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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 61
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of January 4, 2009 [Continue]

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 8, 2009):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
>Like many I first came to know this chorale through Sir Ivor Atkins' arrangement of Peter Cornelius's "Die Könige" and as a result I think of it as being associated with Epiphany; and certainly the mention of the morning star brings Epiphany to mind. But I also have to say that like Ed I don't know of any evidence that Bach (or anyone before Bach) thought of the chorale in this way.<
Thanks for taking the trouble to respond to my questions, which I did not intend to be difficult nor controversial. I am no expert, so my failure to uncover any evidence re Bach is not especially significant. I actually expected someone with some expertise on the topic to point out the evidence, but apparently that is not to be.

Jean Laaninen wrote (January 8, 2009):
Chris Kern wrote:
< Hello, I'm Chris Kern, a 2nd year PhD student (in Japanese) at Ohio State University. I'll be leading the cantata discussions for Advent.
Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year in Bach's Lutheran Church. The period is concerned with waiting expectantly for Jesus' birth, and is often compared with Lent in the way that a period of waiting and watching is followed by a period of joyous acclimation with multiple feast days. The comparison goes further because in
Bach's
Leipzig church, there were no cantatas performed during Lent, with the exception of the 1st Sunday. This accounts for the relatively small number of Advent cantatas in the repertoire.
The first three cantatas (BWV 61,
BWV 62, and BWV 36) are from the 1st Sunday of Advent. The Biblical readings are not closely connected to the period >
Thanks for your introduction Chris.

Here are a few comments from me regarding the various movements.

Mvt. 1: Advent is, in the Lutheran tradition the beginning of things--God's deliverance from the world's of darkness. In his minor tonalities in the first movement Bach has well portrayed this mood despite the fact that the text itself does not represent the over-all context. One advantage in understanding Bach that comes from a Lutheran perspective is understanding that when a part of the Christian story is being presented, in the context of the worship service and in the Christian community the whole story is being embraced. I did not really have a total awareness of just how deep this goes until the years of my seminary study. The whole story is represented in worship by it's varying parts.

This then, is why I say IMO that Bach selected minor key signatures throughout the opening movement -- representing the darkness of a people waiting for deliverance...and I think the opening measures in a slower rhythm accentuate the painful aspect of that story element, while the pick-up in tempo at the fugue builds excitement for the impending birth.

Mvt. 2: The news regarding the Savior coming switches between major and minor lines in a manner of illustrating the text even without the matter of specific motives painting the text. We have then, a very short recitative, kept simple with the continuo (Rilling), but lovely and to the point.

Mvt. 3: Short, textually, but longer in terms of timing a very welcoming and cheerful musical setting in C major with a few minor tone and presented pleasantly in a 9/8 dance-like rhythm expresses within the context of the story for the joy of the believer that deliverance is immanent. Textually I also find it interesting that this verse asks for a blessed new year (the beginning of the church year) and the maintenance of sound doctrine. In some discussions in the past there have been opinions that Bach perhaps was not overly concerned with doctrine, but here is a verse that tends to support it's importance. True, the words are from a librettist, but one Bach has apparently chosen.

Mvt. 4: Utter simplicity in the continuo provides a background for one of the most familiar Christian verses--one that for many decades, if not centuries, was used for a wall plaque in Christian/Lutheran homes. Here again, the context of Lutheranism offers some insights into what Bach was doing musically. The believer is made aware that Christ is available for him or her. I offer this idea not as proselytizing, but to give a little more depth to understanding the season and how it might have played into the living breathing life in Bach's context. The simplicity of the continuo, I interpret to be designed to help the believer understand this availability is not complicated. Deurr refers to the continuo style as a knocking motif.

Mvt. 5: This is one of my favorite Bach arias, which I learned some years ago, and which I have actually sung in church (albeit in English) in the past. Contextually, in the cantata this is where the news of the coming of Jesus is made very personal. The soprano is often the representation of the soul in Bach, and most certainly in this number. The switch from major to minor and back to major paints the mood of the text very specially I think with broad strokes.

Mvt. 6: A jubilant closing movement--the familiar tune and words which are from Nicolai's hymn bring the matter to a quick conclusion. Deurr does not favor this abrupt ending, but if one takes the cantata in the context of the worship service, and not as a separate musical offering, this is the point at which the pastor would likely begin preaching. In such a context, I do not find the sixth movement to be as Dürr offers: mutilated.

Peter Smaill wrote (January 8, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski, regarding BWV 61, Epiphany, and BWV 1] Why use "Wie schoen leuchtet" at all in BWV 61?"

The answer I guess is, "Why not!!"

This is tricky territory , for there seems to be litttle conclusive evidence linking this chorale to any particular single date in the Church year; of course, due to the Schmieder numbering, we tend to think it is rellated to Annunciation first and foremost as in BWV 1, but it has drifted in use via Advent as in BWV 61 to Christmas in modern Lutheran hymnals.

