chorus SATB (1st verse of chorale)
Cornetto col Soprano, Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

2. Aria A (1st half of 2nd verse of chorale paraphrased)
Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo

3. Recitative T (2 last lines = 2 last lines of 2nd verse of chorale)
Continuo

4. Aria S (1st half of 3rd verse of chorale paraphrased)
Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

5. Recitative B (3 last lines = 3 last lines of 3rd verse of chorale)
Continuo

6. Chorale SATB (4th verse of chorale)
Cornetto e Oboe d'amore I e Violino I col Soprano, Oboe d'amore II e
Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

==================================================

Themes of the cantata:

This chorale cantata is based on a hymn by Kaspar Ziegler (1697). The unknown author has used verses 1 and 4 unaltered in movements 1 and 6 of the cantata. Verses 2 and 3 are paraphrased and partly quoted as explained in the structure chart above.

Mvt. 1 is a song of rejoice, because Jesus has decided to become our brother.

In Mvt. 2, we are asked to be confident. Things look well for me, because of the incarnation. I have seen God face to face - a clear reference to the Epistle reading from Hebr 1,3: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being,."

Mvt. 3: In earlier times, we would hide from God's face, but now we need not
be afraid anymore, because we know God's compassionate temper through the
act of the incarnation.

In Mvt. 4 the soprano dwells upon the dearly sounds: My Jesus has been born. This is a message so powerful, that the heart that is not touched by it, must be a hard rock.

Mvt. 5: We need not fear death anymore. Because of Jesus, we do not die even if we die.

The conclusion in Mvt. 6 is that I will live for Jesus, and die in Jesus. (Compare Romans 14,8: "If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.")

==================================================

Short introduction:

Mostly John Eliot Gardiner (from sleeve notes to Pilgrimage CD no. 15)

I find it hard to imagine music that conveys more persuasively the essence, the exuberance and the sheer exhilaration of Christmas than the opening chorus of BWV 133 "Ich freue mich in dir". First performed on 27 December 1724, it is constructed as an Italianate concerto-like movement of infectious rhythmic élan. An anonymous melody evidently new to Bach (he sketched it in at the foot of the score of the Sanctus, also composed for Christmas in 1724 and eventually incorporated into the B minor Mass (BWV 232)) is fitted to Kaspar Ziegler's hymn. Eight lines of text are interpolated between the spirited ritornelli in which, unusually, the second violin and violas are strengthened by the two oboes d'amore, leaving the first violins unaided to shine above the rest. One senses that during this hectic period Bach needed to take into account the cumulative fatigue and reliability of his ensemble. It was probably wise of him to confine the choir to a mostly straightforward chorale harmonisation - line by line and expanding into simple polyphony at the mention of 'Der große Gottessohn'. So with little or no rehearsal, he could rely on his string players to give the necessary zip to this extended concertante dance of joy. The 'süßer Ton' is suggested both by the bell-like crotchets in the first two bars and later by the magical interlacing of sustained inner parts as soon as the choir mention these 'sweet sounds'.

Some of the energy and brilliance of the opening movement spills into its sequel, an A major aria in which both the alto soloist and the pair of accompanying oboes d'amore are called upon to give a firecracker delivery to the opening word 'Getrost!' ('Be of good cheer') before bursting into cascades of semiquavers. Then comes a more reflective circling figure [circulatio - Dürr calls it "Kreisende Achtelfigur"] marked piano (the same as was played loudly by the continuo in the first bar) which is handed to the alto for the parenthesis 'Wie wohl ist mir geschehen' ('How blessed am I'), eventually given three times in rising progression to convey the delight at seeing God face to face.

A brief recitative for tenor twice breaks into solo arioso allusions to the chorale. The key idea of the opening movement's 'sweet sound' is now revealed. It is the announcement 'My Jesus has been born' in the soprano aria (Mvt. 4), to which Bach assigns a melodic phrase that

sounds as it if had been lifted from a chorale or plainsong. The bells ringing in her ears to which the soprano refers are suggested by the violin barriolage of alternating open and stopped strings and a solo flourish in the first violin. A different-sounding bell is tolled in the slow pastoral 'B' section by unison violas and second violins, over which the solo violin and soprano soar in a lyrical meditation on the name of Jesus. Only the chromatic twists allude to the stheart which refuses to acknowledge it.


New recordings since the last time this cantata was discussed are:

Suzuki: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Suzuki-Vol31.htm
Herreweghe [9]: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Herreweghe-C15.htm
Gardiner: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec3.htm#P15

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 10, 2006):
Roar Myrheim wrote:
>>An anonymous melody evidently new to Bach (he sketched it in at the foot of the score of the Sanctus, also composed for Christmas in 1724 and eventually incorporated into the B minor Mass (BWV 232)) is fitted to Kaspar Ziegler's hymn.<<
While this sentence contains a lot of interesting information, I hope that no one will construe it to mean that the chorale melody was actually used again in the B minor Mass (BWV 232). Only the sheet of paper on which Bach sketched the melody (unknown to him at that time) was part of the score for Mus. ms. Bach P13, the Sanctus in D major BWV 238, later to become BWV 232 (III= 3rd version). This Sanctus mvt. was first performed on December 25, 1723 (Dürr's chronology) and possibly there were repeat performances on Christmas Day during some of the subsequent years, but there is no definite evidence of this, only reasonable conjecture.

It is quite possible that something very similar to the Sanctus mvt. was used (music lost but text still available) as the final mvt. "Glück und Heil" of BWV 249a, a secular birthday cantata "Entfliehet, verschwindet, entweichet, ihr Sorgen", first performed on February 2, 1725. On April 1, 1725, Bach recycled the Sanctus mvt. as BWV 249/11 "Preis und Dank" in what was at that time still called an Easter cantata (later to become the Easter Oratorio BWV 249).

