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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 188
Ich habe meine Zuversicht
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of May 4, 2008 [Continue]

Stephen Benson wrote (May 10, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I have more or less stopped contributing to discussions in recent weeks although i still read what interests me of the contributions. The reason is that i find the discussions only seldom focus upon the weekly cantatas Finally Francis, I did about a dozen and a half intros last year and it was interesting to note the differences in responses--some attracted discussion others none at all. Maybe it's partly to do with whether people already know them or not--maybe they are just busy with other things that particular week. That's the way it goes I'm afraid---however? I do support your plea for more comment on the substance works themselves. It doesn't always have to be technical. Some quite interesting and enthusiastic comments have come from music lovers who have heard the weekly cantata for the first time (I wish?I could go back to hearing some of?them for the first time myself!) >
Julian, it's good to see you come out of your cave. Francis's observation on participation had me thinking as well, particularly since I'll be doing the introductions this summer, a task I take on with a certain amount of trepidation.

We're all members for different reasons, whether it's to utilize the weekly format as a framework for our own listening, engage in meaningful discussion about music we love, share listening experiences, expound on pet theories, or enjoy the camaraderie of those sharing a common interest. I think I may speak for many on the list when I say that my primary goal when I joined several years ago was not so much to discuss the music of Bach as it was to learn about it. That educators, musicologists, and performers with busy lives were willing to share their knowledge about Bach in an open forum was a revelation.

I've said from the beginning that Aryeh's website represents the very best that the Web can produce. Its discovery for me was like opening a door into an entirely new universe. As a relative latecomer to Bach, I pounced. What a feast! Where else could I indulge my new-found passion so effectively? Where else could I tap into such a wealth of information from those who know what they're talking about? I quickly learned what to expect from individual contributors, and it wasn't long before I found myself reacting with pleasure to the appearance of certain names in my mailbox: "Oh, good! A post from John Doe. I wonder what I'll learn from him today." (That’s one reason I was so happy to see a message from you, Julian.)

That I, and others, sometimes infrequently comment on musicological matters may be more a result of the awareness of our own musical shortcomings than anything else. A disinclination to risk exposure in the presence of those who know so much is a natural phenomenon. I realize that this can place an unfair burden on a relatively small segment of the list, but I also know that the contributions you and others like you make perform an enormous service in spreading the word (and music!) of Bach.

As one of those from whom you ask to hear more about the musical substance of the weekly cantatas, I feel a certain obligation to take on the role of introducing a number of the cantatas. It's a small price to pay for all I've received, and I'm already reaping the benefits of the preparatory work. A few weeks ago I played through the ten cantatas I'll be introducing and really got excited. What a fabulous collection! My introductions as a non-specialist will reflect, hopefully, my personal encounters with the music of Bach, experiences that focus on the transformative substance of the music, its sheer beauty, its variety, its humanity, its penetration into the human psyche, its magnificence. I just hope I won't make too much of an ass of myself (and suffer the fate of Midas in BWV 201!). At the same time, as much as I will be relying on those of you who know so much to keep things going, I also look forward to, and encourage contributions from, others like me who have so much to learn.

And that brings me, Julian, to your wistful comment about wishing you could hear some of these cantatas again for the first time. Earlier this week, I was able to enjoy just that experience with BWV 188. I know, from you and from Dürr, that the alto aria (Mvt. 4) is generally regarded as providing the primary substance of the cantata, but I found myself immediately attracted to the relatively almost un-Bachlike homophony of the tenor aria (Mvt. 2), which actually struck me more as a tenor/oboe duet. The interplay and balance of those two voices goes well beyond the initial simple doubling effect of the oboe, a doubling which lulled me into thinking that that was all that was going on, and which made the divergence of the voices at measure 22 all the more strikingly pleasurable. (As Brad said in a recent post, "Yum!") This is also one of those movements where the Leusink [3], for me, takes pride of place. I haven't been a real fan of van der Meel, but his performance here (and Peter Frankenberg's on oboe) puts this movement on my 'favorites' list.

And am I reading too much into the relative prominence of the oboe in BWV 188 to see it as evidence of support for Martin Geck's suggestion that it was during this period that, for the Leipzig period, instrumental concerns assumed greater importance? --- "The first performances of the last three works [BWV 156, BWV 174, and BWV 188] most likely took place between October 1728 and Whitsun 1729--the period when Bach took over the collegium musicum and significant new responsibilities. The obvious dominance of instrumental writing is a signal that the cantor Bach, except for a few exceptions in the area of chorale text cantatas, now finally bids farewell to the systematic and scheduled composition of cantatas, and in his place the kapellmeister Bach now takes the stage."

