Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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 191
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Discussions - Part 1

Cantata BWV 191

John Welch wrote (December 21, 2000):
I joined this list when I was invited over from the Bach list some months ago, but have not ventured to write anything yet, so here goes. I have been interested in serious music since I was very young, my father played the violin and used to practice 2hrs every day, he also taught violin at a local school, so I got a good grounding especially in string trios and quartets.

The first Bach I heard were the Brandenburg Concertos on '78 rpm records, and I was smitten.

Over the last year I have been listening to the Teldec Cantatas from a set at my local music library, and recording them onto Minidisc, I thought they were obsolete CD's, but now I see that they are being reissued, which is wonderful. I have a small problem though, BWV 191 is not amongst the Cantata Vols. it is missed out, it starts "Gloria in excelsis Deo". It seems that there are 12 Vols of the Teldec Bach series, does anyone know where BWV 191 is?.

I have been listening today to the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) on the Archiv label with Karl Richter and the Münchener Bach Choir, It is the best version I have heard he gets the Baroque sound just right. I love the the Chorus"Ehre sei dir, Gott" "Glory be to thee, oh God". It has a wonderful happy sound to it. It is difficult to describe the effect it has on me, does anybody else feel this effect at this chorus?

I have also been listening to the 6 Violin Sonatas, Monica Huggett and Ton Koopman, who really looks the part on the cover of the Phillips CD, with his long hair and beard. It is a wonderful CD, I like Bach on original instruments if possible, and I love the sound of the old Harpsichords and copies of old ones, I don't think Bach sounds right on a modern piano at all.

On BBC TV recently they have been playing the 48 Preludes on a Steinway grand, most of them were played by Garilov who made them sound very romantic.

It is very enjoyable to read all your mails and different opinions. Hope you all have a Happy Christmas, with plenty of CD presents!. .

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 21, 2000):
John Welch said:
< Over the last year I have been listening to the Teldec Cantatas from a set at my local music library, and recording them onto Minidisc, I thought they were obsolete cd's, but now I see that they are being reissued, which is wonderful. >
This set was rereleased already several years ago. I bought it when it was first released in a box set, at what may seem expensive, but the price came out to just a few dollars per CD. Given the cost of blank minidiscs, you might try to save up for the set.

 

BWV 191

John Welch wrote (February 16, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Aryeh, I have been looking at your Bach Cantata site, it is very useful and informative and so well laid out, but one thing I can't understand is, where is BWV 191 "Gloria in excelsis Deo"?. It is also missed out on the Teldec set.

Armagan Ekici wrote (February 16, 2001):
[To John Welch] It is within BWV 232 :-)

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 16, 2001):
[To John Welch] Thanks for your kind words. Cantata BWV 191 has simply not yet discussed yet in our group in the weekly cantata discussions. We have already discussed 63 cantatas so far and the plan is to discuss all of them during the coming 3 years. Because BWV 191 was composed for Christmas Day most probable that it will be discussed around that day. You are right in assuming that this cantata was not originally recorded by H&L in their cantata cycle for Teldec. In the Teldec Bach-2000 this cantata is included in Box 5 together with the secular cantatas and some other cantatas which H&L omitted from their original cycle. It is conducted by Ton Koopman and borrowed from his cantata cycle for Erato (in which it has not been printed yet!). BTW, Pieter Jan Leusink has also not included this cantata in his cantata cycle for Brilliant Classics. You can find a table of all the cantatas by major conductors according to BWV number in the following page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Recordings-Table.htm

BTW, you are invited to contribute to the weekly cantata discussions. The order of discussion is in the followng page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order.htm

Pablo Fagoaga wrote (February 17, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Reading your comments regarding BWV 191's inclusion/exclusion, I'm trying to figure out why H&L skipped BWV 191 in their "sacred" cycle.

First thing that comes to my mind as a posibility is that while formally a cantata, BWV 191's text corresponds to a mass (even with musical parody of Mass in B minor (BWV 232)), so probably they thought of it more like a mass.

