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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 156
Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe!
Discussions - Part 3

Continue on from 2

Discussions in the Week of January 31, 2010

Neil Halliday wrote (February 2, 2010):
BWV 156?

"I stand with one foot in the grave!"

It's possible that nearly all that needs to be said has been covered in previous discussions, I suppose.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV156-D.htm

The topic is still that of Epiphany 3; in this cantata the quoted text (from the gospel reading) occurs in two forms in the alto aria: "Herr, was du willt" and "Herr, wie du willt", c.f, "Herr, so du willt" in the bass aria of BWV 73, and elsewhere.

Needless to say, the cantata's theme is total submission to the will of God, regardless of personal suffering.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 2, 2010):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< "I stand with one foot in the grave!" >
And the other on shaky ground?

NH:
< Needless to say, the cantata's theme is total submission to the will of God, regardless of personal suffering.>
EM:
There is almost always a bit of Earthly hope in the penultimate movement, just before the final chorale takes us home:

from BWV 156/5:
Yet grant me also that in my healthy body
My soul too may be without sickness, and ever remain healthy
Take heed of it through Spirit and Word.

William Hoffman wrote (February 2, 2010):
Gotchya, Ed! The text of Cantata BWV 72 is by Salamo Franck; BWV 156 text is by Picander. Please, let's stop the knee-jerk trashing of Picander. The 19th century can be excused for its intellectual myopia. Remember, da Ponte was trashed by Mozart's contemporaries, especially when he died teaching high school in Brooklyn, New York. Lets get a grip and face it: most opera librettos are embarrassments. That's why they're sung in the original language so we don't have to interrupt the gorgeous music with rolled eyes and shaking heads. Besides, I'm tired of being a terminal curmudgeon. Also, remember what T.S. Eliot said when asked by an airhead journalist to provide some quotable wisdom after winning the Nobel Prize: "Every dog has his tree!" Will the Pill.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 2, 2010):
Willimam Hoffman:
< Gotchya, Ed! The text of Cantata BWV 72 is by Salamo Franck; BWV 156 text is >by Picander. Please, let's stop the knee-jerk trashing of Picander. >
I have it on my agenda to find a few examples of deathless prose/poetry from BWV 244, which was the the original question and example. I did notice my error, after sending, and also noticed that the text to BWV 156 might in fact be better poetry than BWV 72. I will give it a deeper look. Thanks to Will and Julian for not being too unkind.

< Lets get a grip and face it: most opera librettos are embarrassments. That's why they're sung in the original language so we don't have to interrupt the gorgeous music with rolled eyes and shaking heads. >
A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to win a couple passes to the Met Opera HD simulcast of a live performance of Der Rosenkavalier. I predict it will be the stuff of legend: Rene Fleming and Susan Graham at the peak of their careers. The acting, sight gags, and humorous plot twists and text were every bit as important as the music, easily followed with subtitles. Reportedly, Strauss originally named it for the hapless Baron von Ochs; his wife suggested that Rosenkavalier would be a much better sell, as a title.

< Besides, I'm tired of being a terminal curmudgeon. >
I heard a report the other day of a guy who showed up at a church in NJ, with a sign that said he came from a small town in Iowa, with a population of 1284 satisfied Americans and one grouchy old man. It was not clear if it was the grouchy old man holding the sign, but I suspect so.

A sculptor friend a few years ago spoke of the difficulty of continuing to get empathy from his students. As they remained forever young while he aged not all that gracefully, the gap grew. <I am not sure of the distinctions among curmudgeon, skinflint, and grumpy old man, but I can tell they think I am one of those things.>

George Bromley wrote (February 2, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] Getting old is only a state of mind.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 2, 2010):
George Bromley wrote:
< Getting old is only a state of mind >
and body too unfortunately!!

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 2, 2010):
George Bromley wrote:
<< Getting old is only a state of mind >>
Julian Mincham wrote:
< and body too unfortunately!! >
Isn't this a cantata text in German?

George Bromley wrote (February 2, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Isn't this a cantata text in German? >
no, Afrikaans

Julian Mincham wrote (February 2, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Isn't this a cantata text in German? >
if not, it should be!

George Bromley wrote (February 2, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<< Isn't this a cantata text in German? >>
Julian Mincham wrote:
< if not, it should be! >
Dankie Meneer

Neil Halliday wrote (February 5, 2010):
There is a subtle and beautiful harmonisation in bar 91 of the tenor aria (2nd movement of BWV 156), which I had trouble grasping at first. At this point the music is in Bb major; over a Bb in the continuo the tenor sings the notes (to the word "selig" - blessed) (C),F,G,F,F#,Bb,Eb,(D); the F# being the augmented fifth in Bb major.

