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Cantata BWV 143
Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of January 7, 2007

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 6, 2007):
Introduction to BWV 143 - "Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele"

Discussion for the week of January 7, 2007

Cantata BWV 143 - "Lobe den Herrn, mein Seele" for New Year's Day (Feast of the Circumcision)

Date of composition and first performance unknown, see discussion. 1708-1714 proposed.

Text, data on recordings, readings for the day, commentary, and previous discussion can be found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV143.htm

including the following specific links:

Previous Discussion: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV143-D.htm
Provenance: (Origin & Owner history) none listed?
Commentaries: (Oron): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV143-Guide.htm

For the first three weeks of 2007 we are taking a break from the exact chronology of Bach's cantatas and picking up a few that were overlooked earlier. I am neither musician nor long-standing BCML participant, and so I make no claims to expertise, only availability. I plan to follow a format which has been used by others. I first noticed it with Alain Bruguières: summary comments from published sources, especially Dürr, followed by some personal thoughts and proposed questions.

Aryeh has suggested that I tell you how I came to be here on BCML. I have been around a while, so pretty much everything in my life starts about 50 years ago, or more. My first intensive listening to Bach was a set of 78's of the Dm harpsichord (piano) concerto which just happened to be around at a friend's house, where a bunch of creative (and/or wild) people hung out, about 1958. Many of us, including me, were high-school kids. That led me to the first Glenn Gould recording of the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), which was sensationally popular at the time. My first live cantata performance was by the Cantata Singers (Boston) under John Harbison in 1973. I enjoyed it, but I was much more interested in the Harbison premier which shared the program. In 1985, local (Harvard University) radio station WHRB played complete Bach for his tercentenary, in BWV order, including the cantatas, many of which were newly released in the Rilling edition. I slept a bit, but heard most of them and resolved to spend more time with them some day. At about that time, I became a Cantata Singers subscriber and also began to attend some of the Craig Smith/Emmanuel Music Sunday cantata performances. So for the past twenty years or so, I have heard about half a dozen live performances each year. In 2005, I discovered BCW while researching the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988). In Feb. 2006 I realized that one of the LPs in my huge accumulation was an unlisted cantata (BWV 106). I sent the data to Aryeh, he invited me to join, and here I am. I am listed in the BCW Member Profiles.

The major issue with BWV 143 is its questionable authenticity, and this is presumably the reason it was originally omitted from the chronology. Interested readers are directed to the first round of discussions, where Thomas Braatz has provided much more detail, based on NBA, than does Dürr (as follows):

The deficient transmission of this cantata, which survives only in a manuscript copy from the second half of the eighteenth century and its derivatives [the manuscript, not the century], leaves us with all sorts of puzzles, and doubts about its authenticity have been raised. Its simple construction and the restriction of madrigalian texts texts to two movements (nos. 4 and 6) both suggest that--presupposing its authenticity--it might be an early work from the period around 1708.
[...]
The text, which reveals no connection with the readings of the day, consists largely of verses from Psalm 146, together with verses of the hymn Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ by Jakob Ebert (1601). Here is the summary: Nos. 1, 3, 5, and 7, from Psalm 146, v. 1, 5, 10a, and 10b, respectively. Nos. 4 and 6, free verse [the madrigalian texts previously noted]. From Du Friedefurst: No. 2 (v. 1) and No. 6 (Instr. CF) [data in tabular form in source] <end quote>

This leaves us with two major issues:
(1) The quality of the music.
(2) If not Bach, who?

Dürr again:
The work is perhaps a little colorless in invention, particularly the opening chorus and the third movement; and the second movement displays little of the creative genius with which Bach was capable of embedding a soprano cantus firmus within instrumental figuration (as for example in Cantata BWV 6). More exciting is the fourth movement, in which the 'misfortunes, fears, tribulation, anguish, and sudden death' of the text induce the composer to deploy some richer harmony. <end quote>

That last sentence is what is known as 'European ironic humor'. You would never catch an American (me for example) being that subtle. We tend to blurt things right out.

Dürr continues:
And the fifth movement delights by virtue of its scoring for three horns and timpani, recalling 'Durch mächtige Kraft' from BWV 71, the Mühlhausen council election cantata of 1708 (which however has trumpets instead of horns) especially since the figure [music example excised] resembles the setting of the opening words of that work, 'Gott ist mein König'.

The most charming movement, and the most characteristic of Bach, is no 6, in which continuo and bassoon form a quasi-ostinato bass out of scale figures in complementary rhythms, over which the tenor sings his aria melody, while the chorale Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesus Christ is heard in unison strings. <end quote>

Dürr provides a few additional comments suggesting that the work [if by Bach] must predate 1714.

Personal comments:

My opinion is that this work is not authentic Bach. I am totally unqualified to offer that opinion. On the other hand, I am passionate about it. Take your pick.

'A little colorless in invention' is le mot juste. Plus, the extensive improbabilities in manuscript provenance, detailed by Thomas Braatz. On the other hand, the music is not garbage, or the uncertainty would not be ongoing. The most charming scenario (not to say speculation) is that proposed by Thomas Braatz in the first round of discussions, wherein a forger provides a newly discovered manuscript to a greedy, gullible, wealthy collector.

Not just any forger. A forger capable of creating a believable imitation of Bach. Not a trivial constraint. I would suggest, as first order of consideration, Beethoven or Salieri. Either of whom could do it? Who needed the money most, or who was most greedy?

There may be an opportunity for genuine scholarship here, with any number of additional candidates. There may also be an opportunity for Amadeus II (the sequel). I say, blame Salieri. Heap abuse on the downtrodden. Its the human thing to do.

Enough of that. I have two recordings , Leusink [6] and Suzuki [4]. Those who enjoy Sop. Ruth Holton (Leusink) will find her at her usual boyish purity in BWV 143/2. Those who find her voice thin and unexpressive will probably feel the same here. Other than that, Suzuki is superior in all aspects. I actually bought the Suzuki disc some time ago, in anticipation of leading these discussions, and before I committed to the Leusink compilation. If I already had the Leusink, I don't think I would bother with the Suzuki specifically for BWV 143. On the other hand, it give an opportunity to hear BWV 143 in conjectural chronologic conjunction with its disc mates. Which I have not yet done, so I may comment more as part of the coming week's discussion.

I may also add some comments later regarding the 'Prince of Peace' (Friedefürst) text for BWV 143/2, which was controversial recently on BCML, and probably is best left for subsequent discussion rather than the introduction. One question overwhelms all others: is this music written by Bach?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 6, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Cantata BWV 143 - "Lobe den Herrn, mein Seele" for New Year's Day (Feast of the Circumcision) >
I am surprised by the rather lukewarm critical response to this cantata. Even if it isn't by Bach, it is a fine work with terrific energy in the choruses and expressive arias (I like the contast of the tenor's "sad" aria). The extremely promiment timpani part is hardly colourless!

I had never seen the score before and was interested to see that the horns and timpani play in B flat. That makes sense for the horns but how many cantatas have timpani in flat keys? I assume the E flat version of the Magnificant has them in E flat - B flat, but it is more usual to see them in C or D major. Are there any other cantatas with flat keys?

I was also wondering if anyone had speculated whether the horns should be played "in alt", that is an octave higher than in recordings such as Leusink [6].

I love this cantata -- it feels like Bach to me-- but then I was crushed when I learned "Schlage Doch" (BWV 53) wasn't by Bach.

Russell Telfer wrote (January 6, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Discussion for the week of January 7, 2007
Cantata BWV 143 - "Lobe den Herrn, mein Seele" for New Year's Day (Feast of the Circumcision)
.......................... as discussed previously >

Bravo

Regardless of scholarship, which is not my strongest suit, I like the format of this reply.