My idea cracks when it comes to understand why, in Bach 2000 set, they included it among secular cantatas and not with masses, passions, etc. It´s clearly a religious text, and they seem to consider it a cantata NOW. Does anyone got a clue ???

I know this can be considered a little "manic" issue, but I think that anyone how buys a suitcase full of Bach CDs, has to admit being a little maniac about it!!

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 17, 2001):
[To Pablo Fagoaga] Cantata BWV 191 has a special position among the oeuvre of Bach Cantatas. I shall quote from W. Murray Young book 'The Cantatas of J.S. Bach - An Analytical Guide':
"This is Bach's only sacred cantata with the text not in German. It has only 3 numbers, all of which were included when Bach expanded the work into the Mass in B minor (BWV 232). The 3 movements of the cantata correspond to the opening chorus of the Gloria, the Domine Deus and the Cum Sancto Spiritu movements in the B minor Mass (BWV 232). This Missa cantata was for Christmas Day, probably 1733, following its first performance, 21 April 1733, the celebrate the new ruler, Friedrich Augustus III, on his visit to Leipzig to accept the town's oath of allegiance. (Skip) Since the music of the Mass is identical with that of the corresponding cantata movements, a detailed analysis should not be necessary beyond a translation of the Latin texts."

So, why did H & L not include this cantata in their original cycle? I do not have any evidence, but I believe that the answer is simple. They were in a hurry to complete their cycle, which was originally planned to be finished by 1985 (300 years to Bach's birth), Rilling's complete cantata cycle was already on the market and the record company most probably put a big pressure on them to finish their Gargantuan task. What I do not understand is why did the decide to re-record BWV 197. Harnoncourt had recorded this cantata in the late 1960's before the complete cantata cycle was launched. They had already used BWV 83 from the same LP in their cycle (BTW, this cantata was reviewd in our group only two weeks ago). In the complete cycle the task of recording this cantata was given to Leonhardt. They could save time by using the earlier Harnoncourt's recording and use the saved time to record the missing cantatas!

BWV 191 is not exactly sacred and not exactly secular and it somehow falls between the chairs. Although Vol. 5 of Bach-2000 Edition from Teldec is called Secular Cantatas, it can be seen as a complementary Volume to the previous Editions of the sacred cantatas. Volumes 1-4 of Bach-2000 (4 X 15-CD's) were direct duplication of the previous 10 Volumes edition (10 X 6-CD's). Teldec were clever enough to propose a complete Bach-2000 without the cantatas for those who had already the previous editions of the sacred cantatas (the first CD Edition included 47 volumes (1 or 2 CD's in each) and was a direct reissue of the original LP Edition).

I hope that I feeded somehow your understandable 'maniac' curiousity!

 

Discussions in the Week of December 23, 2001

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 20, 2001):
BWV 191 - List of Recordings

The subject of next week's discussion (December 23, 2001) is Cantata BWV 191. This is the first in Vicente Vida's proposed list of cantatas for discussion. After the immensly popular BWV 147 which is still discussed this week, we have a strange and somewhat esoteric affair. This is the only Bach's sacred cantata with text not in German, but in Latin. It has only three movements, all of which were included when Bach expanded the work into the Mass in B minor (BWV 232). In order to allow the members of the BCML preparing themselves for the discussion, I compiled a list of the recordings of this cantata (sometimes called simply 'Latin Music'). I put the details of the recordings in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: Cantata BWV 191 - Recordings

There is also a link to this page from the Home Page of the Bach Cantatas Website http://www.bach-cantatas.com/ (in the middle of the right side), and from the page 'Cantatas - Index to Recordings & Discussions': http://www.bach-cantatas.com/IndexBWV.htm

All of these recordings are available in CD form. If anybody is aware of a recording of this cantata not listed in the page of recordings, please inform me and send the relevant details, so that I shall be able to update the page.

