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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 78
Jesu, der du meine Seele
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of August 20, 2006 [Continue]

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 22, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Intrigued by the possibility that Bach might have marked every ornament in this wonderful cantata, I took a closer look at a couple of movements. In fact, there are numerous places where Bach does not mark what is a conventional alteration.<<
Sometimes Bach may have missed a parallel situation, often relying upon the vocalist or instrumentalist to fill in obvious parallels. Articulation is often indicated by Bach in a modern fashion: once it has been established in the opening section of the movement, it can be assumed that similar passages will be treated similarly. Bach may have run out of time (late at night when the copyists who had completed the parts had already gone home) to finish the remainder which often repeats the musical phrasings established at the beginning.

There are situations where the NBA editors, with some surprise, have noted that obvious wrong notes in the parts were left unchanged (even the players did not attempt to change them during rehearsal- perhaps their rehearsal on Saturday afternoon during a church service was already too much like a performance?) and we know for a fact that such cantatas did have at least one performance under Bach's direction. Just what happened under these circumstances? Just a verbal statement to the player or singer: "Make that a G# instead of an F# tomorrow when you play or sing it!"? Or no statement at all since Bach might have relied on his musicians to realize that it was a wrong and make the change for the Sunday performance(s).

DC: >>These are all standard cadential formulae which ornamented in the period and indeed in Bach's own works. I find it hard to believe that the composer did not expect his singers to ornament these utterly conventional cadences.<<
These cadential formulae occur almost exclusively in recitatives (mainly in the secco portions or when the Evangelist sings in the Passions). These formulae are treated in the treatises from the middle of the 18th century. Listen to recordings of reliable performers (Thomanerchor + Soloists, for instance) of many cantatas, oratorios, and Passions with a score in hand, and you will often hear them properly applied.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 22, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< These cadential formulae occur almost exclusively in recitatives (mainly in the secco portions or when the Evangelist sings in the Passions). These formulae are treated in the treatises from the middle of the 18th century. Listen to recordings of reliable performers (Thomanerchor + Soloists, for instance) of many cantatas, oratorios, and Passions with a score in hand, and you will often hear them properly applied. >
But Thomas, that sounds like the dreaded Artistic Licence. I thought you were arguing that only what Bach wrote in the score should be played. Next thing you'll be telling us that there is not a tempo problem in the bass recit, "Die Wunden", where Bach writes Adagio in the strings and Lento for the voice.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 22, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>But Thomas, that sounds like the dreaded Artistic Licence. I thought you were arguing that only what Bach wrote in the score should be played. Next thing you'll be telling us that there is not a tempo problem in the bass recit, "Die Wunden", where Bach writes Adagio in the strings and Lento for the voice.<<
But Doug, your low estimation of my powers to discern things only thought to be reserved for elite members of the musical establishment amazes me. I have reported honestly as well as I could on the cantata recordings that were up for discussion each week. Have you ever read a single comment by me criticizing cadential endings [not precisely performed as written] being used by vocal soloists in Bach's sacred recitatives? Does that mean to you that I simply do not notice such things when I listen intently with an NBA score in my hands?

The main thrust behind my criticism of 'artistic license' based upon much that I have heard is that it easily tends to go to extremes rather than steering a middle course. In the "middle course" there is much room for individual interpretative expression, the type of expression that does not indulge in drawing attention to itself but rather focuses on modestly placing one's talents in the service of Bach's music, not to distort it behond recognition, but rather to trust Bach's notation and markings and then change or add only what is absolutely necessary. I understand fully well that civilization undergoes changes due to fashions and tendencies which come and go. Likewise the interpretation of Bach's music will undergo these changes as well. Some of these changes will be welcome and necessary, (to clear the cobwebs and stagnation which may have occurred), others already carry within them the seeds which will destroy them unless they are able to change again. By hearing various viewpoints and commentaries on performances of Bach's music, list members will be able to gain a better perspective (not one-sided PR) on the quality of performances. Best of all, they will be able to read, whether they agree with these opinions or not, specifically some of the reasons why certain minimum standards have not been met. A crucial guide in this is a reliable score which can give us the best approximation of Bach's intentions. A good listener who can read music should be able to determine how well this score is being reflected in the performance. Even without reading a score, listeners can frequently tell how well the music is coming across.

"Dreaded artistic license" has been reasonably criticized by me with specific examples given. Much of this has not been addressed specifically by those who so adamantly support flexibility in changing Bach's score which is simply treated as an outline. The question needs to be asked why this is so. The reason given so far seems to be: You, as stupid listeners and non-full-time practitioners cannot possibly fathom what we musicians are talking about, that is why we refuse to discuss certain issues directly or only refer to them through certain articles and books on our list of favorite readings.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 22, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< But Doug, your low estimation of my powers to discern things only thought to be reserved for elite members of the musical establishment amazes me. I have reported honestly as well as I could on the cantata recordings that were up for discussion each week. Have you ever read a single comment by me criticizing cadential endings [not precisely performed as written] being used by vocal soloists in Bach's sacred recitatives? Does that mean to you that I simply do not notice such things when I listen intently with an NBA score in my hands? >
Your earlier posting came out very strongly against any change in Bach's score. The point I'm making here is that none of us know what the real questions are about a score until we start the preparation for a performance. There are literally hundreds of decisions to be made before the instruments are brought out of their cases and the soprano starts complaining about the drafts.

Even a keyboard player who can realize a figured bass at sight has an immense amount of work to do. Take for instance, the tenor aria, "Geduld" in the SMP (BWV 244). It opens with just the continuo line. You can just harmonize the line but when the voice comes in you have an ENORMOUS decision to make. The bass line repeats while the voice introduces new melodic material. Should you then rethink the opening passage so that you introduce the vocal figures? If yes, then how did Bach let the player know his intention? It's not in the score. He must have shown the full score or the vocal part to the player and said, "Introduce these figures in your opening passage." Or perhaps we're not meant to hear the vocal figures until the voice sings them.

And that's one movement in a gigantic work!

ThomaBraatz wrote (August 22, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Your earlier posting came out very strongly against any change in Bach's score.<<
In regard to the realization of the figured bass, flexibility is certainly in order, but what have many conductors made of this: they do not even play the notes set down for their full values (secco recitatives). This then becomes an issue of rendering the score accurately.

