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Cantata BWV 139
Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of August 26, 2012

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 25, 2012):
Introduction to BWV 139 -- Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott

Weekly reminder:

This week we continue Trinity season cantatas with BWV 139, the second of three works for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity. Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion for this week are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV139.htm

The commentary by Julian Mincham, music examples included, is especially recommended as an introduction to listening.

The BWV 139 page has convenient access to notes from the Gardiner, Koopman (notes by Christoph Wolff), Suzuki, and Leusink (and more!) CD issues, via link beneath the cover photo.

The chorale text and melody are accessible via links at the BWV 139 page. Francis Browne has recently added new commentary on the cantata texts to his interlinear translations, linked via [English-3I]. We can expect these to continue, not necessarily weekly. Douglas Cowling and William Hoffman are also posting relevant to chorales and other music for the Lutheran Church Year, accessible via LCY pages

I do not always take the time to check all links before posting Special thanks to the folks who provide timely corrections.

Charles Francis wrote (August 25, 2012):
[To Ed Myskowski] Facsimiles for BWV 139 can be found via the link provided by Ed Myskowski and contain the expected Cornet-Ton transpose for a Leipzig cantata. In realising the closing chorale therein, I continue the theme of seventeenth-century 'German' organs and illustrate an instrument from an unknown builder, which has been dated to 1627/28, making it the oldest in northern Bohemia (bordering Saxony). It is currently located at the church of St. Bartholomew's in Doksy (German: Hirschberg am See) and retains its meantone tuning. In 1995, after years of neglect, it was restored with funding from German exiles:
http://en.doksy.com/historical-sights/historical-buildings-of-the-town-doksy/

Something of the history of this instrument can be found here:
http://www.sonusparadisi.cz/en/organs/discontinued-organ-models/doky-kruh.html

A noticeable sonic feature is the Regal 8’ stop, somewhat similar to the Trommete 8’ found on Silbermann’s 1721 instrument at the St. Georgenkirche, Rötha. Although rare today, I imagine Bach would have instantly recognised this type of sound.

My illustrative music video is here: http://youtu.be/EiJWb45QRuk

Charles Francis wrote (August 29, 2012):
BWV 377

The BWV 139 provenance information contributed in 2002 by Thomas Braatz notes: "It also exists as a 4-pt. chorale (probably extracted from a no longer extant cantata) as BWV 377": http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV139-Ref.htm

I observed that BWV 377 has not only the same chorale melody as BWV 139, but also the same key signature as its Cornet-Ton transpose. An interesting question accordingly, is whether C.P.E. Bach in his chorale collection shows any preference for Cornet-Ton versus Cammerton etc.

I prepared an organ realisation of BWV 377 which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuBSvcELe-Q

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 29, 2012):
BWV 377 - Performance without a full score

Charles Francis wrote:
< The BWV 139 provenance information contributed in 2002 by Thomas Braatz >
The provenance notes posted by Thomas are always fascinating and provide valuable insight into performance practice in Bach's time:

"The autograph score disappeared while in W.F. Bach¹s possession and has never again surfaced. The original set of parts came to Anna Magdalena Bach after her husband¹s death. That same year (1750) she presented them to the St. Thomas School."

I'm wondering if a full score was not always necessary for a performance. Otherwise Anna Magdalena's donation of the parts was pointless. Most choral works were published as separate parts without full scores well into the 17th century. Could Bach and his contemporaries perform a cantata from parts alone?

When Mozart came to Leipzig and heard "Singet dem Herrn", he afterwards spread out the parts around him and read through the motet. Perhaps score-reading from individual parts was a musical skill which lasted a lot longer than early 17th century.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 29, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm wondering if a full score was not always necessary for a performance. Otherwise Anna Magdalena's donation of the parts was pointless. Most choral works were published as separate parts without full scores well into the 17th century. Could Bach and his contemporaries perform a cantata from parts alone? >
You could never perform a cantata with several instrumental parts from a score. If you only had the score, you could copy out the parts (obviously). I also think performers, and composers studied from scores a lot easier. I don't have solid proof, but in Darmstadt there are many many copies of scores made of other composers' work. And I was baffled by adding an extra step to the copying process. They were going to perform the music, so why not just go to the creation of instrumental parts directly, especially in light of the cost in both valuable time, never mind very expensive paper and ink? I think to understand the music in a better way and to study the music.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 29, 2012):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I also think performers, and composers studied from scores a lot easier. I don't have solid proof, but in Darmstadt there are many many copies of scores made of other composers' work. And I was baffled by adding an extra step to the copying process. >
That's quite extraordinary. Even today, beyond their student days, most professional instrumentalists never look at the full score but are content with their own individual parts.