Who knows? Perhaps Bach had pulled out for possible (or actual) use the score for the already existing Sanctus in D Major during Advent of 1724 while composing BWV 133 and had simply jotted down for himself the new melody for "Ich freue mich in Dir", one which the congregation still was not using with the same text until well into the 1730s.* Perhaps this [its use in BWV 133] was an experiment on Bach's part to see how members of the congregation would react to a new, unaccustomed use of a melody for an already established text?

*This Christmas chorale (Text: Ich freue mich in dir") was still being sung to a different melody ("Nun danket alle Gott") according to the Leipzig Hymnal of 1730.

[NBA KB I/3.1 p. 138]

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 10, 2006):
A correction is necessary!

I had stated:
"Only the sheet of paper on which Bach sketched the melody (unknown to him at that time) was part of the score for Mus. ms. Bach P13, the Sanctus in D major BWV 238, later to become BWV 232 (III= 3rd stage or version). This Sanctus mvt. was first performed on December 25, 1723 (Dürr's chronology)...<<
Incorrect: the Sanctus in D major BWV 238 with a first performance date on Christmas 1723 [that part is correct] is, however, not at all a part of this picture. It is a separate work that should not be considered here as related to the Sanctus that is later found in the B minor Mass (BWV 232).

Correct: the information about the early use and first performance 1725 dates of the same music (different words for the secular birthday cantata) used later in the B minor mass (BWV 232) is correct. Also its inclusion in what would eventually be called the Easter Oratorio (BWV 249).

The most recent source on which these corrections are based is the NBA KB II/1a from 2005. The Sanctus which has the melody for "Ich freue mich in dir" at the bottom of the first page of the autograph score was
performed for the first time on December 25, 1724 (Dürr's chronology). The inclusion of the chorale melody was only one factor used in pointing to this date.

It appears then that Bach, during Advent of 1724, was working on and composing both the great Sanctus as well as the present cantata, BWV 133, where this new melody was used.

After the performance of the Sanctus on Christmas Day 1724, it then appeared as previously indicated in the birthday cantata on February 23, 1725 followed by its use in the Easter cantata "Kommt, fliehet und eilet" on April 1, 1725. The latter cantata would eventually be transformed into the Easter Oratorio, BWV 249.

Chris Rowson wrote (December 10, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote: ...
< After the performance of the Sanctus on Christmas Day 1724, it then appeared as previously indicated in the birthday cantata on February 23, 1725 followed by its use in the Easter cantata "Kommt, fliehet und eilet" on April 1, 1725. ... >
So is this a documented case of Bach using for secular purposes music written for the church?

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 10, 2006):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< So is this a documented case of Bach using for secular purposes music written for the church? >
And in the same post, documented evidence of Bach working in parallel on more than one work?

It is the season when we celebrate some truly astounding mythology: not least Immaculate Conception and Virgin Birth, so perhaps I am hallucinating?

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 10, 2006):
Chris Rowson wrote:
>>So is this a documented case of Bach using for secular purposes music written for the church?<<
Yes, it would appear so, but it is only one isolated mvt. which subsequently reappeared in repeat performances (with different texts, of course) as part of 2(!) birthday cantatas (none of the actual music for these has survived) as well as frequent reuse of this mvt. at Easter time beginning with April 1, 1725, and then again probably a year or two later.

When Bach finally incorporated this mvt. into the B-minor Mass BWV 232, he changed, among other things, the time signature from cut-time ('C' slash) to a regular 4/4 (C), thus giving us further evidence that these time signatures were undergoing a change during Bach's lifetime (one becoming more like the other or one being a 'convention' which was being replaced with 'reality').

The early history of the Easter Oratorio BWV 249 is extremely complicated and there are loose ends even for the birthday cantatas (with shepherds and shepherdesses) with firm documentation of performances of BWV 249a and BWV 249b on February 23, 1725 and August 25, 1726. Although the music for these performances is lost, it (the Sanctus) was most likely used in both secular cantatas.

Evidence from the state of the autograph score of the Sanctus first performed on December 25, 1724 is that it is a composing score with an amazing number of corrections and 3 preliminary sketches (including the one for the CM (chorale melody) of "Ich freue mich in dir"). Two of the sketches are for the same movement. In all likelihood Bach used Advent 1724 for composing the Sanctus and BWV 133 at almost the same time (at least noting for himself the shape of the CM to which he would soon have to devote more attention). Here is Bach composing music which would soon have be performed during the very busy holidays including Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany. He would have to rely on the sight-reading capabilities of his vocalists because he knew how much their voices would be strained by the Kurrende (caroling) tradition in which all boys would want to participate. And yet he has soprano and alto arias in BWV 133! What little time he must have had for any rehearsals (one rehearsal would most likely have had to suffice)! He had to be concerned that their voices would perhaps not hold up under all that singing that was required in church between Christmas and Epiphany.

BTW, at the very bottom of the page of the Sanctus is a note "NB. Die Parteyen sind in Böhmen bei Graff Sporck:" (Nota bene: the parts are in Bohemia at Count Sporck's residence:). The NBA has made no attempt to date this comment by Bach. Most likely, if this had referred to a much later comment towards the end of Bach's life as he was assembling the B minor Mass (BWV 232) into its final form, there would have been a noticeable difference in the style of Bach's handwriting. As it is now left uncommented by the NBA, we can perhaps assume that it was written either nearly at the same time or soon after the first performance, or within a few years after its composition.

Fact: only the doublets from the 1st performance, Christmas 1724 have survived (Violino Primo, Violino Secundo, Continuo (not figured).