DC: >>The point I'm making here is that none of us know what the real questions are about a score until we start the preparation for a performance. There are literally hundreds of decisions to be made before the instruments are brought out of their cases and the soprano starts complaining about the drafts.<<
These are circumstantial issues that are connected with just about any performance. My concern is when the actual score begins to suffer by singers/players dropping and changing notes, deliberately disregarding Bach's indications of dynamics, articulation, ornamentation.

DC: >>Even a keyboard player who can realize a figured bass at sight has an immense amount of work to do. Take for instance, the tenor aria, "Geduld" in the SMP. It opens with just the continuo line. You can just harmonize the line but when the voice comes in you have an ENORMOUS decision to make. The bass line repeats while the voice introduces new melodic material. Should you then rethink the opening passage so that you introduce the vocal figures? If yes, then how did Bach let the player know his intention? It's not in the score. He must have shown the full score or the vocal part to the player and said, "Introduce these figures in your opening passage." Or perhaps we're not meant to hear the vocal figures until the voice sings them.<<
This is certainly an important decision relating again to the subtle art of keyboard continuo realization for which Bach carefully included the figures, but which left to the keyboard player to use good judgment in supplying any extra figures, skipping many of them or adding a musical line. I have heard good examples of this in some recordings, but also others where the keyboard realization is very distracting. If this and the cadential formulae are they only areas for which a great amount of flexibility and freedom are claimed, sometimes even adding something special to Bach's score, then I believe I have misunderstood the thrust of this discussion. It was my impression that Brad and you stand firmly behind being able to change many other aspects of Bach's score which he had meticulously revised because he wanted the intentions of his score to be as clear as possible. Why did Bach not stop his checking after finding a few wrong notes or missing flat or sharp signs? Why did he spend much more time trying to include articulation, ornamentation, dynamics, etc. when he could simply have relied on his performers' musianship? Why are there so many conductors and performers who deliberately choose to ignore Bach's intentions?

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 22, 2006):
<>
I'm listening to BWV 78 right now, second time through, after I played through the piece for study during lunchtime and then went through it once with a recording. And I'd be enjoying it thoroughly, if not for the regular batch of mind-poisoning: that Bach's little army of student twerps 1/3 my age allegedly sight-read this stuff, spotlessly from carefully corrected parts, better than any seasoned ensemble today. It's absurd, I know.

Anyway, from this play-through from the Bach-Gesellschaft full score, I marveled especially at the sections in A-flat major and F minor, where the bass soloist sings. If we'd have the organ part in its original key, these are in G-flat major and E-flat minor, terrifically rich and exotic stuff. I also noticed that long rack of diminished chords, unrelentingly following one another, as the tenor sings about being a child of sin and human error. Really uncheery there. Long sequences of diminished chords, to me, are almost as overbearing and tiring as being told in public by Mr Braatz that teenagers could surely do my job playing this stuff better than I can, at first sight. To prepare this cantata for performance, just getting the continuo part right on organ or harpsichord, I'd probably have to put in two or three hours seriously studying it, and more so if I didn't have the full score but only that single part. Bach's music is hard, even when neatly printed. Plus, it says right there in the text of the tenor recitative that failure is frequent. So demoralizing! We're all destined to fail miserably, especially when there's an overbearing judge watching to point out every misstep or manufactured offense <>.

I might also point out, here and there in the arias, there are still some figures missing from the figured bass, as to where naturals or flats should be carried through the bar or not. Context doesn't make it absolutely clear; it would need at least two or three go-throughs in rehearsal, and then still some aesthetic decisions as to which way seems to sound best (if people with merely 35 years of musical experience can be trusted to make such a judgment as to sounding good!). And this continuo part itself is already more complete than the average, as to figuring. Sometimes we get nothin'.

I see from the appendix in Laurence Dreyfus's book that the figuring here was written out by JSB himself, for the extant transposed part. That includes some places where the numerals aren't in normal sequence top to bottom, suggesting that some special spacing of the chord might be played instead of going with the normal flow. Nifty stuff, yet it doesn't imply the opposite either: that chords should always be played in the top-to-bottom spacing of a normal stack of numerals, literally. It gets tricky to figure out, on first sight-reading pass anyway, which chords get special spacing and which ones don't, and then why that might be, whenever we hit some counter-intuitive spot. Oh, but then again, we get the usual assertions that the young guys sight-read all this flawlessly, and the ink still being almost wet from Saturday night's copying before the Sunday gig, and all the other mythology wrapped up in the usual discussions on this list. <>

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 23, 2006):
Cantata 78

I bravely take a stand of complete neutrality over ornaments or NBA details concerning BWV 78. I have however been listening to my four recordings of the work intently the past few days. I usually like Rotzsch/Thomanerchor recordings [9] a lot for my "big battalion" listening. This time around, however, I was less than impressed. Perhaps I didn't understand the reason that Rotzsch adds five minutes to an already pretty long cantata. (Or more likely, my version has that wretched, horrid, awful and ugly DDR rag that passed for a flag between 1945-89. I learned to hate the sight of it in my Berlin days.) Leusink [20] does a pretty good job with this challenging work. Ruth Holton is in very good form and Buwalda well behaved. To my ears Ramselaar and van der Meel are fine singers. But, as Uri pointed out not long ago, in Leusink's ensemble can't match the musicianship of many of the competition.

That leaves Harnoncourt [11] and Koopman [21]. If nothing else one is treated to quite a contrast. Both do extremely well IMHO in BWV 78 and the work highlights radically different approaches. I know the Harnoncourt series is a tough sell for many on the list. So be it. I see it more as taking the bitter with the sweet. Harnoncourt's forces, to my ears, are in top form in BWV 78. Nothing subtle here. When Harnoncourt is firing on all cylinders it's as though he sticks a thumb in the listener's eye. Perhaps his handling of the wonderful introductory chorus is a bit eccentric but I really like it. The players scream "period instruments." The boys are boys. The duet with the boy soprano and Esswood works wonderfully I think. Equiliz and van der Meer don't let down their end of the bargain. I don't what Bach's original performance sounded like obviously, but everything I know about the subject leads me to believe it was something very like this. This is a fine example of one of the great recording efforts in musical history.

