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Cantata BWV 169
Gott soll allein mein Herze haben
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of January 6, 2008

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 4, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 169 - Gott soll allein mein Herzehaben

Aryeh has selected the first five weeks of 2008 as my second assignment to provide introductions for the weekly discussions. I will follow the same format which I borrowed from others, and used a year ago: summary comments from published sources, especially Alfred Dürr (The Cantatas of J.S. Bach), perhaps followed by some personal thoughts and proposed questions.

A few caveats. My mail software is badly in need of upgrade. If I disappear without warning, it is not through lack of good intention. I find that I am unable to maintain an umlaut, or italic text, even in mail back to myself. Unfortunately, these and other diacritical marks will be omitted in German citations, which I will therefore keep to a minimum. I have chosen to write Durr without umlaut or added e, for search consistency. I hope to post on the early side, to allow time for back-up, if necessary.

In any event, I encourage Julian Mincham and others to post comments, by way of added introduction.

Discussion for the week of January 6, 2008

Cantata BWV 169 - Gott soll allein mein Herzehaben

Date of composition for first performance, October 20, 1726, 18th Sunday after Trinity. See discussion for reuse of earlier material.

Data on recordings, and links to text, readings for the day, commentary, and score (piano reduction), can be found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV169.htm

A link to the previous round of discussions is also available on that page, or directly at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV169-D.htm

Readers who have enjoyed the commentary and recordings by Craig Smith are invited to visit the Emmanuel Music link for Craig's obituary from November 2007.

BWV 169 is ascribed to Jahrgang III by Christoph Wolff. In his notes to the Koopman recordings, Vol. 18 [21], Wolff writes:
<Unlike the first two yearly cycles, this one extends over a longer period: from June 1725 until 1727. . . . An especially marked characteristic of the third yearly cycle is the incorporation of lavish instrumental movements. A concertante organ part is also used often. With the new instrumental brilliance and lavishness that predominates in the third cycle, Bach broke new ground in his composition of cantatas.>

In addition, from Bach: The Learned Musician, p .283:
<Notable is the relatively frequent occurrence of solo and dialogue cantatas.>
Back to the CD booklet notes, the dialogue is <usually between Jesus and the Soul.>

All of these characteristics will be heard in the cantatas over the next five weeks. I previously (and hastily) suggested a question mark for the Jahrgang III designation. One of the advantages of our chronologic discussion is the emphasis on larger scale relations in Bachs composition process. I am now convinced that Jahrgang III is a cohesive body of work, even if incomplete and diverse, leading to the first performance of SMP (BWV 244) in 1727.

Dürr writes, re BWV 169: <Its scoring is unusual: except for the undemanding final chorale, the vocal music is throughout assigned to solo alto, but this vocal restriction is set against a rich instrumental ensemble made up of three oboes, strings, obbligato organ, and continuo. Among the instruments, the obbligato organ is predominant.>

Wolff, from the CD booklet: <Mvt. 1, an extended sinfonia with concertante organ, and movement 5, an aria with obbligato organ in the style of a siciliano, form a fast and slow movement whose origins lie in a lost instrumental concerto, possibly an original organ concerto.> Dürr suggests that the original may have been for oboe or flute. In any case, both agree that <these two movements serve as the model for the Harpsichord Concerto in E, BWV 1053, written in the late 1730s> (Wolff).

Wolff, with a bit of subterfuge, states that the <text is based on the Gospel for that Sunday, Matthew 22: 34-46, on love of ones neighbor.> True enough for Mvt. 6 and Mvt. 7, but it ignores the emphasis in Mvts. 1 - 5 on the other great commandment, love for ones God. I will leave you with the thought for the New year that because these two commandments are linked, love for ones neighbor is indeed love for ones God.

I plan to keep comments on recordings separate from the introductions. Comments are especially invited for two that have been issued since the first discussions, Koopman [21] from his completed series, and Suzuki [23] from the ongoing series. I have listened to Koopman and intend to post a few thoughts, but I have not yet heard Suzuki.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 4, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Nice to see you back in Bachian harness albeit possibly inhibited by continuing technical constraints.

