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Cantata BWV 133
Ich freue mich in dir
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of May 31, 2009

Francis Browne wrote (May 30, 2009):
BWV 133 Introduction

This week's cantata is BWV 133, Ich freue mich in dir, a chorale cantata written for December 27th 1724.For most people the highlights will be the splendidly joyful opening chorus and the soprano aria, particularly the contrasting central section. Much information and wide-ranging discussions can be found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV133.htm

Aryeh used notes by Craig Smith from Emmanuel Music's recording and Robertson's The Church Cantatas. Thomas Braatz provided notes on the provenance of the cantata and also Dürr's commentary, Nicholas Anderson's commentary from the Bach companion, Schweitzer and other commentaries. Both Aryeh and Thomas also provided detailed discussion of the available recordings. Neil Halliday and Peter Bloemendaal made interesting contributions - as did a number of other people,some of whom still contribute. In introducing the second discussion Roar Myrheim used notes from John Eliot Gardiner's second recording.

To glean a field that has been so well harvested can be a rather unrewarding task -particularly since I had no plans to introduce these cantatas and am simply filling a gap. Rather than repeat what has been already said I shall make an experiment of suggesting a few points which people might listen for in getting to know this cantata -or in many cases getting to know it better,

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

Robertson says of this movement :" It is most exhilarating, a dance of joy." Gardiner says :" 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"

Does the playing of the ritornello capture this joy ? It is not necessarily a question of a fast tempo but rather of rhythmic vitality.

How well does the first violin cope with what Dürr refers to as " wide ranging idiomatic, virtuoso figuration" ?

The second violin and viola are reinforced by two oboes d'amore : how well do they contrast (or integrate) with the first violin?

How well does the choir cope with the simple harmonisation of the first six lines?

Is there an effective contrast when the sopranos sustain 'Ton' for three and a half bars, while the other voices move independently below ?

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

Two points picked out by Gardiner for which to listen :

Getrost

"The alto soloist and the pair of accompanying oboes d'amore are called upon to give a firecracker delivery to the opening word 'Getrost!' before bursting into cascades of semiquavers"

Wie wohl ist mir geschehen'

Then comes a more reflective circling figure 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.

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

Brief but the arioso passages give scope for a good singer to do something effective

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

Listen for the sound of 'ringing' (klingt) to which the soprano refers imitated by alternating stopped and open strings (bariolage) and a solo flourish in the first violins.

Most striking is the slow middle section where the time changes from 4/4 to 12/8 , the violas and second violins play in unison, while over this the solo violin and soprano soar in a lyrical meditation on the name of Jesus. In a good performance Robertson's high praise is justified :"This very ordinary sentence draws from Bach one of the finest pieces of sustained and exquisite lyrical writing in the whole range of the cantatas."

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

Mvt. 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

This is a plain four-part setting , but it is perhaps worth seeing what notice is taken of the meaning of the text in bringing the work to a close.

The most recent recording of BWV 133 by Jean Tubéry ,Choeur de Chambre de Namur / Les Agrémens is available on emusic and is very worth investigating .

Whether or not you feel moved to contribute to any discussion, I hope that many members of the list will get to know or renew their acquaintance with this excellent but not generally well known cantata . I never cease to be amazed at the musical riches to be found almost everywhere in Bach's work. Don't miss this treasure.

John Pike wrote (June 2, 2009):
Francis Browne wrote:
< This week's cantata is BWV 133, Ich freue mich in dir, a chorale cantata written for December 27th 1724. For most people the highlights will be the splendidly joyful opening chorus and the soprano aria, particularly the contrasting central section. Much information and wide-ranging discussions can be found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV133.htm >
I agree. The opening movement (Mvt. 1) is quite stunning. The first recording I heard of it (about 10 years ago) was in the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt set and it is still one of my favourites of the opening chorus. It is sheer unadulterated joy, whereas some of the other recordings seem a bit too polished by comparison. I think this is a movement where you should really let your hair down.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 2, 2009):
BWV 133 Concerto Influence?

John Pike wrote:
< The opening movement (Mvt. 1) is quite stunning. The first recording I heard of it (about 10 years ago) was in the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt set and it is still one of my favourites of the opening chorus. >
I am always perplexed why Bach suddenly decides to write an "easy" chorus such as this one which is primarily a harmonized chorale with only a brief flourish of passagework at the end. I don't buy the Exhausted Choir Theory: other cantatas for the Second and Third Days of Christmas, such as Part Three of the Christmas Oratorio, are daunting vocal workouts. And certainly Bach makes no concessions to Yuletide fatigue for the orchestral players.