One thing that struck me during my survey of this summer's cantatas was the brilliance of the instrumental writing, a characteristic I plan on exploring in my introductions.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 10, 2008):
>> Of the two recordings I have, Leusink [3] omits the Mvt. 1 Sinfonia, and Harnoncourt [2] uses BWV 1052, Mvt. 1 (the same as Bach used for BWV 146), rather than Mvt. 3, as indicated by the BWV and as used by Rilling [1] (see Neil Halliday comments from 2003). Can anyone report on Koopman [5], just so we have a complete record.<<
>Does your Harnoncourt
[2] really have the 1st movement of the D minor concerto as the Sinfonia (Mvt. 1) of BWV 188? Listening to the samples, I hear the 3rd movement for Rilling [1], Harnoncourt [2], and Koopman [5].<
Neil (and Harnoncourt [2]) have it correct. Thanks for catching my hasty error, and for confirming that Koopman [5] also follows BWV 1052/3.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 10, 2008):
Stephen Benson wrote:
>I think I may speak for many on the list when I say that my primary goal when I joined several years ago was not so much to discuss the music of Bach as it was to learn about it. That educators, musicologists, and performers with busy lives were willing to share their knowledge about Bach in an open forum was a revelation.<
I share those sentiments, and will use the opportunity to again thank the experts who have shared their knowledge and opinions. The material available in the BCW archives is tastounding, and the weekly discussions never fail to add something new, even when participation is thin.

>That I, and others, sometimes infrequently comment on musicological matters may be more a result of the awareness of our own musical shortcomings than anything else. A disinclination to risk exposure in the presence of those who know so much is a natural phenomenon.<
I share those sentiments, as well. Early on, I took Aryeh to heart, when he encourages everyone to write, even if only to say one enjoys (or not) a particular recording. I quickly realized that I listen more carefully when intending to write something, despite lack of any particular expertise. That in itself provides incentive to continue posting on a regular basis. To those who have not already done so, give it a try. The inevitable inaccuracies (and occasional blunder) have been promptly, and usually politely, corrected. Simple differences of opinion have often led to enlightening discussion.

No matter the number of subscribers, the discussion is only as good as the active participants, who strike me as being on the rise in number. That in turn makes it less damaging when regular posters feel the need to take a break, for whatever reason.

Julian Mincham wrote (May 10, 2008):
[To Stephen Benson] Hi Steve thanks for your comments--much appreciated. I am touched that you have found some of my comments of interest.

I suspect you may be in a minority as i have found in recent months that most of my comments havenot really been taken up by other members and it did lead me to wonder, if i was being too technical or esoteric (I hope not) or just plain tedious. I don't have much to offer on many of the threads----guitar issues for example will interest many but I don't see their relevence in a Bach cantata list. (Maybe I have missed something!)

However your posting giving your reasons for being a member of the group prompted me to think along similar lines. Like yourself I found Aryeh's website to be a revelation, a source of material, processes and ideas quite unique in the field. For some years I used it on a daily basis and am now frustrated because i cannot access it from my, my son's or wife's computer at home (although I can from computers outside the home---- I have changed search engines, router, in fact everything I can think of to no avail---it remains a mystery).

Fortunately although this is frustrating it is not as catastrpohic as it once would have been when access to scores and texts were really important to me before I bought the Barenreiter scores and other resources in recent years.

But returning to the reasons for being a list member for me they are two fold. The first, as with yourself, is to learn. I have learnt a great deal from both present and past correspondence, particularly when ideas or opinions come up that force me back to the scores and recordings to re-consider some aspects anew. This is really stimulating especially when comments focuses upon the weekly works, a point already well laboured.

My second reason is to offer what I can if it may be of any interest to others. I can offer a knowledge of the repetoire gained through performing some of the works, hearing them all; and my present project of reading through them from the full scores at the keyboard. This is a bit of a hit or miss venture---reading the big choruses from score is more a missing than a hitting of many of the the notes but the chorales are easy and many of the arias, with only a continuo bass line or with one obligato instrument, are such that one can get most of the music under the fingers pretty successfully plus a few extra notes to fill out the harmonies.

