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

Cantata BWV 58
Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid [II]
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of March 9, 2008

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 6, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 58

Introduction to Cantata BWV 58
Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid (Ah God, How much heartbreak)

BWV 58 page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV58.htm

BWV 58 discussion page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV58-D.htm

Composed from an anonymous libretto, this cantata used for the beginning of Epiphany (January 5, 1727 the probable first date) contrasts temporal suffering with heavenly joy (Dürr, p. 167). According to Robertson (p. 43) and Schweitzer (p. 360), however, this is a selection for the second Sunday after Epiphany—a variation in research and opinion. The subject of the flight into Egypt is recounted ultimately focusing on the idea of God leading the believer into eternity…a new land. According to Unger (p.196-198) the believer shares in sufferings of Christ as Mary and Joseph did in the flight to Israel.

Mvt. 1. Adagio, Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid (Ah God, How much heartbreak)
Chorale plus Aria (Soprano, Bass, Oboe, Tenor oboe, Strings and continuo)

Opening with a serious orchestral sentence, the listener is prepared to hear of the tribulation of living a narrow Christian life, and words of encouragement reflect the idea of hope placed in the virtue of patience. Listen for a duet between the bass and strings. Some commentators consider the duet between the soprano and bass to be a discussion between two souls—one troubled, one encouraging (Robertson), while others see the duet as a conversation between the soul and Christ. Schweitzer points out that the cantus firmus is in the bass here—an unsual position. He describes the orchestral movement as sorrowful, and assigns a ‘sighing’ motive to the first violins. Describing the movement as march-like, he sees the pattern as text painting for the narrow and calamitous way to heaven.

Mvt. 2. Recitative (Bass plus continuo)
Verfolgt dich gleich die arge Welt (Though the evil world persecutes you…)

The reiteration of the story of the flight into Egypt is presented by the bass. The analogy for the Christian according to the story-teller is to take hold of this example and know that even though the world intends evil toward the believer, in the end God has a word that invites trust…He will never forsake ‘you’ even in the case of the consequences of catastrophic planetary destruction. Unger’s translation (IMO) emphasizes that God rescues the belivers in the manner Joseph was rescued from Herod. The subtle sounds of the continuo supply simplicity to the message.

Mvt. 3. Aria (Soprano, Violin Solo and continuo)
Ich bin vergnügt in meinen Leiden (I am content with my suffering...)

The believer responds to God’s promise by expressing contentment in suffering since the promise of God cannot be broken even by hell’s gates. Dance like motion in the violin in this section stands eloquently against the cantabile singing of the soprano vocally/instrumentally emphasizing her struggle with contentment in the face of much conflict surrounding.


Mvt. 4. Recitativo (Soprano and continuo)
Kann es die Welt nicht lassen (Since the world cannot resist...)

Expressive longing in minor tonalities tells forth the day the soul will see heaven in the face of a world that cannot desist from negative attacks. Here the recitative flows into arioso on the last line with (Robertson) “eager little rushes of semi-quavers over the quiet, confident basso continuo.”

Mvt. 5. Chorale plus Aria (Soprano, Bass, tenor oboes, strings, continuo)
Wenn sol les doch bescheben (When it shall all come about…)

Jubilantly, the music changes to sounds of celebration, looking to those believers who have already gone ahead, as the contrast is drawn between anguish on earth and glory in heaven. Drr calls this movement an overtly concerto-like chorale arrangement, with a 1-3-5 (C, E, G) motive in the bass repeated in the oboe and violin parts. Rising notes here might be considered a rising Trinitarian motive. Of special note -- the soprano sings the words of Martin Behm’s hymn Mein Lebens Licht, verse ii (1610) while the bass has a C-major run on the word glory.

Key movement through this cantata is as follows: C with a ¾ f. b., a-minor to F – e, followed by d –e, F – a – e, and finally back to C with a ¾ f. b. bringing symmetry to the grouping.