For a repeat performances (perhaps Bach never got the parts back from Count Sporck), Bach had a new set of parts copied out. These were used for repeat performances during the holiday season (probably Christmas again) 1726/1727 and again for Easter in 1727.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 11, 2006):
BWV 133 Score Samples

Aryeh Oron has kindly placed under BWV 133 Score Samples Bach's first notation of the melody for "Ich freue mich in dir" which was found at the bottom of the first page of the autograph score of the Sanctus (first performed on Dec. 25, 1724) and which went through numerous incarnations (with various texts) until it was finally incorporated into the B minor Mass (BWV 232) circa 20 years later.

Shortly with Aryeh Oron's help, you will find for comparison the melody as Bach set it twice in BWV 133. Both of those versions differ from the original notation or sketch! [You can already view these (Mvt. 1 and Mvt. 6) at the very bottom of the lengthy chorale melody page on the BCW.]

Also, I believe I have made an interesting discovery about a chorale melody which is hinted at in the ritornello section of Mvt. 1. That will also be included soon.

Here is the URL: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV133-Sco.htm

Neil Halliday wrote (December 11, 2006):
BWV 133 recording remarks

Three years ago I wrote (of Mvt. 1): "I found Harnoncourt's [3] scratchy strings and endless staccato unlistenable".

Apart from confusing Leonhardt with Harnoncourt [3], I have become less allergic to period string timbre since that time, and I am not currently so dismissive of this recording. While the strings are more noticeably "period" (ie, `sharp' timbre) than some other ensembles, this recording does have strengths relative to other performances, eg, am I right in saying that the more even dynamic level of the strings, in comparison to the varying dynamic level of the strings in Gardiner's orchestra [8], for example, more vividly captures - expresses in a strong manner - the joy of the music?

BTW, I would not choose Koopman's rushed tempo [7] (and Suzuki's pushing the barrier as well [10]). More comments later.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 11, 2006):
As promised, additional examples have been added to the existing Bach sketch of "Ich freue mich in dir". For direct comparison, the chorale melody as used by Bach in two mvts. of the BWV 133 have been added. There are some differences worth noting. Bach had to modify his sketch before using it in this cantata.

Bach's key motif (Example 4) in the instrumental ritornello is reasonably based upon the opening of the chorale melody that the Leipzig congregations at Christmas in 1724 expected to hear used with a text with which they were alreday quite familar albeit with a very different chorale melody "Nun danket alle Gott". What a switch!. As long as the opening ritornello section was being presented, the congregations thought they were going to hear the latter CM used, but when the choir begins singing, there is an entirely new melody, one that would only be accepted into the Leipzig hymnal about a decade later.

see: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV133-Sco.htm
[click again on the image of each example to enlarge it]

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2006):
< http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV133-Sco.htm >
Example 4: incredible! unbelievable!

Examples 2 & 3: for what it's worth, the term is usually "stanza" rather than "verse".

Back to Example 4: don't the last two notes of this chorale melody (i.e. at "getan") usually go A-G rather than G-G? Not that it matters much here, since "Bach" didn't selectively quote those several black notes but only the red ones.

It's also totally awesome how the continuo goes "Nun danket" at the start of the last movement of the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244), C-C-C! Clearly a harking (hearkening? I'm never sure) back to BWV 133 where it's so obvious in the continuo, as demonstrated here in the red notes. Of course, a difference is that it's on the tonic of the scale (in its case, C minor) rather than scale degree ii (as shown here in Mvt. 1, on E minor within a D major movement), but surely that is only a trivial inconvenience.

For that matter, since it's Christmas season, how about "Nun danket" = "Jauchzet froh-" in the basso continuo of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). Nifty!

Chris Rowson wrote (December 11, 2006):
Chris Rowson wrote:
>>So is this a documented case of Bach using for secular purposes music written for the church?<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Yes, it would appear so, but it is only one isolated mvt. which subsequently reappeared in repeat performances (with different texts, of course) as part of 2(!) birthday cantatas (none of the actual music for these has survived) as well as frequent reuse of this mvt. at Easter time beginning with April 1, 1725, and then again probably a year or two later.
The early history of the Easter Oratorio
BWV 249 is extremely complicated and there are loose ends even for the birthday cantatas (with shepherds and shepherdesses) with firm documentation of performances of BWV 249a and BWV 249b on February 23, 1725 and August 25, 1726. Although the music for these performances is lost, it (the Sanctus) was most likely used in both secular cantatas. >
Even one isolated movement is earth-shaking for me, as I grew up believing that he never ever used music for secular purposes when it had once been used in church, and have had this belief reinforced in recent years. (I think Wolff states it his biography.)

Chris Rowson wrote (December 11, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Example 4: incredible! unbelievable!
... don't the last two notes of this chorale melody (i.e. at "getan") usually go A-G rather than G-G? Not that it matters much here, since "Bach" didn't selectively quote those several black notes but only the red ones.
It's also totaawesome how the continuo goes "Nun danket" at the start of the last movement of the St Matthew Passion (
BWV 244), C-C-C! Clearly a harking (hearkening? I'm never sure) back to BWV 133 where it's so obvious in the continuo, as demonstrated here in the red notes. ... >
Hey, that´s really amazinig - I find those three repeated notes very reminiscent of the three repeated notes of "Gelobet" in BWV 91/1 from a couple of weeks ago.

So maybe that was a forward reference to the three repeated notes of "Nun danket" too. Or the three repeated notes in the SMP (BWV 244). Or as suggested "Jauchzet froh."

