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 202
Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of January 14, 2007 [Continue]

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 16, 2007):
BWV 202 Bassoon - Yes or No

This discussion of Bach's bassoon parts has moved forward too fast. Let's go back to where this all began: Ton Koopman's printed comments on performance practices regarding BWV 202/3,7, in particular, the bassoon parts which he believes, based upon his experience in performing Bach cantatas, are unplayable on a bassoon unless a more modern breathing technique is employed. Upon this some BCML members pointed to comparable examples in Bach's oeuvre where similar parts for bassoons do exist. The question now arose: how is it possible that these parts were nevertheless playable by musicians playing under Bach's direction. Two thoughts that quickly came to mind were that 1.) the tempi in Bach's time were not as ferociously fast as the tempi taken by some HIP conductors during the past 2 ot 3 decades, and 2.) possibly two bassoons playing the same part might be able to help each other out through some form of complementary playing technique (this was a conjecture and suggestion on my part not based on any evidence, the same way Ton Koopman also does not back up his statements with hard evidence).

In the meantime I have read through Ulrich Prinz's section on bassoons in his 2005 book on "J. S. Bachs Instrumentarium" and have discovered things which may not have occurred to Ton Koopman when he made his opinions known based upon his own experience - regarding the latter, it may be that, since he often has very fast tempi for many cantata mvts., the bassoon player may have indicated to him: "You're lucky to have bassoonists today who can barely cope with these parts (BWV 202/3,7) now. In Bach's time such parts [at the tempi you take them] would have been unplayable because they did not have the breathing technique that we now use." The latter statement, undocumented and unsupported by any firm evidence nevertheless may have prompted Koopman to reason and decide that a bassoon which is not designated in the score of BWV 202/3,7 should not be used even though he was aware of other recordings/performances where a bassoon was indeed used.

According to Prinz:

1. Bassoons were sometimes used in pairs. Schering reports that the café owner Zimmermann purchased at one time, among a total of 7 instruments, not just one but two bassoons for the Collegium musicum. This is where the Bach's orchestral suites would have been performed.

2. Bassoons were often meant to be playing along even when the score and/or parts do not call for them specifically. This means that Koopman's opinion is incorrect regarding BWV 202/3,7.

3. Bassoons function as the lowest instrument in a choir of instruments. There are examples where Bach has a bassoon part playing as the lowest member of an oboe choir (oboes 1 & 2, taille) while having another bassoon in the same mvt. playing as the foundation of the string instrument choir.

4. Bassoons often function as the lowest instrument of the oboe choir. Here is yet another reason why a bassoon might even be preferred as one of the key instruments in the continuo for BWV 202/7.

5. Bassoons very frequently are playing the continuo line along with other 'tone-sustaining' continuo instruments such as the organ, the violoncello, the violone. This means that even if Koopman's undocumented theory about Bach's bassoonists being unable to play their part at whatever tempo because of a lack of a modern breath technique could actually be proven to have existed at that time, other continuo instruments would have continued to play the notes of the continuo part with very little of the 'dropped' notes, if there were any, of the bassoon part being noticeable.

Personally, I do not believe that the problem which Koopman outlined existed for Bach since the problem is in part caused by Koopman's own very fast tempi and his undocumented information about the inferior playing capabilities of Bach's bassoonists. Perhaps, also, the incident with Johann Heinrich Geyersbach (known infamously through Bach's epithet applied to him: "Zippelfagottist") has been blown completely out of proportion and has injured the reputations of other excellent bassoonists who did play under Bach's direction: in Weimar: Bernhard Georg Ulrich, in Cöthen: Johann Christoph Torlée, in Leipzig: from the City Pipers. Prinz's description of the various uses Bach found for bassoons means that the judicious use of a bassoon in BWV 202 is well in keeping with what is now known about Bach's performance practices using the bassoon.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 17, 2007):
BWV 202 Time-line

1718-1723 (or possibly to circa 1725)

This is the approximate time when J. S. Bach composed BWV 202 to a text by an unknown librettist. It is a secular cantata for a very small ensemble (possibly a traveling ensemble or one which could perform in rather cramped quarters) consisting of a soprano vocalist, a small string ensemble, an obbligato oboe and continuo. The subject matter is related generally to a wedding with poetic, allegorical references, but also with the couple being addressed directly as well (not by name, of course), making it very suitable for reuse. The small ensemble of musicians could be pulled together quickly on short notice (shot-gun marriages - these were indicated in the church records in Bach's time by not using the word "Jungfrau" or "Jungfer" = "Miss/implying virgin" before the name of the bride) to perform in a home or in a different city/town/village.

No information has thus far been uncovered to explain or describe the original circumstances for which Bach composed this cantata. A performance for an important personality cannot be entirely ruled, but this seems much less likely even as a secular entertainment for prince's or nobleman's wedding banquet because the ensemble has deliberately been reduced in size. A better possibility is that of entertainment which follows immediately after the short wedding ceremony performed by a pastor in the home of one of the couples (usually the bride).

One occasion which might satisfy the requirements posed by a solo soprano cantata with a small chamber ensemble and one which would fit the current best conjecture regarding the date of composition is Bach's own marriage with Anna Magdalena Wilcken on December 3, 1721. Anna Magdalena Bach may even have performed this cantata the first time at her own wedding.

