Cantata BWV 30Freue dich, erlöste Schar
Cantata BWV 30a
Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich in deinen Auen!
Discussions - Part 2
Continue from Part 1
Discussions in the Week of November 23, 2008
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (November 23, 2008):
Introduction to cantatas BWV 30 «Freue dich, erlöste Schar» and 30a «Angenehmes Wiederau»
Cantata 30: «Freue dich, erlöste Schar»
Occasion: Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Readings: Epistle: Isaah 40: 1-5; Gospel: Luke 1: 57-80
First performance: June 24th, 1738
Chorale: Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele
Cantata 30a: «Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich in deinen Auen!»
Occasion: acquisition of a manor and estate at Wiederau by Johann Christian von Hennicke
First performance: Septembre 28th, 1737
This week we have exceptionally two cantatas to discuss, with almost the same music but with very different contexts. This seems a perfect occasion to go further in the discussion about secular vs. sacred cantatas that we started about BWV 206!
The sacred cantata BWV 30 was performed for the Feast of Saint-John the Baptist, one of the few saintly feasts to be celebrated in the Lutheran context (with the feasts of Saint-Stephen and Saint-Michael and the feasts linked to events of the life of the Virgin Mary).
John the Baptist was the son of Elizabeth, cousin of the Virgin Mary, and of Zacharias. We may remember that the Magnificat is based on the words of the Virgin Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth, when both were pregnant. I have always loved the narrative of this visit, and also the story about the birth of John, which is in the readings of this feast: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/John-Baptist.htm
Thus John the Baptist was among Jesus' relatives, and when he grew up he was considered as a prophet. He preached in the desert, announcing the venue of the Messiah. In the beginning of his public life, Jesus came to him to be baptised in the Jordan, hence Saint-John's name, and also the fact that one of the other cantatas written by Bach for the Feast of Saint-John the Baptist - BWV 7 - has for heading «Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam».
Now if we take the other "beneficiary" of the music we discuss today, we have a striking contrast! Johann Christian von Hennicke, according to Wikipedia, was a quite unpleasant person: greedy, corrupt, vain, and ungrateful to his protectors, the Queen, and the count Heinrich von Brühl. Originally a chamber servant, he took advantage of their protection to rise to high governmental functions and to access to nobility in 1728. He eventually became Vice-President of the Chamber, Minister, and Count in 1745.
The occasion of the homage cantata is the entry in possession of von Hennicke of a manor and an estate in Wiederau. Here is what the castle of Wiederau looks like today: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/Schloss_wiederau.jpg.
You may see on the following website: http://www.schlossverein-wiederau.de/Frame-Set/Frame_%dcbersichtseite.html that around 2000, local people took initiatives in order to protect the castle and the village, but on the other hand, another (commercial) website indicates that the castle is presently on sale for 995.000 Euros. Here is the description given by the advertisement:
"The baroque castle built in 1705 in Wiederau and is single most valuable monument in Sachsen. It is approximately 20 kms to the south of Leipzig and has great access to the infrastructure because it is so near to the highway A 38. The south area of Leipzig has numerous lakes and is a nearby leisure area for relaxing. In 1737 Johann Sebastian Bach, who frequently stopped in Wiederau, has written a homage cantata for the castle: pleasant Wiederau, how you enjoy your pastures, BMV 30a. With valuable wall paintings and ceiling paintings from Italian masters to fitted out rooms in the ground floor and upper floor, there is definitely a multiplicity of different uses. It was possible to use the castle as a high-quality proficient representative office. In view of the valuable protected monument, structural changes must be planned carefully and be voted upon."
Thus if a wealthy Bach lover feels like saving the cultural dimension of the place, it is the moment to buy!
As in other cantatas named "dramma per musica" by Bach, we have four characters in BVW 30a: Time (soprano), Fate (bass), Good Fortune (alto) and the River Elster (tenor) - a quite special mix this time! Three allegorical figures associated with a real river (the Elster). The latter recalls the four rivers of BWV 206 that we discussed two weeks ago. The (White) Elster is the river that goes through Wiederau and presumably symbolises the whole estate together with the surrounding countryside. The Elster also flows through Leipzig, thus making a link between both places...
Knowing who von Hennicke was, some Bach lovers may feel a little ill at ease when reading the laudatory text (probably written by Picander) where all four characters celebrate his arrival in Wiederau. But looking somewhat closer (e.g. http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV30a-Eng3.htm), I feel that the text very subtly magnifies the beautiful estate and the charming countryside more than the person who just acquired it. Only Time shows more familiarity with von Hennicke ("mein Hennicke") and promises everlasting prosperity. One can feel some unintended irony in this when we know that von Hennicke's only son, August, died childless in 1753 shortly after von Hennicke himself...
Whatever the meaning and qualities of the libretto, the music Bach wrote on it is superb. While most of it is probably original, Alberto Basso in «Jean-Sébastien Bach» (quoted by Benoit Jacquemin who contributed to this introduction) indicates that # 1 and # 5 would come from # 8 and # 6 of the first version (C1728-1731) of wedding cantata BWV 195, recently discussed here. This is not easy for a profane to detect with the BGA score... It is easier to see the link between # 11 (tenor aria) and # 8 of BWV 210a («O angenehme Melodei»). The melody is indeed the same with a change of key, as the BWV 210 aria is for soprano. This movement will also be "recycled" as #10 in BWV 210 «O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit», a secular cantata that will be discussed next week.
A question before dealing with BWV 30: where was BWV 30a performed? We would logically think it would be in Wiederau, which is not that far from Leipzig as we have seen. But this would imply some complex logistic organization... and the BCW indicates Leipzig as place of performance. Do we know if Bach often happened to perform concerts elsewhere than in the city of Leipzig?