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 11, 2006):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< So maybe that was a forward reference to the three repeated notes of ³Nun danket² too. Or the three repeated notes in the SMP (BWV 244). Or as suggested ³Jauchzet froh S² >
I find it difficult to believe that there is a chorale allusion at the opening of "Jauchzet Frolocket". Bach originally wrote the timpani solo to illustrate the words "Tönet Ihr Pauken" and then reused it for a very generic affect of "joy" in the oratorio. Four repeated tonic notes really do not suggest "Nun Danket Alle Gott" which opens with three repeated notes on the sixth of the scale.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2006):
< Bach's key motif (Example 4) in the instrumental ritornello is reasonably based upon the opening of the chorale melody that the Leipzig congregations at Christmas in 1724 expected to hear used with a text with which they were alreday quite familar albeit with a very different chorale melody "Nun danket alle Gott". What a switch!. As long as the opening ritornello section was being presented, the congregations thought they were going to hear the latter CM used, but when the choir begins singing, there is an entirely new melody, one that would only be accepted into the Leipzig hymnal about a decade later. >
Given that the congregation was so confused in their thoughts by such a switch (what a crafty rascal their Bach was!!!!!!!), and given this frustration of their expectations, were they nevertheless able to retain in their memory the outline of the entirely new melody that wouldn't be in the book for another 10 years? I ask this, because their memory capacities and their thoughts are apparently accessible somehow: albeit not elsewhere in print unless we're missing something. Since we now know not only what Bach was thinking and not thinking as the composer, but also the thoughts of his parishioners as well, party. Was Bach just out to prove that the expectations of his customers (his parishioners) weren't always right after all?

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2006):
Another correction...
< It's also totally awesome how the continuo goes "Nun danket" at the start of the last movement of the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244), C-C-C! Clearly a harking (hearkening? I'm never sure) back to BWV 133 where it's so obvious in the continuo, as demonstrated here in the red notes. Of course, a difference is that it's on the tonic of the scale (in its case, C minor) rather than scale degree ii (as shown here in Mvt. 1, on E minor within a D major movement), but surely that is only a trivial inconvenience. >
Now that I've actually looked at a score of BWV 133 and not merely taken that "score samples" web page on faith, I see that the remark "scale degree ii" was in error. It's really V7/V on the first of those "Nun danket" iterations in the bass (bar 9), i.e. a major triad plus a dominant-seventh, and not "E minor" as guessed. Sorry, my bad. The red notes just had my head in such a whirl, plus my confusion as listener since Bach pulled that old bait-and-switch with a chorale melody not in the hymnal. It's kind of hard to know if a minor or a major chord should be played or imagined, when the bass part omits its figures as seen in the "score samples". Oh well.

Anybody happen to know: in the pubs nearest the Thomaskirche, c1724, what was the policy when customers tried to order entrees that weren't listed on the board? Did the chefs ever try to tease up the expectations by spicing up mystery meat?

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2006):
Jauchezet & Nun Danket

<< So maybe that was a forward reference to the three repeated notes of ³Nun danket² too. Or the three repeated notes in the SMP (BWV 244). Or as suggested ³Jauchzet froh Š² >>
< I find it difficult to believe that there is a chorale allusion at the opening of "Jauchzet Frolocket". Bach originally wrote the timpani solo to illustrate the words "Tönet Ihr Pauken" and then reused it for a very generic affect of "joy" in the oratorio. >
Of course, the timpani part is as you say. But, the reference was to the continuo part. The fact that it happens to be in unison for some bit of the way is only a minor inconvenience (one only has a couple of drums in a timpani set, after all, not fully chromatic). One would never color the timpani part's notes red, under any circumstances. There is an obscure 17th century source, unfortunately no longer extant (but fortuitously quoted in a 1923 document that also is unfortunately no longer extant) carefully explaining that timpani notes are supposed to be mauve.

< Four repeated tonic notes really do not suggest "Nun Danket Alle Gott" which opens with three repeated notes on the sixth of the scale. >
Or, for that matter, on the fifth degree. But again, all scale degrees are equivalent if we assume "moveable do" (historically: "ut mueble") in the same way that a piece of furniture might work just as well in one room, as in another. Not to be confused with the oud which is a Middle Eastern instrument, and one Bach probably didn't use more than twice or three times during his career. Certainly not in the Christmas Oratorio.

Chris Rowson wrote (December 11, 2006):
I guess you´re right, but how many chorale melodies are there in JSB´s music which begin with three tonics?

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< So maybe that was a forward reference to the three repeated notes of ³Nun danket² too. Or the three repeated notes in the SMP (BWV 244). Or as suggested ³Jauchzet froh S² >
I find it difficult to believe that there is a chorale allusion at the opening of "Jauchzet Frolocket". Bach originally wrote the timpani solo to illustrate the words "Tönet Ihr Pauken" and then reused it for a very generic affect of "joy" in the oratorio. Four repeated tonic notes really do not suggest "Nun Danket Alle Gott" which opens with three repeated notes on the sixth of the scale.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 11, 2006):
Brad Lehman wrote:
<< Four repeated tonic notes really do not suggest "Nun Danket Alle Gott" which opens with three repeated notes on the sixth of the scale. >>
< Or, for that matter, on the fifth degree. >
LOL. I stand corrected. Starting on the sixth degree would be proto-Debussyesque.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 11, 2006):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< I guess you´re right, but how many chorale melodies are there in JSB´s music which begin with three tonics? >
"Ein Feste Burg" is one.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 11, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< OL. I stand corrected. Starting on the sixth degree would be proto-Debussyesque. >
What about the amazing opening to the chorus of BWV 109 where the first note on the strong beat of the first bar is a Bb?? The 6th note in the key of D minor?. Pretty cool.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2006):
< I guess you´re right, but how many chorale melodies are there in JSB´s music which begin with three tonics? >
19. However, they haven't yet been revealed by the channellers definitively, so "19" is only an estimate. There are all those lost cantatas to contend with, as well, lost even worse than the cases that preserve only the chorale; those are the ones where we especially need the channe' help. And more gin to go along with any stray tonics. I flipped open the Riemenschneider 371 just now, and randomly hit a page where #207 "Des heil'gen Geistes reiche Gnad'" and #208 "Als vierzig Tag' nach Ostern" both start with three tonics followed by a leap upward of a fifth. So, if one random page delivers this, and another random flip to the page of #188/#189 delivers two more, the true answer should be somewhere around 19, give or take some margin of error. Presumably one would also want to exclude the pieces that start with four tonics, such as #335 "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her", or #341 "Ich dank' dir, lieber Herre". Don't miss #59 "Herzliebster Jesu" with its three, or "O Lamm Gottes" wherever it is. One would also have to discount the various opportunities in which the same tune has two or more texts. Well, the actual counting can be left to pseudo-grad-students, so I'll leave it at that. And, the requisite channelling for the lost cantatas can be delegated to any worthy volunteer, since it doesn't seem to be terribly particular about the meaning of "worthy". The fickle firefly of fate alights where it will, at will.
<>