For me this gives a perspective of the cantatas which is especially illuminating giving many insights, a number of which I have not yet seen published. I remember the English pianist Denis Mathews who used to read through symphonies and string quartets at the keyboard saying--explore it with your fingers--it gives you insights into the music that nothing else will provide. I think he was spot on.

I am very happy to continue to contribute if my bits and pieces are of any value. And, as I said before I continue to read (most) contributions as well

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 11, 2008):
BWV 188, alto aria (Mvt. 4, including sinfonia; Mvt. 3 per Robertson):

Some of you may have an interest in observing a thoughtful, if somewhat negative opinion, Whittaker as quoted at length by Francis Browne, evolving into opinions in the category which Julian has characterized as <pernicious and ignorant>:

Robertson (citing Whittaker):
<This is a case of a faulty adaptation of a previously existing movement.>

Crouch:
<Robertson suggests that this is a hurried adaptation of another work.>

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 11, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] I'm sorry I have to agree with the negative reviews: it's not Bach at his best; and the world isn't going to end because someone states this. Even JEG mentions that some of the cantatas (entire cantatas, not just single movements) are not Bach's best efforts.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 11, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I believe you have missed my point, which was not about the quality of the music, but about the evolution of the published opinions, each citing the previous with increasing negativity, and emphasis on derivation and haste. I am becoming fond of the phrase <pernicious and ignorant>.

By definition, about one half (or 49.9%) of Bach's music is below average, for Bach. Brad Lehman made this point at one time, and I am passing it along. Way below average Bach is still pretty fine music to my ears. If not to yours, OK with me.

Good news! The world is not about to end anytime soon. People may end, but that is more or less up to Us, or Whomever.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 11, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
> I believe you have missed my point, which was not about the quality of the music, but about the evolution of the published opinions, each citing the previous with increasing negativity, and emphasis on derivation and haste. I am becoming fond of the phrase <pernicious and ignorant>. <
I blame the Internet myself....

> By definition, about one half (or 49.9%) of Bach's music is below average, for Bach. Brad Lehman made this point at one time, and I am passing it along. Way below average Bach is still pretty fine music to my ears. If not to yours, OK with me. <
Yah, John Elliot Gardiner made the same point too. I was just passing that along as well.

> Good news! The world is not about to end anytime soon. People may end, but that is more or less up to Us, or Whomever. <
I'll pass that along to the Doomsday prophet I see on the subway, he's going to be miffed.

Neil Mason wrote (May 11, 2008):
Julian Minchan wrote to Stephen Benson:
< Hi Steve.thanks for your comments--much appreciated. I am touched that you have found some of my comments of interest.
I suspect you may be in a minority as i have found in recent months that most of my comments havenot really been taken up by other members and it id lead me to wonder, if I was being too technical or esoteric (I hope not) or just plain tedious. I don't have much to offer on many of the threads----guitar issues for example will interest many but I don't see their relevence in a Bach cantata list. (Maybe I have missed something!) >
I second the comments. I apologise for not having the time to be more active myself, but continue to lurk with interest!

Julian Mincham wrote (May 11, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Two quite different points seem conflated here.

The first is that a number of writers have adapted the strategem of assuming an earlier 'inferior' work as the basis of a movement they dislike. I addressed this in my earlier email.

The second concerns the quality of the alto aria (Mvt. 4), about which personal tastes will obviously vary but which I consider to be a very fine and undervalued piece. of music. As always I am willing to justify my opion and in this context i append below some notes written some time ago for a programme for this cantata.

As for the'world not ending' because a view is expressed about some of Bach's music being below par I would refer Kim to the discussion of the opening chorus of a cantata discussed a few weeks ago (can't recall the number but it was the one using the figure from the Eb prelude WTC 1).I suggested it was decidedly under par Bach--This was the cantata which prompted Brad's comments (recently referred to by Ed) about the high average line of his output. I don't think that the rhetoric of ending world actually helps serious discussion: if, indeed that is something to which we aspire

Anyway, whether you like the aria or not this is my evaluation of it:--

The alto aria (Mvt. 4), the fourth of six movements, does not hold the precise central place in the cantata but it feels like it. This dark and dramatic piece, accompanied by the organ with a ‘cello doubling the bass line is, like the tempestuous sinfonia (Mvt. 1) and the reflective chorale (Mvt. 6), set in the minor, in this case Em which Bach often uses for texts referring to the crucifixion. But the cross and pain referred to here are not those of Christ but individual ones which humans cannot escape. By implication there is an analogy between the pain of Christ and that of Mankind, but the full intricacies of this situation cannot be explained because the Lord’s way is inscrutable and incomprehensible. The moral is clear: it is ultimately for the best that we, like Christ, should suffer but we are incapable of fathoming God’s reasons as to why this should be so. Our only possible response is to resign to inevitability and to praise the Lord in whom we trust.