Obviously one hears the family resemblance in Koopman's interpretation [21], but you have to listen closely. The timing on the two versions is almost identical at about 21:00. Yet Koopman's introductory chorus is polished, restrained and somehow sounds slower than it is. As for the beautiful duet, instead of a boy and Esswood you get Lisa Larsson and Annette Markert. Does an adult female soprano singing with a mezzo sound differently than a boy and a male alto? Guess. Christoph Prégardien and Klaus Mertens handle their arias skillfully. Koopman's ensemble plays with the precision and refinement that characterizes his cycle. (Someone earlier mentioned the flute player for excellence: I concur.) I don't hear Bach with Koopman the way I do with Harnoncourt [11] on a good day. But I do hear beautiful music. And the use of a mezzo gives Koopman's work a distinctive sound which is a good reason to own more. Throw in Wolff's terrific notes and I can not complain. But as I've noted before, I'd be a bust as a critic. I simply get distracted by the beautiful music too easily.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 23, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Bach's music is hard, even when neatly printed. <> there are still some figures missing from the figured bass, as to where naturals or flats should be carried through the bar or not. Context doesn't make it absolutely clear. >
A quick response to the two citations following. I would do this as an interlinear post, in an ideal world. In our less than ideal world (incompatible software, ornery hardware, various combinations, and worse):

(1) I spent the better part of 5 hours or so over a couple days, with Whittaker in one hand and NBA pocket score in the other (both neatly printed, very!) sorting out the wonderfully complex architecture of BWV 33/1. Time well spent, I expect to say more, but I could not resist the relevant opportunity.

(2) One luscious detail is the way Bach drapes the chorale entries across the bar line, at beginning and end of phrase in almost every instance (I don't have my notes in front of me, I believe he varies once or twice, just to keep us on our toes). I didn't notice at the level of detail of naturals and flats, but my beginner mind mind impression is that Bach is either surprising us, challenging his students, or just showing off some innovation (or all three). The phrase transcends the bar line.

If this is routine stuff, and I just happened to catch it for the first time, excuse my exuberance.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 23, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< That leaves Harnoncourt [11] and Koopman [21]. If nothing else one is treated to quite a contrast. >
No one has mentioned the OVPP recordings of Rifkin [16].

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 23, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
<< Bach's music is hard, even when neatly printed. <> there are still some figures missing from the figured bass, as to where naturals or flats should be carried through the bar or not. Context doesn't make it absolutely clear. >
A few more remarks this morning, having got up early and spent about 45 minutes reading through the BWV 78 first movement score silently, using the Bach-Gesellschaft with its original C-clefs etc. Here are some things that especially grabbed me, reading through the piece:

- The flute is always doubling something, to strengthen and recolor the other sound. Variously that's the oboe, the violin, or the boy singing the chorale--and the doubling here is in octaves, reinforcing the first overtone in the sung tone. The flute part could have been written an octave lower, throughout these passages where it doubles the boy, but the overtone here aids projection.

- In rhythm, this whole movement seems like an extended sarabande; or even more, like the long chaconne that conventionally ends a French opera act! And the regular four-bar phrase, the chromatic descent, and the rhythm all suggest mid-17th-century France.

- The invertible counterpoint is interesting: occasionally swapping the chromatically descending bass line all the way to the top violin, or sometimes a different part, for relief. Either of the two main instrumental parts serves decently as a bass.

- In the section where the music has modulated to Bb major, the Eb minor coloring (in passing) is delicious.... It's not that far removed from the home key of G minor, but enough so that it sounds exotic. The two short sections of dominant pedal point, and the brief foray into F major, also provide good contrast. Our home key of G minor is such a dark and doleful place, in part because the transposing organist is playing in F minor. (See also the G minor Agnus Dei of the B minor mass (BWV 232), and some of the organ chorales in F minor, in that regard.)

- At plenty of places, someone in the orchestra has a 9 suspended across the barline and into the beginning of the ostinato...but the continuo part has no 9 figured, merely playing a simpler and more straightforward chord without the suspension. (This is not uncommon, playing a resolved chord on an accented beat at the same time as its suspension in another part, and it sounds fine enough; I just think it's odd that Bach wrote in a few of the 9s and omitted some. Whether that's by accident or by design we don't know...and it presents a problem in deciding what to play, in practice!) Another omitted suspension is at 16 bars from the end, where the upper parts suspend both a 9 and a 4, but the bass has no figure at all there. So, either we get a default 8-3 clashing simultaneously against the 9-4, or the continuo keyboardist(s) listen and make the tacit correction of the missing figures.

- The next bar there, 15 from the end, there is a clearly wrong figure, the 7 above the bass's low A. It should be #6, according to the viola moving in parallel 6ths with that whole line. The G of the figure 7 would work fine, with the continuo part played in isolation, but it doesn't in ensemble. Two bars later the 7-b figure does work, and two more bars later the #6 is correct. This all reminds me of Dreyfus's hypothesis that Bach habitually figured his continuo parts (outside the score) from memory at least in part...and sometimes didn't agree with the broader context he had written. We should also recall here that the original score of BWV 78 is missing, and all that survives on this piece from Bach's practice is the set of parts...with these several disagreements in them. Such conflicts of harmony would of course be worked out in rehearsals, without necessarily making any written corrections or other markings into the part. Go through it enough times and carefully enough, and the right thing to play is memorized.

- The energetic countersubject in the bass is marked "piano", keeping it lighter whenever it might threaten to grab too much attention. But then, during the brief interlude when the whole ensemble picks it up, it finally becomes "forte".

- Robert Marshall singled out this opening movement of BWV 78 as one of the best examples in all of Bach, illustrating the "universality" of Bach's compositional methods. Old Bar-form in the chorale, wedded to an ostinato, the invertible counterpoint, some Spanish elements, and French dance rhythms.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 23, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Robert Marshall singled out this opening movement of BWV 78 as one of the best examples in all of Bach, illustrating the "universality" of Bach's compositional methods. Old Bar-form in the chorale, wedded to an ostinato, the invertible counterpoint, some Spanish elements, and French dance rhythms. >
I have always loved this cantata and, like Brad, can spend hours looking at the score, always drawn in by one more incredible compostititechnique each time.

Could Cantata BWV 78 be The Greatest Cantata of Them All?

It has my vote.

John Pike wrote (August 23, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote::
< Could Cantata BWV 78 be The Greatest Cantata of Them All? It has my vote. >
It is certainly in my top 10, if I have such a thing. "Wir eilen" is an absolute gem.