Classical allegorical references include:

Flora: a Roman goddess who makes the trees break out in blossoms
History: first introduced in Rome by Titus Tatius
Regarding the Feast Day dedicated to Flora, see Ovid, "Fasti" 4, 947
About her metamorphosis caused and originating from the nymph Chloris who was being pursued by Zephyrus, see Ovid, "Fasti" 5, 195.


1730

Johannes Ringk (born June 26, 1717 in Frankenhain, Thuringia) copied BWV 202 from an unknown source and signed his name with a date (the year) in the lower right hand corner of this copy. In 1729 and 1730, Ringk was an organ pupil of Johann Peter Kellner (1705-1772) who lived in nearby Gräfenroda. Kellner was famous as an organ virtuoso and teacher and took a great interest in Bach's works, although there is no clear evidence that he ever met Bach or took lessons from him, although he claimed in his autobiography (1760) that he was acquainted with both Handel and Bach. He and his circle of friends made copies of numerous works by Bach for keyboard (organ and harpsichord) and of the sonatas and partitas for violin solo as well as some transcriptions of chamber music. Many of these represent earlier stages of some of Bach's compositions. Vocal works are not among these copies, which makes Ringk's copy of BWV 202 appear to be quite unusual. Nevertheless it is assumed that Kellner may have been the only likely suspect to provide Ringk with a source (perhaps a copy made from the original, or even a copy of a copy?) from which Ringkthen made his copy. Ringk was 12 or 13 years old at the time when this copy was made. Ringk's copies of Bach's music that have survived are: BWV 532/2, BWV 533, BWV 541/2, BWV 551, BWV 541/1, BWV 565, BWV 847, BWV 848, BWV 850, BWV 851, BWV 864, BWV 865, BWV 867, BWV 869, BWV 950, BWV 955, BWV 984 BWV 992, and various works by Böhm, Buxtehude, and Bruhns. In 1730, Ringk also made a copy of Buxtehude's long organ composition "Te Deum" which Kellner had reduced in length. It has long been assumed that Kellner most likely directed Ringk to copy specific works. If only we knew where Kellner found or from whom he received a copy of BWV 202 and why Kellner made this one great exception with BWV 202! It is the only vocal work by Bach that any one of the musician/copyists in the Kellner circle had ever bothered to copy.

There is much that is puzzling about this manuscript copy. Ringk, who probably forgot to look back at the first page of the score after he had finished copying the cantata, wrote the title incorrectly as he attempted to provide ornamentation for the first letter of the first word of the title. What resulted looks like either "Weiget", or "Zeiget" or "Steiget" [actually "Steiget" ('lift, rise, go up') might in some ways be a better choice to describe the rising arpeggi in the strings; "weiget" is not standard German except that in the dialect that Ringk spoke, the 'g' would not be hard, but rather a soft sound resembling somewhat a German 'ch' which would then yield what we have now as "Weichet"].

The appearance of the handwriting/notation of this manuscript is rather clumsy with the direction of the stems of the notes and the bar lines changing directions back and forth. In contrast, the text and the title page seem to show much better control even to the point of becoming calligraphic. This is true of his other early copy efforts. Unfortunately his style notation is unreliable and fraught with many mistakes as might be expected of such a young copyist. There are some passages so apparently corrupted through carelessness that they have caused the editors of the NBA serious difficulties in establishing what might be a reasonable solution.

Another serious dating problem occurs because the old style of 'naturalizing' accidentals is used in Ringk's copy from 1730. (If a note had a # and the next time the note occurred in the same measure/bar and was supposed to be the same note with the # removed (where it is standard today to use a natural sign), Ringk (and J. S. Bach before 1715) would use a 'b' (flat sign) instead. [This problem has been investigated in great detail in the NBA KB IV/5-6 Teilband 1, pp. 198-205 and NBA KB I/35, pp. 39-42 (Dürr)]. This would mean that, if this was a reliable copy of Bach's original manuscript, then, according to Bach's abandonment of this notational practice by 1715, this would have to be a work composed prior to 1715. Knowing what the approximate date of this cantata would have to be based upon stylistic analysis and formal structure, among other things, another likely, theoretical scenario needed created in order to explain these conflicting circumstances: Ringk must have been copying from another copy made by someone who still conservatively used the older, outdated system. This may also explain why some passages in BWV 202 were totally corrupted when Ringk either became quite careless or when he had difficulty deciphering the poorly written copy which he had before him. Some examples of this type of serious corruption of the original autograph that must have once existed can be found in Mvt. 3, mm 13 and 17. Here the two-part counterpoint leaves much to be desired as the voice-leading is amateurish and full of errors that it cannot even be compared to Bach's earliest efforts in composition which are much better than that which is found here.


May, 1862, Berlin

The BGA publishes BWV 202 in volume 11, 2. This is the first time that it appears in print. It is based on Ringk's copy. This uncritical edition makes no note of the many difficulties that face an editor in coming up with a representative edition of what Bach may have intended. None of the changes made to the Ringk are noted. The editor, Wilhelm Rust, simply tried to base changes as much as possible on analogous situations elsewhere in the movement. Rust contends that BWV 202 was written as "Tafelmusik" ("table-music") for some unknown couple.