Ed has given us a proper introduction to BWV 143 and has then added some personal details which explain what the work means to him.

I aim to add something similar.

The work has
I Chor
II Choral (actually a Violin\Soprano solo)
III Recitative for Tenor
IV Aria (Tenor)
V Aria (Bass, with Bassoon)
VI Chor

I wasn't until recently aware that this cantata was on the doubtful list.

When I first became properly aware of the cantata, in 1978, I recorded my impressions of the musical quality of the six movements. What I wrote indicated that it wasn't going to be in my top ten desert island discs. To be fair, what I had was an indifferent LP recording now lost, and it wasn't until recently when I was able to hear the Rilling recording on CD [1] that I could realise some of the inner beauty of the music. But the judgment still stands, ie it isn't in my top hundred.

I noticed that Douglas Cowling has more recently commented that it feels like Bach to him and (this is my interpretation) that if a work he loves or enjoys has its provenance found not to be by Bach, he is saddened.

I am deeply attached to the 216 cantatas, including about 8 dodgy entrants, but if BWV 143 had turned out to be a real masterpiece yet not by Bach, I would have applauded. There is an enormous amount of mind-melting eighteenth century music still to harvest. We should all be looking for it.

Later I may go technical and try to say why this is what I would call a journeyman cantata.

Peter Smaill wrote (January 6, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] There are many abnormalities which cause doubt over BWV 143 - strange movement lengths, odd orchestration, a patchwork of OT,NT and madrigalian texts, and an overall absence of Bachian "feel". And yet...it would be brave to be sure he had no hand in it, or that was not ever performed by Bach.

Of all these quirks the most interesting, and attractive, is the use of three horns. Whatever the provenance it is worth thinking about why a New Year Cantata welcoming the new Prince would be appropriately so orchestrated. Here is Michael Marissen on the subject:

"Owing to its ceremonial and signal functions in the hunt, the horn emerged as an allegorical "figure'" representing aristocratic values. The sound of the horn was therefore able to excite deep feelings in the aristocracy, in whose minds it symbolized the very essence of nobility.

Because of these associations, the original effect of horns in early eighteenth century music was probably much more evocative than we might suspect today....in the Quoniam of Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232) the horn's affective connotations highlight the image of God's entry into the world in the form of Christ the King."

Marissen then quotes a greeting call known to contemporary Saxon huntsmen and relates it to the 1st movement of the first Brandenburg Concerto.

"The same fanfare, scored for horn, has regal associations in the aria "Der herr ist Koenig ewiglich" (BWV 143/5)...the fanfare also appears with the same associations, this time scored for trumpet, in the aria "Grosser Herr und Starker König" from part 1 of the [WO (BWV 248)] as well as ..in the previous version of this aria [in the secular BWV 214].

Marissen made this observation while holding no stated view on the authenticity of BWV 143 and the connection of this affekt alone would not be sufficient to refute the doubts. At 14 minutes it is one of the shortest Cantatas on record, but "Schau lieber Gott, wie mein Fiend", BWV 153 for the Sunday after New Year (2 January 1724) is also a quickie at 15 minutes. The other New Year Cantatas range from 19 to 30 minutes.

Maybe therefore the much-discussed labours of the Christmas celebrations inclined Bach on occasions to perform a very short work, in this case possibly a musical patiche. But such a scenario suggests Leipzig rather than Weimar. However, where would Bach find so many good horn players? Plenty trumpeters at Weimar and even Cöthen; but orchestral horns?

Textually the piece would not offend the Calvinists at Cöthen and there was a tradition there of New Year music, though rarely Cantatas . While inclined to agree with Ed that BWV 143 is not by Bach, it may have been transmitted via him from just such an environment where a short piece suited to princely ears on New Year's day was required.

Dissent from such a view is however to be expected!

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 7, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>I had never seen the score before and was interested to see that the horns and timpani play in B flat. That makes sense for the horns but how many cantatas have timpani in flat keys? I assume the E flat version of the Magnificat (BWV 243a) has them in E flat - B flat, but it is more usual to see them in C or D major. Are there any other cantatas with flat keys?<<
Ulrich Prinz, in his "J. S. Bachs Instrumentarium", Stuttgart/Kassel, 2005, pp. 88-115, treats "Tamburi" ("Timpani, kettle drums") in great detail. It (they) were first depicted as a set of military drums with screw-like tuning attachments by Virdung in 1511. The use of trumpets and timpani in church music can be traced back to 1617 and thereafter beginning with M. Praetorius, H. Schütz and M. Altenburg leading the way. H.I.F. Biber's 55-part "Missa Salisburgensis", 1682 is scored for (among other instruments) 2 'choirs' of 4 trumpets and timpani each. In the 2nd half of the 17th century notation for trumpets+timpani choirs appear in the music of Lully, Knüpfer, Krieger, Purcell and Schelle. A late report on timpani by Kürzinger from 1763 states: "...can only be used for great festive occasions. It is certainly a fact that they are useful on the battlefield in keeping up the soldier's courage; but to think that they do not belong in the church is certainly not a prescription stated in the Bible." [In this , I am reminded of my childhood experience with the ultra-conservative Missouri Synod churches [mid USA] where trumpets and timpani were forbidden from participating in performances of Bach's music in the church proper. The performance had to be moved to the nearby church school because otherwise the church authorities would not allow it to take place. I shudder to think what kind of music is being performed in these churches today!]

Timpani players who possibly played under Bach's direction:

Weimer: Andreas Nicol (noted as member of the court chapel orchestra before January 12, 1716

Köthen: Anton Unger (until his death in 1719)
Johann Vollandt (beginning in 1721)

Leipzig: members of the City Pipers
On August 23, 1730 wrote: "This position is now vacant"
Johann Salomon Riemer, listed as member of the large concert society of the "Tabula Musicorum" during the years, 1746-1748

Bach's designation for this instrument:

Most of the time: "Tamburi"
Other forms encounteres: "Tamb., Tympali, Tympales
Tympalles, Tymbal.Tymp.Tympane Paucken, Pauken"

Bach's notation for this instrument:

Bach often used the transposed notation, i.e., the bass-clef along with the C below middle C and the G below that. Composers like Händel, Telemann, Haydn used 'actual sound' notation. This was necessary also when more than one pair of timpani was being used (Graupner used as many as 3 sets or 6 timpani at the same time). Mozart and Bach, however, used transposed notation.

Thus, we find in Bach's scores that he uses the same notation (always bass-clef C to the G a fourth below - the latter in the lowest space in the staff) whether the composition/mvt. was set in C, D, B or Eb major, but for G major, the drop of a fifth from D to G. This was due to the restricted range of tuning (from F to the lowest F in the bass-clef) for these instruments in Bach's time. In Leipzig, someone had to tell the timpanist in advance which key would be used, whether that was done by Gottfried Reiche (the leader of the Trumpet+Timpani 'choir') or by Bach himself. Since there are no tacet marking on Bach's timpani parts, it is assumed that timpanists never played any other instrument other than the timpani.

The placement of the timpani:

The higher "C" was on the left, the lower "G" on the right.

Bb Major: BWV 143 (1708/1714?)??