Singers, both solo and choral, had individual parts as well until the last half of the 19th century when cheap printing allowed for piano/vocal score format with the voices in full score and the orchestral accompaniment in piano reduction. I doubt most singers could perform from individual parts today.

The multiple Darmstadt full scores seem an incredible luxury. Could they have been part of some kind of lending library? That leads to the question of whether Bach's performers had any access to his full score. Did the full score rest in the copying room where players and singers could come and study it? The four prefects alone must have been slavering in anticipation to spend time with the full score.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 29, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The multiple Darmstadt full scores seem an incredible luxury. Could they have been part of some kind of lending library? >
Well if you mean, did Graupner allow manuscript copies out of Darmstadt to share with other courts? Oh absolutely not. No. There's very little evidence that happened. And considering the Landgrave's view of "intellectual property" (he bought and paid for it, so it was HIS music), such authorization would have required court approval.

Case in point: Telemann's brother-in-law Michael Boehm (a flute/recorder/oboe player) worked in the Darmstadt court but left in 1729 in a very hasty exit for greener pastures in Stuggart. An arrest warrant was issued for his arrest because he took a large collection of music that wasn't authorized (Boehm said in his disposition "I only took those things that were mine (i.e. Telemann compositions that he had copied out himself).

The issue of "intellectual property" and sharing of scores/music wasn't uniform in Baroque Germany. Fasch and Telemann and Stölzel apparently traded cantata cycles very freely. In fact, Johann Friedrich Fasch made a published request for such an exchange. Since Fasch studied in Darmstadt, there is a large collection of his instrumental music (but no cantatas interestingly enough)! Since the Zerbst (where Fasch was employed) music archives was destroyed (or lost), it's not known if there were any Darmstadt materials there (I think it was very unlikely).

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< That leads to the question of whether Bach's performers had any access to his full score. Did the full score rest in the copying room where players and singers could come and study it? The four prefects alone must have been slavering in anticipation to spend time with the full score. >

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 29, 2012):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Well if you mean, did Graupner allow manuscript copies out of Darmstadt to share with other courts? Oh absolutely not. No. There's very little evidence that happened. And considering the Landgrave's view of "intellectual property" (he bought and paid for it, so it was HIS music), such authorization would have required court approval. >
That's mysterious. It's hard to believe that extra full scores were copied just for study purposes by the musicians. Are there any other composers who had multiple copies?

I assume that Johann Ludwig and other Bach family composers had copies made for Sebastian -- did he pay for the copying or do it himself? --which could be used as exemplars to copy parts. And Sebastian commissioned several copies of full scores of his own major works when he planned the dispersal of his library to his sons.

We are so spoiled today by easy access to full scores and performing parts that we forget that the production of performance materials was a large part of the compositional schedule.

The drudgery of genius.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 29, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< That's mysterious. It's hard to believe that extra full scores were copied just for study purposes by the musicians. Are there any other composers who had multiple copies? >
I'm not sure it was the benefit of the musicians studying, and instead it was the benefit of the composer/copyist who copied out the score. I think the you'd have to come up with an explanation for this score copying process that wasn't for the composer's understanding of the "piece" in front of him. What could that be then?

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 29, 2012):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I'm not sure it was the benefit of the musicians studying, and instead it was the benefit of the composer/copyist who copied out the score. >
What benefit could that be? Are there any other composers who had backup copies of their full scores?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 29, 2012):
[To Douglas Cowling] I'm asking you: what plausible explanation could there be for a composer to make a fair score from another set of parts or from another composer's score, if it wasn't to "study" it. We know that composers of the baroque
period were EXTREMELY interested in seeing what their peers and colleagues were writing.

In one particular case of a Telemann Ouverture that was being copied out by Johann Endler, there's no doubt in my mind that he was copying from a now lost set of orchestral parts, because only the 1st violin and basso continuo in his score are filled out. It's unfortunate because there are no other sources for this suite (but several editors have attempted completions of it).