Has anyone suggested that this movement may be an adaptation of a concerto movement or a sonata into which Bach has inserted the chorale? The music has a Vivaldi quality to it. It's a wonderful movement but the choir sounds like an afterthought. Are there any other cantatas where the two oboe d'amores double the second violin and viola? Oboes usually double the violins.

The concerto "feel" continues in the soprano da capo aria which has a rare example of Bach changing to new music in the B section. That 12/8 Largo sounds like much Vivaldi.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 2, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I am always perplexed why Bach suddenly decides to write an "easy" chorus such as this one which is primarily a harmonized chorale with only a brief flourish of passagework at the end. I don't buy the Exhausted Choir Theory: other cantatas for the Second and Third Days of Christmas, such as Part Three of the Christmas Oratorio, are daunting vocal workouts. And certainly Bach makes no concessions to Yuletide fatigue for the orchestral players. >
More possibilities:

- Easy intelligibility of the text?

- The piece already has a lot else going on, and a too-complex vocal part would make it too dense?

- Why should every composition have to be difficult? Variety's good, and complexity doesn't necessarily equal value....

- Bach too busy right then to compose something fancy?

- He just felt like doing something straightforward?

- Imposed constraint: a patron or an official requested something simple, for a change?

- Give the instruments the primary interest, on purpose? (Need to impress someone with the violin section's skills? Need to give the violinists something to work on for their own lessons?)

- Had a student compose or sketch the vocal parts, as an exercise?

- The sung text is all in first-person singular, and a contrapuntally vigorous setting of it might distract from that.

- This whole cantata has a relatively simple and straightforward message.

- Got paid the same either way, doing something simple or something difficult, so why waste extra energy?

- More....

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 2, 2009):

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< - Easy intelligibility of the text?
- The piece already has a lot else going on, and a too-complex vocal part would make it too dense?
- Why should every composition have to be difficult? Variety's good, and complexity doesn't necessarily equal value....
Bach too busy right then to compose something fancy?
- He just felt like doing something straightforward?
- Imposed constraint: a patron or an official requested something simple, for a change?
- Give the instruments the primary interest, on purpose? (Need to impress someone with the violin section's skills? Need to give the violinists something to work on for their own lessons?)
- Had a student compose or sketch the vocal parts, as an exercise?
- The sung text is all in first-person singular, and a contrapuntally vigorous setting of it might distract from that.
- This whole cantata has a relatively simple and straightforward message.
- Got paid the same either way, doing something simple or something difficult, so why waste extra energy? >
They all work for me! (grin)

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 2, 2009):
Douglas Cowlingwrote:
< I don't buy the Exhausted Choir Theory: other cantatas for the Second and Third Days of >Christmas, such as Part Three of the Christmas Oratorio, are daunting vocal workouts. And >certainly Bach makes no concessions to Yuletide fatigue for the orchestral players. >
To this laymans logical mind, Doug has long since put the ECT to rest, if only with the argument that the choir had much more extensive vocal demands, on a weekly basis, than the performance of the new (or repeated) cantata .

The arguments about necessary efforts to learn/prepare the new music are much more credible. For controversial discussion re this point, see BCW archives. For current analogues, think about the prospect of sight-reading an Elliot Carter composition.

Francis Browne wrote (previously):
< The most recent recording of BWV 133 by Jean Tubéry, Choeur de Chambre de Namur / Les Agrémens >is available on emusic and is very worth investigating. >
EM:
I do not see any other way to access this recording, in the BCW discography. Is it available on CD? Is the CD as a music distribution medium obsolete, as has been hinted? Where does that leave my vinyl library: warm, but dead? It is curious how many music-site logos include a disc, with stylized grooves. Origin of the expression groovy (ACE)?

FB:
< Whether or not you feel moved to contribute to any discussion, I hope that many members of the >list will get to know or renew their acquaintance with this excellent but not generally well >known cantata. >

EM:
Francis generosity of spirit reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw for the first time, recently: <I am not trying to save the world, I am just helping a child>. Thanks for the reminder to revisit the Craig Smith/Emmanuel Music recording, all too few of which are available to represent their long devotion to Bach, and related music. Shameless hometown plug for dedicated musicians, many of whom have become friends over the years, via music.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (June 2, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] Namur is not far from where I live...
Here a link to Jean Tubéry's CD: http://www.fugalibera.com/readmorecd.php?id=260

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 3, 2009):
>> - Got paid the same either way, doing something simple or something difficult, so why waste extra energy? <<
>They all work for me! (grin) <
I cannot tell you (both) how many times I have heard musicians put out extra (unpaid!) energy because they were aware of the communication present. A special personal instance is Mae Arnette, singing the last set (best of the night) for me alone. Lennies on the Turnpike, ca. 1968. I was a kid, so to speak. Afterwards, I asked her, <why bother>.