I hope to see many of you participating in the discussion.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 20, 2001):
I notice, when I go to Aryeh's lists of recordings, that for the Koopman cantatas he has a cover of a Teldec box. Did Teldec include the Koopman cantatas in the complete set? I thought they only have the Leonhardt/Harnoncourt cantatas? Maybe are some of them in the complete set by Koopman?

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Kirk McElhearn] For various reasons the original set of Sacred Bach Cantatas recorded by H&L for Teldec did not include all the cantatas. When Teldec issued last year the Complete Bach-2000 set, they included in the 5th box not only the secular cantatas, but also the missing sacred ones. All the missing sacred cantatas and most of the secular ones were taken from Koopman's cantata cycle for Erato. Some of which have not been issued yet in the frame of the Erato cycle. You can see a list of the cantatas recorded by Koopman and included in this set in the page dedicated to recordings of Bach Cantatas by Koopman [O-1] of the Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman-Rec3.htm

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for the info.

Dick Wursten wrote (December 20, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Question: When is it allowed to call a cantatas-edition 'complete' ?

Reason for this question: Where can I find BWV191 in the 'complete cantata edition' of Brilliant Classics...

Jan Hendrik van Oers wrote (Decmber 21, 2001):
[To Dick Wursten] I searched yesterday-evening through the whole collection and i couldn't find it (also with the use of the index booklet). Aryeh and you where also not able to find it. So the Bach Edition of Brilliant Classics seems to be not complete.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Dick Wursten] It's not included in the BC set.

Dick Wursten wrote (December 21, 2001):
Can someone give me advice whether or not to buy Brilliant Classics Vocal Works (2 boxes) containing the other vocal works (BWV 191 ??). I remember that it included the H-moll Messe, Oratoria etc.. some works performed by Harry Christophers and the sixteen (whom I liked in some CDs when they performed other music) and some with Flämig and Leusink and others...

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 22, 2001):
[To Dick Wursten] The SMP and SJP by the Sixteen are very good. The secular cantatas by Schreier are fine, and much of the rest is fine as well. I would recommend it, with the usual caveat that you may be disappointed by some parts of it.

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 25, 2001):
Introduction

The subject of this week's discussion (December 23, 2001) is Cantata BWV 191. This is the first in Vicente Vida's proposed list of cantatas for discussion. After the immensely popular BWV 147, which is still discussed this week, we have a strange and somewhat esoteric affair. This is the only Bach's sacred cantata with text not in German, but in Latin. It has only three movements, all of which were included when Bach expanded the work into the Mass in B minor (BWV 232). In order to allow the members of the BCML preparing themselves for the discussion, I compiled a list of the recordings of this cantata (sometimes called simply 'Latin Music'). I put the details of the recordings in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: Cantata BWV 191 - Recordings

All of these recordings are available in CD form. If anybody is aware of a recording of this cantata not listed in the page of recordings, please inform me and send the relevant details, so that I shall be able to update the page.

I hope to see many of you participating in the discussion.

Background - what comes first, the chicken or the egg?

I have tried to find out what comes first, the chicken or the egg? In other words, the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) or Cantata BWV 191. Here is what I have found in the resources at my disposal.

G. Gillies Whittaker (The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, 1959):
“BWV 191 is an exceptional case and the only cantata not in the vernacular. No year of the Christmas Day for which it was prepared is ascertainable, and no reason for this departure from the normal… Here again one wonders why Bach took such immense trouble over rearrangement and why he did not write original music, in this case to an inviting text. Think of the enormous labour of writing out of this score for a single cantata, 56 pages of 17 staves and 6 pages of 21 staves in the BGS!”