Score notes: BGA full score…

Taking a look at the score, the first element that catches my eye in the opening movement (Mvt. 1) is the syncopated rhythmic pattern of dotted eighth and sixteenth notes in sets of three within a measure. Initially the vocal parts are simply enhanced by the rhythmic choice for instrumentation, but soon the bass begins to embrace the opening rhythmic element. A little later the same rhythmic motive is given to the soprano building towards a unity between singers and instruments. In measure 75 the bass is given a new rhythmic motive on ‘Freude’ that is not used anywhere else in the entire number, providing emphasis in my view to the word ‘delight’.

As is quite typical, the recitative follows on lengthier notes, and the entire recitative uses only a few notes with a dotted duration while most notes are eighth notes, offering a very smooth flow for the bass singer. In this case figured bass realization is also a possibility, perhaps related to the degree of interpretation a conductor might select.

Several motives introduced in the first four measures in the violin appear in varying sequences throughout the Aria (II). These however, are not employed at all in the vocal part as far as I can see. Several alternative motives are also used variously and repeatedly in the bass, with some rests allowed to emphasize words in the vocal part. An illustration of this method can be found in measures 20 and 21. An instrumental ending with a descending pattern of sixteenth notes in the violin brings the aria to an active ending.

Recitative III offers a good example of shortened notes used in the continuo, where quarter notes predominate in the first three measures, with each followed by a three beat rest. Figured bass elements add for the possibility of extending this accompaniment but allowing single notes to prevail and the rests to be observed may offer more drama. After the first four measures the listener is treated to an arioso of eleven sung measures and a final cadence sans the voice.

The bass and soprano duetto which follows the arioso again brings about a change in rhythmic texture. In this case the continuo leads in with very active descending notes. Oboe I and Violin I contrast with Oboe II and Violin II as the viola offers a contrary form of movement in measure three and then joins in a parallel pattern with them to under-gird the violin and oboe I. Throughout this number the primary role of the secondary parts seems to be dedicated primarily to helping to sustain the rhythm with the continuo. The vocal parts remain relatively unrushed until measure 48, when the bass joins in with a pattern of four sixteenth notes set two to a measure as the violin has been presenting up to that point on the words, ‘dort Herrlichkeit’. In measure 69 this pattern appears and the bass sings in thirds with the oboe for several measures. Interestingly, the soprano does not engage in these sixteenth note patterns in this aria at all, but in places supplies an even amount of over-girding for the bass, as he finally finishes the piece with a C major cadence.

I find it interesting at least to this point in my study that melodic motives seem to dominate in some works, while rhythmic motives tend to dominate in others. I would be very interested in hearing other thoughts on this matter from both academics and ardent listen.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 7, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 58 with contextual additions

[To Jean Laaninen] May I add a few contextual points to Jean's already comprehensive intro? I find this to be a most interesting cantata not the least reason being the rewriting of the middle aria and the (conjectural) reasons as to why Bach might have done this.

Cantata BWV 58 is the fourth and last of the Dialogue cantatas that Bach composed for the third cycle, the earlier ones being Cantata BWV 57 (part of the Christmas music of the previous year), Cantata BWV 32 (performed less than three weeks later) and Cantata BWV 49. A point worth noting is that the first two dialogue cantatas end with four-part chorales while the second two do not. This observation prompts a review of Bach’s use of the chorales in the solo and duo cantatas of this cycle.

Of the three for alto (Cantata BWV 170, Cantata BWV 35 and Cantata BWV 169) only the last ends with a conventional chorale setting as do both for soprano (BWV 52 and BWV 84) and the single one for tenor (BWV 55). Of the two for bass (BWV 56 and BWV 82) the first ends with the chorale and of the four dialogue cantatas for soprano and bass, only the first two have concluding chorales. It would seem that at this time Bach may have been undecided about the best ways of incorporating chorales into these works, choosing to experiment with various permutations.