The images of pain and inscrutability seem to be the two that particularly stimulated Bach’s imagination. The initial organ obligato line is not impenetrable; but it is complex, profound and it increases in complexity bar by bar. A quaver and a crotchet are soon followed by semi-quavers, demi-semi-quaver skirls and finally runs of triplets. The rhythmic complexities of the melody continue as the organ unfolds its obligato against the almost equally intricate vocal line. Bach has set himself the seemingly impossible challenge of depicting the unfathomable by means of the perfectly comprehensible; a complex and ever-changing kaleidoscope of richly entwined rhythms and melodies.

The form of the aria was much used by Bach at this period of his career, a ternary (A B A) structure in which the ‘A’ section is rewritten principally in order for it to return to, and therefore end in, the tonic key. Section ‘A’ ends at bar 27 and a shortened version of the ritornello theme, concentrating principally upon the triplet figuration, leads to the ‘B’ or middle section (beginning bar 31). The text now emphasises the pain we suffer from the crosses we bear and the vocal line leans on these words with clear implications of sighing and moaning. There is very little of the major mode in this aria although the middle section does contrive to end in Gmaj, perhaps an indication of the light the Lord brings to us despite our lack of understanding of His purpose.

The minimally altered reprise of the A section begins in bar 48 and takes us through to the last ritornello statement, shortened and revised in order to maintain the intensity. This aria, once heard, is not quickly forgotten.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 11, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote
> As for the 'world not ending' because a view is expressed about some of Bach's music being below par I would refer Kim to the discussion of the opening chorus of a cantata discussed a few weeks ago (can't recall the number but it was the one using the figure from the Eb prelude WTC 1).I suggested it was decidedly under par Bach--This was the cantata which prompted Brad's comments (recently referred to by Ed) about the high average line of his output. I don't think that the rhetoric of ending world actually helps serious discussion: if, indeed that is something to which we aspire <
I appreciate your thoughts about this; truly I do. After seeing the thread dicuss the thoughts about this particular aria, I went ahead and listened to it, because I wasn't familiar with it. After I hearing it, I had to agree with some of the negative views expressed that it wasn't good (I was being nice saying it was subpar). See, a perfect example of the purpose of this group: to inspire folks to listen to something they never heard of, and engage in discussion about it.

I also have pointed out this is something John Elliot Gardiner has done as well, except he's stated entire cantatas are sub-par, not just single movements. It's not a sweeping indictment about Bach, it wasn't meant as a scientific study on how many cantatas are masterpieces and how many aren't, it was simply reflection on my hearing the music. As for rhetoric? That's my choice of words and I'll stand by them.

But aesthetics can be a tricky thing. There was a study conducted to test the theory that the claims that a Strad plays better than any other type of violin and this can be heard by anyone that had a good ear. A panel of experts was gathered, made up of performers, critics, conductors, etc, to hear to sample violins, and to rate each violin they heard played. The results? Not a single person ranked the Strad number one (some had it near the bottom of their list) and several of them had picked an "inferior" as the best violin, giving it effusive words of praise for its rich warm sound. When told they picked the inferior model, the looks of disbelief on the panel was priceless.

During the 1991 Mozart celebrations, there was a concert given where an unknown piece of Mozart was played with music by his peers, and after the concert,listeners were asked to give their thoughts and pick which piece was the Mozart. The results: Mozart's peers fared better and no one correctly identified the real Mozart piece. Which raises all sorts of interesting questions about why we pick the standards we do; and all but ignore the other great masters that Mozart and Haydn and Bach admired so much ;)

Great thread. I hope I'm not thrown to the tenth circle of Hell for typing I found a Bach aria boring ;)