Philipp Spitta Bach Biography, 1880

"The private occasional compositions of Bach consist of some secular wedding cantatas; according to old custom they were intended to be sung during the weddig feast. They comprise only solos. The oldest of them is certainly the cantata "Weichet nur betrübte Schatten," belonging possibly to the Cöthen period...It was apparently through Kellner that Ringk became acquainted with the cantata.He [Kellner] had formerly, however, worked at Frankenhayn, Ringk's home there exists a copy of one of Bach's organ-fugues made by Kellner in the year 1725. And as he had in 1719 been a pupil of the organist, Schmidt of Zella, in the Thuringerwald, who seems to have been for a long time intimate with Bach, the materials of the evidence lead us rather far back..Evidence of its early origin is found not only in the cncise forms of the arias, but also in another circumstance. The sixth of the violin sonatas with clavier obbligato [BWV 1019] is known to have been twice remodeled by Bach, and at last furnished with an Allegro, the first subject of which is taken from the C major aria of this cantata. I have previously mentioned the bridal feeling which pervades this sonata, especially in the middle movement, 'Cantabile, ma un poco Adagio. It would seem that Bach, in remodeling the sonata for the last time, experienced this feeling, and was thereby prompted to use for the last Allegro a subject taken from an actual wedding composition which was written about the same time. A second agreement is also remarkable; the chief subject of the D major aria, given in the prelude to the oboe, is found again as the chief subject of the bass aria in the cantata "Liebster Gott, wann werd ich sterben." pp. 633-634 of the Dover 1992 English language edition which is a reprint of the Bell and Fuller-Maitland translation first published in 1889.


1905-1911

Albert Schweitzer "J. S. Bach" first published in French in 1905, expanded and published in German in 1908, translated by Ernest Newman and published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1911, Dover reprint edition appeared in 1966

A Spring Cantata

Schweitzer expands on Spitta's observation on the main theme first presented in the bass in BWV 202/3 and reappearing in the violin sonata. "That this is intended to suggest impetuous motion is shown by the fact that Bach uses it again, only in fuller form, in the secular cantata "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten (BGA XI, 2), to illustrate the words "Phoebus flies with swift horses" (vol. 1, p. 396).

The motion of waves hinted at in BWV 202/7: The bass figure of the aria (BWV 202/7) "is explained by the fact of the occurrence in the text of the words "Hier quellen die Wellen"("Here flow the waters" or "Here the waves sprout forth from the source")(vol. 2, p. 75).

The rising mist is symbolized in BWV 202/1: "At the opening of [BWV 202/1], vaporous arpeggios floating upward symbolize the rising mist" "The vaporous semiquavers ascending in the strings in the opening aria depict the mists vanishing before the breeze of spring - while the oboe sings a dreamy, yearning melody of the type of which Bach alone seems to have the secret" (I, 77; II, 266-267).

"It is probable that the Wedding Cantata belongs to the same period [Cöthen]"(II, 267). "The opening aria of the cantata "Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen" (BWV 32/1; dialogue for bass and soprano) reminds us strongly of the first movement - so full of longing - of the secular cantata "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten" (BWV 202/1) (II, 350).


1939

The first two recordings of this cantata are made by (see furthedetails on the Recordings List for BWV 202 on the BCW at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV202.htm
1. Mengelberg Concertgebouw with To van der Sluys
2. Elisabeth Schumann with the Stuyvesant Quartet


October, 1952, Berlin

C. F. Peters with Karl Schleifer as editor present a critical edition which is a great improvement over the BGA, but still fails to address the problem of articulation properly. By using modern notation (standard clefs), printing out the appoggiaturas and supplying the full notation/realization of the figured bass, this edition fulfills the requirements of a practical edition.


1959, London

W. Gillies Whittaker "The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular", Oxford University Press, 1959, Vol. 2, pp. 520-526.

"The time of the [wedding] ceremony was evidently spring.." p. 520 BWV 202/1:
"Bach seizes upon the idea of the vanishing shadows, and during the whole of the adagio section the upper strings move upwards like mists slowly into thin air, one entering after the other or trail down gently in scales of 6/3 chords. The imagery is identical with the organ chorale prelude "Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig" which was written about the same period [Cöthen], and the chorale fantasia in C. C. No. 25, with the same title, dating about 1740. In bar 3 the oboe begins an arabesque of exquisite beauty, the voice opens with a modified form [of this] and later expresses 'betrübte' by a convoluting run." p. 521

"It [the andante section of Mvt. 1] commences with continuo only, the voice opens with a new type of melody containing delightful repetitions of short ideas. During a ritornello the oboe repeats the theme in a varied form and the violins alternately leap blissfully happy octaves. After a fully accompanied repetition of the melody by the singer, soloist and oboe join in a wandering canon to 'target', the upper strings being silent. In the bars before the Da Capo the voice develops the canon theme, mounting all the while; the upper strings imitate each other at close quarters while the oboe adds a sixth part to the structure." p. 522

Mvt. 2 is "the tiny recitative.mostly in arioso style." P. 522

"Throughout the aria [Mvt. 3] the continuo figure rears and prances and the horses gallop. 'Allegro assai' is indicated, but it must not be interpreted in a modern sense; 'moderato' is sufficient. The theme is to be found in a contemporary work, the allegro of the sixth violin and clavier sonata. Whether Bach adopted it on account of its appositeness or whether a special liking for it after the cantata was finished induced him to found another composition on it we do not know. The line is simply marked 'Continuo', but it is unlikely that the violone would be added to the cello. The semiquaver runs sound clumsy in 16 ft. tone. Besides, the tenor clef is frequently used. Except that there are one or two slight resemblances between runs, vocal ideas are quite independent of instrumental. 'Phöbus' is always dignified, and, naturally, there are length runs to 'eilt. Beginning with 'eilt' the complete continuo theme is repeated, 'per arsin et thesin.' Dovetailing with its conclusion the voice resumes, modifying its initial phrase. 'Neugeborne' is trilling (by a rare slip there are consecutive octaves between singer and instrument here), 'eilt' later is expanded into a long passage. The melody of the second part.is more gracious, bending and curving suavely; 'Ja' is emphasized by several cried of delight. Practically the whole of the continuo line is made up of the themes of the introduction." pp. 522-523