If so, Cantatas BWV 49 and BWV 58 assume particular significance because in the final movements of both works Bach found another solution to his problem; in each case he melded the chorale with the closing aria. In one sense this might not seem like a radically original solution. Bach had previously demonstrated many ways of combining chorales with choruses, arias, recitatives and ariosi, not least in the second cycle which is virtually a textbook on the subject. But seen within the context of Bach’s experimentation with the use (or not) of chorales in this cycle, it does appear to mark yet another stage in his thinking about what might constitute the most effective and appropriate final movements in his canon of ‘well regulated’ church music.

The closing movements of these two cantatas are not merely economical in that they merge two potential movements into one. It is done in such a way that, while still highlighting the chorale as a contemplative reflection (Soul) Bach combines it with an encouraging, more colloquial, assertion of love and support (Jesus). In each case the orchestra envelops the singers with an ebullient depiction of the bliss of heaven and the much sought after salvation.

If such a structure is appropriate to end a cantata, then why not to begin it as well? Of the earlier three dialogue cantatas, Cantata BWV 49 began with a sinfonia, Cantata BWV 57 with an aria for bass and BWV 32 with an aria for soprano. All four were composed in a little over a year and it is reasonable to conjecture that Bach looked back over the scores before taking a deliberate decision to begin the last one differently. The principle having been established, this structural device was now available for both the commencing and closing movements of Cantata BWV 58.

The version of Cantata BWV 58 known today is not exactly that which Bach composed in 1727, but a later arrangement which added three oboes and replaced the middle aria (Dürr p 167/8). The continuo part only remains of the original movement (Bârenreiter scores vol 2, p 241) but it is sufficient to suggest that Bach may have had radically different second thoughts about the appropriate character of the piece.

There may well have been powerful aesthetic reasons in that, sandwiched as it was between two recitatives, a little more dynamism may have been appropriate to keep up the impetus. But Bach’s change of mind may also have reflected a revised and more developed view of the text. Both movements are in Dm but the original was in the more pastoral time of 12/8, and seems to have been much more flowing. The soprano aria which replaced it is surely more assertive and aggressive. If the earlier one stressed the images of contentment and resignation in the midst of suffering, the substitution portrays the muscular strength that unites God and Soul under His firm hand. Indeed the crux of this cantata is the difficult journey the Soul must take and latterly, Bach may have felt that the pastoral quality of the original aria simply may not have adequately conveyed it.

Without the complete missing movement one cannot be certain. But it may well be that this serves to illustrate how Bach developed different attitudes towards the imagery and significance of particular texts at various periods in his life. Why else take the trouble to replace the original aria?

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 6, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Thanks, Julian. The previous journey through this cantata generated a lot of discussion, and your writing below clarifies some of the reasons this one precipitated so much discussion. This is an interesting work to discuss and debate, and I hope that many will read your words and offer some thoughts on these details.

Chris Stanley wrote (March 12, 2008):
Are we any closer to solving the riddle (32 years on) as to why Harnoncourt [4] uses both Peter Jelosits and Seppi Kronwitter in this cantata? Actually I think Seppi does just fine in "Ich bin vergnugt" but it would have been good to hear Jelosits sing this here.

Bradlley Lehman wrote (March 12, 2008):
< Are we any closer to solving the riddle (32 years on) as to why Harnoncourt [4] uses both Peter Jelosits and Seppi Kronwitter in this cantata? Actually I think Seppi does just fine in "Ich bin vergnugt" but it would have been good to hear Jelosits sing this here. >
I don't know, but I'll throw some guesses from a practical point of view. Is a more profound answer needed beyond the availability of the musicians on the appointed recording days, for those movements? Or perhaps those boys' interests or abilities to take on those assignments at the time? Or maybe Harnoncourt [4] chose them simply for contrast, or to give more than one capable boy something important to do?

Another question might be: do we know if Bach appointed more than one boy to do separate solo movements in his own performances, where a cantata had more than one aria for the "same" voice part? Why wouldn't he, if his available boys had different strengths (or time availability to learn the music) from one another? Since the assigned work responsibility was part of the boys' academic schoolwork, living stipend for some, and perhaps also private vocal lessons during one or several weeks, couldn't this also have influenced how many arias got composed during a season? Compose enough of them, and with enough variety, to give every capable and responsible boy something important to do....