It is understandable that Bach did not wish this music to be lost (or maybe, had he already in mind another occasion to perform it). A year or so after the performance of BWV 30a, he performed BWV 30, using most of the material of BWV 30a, for the occasion of the Feast of Saint-John the Baptist, a joyous event which justified the happy mood of the music.
According to Basso, BWV 30 is one of the few cantatas to have been named by Bach "cantata" and one of the "not so many" to be in two parts (Basso lists them in vol. 2, respectively pages 248 and 268). This would suggest that he had some special motivation, all the more as we have no reason to think that he was required to write this cantata at the time he did (he already had cantatas for this feast). In my mind, this would confirm the hypothesis of Cantagrel (see the introduction to BWV 11), that Bach wanted his best music to be placed in a context worth of it.
The most obvious changes from secular to sacred - besides the change of text of course - is the suppression of the tenor aria and of the last recitative (soprano, bass, alto). The suppressed movements are replaced by a new movement, a central chorus on chorale «Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele». This chorale has been frequently used by Bach in other cantatas, for various occasions, including also Saint-Michael's feast (BWV 19, BWV 19, BWV 25, BWV 32, BWV 39, BWV 70, BWV 194). Another smaller change: the shortening of the second movement (bass recitative), which in BWV 30a included a short (but quite nice in my opinion) section with all four soloists.
A new text was set on the music, maybe also by Picander. I read that for some, the adaptation between text and music is not optimal. This is not obvious to me, looking at the final result. The text seems well balanced and reflects the readings of the day, and the character of the music seems appropriate to their mood. One of the interesting features in my opinion is the textual symmetry between the opening and closing choruses ("Freue dich, erlöste / geheilgte Schar", "Freue dich in Sions Hütten / Auen"). Note the mention of meadows (Auen) in the final chorus, a kind of "wink" to the heading of BWV 30a!
For what concerns changes in instrumentation, the available information is not quite clear. According to Basso, instrumentation for BWV 30a is the following: SATB, choir, three trumpets, drums, two transverse flutes, two oboes, oboe d'amore, strings and continuo. For BWV 30: SATB, choir, two flutes, two oboes, oboe d'amore, strings and continuo. Thus the trumpets and drums were left out. On the other hand, for BWV 30, the BGA score features instrumentation with drums and trumpets. And Basso specifies that the BG edition of 1855 (V/1, 323) included three trumpets and three drums for BWV 30.
Aryeh communicated me information by Thomas Braatz that explains the discrepancy. I quote him: "The BGA editiors did not distinguish clearly the additions made by C.P.E. Bach and W.F. Bach at a later point in time from J. S. Bach's original intentions which are quite clear from his title.". And he explains: "Bach's autograph title page for the score does not list trumpets and timpani. Someone, probably C.P.E. Bach, later added in parentheses "concordant e se piace a 3 Trombe e Tamburi". The original set of parts does not include the parts for trumpets and timpani; however, the 3 parts for Clarino 1, Clarino 2, and Timpani (for mvts. 1 & 12) in W.F. Bach's handwriting were added later (probably for a performance of this work in Halle). Later C.P.E. Bach came into possession of the score and parts and it was listed in his estate at the time of his death (1790)."
Once again, we have Wilhelm Friedemann (and his brother?) adding trumpets and drums to his /their father's work - let us remember BWV 80 recently discussed. This explains why Harnoncourt / Leonhardt [BWV30-3] and Leusink [BWV30-7] in their integrals do not use trumpets or drums for BWV 30, while Leonhardt with Café Zimmermann [BWV30a-4] uses drums and trumpets for BWV 30a. We may indeed note that a number of secular cantatas of this period use them, but this is less frequent with sacred cantatas.
The whole music is quite joyful from beginning to end, which is not so frequent in Bach's cantatas (some joyous cantatas have darker sections). This suggests that although this period was certainly not an easy one for him (with notably the aesthetics polemics with Mattheson and Scheibe, who suggested that Bach's style was artificial and/or out of date), he was able to transcend the difficulties of the present. What we can imagine also is that he wanted to prove to his detractors of the day that he was perfectly capable to compose music that was in phase with the modern taste. The result is certainly convincing...
I will not go into the details of all (12 / 13) movements, but mention a few special points. I have listened to Leusink (Brilliant set) [BWV30-7] for BWV 30, and to Leonhardt with Café Zimmermann [BWV30a-4] for BWV 30a. As mentioned higher, the instrumentation differs: drums and trumpets only appear in Leonhardt. Both are enjoyable recordings in my opinion.
Movement 1 (opening chorus): we could reproduce the remark previously made about BWV 14: the choir starts right away without instrumental introduction, seizing the attention immediately. But in BWV 14, the character was deeply serious, here particularly stimulating and joyful. In both cases, the "trick" works!
The counterpoint of both is not too complex, maybe in answer to the current criticisms? It is a pleasure to find back this movement at the end of the cantata. Drums and trumpets seem quite appropriate here (but it also works well without).
Movement 5 (alto aria): this aria is famous for its special syncopated rhythm, and could be considered as somewhat "jazzy". It is a real delight, particularly with Robin Blaze (Leonhardt) whom I prefer here to Buwalda (Leusink).
Tenor aria (only in BWV 30a): too bad it was left out of BWV 30 - maybe was it too "dancing"? For those who have the Brilliant set, which apparently does not include BWV 30a, it can be heard as soprano aria in BWV 210 (but quality of the rendering can be discussed).
The last recitative of BWV 30a (also left out of BWV 30) has a particularly high note (c) for the soprano voice on the word "Blitz". Maybe this was too high for the boys of St-Thomas?