John Pike wrote (August 23, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote::
< No one has mentioned the OVPP recordings of Rifkin [16]. >
I first heard this cantata in Rifkin's recording [16]. It immediately became a firm favourite, and, having heard several other recordings since, it is still one of my favourites, especially the duet.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 23, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>No one has mentioned the OVPP recordings of Rifkin [16].<<
See two detailed descriptions of Rifkin's recording of BWV 78 [16] at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78-D.htm

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 23, 2006):
John Pike wrote:
< I first heard this cantata in Rifkin's recording [16]. It immediately became a firm favourite, and, having heard several other recordings since, it is still one of my favourites, especially the duet. >
I haven't heard Rifkin's [16] yet, but hope to.

Anybody here happen to know if either Kuijken or the Ricercar Consort have any plans to record this one?

By the way, the Herreweghe performance [14] also comes in a third package not pictured at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78.htm
It is in the 3-CD box "Les plus belles cantates" along with 198, 21, 42, 56, 82, 158, and a bonus CD-ROM "L'Univers de Bach". Except for the CD-ROM, it's all simply a repackaging of three earlier separate discs,
issued as a box in 2000.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 23, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>using the Bach-Gesellschaft with its original C-clefs etc.<<
This, in itself, does not make the BG, prepared by Wilhelm Rust (Berlin, July, 1870) a more reliable edition for musicians and musicologists to use. Indeed, despite Rust's usual conscientiousness in preparing this cantata for print, there remain serious questions that are not addressed. These concern the conflation of the "Doles" copy of the score with the original set of parts without noting mistakes and variants contained in the former. Rust does not report in which instances he preferred the "Doles" copy over the original parts, where specifically he added editorial conjectures, or where he added notes and made changes in the articulation and the figured bass. This means that present-day conjectures based on the editorially-shaky foundation of the BG regarding what is missing or unusual in the figured bass are more than just simply highly speculative conjectures that occur to anyone while drinking morning coffee. For this it is absolutely necessary to study the detailed analysis contained in the NBA KB.

BL: >>The flute is always doubling something, to strengthen and recolor the other sound.<<
It is important to remind the reader here that there is no firm evidence that Bach added the flute at the time of the first performance; on the contrary, it could just as easily have been written for a repeat performance where the 'strengthening' was necessary because of new circumstances that confronted Bach at that later time.

BL: >>In rhythm, this whole movement seems like an extended sarabande; or even more, like the long chaconne that conventionally ends a French opera act! And the regular four-bar phrase, the chromatic descent, and the rhythm all suggest mid-17th-century France.<<
I hope that this comment is simply a musicological pointer toward the potential source and not an indication as to actual performance requirements (emulate the French style of performance - on this Mattheson and others make quite clear that the German performance style is not simply a copy of the French).

BL: >>The invertible counterpoint is interesting: occasionally swapping the chromatically descending bass line all the way to the top violin, or sometimes a different part, for relief. Either of the two main instrumental parts serves decently as a bass.<<
I believe that I can honestly speak for others on this list and all the previous Bach scholars who have been amazed by what Bach has accomplished here: this is 'interesting', but perhaps this simple description is insufficient to express the wonder and marvel that many have experienced in hearing and studying this mvt.

BL: >>So, either we get a default 8-3 clashing simultaneously against the 9-4, or the continuo keyboardist(s) listen and make the tacit correction of the missing figures.<<
While there are some irregularities reported by the NBA KB in this regard, and while it is an undisputed fact that continuo keyboardists may need to make tacit corrections "on the fly" (as they most likely did under Bach's direction), it would still, nevertheless, be a less daunting task if the NBA score were used in the first place (along with the NBA KB to check out problematical or missing readings of the figured bass.

BL: >>Such conflicts of harmony would of course be worked out in rehearsals, without necessarily making any written corrections or other markings into the part.<<
If there were rehearsals, then wouldn't Bach or the player at least make a few necessary changes, knowing that, for a repeat performance, all of the same problems would once again crop up and need to be readdressed?

I personally think that there was only one rehearsal with all of the performers present at the Saturday afternoon prayer service. The parts which had just been finished late the previous night or early morning of the same day were distributed at the rehearsal sans final 4-part chorale which would be added Saturday night for the Sunday performance(s).

BL: >>Go through it enough times and carefully enough, and the right thing to play is memorized.<<
I believe that current thinking underestimates the sight-reading capabilities of Bach's performers. He knew beforehand what his performers could accomplish in sight-reading and still giving excellent performances as well.

BL: >>The energetic countersubject in the bass is marked "piano", keeping it lighter whenever it might threaten to grab too much attention. But then, during the brief interlude when the whole ensemble picks it up, it finally becomes "forte".<<
Isn't this marvellous, and yet there are instances in other HIP-cantata performances that I have reported on to this list where these dynamic marking are overlooked completely! There is no audible distinction between 'piano' and 'forte'!

Julian Mincham wrote (August 23, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Could Cantata BWV 78 be The Greatest Cantata of Them All? >
Well, I couldn't pick the one greatest--or even the ten best.

Might be able to make a list of the best 50--but that would change every week anyway!

Probably be easiest to make a list of those I could live without--at a pinch. That would be a shorter list!!

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 23, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Anybody here happen to know if either Kuijken or the Ricercar Consort have any plans to record this one?
By the way, the Herreweghe performance
[14] also comes in a third package not pictured at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78.htm
It is in the 3-CD box "Les plus belles cantates" along with 198, 21, 42, 56, 82, 158, and a bonus CD-ROM "L'Univers de Bach". Except for the CD-ROM, it's all simply a repackaging of three earlier separate discs, issued as a box in 2000. >
To all the pieces of info presented below please add AFAIK.

1. BWV 78 OVPP
Kuijken started recording a cycle (or mini-cycle) of Bach Cantatas titled 'Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year". So far 3 albums have been released.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Kuijken.htm
I believe we can expect BWV 78 in this cycle.
Ricercar Consort have never declared that they plan recording complete Bach Cantata cycle.
However, Montreal Baroque made a big noise with their announcement about two years ago of a complete OVPP Bach Cantata cycle. So far only 3 albums have been released.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Milnes.htm
With a slow pace of one album per year, I wonder when they get at BWV 78, or if they finish their cycle during the lifetime of many members, me included..

2. Herreweghe [14]
Harmonia Mundi have reissued Herreweghe's recording of Bach Cantatas numerous times.
The boxes are presented at the bottom of the page:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Herreweghe.htm
I prefer to see a new recording of Bach Cantatas by Herreweghe rather than re-packaging of previous material over and over again.