The Organ Music of J. S. Bach 2nd Edition Cambridge University Press, 2003

p. 484 BWV 739 Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern

"The TEXT of P. Nicolai's seven-verse hymn was published in 1599, associated variously with Advent, Whit, Annunciation and Sundays after Trinity."

Pre Bach it can be sugggested that it is not assigned to particular dates, but in general the Nicolai chorales are found in use for significant celebrations. This is the categorisation of the chorale by Samuel Scheidt but also it is for rather general use by Bach's time; in the (early) Orgelbuchlein where the chorale is listed, though not set, is for "The Word of God and the Christian Church" (Stimpson p.8). It is not attributed to Advent as such, as is "Nun Komm" and three others, but neither is assigned to the Annunciation (none are) or Christmas (eleven) or Epiphany.

it would be interesting to find a pre Bach hymn20collection that gives any specific assignation to this specially significant hymn and melody.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 8, 2009):
My impression was that the discussions in this round was organised so as to group together works written for the same church day. This provides opportunities to look at them contextually, particularly when one discovers three or four cantatas extant for the same occasion. Here we have three works for the first day of Advent, the beginning of the church year though not the beginning of Bach’s cycles which date from the time he arrived in Leipzig.

An 'across the boards' view of cantatas for the same day can reveal much that a study of the individual works in isolation cannot. Here’s an attempt at providing a little context--by no means exhaustively:-

The opening chorus of BWV 61 is of particular interest since there we can find seeds planted that will only come fully to fruition a decade later in the second great Leipzig cycle. The form is that of the French Overture and interesting comparisons may be made with the fantasia with which the second cycle commences ( BWV 20, chapter 2). The first and last sections of both works are stately and powerful, that in the middle, energetically contrapuntal.

In section one of 61, the first chorale phrase is sung four times, without support from the other three voices, by the sopranos, then altos, tenors and basses. The section finishes with the second phrase in four-part vocal harmony. This dispenses with the first two lines of text----Come, Saviour of man, born of the Virgin. The writing is declamatory, befitting of the entreaty.

The faster, middle section sets the third line and the busy imitative counterpoint presumably represents the hordes on earth. The original dotted rhythms return to close the movement with a triumphant full choral version of the last phrase, marveling at the Virgin Birth.

Thus Bach divides his four lines of text so as to be accommodated by the three sections of the French Overture.

Two further points of interest in later movements are the use of pizzicato strings in the bass recitative (illustrating the effect of knocking on the door) and the fact that Bach does not conclude with a simple four-part harmonization of the chorale.

Nevertheless, BWV 61 can be viewed as an early template, not only for BWV 62 but also for the general concept of the chorale fantasia as exemplified in the second cycle. The study of the one throws much light upon the other.

When comparing BWV 61 and BWV 62 it is clear that, in almost every respect the former is a work or lesser stature. It is shorter than BWV 62 and more lightly orchestrated; strings and bassoon supporting the continuo are all that are required although there are two viola parts. The work demonstrates Bach's interest in and mastery of both French and Italian styles and techniques. The da capo aria and recitative were borrowed from Italian opera and were, in the early years of the century, beginning to be adopted into some of the less conservative centres of German church music. The French Overture was finding a place in both secular and religious music.

Both cantatas have a similar macro-structure, opening and closing choral movements framing a pair of arias and recitatives. Interestingly, the opening choruses of both BWV 61 and BWV 62 are set in minor modes, in neither case conveying a sense of the uninhibited ecstasy which one might think appropriate for the celebration of the birth of the Saviour.

Cantata BWV 62 is a chorale/ fantasia work from the second cycle and it makes use of the same Advent chorale and verse as its predecessor. The opening movement, a model of conciseness, nevertheless has an edgy, almost nervous quality about it perhaps indicative of the sense of awe and wonder surrounding the virgin birth. The musical treatment is very different demonstrating the development in Bach’s musical thinking. Scored for oboes and strings (horn doubling the chorale melody) this is a highly sophisticated ritornello movement. The lines of text are not divided into the three sections we discovered in 61 but the almost obsessional preoccupation with the first phrase of the chorale remains. We hear it in both continuo (bars 3-4) and oboes (15-17) in the opening and closing ritornello statements and, just for good luck, again in the oboes shepherding in the chorus's second phrase. Additionally, much is made of the same melodic line by the lower voices, often imitatively, and particularly noticeable as they usher in the first and last chorale phrases.

Like the late chorale/fantasia cantata BWV 80, BWV 36, has a complicated history not all of which is known. It is thought to have existed in five versions originating as a secular cantata in 1725 and achieving its present form in 1731. However Wolff (p 283) lists it as a late member of the third cycle with a possible first performance in church in 1726.