Eb Major: BWV 243a (the timpani part is missing, the score shows the trumpet-timpani 'choir' all scored in C major)

G Major: BWV 79, BWV 91, BWV 100, BWV 196/6 (for the latter work a late repeat performance in actual sounding notation, not transposed)

C Major: BWV 21 (for the repeat performance in Leipzig in actual sounding notation, not transposed), BWV 31 (ditto), BWV 71 (in Mühlhausen Chorton), BWV 172 (in Weimar Chorton, repeat performances in Leipzig in C major and D major actual sounding notation); the following Leipzig compositions are all in actual sounding notation: BWV 19, BWV 41, BWV 43, BWV 59, BWV 74, BWV 119, BWV 130, BWV 137, BWV 149/7, BWV 237

D Major: all the remaining works from Leipzig are in D major Cammerton: BWV 11, BWV 29, BWV 30a, BWV 34, BWV 69; BWV 80?)(which version?, certainly not W. F. Bach's), BWV 110, BWV 120, BWV 120a, BWV 129, BWV 149/1, BWV 171, BWV 190, BWV 191, BWV 195, BWV 197, BWV 201, BWV 205, BWV 207, BWV 214, BWV 215, BWV 232, BWV 243 (2nd Version), BWV 248, BWV 249, BWV 1045, BWV 1068, BWV 1069

DC: >>I was also wondering if anyone had speculated whether the horns should be played "in alt", that is an octave higher than in recordings such as Leusink [6].<<
Prinz mentions BWV 143 as being highly problematical. If it is truly a work by Bach, he states, it could be considered his earliest work for horns. I will see if I can find out anything else about this, but I suspect that most commentators will carefully avoid speculating about this matter because of the lack of real, reliable evidence about this composition.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 7, 2007):
Context of BWV 143

A few words regarding context may be a useful addition to Ed's introduction; particularly for those following through the consecutive works of the second cycle.

This is the first of five cantatas supposed to have been written at around this time (the reason for their inclusion at this point is that we are taking the works in what is thought to be their order of composition---the words 'thought to be' are carefully chosen).

The others are BWV 202, BWV 158, BWV 37 and, later in the year BWV 36.

None of these are listed as a part of the second cycle and in several cases their provenance is problematic.

We return to the second cycle proper with BWV 124 and continue until the last one (BWV 176) omitting only BWV 4 which is known to have been written around a decade and a half earlier.

Of this work BWV 143 Wolff says that the authenticity as a work of JSB is uncertain because it 'is preserved neither in the original sources nor in those from Bach's immediate circle'. The only MS dates from 1762.

We then have to turn to the score to find corroborating internal evidence which cannot lead to a conclusion of any great certainty but which does provide indicators. My own view is that it is most likely to have been an earlier lost work which Bach re-touched for later performances.

There are a lot of reasons for this conclusion, too many to state here, but for a start:-
1 no da capo arias--typical of the earlier works. One recit yes, but very short and easily added. Again lack of recits is typical of earlier works.
2 a short opening chorus with a very embryonic ritornello structure---even leaving aside the fact that it is not a chorale fantasia it is nothing like the structure of the majority of cantatas Bach was composing in 1724/5.
3 Unusual combination of text sources not typical of the later works
4 unique instrumentation, using big forces which Bach liked to used in the earlier works when available.
5 use made of the chorale in some movements but it is not stated again at the end.

As one or two people have already mentioned much of the music seems to good to have been composed by anyone but Bach; but I would be most surprised, given the internal evidence if it was composed originally in BWV 172. To answer Doug Cowling's question, there are cantatas using horns in flat keys. BWV 1, coming up later this year one (F major).. It also has the distinction of having a unique florid obligato played by the second horn to accompany the final chorale statement.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 7, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< To answer Doug Cowling's question, there are cantatas using horns in flat keys. BWV 1, coming up later this year is one (F major).. It also has the distinction of having a unique florid obligato played by the second horn to accompany the final chorale statement. >
F Major seems to be Bach's favoured horn key (Brandenburg, Wie Schön Leuchtet, F Mjaor Mass, Christmas Oratorio) although there is "Gott de Herr" in G Major and "Quonaim" in D major. But B flat seems so un-Baroque. I can't think of a Händel movement that strays beyond C and D. Do any of the scholars who have studied of the work offer any other examples of contemporary piece with timpani in B flat?

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 7, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>>Thus, we find in Bach's scores that he uses the same notation (always bass-clef C to the G a fourth below - the latter in the lowest space in the staff) whether the composition/mvt. was set in C, D, B or Eb major, but for G major, the drop of a fifth from D to G.<<
Whoops! B major should read Bb major above. In the listing later on I have this correctly as Bb major. Of course, anybody who understands the musical notation of 'BACH' will know that 'B' in German is 'Bb' in English (and 'H' is 'B' in English).

Neil Halliday wrote (January 7, 2007):
In the opening chorus of BWV 143, there are two devices that we also see in BWV 91, which also happens to have horns and drums. The choral incipits in BWV 143, in the order SATB a beat apart, all begin on the same note*, as with the instruments in the ritornello of BWV 91, with an alternating turn or trill-like 1/16th note figure that is similar to an instrumental figure occurring later in BWV 91's ritornello.
*The sopranos begin on the Bb in the middle of the treble clef, the altos and tenors begin on the Bb just below middle C, and the basses begin an octave lower.

Admittedly, such figures and contrapuntal methods are probably commonplace in the baroque, and as Julian has noted, the development of these ideas is extremely limited - embryonic in fact.

Still, notice that immediately following this initial choral exposition, we have the same material in the orchestra in the order: violins 1, violins 2, viola, bassoon (while the choir holds a chord); and immediately following (for the third and last time), again in the orchestra, in the order: horn 1, horn 2, violins 1 and 2 (unison), and viola and bassoon (unison), with the choir once again holding a chord.

The writing for the remainder of the movement, when not chordal, is based on rising and falling scale elements, as in the beginning.

In the second movement, the solo violin weaves around the soprano chorale with disarming and attractive simplicity.

In the first tenor aria (C minor) we have a triplet figure on the 1st violins that, in the repetition of its third note, is reminiscent of the triplet writing in the 17th variation of the organ Passassaglia, BWV 582, also in C minor. Note the pause on the D flat major chord, near the end, on "Segensjahr".

The writing for the horns seems just a little scrappy (to me) in the bass aria.

The second tenor aria (G minor) has the bassoon mostly alternating with the continuo, again in a manner that, though effective, seems simple for Bach; as well as the chorale in the unison upper strings set against the tenor part. It's pleasing music, with a certain (attractive) simplicity that would point to early Bach, if it is his.

The final movement, with its juxtaposition of the various instrumental and choral groups (strings, horns, choir plus soprano chorale) is quite impressive, despite its brevity. The idea of giving the chorale text to the sopranos, while setting complex `Hallelujas' in the ATB lines, is most effective musically.

In conclusion, the work as a whole is certainly impressive enough to be early Bach, but I suppose there were several other composers at that time who could have written it.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 7, 2007):
Russell Telfer:
< Later I may go technical and try to say why this is what I would call a journeyman cantata. >
Thanks for the kind comments. I think you have found the exact word (journeyman) to express my feelings as well, whether the music is by Bach or other.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 7, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< In conclusion, the work as a whole is certainly impressive enough to be early Bach, but I suppose there were several other composers at that time who could have written it. >
Interested folks will have read Neil's comments in their entirety, no need to repeat them here.

One of the key points, how does the work appear from nowhere, long after Bach's death? The idea of a successful forgery is not that it is easy to detect. Indeed, exactly the opposite. The better the forgery, the more difficult it is to expose. Which leads immediately to the point that we have no idea how many undiscovered (or intentionally unexposed) forgeries languish in the collections of museums, libraries, and other institutions.