It's pure conjecture on my part, but I think this suite is one that Michael Boehm snapped up and took from Endler's desk when he absconded to Stuttgart after fleeing Darmstadt. And it makes logical sense that Boehm would have a set of performance parts and take those, because well-- he was a performer.

Charles Francis wrote (August 30, 2012):
BWV 139/6 - BWV 245/22 same melody

The BWV 139 provenance information provided by Thomas Braatz also mentions that its chorale melody appears in the Johannes-Passion (BWV 245/22): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV139-Ref.htm

Various surviving manuscripts for the Johannes-Passion are here: http://tinyurl.com/cdx8b85

Offhand, I didn't spot a Cornet-Ton transpose, but nevertheless followed the pattern of BWV 139/6 and BWV 377 and rendered BWV 245/22 on the organ with two sharps rather than four: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpQnzxgdGlM

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 30, 2012):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I'm asking you: what plausible explanation could there be for a composer to make a fair score from another set of parts or from another composer's score, if it wasn't to "study" it. >
Sorry, I've misunderstood you (I shouldn't goof off from work by reading list postings quickly). I thought you were saying that there were multiple copies of the full score as well as the parts of each work. If there are single scores without parts, they must be, as you say, study scores.

And there is no better way to learn a score than to copy it, a pedagogical technique which has disappeared unless you're an arranger/editor working in FINALE. Bach must have copied or commissioned copies of many works which he did not actually perform. He had the Pergolesi "Stabat Mater" in his library because at some point he decided to adapt it into German.

Charles Francis wrote (September 1, 2012):
BWV 139: Messing with Fermatas

From a physiological perspective, each chorale fermata provides an opportunity for breathing, maintaining needed air pressure and necessary life functions. Musically, the first five BWV 139 fermatas occur on a dominant root, with the ultimate one in the tonic. We may accordingly ask whether the musical goal is to minimize time spent in the dominant or to maximize it? In mountaineering terms do we linger on five peaks before returning to the valley or do we scuttle down before nightfall? The phrasing, reconciling physiological and musical imperatives, reflects our answer and the situation becomes even more clear cut when we sing at speed to accommodate weak lungs: metaphorically, we rush from peak to peak with little time to take in the view.

In a second setting of the BWV 139 chorale, I dwell in the highlands: http://youtu.be/7-chVJ009zk

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 1, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< From a physiological perspective, each chorale fermata provides an opportunity for breathing, maintaining needed air pressure and necessary life functions. >
There is an interesting question whether the fermata is a literary marking which indicates the end of a line of poetry, or a tempo marking indicating a sustain and pause as in modern notation.

The performance style of chorales has changed radically in the last 50 years. Not only have the tempos more than doubled, but conductors increasingly ignore the fermata entirely.

Here's "O Haupt voll Blut" from the Matthew Passion (BWV 244) in the reconstruction of Mendelssohn's performance. Note that there is a sustained chord and lengthy pause at the fermata on "Wunden" at the end of the first line, and an even longer sustain and pause on "Hohn" at the end of the second line of poetry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho1FdjJtDGw

This certainly demonstrates the historical observation that the tempo of chorale singing slowed in the 19th century and the fermatas were observed in the modern sense. This style is apparent in Klemperer's performances and didn't begin to change until Richter, who was widely criticized for both his fast tempos and for ignoring the fermatas.

This performance shows pretty much the state of performance practice today when all the fermatas are ignored: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VLMKvwlCIM

Many conductors do acknowledge the fermata as a breathing "lift" for the voices, even though the singers don't physically need it. This is more a rhetorical break: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY-aowxVXfI

This question is related to another question of whether all the chorales were sung at the same congregational speed regardless of the "affect" of their text. Even the briskest of conductors invariably slow the tempo for programmatic effect when "O Haupt" appears later for the Death of Christ in "Wenn ich einmal".