Craig Smith notes: "Of all the infinitely varied methods by which Bach weaves chorales into the fabric of his cantatas, this work displays one of the most subtle." with which I can only agree.

The important 4-note semiquaver motif usually descends, but occasionally rises in the continuo. In bar 65, the motif occurs briefly in contrary motion between the continuo and unison upper strings (and tenor voice). It's interesting to follow this motif with the score while listening; among other things, you will notice that sometimes the motif follows without a break from one stave to another (except the chorale line, of course).

Rilling [1] was fortunate to have Equiluz for his recording.

Why did Koopman [7] give the tenor line to a soprano, who has to compete against the choir sopranos singing the chorale, an entirely unsatisfactory situation?

--------

Check Gardiner [5] for a delightfully unrushed, happy rendition of the alto aria.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 5, 2010):
BTW, speaking of Picander (and thanks to Thomas for the interesting article), I notice the poet manages quite nicely to set up a regular rhyming pattern in the second recitative of this cantata, with the lines of the text ending in the pattern: AA;BCBC;DEDE.

Terejia wrote (February 14, 2010):
Neil Halliday wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/32804
< There is a subtle and beautiful harmonisation in bar 91 of the tenor aria (2nd movement of BWV 156), which I had trouble grasping at first. At this point the music is in Bb major; over a Bb in the continuo the tenor sings the notes (to the word "selig" - blessed) (C),F,G,F,F#,Bb,Eb,(D); the F# being the augmented fifth in Bb major.
Craig Smith notes: "Of all the infinitely varied methods by which Bach weaves chorales into the fabric of his cantatas, this work displays one of the most subtle." with which I can only agree.
The important 4-note semiquaver motif usually descends, but occasionally rises in the continuo. In bar 85, the motif occurs briefly in contrary motion between the continuo and unison upper strings (and tenor voice). It's interesting to follow this motif with the score while listening; among other things, you will notice that sometimes the motif follows without a break from one stave to another (except the chorale line, of course). >
(...)
Among other thone might be interested in checking string part of BWV 232 "Et incarnatus est" (5 voices of chorus) for similarity? The continuo part around 8 section ~ 11 section and later string part of this particular movement sounds similar to the opening string part of that verse in BWV 232 (at least to me).

When I was taking part in the chorus of BWV 232, our conductor used to call the pattern "crucifix figure". I am merely parroting the conductor here-lacking academic background, no idea if it is academically correct term or not but I personally find such a term interesting even when it is academically incorrect...

PS : I have been absent for a long time due to the reason of real life of myself and my family.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 14, 2010):
Terejia wrote:
>Among other things one might be interested in checking string part of BWV 232 "Et incarnatus est" (5 voices of chorus) for similarity? The continuo part around 8 section ~ 11 section and later string part of this particular movement sounds similar to the opening string part of that verse in BWV 232 (at least to me).<
Hi Terejia; yes, I made this same observation in the previous discussions of this cantata (in 2008)

Terejia wrote (February 14, 2010):
Neil Halliday wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/32870
< Hi Terejia; yes, I made this same observation in the previous discussions of this cantata (in 2008) >
quoting from: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28062
"There is much imitative writing in the unison strings, continuo and tenor line, especially a significant descending scalar 1/16th-note figure, while the unadorned chorale melody soars aloft. Julian also mentioned the appearance of a minor key mitive near the end of the ritornello, which recurs througout the piece, these figures remind me of the MBM (BWV 232) Et Incarnatus Est accompanying violion figures."
(by Neil H. end quote)

I missed that message last time. I am glad that I am not alone on this "feeling".

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 16, 2010):
BWV 156 - 2nd Movement (Mvt. 2) &

Terejia wrote:
< When I was taking part in the chorus of BWV 232, our conductor used to call the pattern "crucifix figure". I am merely parroting the conductor here-lacking academic background, no idea if it is academically correct term or not but I personally find such a term interesting even when it is academically incorrect... >
Not only academically correct, but documented in Bachs own hand in the BWV 232 manuscript, where the four-note pattern is highlighted in red, and marked X.

I often take issue when this gets stretched to almost any four-note pattern representing the cross, but the BWV 232 source is unimpeachable.

Nice to see Terejia participating on-list again, often the source of stimulating discussion in the past.

Terejia wrote (February 17, 2010):
Cross pattern notes [was: BWV 156- 2nd Movement (Mvt. 2) &]

Ed Myskowski wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/32890
< Not only academically correct, but documented in Bach's own hand in the BWV 232 manuscript, where the four-note pattern is highlighted in red, and marked X. >
Thank you for this information. I'll check the score.