Bearing in mind the secular roots of BWV 36, one perhaps should not attach particular significance to the fact that it is the only one of the three Advent cantatas to begin with a major-mode chorus. Nevertheless, the three-in-a-bar rhythm and numerous triplets may have been intended by Bach as symbolism of the Holy Trinity. The main fugal section of the chorus of Cantata BWV 61 is also ¾ and the 6/4 time signature of BWV 62 is divisible into two groups of three.

In its 1731 version BWV 36 is divided into two parts, each of which concludes with a four-part chorale setting. There are no recitatives; instead there are two additional settings of the closing chorale (movements 2 and 6). Thus, although no chorale melody is used in the opening chorus, four of the eight movements are based upon them, three on Luther’s Advent hymn tune and another (movement 4, closing Part 1) by Nicolai.

Both text and music of the first movement are assumed to be largely unchanged from the original 1725 version, BWV 36c. The notion of raising one’s voice to the stars above is neatly suggested in the ritornello through the rising scalic passages and the rippling triplets. A pair of oboe d’amore joins the strings, playing a major solo role in both this and subsequent movements.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (January 9, 2009):
[To Peter Smaill, regarding BWV 61, Epiphany, and BWV 1] The chorale was originally described as "*A Spiritual bridal song of the believing soul, concerning her Heavenly Bridegroom, founded in the 45th Psalm of the Prophet David", *and was it seems commonly sung at weddings:
www.canticanova.com/articles/xmas/art3b2.htm

The earliest explicit association between this chorale and Epiphany I know of is Peter Cornelius's "Die Könige" Op. 8 No 3 (1856) (this is the third of his Weihnachtslieder), in which Cornelius sets a text he wrote himself that relates to Epiphany; the chorale tune appears in the piano part. This recording leaves much to be desired, but it's better than nothing:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=od2zXckJ3Ik&feature=related
www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=4033

Many will be more familiar with the well-known (and exceedingly beautiful) choral arrangement of this work by Sir Ivor Atkins.

I'm guessing that the notion that this chorale is primarily related to Epiphany originates with Cornelius.
www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Cornelius-Peter.htm

Terejia wrote (January 9, 2009):
On Topic

Julian Mincham wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29847
< No chance, then, of some intelligent On Topic discussion of the music of the Advent cantatas on this list?
Nope---thought not. At least, certainly not in the twenty plus postings I've waded through this morning! >
Not an intelligent one but at least on-topic :

There seems to be remarkable difference on how a conductor deals with French-style overture opening in the first Mvt BWV 61. Rilling [5] sounds like he has preference solemnity and impact over lightness or elegance.

As to Suzuki [16], I would , as refined , as mathematically perfect as he usually is but strong impact I feel in Karl Richter [4] is lost all the more because of his perfection. My preference differs from day to day, hour to hour.

just my personal opinion and no more than that.

Terejia wrote (January 9, 2009):
In comparison with BWV BWV 62 [was: BWV 61 intro]

Julian Mincham wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29824
(..)
> Nevertheless, BWV 61 can be viewed as an early template, not only for
BWV 62 but also for the general concept of the chorale fantasia as exemplified in the second cycle. The study of the one throws much light upon the other.
When comparing BWV 61 and
BWV 62 it is clear that, in almost every respect the former is a work or lesser stature. It is shorter than BWV 62 and more lightly orchestrated; strings and bassoon supporting the continuo are all that are required although there are two viola parts. The work demonstrates Bach's interest in and mastery of both French and Italian styles and techniques. The da capo aria and recitative were borrowed from Italian opera and were, in the early years of the century, beginning to be adopted into some of the less conservative centres of German church music. The French Overture was finding a place in both secular and religious music.
Both cantatas have a similar macro-structure, opening and closing choral movements framing a pair of arias and recitatives. Interestingly, the opening choruses of both BWV 61 and
BWV 62 are set in minor modes, in neither case conveying a sense of the uninhibited ecstasy which one might think appropriate for the celebration of the birth of the Saviour.
Cantata
BWV 62 is a chorale/ fantasia work from the second cycle and it makes use of the same Advent chorale and verse as its predecessor. The opening movement, a model of conciseness, nevertheless has an edgy, almost nervous quality about it perhaps indicative of the sense of awe and wonder surrounding the virgin birth. The musical treatment is very different demonstrating the development in Bach's musical thinking. Scored for oboes and strings (horn doubling the chorale melody) this is a highly sophisticated ritornello movement. The lines of text are not divided into the three sections we discovered in BWV 61 but the almost obsessional preoccupation with the first phrase of the chorale remains. We hear it in both continuo (bars 3-4) and oboes (15-17) in the opening and closing ritornello statements and, just for good luck, again in the oboes shepherding in the chorus's second phrase. Additionally, much is made of the same melodic line by the lower voices, often imitatively, and particularly noticeable as they usher in the first and last chorale phrases. <
(..)
Thank you, Julian, for your commentar.