"Mvt. 4 is half recitative and half arioso." p. 523

"The text of [Mvt. 5], allegro, is just treated in general terms, without particularization. The principal melody, divided between voice and solo violin, is of less interest than in the other numbers. The chief attraction is the fourfold repetition of a seven-note semiquaver figure, while the bass moves down a step at each presentation and the first semiquaver varies. The initial group is left unmarked, implying forte; the two indications of piano suggest 'mp' and 'p', a distinction not possible with the restricted terms of the day. Repetition is a marked feature of the aria, in keeping with its pastoral atmosphere. [The figure on "wenn di Frühlingslüfte streichen, pflegt auch Amor auszuschleichen"] occurs five times, once only with the voice, and its figure is used for purposes of accompaniment. The violin figure here quoted also accompanies another version of the vocal idea to the words 'welcher, glaubt man' etc., either in the vocal or instrumental form, is heard seventeen times." pp. 523-524

"The first half of Mvt. 6 is recitative, .the remainder is ariso with a donfident flow of quavers for the continuo and a radiant roulade on 'Segen.'" p. 524

"The first sentence of Mvt. 7 is sufficient to set Bach off on a merry track..Above a bass almost Alberti-like, which should be played lightly staccato, the solo oboe chirps a delicious melody of twenty-two bars. The first part is repeated while the voice adds an independent theme. The voice continues, still with new matter; the Alberti bass is later transferred to the oboe, piquant in its new guise. The oboe melody never appears in the vocal line; it occurs over and over again for the obbligato in various forms, in both sections. In Part II the voice has a new melody and continues 'die siegenden Palmen auf Lippen und Brust' ('the victorious palms on lips and heart'), a euphemistic way of saying that domestic joys are the greatest prize in life, a doctrine to which Bach could well subscribe. Oboe and bassi continue to work out their gay themes against the delightful melodies of the soprano." pp. 524-525

"The final movement, Gavotte, is curiously constructed. Oboe and strings play sixteen bars of charming dance-measure, the upper two lines in unison, the middle ones stepping gracefully, mostly in crotchets and minims. Then the singer ornaments the tune..It is none too easy for the vocalist, as it is instrumental in character. The previous bass is retained; the upper parts are entirely different, they play in turn arpeggio figures and the otherwise unemployed instruments punctuate each two bars. Are these arpeggio intended to establish a relationship with Mvt. 1, disturbing mists now changed into fairy clouds of connubial happiness, or are they a playful allusion to the new beings which will be the result of the union of the blushing pair? The voice is heard in this section only, one-third of the number, for the whole of the purely orchestral dance is repeated. The construction is so unusual that one is led to think that the number was not originally written for the occasion, but that a favorite gavotte from this period of composition of suites was utilized, for some reason unknown to us, perhaps on account of some association with one or other of the loving couple. The cantata is a charming picture of the domestic life which Bach knew and loved so well." pp. 525-526


1970, Bärenreiter Kassel

NBA I/40 prepared by Werner Neumann, pp. 10-21

Provenance of the Johannes Ringk manuscript, the sole, significant source for the music and text of BWV 202:

The first record of its existence is noted by Privy Councillor to the Mail Service, Carl Philipp Heinrich Pistor of Berlin who lived from 1778-1847. According to his notes, he had acquired it second-hand from a collection purported to have originated from the sale of the remaining musical documents from the estate of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach after the latter had died. [During his lifetime, W. F. Bach had sold previous batches of cantatas in order to pay his taxes.] Pistor's collection was inherited by his son-in-law, Adolf Friedrich Rudorff, a professor at the Universiof Berlin, who lived from 1803-1873. After the latter's death, this extensive collection of Bach manuscripts and copies was passed on to his son, Ernst Friedrich Karl Rudorff (1849-1916) under whose aegis the collection was decimated. The remainder of this collection, with this manuscript copy included, was purchased by the Music Library of the Music Publishing Firm, C. F. Peters in 1917. Currently it is owned by the Leipzig City Library: Signatur: Ms. R 8.

The title reads (in Ringk's handwriting):

Cantata á voce Sola. | Weiget nur betrübte schatten etc. | 1. Oboe, | 2. Violini. | 1. Viola. | Canto. |
et | Fondamentum | di | J. S. Pach.

Short biography of Johannes Ringk:

born June 25, 1717 in Frankenhain, Thuringia; became a pupil of Johann Peter Kellner c. 1729/1730 in a nearby town, Gräfenroda; studied composition under Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel in Gotha c. 1738/1739; since c. 1740 a music teacher and opera composer in Berlin; became the organist at the Marienkirche in Berlin in 1755; had connections to Carl Friedrich Zelter; and died a well-respected and wealthy man on August 8, 1778.

Probabilities:
Ringk became acquainted with BWV 202 through Johann Peter Kellner (1705-1772).
Ringk copied from a copy of the original, not from the original manuscript itself.