W. Murray Young ('The Cantatas of J.S. Bach - An Analytical Guide', 1989):
"This is Bach's only sacred cantata with the text not in German. It has only 3 numbers, all of which were included when Bach expanded the work into the Mass in B minor (BWV 232). The 3 movements of the cantata correspond to the opening chorus of the Gloria, the Domine Deus and the Cum Sancto Spiritu movements in the B minor Mass (BWV 232). This Missa cantata was for Christmas Day, probably 1733, following its first performance, 21 April 1733, the celebrate the new ruler, Friedrich Augustus III, on his visit to Leipzig to accept the town's oath of allegiance. The Gospel, Luke 2: 1-14, provides the text in its fourteenth verse for the opening chorus, and the Doxology provides the remainder. Since the music of the Mass (BWV 232) is identical with that of the corresponding cantata movements, a detailed analysis should not be necessary beyond a translation of the Latin texts."

Hans-Günther Ottenberg (Liner notes to the Dresden Classics’ recording, 1995):
Gloria in excelsis Deo BWV 191 is full of riddles. When was it composed? Where exactly does it fit into Bach’s Latin Church music? For what purpose was it written? These questions can only be answered in part. The score of the Gloria bears the inscription Testo Nativiti Xsti, which places the probable date of composition in the Christmas season of the years 1743 to 1746. However, the use of a Latin text makes it highly unlikely that the work was performed within the framework of the normal liturgy in Leipzig. Alfred Dürr assumes that it was performed at the University Church in Leipzig on the occasion of the Treaty of Dresden on December 25, 1745, although there is no evidence to support this.”

Wolfgang Marx (Liner notes to the Teldec’s recording, 2000):
“We do not know when Bach wrote Cantata BWV 191, or for what purpose it was intended. The words, which combine lines from the second book of St. Luke’s Gospel with the Gloria Patri or lesser Doxology, clearly suggest the principal service on Christmas Day, but the performance of Latin cantatas was extremely unusual in Leipzig in Bach’s time, and so it is tempting to think that the work was commissioned by some individual or institution outside the city – possibly the Catholic court at Dresden.”

Richard Stokes (J.S. Bach – The Complete Cantatas, 1999):
Stokes’ book does not include review of the cantata, but fine English translations of the original German (and in this case Latin) texts. However, he mentions ‘After 1749’ as the year of BWV 191’s composition, assuming probably that it was composed after the B minor Mass (BWV 232).

Oxford Composer Companion – J.S. Bach (1999):
I could not find an entry for Cantata BWV 191 in Oxford Companion. However, the list of works in p. 551 mentions Christmas 1745 as the event of performance.

Brian Robins (All Classical Guide Website, 1992-2001):
“During the course of his first ten years as Cantor in Leipzig (1723-1733), Bach built up a formidable stock of cantatas for weekly use in the Thomaskirche and Nicolaikirche. Few subsequent additions appeared during the 1730’s and 1740’s, but there are a few parody works. Among them is BWV 191, unique among Bach's sacred cantatas in being the only one not to use the vernacular. First performed on Christmas Day 1745, it is an adaptation of three sections of the Gloria from the Mass in B minor, BWV 232. The first is the opening chorus of the Mass' Gloria, both text and scoring virtually unchanged except for the omission of the bassoons in the cantata. The other two movements are marked post orationem (after the sermon). The duet for soprano and tenor is an abridged version of Domine Deus (No. VII in the Mass) with the text changed to the first part of the doxology, Gloria Patri, while the final choral section completes the music the text of the doxology to used in the Mass for the Cum Sancto Spiritu (No. XI), the music slightly altered to accommodate the text. The work is in fact an interesting example of the manner in which Bach constantly refined and rethought existing material, a midpoint between the original conception of the B minor Mass' (BWV 232) Gloria, which dates from 1733, and its final form as part of the towering complete Mass of 1748.” Robins assumes that the year of composition is ‘ca. 1743’.