I've been just wondering about the difference between BWV 61 and BWV 62 and I vaguely felt that the latter seems to have more gravity. I'll take my personal delight in imaging that Bach may well have been interested in exhibiting his virtuoso music composition craftmanship within the context of church liturgy.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 9, 2009):
Terejia wrote:
>There seems to be remarkable difference on how a conductor deals with French-style overture opening in the first Mvt BWV 61.<
Some timings: (slowest to fastest) Rilling 4.42 [5], Richter 3.58 [4], Werner 3.48 [1], Koopman, 3.38 [13], Suzuki 2.44 [16].

The central group of Richter [4], Werner [1] and Koopman [13] with moderate tempo are most like one-another - regal yet lively.

Rilling [5] is very solemn but (IMO) he doesn't quite pull it off - I want a bit more forcefulness in the strings. Yet at this tempo the glorious vocal harmony on "Jungfrauen" is delicious.

The chorus works in Suzuki's [16] almost allegro performance (of the "slow"(?) sections, because of the powerful forward drive of the music, but the tempo is not my choice.

Interestingly, Koopman [13] sounds more like Werner [1] than like other HIP examples; instead of the glissando-like semiquaver runs (which these days are mostly converted into high-speed demisemi runs), Koopman actually does maintain the speed of the semiquaver runs while imposing a dotted rhythm on them (in a sort of diminution of the other ubiquitous, dotted quaver-semiquaver figures). The resulting difference of effect between Suzuki [16] and Koopman is consequently quite pronounced.

----

Rilling [5] uses harpsichord in the soprano aria (Mvt. 5); I find it unbearably jangly: as noted, the BGA specifies cellos and organ. I previously mentioned the superb "dreamy" accompaniment in Richter's [4] soprano aria; paradoxically, the large concert organ in Hercules Hall in Munich is less intrusive, because of the organist's artistic realisation on stops of subtle timbre, than some of the small one-rank instruments whose raspy voicing and rattly mechanism stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, eg in Werner's [1] soprano aria.

[Interestingly in some cases, continuo harpsichord works exceedingly well, better than the examples with organ; eg, in what is one of Rilling's [5] most moving arias in his entire cantata cycle, namely, BWV 114's tenor aria. Here the pungent harpsichord strokes are the perfect foil to the voice, flute and cello. Equiluz' emotionally wrought timbre seems perfect; he can also be heard in Harnoncourt's version [6] which has organ instead of harpsichord.

Speaking of harpsichord, I wondered if Ed whas going to get around to commenting on BWV 203's central recitative, with the highly developed harpsichord part in the van Egmont example (but IMO there are more effective singers in other examples - available at the BCW). This is the most effective harpsichord realisation of the lot, in the context of the tongue in cheek 'traitorous love' cantata BWV 203, IMO].

BWV 61's final chorus (Mvt. 6) does seem to be over all too soon, but what an exhilirating c.60 secs, with continuous semiquavers on the violins soaring above the stave in the concluding bars.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 9, 2009):
Advent in Leipzig

Julian Mincham wrote:
< No chance, then, of some intelligent On Topic discussion of the music of the Advent cantatas on this list? >
I was beginning to wonder about this as well.

A couple of historical observations about Advent in Leipzig.

It seems unusual that a cantata was expected on the first Sunday of Advent when it appears that Leipzig took a strict stand on no figural (read orchestral) music during the "closed" season. Other cities, most notably Weimar, did not observe the prohibition. It would be interesting to know if this was a tradition in other cities.

The notion of a "closed" season did not mean that the music was simplistic. The Advent motets by other composers and Bach's organ works for the season were demanding music. The real prohibition related to the use of instruments, and even on Advent I Bach is clearly avoiding his "festal band" of brass and extra winds for his default ensemble of oboes and strings. We can see this tradition at work in the original Weimar version of "Wachet Betet" which lacks the bass aria with obligato trumpet.

The presence of "Nun Komm Der Heiland" links the cantatas to the chorale as the Hymn de Tempore which was sung before the Gospel. Interestingly Bach never referenced the Gospel of the Day which was the Entry into Jerusalem with its "Hosanna to the Son of David". "Himmelskonig Sei Willkommen" could easily have been a cantata for Advent I.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 9, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote [Advent in Leipzig]:
< It seems unusual that a cantata was expected on the first Sunday of Advent when it appears that Leipzig took a strict stand on no figural (read orchestral) music during the "closed" season. Other cities, most notably Weimar, did not observe the prohibition. It would be interesting to know if this was a tradition in other cities. >
I don't know how unusual it was because Darmstadt was a much more conservative Lutheran court; and Graupner wrote Advent cantatas. Telemann wrote plenty of them for Frankfurt and Hamburg too. I can check into Stölzel and Johann Friedrich Fasch (Gotha and Zerbst respectively).