Physical description of Ringk's handwriting:
The title page is very calligraphic and ornate. It almost appears as if it may have been done at a later date.
The musical notation is clumsy, with the direction of the stems changing frequently.
There are many errors and irregularities along with some seriously corrupted passages which have not been corrected.

Spitta and Smend have given different reasons for assigning the Cöthen period:

1. Spitta: the short form of arias and the thematic connection between BWV 202/3 and BWV 1019/5
2. Smend: the use of dance forms in BWV 202/7,9

NBA KB:
BWV 202/7 is unusually long having 242 measures/bars.
BWV 202/5 demonstrates technicalities of composition that are still found in the arias composed in Leipzig.

A date from the early Leipzig years is also possible for BWV 202.
Spitta's comparison of BWV 202/7 with BWV 8/4 composed in 1724 also points in this direction.
The question remains: When did Kellner become acquainted with this cantata or from whom did he receive it? Several of Kellner's copies of Bach's music can be traced to 1725 and 1726. One very remote possibility is that Bach composed this cantata directly for Kellner's marriage to Martha Franck in Gräfenroda on May 14, 1726, or that it was a parody that Bach prepared from older sources. It might then even be that Kellner received from Bach a presentation copy of this work as a souvenir, which Kellner then presented to Ringk so that the latter could make a copy of it.

The latter scenario is contradicted by the evidence on the Ringk copy where the antiquated method of placing a natural sign by using a flat sign (b) to undo a sharp (#) is used rather than the standard modern symbol which Bach adopted after 1715. The only way to explain this anomaly is to assume that the copy used by Ringk has been copied from the Bach original which no longer used the old 'natural' sign method, but that an ultra-conservative copyist had changed Bach's notation back to the old-fashioned method that this copyist still preferred. Ringk then copied what he saw on the page of this copy.


1995, Bärenreiter (Kassel, Basel, London, New York, Prag)
Alfred Dürr, updated edition of the original 1971 printing of "Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Kantaten" pp. 967-970

Dating of the music

Original composition, according to the best research that has been conducted on this matter until now and based upon stylistic analysis, must have taken place during the Cöthen period (1718-1723) or even possibly in the first few years of Bach's Leipzig period (1723 with the latest possible date being 1730, the date of the manuscript).

The repeating chain of arias followed by recitatives, the latter beginning as a secco recitative but ending in an arioso is a typical feature of both the Weimar and Cöthen periods, but one which continues into the Leipzig period, when, however, it is no longer used exclusively.

Purpose or Occasion

It is most likely not for a princely wedding, but rather for a civilian couple, at most of lower nobility. The reason is the simple, rather limited orchestration

Overall Form and Structure

There is a gradual wave-like movement from beginning to end during which a development and transformation take place: it begins with a highly stylized, aperiodic, concertante movement and ends with a folkdance-like periodic structure strictly divided into sections. The outer mvts. offer the best instances of these extremes with Mvt. 5 being closer to the first type while mvts. 3 and 7 tend increasingly toward the clearer form/structure of the second type.


1999, Oxford

"Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach" [Boyd, ed.], Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 510-511

An article probably by Malcolm Boyd, the editor:

"Secular cantata, BWV 202, for solo soprano, oboe, strings and continuo. Beyond the fact that it was composed for a wedding at springtime, which is evident from the text, nothing is known of the occasion for which this cantata was composed. As long as it was thought to date from the Cöthen years (1717-23), it was possible to suggest Bach's second wife Anna Magdalena as the original soprano soloist. The work does indeed have some features associated with the Cöthen cantatas - the dance-like character of the last two arias, for example, and the generously proportioned ritornellos they contain - and the aria 'Phoebus eilt mit schnellen Pferden' (no. 3) has a thematic kinship with a movement from the Violin Sonata in G major BWV 1019, which is usually considered to be a Cöthen work. But Alfred Dürr has argued strongly (in Alfred Dürr's Zur Chronologie der Leipziger Vokalwerke J. S. Bachs" in Bach-Jahrbuch, 1957) for an earlier, Weimar origin, chiefly on notational evidence in the source (a copy by Johannes Ringck) dating from 1730) and on the literary style, which suggests the Weimar court poet Salomo Franck as the librettist.

The cantata begins with one of Bach's most poetic inspirations. Quietly rising string arpeggios suggest the 'gloomy shades', the winter mists, which are then penetrated by a warming ray of light from the oboe's first, long-held note, presaging the soprano's entry; the central part of this da capo aria, in a contrasting metre and tempo, sings of the delights of spring. The cantata then proceeds in a regular alternation of recitative and aria (nine numbers in all), which sing of spring-time as the season when even the gods turn towards love. As winter's shades are forgotten, the tone gradually lightens and the cantata concludes with a brief (perhaps too brief) gavotte."

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 17, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< No information has thus far been uncovered to explain or describe the original circumstances for which Bach composed this cantata. >
OK so far....

So, to be clear, everything that follows is your own speculation or self-guided collation, and is not printed in either the NBA or its KB?

It's impressive; I'm just trying to understand clearly what's in the NBA on this matter specifically of BWV 202, and what's not.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 17, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>OK so far....<<
Hey, what if I sat in the audience listening to your recital of Bach and jumped up in the middle of the piece being performed to exclaim loudly, "Keep going! I can hear all the parts beclearly delineated so far..."