Personal Comments

a. None of the above resources really clarifies the clouds, which covers this enigma. I tend to believe that Bach had a master plan for the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) for many years. We know that some of its movements were taken from previous vocal works, such as Cantata BWV 12. But I believe that Cantata BWV 191 is another mater, that is to say an early draft, a trial missile. Most of the cantatas (and almost all the other vocal works) were composed for practical purposes. Usually Bach was able to hear a cantata couple of days after he had finished composing it. So he experienced the gratification which every artist has when his work comes to live. But in the case of the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) Bach was not sure that he will ever be fortunate to here it performed. So he took some movements which had been almost ready and used an unknown occasion to hear in actual performance. After hearing it, he made some adjustments and in forthcoming years completed the rest.

b. In the first round of listening to the recordings of this cantata, I had the strange feeling that I am actually hearing a fragment, which was severed brutally from a greater work. It is unavoidable because the Mass is so deep engraved in our mind. But with every repeated hearing I could enjoy this unique work on its own terms.

Review of the Recordings

[1] Helmut Winschermann (1971)
This rendition is bubbling with joy, rich, colourful and glorious. The orchestra is responsive and supportive and the choir’s singing is smooth and clean. Every nuance and every detail can be clearly heard, and the fugal lines can be easily identified and followed. But the main factor that makes this performance so captivating is the feeling of spontaneous enthusiasm. The two soloists in the ensuing duet the young soprano Ileana Cotrubas and the experienced tenor Kurt Equiluz make a magical match. The spontaneity we have experienced in the opening chorus is maintained through Cotrubas’ singing and Equiluz proves himself to be almost unmatched not only in solo arias but also in the context of a duet. You will get difficulties to find a better flute playing in this duet than the one given by Robert Dohn in this recording. The final chorus proves that this movement can be arresting and sweeping without being aggressive and without losing the delicate balance.

[2] Helmuth Rilling (1971)
Rilling’s rendition, which was recorded in the same year as Winschermann’s, bears similar characteristics. However, I find the Winschermann’s more well balanced and the enthusiasm more sincere. Rilling uses also bigger choir and the choir indeed dominates his rendition. Adalbert Kraus, young and fresh, at the beginning of his musical career, sings with delicacy and his voice match beautifully the soprano Nobuko Gamo-Yamamoto’s (about her I know nothing, except the fact that she was born in 1934) attractive voice. The rich sound of the flute interweaves with their voices to form a beautiful trio. The glowing trumpets push the choir to a triumphant conclusion.

[5] Ludwig Güttler (1995)
The peasants have also the right to glorify God. This thought crossed my mind while I was listening to this rendition. After the delicacy and the richness of the previous renditions, this one sounds rough, unpolished and one-dimensional. The choir’s singing is somewhat dull in expressive terms, and the overall atmosphere lacks real focus. You are not being swept away by the music or charmed by it. You simply wait patiently until it ends. The flute player in the ensuing duet is not on the same par with the previous flutists, but the two vocal soloists demand some attention. The Soprano Christiane Oelze has full, warm and rich voice, and the tenor Hans Peter Blochwitz has a unique, low and attractive voice. They both sing with sensitivity and their voices blend very well together. I would like the soprano to use her vibrato more economically. The balance between all the components in the concluding chorus is problematic, to say the least.

[6] Ton Koopman (1997?)
Koopman’s rendition can almost be defined as the opposite to Güttler’s. It is lighter, more polished, more colourful and much better balanced. The fugal lines are delicate and clear. The orchestral playing is almost transparent. The praises to God are conveyed in subdued way. The soprano Caroline Stam and the tenor Paul Agnew suit very well this approach. The do not force individual interpretation but let the music (and the words) speaks for itself through their singing and tender voices. The accompanying flutist is a major improvement over Güttler’s. So is the concluding chorus. A combination of Koopman’s refinement and delicacy with Güttler vigour and full-blooded approach could form a better rendition. But we actually have such recording from Winschermann’s and his forces, which are very hard to beat.

Conclusion

Personal priorities – Winschermann [1], Rilling [2], Koopman [6], Güttler [5]

And as always, I would like to hear other opinions, regarding the above mentioned performances, or other recordings.