It's enough to drive the dedicated Graduate Student to drink, if you will forgive me for mixing a couple threads.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 7, 2007):
BWV 143 Corno (alto) or Corno (basso)?
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>I was also wondering if anyone had speculated whether the horns should be played "in alt", that is an octave higher than in recordings such as Leusink [6].<<
Leusink [6] certainly should not be considered a gauge by which performance standards of Bach's music for wind instruments, particularly trombae and corni should be measured.

For this much-discussed problem there is no definitive answer even today with answers pro and con by experts who have studied this problem thoroughly, although at the end of this posting I will suggest what I believe is the best solution to be found.

Ulrich Prinz summarizes the problems surrounding the correct octave to use with Bach's 'Corno' parts as follows (on pp. 140-146 of "J. S. Bachs Instrumentarium", Stuttgart/Kassel, 2005):

Mattheson wrote in 1713 that the most useful 'pleasantly-pompous' horns ["Waldhörner"] are in F and have the same range (scale of natural tones) ["Ambitum"] as the trumpets in C. They sound better and fuller than the 'deafening' [overwhelming the sound of all other instruments] and loudly screaming Clarinos (unless they under the control of true virtuosi), because they are a fifth lower [than the clarino trumpets]. All trumpets are in Chorton. That is why, when a piece is played in Cammerton and accompanied by trumpets, the trumpets parts are composed in D major because a D in Cammerton is a C in Chorton. In contrast, however, even though there are horns in G Chorton, the horns in F Cammerton are preferred for orchestral music. Majer, in 1732, writes that nowadays there are even some horns in C which are a whole octave lower than the trumpets.

The discussion of alto vs. basso range in playing Bach's horn parts was triggered by the release of the NBA II/1 in 1954 of the horn part in BWV 232/10 or 11 (depending upon which method is used for counting), the "Quoniam" mvt. of the B minor Mass (BWV 232) Although the initial starting note as given in Bach's autograph score and Corno part was plainly and correctly indicated at the beginning of the mvt. by the NBA, the Corno part itself was notated in the higher octave (alto horn range instead of basso). This brought about a storm of protest which caused the NBA, in its practical edition, to revise this part by placing a little 8 under the treble clef. Now a veritable avalanche of articles regarding the correct way of playing this part and giving reasons why ensued. By simply glancing at either the original notation prior to the part in the NBA or in the facsimileeditions of the score in 1924 and 1965 and the Dresden parts (1983) much of this controversy could have been avoided.

One current opinion [based on a summary from 1991] is expressed by G. Widholm in the MGG2: (1996) "The question recently discussed with great vehemence centers on whether Bach's parts for a horn in C (sounding as D) were played on a horn in C (basso) or on a horn in C (alto), the latter being more like a coiled trumpet. A summary of this is found in an article by R. Dahlqvist, 1991."

Some other articles covering this issue are:

W. Wolf, "Corni da caccia mit neuer Technik" Das Orchester, 31st year, 1983, pp. 892-894.
P. Damm, "Zur Ausführung des ,Corne da Caccia' im Quoniam der Missa h-Moll von J. S. Bach", Bach-Jahrbuch, 1984, pp. 91-105.
P. Damm, Corni da caccia mit neuer Technik" Das Orchester, 32nd year, 1984, pp. 625ff. J. Eppelsheim, "Alto oder basso? Zu einigen Hornpartien J. S. Bachs" Zur Aufführungspraxis und Interpretation der Musik von Johann Sebastian Bach und Georg Friedrich Händel, Michaelstein/Blankenburg, 1985, pp. 54-56.
L. Güttler, "Zur Verwendung des Corno da caccia in der Arie ,Quoniam tu solus' in der Messe h-moll von Johann Sebastian Bach" Bachwoche Ansbach, 1985 (Official Almanac), pp. 55-58.
L. Güttler, "Das Corno da caccia bei Johann Sebastian Bach, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung sines Einsatzes in der ,Quoniam' Arie der h-Moll-Messe", Bach-Studien, 10, Wiesbaden/Leipzig, 1991, pp. 216-132.
P. Damm "Zum Thema: Das Horn bei J. S. Bach", Bach-Studien 10, Wiesbaden/Leipzig, 1991, pp. 235-242.
H. Heyde, "Instrumentenkundliches über Horn und Trompete bei Johann Sebastian Bach" Bach-Studien 10, Wiesbaden/Leipzig, 1991, pp. 250-265.

The discussion continues to center upon which notes of the natural tone row were relatively more easily played in various octaves and which were not. Why did Bach seem to expect a fully chromatic octave as if disregarding the natural tone row?

Here is Prinz's rather puzzling statement about the current state of scholarship on this matter:

One authority (Majer, 1732) states that there are horns in C which are an octave lower than the trumpets. Prinz explains: the same fully-chromatic octave possible on a Clarino from c2 to c3 can be used on a horn in C (basso) for the octave from c1 to c2. But this is only a theoretical solution based upon the necessary notes of the natural tone row and can only be usable in the key of C major. The objection can be raised that the notes needed and available in the natural tone row, compared with the way they otherwise appear, are notated an octave too low. Another objection is that the other transposed parts notated in C (not notated by Bach with notes that represent their actual sound/pitch) may be playable on low-pitched horns at different pitches, but in their high range they can do this only by using notes in the natural tone row which go beyond the 18th. However, such a feat Bach never required from his horn players in any instance that can be documented.

In his table summary, Prinz lists Corno BWV 232 key of D transposed notation in C Sounding range d to d2, notation c1 to c3

I personally would support the explanation given by Gisela and Jozsef Csiba in their book "Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken" Merseburger, 1994 p. 39 where they state in essence:
The Corno da caccia in D, a very tightly wound horn, 7 feet long, is the same as the Tromba in D, the only difference being the quality of sound [described by Mattheson above]. The modified short extension between the mouthpiece and the body of the instrument is more easily controllable than on a Tromba in D. [Gottfried Reiche is depicted in his famous portrait with a similar instrument, a Corno da caccia in C.] Bach uses the Corno da caccia in D only in this 'Quoniam' mvt. It is notated in C (transposed) here for the Corno da caccia in D. The first note (notated as c2) at the beginning of the piece will sound like d2 and not as it still is frequently played as a d1 because here the instrument is only a 7-foot Corno da caccia. This fact can be recognized by examining another Corno in D part in BWV 60 which is intended for a Corno in D that has a 14-foot length and sounds an octave lower than the transposed notation. Beginning with a c1, the latter part would move up the scale diatonically and not be restricted to the notes, c1, e1, g1, b-flat1 and b1 as here in BWV 232/11. This argument does not even take into account that no 14-foot Corno da caccia has ever been found, nor have they been documented in any other way. The only conclusion that can be reached is that a 7-foot Corno da caccia was intended for BWV 232/11. By using this instrument some awkward crossing-over of parts (with the two bassoons) can be avoided. Also, the Corno da caccia part then serves as a musical symbol/interpretation of the text: "tu solus altissimus".

Re: BWV 143
The Csibas say that the parts were played by a Corno da caccia in Bb (12-foot length) This instrument, like the Corno da caccia in D above, is used only in this composition and nowhere else. Mvt. 1, for instance, uses the following notes: c1, e, g, b, c2, d, e, f, g, a, b, c3

Neil Halliday wrote (January 7, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>Leusink [6] certainly should not be considered a gauge by which performance standards of Bach's music for wind instruments, particularly trombae and corni should be measured.<
Yes, especially if the samples are considered!