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2006):
< What about the amazing opening to the chorus of BWV 109 where the first note on the strong beat of the first bar is a Bb?? The 6th note in the key of D minor?. Pretty cool. >
What, Brahms didn't make that coup up for the first piano concerto? Dang! What a plagiarist! And him a subscriber to the Bach-Gesellschaft and all. No wonder. Well, at least he wrote the piano concerto before the BGA actually arrived at his door, so at least he's safe on that one. Whew. What I'd like to hear, given a time machine, would be to hear Brahms play through the complete Couperin keyboard works on the piano--which he surely did (at least in proofreading) in process of editing the thing for publication. Oh, to be a firefly on that wall or some others.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 11, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Whew. What I'd like to hear, given a time machine, would be to hear Brahms play through the complete Couperin keyboard works on the piano--which he surely did (at least in proofreading) in process of editing the thing for publication. Oh, to be a firefly on that wall or some others. >
I want to hear Mendelssohn rushing to the piano to provide spontaneous accompaniments when he first heard the Bach Unaccompanied Violin Partitas.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 11, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Bach originally wrote the timpani solo to illustrate the words "Tönet Ihr Pauken" and then reused it for a very generic affect of "joy" in the oratorio. >
Percussion with the choir? Get outta here! And expressing joy to boot? I am speechless (nearly)!

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2006):
< Even one isolated movement is earth-shaking for me, as I grew up believing that he never ever used music for secular purposes when it had once been used in church, and have had this belief reinforced in recent years. (I think Wolff states it his biography.) >
Isn't the D minor harpsichord concerto (BWV 1052, most likely from 1730s) a case in point? Its movements came from the cantatas BWV 146 (1726 or maybe 1728+) and BWV 188 (similarly 1728 or soon after).

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I want to hear Mendelssohn rushing to the piano to provide spontaneous accompaniments when he first heard the Bach Unaccompanied Violin Partitas. >
Same here.

You do, I hope, have a recording of the Schumann accomps to same?

And the delicious two-piano arrangements that Grieg made, keeping a handful of Mozart piano sonatas as they were but adding a wholly new part for a second instrument? Extra harmony, extra counterpoint, wonderful.

Yesterday at church we had a teenager play one of the allemandes from the Bach cello suites, up an octave on viola. He did it very well (if a little bit too stiff in meter...), but it also might have been nice with piano accomp to flesh out more of the bass....

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I want to hear Mendelssohn rushing to the piano to provide spontaneous accompaniments when he first heard the Bach Unaccompanied Violin Partitas. >
Or Brahms transposing the piano part of the Kreutzer sonata up a semitone in performance because the piano was so out of tune.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2006):
Bradleyt Lehman wrote:
< Isn't the D minor harpsichord concerto (BWV 1052, most likely from 1730s) a case in point? Its movements came from the cantatas BWV 146 (1726 or maybe 1728+) and BWV 188 (similarly 1728 or soon after). >
This is an interesting one. Most Bach scholars assume that it was an arrangement of an earlier lost violin concerto (which might have got around the issue of secular/religious arrangements) for two reasons
1 that has proven to be the case for other keyboard concerti (notably the arrangements of the three existing violin concerti and the 4th Brandenburg) and
2 quite a bit of the figuration of the outer movements for the solo part is contrived around the violin open strings.

HOWEVER in all known cases the concerti have been transposed down a tone. Were this to have been the case here, the figuration would not sit around the open strings so ideally as it would have originally been in E rather than in D minor.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 12, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<< What about the amazing opening to the chorus of 109 where the first note on the strong beat of the first bar is a Bb?? The 6th note in the key of Dminor?.Pretty cool. >>
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< BL [...] What I'd like to hear, given a time machine, would be to hear Brahms play through the complete Couperin keyboard works on the piano--which he surely did (at least in proofreading) in process of editing the thing for publication. Oh, to be a firefly on that wall or some others. >
What a great idea for a film. Maybe you could use Old Bach looking over Brahm's shoulder and smiling? Perhaps not smiling, exactly. Lots of grimacing and finger-waggling (not to be confused with flailing of arms).

Well, we can work out the details.

On my walls, the flies are not fire variety. Plenty of the other sort, however. A final bit of miscellany: my spell checker had no problem with finger-waggling, but preferred it without the hyphen. You can imagine my
response! Starts with: <You can all go take a...

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 12, 2006):
BWV 1052's secular origin [was: Introduction to BWV 133...]

Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Isn't the D minor harpsichord concerto (BWV 1052, most likely from 1730s) a case in point? Its movements
came from the cantatas
BWV 146 (1726 or maybe 1728+) and BWV 188 (similarly 1728 or soon after).<<
No, it is not a good case in point since Bach scholars have known since at least 1869, when Wilhelm Rust pointed out in his forward to the BGA various reasons why the original form of this work is a violin concerto probably from the Köthen period. While in the interim a few scholars (Siegele one of the most prominent dissenters) have doubted Rust's conclusion and have even doubted whether this was a genuine work by Bach, the general consensus among Bach scholars today is that it is genuine and that it existed in its earliest form as a violin concerto. [Reconstructions of the violin concerto have been undertaken in the past by Ferdinand David (1873), Robert Rietz (1917) and the NBA VII/7.

From a secular instrumental work, Bach next used it (either 1726 or 1728) in a transcription for organ obbligato in mvt. 1 and with 'Vokaleinbau' (the vocal parts were overlaid/added to the original slow mvt.)in BWV 146/1,2 "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen". After that it reappeared in BWV 188/1 "Ich habe meine Zuversicht" (either 1728 or 1729)--this is a fragment sinfonia.

Shortly before leaving Leipzig to go to Frankfurt on the Oder in 1734, C.P.E. Bach made the first transcription of the violin concerto for harpsichord. Very likely he performed it with his Collegium musicum in Frankfurt. There is no evidence that J.S. Bach helped his son with this transcription although it is quite possible that he had suggested it as a possibility to be pursued. This version compared to J.S. Bach's own harpsichord transcription undertaken later shows many weaknesses so that no scholar would ever consider that J. S. Bach had worked on it.

Circa 1738 is the time when J. S. Bach completed the score for his own harpsichord transcription of the violin concerto. He did not use the already existing organ part for his transcription, it would have made his work even more difficult! After completing the score, the harpsichord part still underwent subsequent intensive revision. The NBA gives the original, first version in the appendix and presents the final state "Fassung letzter Hand" as its main printed version in NBA VII/4.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Parodies in Bach's Vocal Works - Part 2 [General Topics]

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 12, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>HOWEVER in all known cases the concerti have been transposed down a tone. Were this to have been the case here, the figuration would not sit around the open strings so ideally as it would have originally been in E rather than in D minor. <<
The NBA reconstruction is in D minor. Had the original been in a different key (a step higher), it is very likely that the NBA editors would have observed in the autograph the type of error that occurs (even when Bach himself is copying and transposing at the same time) and then is corrected immediately. There is no evidence of such a common transcription error here on Bach's part.

In the NBA score, the E, A, and D open strings are used just where you might expect them to be used in the fast, repeated-note passages (bariolage).

Peter Smaill wrote (December 19, 2006):
BWV 133 Chorale

BWV133/6, "...the final verse of the Chorale in a plain four-part setting". (Dürr).

Indeed so, but it is most beautiful for two reasons. One is the poetic image of "falling asleep in Jesus" and the partly internal rhyme scheme in which repetition as it were lulls the reader to slumber:

Wohlan, so will ich mich
An dich, o Jesu,halten,
Und sollte gleich die Welt
In tausend Stuecken spalten.
O Jesu,dir,nur dir,
Dir leb ich ganz allein;
Auf dich,allein auf dich,
Mein Jesu,schlaf ich ein.

Bach elaborates the effect with a rare (for the Chorales) and simple device; he inserts a beat's rest after the first line and, most effectively, before the last (in at least one version of the setting) , as if denoting a suspirum, a little yawn, by the sleepy Christian. If this version is correct then it is, by chance or design, a case of the words and music reflecting the mood of Bach's by now exhausted choristers on the 3rd Day of Christmas 1724.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 12, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Bach elaborates the effect with a rare (for the Chorales) and simple device; he inserts a beat's rest after the first line and, most effectively, before the last (in at least one version of the setting) , as if denoting a suspirum, a little yawn, by the sleepy Christian. >
You're right, it's an extremely rare occurrence: a quick flip shows one example in the Christmas Oratorio and none in the SMP (BWV 244). I like the yawn idea, but does its placement at that point in the text support such a charming addition? I'm more inclined to think that the half note followed by the quarter rest was an indication from Bach that he wanted all the dotted half notes in the chorale to be performed with a full beat's "lift" between lines. It would certainly assist the diction in lines 4-5 where the words "dir", "dich" and "allein" are repeated.

Peter Smaill wrote (December 19, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] The sighs (yawns?) in BWV133/6: what do these unusual rests achieve?

The first break as Doug indicates does assist the clarification of the poetic arrangement in that the internal rhyme of "mich" and "dich" which would otherwise almost collide. This break occurs where there is no punctuation at all in the text to suggest it. All the sources show it.

The second break creates an emphasis on "O Jesu, schlaf' ich ein!" and, as Doug suggests also allows the listener to digest the fervency of the preceding repetitive petition, "Auf dich, allein auf dich". And yet.... for me it hangs on whether this second break, which is marked in Reimenschneider and elsewhere but not in the BCW full score, is in the original. in that case the positioning and word painting as well as overall context are united in a brief moment of expectant silence before the final plea for sleep in Jesus occurs.

I wonder what the latest NBA answer to its existence or otherwise may be.

The expression "suspirum" which I used comes from Tovey and checking should have been rendered as "suspirium', which he uses in his analysis of WTCII-9 Fugue (E major):

"At the end the player, instead of quoting "Rule, Britannia," should attend to those crotchet rests in the inner parts , the suspirium or sigh of the sixteenth-century choral writers".

The second break would be the most text-appropriate place for the device to occur - if it does!