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 12, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Since the assigned work responsibility was part of the boys' academic schoolwork, living stipend for some, and perhaps also private vocal lessons during one or several weeks, couldn't this also have influenced how many arias got composed during a season? Compose enough of them, and with enough variety, to give every capable and responsible boy something important to do.... >
That Bach had an over-arching plan for the whole year or perhaps several years makes eminent sense to me but was hotly disputed here last year. The notion of Bach stumbling Rossini-like from week to week, barely ahead of his task, flies in the face of what we know about his careful work method. The tempo of work was certainly daunting bnot impossible.

I'm perfectly convinced that Bach looked ahead several years and saw that Trinity 27, which rarely occurred inless Easter was very early, would fall in 1731. At that moment, did he have the brilliant idea of creating in "Wachet Auf" the perfect synthesis of the chorale and dialogue cantatas and then put it in his mind's work-in-progress file?

So too with singers and instrumentalists. A promising boy in Choir III would eventually move up to Choir I and Bach would be able to write for his talents. Even today in boys' choirs, observers wait until particular boys are ready to take on the daunting solos in the Allegri "Miserere" and Mendelsson's "Hear My Prayer". In my sons' choir, I remember the director scheduling the Mozart "Vespers" one year because a 10 yr-old -- known popularly as "Leather Lungs" -- was ready to take on the heights of "Laudate Dominum".

Neil Halliday wrote (March 13, 2008):
Suzuki's new recording [12] is available: http://www.bis.se/index.php?op=album&aID=BIS-SACD-1631

His opening movement (Mvt. 1) is on the slowish side (4.47), with affect similar to Richter (5.01) [2]. The middle aria is also slowish at 5.02, the same as Rilling [3], cf. with the rather consistent livelier group of Richter 3.51 [2], Harnoncourt 3.48 [4], and Koopman 3.40 [11].

Suzuki [12] takes a cracking pace with the ebullient final movement (2.07), cf. Harnoncourt 2.19 [4]; Richter 2.25 [2]; Koopman 2.26 [11]; Rilling 2.33 [3].

You can clearly hear the rather unusual timbre of the taille (tenor oboe) doubling the soprano chorale in the opening movement (Mvt. 1) of Suzuki's recording [12]. (The taille switches from doubling the violas, in the ritornellos, to doubling the soprano chorale in the vocal sections; an unusual indication in Bach, I think). Richter [2] has the most musically satisfying recitatives with soft, subtly changing organ tones and very soft strings. (I believe continuo strings are superflous if chords are held for nearly their full length on the organ: you can hear they are rather coarse in Leusink's recording of the first secco). Rilling [3] and Koopman [11] have choir sopranos on the chorale line in the first and last movement, an interesting alternative.

The later performances (Koopman [11], Suzuki [12]) certainly reduce the overtly HIP characteristics (string timbre and articulation) of Harnoncourt's pioneering HIP recording [4]. [For some reason I get the impression that Seppi (who appears in Harnoncourt's middle movement as already mentioned) sings with a lisp].

Richter's recording [2] is one of his more successful examples; my only reservation is the very slow tempo of the opening movement (Mvt. 1), but the rest of it is probably my favourite recording of this cantata. (Koopman [11] might be my first choice in the opening movement (Mvt. 1), to judge from the BCW samples).

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 13, 2008):
[To Neil Halliday] Thanks, Neil, for adding these observations and notes on the recordings.