John Pike wrote (August 23, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] What an extraordinary analysis. Bach's compositional genius never ceases to amaze!

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 23, 2006):
[To John Pike] It amazes me, too. But (also agreeing with what Doug posted about always finding more), I'd say that the brief list of features I saw from this morning would be only the first hour or so, of at least the first day or two of necessary full-time study, if one were serious about conducting or playing continuo for a performance of the whole piece. (Reckoned under today's conditions, not 18th century.) This was only one movement of a couple of minutes length. One would also have to study all the text carefully across the whole piece, see how it fits into the theology or other parts of the church service where it will be, discuss things with the person giving the sermon, etc.

There are all these analytical details in the music, and more, to notice and make provisional decisions about, before the first rehearsal...along with pulling the group together, arranging people's availability schedules for the parts they're in, getting any outside musicians hired if needed, and more and more and more. One has to decide the best way to teach each section to the ensemble, which also depends who is available to show up for the rehearsals, and how far in advance, and how good they are at learning the music on their own.

Like I said, Bach's music is hard. Not only playing and singing it, but organizing it and getting it all to come together. If I were "only" playing basso continuo for it, as I mentioned yesterday, and not responsible to conduct the thing also, I'd still expect to put in a good three hours of practice/study before the first rehearsal, so I'd understand the part and be ready to play it for rehearsals. This is in a piece that happens to be figured, almost completely and ready to play; some don't have any figures, and all the harmonies need to be worked out without them, which takes yet longer.

Add to that the requirement in Bach's job that he had to write the thing, in the first place, at some time far enough in advance for everybody's sufficient preparation to happen!

Chris Kern wrote (August 24, 2006):
BWV 78 comments, and tempo

With all the tempo comments it's interesting to note that Rilling [12] takes the opening movement of BWV 78 two minutes faster than Suzuki [26].

That being said, this is one of my favorite cantatas. Suzuki's rendition [26], in particular is very good. I don't have a whole lot of detailed comments to make about it, but I even like the bass aria which Whittaker condemned as a weak part of the cantata.

(As a side note, I was surprised to hear Rilling [12] shorten and even omit some notes in the BC of a secco recitative -- I don't remember the specific cantata, though.)

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 24, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< It amazes me, too. But (also agreeing with what Doug posted about always finding more), I'd say that the brief list of features I saw from this morning would be only the first hour or so, of at least the first day or two of necessary full-time study, if one were serious about conducting or playing continuo for a performance of the whole piece. >
I should also add: if I were working this up seriously for a performance, I'd probably start not by relying on the Bach-Gesellschaft (as convenient as it is with full score, while lacking performance parts). Rather, I'd first buy the full score and set of parts from Carus for their modest price: http://www.carus-verlag.com/index.php3?BLink=KKArtikel&ArtikelID=7889

Then I'd spend half a day at the library, comparing all of this carefully with the NBA, even though the Carus has more recent scholarship; it's always worth a look at both, plus the Bach-Gesellschaft. From that I'd spend another half day at least, marking up the score with my analytical notes and performance decisions, and making some markings in the players' parts as well. The better prepared the parts are, the smoother everything tends to go in rehearsal.

On the other hand, back to the Bach-Gesellschaft for study: I feel that there is still some value in reading the music from the same clefs that Bach and his students used. All the later editions have got rid of those, but it's excellent practice and useful to know how to read them, the better to "get inside" the musical practices of that situation. A lot of his keyboard music is written with right hand notated in soprano clef (middle C on the bottom line) anyway, like soprano vocal parts, in facsimiles.

So is the facsimile from his basso continuo teaching materials, with the right hand in soprano clef. That's in this well-annotated facsimile edition and critical translation from Oxford UP, which also helpfully includes the Anna Magdalena continuo lessons as an appendix:http://homepages.bw.edu/bachbib/script/bach2.pl?22=3944
There are some interesting exercises in there, provided by Bach, not only for realizing continuo appropriately by the rules but also for improvising little fughettas. Bach himself was a critical editor of the materials he taught from (which in turn derived from one of his own cousin's students to begin with, registered in Jena...). Bach tightened up or omitted any too-theoretical bits while he enlarged the practical examples, to focus directly on the hands-on practical skills. He also refined the material to show exactly what does and doesn't need to be memorized, to get the job done most pragmatically. Excellent stuff.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 24, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< Obviously one hears the family resemblance in Koopman's interpretation [21], but you have to listen closely. The timing on the two versions is almost identical at about 21:00. Yet Koopman's introductory chorus is polished, restrained and somehow sounds slower than it is. >
I quote (above) a snatch of Eric's post as an opportunity to say thanksfor the excellent comments on the current discussion topic! Especially for the Koopman mention [21], which others have also requested.

Briefly, from a practical viewpoint, it is a different purchasing decision for some of us (one of us, for sure), whether to buy a Koopman 3 CD set or a Suzuki 1 CD set, when aiming for a recording of a particular cantata. So the feedback on Koopman recordings is particularly useful.

I promise to figure out soon (ASAP, in fact), what has gone wrong with the reply function interaction between my software (unchanged) and Yahoo software (evolving daily?). In an ideal world, there are standards.

Just ask Brad. Get in the buggy, have the horse pull you to church. Worked for Grandpa (and before), why change? We will see who is correct. The outcome not quite as determined as we assume, as we scramble messaaround the planet.

A bit OT there, but I am still enjoying the www message exchange. Keep it working. Apply standards.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 24, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>So is the facsimile from his basso continuo teaching materials, with the right hand in soprano clef. That's in this well-annotated facsimile edition and critical translation from Oxford UP, which also helpfully includes the Anna Magdalena continuo lessons as an appendix: http://homepages.bw.edu/bachbib/script/bach2.pl?22=3944
There are some interesting exercises in there, provided by Bach, not only for realizing continuo appropriately by the rules but also for improvising little fughettas. Bach himself was a critical editor of the materials he taught from (which in turn derived from one of his own cousin's students to begin with, registered in Jena...). Bach tightened up or omitted any too-theoretical bits while he enlarged the practical examples, to focus directly on the hands-on practical skills. He also refined the material to show exactly what does and doesn't need to be memorized, to get the job done most pragmatically. Excellent stuff.<<
See my message and other responses from February 10, 2005, beginning over half way down the page at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Early-Cantatas-2.htm

This topic has been treated and revisited a number of times in the past.