Although we certainly never hear it as Mendelssohn and the 19th century did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syUG-vTM23I

Charles Francis wrote (September 1, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< There is an interesting question whether the fermata is a literary marking which indicates the end of a line of poetry, or a tempo marking indicating a sustain and pause as in modern notation. >

With regard to "literary marking", I imagine this suggestion was made by someone (musicologist / snake oil salesman?) with little or no exposure to Bach's performance parts. To take but one recent example from our order of discussion, in the case of BWV 163 the Cornet-Ton transpose has explicit fermatas without a corresponding text: http://www.bach-digital.de/receive/BachDigitalSource_source_00001004

So why not extend HIP practice and assign non-musical semantics to Bach's figured base? Then, a new generation of trained performers might add tasteful jazz chords in an authentic Bach manner.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 1, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< With regard to "literary marking", I imagine this suggestion was made by someone (musicologist / snake oil salesman?) with little or no exposure to Bach's performance parts. >
Actually, it was scholars working on 16th and 17th hymnbooks. I would assume that modern HIP performers accept the "literary" interpretation because they treat fermatas like the ends of slurs at the end of articulated phrases and not real fermatas. I don't think I've ever seen a chorale instrumental part marked with the "modern" slurs that Bach uses in other cantata movements.

For Bach and his performers, the fermatas may just be a survival of "old" notation, in the same way that Bach calls his cantatas "concertos" in the 17th century nomenclature of Schütz, even though his cantatas bear little resemblance to the earlier motets. The fermatas in the hymn books do function as a visual signal when the organist would insert improvisatory interludes into congregational singing.

Does Harnoncourt discuss the performance question in any of his cantata notes? I don't recall Dürr mentioning it, but he generally doesn't address performance questions.

Someplace, somewhere there is a doctoral dissertation:

"Stop, in the Name of Love!: The History of the Fermata"

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 1, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< With regard to "literary marking", I imagine this suggestion was made by someone (musicologist / snake oil salesman?) with little or no exposure to Bach's performance parts. To take but one recent example from our order of discussion, in the case of BWV 163 the Cornet-Ton transpose has explicit fermatas without a corresponding text: >
That doesn't mean anything. Just because the text wasn't included doesn't mean a thing except the parts would have the text. It was a time saving / space saving element in the score being composed.

Charles Francis wrote (September 1, 2012):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I take your point, however for consistency would one likewise argue for a missing libretto in, say, the Brandenburg concertos: http://www.bach-digital.de/receive/BachDigitalSource_source_00000448

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 1, 2012):
[To Charles Francis] Consistency for what? Because the Brandenburg Concerti are INSTRUMENTAL pieces.

You're kidding, right?

Eric Schissel wrote (September 1, 2012):
Dissertation?
Maybe not Stop, in the Name of Love! but this comes up... (don't know how Cantata or chorale-related it is, is all. Wonder if it can be downloaded to see?... will check.)

"Hampson, Christopher Martin: Pausing for Reflection: Re-evaluating Bach's Use of the Fermata." Dissertation, University of Glasgow, 2007. :)

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 1, 2012):
Eric Schissel wrote:
< "Hampson, Christopher Martin: Pausing for Reflection: Re-evaluating Bach's Use of the Fermata." Dissertation, University of Glasgow, 2007. :) >
That sounds more Ella Fitzgerald than Diana Ross ...

Charles Francis wrote (September 1, 2012):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] To clarify, a "literary" explanation does not tell us why fermatas are needed in Bach's instrumental works or in his instrumental performance parts to the cantatas. On the other hand, assuming musical semantics would account for all of the aforementioned and, incidentally, also explain their presence in 16th and 17th hymnbooks. Competing theories may be ranked by criteria such as refutability, explanatory power, lex parsimoniae etc.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 1, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< To clarify, a "literary" explanation does not tell us why fermatas are needed in Bach's instrumental works or in his instrumental performance parts to the cantatas. >
I've seen plenty of cantata sources from the baroque period, and the instrumental parts sometimes have the first few words of the cantata text too for that specific movement. Does that mean the instrumentalists were singing? Of course not. The fermatas in the instrumental parts are another way to visually help the performers too. Understanding baroque musical rhetoric and how they saw music as a form of speech (Mattheson wrote extensively about this as did others), instrumental music would naturally carry this over as well. You may find the book "Musica Poetica: Musical-Rhetorical Figures in German Baroque Music" by Dietrich Bartel helpful.

 

Cantata BWV 139: 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

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Last update: ıSeptember 4, 2012 ı09:03:03