<If somebody is listening, I sing!>. I never forgot it. Point made?

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 3, 2009):
BWV 133 - new recording

Therese hanquet wrote:
< Namur is not far from where I live...
Here a link to Jean Tubéry's CD:
http://www.fugalibera.com/readmorecd.php?id=260 >
Thanks, Therese, nice to hear from you! This link works fine for me. I think it is important to keep the regional productions posted on BCW, so folks around the world can share that experience. As best it can be reproduced.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 3, 2009):
Joel Figen wrote:
< So I would strongly suspect that bach didn't intend the -n to be heard, since it usually wasn't heard in speech at the time, and it doesn't really contribute much to the musicality or comprehensibility of the performance. >
I find it a stretch to interpret, based on what was (or wasnt) heard in speech at the time. See below.

< I appreciate your viewpoint greatly, nonetheless. If it were up to guys like me, we'd start to lose our heritage. Once they start modernizing the Urtext, we've gone postmodern. I respect your concern for Bach's minutest intentions. >
Modern is today, postmodern is tomorrow? I agree with the underlying premise (as I understand it): heritage is important, not to be lost. OTOH, as we move inexorably from today to tomorrow: <The past is over> (attributed to G. W. Bush)

Dougs respect for Bachs minutest intentions (including diction) is well taken. Just because we cannot recover every detail does not mean we should not attempt to get close, and in the process, respect the lapses (not to mention impossibilities) in our attempts.

IMO, the music is much more durable than the texts. Or as Bach noted, marginalia to Chronicles (the text!): <Where there is Music, there is God.>

Concurs with my experience. As well as the converse: <Without music, there is no god.> Just listen to those birds sing.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 3, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>I am always perplexed why Bach suddenly decides to write an "easy" chorus such as this one which is primarily a harmonized chorale with only a brief flourish of passagework at the end.<
Certainly the brilliant ritornellos (with the inner string parts reinforced by winds) carry the main musical argument, but is this movement (Mvt. 1) an eleborate example of a form consisting of 'plain' four-part chorale harmonisation interposed by extended concerted instrumental writing that we have, for example, in the final chorale closing Part I of the XO?

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 3, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Certainly the brilliant ritornellos (with the inner string parts reinforced by winds) carry the main musical argument, but is this movement (Mvt. 1) an eleborate example of a form consisting of 'plain' four-part chorale harmonisation interposed by extended concerted instrumental writing that we have, for example, in the final chorale closing Part I of the XO? >
"Jesus bleibet meine Freude" is another example, but they are concluding movements. Is there another cantata which has this kind extended instrumental movement with simple chorale as an opening movement?

Neil Halliday wrote (June 3, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<I am always perplexed why Bach suddenly decides to wrian "easy" chorus such as this one which is primarily a harmonized chorale with only a brief flourish of passagework at the end.<
Perhaps Mvt. 1 with its brilliant ritornellos (featuring inner strings doubled by winds) is an elaborate example of a type shown in the final chorale of Part I of the XO, where the four-part harmonisations are interposed with trumpet and timpani flourishes.

William Hoffman wrote (June 3, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Certainly the brilliant ritornellos (with the inner string parts reinforced by winds) carry the main musical argument, but is this movement (Mvt. 1) an eleborate example of a form consisting of 'plain' four-part chorale harmonisation interposed by extended concerted instrumental writing that we have, for example, in the final chorale closing Part I of the XO? >
William Hoffman replies: In his chorale cantata cycle and elsewhere, Bach's treatment of the chorale is without equal -- this wealth of invention and transformation. These include movements of seeming simplicity, like the brilliant brass and pastoral interludes in the chorale choruses of the Christmas Oratorio or the opening French Overture vocal overlay from Orchestral Suite No. 4 in the Christmas Cantata BWV 110. The former came almost a decade after Bach left his chorale cantata cycle one-quarter unfinished and added only a few touches to the Little Organ Book, two-thirds incomplete collection of organ chorale preludes for the church year. Yet, after the Christmas Oratorio, Bach still created the Clavier Uebung III (German Organ Mass), the six Schuebler Chorales (from cantata movements!), and the 18 Great Leipzig Chorales. I think Bach's definition of "complete" and "well-regulated" may differ from others. All I can say is: Es ist genug -- It's enough!

