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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 176
Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of June 24, 2007

Julian Mincham wrote (June 23, 2007):
BWV 176 Introduction

CONTEXT

The last cantata of the cycle brings with it a number of puzzles and problems. 176 is also the last of nine, or possibly ten libretti written by Mariane von Ziegler and the end of Bach's most intense period of cantata composition from May 1723 to May 1725.

It is also one of the shortest in the repertoire, lacking a chorale fantasia and hybrid chorale/recitatives; both arias are under, typically, three minutes long.

The cantata of the week BWV 176 Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding
The human spirit may be both defiant and disheartened Chorus (Mvt. 1) --recit (alto)--aria (sop)--recit (bass)--aria (alto)--chorale (Mvt. 6).
The fifty-third cantata of the cycle for Trinity Sunday. Librettist:- Mariane von Ziegler.

There is just one line of text for the opening chorus (Mvt. 1): 'Es ist ein trotzig und versagt Ding' but it is translated most variously:
Dürr (p 374) ----There is something perverse and desperate about all human hearts.
James Chater's translation for Ton Koopman's recording [6] (box 15) is-----There is a daring and shy thing about the human spirit.
Boyd (p 163) suggests ---the heart is deceitful above all things The structure and spirit of the music is more illuminative of the message than the enigmatically translated text. Even the opening fugue subject itself suggests supreme effort as it stretches to a high, and deeply expressive chromatic Db.

There are two complete fugal expositions in which the voices enter from the lowest to the highest possibly suggestive of the striving human spirit. We further discover a combination of defiance, continual striving upwards, a brief suggestion of uncertainty or indecision and an ultimate stressing of the universality of the assertion of desperation..

The alto recitative is included principally for the purposes of narrative the one obvious image being ignored by the composer.

The soprano aria (Mvt. 3) is reminiscent of that for alto which may be found in the later cantata C 30 from 1738. Both are gavotte dance movements with extended binary form ritornelli, developing from sturdy crotchet and quaver rhythms into streams of triple quavers. They share a similar theme, the later movement's syncopation bordering on the 'jazzy'.

One may note Spitta's horror at this music which, he felt, was charming but had nothing to do with the text. Here he misses the point of Bach's approach to text by, presumably, fixating upon a different image from that which principally attracted the attention of the composer.

Schweitzer, with remarkable insight for his time, provides the ultimate answer. When discussing the problems of interpretation of Bach's musical language (vol 2 pp 51/2) he states that there is only one way of avoiding the sort of trap Spitta stumbled into----'a comparative study of ALL the cantatas. They explain each other. No one can conduct one cantata properly unless he knows them all'.

The bass recitative transforms itself seamlessly into a beautiful arioso. This music may be seen an expression of the weak flesh, nevertheless striving to achieve God's grace------a quiet air of humility, combined with a sense of
gentle striving towards the aspired goal.

Like the first aria, that for alto also suggests another courtly suite movement form, this time the minuet. The rhythm might be courtly, but the melody is almost mocking in tone, employing two chromatic notes in the first three bars; D flat (again) and an A natural. The text is essentially rousing and optimistic being an attempt to rally the timid.

The chorale (Mvt. 6) is long (eighteen bars and nine phrases) and modal; that is to say harmonically ambiguous when set within the more 'modern' tonal system. Those members who read the weekly introductions and then go back to listen to, play or sing the works----I know there are at least a couple who do this----may well have noticed something interesting. It is that Bach used this chorale very early in the cycle, a semi-tone lower for BWV 7. There it became the basis for a chorale fantasia of stark and magnificent grandeur depicting the mighty River Jordan and a theme of baptism in the waters. Its odd modal structure there set Bach an interesting formal problem which he solved with great elegance.

It is probable that the main reason form not writing a fantasia for BWV 176 is that he had already done it!

It is, perhaps, slightly ironic however that Bach should conclude such a modern and inventive cycle of works with a fundamentally archaic melody. Perhaps it is a subtle reminder of the fact that as an artist, he remains fully and comprehensively, a man of all ages.

Cantata link: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV176.htm

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 24, 2007):
BWV 176 Intro - no rehearsals, time pressure, sight-reading again

This is a summary/paraphrase of material presented in the NBA regarding BWV 176:

Based upon the presentation of evidence given earlier, this cantata was first performed on Trinity Sunday, May 27, 1725. It cannot be determined whether Bach, in composing this cantata, relied upon any compositions he had composed earlier. Pointing against this possibility is the evidence from the autograph score which is a composing score with many corrections. [btw, there are 90 corrections made by Bach in the 1st mvt. alone, some of these corrections involve more than a single note - the list of corrections for all mvts. is found on pp. 28-37 - this significantly larger-than-usual number of corrections could once again point to Bach being under considerable pressure of time when composing this cantata.]

The dating of this composition is made possible by the recognition of a late form of handwriting that can be attributed to Johann Andreas Kuhnau, Main Copyist A, the appearance of the other unnamed yet identified copyists, the type of paper used, but particularly the shared identity with the other cantatas based on texts by Mariane von Ziegler.

Although it can be assumed as a matter of course that this cantata would have had subsequent repeat performances under Bach's direction, the only evidence that we have are two autograph "tacet" markings for mvt. 5 in the 1st and 2nd oboe parts. It remains an open question in regard to such a probable repeat performance whether the alto soloist may have had an unusually weak voice, whether the oboe da caccia player was a better player than the two oboe players for whom it was first scored and for whom separate parts had been prepared, or whether Bach decided to favor the oboe da caccia in such a later performance because it sounded better. That these "tacet" indications might not have been written in by Bach for a possible later performance, but rather during the rehearsals for the first performance is, to be sure, a possibility, yet this is unlikely/improbable since nowhere is there any firm proof as yet from any of Bach's cantatas that such entries into the original parts actually occurred during rehearsals. [btw, this substantiates a point that I have been reporting all along that there is no evidence that proves that these parts were ever used in any rehearsals and that it stands to reason that sight-reading the first performance, for that reason, is a viable alternative until some other evidence to the contrary turns up. Although not identified by name, this comment about there being no markings on the parts to prove that they were used in rehearis probably Alfred Dürr's who, from his experience in studying many original parts directly, carefully makes this generalization without stating directly "There were no rehearsals under Bach's direction", but rather "Isn't this an oddity worth pondering?" The danger here is to fall immediately back on an empirical proof: "We always have rehearsals today; hence, Bach must have done so likewise," rather than pondering other possibilities among which sight-reading can be counted, particularly since Bach expressly mentions this ability in his letters of recommendation which he wrote for his young (in their 20s) musicians.]