Just a few additional contextual comments

This is the fourth and last of the four cantatas written for solo alto and the only one to end with a conventional four-part chorale. Three of these cantatas were composed within this third cycle and in the space of only three months. Their grouping might be evidence of a change of taste at Leipzig since no cantatas for alto are known to have been performed as a part of the first two cycles. Indeed the solo cantata itself was uncommon, none appearing at all in the second cycle. It is possible that Bach did not re-use the excellent alto solo cantata Cantata BWV 54, written several years before his Leipzig appointment, in his first cycle because he felt that it would not be well received. There appear to be no such inhibitions about the use of the solo cantata in 1726. In fact within Eds five cantatas, we find the popular Cantata BWV 56 for solo bass (one of three) and the exquisite Cantata BWV 55, the only one extant for tenor.

Two of these alto cantatas (BWV 35 and BWV 169) commence with a long and impressive sinfonias, in each case adaptations from previously composed concerti. All three from this cycle make use of the organ as an obligato instrument in the arias. One might assume that this unusual decision was made because Bach found the counterpointing of the alto voice against certain organ registrations particularly attractive.

There is no doubting the energy and vitality of the sinfonia, which performs much the same function as that which opens Cantata BWV 35. It would seem that after the particularly personal and somewhat introverted character of Cantata BWV 170, Bach decided that solo alto cantatas, lacking as they do the forceful impact of works containing larges choruses, required some moments of driving energy in order to command, and hold attention.

Did the Leipzig congregations possibly find Cantata BWV 170 a little enigmatic or tedious; or even sleep inducing? There were, as I recall, even on this list a couple of negative comments made about lack of interest of this work.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 4, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Two of these alto cantatas (BWV 35 and BWV 169) commence with a long and impressive sinfonias, in each case adaptatifrom previously composed concerti. >
I've often wondered where the idea of a full-scale concerto movement came from and what Bach's listeners thought of the innovation. The sinfonias in earlier cantatas such as "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" (BWV 4) and "Gottes Zeit" (BWV 106) are much more in the 17th century tradition of short sinfonias which essentially established the key for the singers.

Is this Bach's invention, or are there other examples of contemporary cantatas with these big concerto movement? Handel prefaced his Chandos Anthems with concerto movements but that was a different situation and much earlier (c.1710)

Peter Moncur wrote (January 4, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I've often wondered where the idea of a full-scale concerto movement came from and what Bach's listeners thought of the innovation.>
I'm also curious about how these were played in the service. Is there a good description of generally how the order-of-service went? If this is well-plowed ground, excuse the newbie.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 4, 2008):
Peter Moncure wrote:
< I'm also curious about how these were played in the service. Is there a good description of generally how the order-of-service went? >
Here's the order which I posted last year. It's drawn from Wolff:

ORDER OF SUNDAY & HOLYDAY MASS (Amt) - 7:00 -10:00 am

1. Choir: Hymn in figural or polyphonic setting
2. Organ: Prelude introducing Introit
3. Choir: Introit Motet in figural or polyphomic setting

4. Organ: Prelude introducing Kyrie
5. Choir: Kyrie in figural setting
6. Choir: Gloria in figural setting (minister sings intonation from altar)

7. Minister & Altar Singers (lower form boys):
Salutation & Collect (Prayer of Day) sung from altar
8. Minister: Epistle sung from altar steps

9. Organ: Prelude introduing Hymn
10. Congregation: Hymn of Season (de tempore)
11. Minister & Altar Singers: Gospel with responses sung from altar steps

12. Organ: Prelude introducing cantata
13. Choir: First Cantata

14. Choir:: Credo sung in chorale setting, minister intones from altar steps
15. Organ: Prelude introducing Wir Glauben
16. Congregation: Wir Glauben All (German Credo)

17. Minister: Spoken annoucement of Sermon from altar
18. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
19. Congregation: Hymn
20. Minister: Text of Sermon & Lord;s Prayer from pulpit
21. Minister: Sermon (8:00 a.m., 1 hour)
22. Minister: Prayers, Announcments & Benediction from pulpit

23. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
24. Congregation Hymn
25. Mnister & Altar Singers: Preface in Latin from altar
26. Choir: Sanctus in figural setting (without Osanna or Benedictus)
27. Minister: spoken Communion admoniton, Words of Institution
28. Congregation: Distribution of Communion at altar steps

29. Organ: Prelude introducting Communion Cantata
30. Choir: Second Cantata

31. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
32. Congregation: Hymn during Communion
33. Minister & Altar Singers: Collect with responses sung from altar
34. Minister: spoken Benediction

35. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
36. Congregation: Hymn
or
36. Choir: Hymn in figural setting (festal days)