Leonhardt [2] and Leusink [6] have particularly coarse-sounding horns, in the lower octave. Rilling [1], Koopman [7], and Suzuki [4] sound much brighter with the brass instruments in the higher octave.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 7, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Admittedly, such figures and contrapuntal methods are probably commonplace in the baroque, and as Julian has noted, the development of these ideas is extremely limited - embryonic in fact.
The writing for the horns seems just a little scrappy (to me) in the bass aria.
The second tenor aria (G minor) has the bassoon mostly alternating with the continuo, again in a manner that, though effective, seems simple for Bach; as well as the chorale in the unison upper strings set against the tenor part. It's pleasing music, with a certain (attractive) simplicity that would point to early Bach, if it is his. >
Am I the only one who likes this cantata and thinks it's actually a very polished work? (grin).

I have always felt that the entry of the voices on a unison in the opening chorus is a dramatic touch which effectively contrasts with the festive business of the opening. I'm not sure why the movement has been labelled "embryonic". The counterpoint shows no awkwrdness -- in fact I think it sounds more assured than many early cantatas. I was in fact reminded of the opening chorus of the Magnificat (BWV 243)!

Certainly the recorded performances of the bass aria leave a lot to be desired, unless we believe that the Thomnerchor beer allotment was sucked up by the horn players: the Leusink performance [6] is pretty Alpine. But this movement is as deftly written as other "lordly" movements

So too the final chorus with its combination of the chorale with a kind of Ländler dance rhythm balances the opening chorus and sets up a very satistfying symmetry.

I like it and play it often in the car!

Julian Mincham wrote (January 7, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Am I the only one who likes this cantata and thinks it's actually a very polished work? (grin). >
I didn't say I didn't like it. I 'like' BWV 4 as well but that does not prevent me from noting that it has a number of characteristics which label it 'ea' rather than 'middle or late' Bach--as I believe is the case with BWV 143.

< I have always felt that the entry of the voices on a unison in the opening chorus is a dramatic touch which effectively contrasts with the festive business of the opening. I'm not sure why the movement has been labelled "embryonic". >
I quote my original sentence---' a short opening chorus with a very embryonic ritornello structure' The ritornello structure I maintain is embryonic since it only occurs at the beginning and the end. Many later concise movements (e.g. the Deposuit from the Magnificat (BWV 243)) have, at least, a a central ritornello section as well. To label the movement 'embryonic' in one clearly defined sense is not to label it thus on others e.g. motivic development, contrapuntal complexity etc.

On the Bb key issue I take the point about few other movements using timpani in that key. But it's not entirely a non-baroque key. One Brandenburg, a partita, several cantata movements, Händel concerto grosso etc exist in that key.

I don't know if anyone has done any statistical analysis on this. However it could be that it was the least used of the major keys of up to 4 sharps and flats. However the same could not be said, I think of its relative two flat key, G minor.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 7, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Am I the only one who likes this cantata and thinks it's actually a very polished work? (grin). >
Not at all. I think Russell has found le mot juste--journeyman. Solid craftsmanship, but a bit short on inspiration. I once heard Leon Kirchner, talking about a Händel Concerto Grosso, describe that quality of inspiration as *demonic*. There, that should raise a few hackles.

I repeat my original suggestion, it sounds like it could be Salieri doing Bach, for whatever reason. Money is never a bad first speculation.

< Certainly the recorded performances of the bass aria leave a lot to be desired, unless we believe that the Thomnerchor beer allotment was sucked up by the horn players: >
My horn-playing grandfather had a reputation for doing exactly that! Perhaps it's a trait of the breed?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 7, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< On the Bb key issue I take the point about few other movements using timpani in that key. But it's not entirely a non-baroque key. One Brandenburg, a partita, several cantata movements, Händel concerto grosso etc exist in that key. >
Sorry, I meant to say that that timpani used in the key of B flat is very unusual in a Baroque work. I can't think of another example.

While we're on the the subject of timpani and keys, did Bach ever use timpani in a minor key? I can think of two instances in Händel (both in "Joshua"), but not in Bach.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 7, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>did Bach ever use timpani in a minor key? I can think of two instances in Händel (both in "Joshua"), but not in Bach.<<
BWV 205/2 (Bass Recitativo) has the timpani playing until m18 in G major, at this point the key changes to F# minor. The timpani no longer play from m18-24 (end).

In BWV 69/6 (final chorale), the chorale begins in B minor but changes to D major at the end. The timpani are used throughout.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 7, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< In BWV 69/6 (final chorale), the chorale begins in B minor but changes to D major at the end. The timpani are used throughout. >
Interesting that Händel does exactly the same thing in two choruses in "Joshua" which are written in B minor but shift back and forth to D major. In the scene of the fall of the walls of Jericho, the timpani has a huge sustained roll on the D, the mediant of B minor. I don't' have the full score of BWV 69 in front of me: does Bach have the timpani play D over B minor harmonies?

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 7, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>did Bach ever use timpani in a minor key? I can think of two instances in Händel (both in "Joshua"), but not in Bach.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< BWV 205/2 (Bass Recitativo) has the timpani playing until m18 in G major, at this point the key changes to F# minor. The timpani no longer play from m18-24 (end). >
And since they don't play in the F# minor section, this doesn't answer the question in the affirmative.

< In BWV 69/6 (final chorale), the chorale begins in B minor but changes to D major at the end. The timpani are used throughout. >
Look again. The only two notes the timpani play, in that movement, are D and A: the tonic and dominant of D major. Bach leaves them out during all the B minor sections. See especially the penultimate phrase, where it's B minor again and Bach has the three trumpets tattooing on F# (which works in both the B minor and F# major, its dominant)...but the timps are silent, as there's no note they could play that would fit into the harmony.

And at bars 5 and 11, where the timpanist plays a D momentarily above a B bass, the music has already modulated into D major (first inversion) on the previous beat...and the only two notes there in all the parts are B and D, really belonging to *G* major rather than B minor.

(Sending Doug a BWV 69 score off-list so he can see what I mean here.)

So again, this example doesn't argue "yes" to Doug's question, either.

If any minor-key examples exist, we should be looking for them to have the timpanist play tonic and dominant, not III and VII.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 8, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
[Regarding first example:]
>>And since they don't play in the F# minor section, this doesn't answer the question in the affirmative.<<
Agreed. I had pointed this out, but I included this example because the mvt. scored, among other instruments, for timpani, had two predominant keys, one of which is minor.

[Regarding second example:]
>>Bach leaves them out during all the B minor sections. See especially the penultimate phrase, where it's B minor again and Bach has the three trumpets tattooing on F#...but there is no note they [the timpani] could play that would fit into the harmony.<<
Thanks, I had overlooked this. This is an important point to make: although a mvt. may be in two predominant keys, shifting from one to another, Bach avoids completely having the timpani play in those parts which are not in a major key. There are then no examples in Bach's entire oeuvre where timpani play in a minor key. This also applies to when a minor key is in effect in a composition scored for timpani).

Julian Mincham wrote (January 8, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< While we're on the the subject of timpani and keys, did Bach ever use timpani in a minor key? >
I just wondered whether this might not be specifically a 'timpani thing' but allied to the brass, particularly trumpets and horns. Bach tends to use oboes rather than brass in large minor scale movements keeping the brass more for celebratory, extrovery and festive occasions. Timpani at that time were usually considered to be a part of the brass group.

If there is anything in this idea, the lack of timpani in minor movements could be because of the lack of musical reasons for incorporating brass?

Julian Mincham wrote (January 8, 2007):
Following my further email I have just flipped through the pages of around two dozen minor key cantatas and find that it does seem to be the case that Bach uses a brass group seldom if ever in a minor mode movement.