According to William Hekkers (notes for the concert of the Chapelle des Minimes of June 19th, 1994): "the presence of certain stylized dances is obvious" in some movements: passepied in the bass aria (# 3), gigue in the soprano aria (# 10 in BWV 30 / # 9 in BWV 30a). This probably contributes to the "light" character of the cantata(s).
The Chapelle des Minimes will perform BWV 30 again in June 2009, so I should be back here to give you a report about it at that time....
And as this is my last introduction, I would like to thank all list members who have contributed to the discussions of the past weeks. A special thanks also to Benoît Jacquemin (http://www.benoit-jacquemin.be) and Julius Stenzel, artistic director of the Chapelle des Minimes (www.minimes.be), for their contributions, comments and corrections to my drafts.
As a support to the discussion, you will find as usual a lot of interesting information on the BCW home pages of respectively BWV 30: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV30.htm and 30a: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV30a.htm. You can also access all BGA scores here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/index.htm (link provided by Aryeh).
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (November 24, 2008):
No opinion on these cantatas?
William Hoffman wrote (November 25, 2008):
Cantatas BWV 30 and 30a: Fugitive notes to come
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< No opinion on these cantatas? >
William Hoffman responds: Utterly charming in secular and sacred guises: In a class with BWV 34(a) and 36(a,b) as well as the Köthen parodies BWV 173(a) and BWV 184(a). All kinds of connections through invention, reinvention, transformation. I'm looking at Bach's motives, methods and opportunities. I'll have details, with sources, on parody process, dance and lombard rhythm, and behind the intrigues of the Dresden Court. And some thoughts about the "embarassing" texts and contexts.
William Hoffman wrote (November 25, 2008):
Cantatas BWV 30(a) 30a: Fugitive notes -- Progressive style
Where is Sebastian's sacred music in the second half of the 1730s? Specifically, between the St. Matthew Passion definitive version of 1736 and the thwarted revival of the St. John Passion in 1739. For three years there is virtually nothing. Yes, some 12 sacred service cantatas are revived, but dated vaguely between 1736 and 1740. There are a handful of Latin Mass movements, including the Missae BWV 233-236, as well as the publication of the Clavier Übung III (German Organ Mass & Catechism Chorales) in 1739. There are no documented performances of annual Passions on Good Friday or sacred cantatas for the annual installation of the Leipzig Town Council. Bach is on an extended Cantor's Holiday!
In fact there are only two "new" works whose dates are documented during this half-decade, besides Cantata BWV 206, "Schleicht, spielende Wellen, und murmelt gelinde," for August's birthday, Oct. 7, 1736. The two are: Cantata BWV 30a, "Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich in deinen Auen!," Sept. 28. 1737, a homage serenade, text by Picander; and Cantata BWV Anh. 13, "Willkommen! Ihr herrschenden Gotter der Erden!," April 28, 1738, another homage serenade for the visiting Saxon Court, text by J.C. Gottsched, all music lost.
Bach probably had much time to plan out these two occasional, utility pieces. Both are described as progressive works with texts by well-known poets, and the two render tribute to members of the secular elite. Both probably required large instrumental forces and demonstrated Bach's "patterns of `reinvention'." Cantata BWV 30a was turned into sacred Cantata BWV 30 - one of Bach's last "original" sacred efforts -- for the Feast of John the Baptist, probably performed the next year, on June 26, 1738.
The most obvious characteristics of the five progressive lyric movements common to Cantata BWV 30a and its parodied BWV 30 are dance-like rhythms and the related Lombard rhythm. The opening and repeated closing chorus with new, "parodied" words is a gavotte-style in ¾ time. The first bass aria (No. 3) is a passepied-style in 3/8 time. The alto aria (No. 5) in another gavotte-style in common time. The second bass aria (No. 7 in BWV 30a, No. 8 in BWV 30) is minute-like in ¾ time; and the soprano aria (No. 9 in BWV 30a, No. 10 in BWV 30) is gigue-style in 9/8 time. Only the second bass aria is not in da-capo repeat form.
An examination of the extant homage serenade BWV 30a shows Bach's most extensive use of progressive style, according to Gerhard Herz in his definitive study, "Lombard Rhythm in Bach's Vocal Music," 1978 (Essays on J.S. Bach, UMI Research Press, 1985; p. 257). He say Cantata BWV 30a "can conceivably be called the most modern among Bach's surviving cantatas." The opening chorus "belongs to the syncopated style of which Mattheson had said `which nowadays is the highest fashion'" ("Der volkommrnr Capellmeister," 1739). The fifth movement "is similarly saturated with syncopations which are later joined by Lombard figures." The second bass aria has "one of the most conspicuous examples of Lombard rhythm.."
Herz compares BWV 30a with the similarly progressive but lost Cantata BWV Anh. 13, cited above. Herz speculates that the "presence of two generations of the Royal House of Saxony. . .may well have inspired Bach to converse with his illustrious guests in the most up to date and fashionable style of the time." Concludes Herz: "The chronological proximity of the Wiederau Cantata to the lost cantata of 1738 and the fact that both Mizler and Burnbaum did not make use of it in their attempts to refute Scheibe's critical arguments, should allow us to deduce that Cantata BWV Anh. 13 was even more up to date, more lavish in its use of short-long and Lombard (reverse-dotted) rhythms and syncopation than the Wiederau Cantata BWV 30a."
The Lombard rhythm, also called "Scottish snap," as a novel mannerism in baroque music was first found in Vivaldi operas in Rome in 1723, according to Herz, p. 234f. Bach initially used this rhythm in the chorale Cantata BWV 114/2, tenor aria, Oct. 1, 1724. Bach also used Lombard inflection in written-out mordents in his "Esurientes" movements of his Magnificat, BWV 243, and in SMP arias "Erbarme dich," "Buss und Reu," "Blute nur" and "Mache dich." Herz emphasizes that Bach used these early manifestations of Lombard rhythm sparingly and only to "express disturbed emotions such as the despair in BWV 114/2.." In the 1730s, on the contrary, Bach utilized Lombard rhythm to express "joy, pomp and splendor" (p. 241).