It is interesting to see in Brad’s reference above a title referring to this as: “Johann Sebastian Bach: Precepts and principles for playing the thorough-bass or accompanying in four parts. Leipzig, 1738.”

This is a title that makes it appear as though Bach actually had a hand in producing this handwritten document. There is only one coincidental connection with Thieme, one of the authors, who at one time studied with Bach, but Bach scholars in Germany have been unable to connect the dots between Thieme and Bach: there is no indication that Bach ever saw this document or acknowledged it in any way. Portions are lifted directly from Niedt’s “Musicalische Handleitung” (there is no evidence that Bach ever referred to this book or had it in his library – but Bach did sell from his house copies of Heinichen’s much better book on thorough-bass published in Dresden, 1728. Why would Bach want his students to learn from Niedt’s book which is decidedly inferior to Heinichen’s in almost every aspect? Also, why would any student want to learn thorough-bass from a student’s handwritten manuscript fraught with numerous, serious errors in the examples that are given there?

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 24, 2006):
Sorry for one of those posts that says <me too>, but, me too (especially the duet).

I also have a special fondness for Frank Kelley, tenor, because:
(1) He is superb
(2) He originated in my neighborhood, and so I have heard him live for many years. Indeed, his voice is my tenor standard. Give it a listen if you have the chance, either here (BWV 78) or in some of the Smith/Emmanuel Music recordings of other cantatas. Or anywhere else you can find him, many available.

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 24, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I quote (above) a snatch of Eric's post as an opportunity to say thanks for the excellent comments on the current discussion topic! Especially for the Koopman [21] mention, which others have also requested.
Briefly, from a practical viewpoint, it is a different purchasing decision for some of us (one of us, for sure), whether to buy a Koopman 3 CD set or a Suzuki 1 CD set, when aiming for a recording of a particular cantata. So the feedback on Koopman recordings
[21] is particularly useful. >
Believe me I understand the practical end of things. I recommend of the life of teaching and writing history to anyone who doesn't really want to work for a living, but it does consign one to the world of Honda Civics and second hand Buicks. (And you need a wife to pay for the Civic.) Anyway, it's been a rare day that I've paid full price for a cantata CD. (I did splurge for one I just received today and will review shortly because it deals both with boy sopranos and Brad's theory of temperament.) Anyway, it's been my experience that Suzuki CDs don't show up used in large numbers. That may be because they've been given a pretty limited run and those that like them don't want to sell them. This is certainly appears true of the new Gardiner series. (Which is one reason why I don't have any of the new ones: $40 plus shipping etc for two CDs is pretty rich for my blood. I got all of the old Archiv's for under $10 - often around $5.) And thanks to ebay I built up a pretty good collection of Harnoncourt and all of Leusink: glad I did too because Harnoncourt has almost vanished for two years.) Anyway, that means that Suzuki is likely going for $15 per disc: Koopman volumes routinely go for about $32 on Amazon - sometimes less if there's a blemish on the case. There are three CDs in a Koopman volume so it's not quite bargain, but let's not forget that Naxos is charging $9 list these days. You might check the libraries. I do live in two cities (Berkeley/San Francisco and Minneapolis/St. Paul) that have extremely good public library systems. (Can't figure the Berkeley library system: it's the only public body that functions at all in California that I can see.) Berkeley had lots of Harnoncourt and St. Paul several Koopman volumes. Maybe you can check one out on the cheap. The experience will beat the devil out of listening to a little digital snipet courtesy of a vendor. Anyway, Archiv.com has a nice list of all of Koopman's volumes so you can find which volumes that include the works you like. Like Suzuki's they follow chronology so if you like early works you might want to track down one of the early volumes. (Koopman's 106 is really sweet: so is his 208 which, for some reason, is included on a sacred volume.) If you like the chorale treatment pick up a volume at around 13. Koopman and Suzuki have some things in common: as I recall Suzuki is a former student. Both have wonderful players. I'd give Suzuki the edge on engineering which I think is the best among the cantata cycles, but Koopman's is very nice also. One thing, though, as I've been yammering on a bit, Koopman rarely uses countertenors and Suzuki does. Bach wrote many arias and duets for altos so this is a major difference. If you like male altos you'll prefer Suzuki I'd think. If not, spend the extra nickles and get Koopman.

Someone brought up Rifkin's BWV 78 [16]. Now that I check my list, I own it. It's a very nice rendition indeed and has all of the advantages of OVPP, although because 78 relies so heavily on the soloists it's easy to forget once past the opening chorus which is light and has a lovely clarity. (Personally I think Harnoncourt [11] blows Rifkin out of the water in the chorus, but no accounting for some people's taste.) The lovely duet is nicely done - I am beginning to like Ms. Baird. But she sings with Allan Fast so one is back on the counter tenor issue again. The remainder of the work is pleasing to the ear but it's not obvious to me that Rifkin has better soloists than Leusink [20] (minus the alto) or better players. I'd put Koopman's [21] over Rifkin's, but I specialize in humming so may not be the best judge.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 25, 2006):
BWV 78 Short samples from before and after

In the files section of the Bach Cantatas Group Page, I have posted this file containing short musical examples:
BWV78Rev.jpg

The “Before” represents the “Doles” copy of the score which gives an approximate representation of what Bach’s original score may have been like. The “After” is the version in the original set of parts where Bach made additional changes either telling his copyists to make theschanges or adding them personally himself.

See this example also at: Mvt. 1 - Before and After Revision [Scores]

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 28, 2006):
A recent post (I have lost it) suggested that the Herreweghe BWV 78 [14] exists in three different packages. As best I could determine, none are readily available, but there is a fourth option: Forms and Figures in Baroque Music, Harmonia Mundi, book with 2 CDs, text by Raphaelle LeGrand. It is not easy to see from listings that BWV 78 is included. It is there, and newly arrived to me.

Unfortunately, this is not a cost effective way to get a single cantata recording (just under $20). It is, however, a rather nice package for the lay listener (as opposed to the professional musician) who can benefit from and enjoy the other material and discussion included. It is hard for me to imagine any Bach listener being seriously disappointed by a Herreweghe performance [14]. Indeed, it is hard for me to imagine anyone not finding it at (or near) the top of the list. The LeGrand book includes a few pages of notes re BWV 78, with helpful graphical aids emphasizing Form and Figure (architecture), also with some helpful cues as to key changes and effects. Alas, no music examples, although quite a few in other places. You can't have everything, until the definitive listener's guide comes along.