He occasionally uses a solo trumpet to hold a chorale melody in an aria and often uses the horn to double the cantus firmus in chorale fantasias--but that's not the same thing.

I'd be interested if anyone comes up with examples of the use of a brass group of either 2/3 trumpets and/or horns with or without timpani in minor key movements?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 8, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< The only two notes the timpani play, in that movement, are D and A: the tonic and dominant of D major. Bach leaves them out during all the B minor sections. See especially the pephrase, where it's B minor again and Bach has the three trumpets tattooing on F# (which works in both the B minor and F# major, its dominant)...but the timps are silent, as there's no note they could play that would fit into the harmony.
And at bars 5 and 11, where the timpanist plays a D momentarily above a B bass, the music has already modulated into D major (first inversion) on the previous beat...and the only two notes there in all the parts are B and D, really belonging to G major rather than B minor.
(Sending Doug a
BWV 69 score off-list so he can see what I mean here.)
So again, this example doesn't argue "yes" to Doug's question, either.
If any minor-key examples exist, we should be looking for them to have the timpanist play tonic and dominant, not III and VII. >
Thanks for the score pages, Brad. This is a wonderfully inventive way of giving the illusion that the timpani are playing in B minor: the end of each line modulates to D and A major major which the timpani support. Händel does something of the same thing in the B Minor "Eternal Ruler" in 'Joshua" where the brass and timpani only play in the sections which modulate to D major. The depiction of the earthquake in the same oratorio's chorus, "Glory to God" is a real tonal special effect: the timpani has a sustained crescendo roll on D over many bars while the choir and orchestra are firmly in B minor.

Is there a technical reason why Bach avoids writing music in minor keys with brass and timpani or is this an aesthetic question? Surely a movement in D minor or A minor would not tax the brass. Looking ahead I can't think of a minor key moevment with brass and timpani until Mozart and Haydn.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 8, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>I'd be interested if anyone comes up with examples of the use of a brass group of either 2/3 trumpets and/or horns with or without timpani in minor key movements? <<
Timpani have already been excluded, so let's look at:

2 or more trombae (always in a major key)
2 or more horns (always in a major key)

However:

2 or more trombones (always minor or in church mode with only the following in a major key:

3 trombones in BWV 25/6 in C major (finale chorale)
3 trombones in BWV 28/2 in C major (a chorale mvt.)
3 trombones in BWV 64/4 in D major (a chorale mvt.)
3 trombones in BWV 118 in Bb major (a chorale mvt.)

otherwise 2 or more trombones are scored for a church mode (11 mvts.) or in minor key (9 mvts.)

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 8, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Is there a technical reason why Bach avoids writing music in minor keys with brass and timpani or is this an aesthetic question?<<
The choice of major over minor for trombae and corni appears to be due to the natural tone row which is as follows (the numbers are important to remember):

1. C (this is two octaves below middle C and the note is located below the bass clef
2. C (this is one octave below middle C and the note is located in the bass clef in the 2nd space counting from the bottom)
3. g (the 1st g below middle C and the note is located in the fourth space from the bottom of the bass clef)
4. c' (this is middle C)
5. e' (this is the e above middle c (a major third from c')
6. g' (this is the g above middle c (this completes the major triad, c' e' g')
7. b-flat' (this note is to be avoided if possible since it is out of tune, too flat, with additional aid from lipping, vent holes, etc. a b' can be produced)
8. c'' (one octave above middle C) (with special aids it can be pushed up to c#'')
9. d'' (one whole step higher than the previous notes) (pushed to d#'' with special aids)
10. e'' (another major third above a c)
11. f'' (out of tune, too sharp) (can be pushed to f#'')
12. g'' (another major triad: c'' e'' g'') (can be pushed to g#'')
13. a'' (this note is to be avoided if possible because it is out of tune, too flat)
14. b-flat'' (this note is to be avoided if possible because it is out of tune, too flat)
15. b'' natural
16. c'''
17. c#'''
18. d'''
19. d#'''
20. e'''
21. f''' (this note is too low/flat)
22. f''' (this note is too low/flat)
23. f#''' (this note is too high/sharp)
24. g'''

Principal Range between 3 and 8
Clarino Range 8 and higher

Various methods can be used to alter a natural tone to bring it into tune or even to force the natural tone into the next higher or lower semitone. Most of these changes were accomplished in Bach's time by means of changing one's embouchure the control of which depended upon a lot of practice. Modern mechanical adaptations were not used. At most a short, separate extension to the mouthpiece may have been added.

Between the Csiba's book and Prinz's, (references for both sources given recently), it is possible to see at a glance:

1. which notes does Bach require from his brass players
2. which instrument, specifically, is called for in each instance

Russell Telfer wrote (January 8, 2007):
BWV 143 - some comments

More detailed thoughts on BWV 143.

I've put some together so whoever wants to skip them doesn't have to wade through a dozen emails. Anyone who considers that masterworks and near masterworks are beyond the criticism of amateurs is welcome to press Del.

Here goes. There are 7 movements and none is longer than 3 minutes.

I Lobe den Herrn

This chorus is 35 bars long. I could not find a single accidental. That is remarkable enough.

It is firmly rooted in the major key Bb and barely leaves it except for transitional moves, eg I-VI-V-I

35 bars is not long enough to 'develop an argument', to build up a presence, which most great music does. However it's definitely worth listening to.

I believe (but I'm willing to be corrected) that this uses a simple binary structure: there is no middle contrasting section.

On the positive side, there is a typical Bachian bass line - the continuo has a strong and significant part throughout.

My impression was that the music was over before it had started. Nonsense, but you might get the drift.

II

Friedefürst Herr Jesu Christ (which has been much discussed)

This is a simple and brief hymn stanza set for violin, soprano and continuo. It is not greatly elaborated, with four bars of intro and six bars at the close. The style is one that I privately think of as Bach's salon style - it reminds be of olde world tea rooms rather than a church loft.

(IMO) Pleasant to listen to, containing Bach's hallmarks, but not a knockout.

III

An unexceptional tenor aria next. *unexceptional* is not a criticism.

IV

Tausend faches Unglück (Oh dear oh dear!)

A tenor solo, effectively a duet with Violin I

This is a bit more like it. It's a little longer than earlier moments and (to me) contains the Bach hallmarks, It's a more powerful movement, in C minor with much modulation, and could have fitted in imperceptibly into the SMP (BWV 244).

Before you go, look at the bass line. How often do you see Bach just inking in the lead quavers on the beat and little else? I appreciate that there is a figured bass and a skilled continuo player could make much more of this. But still, no compelling underlying bass part to give it that Bach feel.

Enough for now, methinks

Julian Mincham wrote (January 8, 2007):
I think that Russell gives further good reasons for the first movement to be described as 'embrionic'. Also his general description further helps to confirm my view that this is almost certainly an early work not initially composed in 1725 (which is implied by the fact that it is listed for discussion at this time)

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 8, 2007):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< I've put some together so whoever wants to skip them doesn't have to wade through a dozen emails. Anyone who considers that masterworks and near masterworks are beyond the criticism of amateurs is welcome to press Del.
Here goes. There are 7 movements and none is longer than 3 minutes. >
I guess I've cast myself as the Defensor Cantatae. I'm not sure that brevity necessarily indicates lack of development. There are times when conciseness is a decision by the composer. The most famous example is of course the Magnificat (BWV 243) which is a microcosm of Bach's entire vocal technique in 25 minutes. I'm not saying this cantata is equal to the Magnificat (BWV 243) but it does share some features. All of the movements are short and concise and the da capo structure is avoided. The movements are arranged symmetrically around three movements with brass: opening, central movement and closing. If the cantata is by Bach it does present a precedent for the structure of the Magnificat (BWV 243).