NBA KB I/15, pp. 52-53

Nessie Russell wrote (June 24, 2007):
Perhaps a Dumb question about BWV 176

The librettist was Mariane von Ziegler. In English speaking countries Marianne is a female name. Was this Marianne female? If so, is this not a strange thing for Bach's time?

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 24, 2007):
[To Nessie Russell] She was...
See her bio and pictures at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Ziegler.htm

Nessie Russell wrote (June 24, 2007):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you Aryeh. A most unusual woman!

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 25, 2007):
BWV 7 [was: BWV 176 Introduction]

Julian Mincham wrote:
< The chorale (Mvt. 6) is long (eighteen bars and nine phrases) and modal; that is to say harmonically ambiguous when set within the more 'modern' tonal system. Those members who read the weekly introductions and then go back to listen to, play or sing the works----I know there are at least a couple who do this----may well have noticed something interesting. It is that Bach used this chorale very early in the cycle, a semi-tone lower for BWV 7. There it became the basis for a chorale fantasia of stark and magnificent grandeur depicting the mighty River Jordan and a theme of baptism in the waters. Its odd modal structure there set Bach an interesting formal problem which he solved with great elegance. It is probable that the main reason form not writing a fantasia for BWV 176 is that he had already done it! >
First off, thanks to Julian (by now, a friend) for the introductions to the concluding works of Jahrgang II. It is appropriate (and fortuitous) that Julian has pointed out the connection from the very end (BWV 176) to near the beginning (BWV 7) of this cycle. Despite all the remaining ambiguities and questions, the entire cycle comes across as a carefully integrated body of work. The composition and copying schedules for the individual weekly productions may be argued endlessly, for those who enjoy dissecting such details. I find the large scale architecture convincing, if not proven, so I will just continue to enjoy whatever emerges to my ears and mind. With a little help from my friends.

I was moved to write, simply to share a personal experience. The weekly cantata on Boston radio (www.wgbh.org) this morning was BWV 7, corresponding to the Feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24 (today) on the liturgical calendar. It is a happy coincidence with our chronologic discussion (BWV 176) Brian McCreath chose the early recording (ca. 1973) by the Cantata Singers led by John Harbison [3]. It holds up well after all these years, with dynamic tempi and accents, cleanly produced by decidedly 20th C. forces. We could do with more of that, IMO. Only because of the open communications on BCML did I immediately appreciate the connection between these two works. Thanks to all participants.

Brian also does a superb job of emphasizing the importance of the texts, and Bach's 18th C. Lutheran theology, without suggesting any limits to the spiritual impact of the music. And he does it carefully, in 25 words or less, because of the constraints of broadcast. Worth pondering. Nice job, Brian, I hope this doesn't embarrass you publicly.

Free speech, like democracy, is a chore. So far, better than the alternatives.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 25, 2007):
Mariane von Ziegler [was: Perhaps a Dumb question about BWV 176]

Nessie Russell wrote:
> The librettist was Mariane von Ziegler. In English speaking countries Marianne is a female name. Was this Marianne female? If so, is this not a strange thing for Bach's time? <
If you Google 'Ziegler', you will first be directed to BCW (that's us). The information there suggests that you are correct, a female writer (theologian?) was unusual. On the other hand, she was a member of a writers guild, but it is notable that she was the only female.

Which makes me wonder if Bach might have been specifically supporting female participation in the creative process.?

Or if if Marianne was especially well-connected, politically, and Bach was just going along?

Has anyone suggested that the poetry (as distinct from the theology) in any of the texts (Ziegler or others) inspired Bach's music? An interesting thought, perhaps I have overlooked some subtleties in the discussions? Are there any examples where the beauty of the phrase, not just the underlying theologic meaning, or a single word picture, may have inspired the music? Or even been specifically emphasized by the music.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Bach’s Librettists [General Topics]

Neil Halliday wrote (June 25, 2007):
BWV 176 Introduction: opening chorus (Mvt. 1)

The Rilling booklet [2], which usually translates German text into English in a satisfactory manner, here adopts the rather euphemistic: "There is a daring and shy thing about the human spirit".

A literal translation best imparts the meaning of the words that Bach has set to music, ie, "There is a defiant and desperate thing about all human hearts". Notice that "trotzig" (defiant) is used here in the negative sense - not the positive sense, as, for example, in defiance of, or resistance against evil. The O.T. passage (Jeremiah 17.9), from which the text's sentence is derived, is unreservedly condemnatory of human "hearts".

Some commentators have drawn attention to the different `affect' of the music that is set to the opposing ideas of "defiance" and "desperation". (Have a listen to Suzuki's new, very fine performance [8]. I think he captures this aspect very well.)

[Thanks to Aryeh and Thomas B. for their extensive contributions, in the previous discussions, of much of the known commentary from the various authorities].

The music has contrapuntal brilliance and dramatic power. The very opening is dramatic; combined instruments and voices (basses) begin straight away without instrumental introduction, and off the beat! Something I did not notice at first but is mentioned in the OCC - the similarity of the initial upper string figures to the opening of the 5th Brandenburg. (The effect is markedly different, of course; the Brandenburg is all joy and sunny blue skies, whereas in this chorus (Mvt. 1) the effect is darkly dramatic and agitated).

The fugue subject, as is usual with Bach, can be heard in one or other of the four, contrapuntal vocal lines, more or less continuously throughout the entire movement, with the order of consecutive entries being:

B,T,A,S, bridge, B,T,A,S; B, short bridge, S.

In the first "bridge" (three and a half bars), imitative, running semiquaver passages are introduced into the vocal parts in the order T,B,A, S.

The second "bridge" has a repetition of an important figure in the tenor.

The fugue subject itself sometimes has another important motif added on, sometimes not.

[A look a the score is probably required in order for a listener to identify each entry of the emphatic "Es ist ein." of the fugue subject from the surrounding, swirling "Es ist ein."'s in other voices that are not part of the fugue subject! Once a listener identifies the eplacement of the entries, a good recording will make these vocal entries easy to identify even within the rich
contrapuntal texture].

As usual with Bach (a fact noted also I think by Simon Crouch) we have another exciting chorus (Mvt. 1) to be appreciated by lovers of the fugue form!

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 26, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>The music has contrapuntal brilliance and dramatic power. The very opening is dramatic; combined instruments and voices (basses) begin straight away without instrumental introduction, and off the beat!<<
This opening, off-the-beat fugue subject can also be found in the bass voice at the beginning of the turba chorus (23d - the section of which begins with "Die Juden aber schrieen und sprachen") of the SJP, BWV 245. Here the basses begin with the very agitated, extremely punctuated: "Weg, weg mit dem, weg". ("Away with him {that person}, away") The first 5 notes agree with the initial entrance of the bass voice in BWV 176/1 (Mvt. 1).