However, the combined text and diagram is especially clear for the Chorus, Mvt 1, despite a few transpositions in the English translation of the Chorale text. I am looking for a few sentences to quote, but in fact the text, without diagram, does not stand on its own. Here is a bit:

This Chorus is conceived as a series of variations on a falling chromatic basso ostinato comparable to that of Dido's Lament by Purcell [also included in this package]. Bach, however, remains very free in his treatment of this ostinato motive.

This is the very passus duriusculus motive which has elicited varying interpretations through the previous week (seems longer). According to Dürr: <The passacaglia theme, one of the most lapidary themes in musical history, may be traced back a long time before Bach.>

A couple things for sure, with a bit of time spent following the music (thanks to BG score, Dover edition):
(1) musicologists have a lot of different jargon for the same, not very difficult motive
(2) it recurs continuously, in different voices and lines, including ascending form twice, as noted by Dürr.

Besides the ostinato motive, there are just a few others which provide the basic material for this complex music. This invites comparisons and contrasts with the opening Chorus of BWV 33, equally complex, and also built from a few bricks:
(1) The continuo begins BWV 78 solo, for a single beat. It is the last entry, in bar 5, of the fugal opening of BWV 33.
(2) The Chorale lines of BWV 33 are as simple as can be, punctuating the orchestral complexity and counterpoint.
(3) BWV 78 is just the opposite, with the contrapuntal complexity in the vocal lines.

Indeed, LeGrand notes with respect to the concluding Chorale, Mvt. 7:
<Hidden in the contrapuntal texture of the first Chorus, the melodic line now appears in all its well-balanced sobriety.>

LeGrand is especially good with respect to the recitatives, which often seem to get overlooked. With respect to Mvt. 3:

The melodic line, laid out in large dissonant intervals depicting the sinner's remorse, is supported by no less dissonant chords in the continuo. [...] After a first section with repeated exclamations (<ach>) expressing the deepest despair, a second section is calmer and more stable (a quality underlined by the two perfect cadences) as the sinner glimpses the means of his salvation.

Once again, I have enough material in hand for an MA thesis, not about to get written of a Sunday evening. Although time to move on, I will try to add a few comments re specific recordings of BWV 78 in coming days. Until then:

Rifkin [16] is especially enjoyable, my first opportunity to comment on OVPP, and my first choice (over Richter [6] and Leusink [20]) until the Herreweghe [14] arrived. Also awaiting Suzuki [26]. Look what you have done to me!

I assume it is Marcel Ponseele on Oboe I with Herreweghe [14], but the instrumentalists are not credited on the book package. If anyone can confirm this from some other edition, I would appreciate it.

Peter Smaill wrote (August 26, 2006):
Passus duriusculus /"Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt"

One of the byproducts of the discussion on the descending chromatic four note figure (which in BWV 78 appears to associate with the descent to the "Teufels finstern Hoehle" ("devil's dark hole")) is the lookaround to see what other instances exist.

This leads to consideration of the Neumeister/Arnstadt Chorale prelude, "Ich hab mein Sach Gott Heimgestellt", BWV 1113, (also the central chorale to the "St Luke Passion" (BWV 247) and which was notated and arguably harmonised by Bach). BWV 1113 has a passus in the third line. Both pieces have quite extreme discords and, if the Chorale prelude is also meditating on the twelfth verse as is the Passion chorale, "Derselbig mein Herr Jesu Christ", then the descending passus occurs at "höllengluth" ("flames of Hell") which Christ has extinguished through His blood.

There is more. This Chorale prelude ends its echo passage, and then there is an unusual six beat extension of the work by a beautiful sequence of chromatic chords, the final being a rare septachord. Thus Bach enlarges this Chorale prelude, perhaps as early as 1703-7 , to precisely forty-one bars ; just as he was to create a gematric proposition in dictating "Vor deinen Thron tret Ich hiermit", BWV 668, where Smend observes that the final extended version has fourteen notes in the first lines of its cantus firmus, and forty-one overall (gematric "Bach" and "J S Bach".)

Not surprisingly BWV 668 also has the passus duriusculus, but inverted so ascending at bars 2, and 6, the indication of progression towards the Almighty.

Thse instances appear, along with the analysis by William Scheide of the St John Passion (BWV 245), (Part 1- 14 basic sections ; Part 2 -27, totalling 41) to be leading to the conclusion that gematria cannot be dismissed as a random feature of Bach's hermeneutics; but rather a device in particular works, each having their own significance to Bach's personal faith.

Wayne Davies wrote (August 27, 2006):
BWV 78

[To Aryeh Oron] I noticed that for the week of Aug 20th you had Bach’s Cantata BWV 78 on your list, I only have 2 recordings of the piece, one by Werner [5] and the other by Rilling [12], both as you know are older recordings, but recorded in the same month October.

Werner recorded his version [5] in Oct. 1972 and Rilling recording his [12] in Oct. 1979, that struck me funny when I first looked into these recordings.

Rilling [12] seems to be in a hurry in his version, his pacing is much quicker than Werner’s [5], also I noticed in the 2nd movement of BWV 78 the aria for Soprano & Alto that Werner uses the Choir voices for this, while Rilling just uses the 2 voices, I found this to be very interesting, was it written for solo voices our the choir voices, I am not sure, do you the answer to this.

Do you have these 2 recordings to compare both versions?

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 29, 2006):
The following citation from Sept. 2001 discussions, Aryeh oron;
< [19] Elizabeth C. Patterson (1999)
I discovered this relatively new recording throua message by a member of the BCML, who sent a message to the group, saying that this was the ugliest CD cover he had ever seen. But if the CD cover is indeed ugly, the music is definitely not, and the performance is passable [...] The anonymous singers are competent. >

[19] On a tour (now rare, unfortunately, other things to do, etc.) through the local used records shops, I came across this 2 CD set, $12. A bit over the limit for an unknown, but that weird portrait of Bach was saying <take me, take me>. So I did.

A couple points:
(1) Anyone who thinks this is the ugliest CD cover ever has not not had their eyes open.
(2) Even for a Bach CD cover, it is far from the ugliest, especially when you consider the CD title <Peace Be with You>. Visit the Recordings page and have a look. It is, apparently, an interpretative portrait of Bach. Aren't they all?