As much as I like the work, I'm still bothered by the apparent unique feature of timpani playing in B flat. Something is wrong here. Could the whole thing be an antiquarian hoax?

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 8, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< If the cantata is by Bach it does present a precedent for the structure of the Magnificat (BWV 243). >
OK, but he questions of manuscript provenance detailed by Thomas Braatz in the round one discussions cannot be ignored.

< Could the whole thing be an antiquarian hoax? >
The quality seems extremely good for a hoax, but a forgery for profit, as also suggested by Thomas Braatz, I continue to find a charming possibility. I'm sticking with Salieri, until someone shoots it down. BTW, I do not consider that this suggestion rises even to the level of speculation, just the sort of wild and humorous thought we are free to engage in here. I also think, true or not, it could make a good film (Amadeus, the sequel).

Julian Mincham wrote (January 8, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm not sure that brevity necessarily indicates lack of development. There are times when conciseness is a decision by the composer. The most famous example is of course the Magnificat (BWV 243) which is a microcosm of Bach's entire vocal technique in 25 minutes. I'm not saying this cantata is equal to the Magnificat (BWV 243) but it does share some features. All of the movements are short and concise and the da capo structure is avoided. >
I don't think I used the word 'brevity' and certainly not in any pejorative sense to imply 'short is bad, length is good'---which would be a nonsense.

I think I said 'embryonic'

And going back to the opening chorus of BWV 143 (already problematic because of the orchestration and the key) let's ask which movements in the Magnificat (BWV 243) don't modulate ----even to the dominant? True the opening choruses of both cantata and Magnificat (BWV 243) share one similarity of structure i.e. an instrumental ritornello to open and close but not used (partially or as a whole) to form any central eposides. The Magnificat (BWV 243) chorus modulates and, to my ear is contrapuntally much more sophisticated.

I agree that conciseness is a composer's decision and is often a virtue (although, interestingly in Bach's great period of church music composition he seems to have gone more towards length than brevity). I also agree that the conciseness of the Magnificat (BWV 243) brings about a focus and intensity all its own.

What I wouldn't agree is that BWV 143, whatever its charm, is anything near the same quality as the Magnificat (BWV 243). Which is not to say it is 'bad' music.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 8, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< As much as I like the work, I'm still bothered by the apparent unique feature of timpani playing in B flat. Something is wrong here. Could the whole thing be an antiquarian hoax? >
The BWV's report on this piece (based of course on the NBA) includes these remarks:

"EZ [Entstehungszeit]: unbekannt (um 1708/1714?), desgleichen die Tonart (B = Chorton?, Kammerton?)"

--and--

"Echtheit des Werkes nicht gesichert."

Alain Bruguières wrote (January 10, 2007):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< I wasn't until recently aware that this cantata was on the doubtful list. >
I'm in the same position as Russel; the cantata was familiar to me; definitely not one of my favorites, rather one of the very few cantatas where I found Bach less inspired than usual, yet I enjoy listening to it once in a while.

Now I realize that BWV 143's authenticity is questionable. Ed alludes to technical arguments previously brought forth by Thomas on the list. I will most certainly read these arguments, and probably be convinced, but for a little while I prefer to remain in a state of indecision. I feel like joining Doug in defense of BWV 143.

Some have argued that 143 is too simple, lacks inspiration, inventiveness. I hope I'm not misconstruing their thought in summarizing thus : 143 is good enough, but not good enough for Bach. On the other hand, I find that the melodic lines in this piece often sound bachian... or, if you prefer, they never sound definitely unbachian to me.

I feel convinced that the person who wrote this was close to Bach. Could it be one of Bach's students? And if so, why not Bach's first student, namely himself?

The argument 'not good enough enough for Bach' takes for granted that Bach was always highly inspired. Isn't this a romantic notion? Bach's early cantatas form a less homogeneous set than his later production. Some of the early cantatas I would rank among the best (such as BWV 54), but not all... The younger Bach must have made all sorts of experiments, some highly successful, not necessarily all. One doesn't learn by never erring, and Bach obviously learned a lot...Just imagine Bach with a 'flue, hard pressed to produce a cantata, no Cognac available...

For all these reasons, I do not find BVW 143's relative shortcomings sufficient to dismiss it as not being Bach. Of course, I'm not competent to express more than an opinion, and I still have to examine the more factual, musicological evidence...

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2007):
Alain Bruguières wrote:
< On the other hand, I find that the melodic lines in this piece often sound bachian... or, if you prefer, they never sound definitely unbachian to me. >
There remains the mostly ignored, very simple explanation, proposed by Thomas Braatz and seconded by me, that BWV 143 is a:

Clever forgery.

Alain Bruguières wrote (January 10, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] Yes, I am aware of this explanation, which can now hardly be ignored by BCMLians; a pleasant one indeed, but one that doesn't answer my qualms. Why do we need an explanation to begin with? Why should BWV 143 be a clever forgery, and not any other cantata for which we have no factual evidence that it is by Bach? Is the argument 'not good enough' sufficient? That was my point, and I'm still wondering.

Russell Telfer wrote (January 10, 2007):
Alain Bruguières wrote;
< .... the cantata was familiar to me (but) definitely not one of my favorites, rather one of the very few cantatas where I found Bach less inspired than usual, yet I enjoy listening to it once in a while.
Some have argued that BWV 143 is too simple, lacks inspiration, inventiveness. I hope I'm not misconstruing their thought in summarizing thus: BWV 143 is good enough, but not good enough for Bach. On the other hand, I find that the melodic lines in this piece often sound bachian... or, if you prefer, they never sound definitely unbachian to me.
I feel convinced that the person who wrote this was close to Bach. Could it be one of Bach's students? And if so, why not Bach's first student, namely himself? >
Because it was flavour of the week, I found myself studying BWV 143 more closely that I usually do. As I noted earlier, I found Bachian (some powerful bass lines) and unBachian flashes (one minimal bass line, lack of modulation in the outer movements) and I think Alain may well be right to suggest that the composer [if not Bach] was close to Bach, and a student. It is not unknown for composers to collaborate, and with all the practical
pressure that Bach was under most of the time, you have a likely scenario for a co-production. Or as Alain suggests, it could have been an early work, recycled aan opportune moment.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 10, 2007):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< It is not unknown for composers to collaborate, and with all the practical pressure that Bach was under most of the time, you have a likely scenario for a co-production. Or as Alain suggests, it could have been an early work, recycled at an opportune moment. >
This is an interesting possibility. Is there any evidence that other composers may have contributed movements, perhaps his prefects who were really young men and accomplished assistant conductors and musicians in their own right? Bach certainly performed and reused other composers' works. Would he have been adverse to a collaboration? There's certainly lots of precedemt for it in the 17th and 18th century.

By the way, before the flame war begins, I don't think this is a question which has an answer one way or the other. There are analagous situations which show that collborative compostions were a feature of Baroque music. Whether Bach chose to avail himself of such assistance probably remians in the Realm of Speculation.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2007):
[To Alan Bruguieres] I believe the main argument relates to the lack of manuscript support prior to the early 19th century (1826, per NBA) copy. BTW, I misstated the Thomas Braatz suggestion, which was that BWV 143 is a copy of some non-Bach, but early 18th C. cantata, rather than an actual forgery. Thomas has proposed a deception, and I am on my own extending the suggestion to actual forgery.