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 12, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>I'm more inclined to think that the half note followed by the quarter rest was an indication from Bach that he wanted all the dotted half notes in the chorale to be performed with a full beat's "lift" between lines. It would certainly assist the diction in lines 4-5 where the words "dir", "dich" and "allein" are repeated.<<
Bach notated carefully whatever he wrote down in the score with a good reason. With both the autograph score and the original set of parts extant, the NBA editors decided that Bach had written it down correctly just the way he had wanted it: the only rest (a quarter rest) in the entire chorale appears in m 2 after "mich"/"Welt". Bach also had sufficient opportunity to make corrections to both the score and the parts (there is ample evidence with this cantata just how careful Bach was in this respect).

A decade later, Johann Ludwig Dietel made a careful copy of this chorale (each part on a separate staff). It is an exact copy of the Bach original chorale setting with one difference: Dietel puts a fermata on the last note of the Stollen. Very often in a chorale setting, Bach will omit the fermata in this position. This would mean a very quick pick-up to the next quarter or sixteenth note. It is as if Bach did not want any kind of premature finality to occur at this point in this chorale and quite a number of others as well.

Around the same time in 1736, there is a figured bass version of the chorale with the melody (BWV 465). It shows no rests whatsoever and no fermati at the end of the Stollen and the end of the Abgesang (correction: the final note in the figured bass part does have a fermata, but the soprano part does not). In any case, Bach's actual role as editor and composer of the Schemelli collection/song book appears to be rather haphazard. The figured bass for this chorale certainly seems to be his, but there are others in this collection where his authorship is very much in doubt.

Circa 40 years later, C.P.E. Bach edits his father's chorales (and his edits are with extensive changes to his father's original intentions) and comes up with his 'rendition' of BWV 133/6, now Breitkopf #61. It also has added a fermata at the end of the Stollenand an additional quarter rest before the final phrase (with the preceding dotted half being shortened to a half note. As a result of C. P. E. Bach's goal not to faithfully represent his father's wishes (all the changes and reasoning behind this can be found documented on the BCW), the NBA editors express their sincere regret that they were unable to examine J.S. Bach's original intentions for a number of the "Breitkopf" chorales where the original sources have been lost.

One of the great failings of many modern (mainly HIP) performances in singing a 'simple' 4-pt. chorale is that the final note of phrase is severely abbreviated with reduced intensity. There is far too much 'chopping up' of the phrases/lines of the chorale text and melody. Flipping through a Breitkopf or Riemenschneider collection of the Bach chorale settings will not necessarily give a potential performer accurate/precise information about Bach's intentions. This is made amply clear by the way this particular chorale was treated by those who subsequently copied and edited it.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 12, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Bach notated carefully whatever he wrote down in the score with a good reason. >
Yes, to help practicing musicians do their jobs well. Scores are recipes (sets of instructions, always incomplete) for skilled artisans to use in fashioning convincing performances, within the medium of sound. There will always be a gap between paper notation and the different medium of sound, and it is the job of skilled musicians to fill in that transformation as best our training and experience and taste tell us to do.
<>

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 12, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< One of the great failings of many modern (mainly HIP) performances in singing a 'simple' 4-pt. chorale is that the final note of phrase is severely abbreviated with reduced intensity. There is far too much 'chopping up' of the phrases/lines of the chorale text and melody. Flipping through a Breitkopf or Riemenschneider collection of the Bach chorale settings will not necessarily give a potential performer accurate/precise information about Bach's intentions. This is made amply clear by the way this particular chorale was treated by those who subsequently copied and edited it. >
I 'm curious to know why Bach chose to use a half note and a rest at the end of the first line, and dotted halves in the rest of the chorale. It's unlike him to use contradictory notation (unlike Handel), unless we assume that the first line was intended to sound different from the other lines which end with a dotted half. There's nothing in the text which suggests word-painting. Curious.

As to the performance of chorales, there is ample evidence to show that the singing of chorales slowed down in the late 18th century and 19th century. So much so that there was a reaction in the late 19th century which sought reenergize tempos (the tempo of the chorale at the opening of Meistersinger gives us some idea of mid-19th century practice) This "slow tradition" came into the Bach revival very early on.

In many early recordings, we still encounter very slow tempi and the fermatas are actually treated as stops, not as the literary punctuation points that they were in Bach's time. The main problem is that we still tend to think of the concluding chorales in cantatas as congregational hymns rather than concerted chorale variations. With their wonderful harmonizations, word painting and orchestral accompaniment, they really are a separate genre and always deserve more attention than we give them.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< In the NBA score, the E, A, and D open strings are used just where you might expect them to be used in the fast, repeated-note passages (bariolage). >
Yes in D minor but not in E minor. But you haven't addressed the general issue of downward transposition of works that became keyboard concerti.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 13, 2006):
The rhythmic vitality of the opening movement is a significant aspect of the effect of this joyful music. One of the rhythmic structural devices is an emphatic three-crotchet motive that occurs in the first violins, and other times in the continuo, sometimes also in the combined string/oboe parts. This three-note motive (in 4/4 time, with the fourth beat silent) occurs elsewhere in Bach, eg, at the start of the E major violin concerto and the ritornello of BWV 130.

The very opening figure (coming in on the 4th beat) is a four 1/16th note figure that occurs extensively in the instrumental parts and animates the entire movement. The score reveals how the various elements are assembled to produce the joyful animation.

Herreweghe [9] and Rilling [2] get my vote in this movement.

The alto aria has a lovely phrase on "Von Angesicht zu Angesicht." (Leonhardt's sample of the aria [3] sounds very convincing).