Continue of discussion from Bach's Librettists [General Topics]

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 26, 2007):
BWV 176 Text [was: Mariane von Ziegler]

Richard Unkraut wrote:
>>Is there any chance Bach and this von Zieglerr had any, um, inspiring relationship outside the text and music?<<
I have yet to see anything in print in this regard. There are more questions than answers regarding Mariane von Ziegler.

RU: >>Wouldn't it be surprising if Bach as composer did not make any changes in texts assigned for cantata use, before or after he got them approved by his superiors?<<
There is no evidence whatsoever that Bach had to get each set of cantatas (printed booklets containing cantatas for 4 to 6 weeks in advance of actual performance) approved by any higher authorities. Bach's concern was regarding diction and ideas that could be illustrated musically.

The major discrepancies between von Ziegler's texts printed 3 years later and Bach's version of these texts in his autograph score and original vocal parts could be due to a number of factors that are possible:

Possibility #1:

Von Ziegler insisted on printing her texts just as she had originally conceived them and not including Bach's
subsequent changes and modifications.
[This possibility is generally assumed.]

Possibility #2:

Von Ziegler continued working on these texts (improving them, as she thought) and thus the printed versions of these texts issued in book form 3 years later represent a later stage that included her subsequent revisions to these texts.

Here is a comparison of texts from BWV 176/4 (2nd recitative) which I forgot to mention this morning:

Von Ziegler:

So wundre dich, o Meister, nicht
Warum ich nur nach dir bey Nacht=Zeit frage,
Ich fürchte, daß bey Tage
Mein Ohnmacht nicht bestehen kan.
Jedoch du nimmst mein zages Hertz und Geist
Zum Leben auf und an.

Bach's version:

So wundre dich, o Meister, nicht,
Warum ich dich bei Nacht ausfrage!
Ich fürchte, daß bei Tage
Mein Ohnmacht nicht bestehen kann.
Doch tröst ich mich, du nimmst mein Herz und Geist
Zum Leben auf und an,
Weil alle, die nur an dich glauben, nicht verloren werden.

[The orthography has been modernized by the NBA editors. Bach would have spelled some of these words differently, more like the von Ziegler printing has it]

Note the addition by Bach of an entirely new line at the end. Bach probably composed this recitative until "Zum Leben auf und an" and then decided that he wanted the recitative to end with an Arioso section. Bach does not even make any attempt to connect this new line to the previous ones with an end rhyme.

Hans-Joachim Schulze, author of "Die Bach-Kantaten", Leipzig, 2006, p. 217 thinks that there is also a possibility that Bach had another individual look over and rework von Ziegler's texts and he was not at all fussy about making changes in von Ziegler's original [btw, this might have been Picander with whom Bach began working at the end of February, 1725. It is interesting that the number of changes in each von Ziegler text increases with time over the course of a few months.]

RU: >>Perhaps somebody else on staff didn't like von Ziegler's wording or theology, and compelled Bach to make changes.<<
This is the least likely possibility. There were theologians, pastors, preachers, etc. in Leipzig during Bach's tenure who did not know how to prepare a libretto suitable for a composer to set to music. The problem of finding a suitable, capable librettist for cantatas was pointed out by Johann Mattheson. This is truly an art in which the author must have a special insight into the nature of music. Notice how Bach (or his helper) removed certain words that have compounding [unfortunately a characteristic of the German language that too often reaches excesses] and replaced them with simpler words:

von Ziegler's "Nacht=Zeit" and "sein Allmacht=volles Wesen" become in Bach's version: "Nacht" and "sein Allmacht und sein Wesen". The simple nouns are clearer and more direct, while compounds become too abstract, particularly if the visual image of the text is not available to a listener. [btw, I have a suspicion that Bach suspended printing cantata booklets during this sequence of texts by von Ziegler. It would appear that changes were being made at almost the same time that Bach was composing them, adding on an entire line when he considered needing an arioso to conclude a recitative.]

Re: von Ziegler's poetic texts:

From the standpoint of German literary history per se, the thought has often been expressed that von Ziegler's poetry would have remained forgotten if it had not been for Bach's cantatas based on her texts. Viewed from the perspective of all German poetry that has been written, her efforts, indeed even those of her mentor, Gottsched, are generally considered of only average quality with nothing special in them to raise them to a higher level of attraction and attention. Indeed, compared to the efforts of Salomo Franck, Erdmann Neumeister, Georg Christian Lehms, and Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander) in writing cantata texts, her texts even have trouble keeping pace with them. And yet, as we know, all of Bach's texts as such have been criticized as lacking the qualities that most have come to expect in poetry. It is what Bach does with them that makes them truly memorable. Remove the music, and these poetic texts all remain firmly entrenched in the 18th century and generally fail to inspire readers today. Picander and von Ziegler were well aware of the fact that without Bach's music, their poetry could not be uplifted to a higher level. This is why both of them continued writing texts with the hope that Bach might set them to music, but he never did, unless they are among the missing cantatas.

A few additions to von Ziegler's biography:

Her father was also an amateur musician who had a keyboard instrument smuggled into his fortress prison room at Königstein.
[Konrad Küster, "Bach Handbuch", Kassel, 1999, p. 11.)

A press report from Saxony in November, 1733:
von Ziegler received her master's degree with honors in phifrom the University of Leipzig in October, 1733. The report continues with the note already mentioned in her biography about having received the royal title of Poet Laureate with a special ability in writing German poetry, an honor not yet bestowed upon any woman at any German university ("welche Ehre wenigstens von gantzen Universitäten noch keiner Person von ihrem Geschlechte ertheilet worden.").
[Hans-Joachim Schulze, "Die Bach-Kantaten", Leipzig, 2006, p. 217]

Richard Unkraut wrote (June 26, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you Sir for the information! But it's an awfully long-winded way to say that my idea is "the least likely possibility," and proven by you in no way.

You're asserting here that "There is no evidence whatsoever that Bach had to get each set of cantatas (printed booklets containing cantatas for 4 to 6 weeks in advance of actual performance) approved by any higher authorities." It's good to learn that these things weren't just heard once in church and then gone, but valued immediately as publishable material.

But, from your answer, I take it that there is also no evidence "whatsoever" that Bach didn't have to have everything approved. That's a reasonable conclusion too, from a shortage of definite information: that he had to follow any normal school or church channels to produce publishable work. If Bach was having things printed up a month or two ahead, surely those were at least approved by the authorities or donors who funded them? Or the school or church leaders eager to provide a proper evangelical education, i.e. Bach's employers?

I suppose I should just keep my ideas to myself, if this is the sledgehammer way they are to be greeted here. It was just a simple question on my part!