I am a newcomer to these discussions. Are there in fact other cantatas for which the factual evidence for a Bach connection is so thin? Non-existent, in fact.

Looked at from the opposite perspective, is the argument *good enough* sufficient to attribute it to Bach? I think not, but others may disagree. The evidence is inconclusive. We are all still wondering, and must remain so. That is the point.

I might as well get to the *Prince of Peace* thread at the same time. It was previously suggested (I have lost track of by whom) that for Bach (and for all Lutherans, I believe was intended), that phrase indicated only a specific biblical reference, to peace between the individual soul and God. For Bach, it would not have any social implications, it is simply an alternate name for Jesus.

If you agree with that interpretation (I do not), it certainly argues against the authenticity of BWV 143, where Mvt . 4 specifically refers to deliverance from actual war, by the *Prince of Peace* (Friedefürst) who was addressed in Mvt. 2.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 10, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Is there any evidence that other composers may have contributed movements, perhaps his prefects who were really young men and accomplished assistant conductors and musicians in their own right? Bach certainly performed and reused other composers' works. Would he have been adverse to a collaboration? >
As reported before on this list Martin Jarvis (musician not the actor) is doing a research project which is essentially a computer analysis of the handwriting in a number of Bach's scores.

His initial results seem to indicate a number of different hands apparent in various scores.

Some time ago Chiapusso (Bach's World, 1968) made some interesting comments about WF's possible involvement in some of the keyboard pieces.

For myself I have never had any problem in believing that Bach may have given partially completed pieces to a student with the instruction--complete this---or--- write up to the double bar line----as a teaching exercise. He might then have revised/corrected the student's work, the completed piece going out under the master's name. Many sculptors and painters worked precisely in this fashion as did Lully. Why not Bach?

However I note that all Professor Jarvis's examples of different handwriting in the scores came from secular pieces not religious ones, which might well prove significant.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 10, 2007):
Alan Bruguieres wrote:
< Bach's early cantatas form a less homogeneous set than his later production. Some of the early cantatas I would rank among the best (such as BWV 54), but not all. >
Precisely so. Which is one of the reasons why I have been arguing that it is most likely to be early rather than 'mature' Bach as its current place in this list suggests. All the internal evidence points strongly to the conclusion that it was NOT written at the time when Bach was immersed in his great second Leipzig cycle. Whatever conclusion one comes to about this work, this is the least likely, in my view.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 11, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Which is one of the reasons why I have been arguing that it is most likely to be early rather than 'mature' Bach as its current place in this list suggests. >
I think you have overlooked Aryeh's statement, back in June or so, that we would take a brief hiatus from the chronology at this time, to pick up some loose ends, including BWV 143. There is no suggestion that it is being discussed chronologically. I also tried to point this out in my introduction, but a lot of stuff goes by fast on BCML.

< All the internal evidence points strongly to the conclusion that it was NOT written at the time when Bach was immersed in his great second Leipzig cycle. Whatever conclusion one comes to about this work, this is the least likely, in my view. >
Indeed! But what about the manuscript evidence (no trace before ca. 1826) which Thomas Braatz has suggested, and I have seconded, indicates that the work is not by Bach at all?

If it is Bach, what happened to the materials which were copied, ca. 1826? Why would the copy survive in a collection, but not the originals somewhere else? For that matter, why would a Bach manuscript collector buy a known copy? More likely, the 1826 (or whatever date) copy was passed off at that time as original Bach.

This is not rocket science. It is basic greed, deception, and/or forgery. Gotta love those homo sapiens sapiens. Simplest answer, Occam's razor.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 11, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I think you have overlooked Aryeh's statement, back in June or so, that we would take a brief hiatus from the chronology at this time, to pick up some loose ends, including BWV 143. There is no suggestion that it is being discussed chronologically. >
Ed no I didn't but it is the case that, in general, the list is discussing cantatas in the order of composition. I was certainly told that when, some months ago I suggested that we might discuss some of the Leipzig cantatas in cognate groups.Those coming to the list are entitled to think that 1725 is considered a possible date of composition because it is being discussed at this point.

If what you suggest is the case, Ed and there is no suggestion that this cantata (and a couple of others) are not considered to have been composed at this time and are only discussed here for convenience I would disagree. For me it is a matter of inconvenience because they interrupt the line and integrity of the discussion of the second cycle. It might then have been better to have discussed this cantata at the end of the cycle.

No Criticism of Aryeh of course--hindsight is a wonderful thing. But I maintain the position that the order of discussion is such as to imply composition of BWV 143 was in 1725 and I was simply presenting evidence to suggest otherwise.

Richard Burdick [1st Horn - Regina Symphony, Regina, SK Canada] wrote (January 17, 2007):
Doug Cowling wrote:
"I was also wondering if anyone had speculated whether the horns should be played "in alt", that is an octave higher than in recordings such as Leusink [6]."
The Part is marked Alto. Which put the top note up to a modern pitch concert A; it can be done. My Netherlands Bach Collegium plays this on Bb basso, which is a real disappointment to me.

They also put a trumpet player on Cantata BWV 14, when Harnoncourt has Hermann Baumain one of his best recordings ever!

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 18, 2007):
[To Richard Burdick] After years of enjoying the mellow sound of modern horns in the their middle range in works like the F Major Missa Brevis and "Wie Schön Leuchtet", I was blown away to hear McCreesh's horns play the same parts "in alt", an octave higher. It's an extraordinary difference and makes the horn sound much more like trumpets. I can see now why Handel doubled the trumpets with the horns in many of his oratorios.

Eric Bergerud wrote (January 23, 2007):
BWV 143 notes

Alain Bruguieres wrote:
< That observation of Russell Telfer's was very interesting. The absence of accidentals is an objective characteristic of BWV 143/1 which we should ponder. I don't know whether Bach ever wrote a(nother?) piece sharing this characteristic. Others can probably answer that question.
But in any case, I'm not really comparing the ''relative chances of authenticity'; I'm in no position to assert, I can only speculate wildly on the basis of my intuition: if I were told that one and only one is Bach, I would vote 158, but that doesn't lead us anywhere, I think. I am rather enquiring about what criteria we accept when questioning the authenticity of a would-be-Bach cantata, in the absence of material evidence. Is musical quality/degree of sophistication a discriminating criterion in itself? >
The notes below were written for the Harnoncourt set which includes a bang-up performance of both BWV 143 and BWV 158. (I also like Leusink's BWV 158 very much: Peter Kooy and Herreweghe also put on a show.) Note that this is another occasion where the work in question is early. Has anyone thrown attribution stones at one of the Leipzig works?

Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele (BWV 143):

The occasion and date of composition and whether it was performed during Bach's life time of are still not at all clear. The claim by Spitta and Schering that it was performed on New Year's Day 1735 is contradicted by evidence that the fourth cantata of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) was sung on that occasion. In its conciseness the cantata is related stylistically to the motet (Mvt. 1 and Mvt. 7), to the older aria (Mvt. 4 and Mvt. 5) and to the sacred concerto (Mvt. 2 and Mvt. 4). A striking feature are the three horns, to which he added timpani in the fifth movement. Judging by the style this work probably falls between Cantata BWV 71, the cantata written for the occasion of the election of a new town council in Mühlhausen (1708) and the change in the style of his cantatas in 1714; since it is scored for horns, the date of composition is probably close to that of the Hunting Cantata, BWV 208 (1713). On all other occasions Bach symbolised the reign of Jesus the King by three trumpet parts and timpani, trumpets being the privilege of rulers. The continuo writing and this early use of horns are strong arguments in favour of Bach's authorship.
Gerhard Schuhmacher (1984)

 

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