Bruce Simonson wrote (January 9, 2009):
Nun Komm den Heiland Heiland BWV 61 - Veni redemptor gentium

Bruce Simonson wrote:
<< Did Bach know that these hymns of Luther are based on Veni redemptor gentium? Did Bach know of this Ambrosian chant, outside of Luther's hymns? >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
"Whether he had a historical overview of the relationships of Ambrosian chant to Roman chant is unlikely. Musicology was in its infancy at the time. "
I'd like to follow up on this thread. I personally don't know much about the distinction between Roman and Ambrosian chant, and the religious / political overtones that may be relevant. But I am curious.

Doug, do you feel these wiki sites are a reasonable start for a basic understanding of the difference?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Roman_chant
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrosian_chant

And another question, if Bach wasn't particularly aware of the distinction of Roman and Ambrosian chant, particularly the nuances that musicology has uncovered since his time, is there much to gain by studying Bach's work within the context of a broader understanding of the different kinds of chant, and the subsequently unearthed reasons for the differences?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 9, 2009):
Bach and chant

Bruce Simonson wrote:
< And another question, if Bach wasn't particularly aware of the distinction of Roman and Ambrosian chant, particularly the nuances that musicology has uncovered since his time, is there much to gain by studying Bach's work within the context of a broader understanding of the different kinds of chant, and the subsequently unearthed reasons for the differences? >
I don't think there's much point in exploring traditions and families of chants much beyond the printed books from the time of Luther. These were the basis for the chant collections which Bach used both as a schoolboy and taught as cantor to his schoolboys. It is these melodies which influence his choral works: e.g. The litany theme in the F Major Mass Kyrie, the Credo theme and the psalm tone melody in the Confiteor of the B Minor Mass. And these were editions on which both the pre-Reformation and Lutheran chorales were based

One important feature of the Latin chant is that there were considerable differences between various national regions. There is no point in using the modern restorations of chant by the Benedictines of Solesmes (i.e. The standard Liber Usualis) from the turn of the 20th century because they used almost exclusively French sources and those versions were unknown to Bach. Even the 17th century Medicean version of Roman chant which was begun by Palestrina would only have come into Bach's orbit if he had seen and heard it at the Dresden Chapel Royal.

To give you an example. The Tallis Choir of Toronto is planning to mount a concert reconstruction of a Bach mass next season. At the moment, I'm editing for performance the chant and polyphonic responses which Bach's choir sang to introduce the Sanctus (interestingly they are in 6 voices!) I was surprised to see how different the Leipzig chant of the Sursum Corda (The Lord be with you/Lift up your hearts) was compared with the Roman version. And that's a chant that was sung every day and you would assume have few variants.

There isn't much evidence of Bach's musicological perspective. I suspect that he considered the 16th century Luther sources as the "antique" sources. He would have been minutely aware of the differences among various Lutheran sources but that would have been a practical knowledge from his training. He would have known the traditional ascription of the Te Deum and the Veni Gentium to St. Ambrose, but the distant musical sources were beyond his access and probably his interest.

William Hoffman wrote (January 10, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote [Advent in Leipzig]:
< I don't know how unusual it was because Darmstadt was a much more conservative Lutheran court; and Graupner wrote Advent cantatas. Telemann wrote plenty of them for Frankfurt and Hamburg too. I can check into Stölzel and Johann Friedrich Fasch (Gotha and Zerbst respectively). >
William Hoffman replies: There seem to be three approaches, depending on place and time. Besides the progressive Weimar Court with S. Franck, I think the free-city of Hamburg was wide open (that's where Neumeister was from 1715) and nearby Lübeck was open with Buxtehude's celebrated Abendmusik in Advent (festive oratorios). Leipzig and other communities celebrated the first Sunday in Advent as a festival with appropriate music. It appears that pietist Halle was entirely closed as tempus clausum, like Lent, for reflection and penitence. Bach's Halle probe with possibly an early version of either BWV 63 or BWV 21 was on Tuesday, December 12, 1713, and was not a service. I also think Meiningen may have been closed; I can find no Rudolstadt (1704) Advent cantata texts (predating Neumeister's so-called reform or new-cantata form) set by Schurmann or J.L. Bach.

Kim, I'd like to know your findings.