Yoël L. Arbeitman (Malvenuto) wrote (March 15, 2008):
Chris Stanley wrote:
> Are we any closer to solving the riddle (32 years on) as to why Harnoncourt [4] uses both Peter Jelosits and Seppi Kronwitter in this cantata? Actually I think Seppi does just fine in "Ich bin vergnugt" but it would have been good to hear Jelosits sing this here. >
I
t's not the only H-L cantata in which the "roles" of the boy soloist are distributed to two different singers. When I went through the whole set in Dec., I made note of all such occurrences and there seems little rhyme or reason and certainly not the kind of political intrigue which was noted in the archives by Brad at a time, I believe, when he had yet to listen to the whole set. At all events the archives are very helpful in telling us, cantata by cantata, which dude is singing what, a fact that the notes do not inform us of. There are times, as I recall, when we have a boy alto and a counter-tenor as well.

Since in the Harnoncourt DVD of The Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) two different dudes do the alto arias and two other dudes, as I recall, do the soprano arias, this simply seems to be conductor's choice.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 15, 2008):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Thanks for adding your thoughts and observations.

Bradlley Lehman wrote (March 15, 2008):
< it's not the only H-L cantata in which the "roles" of the boy soloist are distributed to two different singers. When I went through the whole set in Dec., I made note of all such occurrences and there seems little rhyme or reason and certainly not the kind of political intrigue which was noted in the archives by Brad at a time, I believe, when he had yet to listen to the whole set. >
I don't recall ever saying anything about political intrigue or whatnot, as to Harnoncourt's assignment [4] of different boys to different movements within the same cantata. I've always assumed it was a straightforward practical situation of the conductor making a choice for whomever is available and whomever sounds best in the given circumstances, at recording time. Got the luxury of several boys who could do the part? Audition them, make a choice, get them adequately coached, and make sure they're available to show up on the recording day for that particular movement.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 15, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks, Brad, for your clarification.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 15, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< I don't recall ever saying anything about political intrigue or whatnot, as to Harnoncourt's assignment [4] of different boys to different movements within the same cantata. I've always assumed it was a straightforward practical situation of the conductor making a choice for whomever is available and whomever sounds best in the given circumstances, at recording time >
I wish we had more evidence of the degree tp whic Bach subscribed to the modern notion that the Four Soloists (SATB) are meant to be "characters" outside of the choir who have specialized music to sing and sit indifferently by when the choir sings.

Certainly Dürr and Rifkin's scholarship on the vocal parts show that at least the "soloists" sang with the "choir" (I'm avoiding the OVPP problem here) in all the choral movements. The modern tradition even with HIP ensembles of four over-dressed singers on the edge of the stage waiting for their solos distorts even the most well-intentioned performances.

And yet, there are instances when the Four Soloists seem to have a kind of specialized role. The "farewell" of the four soloists at the conclusion of both the SMP (BWV 244) and the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) indicates a kind of finale which we would see in the "vaudeville" farewells in Classical Opera (Mozart's Abduction is the best-known example)

Bradlley Lehman wrote (March 15, 2008):
< And yet, there are instances when the Four Soloists seem to have a kind of specialized role. The "farewell" of the four soloists at the conclusion of both the SMP (BWV 244) and the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) indicates a kind of finale whicwe would see in the "vaudeville" farewells in Classical Opera (Mozart's Abduction is the best-known example) >
I don't get how the music at the end of the St Matthew is any type of "farewell" for the four star singers in Coro I. That's "Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh gebracht", where each one of them in turn has one phrase of recitative (or arioso) accompanied by the strings of their Coro, while Coro II's singers and players offer interjections "Mein Jesu, gute Nacht". Then everybody continues into the next movement, "Wir setzen uns" for all available singers and players, concluding the passion. Furthermore, if the congregation probably couldn't see any of these musicians anyway, I don't get how it would have anything to do with vaudeville-type entertainment, operatic or otherwise....

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 15, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Personally, I think Bach intended his ensembles to be a unit--though it is of course possible that some movements were written for a particularly promising student, as has been mentioned on this forum in the past. Maybe you were one of those who has made this point if I remember correctly.