Enjoy and Happy New Bach Year to you all,

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 26, 2001):
BWV 191 Merry Xmas from J.S.Bach

See: Cantata BWV 191 - Commentary

The Recordings:

I only had two recordings to listen to: Rilling (1971) [2] and Güttler (1995) [5]

[2] Rilling:
Comparing this to other Rilling recordings, I would consider it to be average, or even slightly below average. Only the duet with Gamo-Yamamoto and Kraus was in the very good to excellent category. There were considerable weaknesses in the choir: imbalance between the vocal parts, weakness in certain vocal parts, the usual unsteady fluttering of the soprano parts (too much vibrato). Even the trumpets sounded out of tune at times. After hearing these choral mvts. that Bach wrote on a grand scale performed by Rilling in this manner, I doubt that I would be enthusiastic about a performance of the other mvts. from the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) performed by Rilling using this group.

[5] Güttler:
Although the duet is not quite as excellent as the one done by Rilling, it still is the best part of this particular recording. The outer two mvts. are very disappointing indeed. They have the legacy of Harnoncourt's ill-begotten HIP techniques written all over them. I am afraid that it will still take many years for this type of monstrosity to die as long as we still have conductors who are willing to sacrifice their own musical sensibilities (which some of them may not even have - and in Güttler's case, I suspect that egotism may also be a motivating factor in causing interference with Bach's intentions) in favor of competing with a temporary trend. In doing so they perpetuate a type of performance standard which is intent on dissecting Bach's glorious music improperly and on tearing it apart using illogical, non-vocal phrases and accents. I predict that the time will come when more listeners will begin to recognize in this type of performance of Bach's music the lack of a substantial element that has been destroyed by this extreme HIP approach first initiated by Harnoncourt.

Gradually there will be a return to an appreciation of the sheer power and grandeur of Bach's vocal music when performed correctly with humility and awe. This need not necessarily imply the use of huge choral and orchestral forces to achieve such an effect, as we can occasionally perceive in the recordings of Suzuki, and sometimes even of Herreweghe and Koopman, all of whom sometimes 'go over the deep end' or feel pressured to present a performance with 'lite'-entertainment appeal for the masses. Certainly much has been learned from the HIP mvt., but it will take some courageous individuals (artists who truly understand vocal and choral techniques and requirements) to reverse many of the unmusical trends that have become established over the past 40 years.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 26, 2001):
[To Thomas Braatz] For some reason Th. Braatz's post has those " and ' which appear as crazy signs. This is what Aryeh USED to generate before his computer crash. This is here in addition to the Umlaut problem. I usually only have this problem with AOL users. Be that as it may. Only ignorant persons (Christians or others) would be offended by the use of Greek X for Xpistos (my attempt at Greek letters here). Latin for "Jesus helps" (subject +indicative) would have to be Jesus Juvat. The form given is (vocative+imperative)"Jesus, Help!"

Andrew Oliver wrote (December 27, 2001):
[1] I have only Winschermann's recording of this cantata, but, having that, I don't think I need another one. I particularly like its drive and vitality.

There is no time to become bored with this recording, but Winschermann achieves a sense of purposeful excitement without sacrificing musicality. The singing is excellent; the playing is excellent. It seems churlish to single out individuals, but I would particularly note the fine trumpet playing of Maurice André.

One small question: the text is the familiar words from the Latin mass, but the text I have in my version of the Vulgate reads:
"Luke 2:14 gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis"
'Altissimis' rather than 'excelsis', and an extra 'in'. Does anyone know when the text was revised?