I'm spending my efforts on the ubiquitous Lutheran Advent motet "Machet die Tore Weit (Lift up your heads, ye gates) Psalm 24:7-10), which had quite an early history, including Wolfgang Carl Briegel (1666); Samuel Scheidt (1635), and Andreas Hammerschmidt (1644). Of course we have cantata settings for Advent 1 by Graupner at Darmstadt (1727, Lichtenberg text) and Telemann TVWV 1:1074 at Hamburg (?1722; Bach perf. 1734) with text by J.F. Helbig (1680-1722) at Eisenach. Also, Cantata BWV 141/Anh. III 157=TVWV 1:183, "Das its je gewisslich wahr," is for the third Sunday in Advent, is in our discussion in three weeks, and has a Helbig text, Eisenach 1720, Frankfurt manuscript.

I suspect that motet versions of "Machet die Tore weit" (perhaps Briegel, Scheidt, or Hammerschmidt) may have been the Introit motet in Bach's festive Leipzig Advent I service.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 10, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote [Advent in Leipzig]:
< I suspect that motet versions of "Machet die Tore weit" (perhaps Briegel, Scheidt, or Hammerschmidt) may have been the Introit motet in Bach's festive Leipzig Advent I service. >
I was going to check the Terry study of the cantatas which lists the introit motets and prescribed chorales for each Sunday when I did the introductions for the Christmas cantatas. I'll check the Advent items as well.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2009):
BWV 61

Several weeks ago, on the First Sunday in Advent, 2008, I wrote a brief message noting Brian McCreaths choice of BWV 61 for his weekly cantata broadcast (www.wgbh.org, Boston USA), in the recording by Montreal Baroque. I commented briefly and positively on the recording, and I noted that I had not previously been aware of it. It turns out that it was not so easy for me to find, and I have only just now received it for additional listening.

I sensed a technical glitch in my post, but was hurrying off to something or other. It turns out, I have no record of the eMail being sent, I did not receive it via BCML, and I do not see any notice in the BCW archives.. Apologies if this is the first mention.

I will post some additional comments shortly. This is also a convenient time to state my primary objectives for the third discussion, now beginning:
(1) Fill in any recordings not previously discussed, either becasue of rarity or recent release.
(2) Add any discographic details I can.

I note from time to time the disdain shown by some posters, regarding commentary on recordings.
I refer anyone interested to the <Introduction> to BCW, where it is concisely stated that commentary on recordings is a primary objective.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (January 10, 2009):
Nun Komm den Heiland Heiland BWV 61

JJ

What wonders have done the proficient poets through their inestimable talents, expressing words so sensibly combined as to gain applause even from those who disagree with them! A poet full of harmony is almost euphonious as music, quite charming as it, and even if his singings are full of anguish, he rejoices bewildered by his inner insight. Through the poetical pen, highly elaborated meanings are expressed; and this way a musical artisan refined polyphonic ornaments, and, from a chorale of an ancient hymn, crafted a French Overture, what was certainly inspiring, as Debussy has said so well of Bach's music, which "compels the respect" of music lovers, "if not their worship". But who is being worshipped?

He who speaks well usually aims not to dissipate its proverbs, entirely lost in an admirable void. If a highly endowed orator, chosen to proclaim some capital information, and in order to prompt the inhabitants of a land to act accordingly; if this talented man, after undertaking his duty with remarkable diligence, would nevertheless cause merely an esteem unable to prompt in them but an admiration of his fashion of speech, he would have failed in his task. For if art disintegrates meaning, it is meaningless.

But suppose that one of the inhabitants denied failure, saying: "I have been acting accordingly, for I understood what was said, and it was indeed a worthy way of saying it". So there would be a difference between those who listened to what was earnestly said, and those who listened merely to a meaningless art. And likewise, in relation to Bach's sacred music, faith differs from doubt. For while doubt easily forgets who is supposed to be worshipped, and even labors to understand the subject as a matter of indifference, faith never forgets the one praised, knowing Bach as merely an instrument, certainly not to be glorified, but God alone!

Even if skeptical scholarship is worldwide respected as earnest for being immanently lost in the utensil of music, when the overture departs, faith, like a pure heart, always sees God. And Bach's cantatas are related to the affect of faith, which marvels all over the world at God's omnipotence, amazed at his entrance into the world, whereas doubt, with whose wisdom faith is not impressed, regards Christ's incarnation as a matter of indifference, or even as a myth worthy of an unlearned populace.

Faith is not ashamed of itself because it is not foolishly ashamed of Jesus. For what is indifference else than a huge feeling of superiority. And what does indifference transmits else than inferiority, that what does not matter to indifference is inferior. But faith is not impressed with indifference, since God is not indeed inferior to the pretentious apathy. On the contrary! He is Almighty, though humbler then men, not disdaining those who seek him, not regarding the humblest of all as a matter of indifference. Faith alone acknowledges it, and that's why faith is properly conveyed, amazed when the French overture departs.

