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Cantata BWV 38
Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu Dir
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of July 8, 2012

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 8, 2012):
Introduction to BWV 38 -- Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu Dir

Weekly reminder:

This week we continue Trinity season cantatas with BWV 38, the second of four works for the 21st Sunday after Trinity. Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion for this week are accessible via:

The commentary by Julian Mincham, music examples included, is especially recommended as an introduction to listening.

The BWV 38 page has convenient access to notes from the Gardiner, Koopman (notes by Christoph Wolff), Suzuki, and Leusink (and more!) CD issues, via link beneath the cover photo.

The chorale text and melody are accessible via links at the BWV 38 page. Francis Browne has recently added new commentary on the cantata texts to his interlinear translations, linked via [English 3]. We can expect these to continue, not necessarily weekly. Douglas Cowling and William Hoffman are also posting relevant to chorales and other music for the Lutheran Church Year, accessible via LCY pages.

I do not always take the time to check all links before posting. Special thanks to the folks who provide timely corrections.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 8, 2012):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Introduction to BWV 38 -- Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu Dir >
What an pleasant coincidence. I'm currently preparing a modern urtext edition of Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel's setting the Psalm this cantata is based on "Aus der Tiefe rufe ich," from his last cantata cycle of 1744. What an austere piece, written for Rogate Sunday, written in C minor and the opening movement is full of delightful chromaticism. The quality of the piece is attested to by the fact it's one of a handful of autograph scores that survived in Gotha. I hope to generate a Youtube video later this week.

Julian Mincham wrote (July 8, 2012):
[To Ed Myskowski] A quite stunning cantata and one of my favourites. It was, in fact, the work I chose upon which to write the first of the 230-odd essays encompassing all of the cantatas---hence the fact that one of the themes is featured on the website home page.

It contains one of only three trios from the second cycle (and arguably the best) and is worth exploring for that reason alone. However, every movement is a gem (despite Schweitzer's rather odd comments on the tenor aria) and the recitatives are particularly significant and distinctive.

Charles Francis wrote (July 9, 2012):
BWV 686 "Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu Dir"

Bach set the chorale tune "Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu Dir" on several occasions, notably in BWV 686, a six part counterpoint in stile antico that includes double pedal. He obviously took an interest in old music, setting the Missa sine nomine by Palestrina and owning a copy of Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum. While BWV 38 narrowly predates Fux's influential work, BWV 686 could well have been motivated by it. Bach reportedly used a contrasting pedagogic model to Fux, namely chorale harmonisation, and perhaps wished to demonstrate that he too could write expertly in the old learned manner.

I was inspired by the title of this week's cantata to unravel BWV 686 back to a putative long lost open score:

Anthony Kozar wrote (July 10, 2012):
[To Charles Francis] Thank you very much, Charles, for the context and for the wonderful, _illuminated_ reading of BWV 686!! It really is great to be able to follow along with each part so clearly. I shall have to watch the video seven more times to better understand the piece. ;) Although I've listened to it many times, I've never really appreciated how complex and finely-wrought this fugue is until now. Thank you!

Was your peformance done with Aeolus or Hauptwerk (computer-simulated organ) or was it played on a real instrument? I loved the hollow flute sound (gedackt or rohrflute?).

On a lighter note, does anyone still have the ability anymore to read that many different staves simultaneously?

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 10, 2012):
[To Julian Mincham] Julianís closing commentary re the Chorale strikes me as especially appropriate regarding Bachs ongoing relevance to the human condition, regardless of specific underlying spiritual orientation.

<The chorale, one not frequently used by Bach, is sung as expected with the lines doubled by strings, oboes and trombones which, in the acoustics of the St Thomas and St Nicholas churches must have been a commanding sound. It would have provided the usual moment of reflection upon the final lines of text----no matter how great our transgressions, Godís grace is mightier----the Good Shepherd only can redeem Israel, and us, from our multitude of sins.

But the story is not completely finished. The final cadence, as Bach chose to harmonise it, is enigmatic and leaves us with a sense that the human condition is ongoing.> (end quote)

Charles Francis wrote (July 12, 2012):
[To Anthony Kozar] Indeed as Anthony Kozar suggests, the performance uses a Hauptwerk Gedackt and additionally a 16' Sub-Bass to reinforce the pedal, thereby avoiding crossing parts. The presence of odd-numbered partials is harmonically consistent with Bach's suggestion 'Organo pleno', implying the presence of 'Quinta', 'Tertia' etc.

George Bromley wrote (July 12, 2012):
[To Charles Francis] and in English (George, a non organist)

Charles Francis wrote (July 13, 2012):
[To George Bromley] CPE Bach's remarks in the preface to a collection of his father's chorale harmonisations are perhaps relevant:

"In those passages where the bass wanders so low compared to the other voices that it cannot be played without a pedal-board, the higher octave should be used and the lower interval taken whenever the bass goes above the tenor. It was due to this latter circumstance that the late author envisaged a sixteen-foot bass instrument to play along with these hymns at all times"

(translation: J. Bradford Robinson)


Continue on Part 5

Cantata BWV 38: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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