Lombard rhythm also is found in the Dresden Masses of the 1730s and probably influenced Bach, most notably in the "Domine Deus" soprano aria of his Dresden Missa, BWV 232I of 1733, says George B. Stauffer in his monograph, "Bach, the Mass in B Minor: "The Great Catholic Mass" (Yale University Press, 2003; p. 246). In Dresden, "lombard figures commonly appear" in Mass passages dealing with Christ's humanity. Interestingly, Bach uses Lombard rhythms most extensively in the 1730s in lyric movements of his secular celebratory cantatas which were then parodied in Feast Day oratorios for Christmas, Easter, and Ascension as well as in the Cantatas BWV 30a, 211, and 206.
Cantata BWV 30a also uses another progressive, instrumental element: the German ceremonial tradition of a large wind group (pairs of flutes, oboes and sometimes bassoons) and brass ensemble of trumpets and timpani, says Stauffer, p. 53. This is most pronounced in the 1730s and 1740s in the Cantatas BWV 30a, BWV 11, BWV 34a, BWV 214, and BWV 215, as Bach made extensive use of his Collegium musicum ensemble.
Peter Smaill wrote (November 25, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] Those in or around London will be able to hear BWV 30 shortly as part of a season of Bach Cantatas at the Royal Academy of Music: Royal Academy of Music [PDF]
Alas the programme draws extensively on the alleged portrait of J S bach and his sons, which Teri Noel Towe has identified as of the Ahle family. If you look very closely (one button is obscured) the number of buttons, as in the Haussmann Bach portrait (BACH=14), equals the numeric AHLE (1+8+11+5 = 25).
As to the Cantata itself, the themes are a permutation of three very istrands in the theological emphasis in the libretti as a whole. There is release from the Law of the Old Testament by the new covenant of the Saviour, for whom John the Baptist is a harbinger; there is the eschatological vision of Jerusalem, not uncommon in Christian music but IMO especially emphasised in the later Bach texts; and the allusion to sheep and meadows, the feature of several OT references in the Cantatas, collectively the "schafekantaten".
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (November 25, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] Thanks a lot William for this detailed and interesting information.
Too bad the music of BWV Anh. 13 is lost, it would have been so interesting to see (hear) the next step in this evolution.
Julian Mincham wrote (November 25, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< No opinion on these cantatas? >
These two cantatas allow one to study closely the imagery of an original text and the ways in which it might have stimulated musical ideas for the original movements, following on to look at the ways in which Bach adapted or reused the music for the new texts and their suitability (or not!) for the different words. This can lead to some unfortunate errors of interpretation if one is unaware of the chronolgy of the compositions unearthed by relatively recent research. Schweitzer fell into this trap on occasions as he was not in a position always to be aware of what words were first used for a particular musical setting. It becomes an invalid exercise to deduce that certain musical ideas were formulated from certain textual images if one is mistaken about the text that was used for the initial musical setting.
However an interesting point arises with respect to the alto aria no 5 where Bach makes explicit use of the flattened third of the scale in the latter part of the ritornello. I mentioned in some of my intros to the last quarter of the second cycle how Bach often tempers a major scale with the explicit use of the intervals which differential major from minor e.g. the flattened third, sixth and seventh. The opening chorus to BWV 8 (When shall I die?) is a good example as is the alto aria from 33. Both introduce all three of the 'minor mode' notes very early on thus softening the mood and charater of the otherwise major mode music.
In the alto aria to BWV 30 Bach only uses the flattened third note, C natural in the key of A, but to powerful effect. It is this, as much as the syncopation which gives this music its jazzy feel (commented upon by Elliot Gardener in his introductions to the cantatas in the BBC's Bach Week two or three years ago). It is tempting to suppose that this 'blues' note suggests the 'sleep of sin' later referred to in the text but this cannot have been more than a fortuitous coincidence. No such allusions appear in the orginal rather bland text from BWV 30a.
Bach's use of this 'blues note', the flattened third degree of the scale is interesting. Its usual harmonisation in traditional blues music is with a dominant 7th chord e.g. in the key of C the Eb would be harmonised with a chord of F, A, C and Eb) I have not come across any of the many examples where Bach uses this note where he harmonises it this way; instead he opts for the diminished 7th chord (again in C, the chord would be F#, A, C and Eb).
The syncopation of this alto aria allows the performers to play with the mind of the listeners and fool them as to what is actually the rhythmic structure of the music. It begins on the down (strong) beat of the bar DAH-dah---dah/DAH---dah---dah. Etc. But in some recordingings (e.g. Koopman's) it doesn't sound like that i.e. the first note sounds like an upbeat dah/DAH--dah---dah/DAH---dah----etc. One catches up with the rhythmic structure only when the triplets make their appearance a20few bars later.
This is, to my mind, the musical equivalent of those optical allusions which lead one to believe you are seeing something which is not actually the case, catching up with the reality of the situation at a later stage.
Mary wrote (November 25, 2008):
[To Peter Smaill] Not only the Ahle family portrait, but the information on Cantata BWV 194 is misleading. The piece was written for the dedication of the Zacharias Hildebrandt organ at the Kreuzkirche in Störmthal; I played this organ last month. Störmthal is near, but not in, Leipzig. Hildebrandt became a collaborator with Bach and his opus magnum in Naumburg can be thought of as the ultimate Bach organ. JSB certainly liked it.