But I'll ask the same question again, verbatim, for anyone else's thoughts on the possibilities: "Wouldn't it be surprising if Bach as composer did not make any changes in texts assigned for cantata use, before or after he got them approved by his superiors? Perhaps somebody else on staff didn't like von Ziegler's wording or theology, and compelled Bach to make changes."

I seek an answer, please, even a speculative one, that doesn't first say it was a stupid or ignorant question to ask (or flat-out "least likely" possibility). I enjoy this cantata, BWV 176, and am trying to understand the church/school milieu it came from. Surely Bach's colleagues, both above and below his own station, had some opinion about the work they were putting out. Could Bach have been swayed by their wishes at all, to make any changes in the assigned texts?

Richard Unkraut wrote (June 26, 2007):
My goodness! I just found the 2001 discussion at the web page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV176-D.htm
And the reviews there make it appear that both Leusink [4] and Leonhardt [3] are contemptibly poor musicians! What gives?

I have the Leusink recording [4] of BWV 176 as part of the complete set, and it moves me. My perception of the performance is that his singers and players are worth listening to and enjoying, those web reviews notwithstanding. I haven't heard Leonhardt [3] yet in this piece, but I have many of his others and he is consistently excellent. What is the deal with such uncharitable reviews, in music that does not get recorded very often?

How are any of the new recordings of BWV 176, since 2001?

And thank-you to Julian Mincham for the "BWV 176 introduction" I just looked up at the archive. A much-appreciated musical background to the piece.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 26, 2007):
BWV 176 Text approval, yes or no? [was: Mariane von Ziegler]
Richard Unkraut wrote:
>>You're asserting here that "There is no evidence whatsoever that Bach had to get each set of cantatas (printed booklets containing cantatas for 4 to 6 weeks in advance of actual performance) approved by any higher authorities."<<
Yes, I still have found no evidence for this as yet. This means that the likelihood that Bach did not need any official approval by any higher authority is greater than imagining that he did have to comply with such a bureaucratic demand.

RU: >>It's good to learn that these things weren't just heard once in church and then gone, but valued immediately as publishable material. But, from your answer, I take it that there is also no evidence "whatsoever" that Bach didn't have to have everything approved. That's a reasonable conclusion too, from a shortage of definite information: that he had to follow any normal school or church channels to produce publishable work.<<
This is not a reasonable conclusion but one based upon the method of argumentation relying upon empirical proof and is not securely grounded in evidence from Bach's time and place in history. There is a difference here between reasonable possibilities and what is entirely possible if any possibility, no matter how ridiculous or far removed from historical reality it may seem, is to be considered equally viable.

RU: >>If Bach was having things printed up a month or two ahead, surely those were at least approved by the authorities or donors who funded them? Or the school or church leaders eager to provide a proper evangelical education, i.e. Bach's employers?<<
The booklets were out-of-pocket expenses for Bach. He paid for all of them himself! There is no indication that they were printed under the auspices of or with the permission of any higher authority.

RU: >>I suppose I should just keep my ideas to myself, if this is the sledgehammer way they are to be greeted here. It was just a simple question on my part!<<
The incorrect characterization of my response as a "sledgehammer" is entirely based upon your misinterpretation of my answer. This is no 'sledgehammer' way of answering a question, but rather one which seeks to inform the uninformed listener.

RU: >>But I'll ask the same question again, verbatim, for anyone else's thoughts on the possibilities: "Wouldn't it be surprising if Bach as composer did not make any changes in texts assigned for cantata use, before or after he got them approved by hissuperiors?"<<
This is a loaded question which assumes something that has not even been proven or documented ("before or after he got them approved by his superiors"). This matter has been discussed on this list before not too long ago. We were left with Doug Cowling directing me to read Herl's book because the answer, according to Cowling, is hidden in it somewhere where Cowling refused to tell us. It is now a treasure hunt with a surprise ending: the direct information relating to your question stated above is not to be found in this book anywhere. I have already read one third of the book and hope to finish soon so that I can announce unabashedly that Doug Cowling's reference to this book will leave anyone expecting a direct answer to this question from Herl empty-handed as far as the above question is concerned.

Why not join the treasure hunt along with Brad Lehman (who has it on his summer reading list), Doug Cowling (who is still trying to remember what page the answer might have been on) and myself? The book is even available on Amazon.com for perusal of its contents, index and some pages. Joseph Herl, "Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism", Oxford University Press, 2004.

RU: >>Perhaps somebody else on staff didn't like von Ziegler's wording or theology, and compelled Bach to make changes."
It is more reasonable to think that these changes were made for musical reasons by Bach, or perhaps in conjunction with Picander with whom Bach was becoming better acquainted at this time.

RU: >>I seek an answer, please, even a speculative one, that doesn't first say it was a stupid or ignorant question to ask (or flat-out "least likely" possibility).<<
No one stated that your question was a stupid or ignorant one. Again, that is only your interpretation of my response which you have obviously misinterpreted.

RU: >>I enjoy this cantata, BWV 176, and am trying to understand the church/school milieu it came from. Surely Bach's colleagues, both above and below his own station, had some opinion about the work they were putting out. Could Bach have been swayed by their wishes at all, to make any changes in the assigned texts?<<
This is certainly a wild speculation which presumes that Bach had many rehearsals with his musicians before a performance or that he consulted with other faculty members at the school to obtain their input, their ideas regarding the texts he was contemplating. The historical evidence for this notion has not yet been uncovered.

Do you mean that you wonder if a Brad Lehman had been playing the continuo part under Bach's direction during the long and numerous rehearsals that would be necessary for today's musicians performing under Bach's direction (if that were possible through time travel), that Bach might have listened to and sought input from him as to how the text might need to be changed?

When Bach composed, he already knew thoroughly the capabilities of all of his musicians. He chose his instrumentation/orchestration accordingly and he knew beforehand what texts were singable or not. He consulted himself. He was the expert in these matters as far as the musical results were concerned. The choice of text was another matter which he usually solved in conjunction with the librettist, or failing that, with another librettist who truly understood what was involved in making such decisions. Very likely there were two situations that Bach faced in regard to new libretti:

1). He had a printed text by a reliable librettist (Franck, Neumeister, Lehms) which he would not change at all.

2). He had a librettist living in his vicinity with whom he could collaborate (Henrici-Piacander, for example) and resolve issues quickly. Von Ziegler was a special problem for Bach. He needed texts quickly, but for some reason it appears that he was unable to work with her as easily as he could with Picander with whom he was just becoming acquainted. Eventually Bach decided in favor of Picander who seemed to have a gift for knowing what kind of text Bach wanted and was very likely willing to compromise (go back to the drawing board) to seek another solution with Bach's help and advice.

There are no specific opinions recorded by any of Bach's colleagues, both above and below his own station, on this or just about any other cantata. A rare instance is Johann Mattheson's discussion of "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis".