And in the church setting I like to see the soloists sing with the chorus, when it is possible for them to do so. This reinforces the inclusiveness of an ensemble -- something I think works in the church setting. But I can also see the concerted performances having a different value at times. And to my mind I appreciate the respect for Bach's work that has grown beyond the church setting, and moved to the concert hall for several reasons. First, there are people who in theory would never 'darken' a church door, and in the concerted setting these folks have an opportunity to first hand embrace the wonder of Bach's work. Secondly, performance practices and venues evolve over time, and as long as respect is shown for the work, I think it good that the newer ways should inform the community musically. I want to say something to about the kind and quality of vocal training that supports such endeavors. And I want to address your comment, particularly about
'well dressed' performers.

First, the techniques for training singers today have advanced with the teachings of Venard and Miller, et. al., to the point where copious numbers of really wonderful singers are being produced today. And, what a thrill to get to hear those voices.

Performances, too, can be viewed by analogy as taking a trip to Baskin-Robbins (one of America's favorite ice cream parlors), and sampling (various flavors) the interpretations that conductors have arrived at through contemplation working with the resources available. I have to appreciate their efforts.

Now, I really want to address this clothing issue. I have sung in chorales over the years, and although there are generally color regulations for the chorus, members where I have been a participant are also well dressed. Since I am a seamstress and passionate bargain hunter, I totally loved coming up with new black outfits over many years, and occasionally black and white in good quality for these concerted events. These performances are celebrations, and where I participated the men wore good tuxedos. Even when I have performed for church services over the years I generally insist on avoiding choir robes--a horrible pain for example when playing the flute. The soloist is there to deliver an inspiring message when a Bach aria is done outside of a cantata. I see nothing wrong at all in celebrating life with inspiring music in good quality clothing. I see dressing well as a sign of respect.

As to professional singers, having in recent years been privileged to know some through ASU, I would say that their performance wardrobes are often not large, and on top of that some are very good shoppers and find exceptional prices for dress wear. This of course, would not necessarily be true of those with top dollar recording contracts, but many serious musicians are much more interested in the music and the quality of their performances than they are in what they must wear. Most of the musicians I have known, off stage, do not dress any or much differently than the general public. And you might be very surprised at how long some women singers keep certain dresses--simply because they have found something that works well for them when they sing. There are tons of beautiful gowns that are not great when the whole body is engaged in the process of singing.

From my pious Lutheran ancestors I garnered the idea that formal dress was pretty worldly, but in the end I find that ridiculous when one considers God, the master artist, and how the whole universe is bathed in magnificent swatches of color and myriad designs.

There is something good in doing things as we understand them, as 'the composer intended.' But we do not know if the composer would have retained the scores as we have them (and sometimes they vary considerably) if he would have been given an extra sixty or seventy years to live and write. I spent seven and a half years reading the biographies of composers, and composers were always changing and developing in various ways--partly as a product of their environment, and very often in rebellion against old ways. For me this says that performances do not always need to represent something done with school boys in a church setting. But it would be sheer folly to also disrespect the origins--without the notes on paper, and the words on paper, and the efforts of all of the special people of Bach's generation we would not have what we have today.

One of the wonders of the subjective aspects of music is that one can receive a character from a singer, or one can receive a bit of the day's text instead. Or, one can receive both. On the list there are folks who don't even care about the music and simply receive an over-all impression according to their own interpretation.

The dynamics of what the performers do, because the text motivated the writing of these works makes what can be received primary in my opinion. At times in my life I have found the serious Lutheran ways a bit dour, and personally I rebel against those limitations. But I was in my sixties before I actually realized how strongly I felt about the dour aspect.

The Baroque period was elaborate in many ways: musically, poetically and in art and architecture. I think good dress and performances that are worked and honed to a fine edge are absolutely great. The concert hall is pleasing to me for Bach. And so is the church where I was fortunate enough (though under pressure) to be an organist in my younger years, and later on a solo performer with voice and flute enjoying the glories of Bach.

But on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, I also believe that it is possible for the more serious, simple dress and the solemn quiet of the sanctuary with a draped cross to be profoundly deepening for many. As always, I come back to the context...and the context varies.