I cannot tell you that the music is essential, but I find it better than passable. The opening chorus is slower than Herreweghe [14]. I did not time it, but close to 70+ bpm, a very nice pace to open up the dense chorale counterpoint.

This counterpoint might not have been so dense to Bach's target audience, who would presumably have had the chorale melody as part of their unconscious vocabulary. So who knows how fast you could play it and not have them get lost? 70+ bpm sounds nice to me, with no further attempt at justification. Discussion and disagreement (within reason) welcome.

The singers are not well known, even locally, but they are clearly identified in the booklet notes. Misunderstanding of anonymous (my favorite author)?

For connoisseurs of the obscure detail, the recording venue is the same as for Rifkin's OVPP [16], Methuen [MA USA] Memorial Music Hall. Totally different ambient sound. I infer, totally different recording engineering.

It's a record, what you hear is what you get. Thorough liner notes are ever more essential to document it.

 

A little more on BWV 78/2

Continue of discussion from: Masaaki Suzuki - General discussions Part 4 [Performers]

Neil Halliday wrote (August 9, 2007):
Masaaki Suzuki (and Koopman's 78/2) [21]

[To Julian Mincham] I'm afraid you are correct as far as my assessment of Koopman's [21] continuo in the BWV 78 duet is concerned - the 'rattly organ' and its timbre are not my 'cup of tea'. Also, I miss a clear pizzicato violone part that is quite distinct from the cello part; this is very well presented in some recordings. Rifkin's recording [16] of the duet is one that is much more to my taste - listen to the BCW sample. I agree with you that Suzuki's BWV 78 duet continuo (Albert Hall concert) sounded a bit heavy - bassoon? In fact, the Albert Hall sound seems less refined than Suzuki's recording of the work on BIS vol. 25 - which is to be expected of such a comparison, I suppose.

BTW, the sample of Koopman's [21] BWV 78/1 sounds beautifully expressive and flowing.

Anyway, glad you enjoy your recording of the Koopman [21] duet so much!

Neil Halliday wrote (August 9, 2007):
I should have mentioned Werner's amazing performance [5] of this duet (BWV 78/2).

Against all the odds, his performance with choir sopranos and altos (!) is the epitome of lightness and grace. They sing lightly and absolutely without vibrato, and the continuo is vivid, yet unintrusive.

The BCW also has a sample of the lovely 1954 (!) Prohaska version [4] with Teresa Stich-Randall and alto Dagmar Hermann. Lovely singing from an era when heavy vibrato was often deadly. (Some may find the organ too bright in the ritonellos, but this disappears in the accompaniment to the singers.

Shabtai Atlow wrote (August 9, 2007):
[To Neil Halliday] I can't find the file you refer to, and this is very frustrating, as this duet is one of my favorites in all of the cantatas.

Can you kindly provide the URL?

Thanks,

Neil Halliday wrote (August 9, 2007):
[To Shabtai Atlow] Several samples of BWV 78/2, including Prohaska [4], Rifkin [16], Koopman [21], and others, but unfortunately not Werner [5], can be heard by clicking on the live 'Amazon.com' link, for the respective recording at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78.htm

Shabtai Atlow wrote (August 9, 2007):
[To Neil Halliday] many thanks - I'll salivatge over this during the weekend!

 

BWV 78, Trinity 14, Sep. 13, 2009

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 13, 2009):
Todays selection for radio and webcast (WGBH-FM, www.wgbh.org), as well as last weeks (BWV 33, Trinity 13), are both from the second Leipzig cycle, the Chorale cantatas, with the Gardiner Pilgrimage performance [23] chosen in both instances. Host Brian McCreath emphasizes the texts, and especially the similarities and contrasts in these two works, for example: <How fearfully my steps wavered> (BWV 33/3, A aria) and <We hasten with weak yet eager steps> (BWV 78/2 SA duet aria).

These works are appropriate to the real time liturgical calendar, as I point out from time to time. Although this has not generated any discussion, I expect there are other BCML participants beyond Brian and myself who appreciate the ongoing series. These two works are also particularly germane to Will Hoffman's comments re BWV 248, with respect to interpretation of Bach's collaborations, in this case with the unknown librettist (presumedly singular) of the beginning and majority of the Leipzig II cycle.

 

BWV 78 "Wir Eilet..."

Continue of discussion from: Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Recommended Cantatas - General Discussions Part 15: Year 2010 [General Topics]

Peter Smaill wrote (January 6, 2011):
Claudio Di Veroli wrote:
< I find that two of the most beautiful and interesting cantatas, certainly accessible to beginnners, are BWV 19 "Es Erhub sich ein Streit" (magnificent trumpet parts, choir parts reproducing the movement of the "serpent") and BWV 78 "Jesu der du meine Seele" (remarkable harmonic developments upon a bass following the traditional French passacaille, including some oboe passages identical to the Passacaille by Louis Couperin). >
Certainly the opening movement is one of the greatest of all Bach's creations but the subsequent aria has also attracted much of a following. At some point in the nineteenth century it was popularised as "Bach's Pentecostal Air" and was a favourite of the author Robert Louis Stevenson: http://digital.nls.uk/rlstevenson/pics/picture-j7.html

Just as well he stuck to writing and did not attempt to become a pianist!

Evan Cortens wrote (January 6, 2011):
[To Peter Smaill] Very interesting! However, this actually looks like it's based on BWV 68/2 (not 78/2)... The melody is nearly identical (the two sixteenths being the only real change) and the 'bass line' is a funny combination/recomposition of the continuo and violoncello lines from the original. Also, BWV 68 was for Pentecost Sunday, whereas BWV 78 was for Trinity 14.

Thanks for passing this on! Best,

Evan Cortens wrote (January 6, 2011):
There's also a little performance of the Stevenson arrangement on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS8F_Lt5G7g

Evan Cortens wrote (January 6, 2011):
[To Evan Cortens] Thanks indeed for this and I will hunt down the more likely source BWV 68,...and correct "eilet" to "eilen"! This solves several problems about the aria tune and if in effect repeated in Bach in two places (as distinct from reappearnace of chorale meoldies) then the parallel between the two settings is maybe significant. For it seems to me that each aria is different in the Cantatas from every other, except where the work is entirely reset for a different voice.

This is quite different from Handel who often performed opera pastiches in which arias change place......or so it appears. Any contrary views?

 

Continue on Part 5

Cantata BWV 78: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Article:
Program Notes to Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78 [S. Burton]

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

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