Richard Grant wrote (December 27, 2001):
[To Andrew Oliver] Perhaps the Biblical text differs from that of the Mass where the "original "Biblical text is sometimes shortened, or otherwise altered for liturgical or even purely musical purposes. We Roman Catholics who still go to Mass don't often have the occasion to hear a Mass in Latin but I have never seen the word "altissimis" in place of the word "Excelsis" in the Latin Glora as sung at Mass. I suspect your variant is the choice of the exegetes who compiled the Vulgate. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who can speak definitively on this.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 28, 2001):
[To Andrew Oliver & Richard Grant] The NBA KB I/2 comments only as follows:

"Der Text der vorliegenden Musik wird von der lateinischen, dem Meßtext entnommenen Version des "Hymnus angelicus" Luc. 2, 14 gebildet." with a footnote: "Die Version der Vulgata liest "in altissimis" an Stelle von "in excelsis." ["The text of the music before us {Mvt. 1 of BWV 191} has been taken from the Latin version of the 'Angelic Hymn' [Luke 2, 14 of the Latin Vulgate version], but as found in the text of the Mass. The Vulgate reads "in altissimis" in place of "in excelsis.""]

Here is the direct quote from the Latin Vulgate as used by Biblical scholars (the same text that Andrew Oliver quoted):
"2,14 gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis"
It appears that the text for the Latin Mass is not the same as the Latin Vulgate, but the editors of the NBA did not concern themselves with the question regarding when and why this change was made. At least we know that Bach did not alter the words for purely musical purposes, since the editors would then have addressed this change more specifically. Is there a special form of the Latin Mass as proposed by Luther?

Dick Wursten wrote (December 28, 2001):
<<gloria in altissimis Deo>>
= Hieronymus' official translation from the Greek original he had at his disposal (in altissimus = Gr. en hypsistois). Date: ca. 400 = basic Vulgata

<<gloria in excelsis Deo>>
Before this translation appeared and became the standard, there were all kinds of different -mostly partial - translations available. And of course manuscripts in Greek. I don't know how they translated the same.

BUT: apart from this matter of translation, there is a liturgical tradition, right from the start. Probably hymns are the earliest expressions of the christian faith (cf. Ephesians 5:19... you should sing in psalms, hymns and songs). You can find (parts of) them integrated in the text of the New testament (f.e. 1 Peter 1:3-5, Phil. 2:6-11, 1Tim 3:15-16).

Worship is the mother of theology.

In this hymnic tradition the early christians followed the jewish 'times of prayer'. The most famous and oldest christian evensong is the Greek: Foos Hilaron (o happy light...).. Also very old is the doxology: doxa en hypsistois, which goes as far back as the 3rd century... and which is almost identical with what we know as the 'grand (great?) gloria', you know continuing with: Laudamus te, benedicamus etc.....

The earliest translation in Latin (690, Antiphonarium of Bangor) of which we know, but which probably renders the traditional Latin 'doxology' (gloria) translates: Gloria in excelsis Deo, etc...

My conclusion:
1. there is a hymnic tradition, independent of and older the translating tradition.

(source: J.A. Jungmann: missarum solemnia)

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 29, 2001):
[2] I have only one recording of this cantata, the Rilling version. While the music is certainly familiar, there is something about the way it is put together here that sounds fragmented. It is clearly too short for a real mass, and could certainly have been a cantata that Bach slapped together when in a hurry.

I find Rilling's performance [2] to be ok in the outer movements, but the middle movement, the trio with soprano, tenor and flute, is almost magical. There is an ephemeral quality not only in the sound of the instruments, being very light, but also in the slow tempo (as compared to this movement when played in the Christmas Oratorio - which part is it, exactly?; I would like to compare). The two voices flow together smoothly, and make for a magical performance.

 

BWV 191 Live Performance by the Phoenix Boys Choir this evening...

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 20, 2008):
Although I am a strong advocate of women singers of Bach, this evening I was treated to my first live performance of a Bach Cantata by a boys choir. My guess is that the boys ranged from ten to about nineteen or twenty, and they gave a simply glorious performance of BWV 191 at the new Mesa Performing Arts Center, in Mesa Arizona, until the direction of George Stangelberger, who has been the executive director since 1999. The Tour Choir and the Masters Choir were included in this cantata.