Jean Laaninen wrote (November 26, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Knowing who von Hennicke was, some Bach lovers may feel a little ill at ease when reading the laudatory text (probably written by Picander) where all four characters celebrate his arrival in Wiederau. But looking somewhat closer (e.g. http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV30a-Eng3.htm), I feel that the text very subtly magnifies the beautiful estate and the charming countryside more than the person who just acquired it. Only Time shows more familiarity with von Hennicke ("mein Hennicke") and promises everlasting prosperity. One can feel some unintended irony in this when we know that von Hennicke's only son, August, died childless in 1753 shortly after von Hennicke himself...
Whatever the meaning and qualities of the libretto, the music Bach wrote on it is superb. >
I appreciate the point Thérèse has brought up again about the contrasting texts (secular and sacred) and how one might respond to the varied use by Bach of some music created for one purpose and then used for another. At times Doug Cowling has made the point that Bach's music cannot always be interpreted as text painting, and in other contexts where I have been a student or musical peer the point about origins of motifs being taken from simple tavern songs and transformed into hymns and so on has come under discussion.
Probably the academic question is whether or not the music carries the text in these situations. Is the mood compatible with the words? In some way I generally prefer when music for sacred contexts is kept rather strictly to sacred contexts, but then I realize I have no way of exactly knowing the origins or certain motifs that Bach may have borrowed from common contexts. I tend to see Bach as a master of using the right music to convey the mood, but I'd be curious if others in the group feel that in the secular version (BWV 30a) this premise carries out. This is one of those kind of questions that enters into preaching (sacred) as well as music per drama (secular). Does the music tell the story as well as the text?
Perhaps one may be best served IMO by seeing the settings (both sacred and secular) as somehow meaningful to Bach, perhaps as well as texts. I like what Thérèse has said below about the setting of this marvelous estate. Also, although we know some characteristics of the person receiving homage perhaps the man also had some redeeming qualities as a servant of the state and a steward of the land. And I sometimes think, too, that if Bach could move between these realms of sacred and secular so easily if he didn't truly have a wholistic view of life. Commentary on this would be appreciated. Perhaps some academic references...
I am in the process of listening as I write, (the Rilling version) and the music is superb to my ear. Auger's soprano aria is simply an amazement.
The chorus's also are very pleasing...almost a jolly nature to them.
William Hoffman wrote (November 26, 2008):
Cantatas BWV 30(a): Fugitive Notes II: Dresden Connections
Dresden Connections: The record shows Bach with at least five significant dealings with representatives of the Dresden Court: Count Joachim Friedrich von Flemming (1665), his brother Count Jakob Heinrich von Flemming (1667-1728), Prime Minister Heinrich von Brühl (1700-1763), Gottfried Lange (1672-1748); and the Lord of the Manor at Wiederau, Johann Christian von Hennicke (OCC:JSB, Wolff JSB:TLM, and Bach's Ch). Members of the Saxon Court Quintet are:*Count Joachim Friedrich von Flemming, military governor of Leipzig, was the subject of three Bach congratulatory birthday serenades, BWV 249b of 1726, BWV Anh. 10 in 1731, and BWV 210a between 1735-40. *Flemming's younger brother, Jakob Heinrich, was August the Great's powerful Prime Minister and was the host for the famous contest with Louis Marchand at his Dresden residence in 1717.
*Leipzig businessman Lange in 1723 unofficially represented the interests of August the Strong on the Leipzig Town Council, was the annual Mayor when Bach was hired, led the so-called Kapellemeister Faction which was instrumental in hiring Bach, and generally supported him.
*Brühl, who succeeded Jakob Heinrich von Flemming as Saxon Prime Minister in 1728, signed Bach's appointment in 1736 as Dresden Court Composer and worked with Leipzig Mayor Jakob Born after Lange's death in 1748 to secure Bach's successor, Gottlob Harrer (1703-55).
*Thérèse Hanquet's concise bio of Hennicke is found in her Introduction to this BWV 30(a) discussion.
Along with Hennicke, there is another, outside-Leipzig performance for a lesser-known Dresden representative, musician Carl Heinrich von Dieskau. Bach's Peasant Cantata BWV 212 honors von Dieskau on Aug. 30, 1742, also for his acquisition of a manor. Wolff, p. 361, cites these two as out-of-town performances, based upon commissions, perhaps involving members of the Leipzig Collegium musicum.
The record of concerts elsewhere is very sketchy. Primarily, we have visits in old familiar places like Köthen and Weißenfels (but not Weimar!) for BWV 36a and Leopold's Trauermusik, BWV 244a, as well as Duke Christian's birthday Hunt Cantata, BWV 208 and the birthday serenade, BWV 249a during Lent 1725, beginning Bach's use of significant use of parody with poet Picander. We also have undocumented trips listed in Wolff's Chronology, Appx. 1, to Halle, Berlin and Sangerhausen, perhaps just to visit his sons. We also have some vague possible visits to Ohrdruf in 1736 for a BWV 195 wedding, to Dresden in 1733 for the Missa BWV 232, to Frankfurt in 1739 for the Coffee Cantata, and nearby Delitzsch for a 1735 performance of the St. Mark Passion, BWV 247, with former student C.G. Fröber.
Still to come: Bach and the parody genesis and transformation process.
Peter Smaill wrote (November 26, 2008):
[To Mary] We are all fallible! Me when hurrying. The take on the portrait should be Abel not Ahle and the buttons are 19!
But I'm surprised at the other errors in the Royal Academy blurb. Störmthal I cite as evidence for small musical forces, for surely that little church would have been packed for its dedication and although the Cantata is long the musical personnel available (given the cost of coaches and the size of the church) must have been OVPP and a small orchestra. Naumburg by contrast is enormous and splendid in every way as befits the organ there. The centre has been restored to good effect.
Thank you for bringing back memories of a summer tour to Saxony to these delightful spots.
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (November 26, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] Thanks William for this substantial complement of information.