Bradlley Lehman wrote (March 15, 2008):
< Even when I have performed for church services over the years I generally insist on avoiding choir robes--a horrible pain for example when playing the flute. >
It's even more of a "horrible pain" to have to wear a robe for playing the organ...but I comply anyway if that's the dress standard for the place I'm playing (like a sub job I did last Sunday morning). Whoever is providing the gig and the money makes the rules in that regard, to fit the musical package (music and performers) into their liturgy. While getting onto the bench I have to hike the robe up so I'm not sitting on any of it, to be able to move my legs freely enough for the pedals.

Nessie Russell wrote (March 15, 2008):
Hiking up the choir robe

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< While getting onto the bench I have to hike the robe up so I'm not sitting on any of it, to be able to move my legs freely enough for the pedals. >
Me too. One positive change in dress codes - women no longer feel required to wear skirts. Pants are so Very Much Better.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 15, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] Oh, Brad. You bring back the memories of 'horrible.' I could not stand the organist's robe I was to wear back then, so I designed and sewed my own, with slits in the side, and more fitted to the body. Then it only felt like I had a light weight dress over my dress, and no bird wing sleeves... Nobody complained.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 15, 2008):
[To Nessie Russell] That's for sure!

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 15, 2008):
[To Nessie Russell] There used to be an Unspoken Rule that women soloists wore dark dresses with sleeves and modest necklines when singing "religious" music. Not any more. I watched a wonderful soprano recently sing the part of the Angel in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) clad in a tight black bustiere.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 15, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding Hiking up thr choir robe] The hemlines came up in the 1970s, and the first time I saw girls going to communion in mini skirts I was a little amazed. I don't remember the color restrictions for singers being so severe in the Midwest, though our choir gowns from the 1960s fit your description. I guess if a conductor wants to follow a tradition he/she has to say so. But in one chorale I sang in (about the year 2000) there was a rule about no backless dresses, and a few of the younger members violated that rule - no one said anything as far as I know, but there were a few glances.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 16, 2008):
Bradley lehman wrote
>I've always assumed it was a straightforward practical situation of the conductor making a choice for whomever is available and whomever sounds best in the given circumstances, at recording time. Got the luxury of several boys who could do the part? Audition them, make a choice, get them adequately coached, and make sure they're available to show up on the recording day for that particular movement.<
Quite analogous to the evidence summarized by Daniel Melamed, <Hearing Bachs Passions>, as to the size of Bachs performing forces, and how his very greatest compositions may have been tailored to accomodate those specific and limited forces. Exactly the same forces he dealt with on a week to week basis.

Thanks to Julian Mincham for the early post re BWV 58, thought provoking. The questions raised are very appropriate to the chronolgic discussion, especially if we include the original 1727 version of SMP (BWV 244), and the eventual 1736 version. Note that BWV 58, compact as it is, undergoes a comparable history. The original parts (1727) are a bit obscure, followed by new (and conclusive?) material (ca. 1734), then a permanent home in Bachs self-selected definitive archives, in this instance, the Chorale Cantata cycle, Jahrgang II (Durr, p. 168). Julian raised many other comparisons, for ongoing discussion.

Jean Laaninen wrote:
>Jubilantly, the music changes to sounds of celebration, looking to those believers who have already gone ahead, as the contrast is drawn between anguish on earth and glory in heaven. Dürr calls this movement an overtly concerto-like chorale arrangement, with a 1-3-5 (C, E, G) motive in the bass repeated in the oboe and violin parts.<
Whittaker goes so far as to categorize BWV 58 among the <Cantatas Using Borrowed Instrumental Material>, with the statement:
<its character is so concerto-like that one is led to the conclusion that Bach constructed it as he did the finale to the other S.B. Dialogeue, No. [BWV] 49, and fitted chorale and bass into some existing movement. The opening three notes are the same as in the E major violin concerto, and much of the passage work suggests that instrument as soloist.> (Vol 1, pp. 303-4).