BL: >>So, to be clear, everything that follows is your own speculation or self-guided collation, and is not printed in either the NBA or its KB? It's impressive; I'm just trying to understand clearly what's in the NBA on this matter specifically of BWV 202, and what's not.<<
All of this knee-jerk posturing ("Imponiergehabe" = "trying to impress others) along with sarcastic comments intended to put down others' efforts before taking the time to fully understand what has been presented is entirely unnecessary.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 17, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>OK so far....<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Hey, what if I sat in the audience listening to your recital of Bach and jumped up in the middle of the piece being performed to exclaim loudly, "Keep going! I can hear all the parts being clearly delineated so far..." >

Then you'd be a <>, and not only for confusing the distinction between internet writing and playing a concert.

BL: >>So, to be clear, everything that follows is your own speculation or self-guided collation, and is not printed in either the NBA or its KB? It's impressive; I'm just trying to understand clearly what's in the NBA on this matter specifically of BWV 202, and what's not.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< All of this knee-jerk posturing ("Imponiergehabe" = "trying to impress others) along with sarcastic comments intended to put down others' efforts before taking the time to fully understand what has been presented is entirely unnecessary. All of this knee-jerk posturing ("Imponiergehabe" = > "trying to impress others) along with sarcastic comments intended to put down others' efforts before taking the time to fully understand what has been presented is entirely unnecessary. >
What "knee-jerk posturing"? I made a simple request for information, and your response here dodges the question. It all looked like your self-guided collation and/or speculation, culled from your collection of books; and I simply asked what's in the NBA and what's not.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 18, 2007):
BWV 202 some aspects of the recordings

I have Rilling's 1997 recording [45]: quite satisfying, apart from the recitatives (done in the new style), and a tempo which is too fast in the second aria (Mvt. 3), in which the cello rushes along shapelessly, accompanied by a jangling (not loud), pitch-less harpsichord that does not help matters. (This shapeless, jangling harpsichord also features in Rilling's following BWV 203).

This (ie, BWV 202/3's) continuo line is actually quite interesting, if sympathetically presented. Notice, in the ritornello, how it quickly modulates through several keys from C major to G major to D minor (briefly), then back to C major.

Interestingly the earliest recording for which there is a sample at the BCW, the 1939 Reibold [2], has a more pleasing performance of this aria based on an unusual continuo realisation, namely, a well recorded `obbligato' harpsichord, and cello mostly confined to pizzicato notes on the beat, producing an enlivening effect.

The recording with Kathleen Livingstone [37], 1990, also has pizzicato effects in the continuo of this aria.

The other recordings of BWV 202/3 that have the same rushed tempo as Rilling [45], namely Goebel [46], Huggett [40], and Parrott [29], are all less interesting than recordings taken at a slower tempo. Some recordings successfully replace the cello with a bassoon.

Schreier's 1976 performance [26], first aria, has overly heavy strings, the opposite problem compared to Goebel, 1999 [46], where the last note of the string arpeggios is inaudible.

The 1951 Bach Aria Group recording [3] shows two aspects of piano as continuo instrument; firstly, the piano's bass is too powerful to double the cello line in anything other than continuo lines consisting of long notes - the heavy effect in the more complex continuo lines of the arias in this cantata is not altogether pleasing; but in the recitatives, where only long-held chords are required, the clarity and strength of a piano can be an asset.

One of the pleasant surprises amongst the recordings is Higbee's 1996 performance of the Gavotte [41] (ie, the last aria; hear the sample available at the BCW) - incredibly bright, with the oboe replaced by a recorder that adds so much more colour than the oboe called for by Bach. (The conventional Goebel performance, with 'dense' continuo, seems dull and featureless by comparison).

The chirpy bassoon playing the `Alberti' bass in the 4th aria, in the 1996 St. Lukes Chamber Orchestra recording [44], is attractive.

Koopman [43], with his lute in the continuo and moderate tempos, has one of the better recordings of the cantata (but forget the recitatives).

In short, in BWV 202 we have five lovely arias with many satisfying performances to choose from. I have listed some of the best and worst features of some of these recordings, without attempting to select the finest recordings, which would be rather time consuming.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (January 18, 2007):
I simply cannot let this round of BWV 202 considerations pass without raising my voice in the wilderness for what I consider a truly lovely, touching, recorded performance --- and with some damned good musicians, too good to be so ignored. No other performance I have heard --- and I have tried many of what has been offered --- has so magical an opening aria, such an invitation to this cantata's inspired vision.

I refer to the 1989 performance by the Ricercar Consort [32] with soprano Greta de Reyghere, Marcel Ponseele, oboe, Phillipe Pierlot, gamba, and several well-considered others. As a considerable bonus, the disk includes BWV 152 in which de Reyghere is joined by Max van Egmond, and BWV 82 for him alone.

Ricercar disk, RIC 061041, is very nicely recorded and sounds great on the most demanding equipment. (By the way, I have room in my heart for more than one great performance of anything Bachic; I hope some others of you will express your preferences among the many recordings --- and, no, I have not heard all by any means.)