Thus it seems that BWV 30a was performed in Wiederau? It would be interesting to know (or imagine) how this happened concretely (indoors ou outdoors? If there were drums and trumpets, the place should have been large enough...).
Do we have account of such performances by other composers of the time?
Neil Halliday wrote (November 27, 2008):
The gigue-like character (in 9/8 time), mentioned by Marie, of the soprano aria is similar to the tenor aria from BWV 7 "Des Vaters Stimme liess" - an earlier cantata (1724) also for the Feast of St John the Baptist - and both arias have similar, lively broken-chord figurations in the string parts, imbuing the music with a joyous exultation
(despite the minor keys).
Briefly, in Werner, Richter, and Rilling (30 and 30a) the problem areas are Richter's soprano and Werner's choruses; otherwise I find everything a pleasure to hear (apart from Rilling's 30a seccos).
William Hoffman wrote (November 28, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Thanks William for this substantial complement of information.Thus it seems that BWV 30a was performed in Wiederau? It would be interesting to know (or imagine) how this happened concretely (indoors or outdoors? If there were drums and trumpets, the place should have been large enough...). Do we have account of such
performances by other composers of the time? >
I can find no documentation specifically referring to this performance other than Picander's published 1737 poem. However, there is much collateral documentation regarding similar performances. We have an account of the importance of Baroque mansions in Leipzig in Bach's Changing World in the initial article by editor Mary Dalton Greer. Such edifices were a trademark in Leipzig among the city's elite families, especially businessmen. They engaged the most notable civil engineers and architects. The classic (or Baroque) example is local merchant Dietrich Apel's domicile, cited in illustration 37, George B. Stauffer's "Leipzig: a Cosmopolitan Trade Center," in <Music & Society: The Late Baroque Era.> It was the official residence of the visiting Saxon Royal Court. On Oct. 5, 1734, at 9 p.m., Bach's dramma per musica serenade BWV 215 with trumpets and drums was performed at the Leipzig Markt amid stark illumination of the "whole town," with torches and variegated lamps, while the royal entourage watched from Apel's windows. The detailed account is provided by J. S. Riemer,
Leipzig Chronicles (BD II, 352, NBR Nos. 171-3).
Almost exactly two years later, on Sept. 28, 1737, also during the Leipzig Michaelmas Fair, another drama per musica serenade, BWV 30a was performed in Wiederau, probably also by the Leipzig Collegium musicum outside at night with illumination in front of the Lord's Manor, a country estate.
BWV 30a: Genesis and Transformation. Cantata BWV 30a is another primary example of Bach's development and deployment of significant, progressive secular cantatas. It also is a summation of this process. A source critical examination, based on various writers, reveals its historical, intrinsic link to the Dresden Royal Court beginning in 1727. On May 12, Bach produced his first serenade for the court, BWV Anh. 9, "Entfernet euch, ihr heitern Sterne," for the birthday of August the Strong.
That same year, 1727, Bach apparently composed two gavotte-style movements for the now-lost original version of Cantata BWV 195(a), presumably a proto-cantata comic tribute to a local couple. They were BWV 195/8, "Höchster, schenke diesem Paar,"now topening chorus, BWV 30a/1, as well as BWV 195(a)/6, "Auf, und rühmet des Höchsten Güte, now the alto aria with flute and strings," BWV 30a/5.
In 1732, Bach composed another proto cantata, his second tribute to the Saxon Court, BWV Anh. 11, for August the Strong's nameday, August 3. One movement in BWV Anh. 11, No. 9, the aria "Ich will ihn Hegen," was parodied, in 1737 in BWVa 30 as movement 7, the second bass aria in minuet-style for oboe d'amore and violin solo with strings. Not to be outdone, Bach the next year parodied the gavotte-style aria, BWV 195(a)/6, as Movement No. 3, "Holder, angenehmer Schein," in his third congratulatory cantata for the Dresden Court, BWV 12, for son August III's same nameday, August 3, 1733.
Next, Bach, who was seeking to the title of Saxon Court Composer, composed four virtually original drammi per musica, BWV 213-215 and 206, for Dresden Royal Court visits during 1734-36.
In 1737, having secured his court title, Bach composed BWV 30a. He parodied and transformed the three existing movements - gavotte-style opening/closing chorus (Nos. 1, 13), gavotte-style alto aria (No. 5), and minuet-style bass aria (No 7). Bach also adapted an aria from his 1729 Leipzig birthday cantata, BWV 210a (for visiting Duke Christian of Weißenfels), for tenor with flute, oboe d'amore and strings (No. 11). Bach newly composed a passepied-style bass aria with strings (No. 3) and a gigue-style soprano aria with violin and basso-continuo (No. 9). He interspersed all the movements with introductory recitative pairings to the respective arias, and a summary recitative for soprano, bass and alto (No. 12), leading to the closing, repeated chorus.
Probably nine months later, for the Feast of St John, June 27, 1738, Bach parodied all the lyric arias and choruses, except the tenor aria, as Cantata BWV 30. He also parodied one recitative (Movement 8 in the original) as Movement 9, one of about 20% of Bach parodied recitatives from vocal movements in mostly secular cantatas. Incidentally, sometime between 1735 and 1740, Bach recycled Cantata BWV 210, including the tenor aria (BWV 30a/11), as a congratulatory birthday serenade (with a dedicatory name change) for Count Joachim Friedrich von Flemming, Bach's strongest Dresden Court connection. Not to be outdone, again, Bach between 1738 and 1741 parodied the five arias and one recitative in BWV 210a as a secular wedding cantata, BWV 210, the music of which is extant.
