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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 163
Nur jedem das Seine!
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of August 19, 2012

William Hoffman wrote (August 18, 2012):
BWV 163: Chorales for Trinity 23: Pietist Influences

See: Motets & Chorales for 23rd Sunday after Trinity

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 19, 2012):
Introduction to BWV 163 -- Nur jedem das Seine!

Weekly reminder:

This week we continue Trinity season cantatas with BWV 163, the first 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/BWV163.htm

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

The BWV 163 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 163 page. Francis Browne has recently added new commentary on the cantata texts to his interlinear translations, linked via [English 3]. 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 19, 2012):
BWV 163 - Closing Chorale

The manuscript score for this week's cantata is available at the Bach Digital archive website, although in the case of the closing chorale on which I focus, only the figured bass survives, crammed onto three lines at the bottom right under the heading 'Choral. Simplice stylo.', with nothing to indicate the intended melody: http://www.bach-digital.de/receive/BachDigitalSource_source_00001004

After trying briefly to guess the absent tune, I listened to various recorded performances (Helmuth Rilling, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Pieter Jan Leusink , Ton Koopman) and found they all use an identical melody, presumably copied from some common reconstruction - Koopman does elaborate a novel organ accompaniment for this same melody, but, as might be expected from him, it's ornate, rather than simple.

I notated the chorale melody by listening to the Harnoncourt recording, inadvertently 'improving' it at the first fermata, and then realised the two inner parts to be consistent with Bach's figured bass and performance instruction. After this exercise, I'm confident that the melody used by Rilling et al. is the intended one, since everything fits together perfectly. It's unclear to me, however, if this is the 'presumed Witt soprano melody' mentioned by Will Hoffman and also how it relates to the information given here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Wo-soll-ich-fliehen-hin.htm

My realisation, performed with various organ registrations, is available online: http://youtu.be/Fz1xBU3H76E

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 20, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< The manuscript score for this week's cantata is available at the Bach Digital archive website, although in the case of the closing chorale on which I focus, only the figured bass survives, crammed onto three lines at the bottom right under the heading 'Choral. Simplice stylo.', with nothing to indicate the intended melody: >
Thanks once again to Francis for these organ realizations: it keeps the role of the organ to the fore in our discussions.

I'm always interested in how Bach's scores and parts transmitted performance information to his singers and players. In the absence of the parts -- (Are they lost, Thomas Braatz?) -- I assume that the chorale melody and alto parts were noted in the vocal and instrumental parts.

What is the meaning of the note, 'Choral. Simplice stylo'? Is it used in any other cantatas? Did Bach and his artists normally make a distinction between hymn book "simple style" with syllabic realization and what we today call a "Bach harmonization" with elaborate, flowing part-writing? The figures are certainly minimal.

Is the bass line an original composition or could it be drawn from a hymn book source? Could Bach have eschewed an elaborate "Bach harmonization" because he would have had to start a new page of expensive paper? If so, that's a man who watches his pfennigs.

William Hoffman wrote (August 20, 2012):
[To Douglas Cowling] I don't have at hand Robert Marshall's two-volume, <Bach's Compositional Process>, but I believe Bach's basic practice was to harmonize the closing chorale last on the manuscript score, but, if lacking time, to provide instruction, beginning with his written-out bass line, then the figured bass, also found in the continuo part(s), and then the soprano melody title and/or the incipit of the stanza of the chorale to be sung.

In most cases Bach was able to complete the harmonization with the appropriate text (stanza). Usually, Bach completed the harmonization to the particular text and handed out the parts at dress rehearsal or performance. In other cases, Bach borrowed another harmonization and indicated the text as found in the printed service libretto distributed to the congregation and the performers.

Usually, Bach doubled (collo-parte) the four-part (SATB) chorus lines in the two violins, viola, and basso continuo instruments. The C.P.E. Bach edition of the 389 plain chorales contains only the four-part harmonization with the melody incipit but no texts, but does include the extra obbligato parts for wind instruments.

As to Charles Francis' query, the "presumed Witt melody" fits the melody "Wo soll ich fliehen hin/Auf meinen lieben Gott" set to the third stanza (Franck's text) and is found in Witt's 1715 Gotha hymnal, the most important influence on Bach chorale settings until the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (Vopelius 1682) in Leipzig. The pietist hymn writers' practice, as replicated in the Schemelli devotional Songbook, was to indicate the melody dictum, with Bach adding the basso continuo in "Simple stylo."

I hope this brings closure.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 20, 2012):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Usually, Bach completed the harmonization to the particular text and handed out the parts at dress rehearsal or performance. >
I know that I am the List Arsonist on this question, but I forever ask the question if there is any evidence for this idea that the chorale was passed out at the dress rehearsal or sight-read at the performance. It's even been suggested that Saturday's Vespers was the first read-through.

That the cantatas were written and performed on an extremely tight schedule is undeniable, but I've yet to see any documentary evidence that it was a Monday to Saturday process from composition to performance. We know that Bach was working on the cantatas in some way months earlier because the librettos had to be written and printed. Even the closed periods of Advent and Lent aren't sufficient to provide the necessary time for the enormous amount of original music required at Christmas and Easter. Common sense surely indicates that Bach had many works in progress.

And just looking at the parts, how could the parts of the chorale have been "passed out" at the last minute? The chorale is not a separate sheet of paper added to the individual vocal and instrumental parts. They are integrated manuscripts. For last minute additions, everyone would have had to hand back their parts and wait while the copyists wrote out the chorales.