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 26, 2007):
BWV 176 recordings

Richard Unkraut wrote:
>>My goodness! I just found the 2001 discussion at the web page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV176-D.htm
And the reviews there make it appear that both Leusink [4] and Leonhardt [3] are contemptibly poor musicians! What gives?<<
Have you considered the possibility that their performances in this particular work may not be on the same level of some others? Are you among those listeners who consider all performances to be equally good? Had you considered the possibility that other people may listen to this music more critically and intensively than you with score in hand in order to discern differences which a normal listener listening only once to a single recording of a work would normally overlook?

RU: >>I have the Leusink recording [4] of BWV 176 as part of the complete set, and it moves me. My perception of the performance is that his singers and players are worth listening to and enjoying, those web reviews notwithstanding.<<
For a beginning listener this is natural; however, when you have listened to many different performances over the years, there is usually a need to decide which ones are worth coming back to again and again. It helps tremendously then to know if the performers are actually reproducing accurately the music Bach wrote with good technique, expression, and understanding of the text. These reactions are helpful to those readers who wish to read other people's reactions, whether they agree with them or not.

RU: >>I haven't heard Leonhardt [3] yet in this piece, but I have many of his others and he is consistently excellent.<<
You might be surprised that Leonhardt [3] does not always deliver a first-class recording/interpretation. This is always a possibility, isn't it?

RU: >>What is the deal with such uncharitable reviews, in music that does not get recorded very often?<<
How do you know that these are 'uncharitable' reviews, when you, admittedly, have not listened to a wider range of these recordings as intensively as those who have reported what they have heard and experienced?

Neil Halliday wrote (June 26, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<"Like the first aria, that for alto also suggests another courtly suite movement form, this time the minuet. The rhythm might be courtly, but the melody is almost mocking in tone, employing two chromatic notes in the first three bars; D flat (again) and an A natural.">
Yes, this chromaticism is mentioned in the OCC: "Odd chromatic appoggiaturas in the ritornello and first vocal section represent the fear and `shuddering' expressed in the first section."

Interestingly, at first hearing I was inclined to agree with Robertson that this aria has "no special qualities", but after both reading of and exploring the above-mentioned chromaticism, my appreciation of the aria has increased remarkably.

Technically, the first six notes belong to Eb major, but the notes on the first beat of the following two bars - Db and A natural respectively - "odd chromatic appoggiaturas" certainly upset the straightforward tonality established in the first (two) bars. The rhythm at the start, on first hearing, has the listener guessing as well; are the first two 1/16th notes on the first beat of the bar? [They of course begin on the third (last) beat of the bar].

Further chromaticism that is reminiscent of that occurring on "verzagt" in the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) can also be seen/heard in the oboe part toward the end the "second ritornello" (before the second entry of the vocalist).

Neil Halliday wrote (June 26, 2007):
I wrote of the alto aria (Mvt. 5):
<"Further chromaticism that is reminiscent of that occurring on "verzagt" in the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) can also be seen/heard in the oboe part toward the end the "second ritornello">
and of course even more so, at the beginning of the ritornello after "geschicht".

Noteworthy also is the subtle change of harmonisation on "Heil'gen" near the end of the aria. If you look at the line "Vater, Sohn und Heil'gen Geist", you will see that it is accompanied by the opening oboe theme, with the first syllable of the word "Heil'gen" landing on what was a "chromatic" A natural in that opening ritornello theme (and soon sung to the word "schüchterne" - shuddering); but here the A natural, to which "Heil'(gen)" is set, is part of an F major dominant 7th chord (!), meaning that Bach creates a different, appropriate affect for this word's setting while maintaining the original theme in the oboe part.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 27, 2007):
I usually try to post some impressions and opinions on recordings, but I have fallen behind in recent weeks.

Richard Unkraut wrote:
< My goodness! I just found the 2001 discussion at the web page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV176-D.htm
And the reviews there make it appthat both Leusink [4] and Leonhardt [3] are contemptibly poor musicians! What gives? >
You have already figured out what gives. It took me a bit longer, and I avoided the Leusink set for some time. When I finally bought it, I was truly surprised at how good the general quality is, especially considering the value. I have gone out of my way to mention this opinion several times, in order to provide some contrast to the negative commentary. I have not yet listened to Leusink's BWV 176 [4], so I cannot comment specifically, as yet. There have been several instances where many of us have found Leusink's performance not just acceptable, but the preferred version.

< [...]
How are any of the new recordings of BWV 176, since 2001?
And thank-you to Julian Mincham for the "BWV 176 introduction" I just looked up at the archive. A much-appreciated musical background to the piece. >
I have already expressed the same opinion, re Julian's introductions, and his weekly comments prior to that.. Doesn't hurt to say it again.

The Herreweghe recording of BWV 176 [7] is superb, in fact I find that to be true of all of his performances. You also get the benefit of legendary oboist Marcel Ponseele. Others have objected to Herreweghe's 'swelling' tone, but I find it reasonably subtle and not offensive. Worth taking a chance, IMO.

I have not heard the Suzuki recording [8], but his series in general has been very positively reviewed. Koopman's series [6] does not seem to be anyone's first choice, but it does have some specific advantages. It is complete, and it is often the only opportunity to hear a female alto in a modern recording. All three versions are listed on BCW in the recordings section, although not yet commented on in the discussions.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 28, 2007):
Opening chorus (Mvt. 1).

From fastest to slowest, we have Koopman [6], Herreweghe [7], and Leusink [4], (all around 2.05), then Suzuki (2.20) [8], and then Rilling (2.40) [2].

The last two have the clearest and most emphatic (and hence exciting) choral entries of the fugue subject, and for this reason they are my first choices among the recordings.

I like the chirping oboes in the Leusink recording [4] (oboes double the SAT lines in this chorus (Mvt. 1), while the strings have independent parts), but as I said the choral entries in this recording lack clarity, and the soprano line appears to be the most prominent much of the time, covering the fugue subject in the lower voices.