ORDER OF AFTERNOON VESPERS 1:30 pm

1. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
2. Choir: Hymn in figural setting

3. Choir: Cantata (repeated from morning)

4. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
5. Congregation: Hymn
6. Minister & Altar Singers: Psalm
7. Minister: Lords Prayer from altar steps

8. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
9. Congregation: Hymn

10. Minister: Annoucement of Sermon from pulpit
11. Congregation: Hymn
12. Minister: Sermon from pulpit
[13. Choir: Passion or narrativer oratorio, no cantata]
14. Minister: spoken Prayers, Collect & Benediction from pulpit

15. Organ: Prelude introducing Magnificat
16. Choir: LatinMagnificat in figural setting
17. Congregation: German Magnificat Hymn (Meine Seele)

18. Minister: spoken Responsary, Collect & Benediction from altar
19. Congregation: Hymn Nun Danket Alle Gott

Richard Raymond wrote (January 4, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I've often wondered where the idea of a full-scale concerto movement came from and what Bach's listeners thought of the innovation. The sinfonias in earlier cantatas such as "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" (BWV 4) and "Gottes Zeit" (BWV 106) are much more in the 17th century tradition of short sinfonias which essentially established the key for the singers.
Is this Bach's invention, or are there other examples of contemporary cantatas with these big concerto movement? Handel prefaced his Chandos Anthems with concerto movements but that was a different situation and much earlier (c.1710) >

I know 2 Cantatas by Fasch with concerto grosso introduction which come from former concerti grossi.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 7, 2008):
It's interesting to listen to recordings (or samples) of the 1st alto aria (3rd movement) in light of Robertson's comment that "The attractive alto part deserved a less florid accompaniment than that of the organ obbligato".
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV169.htm

Listening to Rilling's recording [10], I am inclined to agree with Robertson - Rilling has the fastest tempo with a prominent, over-virtuosic organ obbligato, and a somewhat equipollent continuo line - whereas some of the other recordings might be considered to overcome Robertson's objection to a greater or lesser degree. There are traps; an attempt to reduce the floridly virtuosic nature of the accompaniment by slowing the tempo can result in the alto part sounding laboured. Among the slower versions, Leusink [19] has a legato continuo line that drags somewhat; Koopman [21] is more successful with a continuo that sounds livelier, though at the same slowish tempo. IMO, if Robertson had heard either of the last two recordings shown at the BCW recordings page (link shown above) ie, Suzuki [23] and Müller-Brühl [22] (intermediate tempos), he may not have considered the accompaniment to be inappropriate or other-wise unsuitable.

My reservation with the organ in the Müller-Brühl recording [22] is the sound associated with the opening/striking of each organ note (a characteristic of some organs).

Those who have the new Suzuki recording [23] should be quite pleased with it; the characteristically rich acoustic aids in the creation of an attractive sound-stage, especially in the opening movement.

The beautiful Mvt. 5 is a treasure (though a bit fast in Suzuki [23], IMO), and there are plenty of recordings to choose from.

Peter Smaill wrote (January 7, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I've often wondered where the idea of a full-scale concerto movement came from and what Bach's listeners thought of the innovation. The sinfonias in earlier cantatas such as "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" (BWV 4) and "Gottes Zeit" (BWV 106) are much more in the 17th century tradition of short sinfonias which essentially established the key for the singers.
Is this Bach's invention, or are there other examples of contemporary cantatas with these big concerto movement? Handel prefaced his Chandos Anthems with concerto movements but that was a different situation and much earlier (c.1710) >

The distinguished scholar Christoph Wolff I believe considers that the importation and skilful adaptation by Bach of fullscale concert/instrumental music as Cantata/sacred vocal music material is a key distinguishing feature relative to other Baroque composers. I would be interested if anyone can come up with parallels in Handel or any other Church composer of the time.

Perhaps the greatest instance of his adaptive power is the to the Town Council Cantata BWV 29, which started life for solo violin and is miraculously transformed for full orchestra and brass, yet each setting is brilliant in its own right.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2008):
BWV 169 recordings

Thanks for responses to my early posts of introductions the past two weeks. We are ahead of the discussion schedule. Heeding the parable of the tortoise and the hare, I will try to avoid the temptation to become complacent. I expect to continue the early posts as my first priority for the next few weeks, with comments on recordings added separately, as time permits. I hope the overlap is not confusing. In any event, I am confident Aryeh will sort it out for the BCW archives.