Again, see Julians comments. Ample thoughts for several dissertations, in a few paragraphs here. Bring on those grad students!

I agree with Neils evaluation of the Richter [2] continuo realization, tastefully done in traditional fashion. For a thoughtful contemporary interpretation, compare Kuijken [7]. I enjoy both. For a lot of verbiage as to why that is inappropriate, see the previous discussion archives.

I hope to manage a few more words tomorrow, re recordings. Greetings to everyone among the 800 plus readers who take a moment to listen to the music of the week, and special thanks to those who take the trouble to write a few words.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 16, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks, Ed, for adding these notes to BWV 58. A great deal was written in the past, and our general postings on this topic have been fairly light--so double appreciation.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 16, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks Ed. I'm glad someone picked up on the comments--thought they might have fallen on stony ground! This cantata is almost unique in having the central movement recomposed but with sufficient of the original surviving movement with which to contrast it and to speculate as to the reasons for a replacement. Both movements are in the same key, Dm and a similar length. But the original was in 12/8 time, the replacement 4/4, the first with a flowing bass line the latter somewhat more rhythmically aggressive. Unfortunately there are no tempo markings or figured bass indications.

My best guess is that Bach was dissatisfied with EITHER the overall structure of the cantata (specifically the character of this central movement ) OR that his view of the text had changed. Certainly there is evidence that his view of similar (if not identical)texts altered over a period of time can be seen in his settings of many of the cantatas written for the same day e.g. the choruses for those composed for St Michael's day and the relative emphases given to the battle with Satan on the one hand, or the victory, and God's might and glory in achieving it, on the other.

Incidentally another piece of evidence supporting Whittacker's thoery about the last movement being an adaption of an existing concerto is the fact that the chorale phrases all lie in the episodes which connect the tutti sections (which are as one would expect to find in such a movement). It would have been a relatively simple matter (for Bach!) to adapt the harmony and the figuration of the episodes to the chorale without having to recast the form of the entire movement.

On another matter, has anyone had difficulties in accessing the cantata website recently? For some time all i have been able to come up with when trying the website directly or comimg at it through various of the links, is a blank screen. Any helpful suggestions welcomed.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 16, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Thanks, Julian, for giving a little more depth to this topic.

On your questions about accessing the site, I have not had a problem. However, I have had problems with Real Player again...going to static sounds and cutting out. Although Real Player put in a new patch and new upload, NASA over here still forbids the use of it on their computers as they still believe there is an on-going spy-ware problem with the program that is serious. Over the last couple of weeks, after Real Player not working properly, and the new update on the continuing issue of security I have updated my OS X Tiger and added X 11 to the features and I am using the MAC online almost exclusively. Windows has become something of a nightmare with constant updates even with a fast computer, slowing down what I can get done with the pauses that come with downloading updates. I also switched on the HP computer to McAfee as it runs much smoother than Symantec as a security suite. All of this is to say that I am seriously considering at some point getting a full set of the cantatas on CD (I have some already) and listening at home rather than on the web. Or going to the Music Library to listen. I can't really think of another way to manage these issues with complete confidence at this point.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 17, 2008):
BWV 58 recordings

Everyone who enjoys soprano Ruth Holton should find the Leusink [10] performance more than satisfactory, if not quite as vibrant as Kuijken [7], inoverall effect. Both of these use modest interruption in the Mvt. 2 recit. continuo, much less abrupt than Koopman [11], and preferable to my ears.

Neil mentioned the prominent continuo strings with Leusink [10], the same is true of Kuijken [7]. I do not find this objectionable, the continuo becomes an equal partner, without obscuring the vocals. I find all three of these versions very nicely balanced throughout. Koopman's [11] use of soprano choir in Mvt. 1 and Mvt. 5 is pleasant enough, but it hardly seems consistent with the dialogue nature of the cantata.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 17, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks, Ed, for adding these notes.

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 58: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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Last update: ýSeptember 29, 2011 ý08:44:03