Fine arts are perhaps able to congeal an instant in such a way as to express some inner affect through the windows of exterior; but even if a painting tries to explicit a movement, it is frozen in time, as serene as repose itself. But music is to be painted on the canvas of time, this way abler to link itself to the behavior of soul, what Bach's music does conducting the inner affects of faith. And faith is marveled at God's entrance into the world, even more than the loyal subjects of a celebrated monarch, when he enters into the Opera House, elegantly adorned by royal pomp. Such is the affect of faith, which departs alive in piety when Num komm, der Heiden Heiland starts.

Faith is not supposed to dissect its structure perpetually, as if a sacred cantata was a corpse to the curiosity of science, or as if, after emptied of its pious content, those who denied that a sacred cantata had any essential content, but music only, yes, as if they were to contradict themselves substituting the original essence by the mass of scholar inquisitiveness, and as if musicology was not entirely satisfied with music alone. Moreover, even if the sun may be studied astronomically, and you are free to do so, it would certainly be unjustified to reduce it as a mere occasion to men's rational inquiry. For it is indeed quite salutary that we forget the mean when the final result appears, and overlook Bach when God is addressed and praised. But only faith does that, and faith alone are assisted through a sacred cantata, as a healthy man under the adequate exposition of the sun is better beneficed by it than a scientist who only wanted to study it, day and night, in a dark room. Yes, look how wisdom hides itself in humbleness as God in man, for simple as it sounds, there is abundant life in being
marveled at Christ's entrance into the world, grateful at his favor; for whereas God comes, faith is longing for his coming, and whereas Christ knocks, faith is joyfully open to him, till being able to rejoice along with him.

SDG!

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2009):
BWV 61 <Nun komm>

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
>Faith is not ashamed of itself because it is not foolishly ashamed of Jesus. For what is indifference else than a huge feeling of superiority.<
I believe Julian has already suggested exactly the opposite, in response to another post by Henri. I agree with Julian. For example, indifference (doubt, or uncertainty) is the utmost in humility, not superiority. Faith, OTOH, as here defined, is the huge feeling of superiority -- the certainty that one is correct, no matterthe absence of evidence, or the opinions and discussions of others.

Aloha (shirt and all), Ed Myskowski, fan of the one-record (but great) band, Blind Faith

William Hoffman wrote (January 10, 2009):
BWV 61, Advent 1 Cantata Perf.


FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT (NBA KB I/1, Neumann 1955) (R=repeat)
Gospel, Mat. 21:1-9 (Jerusalem entry); Epistle, Rom. 13:11-14 (Salvation near)
Date(Cy.) BWV Title Cantata Type/Note
12/02/14 61 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I chorus
11/28/23(1) (BWV 61) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I repeat
12/03/24(2) BWV 62 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland II chorale
1725-30(3) BWV 36 (d) Schwingt freudig euch empor chorus/parody
11/30/28(4) deest (P1)Machet die Tore weit Picander text only
12/02/31(3) BWV 36 Schwingt freudig euch empor chs./par./expanded
1732-35(R) (BWV 62) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland II repeat
11/28/34 TVWV 1:174, Machet die Tore weit Telemann (1722)

ADVENT 1, Cycle 3: 12/2/25 or 12/1/26; possibilities:
1. BWV 36 (d) earliest version (Wolff 1726); score & parts c1730+, prov. CPEB.
2. Lost cantata, Lehms 1711 text or Helbig 1720 text (avail. to JSB, all Cycle 3; prov. to CPEB, got all of Cycle 3, ?none lost).
3. BWV 132 (prov. to CPEB, "Adv. 4" score, cb part only; parts set lost, ? WFB).
4. TVWV 1:1074, orig. 1722, JSB presented Telemann cantata in 1734; score copy (JSB, SPK P. 47; prov. to CPEB, Pölchau 1789);
5. ? J.L. Bach cantata; no Rudolstadt text extant for Advent; all JLB cantatas prov. to CPEB)

CPEB inherited scores to all extant above. Is it possible that WFB in Halle could not perform Advent cantatas? His major performance task was feast days. Only the SCORE of BWV 62 was possessed by WFB (Cycle 2 division between he (scores) and Anna Magdalena (parts, to Thomas School).