Returning to BWV 169, there are three recent recordings available in addition to the eighteen (!) previously discussed. Of the new ones, I have only listened to Koopman [21]. First the history.

In the first discussions, Aryeh and others commented on many traditional altos. I listened to three of these on LP: Lotte Wolfe-Matthaus with Hellmann [1], Maureen Forrester with Janigro [3], and Janet Baker with Menuhin [5]. I agree with the earlier ranking of Wolfe-Matthaus as the preferred version among these three, but Baker is also outstanding, with the advantage of being available as a CD reissue (Wolf-Matthaus is not). Forrester does use vibrato which seems extreme, in the arias (but not recs.), nevertheless, one of the great altos, and certainly an enjoyable performance.

The few people who were able to hear Aafje Heynis with van der Horst [2] noted it as the preferred traditional alto performance. It does appear to be available as a CD reissue, which I hope to get. I will report again.

I am especially fond of the Baker version. It was highlighted by Craig Smith, during a 200 hour radio broadcast of complete Bach in 1985, as a classic performance, and one of the best of the cantatas, along with the preceding BWV 47. That was the moment that convinced me to find the time in my life to spend more energy on this music. Christoph Wolff was music advisor to the project, both he and Craig (among a great many others) have been generous in sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge of Bach.

In his liner notes to Janigro [3] (Bach Guild LP, 1965), S. W. Bennet makes the deceptively simple observation, with respect to Mvt. 5, the second aria: <Bach had used the Siciliana rhythm with tragic effect in his great aria, Erbarne dich, in the St. Matthew Passion [SMP, BWV 244, Mvt. 39], and the present aria has a similarly haunting character.>

Indeed, it does. But in 1965, the chronology was interpreted differently from now, BWV 169 was dated to 1731, later than the SMP (BWV 244), and so BWV 169 might seem to be the derivative work. In fact, with current understanding of the chronology of the solo cantatas, dating BWV 169 to 1726, it is better understood as preliminary to the alto aria of SMP (BWV 244), six months later. This puts the creative process in a much different light: concerto slow movement (Siciliano) is reworked as a cantata aria first, and subsequently as one of the great arias in SMP (BWV 244).

The similar character of the two is certainly there, I did not try to check for more precise musical correspondences. I did not find this relation mentioned by other writers, but I expect it must have been. Perhaps some of the musicians can comment on the accuracy and uniqueness of Bennets observation?

Those interested in the history of BWV 1053, as well as its alternate uses, might like to know of the existence of proposed reconstructions of the original concerto, for oboe. The first was by Joshua Rifkin, originally on Pro Arte LP in 1983. It appears to have been reissued on CD, but no longer available.

I am hesitant to suggest a recording I have not heard, but based on Neil Halliday comments, and the overall high quality of the series, Robin Blaze with Suzuki [23] is likely to be the best choice among the recent recordings. Also the most expensive.

I find Bogna Bartosz with Koopman [21] preferable among the recordings that I have, but I am partial to a female alto. Others have downgraded the performance for that very reason, a matter of personal preference. The vocal lines are strong, with minimal vibrato, as typical of Bartosz. The overall balance strikes me as just about perfect. Koopman plays the organ lines himself, to excellent effect. The tempos are at times a bit brisk, but never extreme past the point of enjoyment. There are some quirks. I listened to this performance a couple times before writing my introduction. One thing which struck me immediately while my ears were fresh was the use of lute in the continuo, as Koopman sometimes does. Not an unpleasant sound, indeed, just the opposite, but how authentic is it? Finally, not to belabor the point, but the secco recitative sections in Mvt. 2 have the characteristic long silences in the continuo, especially stark in contrast to the arioso sections. On the other hand, I noticed single organ notes held for a couple bars in some traditional versions. Not exactly the ideal alternative when you get to hear it played as written.