The entire cantata was performed from memory to the accompaniment of local musicians (who of course had scores.) The ensemble was exquisitely balanced, and of particular delight to my ear was the flute playing of Kevin Kolden, while my husband was particularly impressed with the Trumpet playing of Brittany Hendricks.

The older boys wore suits, but the younger ones had red cassocks with short white surplices covering--so suitable for the season.

Movement I caused me to sit up in my seat, because I had never seen such discipline in boys of this age. Not one eye ever left the director, as he led with a fluid conducting style I'd never witnessed in performance. What I noticed, too, was that he allowed his directing to be low enough to be comfortable for the 'shorter'' persons.

The accuracy of diction and the perfection of the sixteenth note runs on Gloria in excelsis Deo, along the purity of tone captivated me immediately. Mvt. 2 was a special treat as the vocal duet was organized with three boys to each part, but singing with one voice. The flute tones were like crystal in the hall, as all other included instruments performed their parts in balance. In Mvt. 3 the full ensemble played again, I believe. Not an eye moved off the conductor during Mvt. 2, and everyone was completely 'there' for the closing--Sicut erat in principio. To my ear only a few of the amens seemed a bit abrupt, but in the texture to bring them out, this may have been what was required. As a first experience of a live boys choir singing Bach I thought the efforts were extraordinary, and the audience response was strong. The ringing overtones in the air at the end of moment three will be with me for some time to come.

Nicholas Johnson wrote (December 20, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] Perhaps a chorus is OK with boys voices. The solo arias however are often shockingly out of tune. Compare the perfect Agnus Die by Andreas Scholl on youtube

Not many people would risk singing it so slowly.

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 20, 2008):
[To Johnson Nicholas] Do you have a link, Nicolas? Interesting that the solo arias are often out of tune. However, wonderfully the pitch was great in this performance. Sure, a chorus with all boys voices is fine--I just never happened to have experienced it live before with a Bach Cantata. We collected the Vienna Boys Choir recordings back when they were available on cassette tapes--that's a while ago.

Nicholas Johnson wrote (December 20, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] Dear Jean I goggle « Agnus Die youtube scholl »

John Pike wrote (December 20, 2008):
[To Johnson Nicholas] Many thanks for this, Jean. There is something very distinctive about live performance as opposed to listening to a recording. As your review reveals, there is just so much sensory input in all modalities that makes it so much more satisfying. One of the most memorable performances I attended with my wife was at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, to celebrate the restoration of the Bach manuscripts in their collection (about 80% of the total). We had donated a smallish sum towards the cost of restoration and were initially rewarded with a facsimile of BWV 190. We thought that would be it, but about a year later we received the invitation to attend the party. We live in Bristol, UK and the thought of a midweek trip to Berlin (travel time at least 6 hours) to attend the party, even though the original manuscripts were going to be on display, was initially too much for me but, to my eternal indebtedness, my wife, who is not especially musical, remarked that it was a "once in a life time opportunity". I readily agreed and booked the flights. A series of lectures, including one from Christoph Wolff, were interspersed with the cantata BWV 182 and the motet BWV 226. Soon after we arrived in our seats and the President of the Bundesrepublik arrived, the cantata began. At once, both I and my wife were in seventh heaven, and we stayed there until leaving the building. I will never forget the visual impact and the sounds, now indelibly carved on my mind's eye and ear. After the performance we all had a large glass of wine (which I consumed with great alacrity), I got Christoph Wolff to sign my copy of his book "JS Bach - The Learned Musician", and then proceeded swiftly to view the manuscripts - not a handful of lesser known pieces as I had feared - but many of Bach's most superlative scores in the Library's collection. To quote Brad on discovering Bach's temperament, "Holy Cow!"

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 20, 2008):
[To John Pike] What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. As you say, there's nothing quite like being there in person--one of the reasons I favor live performance so much.

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 20, 2008):
[To Johnson Nicholas] I just listened. Amazing the absolutely reflective quality in this slower version. Thanks so much.

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 191: Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýSeptember 8, 2011 ý07:48:42