Neil Halliday wrote (June 5, 2009):
BWV 133

I like Rilling's [2] alternation of cello and bassoon in the continuo (with harpsichord) of the alto aria, giving alternate colours with the two oboes d'amore as the piece progresses. Fortunately, Doris Soffel has minimal vibrato in the melismas and is listenable throughout.

BTW, speaking of attractive voices, I heard soprano Benedicte Tauran in a Buxtehude 'Lament' today on the radio. Lovely voice with minimal, tasteful vibrato, most suitable for baroque music, under the sensitive direction of Coin.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 5, 2009):
BWV 133 - Continuo

Neil Halliday wrote:
< I like Rilling's [2] alternation of cello and bassoon in the continuo (with harpsichord) of the alto aria, giving alternate colours with the two oboes d'amore as the piece progresses. >
Varying the continuo line with cello, bass and bassoon is normative these days even when there are no bassoon parts in the original. The duet, "Mein ist mein" in "Wachet Auf" usually silences both cello and bass to create a trio of oboes and bassoon. And the 16-foot doubling of the bass is often eliminated: "Quia fecit" which in Richter has tutti cellos and basses is now often a solo cello. And the lower octave of the bass is rarely heard in secco recitatives these days.

Don't get me wrong, I love all these variations, but the anal-retentive historical fuss-budget in me wonders if Bach routinely exercised such options. We won't even touch the kaleidoscope of organs, harpsichords and
lutes which are piled into the continuo van.

Uri Golomb wrote (June 5, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
"I love all these variations, but the anal-retentive historical fuss-budget in me wonders if Bach routinely exercised such options".
I suspect that he didn't - though I wouldn't want this suspicion to be considered an informed opinion (I haven't studied all the secondary literature, and certainly haven't done any substantial primary research). In principle, however, this touches upon three questions: (1) What did Bach do? (2) What would Bach have approved of? and (3) What should we do when we perform this music today? The first is a matter of evidence - at least in principle (in practice, the historical record might well be incomplete); the second is obviously speculative (we can never know for sure how the composer would have reacted to instruments he didn't know, or practices that never occurred to him - though sometimes we can offer an educated guess); the third is a matter of ideology.

The first thing is to recognize that these are indeed separate questions (this recognition certainly informs Douglas's message - I'm not arguing against him here). In decades past, people used to assume automatically that Bach would have approved of innovations that didn't exist in his time (the most notable example being the modern piano); nowadays, some scholars and musicians tend to make the opposite assumption (if he didn't actually do it, he wouldn't have liked it). On the face of it, neither assumption is self-evidently true. With continuo, of course, the situation is different: we're talking about Bach's use of resources that he would have been familiar with (though I know there is some debate on whether all of them were routinely available to him).

In principle, I don't automatically reject the employment of practices that were not the composer's own - even though I tend to assume that Bach knew what he was doing. But if performers do go their own way, I'd prefer it if they say so directly - rather than trying to twist the historical evidence in their favour pretend (as some of them do). Jeffrey Thomas, for example, admits that his primary reason for including a lute in his continuo section is that he likes the sound - he does cite some circumstantial evidence that Bach might have employed a lutenist occasionally, but admits that this evidence is inconclusive, and that this was not, in any case, his primary reason for using the instrument.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 6, 2009):
Uri Golomb wrote:
>In principle, however, this touches upon three questions: (1) What did Bach do?<
Unfortunately, not an easy question to answer, especially in regard to continuo practice.

Not the least problem is the required improvisation of the keyboard part - the registration, actual notes, dynamics - it's all guess work (God knows what Bach did!) quite apart from the the question of the actual continuo instruments employed in any given movement.

On the question of improvisation, have a look at the the BCW piano/vocal score of BWV 133's tenor recitative. In the 'adagio' sections, the improviser skillfully weaves the first phrase of the chorale tune into the accompaniment.

And the expressive pathos in the 'adagio' of the bass recitative ("who knows Jesus, dies not when he dies") is critically dependent on the the keyboard type and realisation - dynamics etc - as well as the other instruments employed, none of which is specified in the score. (I love the striking D7, B7 (inverted chords) modulation at the second "stirbt" (dies), shown in this score).

Viva artistic choice, and banish anal-retentive desires for hard and fast rules! (Thanks for the chuckle, Doug).

 

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

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Last update: ýSeptember 27, 2011 ý16:20:34