I also wonder if we are projecting our modern notions about rehearsals back on Bach. The cantatas are such segmented works that it is quite possible to perform them without a rehearsal. This is the pattern followed in modern recordings where there is never a complete performance. The choir is there one day to record the opening chorus and chorale (often of several cantatas!). They may never even meet the soloists who probably have a day to rehearse and record all the secco recitatives and are then on a schedule depending on the orchestral requirements.

It goes without saying that rehearsal schedules are more extensive depending on the inexperience of the conductor and the performers. For most performers today, indeed conductors, performing Bach is a "special occasion" which requires intensive work as various soloists and players are brought into the mix. Gardiner's cantata pilgrimage is probably the closest modern equivalent to Bach's forces: a stable body of performers who are superbly experienced in the style of the music and who are performing together on a daily basis. I wouldn't be surprised if Gardiner's public performances didn't have a dress rehearsal.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 20, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I also wonder if we are projecting our modern notions about rehearsals back on Bach. The cantatas are such segmented works that it is quite possible to perform them without a dress rehearsal. >
Not really. I think In Darmstadt (during the same period with Christoph Graupner and Gottfried Grünewald and Johann Samuel Endler) some comments survive about rehearsals and or complaints about a lack of them with that lack of rehearsal affecting musical performances.

And their schedule was an absolute grind.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 20, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I wouldn't be surprised if Gardiner's public performances didn't have a dress rehearsal. >
Gardiner (or his opinionated evil twin?!) provides extensive commentary on the Pilgrimage performances. The intent was to have a complete rehearsal performance in all cases, including recording to provide a *patch* tape. As I recall from reading his notes over recent years, there was only one concert where travel glitches made this impossible.

Charles Francis wrote (August 21, 2012):
William Hoffman wrote:
< As to Charles Francis' query, the "presumed Witt melody" fits the melody "Wo soll ich fliehen hin/Auf meinen lieben Gott" set to the third stanza (Franck's text) and is found in Witt's 1715 Gotha hymnal, the most important
influence on Bach chorale settings until the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (Vopelius 1682) in
Leipzig. The pietist hymn writers' practice, as replicated in the Schemelli devotional Songbook, was to indicate the melody dictum, with Bach adding the basso continuo in "Simple stylo." >
Thanks for the feedback on Witt. Are these ancient hymnals online, by any chance?

As Bach used the Witt melody, more or less, in BWV 199/6 with the words of the third stanza, perhaps someone knows why Rilling/Harnoncourt, for example, go for the final verse: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale021-Eng3.htm

Is their choice arbitrary or theologically motivated?

William Hoffman wrote (August 22, 2012):
[To Charles Francis] My mistake on the Witt verse. It's the 11th (final) not the third. Also, selective examples of the Gotha and Weimar hymnals are found in the BCW chorale information, including examples of note changes. The NLGB is not on line and only microfilm is available at libraries like Sibley/Eastman. BTW, the NLGB contains no texts, only the musical settings and melody name. The source book cited by Doug Cowling and I is most helpful:
* BACH'S HYMN BOOK:
Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682)",
Berlin: Merseburger, 1969.
ML 3168 G75

Charles Francis wrote (August 22, 2012):
[To William Hoffman] Are we sure the final verse was sung, though?

There's a German Wikipedia page on the Gottfried Vopelius book: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neu_Leipziger_Gesangbuch

I've ordered the book from a local library, but unfortunately, they don't have Witt's Gotha hymnal.

Thanks for the info.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 22, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< There's a German Wikipedia page on the Gottfried Vopelius book: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neu_Leipziger_Gesangbuch >
It's worth clicking on the link to see the illustrations on the titlepage which Bach and his singers would have seen every time they sang a chorale.

Charles Francis wrote (August 24, 2012):
BWV 163 / 199 common chorale melody

As recently discussed, we may reasonably assume a common chorale melody relates BWV 163 and BWV 199: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale021-Eng3.htm

Of interest, the BWV 199 autograph with the chorale tune was only discovered in 1911: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV199-D3.htm

A scan can be downloaded here: http://www.kb.dk/da/nb/samling/ma/digmus/index.html

As an experiment, I married the BWV 199 melody, which uses dotted rhythms, with the BWV 163 figured bass. Adding passing notes and inner parts, I arrived at a hybrid that you can listen to here: http://youtu.be/beAU1EppNc8

Charles Francis wrote (August 25, 2012):
BWV 646 "Wo soll ich fliehen hin"

Bach's 'Sechs Chorale von verschiedener Art' (BWV 645-650) was published around 1748. Five of the six are transcriptions from cantatas, but no source has been found for BWV 646, which by implication is likely from a lost cantata, e.g. a setting along the lines of the BWV 199 three part texture for the same chorale text.

My realisation using the impressive Hamburg nuns' organ is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnGI3IuJcE0

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 25, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< My realisation using the impressive Hamburg nuns' organ is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnGI3IuJcE0 >
I really enjoy these transcriptions. The colour in some of these organs is amazing. The second voice in this one sounds like its under water.

I'm looking forward to Peter Williams' keynote address on "Bach and the Organ" at next's month's meeting of the American Bach Society.

 

Cantata BWV 163: 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: ýSeptember 4, 2012 ý08:58:44