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2009):
[To William Hoffman, regarding BWV 61, Advent 1 Cantata Perf.] A special congratulations to Will for the clear, concise, compilation of information in this post, as well as his previous <Advent Frame>, which I am just now beginning to consider in detail. I believe I note an intentional distinction in subject description, between these precise tabulations, and the more fugitive <Fugitive Notes>. If that distinction is in fact the intent, nicely done. Full credit, even if it is more random.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 11, 2009):
BWV 61 - Gardiner releases

Aryeh wrote, re Gardiner Pilgrimage:
>The pages include both the 19 released albums (35 CD's) and the not yet released 8 albums (16 CD's).
I do not know what the release dates are.<
As fate would have it, Vol. 13, including three cantatas for Advent 1, is among those not yet released, so we will have to wait for several weeks before integrating the Gardiner Pilgrimnage series into our discussion. I will make it a point to post some comments retroactively, when this volume (13) is released. Of course anyone else is free to do so as well, it is as on-topic as can be, I just want to make the commitment to be sure it gets done.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 11, 2009):
BWV 61 - Nunn Komm der Heiden Heiland

The only recording I can comment on , which is new since previous discussions, is Montreal Baroque [30]. I listened to it in comparison with Herreweghe [15], while engaging in some of the ludicrous Lutheran banter, last night. I do not want to interrupt the Mendelssohn Orgy(r) at the moment, so I will just give a few quick impressions, with hope of someone adding on. I would especially invite the Lutheran hierarchy to join in the discussion of the music of the week, that would go a long toward establishing credibility and goodwill, IMO (definitely no H, let alone MH, inserted).

Montreal Baroque [30] is OVPP, Herreweghe [15] is what I would call <gently HIP>, authentic instruments, characteristic <swelling> (or gestural) tone, but soft around the edges, with a modestly sized choir. Montreal, OTOH, with their SACD recording and close miking (as it sounds to me) is very edgy in comparison. Very enjoyable nonetheless, and the first time I heard it, on the radio last month, I found it a delight. Herreweghe is a personal favorite of mine, and almost everyone, I believe. The two styles are different, and it is not meaningful to me to make a comparative judgement as to which is <better>.

I would not be without either one. If I were forced to make a recommendation, I would suggest the Herreweghe [15]. In fact for a basic Bach cantata collection to supplement the Brilliant Classics complete set by Lennie, I would say, get all the Herreweghe [15] next.

I wrote at the beginning of the week that I found the translation of the title: <Come now, Saviour of the gentiles> to be lacking in sensitivity, to put it mildly. Pamela Dellal (English 6) is somewhat more inclusive, with <heathens> rather than <gentiles> for Luther's <heiden>. IMO, all of them miss the inclusive, conciliatory spirit of Ambrosius original Latin: <gentium>. Quite frankly, I was hopng to stimulate a bit of discussion from the crowd which insists on the inspirational sanctity of Bach's texts. Plenty of posts from them, but no discussion of the actual words.

For some reason, transmission of eMails seems to be a bit scrambled as to timing. Apologies if any of the lengthy threads were garbled; they were difficult enough to follow in seuence. I do what I can, write and hit <send>. The rest is in the hands of the maker (or watche, lurker, whomever. We know you are out there!)

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 12, 2009):
BWV 61 - recordings

In my previous post, I neglected ot mention that Montreal Baroque [30] is OVPP performance, as wll as SACD recording, I expect both contributin to the edgy sound. However, the same is true of the Kuijken series [33], with a more <blended>ambiance, to my ears, although I have not yet taken the time for a detailed comparison, I am looking forward to that. Both bands have recorded BWV 1.

For consistency with BCW practice, would have done better to reference MB by the conductors name, Milnes. The totaltime for Milnes (not yet listed on BCW recordings page) is 13:21 [30], compared with 14:14 for Herreweghe [15].

Neil Halliday wrote (January 12, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote [Gardiner]:
>Vol. 13, including three cantatas for Advent 1, is among those not yet released, so we will have to wait for several weeks before integrating the Gardiner Pilgrimnage series into our discussion.<
THe BCW lists Gardiner's Advent Cantatas (see item [11]): Amazon.com (mp3 samples are available).

Gardiner's BWV 61 opening chorus displays a fairly common feature that is heard in many HIP French Overtures, namely, almost constant staccato of the dotted note, which produces a constant bomotion I don't like.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 12, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote [Gardiner]:
> THe BCW lists Gardiner's Advent Cantatas (see item [11]): Amazon.com (mp3 samples are available)..<
The recording referenced is the 1992 (studio?) recording [11], not the 2000 Pilgrimage concert recording (Vol. 13) which has yet to be released. Confusing? Yes, but nicely documented in the BCW archives, just one more reaon why we are essential.

Terejia wrote (January 12, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote [Gardiner]: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29953
< Gardiner's [11] BWV 61 opening chorus displays a fairly common feature that is heard in many HIP French Overtures, namely, almost constant staccato of the dotted note, which produces a constant bouncing motion I don't like. >
This sort thing I encounter more than often in HIP in general, which makes HIP sound, paradoxically, very much modern. It is when I encounter this sort of thing in HIP when I start to prefer a performer who were brought up in a solid German tradition.

I fail to find BWV 61 by Gardiner in Naxos Library, by the way...

On another subject, I suppose Purcell Quartet [26] (http://ml.naxos.jp/album/CHAN0742) is OVPP.

 

Cantata BWV 61: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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