Bob Brennan wrote (May 11, 2008):
I also have pointed out this is something John Elliot Gardiner has done as well, except he's stated entire cantatas are sub-par, not just single movements. It's not a sweeping indictment about Bach, it wasn't meant as a scientific study on how many cantatas are masterpieces and how many aren't Not sure if it has been noted in these threads that Bach was writing his cantatas at the unfathomable pace of approximately one per week. Many sound to me as if they'd taken months or even years to compose. The fact that some, upon scrutiny, may be judged or ranked comparatively higher than others (as may also be the case with his 200+ organ works) seems irrelevant to me. Taken as a whole, the cantatas Bach composed over a period of several years are, in totality, nothing short of a staggering feat. Throw in a few ingenious masses, concertos and assorted other miscellanies and you have a cumulative body of work that simply defies reason.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 11, 2008):
Bob Brennan wrote:
< Not sure if it has been noted in these threads that Bach was writing his cantatas at the unfathomable pace of approximately one per week. Many sound to me as if they'd taken months or even years to compose. The fact that some, upon scrutiny, may be judged or ranked comparatively higher than others (as may also be the case with his 200+ organ works) seems irrelevant to me. Taken as a whole, the cantatas Bach composed over a period of several years are, in totality, nothing short of a staggering feat. Throw in a few ingenious masses, concertos and assorted other miscellanies and you have a cumulative body of work that simply defies reason. >
Context is everything: but let me restate this for the third time: an aria was mentioned in some cantata commentary as not being top notch Bach. I listened to it, and agreed with those assessments. Others on the think said aria is fine. G. We had a discussion. That's what this forum is all about, correct?

I think everyone on this list adores Bach's music (I definitely do), and everyone here is very aware of Bach's achievements as a composer, and the constraints he worked under. Certainly John Eliott Gardiner is no slouch on things Bach and knows this. Yet, he was quite at ease making his statement about some of the cantatas being sub-par.

Julian Mincham wrote (May 11, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] So if others give an opinion in print we need to abide by it?

Take note of it yes--but agree with it ?? possibly not.

I guess that if one has only heard a work a couple of times it is easy to take on board the views of others.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 11, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
> So if others give an opinion in print we need to abide by it? <
Nope. That's why I brought up the two examples of silliness with musical asthetics with the Strad and Mozart stories. Be true to yourself. I read the comments about this aria, I listened to it; and didn't think much of it. That's all

> Take note of it yes--but agree with it ?? possibly not. <
Definitely!

Julian Mincham wrote (May 11, 2008):
Alto aria (Mvt. 4)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I read the comments about this aria (Mvt. 4), I listened to it; and didn't think much of it. That's all >
Sadly, your loss?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 11, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
> Sadly, your loss? <
No, not at all.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 12, 2008):
Bob Brennan wrote:
>Not sure if it has been noted in these threads that Bach was writing his cantatas at the unfathomable pace of approximately one per week.<
Two points:

(1) The pace of Bachs composition came up more in discussion of the cantatas of the first and second Leipzig cycles (Jahrgang I and II). By the time of BWV 188, this is less of a factor, or the number of lost works is very intensely concentrated to this time period.

(2) On a recent thread (or references therefrom), it was pointed out that some of Bachs peers and friends had equally intensive composition obligations.

>Taken as a whole, the cantatas Bach composed over a period of several years are, in totality, nothing short of a staggering feat. Throw in a few ingenious masses, concertos and assorted other miscellanies and you have a cumulative body of work that simply defies reason.<

I find consideration of the cumulative body of work an improtant point, especially since it appears to have been important to Bach as well. Those who enjoy identifying the uninspired or derivative aria, the subpar cantata, are welcome to do so. For that matter, there are some serious posts in the archives which suggest that we should just skip the recitatives, and there are recordings which are happy to oblige.

For me, it is a greater joy to recognize that Bach had the opportunity to reuse and rework most his cantatas, and that what we have is most likely what he was comfortable leaving as part of his lifes work, SDG. Lost or damaged material seems a matter of carelessness by subsequent generations, rather than indifference on the part of Bach.

I am interested in reading what Gardiner has to say about subpar cantatas. Can that specific reference be provided?