Cantata BWV 30a was not simply self-plagiarism or second-hand music, it was Bach's summation of his progressive secular cantata style, his transformative process of parody, and the best of his celebratory music not used elsewhere in his oratorios or the B-Minor Mass, which also could be Bach's sacred counterpart to BWV 30a.
Cantata BWV 30 for the Feast of St. John, also stands on its own as a significant work, especially as part of his sacred, well-ordered "occasional" work for the church year. It was one of Bach's last transformative (parodied) sacred cantatas, along with BWV 34a for Pentecost, and BWV 191 for Christmas.
In a recent BCW Cantata BWV 30a entry, Neil H. points out:
"The gigue-like character (in 9/8 time), mentioned by Marie, of the soprano aria is similar to the tenor aria from BWV 7 "Des Vaters Stimme liess" - an earlier cantata (1724) also for the Feast of St. John the Baptist - and both arias have similar, lively broken-chord figurations in the string parts, imbuing the music with a joyous exultation (despite the minor keys)."
There also is gigue-like character in the opening aria of Bach's other extant St. John's Day solo Cantata BWV 167, Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe," June 24, 1723, according to Doris Fincke-Hecklinger's Tanzcharakter in Vokalmusik JSB. The common dance-element in Bach's three extant St. Johan's Day Cantatas could be related to the Gospel reading, Luke 1: 57-80, Nativity of St. John - a time of joy, a time to dance.
The Feast of St. John comes early in the Trinity season, which only has two other feasts (both major) celebrated by Bach, St. Michael and Reformation, and is one of the few feasts for saints. Cantata BWV 30a is fine example of Bach filling a gap in the third cycle of his sacred service calendar. Earlier, Bach had borrowed as many as three cantatas from other composers for St. John's Day: Telemann's "Gelobet, ser der Herr, TVWV 1:596, on June 24, 1725; Johann Ludwig Bach's "Siehe ich will meinen Engel senden, JLB-17; June 24, 1726; and possibly BWV 220, Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munden, BG XLI, no date, doubtful, composer unknown.
Thus we have three diverse, very appealing cantatas for St. John's Day, with a common dance element: intimate solo cantata for four voices, pleasing chorale cantata, and progressive jazzy work. None was repeated during Bach's life. But, why such an effort? Another common element? The Feast of St. John is Bach's nameday. A touch of vanity? Why not?
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (November 28, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] Thank you William, there is much to think about in the material you provide.
It is wonderful to imagine a performance of BWV 30a outside at night with illuminations... I wonder whether this was recreated at some time in Wiederau? Let us hope that the buyer of this property will be sensitive to music...
I find your hypothesis about Saint John's Feast fascinating and convincing.
All the more as we think of all the Johann (-something) in Bach's family!
Ed Myskowski wrote (November 30, 2008):
Thanks to everyone for the insights re BWV 30, especially to Therese for the excellent introductions (previous weeks included). I always find Julians mini-tutorials informative and accessible to those of us who are at best casual musicians; this weeks re the alto aria (BWV 30/5) is one of them. Interested readers will also enjoy the discussion of the character (dance, or not) and appropriate tempo for this movement, from the first discussions. Conclusion: you are free to draw your own conclusion!
A few comments on recordings, in particular two which are not otherwise mentioned in BCW discussions. Moyse  is of historic significance (at least regionally in northeastern USA), as well as a fine performance in traditional (large chorus) style. Blanche Honegger Moyse was a pioneer female contributor to Bach interpretation and performance, and one of the founders of the ongoing Marlboro College (VT) music festival. Soprano Benita Valente began a distinguished career (including, but not specialized in the Baroque) with this very Marlboro performance and recording of BWV 30 in 1971, specifically attributed to the Brattleboro (VT) Bach Festival. The recording has not been reissued, at present it is available rarely, only as the out-of-print LP, but there is always the hope for improvement. I did not yet take the time for a specific comparison with other traditional performances (Werner , Richter ), opinion deferred.
I did particularly enjoy bass Max van Egmond with Harnoncourt , an opinion shared by one write(but not by another), in the first discussions. I think it worthwhile to break that tie, and to use the opportunity to remind everyone that van Egmond is still active, including as a principal with Publick Musick (Rochester, NY, northeastern USA). I also share the opinion from the first discussions that the unnamed boy soprano with Harnoncourt is superb, an opportunity to hear that performance choice at its best. I believe the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt set remains available from Berkshire Record Outlet, for those who can access that economical source.
This week is my first opportunity to listen to Montreal Baroque in the context of BCW discussions. Milnes  is highly recommended for those who either enjoy, or are looking for an introduction to, the OVPP subset of HIP style. I find nothing to fault in the interpretation, performance, or recording. The balance throughout is superb, whether to the credit of performers or engineers, or more likely both. Incidentally, this quality (nicely balanced) is also reliably present in the other current OVPP series by Kuijken. The vocalists with Milnes have world class reputations and careers, supported by these performances Whatever the dance (or not) character of Mvt. 5, I find the lovely contrast with the chorale, Mvt. 6 to be paradoxically more emphatic when the chorale is sung by four solo voices, as here. Worth investigating for that detail alone. Note also that Milnes does not hurry Mvt. 5, at 5:36, compared with (for example) Harnoncourt at 4:38, so there is no fudging of the contrast by tempo alone. Although Montreal is not quite northeastern USA, it is close enough so that mentioning the recording has a neighborly feel for me, as well as for completeness on BCW, and for its quality.
As I have noted occasionally, I enjoy writing toward the end of the week, as the intent to write provides a focus for listening and reading. Highly recommended, even for others like myself who may have no specific expertise to contribute. And for those who do put in the time and effort to share their expertise, thanks again.
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (November 30, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] I totally agree with you regarding Julian's contribution, not sure I mentioned it every time but I should have!
Thanks for sharing your impressions about the recordings.