Koopman [6] and Herreweghe [7] in general create a brisk, light effect that misses the impact achieved by Rilling [2] and Suzuki [8], IMO.
--------
Speaking of oboes, all the recordings except Rilling [2] appear to have the unison oboes (including da caccia) in the alto aria (Mvt. 5); this creates a distinctive orchestral colour that is most attractive, so it's a pity Rilling did not also use this (original?) instrumentation. (Rilling uses a single regular oboe) Blaze (with Suzuki [8]) is fine, but the tempo seemed overly brisk.
--------
In general I like all the examples of the tuneful, happy soprano aria (Mvt. 3), but I couldn't hear Leusink's singer [4] on the first low "ruhe", at least on the internet sample. Also, Suzuki's singer [8] sometimes has a tendency to wobble; Inga Nielsen (with Rilling [2]) is lovely. I did not find a sound sample for Leonhardt [3].
----
The bass arioso (second section of the recitative) is potentially exceedingly lovely, but I was disappointed with all the realisations of the continuo. Basically, the organ part is too quiet in the period performances (apart from maybe Koopman [6], but I don't like his distinctive continuo with its coarse staccato strings and `dainty', rattly organ at the best of times). Rilling's organist [2] adds some of the (improvised) treble material that is desirable to complement the lovely vocal and bass lines, but that organ has an unpleasant timbre, and the bass line is thick and unattractive. Herreweghe's accompaniment [7] is all dull string bass, no treble.

(I'm happier playing the piano part in the piano reduction score, available at the BCW, with its lovely `crunchy' chords, and singing along myself!).
--------
I liked Suzuki's [8] final chorale (Mvt. 6); for once he is not too fast/uninvolved. Rilling [2] suffers, I think, from a harsh, thick continuo line.

===========

On criticism of recordings: It's my opinion that anyone who loves the music (presumably everyone on this list) and has listened to the recordings, is entitled to express whatever he/she may wish to say about the recordings. Other people may agree or disagree with a particular assessment, but I would have thought that the right to express a point of view is worth defending. Obviously, perception of any particular vocal or instrumental sound varies widely between individuals, even where (or because?) someone intrinsically appreciates Bach's music. Also, I think anyone has a right to at least question the 'experts'. For example, Herreweghe [7] might say he is `historically correct' in his presentation of the bass arioso (with minimal keyboard treble clef material), but I maintain (my opinion) he has failed to capture its beauty by a country mile!

Stephen Benson wrote (June 28, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Opening chorus (Mvt. 1).
From fastest to slowest, we have Koopman
[6], Herreweghe [7], and Leusink [4], (all around 2.05), then Suzuki (2.20) [8], and then Rilling (2.40) [2].
The last two have the clearest and most emphatic (and hence exciting) choral entries of the fugue subject, and for this reason they are my first choices among the recordings. >

At the end of this post, you invite differing opinions, and mine certainly qualify as that. I find that although the pace of the Rilling [2] does make the fugal entrances clear and well-defined, it also makes those same fugal phrases tread heavily, lumbering ponderously in a sort of elephantine procession. It's the "brisk, light effect" of the Herreweghe [7] that, for me, generates excitement. To me "clarity" and "emphasis" do not equal "excitement".

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 28, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>Herreweghe's [continuo] accompaniment [7] is all dull string bass, no treble.<<
I wonder if this might not be due to the fact that the missing transposed, figured Organo part [a long and colorful history surrounds this part] was not taken into consideration for Rudorff's BGA edition and was not available for inspection by the NBA editors; hence the NBA, for instance, shows in the score only "Continuo" (italicized: 1 unfigured, 1 figured) but no additional "Organo" part which both editors know did exist. If Herreweghe [7] read his NBA KB I/15 p. 40 carefu, he would know better than to rely upon the figures given in the NBA or BGA versions or as indicated in Laurence Dreyfus' error-prone and not-always-reliable Appendix A "Catalog of Original Performance Parts for Bach's Vocal Works" (p. 201, "Bach's Continuo Group", Harvard University Press, 1987) which actually states that there is a figured basso continuo with figures added by J. S. Bach. This, of course, is in error since the NBA editors had determined way back in 1968 that the handwriting of the figures was not Bach's and that in all likelihood they had been added by someone else at a later time. This leaves us with only two unfigured continuo parts out of three (actually there was another original continuo part, untransposed, not figured - but that's another story!) at the time of the 1st performance. Strictly speaking then, a musician viewing the figured parts in the NBA or BGA should know that the figures they do see are only provided for convenience, but do not represent directly what Bach may have had in mind since he normally wrote out the figures for the transposed Organo part which is now missing and was not taken into account by Rudorff at the time when the BGA published its version of BWV 176. Perhaps this might explain Herreweghe's choice of continuo, a conservative choice with no Organo playing chords and dispensing with the figures which are unreliable yet might have been reconstructed for a more complete rendition as other performers have done, but one based upon careful study of the NBA material offered in the KB.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 28, 2007):
Stephen Benson wrote:
>>I find that although the pace of the Rilling [2] does make the fugal entrances clear and well-defined, it also makes those same fugal phrases tread heavily, lumbering ponderously in a sort of elephantine procession. It's the "brisk, light effect" of the Herreweghe [7] that, for me, generates excitement. To me "clarity" and "emphasis" do not equal "excitement".<<
de gustibus non est disputandum
chacun ses goûts

The brisk, 'lite' effect overlooks the expression of an Old Testament text which is serious indeed. By nature, the dictum Bach (von Ziegler) uses here is a profound and weighty one. To perform it otherwise does a great injustice to the idea which is being musically conveyed by means of a powerful fugue subject which reveals great depth when properly sung. A 'lite' treatment seeking to create excitement by 'having fun' risks becoming superficial despite any special 'clarity' that might have been achieved thereby. Listeners will need to ask themselves whether they want some 'lite' background music which creates occasional moments of excitement either by musicians having fun performing it or by listeners enjoying the fun of lite-entertainment background music as they perceive it. This, of course, is far removed from the original purpose for which Bach composed this music. Today the choice lies with the listener; however, in Bach's time this music was fully integrated into the church service where each member of the congregation experienced God's word. The performance of the cantata was one important aspect of this experience. The strong emotions evoked by words such as 'trotzig' and 'verzagt' can easily be removed and transformed into gentler version by having the vocalists (as in many HIP performances) sing more lightly (using sotto voce) at a faster tempo, but in doing so they lose a portion of the deep connection between the words and the music.