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 13, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>The alto aria (Mvt. 4), the fourth of six movements, does not hold the precise central place in the cantata but it feels like it. This dark and dramatic piece, accompanied by the organ with a cello doubling the bass line is, like the tempestuous sinfonia (Mvt. 1) and the reflective chorale (Mvt. 6), set in the minor, in this case Em which Bach often uses for texts referring to the crucifixion.<
I found Julians entire post a helpful supplement to some of the other comments; I particularly enjoyed Neils from the first discussions, as well. The main idea is that the tenor aria (Mvt. 2) is much simpler than the alto aria (Mvt. 4). However, this is entirely appropriate to the texts, the simplicity of trust in God contrasted with the theologic (not to mention human) complexity of the crucifixion. As Julian implies, the sinfonia (Mvt. 1) and chorale (Mvt. 6) provide an appropriate frame for this contrast, and the recitatives provide the typical elaboration and musical punctuation. All and all, a well balanced and structured cantata, including the sinfonia (Mvt. 1). I fail to see much to complain about.

I have already expressed the opinion that Bach's use of the sinfonia at this stage of his career does not represent a new development so much as a return to his roots (BWV 150)

As others have also mentioned, it is good to have Julians comments in the weekly discussion, even if we do not always take the trouble to say so.

With reference to Brads comment re student participation in Bach's composition process, Dürr has this to say re BWV 188:
<The composition itself is notable for a certain simplicity, which has led many scholars to doubt its authenticity....At most, the question might be left open as to whether this or that movement might have originated during tuition as a combined effort of pupil and teacher. Yet there is no evidence of this whatsoever.>

Evidence, especiallly lack thereof, is the key concept. Speculation is speculation, regardless of the perpetrators credentials.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 13, 2008):
The preferred sequence, which I failed to follow, is:
(1) Proofread
(2) Hit send

Clarifications:
(1) I wrote <All and all>, the correct expression is <all in all>. I would not bother to write for such a minor detail, but I also noticed

(2) I referred to <Brads comments>. In fact, he was citing a BBC announcer, not expressing his own opinions, which I did not make clear.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (May 14, 2008):
"Sorry, your loss", "no, not at all"

This discussion between two learned gentlemen really is indicative of many problems between fellow lovers of music and indeed, more seriously persons with religious and other views. one person will feel so certain about his perspective that, in the case of music, he will say, sorry, your loss. I never say that to anyone bc. I know that the person in question has his own music. Ditto on religion, one cannot at least on a music list be sending one's fellow music lovers to one's figment of Hell.

Again what we have in common is a love for bach and many of us have deep and profound other musical interests as well. Some of us havecertain religious beliefs and others don't. That's my view and I am sticking to it.

Personally I have always found the comparison of this aria to "Erbarme dich" trespassing the absurd. Not everything Bach put out can be on the highest level.

Julian Mincham wrote (May 20, 2008):
BWV 188

Providing sharp contrast to my appreciation here was my reaction to his performance of the alto aria in BWV 188. Before two list members provided polar opposite evaluations of the relative merits of that aria a few weeks ago, my only contact had been the Buwalda/Leusink recording [3], and I had prematurely dismissed the aria as inconsequential. As the dispute progressed, however, and I made it a point to listen to that recording again, as well as the Hamari/ Rilling version [1], I began to develop a real appreciation of the qualities described in Julian's appraisal. (Such an analysis really does help to open one's ears!) I still cannot enjoy Buwalda's interpretation, I probably will choose not to listen to it again, and I believe that my initial failure to appreciate the aria was a result of his, for me, unprepossessing performance. (Because I am so enamored of van der Meel's tenor aria in the same performance of that cantata, however, Buwalda will probably slip in underneath the radar once in a while.)

[To Stephen Benson] Glad the comments were helpful.

I am also glad that 188 seems to be finding some new listeners. It has been one of the lesser known cantatas and it's good to see it making something of a comeback. Maybe its relative obscurity?is because of its chequered history, or the fact that the opening movement has to be reconstituted (and, indeed, played--it's by no means the easiest of Bach's concerto movements). But when the whole work is brought together, dominated by the raw energy of the sinfonia and alto aria (the tenor aria and the two interesting recitatives providing a perfect sense of balance) it becomes a truly commanding work.

Interestingly, Bach must have had high regard for the original concerto as he reused it several times. It is one of the most commanding of the late barqoue concerti, unique for Bach (I think) in having all three movements in minor keys. I recall as a student reading an article (can't now recall who it was) arguing that there were so many un-Bachian or untypical?features in this concerto as to indicate that someone else wrote it.

That's fine until you ask, but who else could have written it? And answer came there none! I guess that the danger in assessing works by a composer as prolific and daring as Bach is one of?interpretting the 'original' as 'untypical'---and thereby drawing the wrong conclusions.

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 188: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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

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