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 18, 2007):
Harry W. Crosby wrote:
< I simply cannot let this round of BWV 202 considerations pass without raising my voice in the wilderness for what I consider a truly lovely, touching, recorded performance --- and with some damned good musicians, too good to be so ignored. No other performance I have heard --- and I have tried many of what has been offered --- has so magical an opening aria, such an invitation to this cantata's inspired vision.
I refer to the 1989 performance by the Ricercar Consort
[32] with soprano Greta de Reyghere, Marcel Ponseele, oboe, Phillipe Pierlot, gamba, and several well-considered others. As a considerable bonus, the disk includes BWV 152 in which de Reyghere is joined by Max van Egmond, and BWV 82 for him alone.
Ricercar disk, RIC 061041, is very nicely recorded and sounds great on the most demanding equipment. >
Thanks for the reminder of this terrific recording -- I've put my copy on to listen to this afternoon at your prompting. Wow!

Mine came on disc 2 of a different Ricercar 2-CD set, "DIE FAMILIE BACH" [32]. The rest of that disc ("Weltliche Musik") has the Italian Concerto, and then some other chamber music by CPE Bach and WF Bach.

And disc 1 (with the obvious title, "Geistliche Musik") has a bunch of short motets by Johann Bach, Johann Michael Bach, and Johann Bach...and then JSB's BWV 644 (Ach wie nichtig) and BWV 653b (An Wasserflussen Babylon) for organ, the cantata BWV 131 (Aus der Tiefe), and the BWV 542 Fantasia and Fugue in G minor.

All of this is fine, but I wish it also had the BWV 152 and BWV 82 you've mentioned here. Schade! (But I do have Max van E's other BWV 82 with Brüggen, which was I think the first LP of a Bach cantata that I ever bought, and then again on CD.)

The BWV 202 is on there as one long track, 20'17" [32]. Lots of bassoon. Yum. Sounds like only one bassoonist on there, plus harpsichord, handling all the busyness of "Phoebus eilt". And again on "Sich uben im Lieben". No spurious second bassoon player here to cover notes while the first guy breathes, unless their blend is incredible and the transitions all clean. I suspect that that principle is a fiction, and that the anachronistic bit about Zimmermann's coffeehouse having two bassoons is irrelevant to this piece.

Ponseele shines here as usual.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 19, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>The BWV 202 is on there as one long track, 20'17". Lots of bassoon...Sounds like only one bassoonist on there, plus harpsichord, handling all the busyness of "Phoebus eilt". And again on "Sich uben im Lieben". No
spurious second bassoon player here to cover notes while the first guy breathes, unless their blend is incredible and the transitions all clean. I suspect that that principle is a fiction, and that the anachronistic bit about Zimmermann's coffeehouse having two bassoons is irrelevant to this piece.<<
1. Certainly only one good bassoonist would be necessary for this part unless a HIP conductor selects an incredibly fast tempo, which they frequently do, and even then, according to Ton Koopman, modern breathing techniques would still allow one good bassoonist to play the part in BWV 202/3.

2. It was Ton Koopman's observation (completely unfounded as it would appear because such fast tempi as described above simply would not be used by any sensible conductor in Bach's time) which led to my conjecture that possibly, if Koopman's report on bassoonists having difficulty playing fast had any merit, then possibly the clever musicians in Bach's day might have come up with an alternative solution, just as the brass players back then were able to play cleanly all the notes (many of the chromatic) which Bach required of them, much to the amazement of many trumpeters today who have to 'cheat' (modern modificiations to instrument modeled on the original instruments) to achieve the same results. After reading Ulrich Prinz's treatment of the bassoon in Bach's music, it became apparent to me that the doubling of bassoons was not done for the main reason of one bassoonist helping the other one out.

3. The principle of using two bassoons in the same piece (same mvt.) playing simultaneously is only 'fiction' in the mind of one who has not studied the available evidence thoroughly. There is no doubt that Zimmermann acquiring 2 bassoons for his coffeehouse has no connection with BWV 202 where there is not even an indication that a bassoon is required. However, it would be unconscionable to assume that Bach, on principle, would shy away from using two bassoons when they were needed and available.

4. Since this point seems to bother Brad Lehman more than most others reading these messages, it might be advisable for Brad to contact Ton Koopman by e-mail to help determine the source for his claim about the inferior breathing techniques used by Bach's bassoonists.

Summary:

For BWV 202 a bassoon, although not indicated in the score, is a reasonable addition to the continuo group as it complements the obbligato oboe in mvts. 7 & 9 and can add much to the character of Mvt. 3.

Elsewhere, on occasion, Bach does use two bassoons simultaneously, sometimes in unison, but I doubt very much that this had anything to do with Koopman's yet unverified theory about how poorly Bach's bassoonists
played the parts he placed before them.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 19, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It was Ton Koopman's observation (completely unfounded as it would appear because such fast tempi as described above simply would not be used by any sensible conductor in Bach's time) >
The infalliible voice has spoken!

Braatz locutus est, causa finita est!

Neil Halliday wrote (January 19, 2007):
Harry W. Crosby wrote:
>"I simply cannot let this round of BWV 202 considerations pass without raising my voice in the wilderness for what I consider a truly lovely, touching, recorded performance.
I refer to the 1989 performance by the Ricercar Consort
[32] with soprano Greta de Reyghere."<
I have been able to find sound samples of Ricercar's latest 2005 recording [50] (but not the 1989 recording referred to above) with soprano Nuria Rial, listed at BCW: Klassik Aktuelle

If the above link does not work, you might get to it from this one: Fnac

If this doen't work, these samples are avialable by googling Ricercar Consort, but it's a time consuming process.

Rial's singing is very nice, more pleasing (IMO) than Rubens (with Rilling [45]) who often displays a strong, theatrical vibrato.