Stephen Benson wrote (June 29, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] I apologize for the fact that the language I used in my previous post could be misconstrued in such a fashion. The use of the word "light" was merely to indicate a relative reading to the much heavier Rilling interpretation [2], and was merely an invocation of the term used in the post to which I was responding. By using that term, however, I can understand why my comments could have been misleading, to a point. What I find difficult to swallow is having that word, and those words, twisted into something completely different. First of all, the word was "light", not "lite" as transformed by Mr. Braatz — a reading which indicates inconsequentiality. There is nothing inconsequential about the Herreweghe recording [7]. The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) on that recording has an agitated, incisive edge that clearly communicates distress. Music doesn't have to be slow and turgid in order to be serious. An attentive listener to the Herreweghe opening chorus (Mvt. 1) does not come away feeling uplifted simply because the phrasing moves along quickly with a relatively light touch. And nowhere in my post did I suggest that this "lite" interpretation involved "having fun", as Mr. Braatz so conveniently interprets, or that it can be classified in any way as "background music", another of his imaginative constructs. The bottom line is that I do not believe that Bach would have sacrificed musical values for textual ones. His genius was able to generate music that was at once serious and febrile and still musical. I don't feel emotional distress with the heavy-handedness I hear in Rilling; I only feel distress at what I hear as his lack of sensitivity. Herreweghe, on the other hand, with his sharply focused and intense opening, reaches out and pulls me inexorably into a dark world of disquiet. By no means did I mean to suggest that his opening chorus (Mvt. 1) was anything but serious. I wasn't clear about that, and I do apologize.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 29, 2007):
Stephen Benson wrote:
>>The use of the word "light" was merely to indicate a relative reading to the much heavier Rilling interpretation [2], and was merely an invocation of the term used in the post to which I was responding. By using that term, however, I can understand why my comments could have been misleading, to a point.<<
Yes, particularly when you use words like "heavily, lumbering, ponderously like in a sort of elephantine procession to describe Rilling's, what you call, 'heavy-handedness' and imply thereby that his interpretation is 'slow and turgid'.

For Bach the text was extremely important. It is the key to understanding his music. This is often overlooked by performers who emphasize with virtuosic, but sotto voce singing a text which is as serious as this one.

Stephen Benson wrote (June 29, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< For Bach the text was extremely important. It is the key to understanding his music. This is often overlooked by performers who emphasize with virtuosic, but sotto voce singing a text which is as serious as this one. >
You seem to have missed the point of my response, Mr. Braatz. Can you at least acknowledge that I do find the Herreweghe [7] opening chorus (Mvt. 1) of BWV 176 serious, and not "lite", "fun", and "background music" as you suggested? And since when is it impossible for "virtuosic, but sotto voce singing" to communicate a serious intent? I would think, given the appropriate text and music, that that might be a goal to which all choral groups might aspire.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 29, 2007):
Stephen Benson wrote:
<I find that although the pace of the Rilling [2] does make the fugal entrances clear and well-defined, it also makes those same fugal phrases tread heavily>
Thanks for your impressions of Herreweghe's recording [7], vis a vis Rilling [2].

Actually, during comparative listening to all the samples, I eventually wondered whether the Rilling [2] is a bit slow - comparative listening can have this effect - and consequently I also like Suzuki's [8] equally well-defined (as Rilling's) performance at a morebrisk 'mid-range' tempo.

Your impressions are a good example of listeners having different perceptions of the same music. Hopefully conductors also reflect these perceptual/temperamental differences in taste, so we can all find something that 'sounds right'.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 29, 2007):
Stephen Benson wrote:
>>You seem to have missed the point of my response, Mr. Braatz. Can you at least acknowledge that I do find the Herreweghe [7] opening chorus (Mvt. 1) of BWV 176 serious, and not "lite", "fun", and "background music" as you suggested? And since when is it impossible for "virtuosic, but sotto voce singing" to communicate a serious intent? I would think, given the appropriate text and music, that that might be a goal to which all choral groups might aspire.<<
You seem to have missed the point of my responses, Mr. Benson. Can you at least acknowledge that I do find Rilling's [2] opening chorus (Mvt. 1) of BWV 176 to be delivered at an appropriate tempo with the necessary power and conviction that the text deserves, and that it is not, as you suggested or implied, a performance that is 'slow and turgid' as a result of Rilling's 'heavy-handedness' so that it sounds like the music is moving 'heavily, lumbering, and ponderously like in a sort of elephantine procession'?

Singing mainly sotto voce style is not a goal to which any choral group singing Bach's sacred music should aspire since the singers are then, as the term indicates, generally not singing with a full voice (with heart and soul) as would befit a choral group that sings such music with true conviction. Sotto voce may be used in long and tiring rehearsals to save the voice for an actual performance of the music. The sotto voce technique frequently heard in HIP recordings is currently being misused by many of these groups that are under the mistaken impression that Bach's music was performed in this manner under his direction during his tenure in Leipzig. An increase in tempo facilitates this 'lite' method of singing but at a considerable cost: the voices then lack what Johann Friedrich Agricola in his "Anleitung zur Singkunst", Berlin, 1757, called "das Feuer der Ausführung" ("the fire/ardor of performance") "Sie geben jeden geschwinden Ton gar zu weichlich und matt an." ("Each fast note they sing is much too soft and weak") (p. 33).

Neil Halliday wrote (June 29, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote: (of the bass arioso section):
< this might explain Herreweghe's choice of continuo [7], a conservative choice with no Organo playing chords<
Thanks Thomas, for the intriguing information concerning the organo part.

I should make it clear, though, that Herreweghe [7] like the others does have a continuo organ playing; my comment that Herreweghe "is all dull string bass, no treble" is meant to convey the impression the music makes, rather than state as a fact that there is no organ playing, ie, the organ part is very quiet and unimaginative (hence my perceived need to resort to the piano reduction score). It's like hearing a beautiful melody (sung by the bass) with only the bass line remaining of what once had been imaginative accompaniment.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 29, 2007):
For anyone (including the Moderator) interested in seeing the origin of the Herreweghe [7] BWV 176 flame:

Stephen Benson wrote:
>>I find that although the pace of the Rilling [2] does make the fugal entrances clear and well-defined, it also makes those same fugal phrases tread heavily, lumbering ponderously in a sort of elephantine procession. It's the "brisk, light effect" of the Herreweghe [7] that, for me, generates excitement. To me "clarity" and "emphasis" do not equal "excitement".<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< de gustibus non est disputandum
chacun ses goûts
The brisk, 'lite' effect overlooks the expression of an Old Testament text which is serious indeed. >

There is some heavy language in Steve's statement, no doubt about it. Does it justify changing 'light' to the derogatory 'lite'? Not IMO.

< By nature, the dictum Bach (von Ziegler) uses here is a profound and weighty one. >
Not by nature at all. By Orthodox Lutheran Theology (18th C.) , perhaps.

< To perform it otherwise does a great injustice >
A performance which does not convey your interpretation is not properly called an injustice. A performance which attempts to integrate the best current scholarship with the utmost respect for the music at it survives in score, might be considered 'state of the art'.

< to the idea which is being musically conveyed by means of a powerful fugue subject which reveals great depth when properly sung. A 'lite' treatment seeking to create excitement by 'having fun' risks becoming superficial despite any special 'clarity' that might have been achieved thereby. >

Clarity?

But once I penetrate the sentence, I see you are correct. The light treatment only 'risks' becoming superficial. If it in fact succeeds, it adds clarity?

I suppose I started this, by offering a quick opinion in response to a question. With all the chat, I have gone back for a more careful listen, especially to the Herreweghe recording [7].