For those who prefer a counter-tenor, Suzuki [23] is probably the choice, but James Bowman with King [13] is worth consideration as a supplement to the better known Leusink [19] and H&L [11] sets. Esswood, with Leusink was the vocal preference (not unanimous) in the earlier discussion. I agree, but there are other positive considerations with King. The overall balance is good, although not quite equal to Koopman [21]. The tempos sound ideal. Perhaps the strongest feature is the OVPP chorale, a perfect conclusion. A minor negative is the harpsichord rather than second organ (or Koopmans lute) for continuo. Probably not authentic, although this was also the choice in some of the traditional versions, and Kings harpsichord sounds somewhat over-recorded. In his booklet notes, King makes reference to another oboe reconstruction (subsequent to the Rifkin?) from BWV 1053 by Paul Goodwin and The Kings Consort, which appears to have been recently reissued by Hyperion.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2008):
BWV 169 [was: BWV 55]

Terejia wrote:
>Belatedly I realized that Mvt. 5 of [BWV] 169 you mentioned is different version of Mvt.2 of the Cembalo Concert [BWV 1053] introduced in the Mvt. 1<
I wrote on Jan. 13, not in the introduction to BWV 169, but in the recordings review:
>In his liner notes to Janigro [3] (Bach Guild LP, 1965), S. W. Bennet makes the deceptively simple observation, with respect to Mvt. 5, the second aria:
<Bach had used the Siciliana rhythm with tragic effect in his great aria, Erbarme dich, in the St. Matthew Passion [SMP,
BWV 244, Mvt. 39], and the present aria has a similarly haunting character.>
At first, I did not have the time to check the relations in more detail before writing. I did notice how familiar BWV 169, Mvt. 5, sounded when I prepared to write the introduction, but I passed it off to the concerto, BWV 1053.

It was only in listening to the recordings in more detailthat I noticed the reference to SMP, BWV 244. The similar feeling is certainly there, but I did not try to check detailed relations, key and melody. It was clear from the note to the recording that the chronology was not understood earlier, when the note was written. The relation would have required a copy from the SMP (BWV 244) to a cantata, rather than the other way. I think we are on a much more logical track, looking for influences from the cantatas of 1726 to the first SMP (BWV 244) of 1727, now that we have a better understanding of the chronology of the Cantatas and Passions.

Not until I got to BWV 55 in detail, a few weeks later, did I realize that the connection may be significant. I do not see that anyone has written about it, so maybe it is not very exact. As best I can determine, you have not missed any previous ideas by not going to the sources.

Maybe you have the skills, time, and interest to see if those two pieces relate, BWV 169/5 (Mvt. 5) and BWV 244/39?

>I'd like to find a way to get Kuijken rendition.<
That is a commercial release. The label is Accent, ACC 25301, from Germany. I got it from amazon.com. I do not have a way to share files, but that is not quite right for published CDs anyway. If you cannot find it, ask again, and we will find a way.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 5, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] I think that the musical similarities, whilst definitely existing, are insufficient to suggest anything more than an accidental connection. Both movements are in Bm, one of the most used of the minor keys.Both are in 12/8 (as indeed is the opening chorus of the SMP (BWV 244)) but then Bach is known to have employed this rhythmic structure for a wide range of expressive effects from gigue to pastorale (it's interesting to compare the four chorale fantasias from the second cycle making use of 12/8 time to see what range of character Bach could wring from this structure).

There are similarities in the harmony as well moving from Bm through Em and returning to Em (each with the use of the highly expressive Neapolitan chord) but again this is pretty standard harmonic thinking to be found in countless other movements.

The point that really sticks in the mind and gives rise to?the assumption that the movements must have some sort of common heritage is a melodic one. Both main melodies begin with? a three note motive of d, c#, b, set to the same rhythm. I think that this lodges in the mind like a 'hook' and it is what gives cause to make the comparisons. But the ideas are developed in very different ways--there is nothing of the florid violin writing from the SMP (BWV 244) aria in the cantata movement.

So I would say that there are clear similarities, most of which are oft repeated musical devices certainly not??unique to these two movements. There is a motivic equivalence, most obvious and clearly discernable because it comes at the beginning of the melody.

But my own view is that this is insufficient internal evidence upon which to predicate pre-determined connections.

Incidentally, some of the older editions give the SMP (BWV 244) aria as no 48, in case anyone is looking at the wrong movement.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>(it's interesting to compare the four chorale fantasias from the second cycle making use of 12/8 time to see what range of character Bach could wring from this structure)<
Could you remind us which ones they are? I would like to follow your suggestion.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 5, 2008):
BWV 169 [was: BWV 55), and other resemblances

Julian Mincham wrote:
> But my own view is that this is insufficient internal evidence upon which to predicate pre-determined connections.<
I agree with this.