But the harpsichord has the usual jangling pitchless sound I mentioned before in Rilling's 2nd aria, and Ricercar [32] also take this same aria at a fair clip (faster than I like).

I wonder how this performance compares with Ricercar's 1989 recording?

Neil Halliday wrote (January 19, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
<jangling, pitchless harpsichord>
Well, the first link does not come up with the right page, and the second link has samples of Ricercar's BWV 202 [32] in which I can't hear a harpsichord at all. I might try again later.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 19, 2007):
Harry W. Crosby wrote:
<< I simply cannot let this round of BWV 202 considerations pass without raising my voice in the wilderness for what I consider a truly lovely, touching, recorded performance --- and with some damned good musicians, too good to be so ignored. No other performance I have heard --- and I have tried many of what has been offered --- has so magical an opening aria, such an invitation to this cantata's inspired vision.
I refer to the 1989 performance by the Ricercar Consort
[32] with soprano Greta de Reyghere, Marcel Ponseele, oboe, Phillipe Pierlot, gamba, and several well-considered others. As a considerable bonus, the disk includes BWV 152 in which de Reyghere is joined by Max van Egmond, and BWV 82 for him alone.
Ricercar disk, RIC 061041, is very nicely recorded and sounds great on the most demanding equipment. >>
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Thanks for the reminder of this terrific recording -- I've put my copy on to listen to this afternoon at your prompting. Wow! [...] Ponseele shines here as usual. >
I did not have this Ricercar Consort [32] recording available when I wrote the introduction to BWV 202. In the interim, a BCML participant has kindly provided me a copy. As best I can tell, it is not presently available otherwise. I find it very similar in style and interpretation to the the Donath's [24] which I favored, including bassoon (one!) in the continuo. IMO, Ricercar gets the edge on the basis of the Marcel Ponseele oboe, but the distinctions are minor. Both are superb, both sadly unavailable at present. For comments to make a choice among available recordings, see the post by Neil Halliday,as well as the first round of discussions.

I wonder if the continuo with bassoon was the inspiration for the pizzicato double bass continuo in live performance with Susan Hagen/Winsor Music, which I described in the introduction? Has anyone found this continuo style in recordings not yet mentioned? I will leave it as an open question for now. If all else fails, I will probably have an opportunity to ask Susan. There is a recording by Boston -based Sarasata, which I am embarrassed to admit I do not yet have. Can anyone comment on continuo style on that version?

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 19, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] And without saying he'd actually ever heard the Ricercar Consort's recording [32] itself, either, to hear this particular bassoonist's performance!

I pasted his posting into a word processor and ran a word count on it. 501 words, mostly devoted to personally beating up Ton Koopman and me and other fine musicians; plus his bogey-man category of "a HIP conductor" as if they're all stupid and/or interchangeable. "(...) unless a HIP conductor selects an incredibly fast tempo, which they frequently do (...)"

Harry W. Crosby wrote (January 19, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
"I have been able to find sound samples of Ricercar's latest 2005 recording [50] (but not the 1989 recording referred to above) with soprano Nuria Rial, listed at BCW:
Rial's singing is very nice, more pleasing (IMO) than Rubens (with Rilling) who often displays a strong, theatrical vibrato."
Neil, I take a back seat to no one in my enjoyment and appreciation of Nuria Rial's truly wonderful work with José Miguel Moreno doing classic Spanish songs, 15th to 17th century. She is so Spanish (OK, Catalana) to the core! And lovely as well is her singing of the arias on the Corselli disk [worth knowing!], and then when I saw/heard her interviewed on Spanish television it was all too much; I was head over heels in love --- Old Boys are like that. But can't say that I found her at her best with Bach--the disk you mention. By comparison, her work on the Handel cantata, same disk, seems so much more idiomatic, comfortable, expressive, fun.

But do by all means remember Nuria Rial for her other recorded performances, truly delights!

Stephen Benson wrote (January 21, 2007):
Harry W. Crosby wrote:
< I simply cannot let this round of BWV 202 considerations pass without raising my voice in the wilderness for what I consider a truly lovely, touching, recorded performance --- and with some damned good musicians, too good to be so ignored. No other performance I have heard --- and I have tried many of what has been offered --- has so magical an opening aria, such an invitation to this cantata's inspired vision.
I refer to the 1989 performance by the Ricercar Consort
[32] with soprano Greta de Reyghere, Marcel Ponseele, oboe, Phillipe Pierlot, gamba, and several well-considered others. >
I feel compelled to add my voice to those extolling the virtues of the 1989 Ricercar Consort recording of BWV 202 [32]. Having recently been introduced to this version (thanks, Harry!), it has become one of my most frequently played discs. Together with the other felicities already mentioned -- de Reyghere's opening aria and the oboe of Marcel Ponseele -- the bumptious bassoon percolating underneath and throughout the musical fabric provides a contrasting tinge of raunchiness that only highlights the whimsical elegance of de Reyghere and introduces an element of charivari lustiness to the proceedings. To me, this is an aspect of Bach's music that is too often overlooked (or suppressed?), but which never fails to bring a smile to my face. (Please note: this is a highly personal reaction. I don't expect others to hear it the same way.) Succeeding in its clearly expressed objectives, it casts away shadows and lightens the heart.

Other examples in the cantatas of this "unbuttoned" Bach which immediately come to mind are Harnoncourt's BWV 26 and Junghanel's BWV 196.

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 202: 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

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: żNovember 3, 2014 ż09:14:42