Speaking of OVPP, I just borrowed the SMP recording by Mc Creesh and I was deeply impressed.
Ed Myskowski wrote (November 30, 2008):
For the record:
There is a statement in the first discussions that Little and Jenne, <Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach> intend their list of works analyzed to be comprehensive. The fact that they do not include the alto aria, BWV 30/5, is cited as evidence to argue against its dance characteristics and associated tempo choices.
In fact, the authors specifically state that their selections are not intended to be comprehensive, or limiting. From the Preface to the Expanded Edition:
<Appendix B [Dance Rhythms in Bachs Larger Works] is not all inclusive, of course, and our choices are to some degree subjective. In considering the many pieces with dance qualities not included here, we realize that Bach undoubtedly knew and was influenced by other dances, as yet unknown to modern scholars.>
This does not necessarily argue in favor of brisk tempos, of course, but it does support my conclusion: draw your own conclusions.
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (December 1, 2008):
Introductions to BWV 30 and BWV 210
[To Ed Myskowski] Speaking of dances, I just found an interesting text about the tenor aria of BWV 30a / soprano aria of BWV 210 here:
Bach and the Story of an Aria tempo di Polonaise for Joachim Friedrich Flemming
Note that I made an error in my presentation, in BWV 210 this aria is #8 as Terejia indicates it, and not #10 as I had written.
But on the other hand, #10, also a very attractive piece, leaves me with a strange familiar feeling - is there also some parody involved?
Ed Myskowski wrote (December 1, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
>Speaking of dances, I just found an interesting text about the tenor aria of BWV 30a / soprano aria of BWV 210 here: Bach and the Story of an âœAria tempo di Polonaiseâ* for Joachim Friedrich Flemming.<
First, a reminder to everyone that I am using very old hardware and software, I apologize for ignoring diacritical marks, apostrophes, etc. I do know how to use them in the real world, but this virtual stuff sometimes drives me bats! Up a wall! (ACEs)
Therese, I appreciate the follow-up on the dance theme, especially intoducing the neglected and/or misunderstood Polonaise (a personal favorite, as you may have guessed). I will try to access the reference, and add some comments if appropriate.
I find it wonderful, almost beyond words, that Therese from Belgium should be passing the leader job to Terejia from Japan, to conclude a multi-year chronologic survey of Bachs cantatas. With a pair of related works, at the transition. It is not possible to plan such a happy coincidence, but I would like to acknowledge Aryeh for recognizng and seizing the opportunity. Or perhaps it was just good luck?
I can assure both Theresas, and everyone else, that Blanche Honegger Moyse is smiling. In her 1971 recording , she took BWV 30/5 at 9:30, slower than slow. At that tempo, the contrast (if that was Bachs intent) is lost, with the following chorale. However, the slow tempo does have the advantage of deconstructing the very complex syncopated rhythm (including continuo), which Julian pointed us to (thanks as alway, Mate). Much more than a simple <dance>.
To my ears, in the ongoing process of grasping it, the Montreal Baroque pace and articulation sound best. I infer that is the tempo Rilling arrived at much earler, but I do not have the recording to confirm that.
Enough for now, many ongoing threads for further discussion. Special thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to write.
Terejia wrote (December 1, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
> http://www.americanbachsociety.org/Newsletters/BachNotes05.pdf <
Thank you for this insightful article. I haven't read all the details from cover to cover. For me personally, music (and aethetic) is something that arose upward vector in us, be it a sacred or secular. Maybe sacred music is more diciplined.
In Japan, Catholic church hymn book has too much mundane sounding music even though the text is sacred. In my personal humble and extremely subjective opinion, such sacred songs are more vulgar than Bach's secular cantatas.
< Note that I made an error in my presentation, in BWV 210 this aria #8 as Terejia indicates it, and not #10 as I had written. But on the other hand, #10, also a very attractive piece, leaves me with a strange familiar feeling - is there also some parody involved? >
Oh, I didn't even realize such a mistake. It was identifiable. Thank you for kindly taking time for this correction. Are they Sarabande, that we are talking about, I wonder?
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (December 1, 2008):
I totally agree with your statement hereunder.
I even read (but cannot remember where) that Bach wrote SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) on some scores of secular cantatas.
For me personally, music (and aethetic) is something that arose upward vector in us, be it a sacred or secular. Maybe sacred music is more diciplined.
In Japan, Catholic church hymn book has too much mundane sounding music even though the text is sacred. In my personal humble and extremely subjective opinion, such sacred songs are more vulgar than Bach's secular cantatas. >
Terejia wrote (December 1, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
I'm always very grateful for your nice comments.
> I can assure both Theresas, and everyone else, that Blanche Honegger Moyse is smiling. In her 1971 recording, she took BWV 30/5 at 9:30, slower than slow. At that tempo, the contrast (if that was Bachs intent) is lost, with the following chorale. However, the slow tempo does have the advantage of deconstructing the very complex syncopated rhythm (including continuo), which Julian pointed us to (thanks as alway, Mate). Much more than a simple <dance>.<
I don't know the recordings that you are talking about. I have Karl Richter's recordings to hand and the alto singer(I suppose it was Hamali, but I neglect checking CD, because it has some distance from this desk) doesn't have fast tempo. As to syncopated rhythm, I didn't realized that until Julian called our attention.
Terejia wrote (December 1, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< I totally agree with your statement hereunder. I even read (but cannot remember where) that Bach wrote SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) on some scores of secular cantatas. >
Thank you, Therese. Interesting info.
For sure two of us agreed here(or even 99 out of 100 agreed) doesn't immediately makes it truth, but at least we could safely say that such a perspective that secular or sacred may well be a relative issue might have some valid point...
Continue on Part 3
Cantatas BWV 30 & BWV 30a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 30 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 30 | Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 30a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4