I can tell you with more confidence that you will not regret acquiring the Herreweghe CD [7], for many reasons, among them:

(1) It is coupled with BWV 20 and BWV 2, so that you get 'bookends' of Jahrgang II, the opening 'overture cantata' and following 'motet cantata'. Nothing will convince you more that BWV 176 is not some hurried cast-off, borrowing willy-nilly from the previous year's BWV 59. More like a 'coda' to the planned structure, whatever the intervening disruptions and accommodations. One final thank you to Julian for alerting us to what was coming, and bringing it all home.

Do you think the CD coupling a coincidence, or do you think Herreweghe [7] intended the connection? Do you suppose he did a bit of research, in advance?

(2) I enjoy Neil Halliday's posts and seldom disagree with his statements. I especially agree with the general principle that comments on recordings are opinions, and freely welcome. So I freely disagree with the comment on Herreweghe's continuo [7] in BWV 176/4. Could there be a discrepancy with the samples? I hear more than just a string bass continuo behind the recitative arioso, I can't be sure if it is organ or violin, but the treble notes are there. Anyway, I would hate for anyone to pass up this recording on the basis of that detail.

(3) I don't have either Rilling recording [2], are any of these details there? Otherwise, the closest I can hear to what you suggest seems to be Koopman [6], with some very high (and faint) organ notes, above the bass and scratchy organ action. Now that we have identified that, I find it less objectionable. A bit of a stretch to say that it adds to authenticity, however, if that was the intent. It does sound 'old'?

I did enjoy noticing the difference between Koopman [6] and Herreweghe [7] on this detail, which would have escaped me without your post. Thanks, as always.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 29, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>I should make it clear, though, that Herreweghe [7] like the others does have a continuo organ playing; my comment that Herreweghe [7] "is all dull string bass, no treble" is meant to convey the impression the music
makes, rather than state as a fact that there is no organ playing, ie, the organ is very quiet and
unimaginative (hence my perceived need to resort to the piano reduction score).<<

Thanks for your clarification. As a result I wish to retract anything that I have stated regarding Herreweghe's [7] possible knowledge regarding the non-existence of any continuo part figured by Bach for BWV 176. The fact then remains a rather complicated situation of 4 known original continuo parts:

The transposed and figured (very likely Bach's own figures) Organo part (missing since an auction in England in 1934) Neither the BGA or NBA were able to incorporate any of Bach's figures from this.

An untransposed, unfigured Continuo part which has a serious error in sequence of measures for mvt. 4 making the latter unusable.

A Primary continuo part copied by J A Kuhnau which is untransposed but contains figures added later (not by J.S. Bach)

A Doublet continuo part untransposed and unfiguredcopied from the Primary continuo part.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 29, 2007):
< The sotto voce technique frequently heard in HIP recordings is currently being misused by many of these groups that are under the mistaken impression that Bach's music was performed in this manner under his direction during his tenure in Leipzig. >
Specific examples of the recording s where we may hear this effect?

< An increase in tempo facilitates this 'lite' >
If you insist on using the term 'lite', I will end the truce and go back to calling all your posts 'speculation', which I ceased at the moderator's request.

< method of singing but at a considerable cost: the voices then lack what Johann Friedrich Agricola in his "Anleitung zur Singkunst", Berlin, 1757, called "das Feuer der Ausführung" ("the fire/ardor of performance") "Sie geben jeden geschwinden Ton gar zu weichlich und matt an." ("Each fast note they sing is much too soft and weak") (p. 33). >
Soft and weak. Indeed.

Stephen Benson wrote (June 29, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Thanks for your impressions of Herreweghe's recording [7], vis a vis Rilling [2].
Actually, during comparative listening to all the samples, I eventually wondered whether the Rilling is a bit slow - comparative listening can have this effect - and consequently I also like Suzuki's
[8] equally well-defined (as Rilling's) performance at a more brisk 'mid-range' tempo.
Your impressions are a good example of listeners having different perceptions of the same music. Hopefully conductors also reflect these perceptual/temperamental differences in taste, so we can all find something that 'sounds right'. >
I appreciate your open-mindedness on these interpretations, and, based on your comments, I will make sure I acquire the Suzuki [8] (a further assault on my budget as a result of list membership). I have to hear what he does with this. (One of the problems of list membership is the eternal quest for the "perfect" performance and
what it does to the pocketbook! [Is that one or two problems?])

Anyway...

I would also like to comment on the fact that every week I look forward to your observations, which are, at the very least, well- considered and intriguing, and which demonstrate the best of which this list is capable. Besides, what a wonderful excuse to go out and purchase yet another cantata recording!

Neil Halliday wrote (June 29, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote: (of 176/4: arioso section)
<Could there be a discrepancy with the samples? I hear more than just a string bass continuo behind the recitative arioso, I can't be sure if it is organ or violin, but the treble notes are there>.
I presume/hope you have since had a chance to read my post (#25178), where I clarify my remarks about Herreweghe's accompaniment [7] ("all dull bass strings and no treble"). Herreweghe does have a very quiet continuo organ, with (as you have noticed) some audible treble notes, but certainly no rhythmic or thematic development of treble clef material of the type this lovely music requires (IMO).

<I don't have either Rilling recording [2], are any of these details there?>
The (2nd) Rilling recording [2] does have the most developed organ part, adding interesting rhythmic and thematic treble clef material, but as I stated in my original post (#25169) I don't like the timbre of that particular organ, and the bass strings are harsh and too loud.

[BTW, Rilling [2] has a very nice example of a fully developed organ accompaniment, in the context of a continuo only movement, in the following cantata's alto aria (BWV 177/2) on the same CD; there he omits the double bass, meaning that not so many bass instruments (organ, cello, double bass) are `doubling' the bass line, which may be part of the reason for the better continuo sound, in comparison to Rilling's BWV 176/4].

<the closest I can hear to what you suggest seems to be Koopman [6], with some very high (and faint) organ notes, above the bass and scratchy organ action.>
Yes, Koopman [6] does develop some treble clef material, but as explained in my original post I like his continuo even less than Rilling's [2] (for reasons you hint at, in your above comment).

<A bit of a stretch to say that it adds to authenticity, however, if that was the intent>
No, my reference to authenticity was only to the idea that minimal development of treble clef material, as in Herreweghe's [7] bass arioso, might be considered `authentic', by some people.

<It does sound 'old'?>
Yes, like the experience of riding in a model T Ford? :-). (But I know some people enjoy this aspect of Koopman's continuo [6]).

<I did enjoy noticing the difference between Koopman [6] and Herreweghe [7] on this detail, which would have escaped me without your post.>
Such differences are worth noting, IMO, as they may affect the degree of enjoyment that a listener experiences.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 176: Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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