On the subject of resemblance, my memory was jolted by the semitone figure (G,F#,G,F#,G) in the continuo strings at the end of the ritornello in BWV 55's opening aria. The "connection" turned out to be the semitone figure (B,A#,B) in the violas da gamba in the rirornello of BWV 198. There are other rhythmic and thematic
similarities in these ritornellos. Interestingly, the first seven notes (of BWV 198) are the same as the SMP (BWV 244) "Erbarme dich" aria, without the dotted (siciliano) rhythm.

Ed asks for the four chorale fantasias in 12/8 time that Julian mentioned. Two of them are BWV 68 and BWV 180, very different in affect.

BWV 68's ritornello has a dotted rhythm; the first six or so notes of the soprano line in this movement, in different rhythm, also recall the opening notes of the SMP (BWV 244) alto aria.

(BTW, the numbering of the SMP's (BWV 244) movements appear to vary considerably in different editions; "Erbarme dich" in no. 52 in the Dover full score).

Terejia wrote (February 20, 2008):
Belated reply from a while ago: BWV 169 [was BWV 55]

Julian Mincham wrote:
< Ed? I think that the musical similarities, whilst definitely existing, are insufficient to suggest anything more than an accidental connection. Both movements are in Bm, one of the most used of the minor keys.Both are in 12/8 (as indeed is the opening chorus of the SMP (BWV 244)) but then Bach is known to have employed this rhythmic structure for a wide range of expressive effects from gigue to pastorale (it's interesting to compare the four chorale fantasias from the second cycle making use of 12/8 time to see what range of character Bach could wring from this structure).
There are similarities in the harmony as well moving from Bm through Em and returning to Em (each with the use of the highly expressive Neapolitan chord) but again this is pretty standard harmonic thinking to be found in?countless other movements. >
It may well be correct, I think...

< The point that really sticks in the mind and gives rise to the assumption that the movements must have some sort of common heritage is a melodic one. Both main melodies begin with? a three note motive of d, c#, b, set to the same rhythm. I think that this lodges in the mind like a 'hook' and it is what gives cause to make the comparisons. But the ideas are developed in very different ways--there is nothing of the florid violin writing from the SMP (BWV 244) aria in the cantata movement. >
One is accompanied by violin whilst the other is with flute. Unfortunately I am not up to conjucture what aethetic consideration was behind this choice.

To my personal ear, the melody line felt rather fis-d-cis-h and since the text is "Erbarme" i.e. request from human side to God, it felt natural to rise from fis to d, if you pardon me stating my primitive impression without academic foundation.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 22, 2008):
The D, F#, B motive---was 169

Terejia wrote:
< To my personal ear, the melody line felt rather fis-d-cis-h and since the text is "Erbarme" i.e. request from human side to God, it felt natural to rise from fis to d, if you pardon me stating my primitive impression without academic foundation. >
Indeed this is one of the important differences between the two melodies. One begins with an upbeat on a F# before the first main bar, the other does not. One note and for some a mere detail--but this does alter the expressive character of the melody. My view (in response to Ed's comments) is simply that the whilst the two movements have certain harmonic, rhythmic and melodic characteristics in common, this is not unusual in given the amount of Baroque music that was composed, even by Bach alone. I was suggesting that the reason why people might ththat these two particular movements are intentionally linked is the strong falling initial dotted melodic idea of D, C# and B which tends to lodge in the mind.

I would not discount any further arguments that link the movements--except that there seems to be only internal (i.e. musical) evidence and my afeeling was that this is too tenuous upon which to predicate causal connections.

But one can still seek them out and offer opposing opinions. Why not?

Terejia wrote (February 22, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Hi Julian, replies below :

< (..)
Indeed this is one of the important differences between the two melodies. One begins with an upbeat on a F# before the first main bar, the other does not. One note and for some a mere detail - but this does alter the expressive character of the melody. >
I looked at the score section in a new unit of time. Thank you for pointing this out.

< My view (in response to Ed's comments) is simply that the whilst the two movements have certain harmonic, rhythmic and melodic characteristics in common, this is not unusual in given the amount of Baroque music that was composed, even by Bach alone. >
Something that may relate to this : it kind of bothers me how come Mozart in his KV 626 Introitus (I suppose it WAS genuinely by Mozart himself) employed the same melodic line of Cantus Filmus in BWV 10 first chorus when soprano solo comes in inbetween chorus. My example is extending different chronological time instead of being limited to Bach's Baroque time only.