The soprano aria is very sweet on the ear indeed! The BGA has `solo' written above the 1st violin playing the (F# dominant 7th) rising and falling arpeggio that introduces the repeated note section (this section reverts back to `tutti'). Does this imply that only one violin plays this arpeggio, in contrast to the rest of the 1st violin line, where more than one violin is required? (I presume there are many places in Bach's scores where the 1st violins are playing alone, without it being necessary for Bach to add the word `solo' to the score)

The middle section, marked `largo', is played `agitato' by Rilling [2] - a viable interpretation according to the text, as noted by Thomas, but I prefer the `sweet pleading' (my characterisation) of eg, Suzuki's `largo'interpretation (the other samples don't go this far).

In this aria it's interesting to compare Herreweghe's legato strings [9] with the other period groups.

In the final chorale, Herreweghe [9] holds the fermatas decently, but the tempo is a bit quick for a sober/serious presentation of the chorale.

As usual, I dislike the unaccompanied treatment of the seccos - as if these cantatas are mini operas. OTOH, the continuous cello vibrato, with weak harpsichord chords (in Rilling [2]) isn't too attractive, either. (The secco first up in Rilling's BWV 134 is more successful). I"ll just have to play them through myself on the piano!.

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 15, 2006):
As usual repeated listening to Bach lead to greater appreciation of a wonderful work.

I understand fully why female sopranos play a large role in the world of Bach choral music even if originally denied entrance. By and large it's for the best. But this situation makes me appreciate the Teldec series even more at least when it works. And I think it works with Leonhardt's BWV 133 [3]. Rene Jacobs sings the wonderful alto aria and if one wants a male choir, he was certainly one of the best in the business. Personally I am more than satisfied with the singing of the boy soprano from the Hannover Boys Choir. There's no mistaking the "period instruments" in this series and I think Leonhardt's forces make very good use of them. And, granted these recordings are not done in the most advanced digital mode, the Teldec engineers served their artists very well. I gave this work a run through at high volume and it sounded sweet.

To my ears, Leusink [6] comes across very well in this work also. I am not the chairman of the Buwalda fan club, but he does a nice job here. Perhaps I've heard Ruth Holton in better form, but her voice is so distinctive that I can't be critical. Leusink, as usual, opts for middle of the road tempos and, as usual, the approach leads to good Bach. There are no doubt better ensembles out there, and it may be that Leusink knew it and simply played it safe.

I like Gardiner [8] a lo, but this is not my favorite of his works. The choir and ensemble perform very nicely. I can't say that I was terribly impressed with either Derek Ragin singing countertenor or Katharine Fuge in soprano. Mind you, music this lovely always sounds good in hands as skilled as Gardiner's. I simply think there is nothing here that isn't done as well or better than my other two options. (I would like to hear Suzuki in this one [10]. He runs through it nearly 3 minutes faster than Leonhardt [3] who is the slow-poke among the works appearing on our site. I found Leonhardt's tempos [3] most suitable to the work but would like to hear such a significant contrast.)

Peter Smaill wrote (December 27, 2006):
Poetry in Cantata Texts - BWV 133

Recently the traditional view has resufarced - that the texts of the Cantatas are not poetry, or at any rate not very good poetry. I am not in a position to judge relative to the corpus of 18th century baroque literature, only some of which is available in translation. However, it cannot be denied that some beautiful imagery is incorporated into the Cantata texts, often but not always meditations on death.

Recently I shared with a fluent German speaker the impression that the final chorale of BWV 133 made on first reading, and here is the original posting and response:

<BWV 133/6, "...the final verse of the Chorale in a plain four-part setting".
(Dürr).

<Indeed so, but it is most beautiful for two reasons. One is the poetic image of "falling asleep in Jesus" and the partly internal rhyme scheme in which repetition as it were lulls the reader to slumber:

Wohlan, so will ich mich
An dich, o Jesu,halten,
Und sollte gleich die Welt
In tausend Stücken spalten.
O Jesu,dir,nur dir,
Dir leb ich ganz allein;
Auf dich,allein auf dich,
Mein Jesu,schlaf ich ein
.>

Response by German speaking friend (British):

"Yet even in such a small and artless sample you get a glimpse of the beauties of the German language, which is usually taken to be so prolix and laborious. And of course it is (but then so, at its worst, is English). I do not often admit this, but I actually like German poetry better than English poetry: another legacy of my school years. Beautiful as the King James Bible is, I think Luther’s Bible is even better. ....... But I digress...

What I want to point out to you is the use of cases in the poem above. In the first two lines, for example, it could have said `Ich will mich an dir halten’, I want to hold on to you. Instead it says `an dich’, using the accusative, the case of movement: so Jesus moves. In the next two lines, `die Welt sollte in tausend Stücken spalten’, in other words, the world is split into a thousand pieces (dative), so this process has ended in inertia. Dative is again the case in the fifth and sixth lines, recalling a passive human agent. But, brilliantly, the last line returns to the accusative. Normal German would be `auf dir schlaf ich ein’, I fall asleep on you. But here we have `auf dich’, which for once can be rendered (sort of) into English as `I fall asleep on to you’ - though this does not make much sense. But in German it does, not only in evoking movement, but also in recalling `auf dich werde ich mich verlassen’, I will rely on you. German is a complicated language, but it can also say a lot of things that cannot be said in English, at least not with such economy. The words fit the music, indeed."

If even this seemingly simple chorale strophe has such linguistic subtlety, who can say that there is no poetic value in the Cantata texts?

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 28, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< If even this seemingly simple chorale strophe has such linguistic subtlety, who can say that there is no poetic value in the Cantata texts? >
I will step forward and accept the blame for overstating a point. I think this is worth discussing at some length, once the Xmas seasonal chat blows over.

I never meant to say that there is no poetic value in the texts, only that the enduring artistic value is in the music, not the texts. With the notable exception of the Biblical classics.

Much more to come, and looking forward to civilized discussion on this topic!

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 133: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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