(..)
< Nice to see Terejia participating on-list again, often the source of stimulating discussion in the past. >

Many thanks for your kind words.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 17, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< Not only academically correct, but documented in Bachs own hand in the BWV 232 manuscript, where the four-note pattern is highlighted in red, and marked X. >>
Terejia wrote:
< Thank you for this information. I'll check the score. >
Yes, I'd like to see a screenshoot of that. because many times later owners of scores would write and pencil in things all the time (e.g Mozart's Requiem). But I'd like to see this, fascinating stuff.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 17, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Yes, I'd like to see a screenshoot of that. because many times later owners of scores would write and pencil in things all the time (e.g Mozart's Requiem). But I'd like to see this, fascinating stuff. >
I believe it is reproduced in BCW archives, from a published source, perhaps the glosses on Bachs Calov Bible. I have not looked at the publication since I noticed it a couple years ago, but my recollection is that the red ink highlighting in BWV 232 is consistent throughout, and clearly by Bach (according to scholars).

If no one comes up mwith a better reference first (Peter Smaill?), I will try to track it down.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 17, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Not only academically correct, but documented in Bachs own hand in the BWV 232 manuscript, where the four-note pattern is highlighted in red, and marked X. >
I'm afraid it's not "Bachs own hand," but from later owners and viewers of the manuscripts.

According to the NBA (and many thanks to Thomas Braatz's message about this specific inquiry):

These x's were added at a later time: "(wohl sicherlich erst spätereingetragen" = ["almost certainly added at a later time"]. The newest revistation of this score in 2005 (BWV KB II/1a) calls these markings 'copyist markings' which were made at the time when parts were being copied from the score.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 17, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Thanks to both Kim and Thomas for this important update and clarification. IMO, this leaves the extensive chiastic and/or circulatio analysis throughout the cantatas on even more shaky ground than I have previously assumed.

More to come, if i recover my original source.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 18, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< These x's were added at a later time: "(wohl sicherlich erst spätereingetragen" = ["almost certainly added at a later time"]. The newest revistation of this score in 2005 (BWV KB II/1a) calls these markings 'copyist markings' which were made at the time when parts were being copied from the score. >
Does that necessarily negate the possibility that the copyist recognized what Bach was doing and marked it to draw attention to the symbolism?

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 18, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] Not exactly, but it does undercut the oft-cited support that the X-motif was Bach's emphasis in his final fair copy of the BMM (BWV 232).

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 21, 2010):
Bach's x's in BWV 232

Thomas Braatz contributed the following image and announcement:

See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV232-Sco-X.htm
As an example of the 134 x's placed by copyists into the autograph score of BWV 232, this magnified image from one page of the score shows the placement of only one of these markings which can appear above or below a staff (usually below) and there can be as many as seven x's in a row or even four in a cluster (two above and two directly below the other two. The typical placement is one 'x' below the staff. Bach did not use such marks himself. His autograph cantata scores do not give evidence of x's being used as copyist markings. This was particularly true when he did most of his own copying as in the case of some of his late cantatas. The NBA KB editors do not attempt to speculate when these marks might have been made. They could easily have been entered by later copyists, beginninwith Johann Philipp Kirnberger, who made another copy of the score between 1739-1741. C.P.E. Bach performed sections of the mass in 1786 for which purpose he revised the score and had parts copied from it. Around this same time another copy of the score was made (purchased by Charles Burney and is possibly the copy acquired later by the British museum). After 1800 plans were being made for publishing this work. Hans Georg Nägeli, a music publisher in Zürich, acquired the autograph score in 1806 with the plan to eventually publish it. In preparation for this, a set of performance parts would also need to be prepared (another possibility for needing to add these copyist markings); however, the Nägeli story is much more complicated and cannot be covered here.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 21, 2010):
Aryeh Oron wrote [on behalf of Thomas Braatz]:
< As an example of the 134 x's placed by copyists into the autograph score of BWV 232, this magnified image from one page of the score shows the placement of only one of these markings which can appear above or below a staff (usually below) and there can be as many as seven x's in a row or even four in a cluster (two above and two directly below the other two. The typical placement is one 'x' below the staff. Bach did not use such marks himself. >
What is the scholarly opinion about the meaning of such marks? They seem so arbitrary.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 21, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< What is the scholarly opinion about the meaning of such marks? They seem so arbitrary. >
I almost wonder if these "X" markings were just place markers for copyists to refer to when they took a break from copying music or for someone else to start.

Evan Cortens wrote (February 21, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I almost wonder if these "X" markings were just place markers for copyists to refer to when they took a break from copying music or for someone else to start. >
As it happens, that was my guess too...

I just glanced through the Preface and Critical Report for Joshua Rifkin's edition of the Mass, and I didn't see anything about the X's there. That said, it was a pretty cursory look, so it may well be buried in there somewhere.

 

Cantata BWV 156: 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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