< (..)
I would not discount any further arguments that link the movements--except that there seems to be only internal (i.e. musical) evidence and my afeeling was that this is too tenuous upon which to predicate causal connections.
But one can still seek them out and offer opposing opinions. Why not? >
I would prefer leaving "proof" "evidence" in a courtroom-or other fields where those are essential tools in study and/or practice. Such things may well be essential in music/art study for professionals, well...I am nowhere near judging professionally.

However, as for myself, I would rather enjoy and appreciate enriching creativity in ideas, opinions, impressions, etc. I learned a moot court in my legal training program. We also went out to listen to actual court cases. In court cases, the narrower it is focused down by clear-cut evidences, the better it feels. In aethetics, my personal feeling is exactly the opposite.

Of course when it comes to Bach, there may well be certain due restriction but for now in my personal limited experience I just have not yet encountered due restriction in such links or connotations as we three (Ed, Julian and myself)have been talking about especially in listeners' part.

As is always the case with me, just my personal feeling, impressions within my limited experience.

Terejia wrote (February 22, 2008):
Kuijken's rendition

Ed Myskowski wrote:
< (..)
That is a commercial release. The label is Accent, ACC 25301, from Germany. I got it from amazon.com. I do not have a way to share files, but that is not quite right for published CDs anyway. If you cannot find it, ask again, and we will find a way. >
I didn't notice but there WAS Kuijken's rendition among my CD collection : unfortunately it is not a complete recordings but some excerpts from BWV 245 St. Johannes Passion.

I especially like "Mein treuer Heiland lass mich frage" i.e. Bass solo with chorus and cello obligato.

By the way, I happen to have 4 renditions of full recordings of this piece NOT including this Kuijken excerpts. My preference of renditions differs from time to time according to what element I need and want at the moment. Sometimes, I'd like to listen to technical precision and refinement-Kuijken would be one of my choice in such times. Another would be Herrewegh, Gardiner, Harnoncourt.

As to Masaaki Suzuki, I'll refrain any comments here. One of my friends back when I was in University was taking formal harpschicord lessons from Mr. Suzuki and I remember well how she used to talk about his lessons. I seem to be too prejudiced to feel his performance fairly.

However other times I need and want more spiritual energy rather than refinement and Karl Richter is definitely my first choice in such times. I found Karl Richter plays with full orchestra cello in the above mentioned piece from BWV 245 which would be an exact opposite of refinement or technical precision. Also his choir often sounds too amateurish. Despite all this his strong spiritual inspiration supercedes such deficiency when I need more spiritual thing from music.

There are also times when I simply want to listen to solemn traditional German sound and Dresden Kreuzchoir is my choice in such times.

Jean Laaninen wrote (February 22, 2008):
[To Terejia, regarding The D, F#, B motive---was 169] Sometimes these very detailed issues are really intriguing, and I defer to the musicologists. I have studied Baroque Music Theory at ASU, and very rapidly we went through a great deal of material. In the course I had to analyze two Bach works. The second was a Bach Cantata. In fifty pages of analysis I had only one red mark, but I worked on that paper for several months before turning it in. That makes me someone who understands the big picture, but not an expert on very fine detail or so many works. Trust the musicologists for a variety of interpretations when it gets down to fine points.

Jean Laaninen wrote (February 22, 2008):
To Terejia, regarding Kuijken's rendition] Thanks for adding these details.

Neil Mason wrote (February 23, 2008):
Terejia wrote:
< My preference of renditions differs from time to time according to what element I need and want at the moment. >
This is in my opinion a very perceptive comment.

Interpretations generally involve trade-offs, in which one aspect of the music is placed "in the foreground" sometimes at the expense of others.

For example. sometimes I find Ruth Holton's purity and accuracy, her boy-like tone, to be admirable and giving the music a sense of calm. On other days I find the same performances insipid and lacking in drama.

I have been taking note, however, of the general approbation of Kujiken recently. What aspects of the music does he treat as important that you find attractive?

 

BWV 169, Trinity 18 (Oct. 11, 2009)

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 11, 2009):
The broadcast and webcast this morning (WGBH-FM, www.wgbh.org) was BWV 169 in the recent (2008) recording by Bernada Fink [24]. It was a welcome opportunity to hear this release, and as usual host Brian McCreath added some concise and insightful commentary. In particular, he pointed out that the penultimate recitative (Mvt. 6) and closing chorale, compare and transform the acts of the individual to communal and community experience.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 169: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: August 21, 2012 20:50:33