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Non-Bach cantatas
Discussions - Part 1









Johann Ludwig Bach

Denn du wirst meine Seele

Easter Sunday



Georg Melchior Hoffmann

Schlage doch, gewunschte Stunde

Funeral and Memorial Service



Georg Philipp Telemann

Das ist je gewißlich wahr

3rd Sunday in Advent



Johann Kuhnau (?)

Uns ist ein Kind Geoboren

Christmas Day



Georg Philipp Telemann

Ich weiß, daß mein Erloser lebt

Easter Sunday



Georg Melchior Hoffmann

Meine Seele ruhmt und preist

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary




Gedenke, Herr, wie es uns gehet!

1st Sunday after Epiphany



Georg Philipp Telemann

Gott der Hoffnung erfulle euch

Whit Sunday [1st Day of Pentecost]



Georg Philipp Telemann

Siehe, es hat uberwunden der Lowe

At St Michael and All Angels




Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munden

Nativity of Saint John the Baptist




Wer sucht die Pracht, wer wünscht den Glanz

Occasion unspecified



Johann Ernst Bach

Mein Odem ist schwach

Occasion unspecified


Cantata BWV 189

Jay Seaver wrote (March 4, 1997):
Has the cantata BWV 189, Meine Seele Ruhmt und Preist, for tenor, officially been disconnected with Bach, or is it still a possibility that Bach wrote it?

Simon Crouch wrote (March 5, 1997):
(To Jay Seaver) All the sources I have (Grove, Dürr...) indicate that it is not by Bach. It is thought to be by G.M. Hoffmann.

Jay Seaver wrote (March 4, 1997):
(To Simon Crouch) I can only hope that I do not run into a potential problem. I did not learn of this until a week ago. I have auditioned for a Bach summer festival and I used that cantata as my audition piece. I hope they accept it! Thanks for the info.


BWV 189 Bach/Hoffman?

Antony White wrote (December 10, 1998):
Has anyone any information about the attribution of the cantata "Meine Seele rühmt und preist" to J. S. Bach as BWV 189. I think I read somewhere that it might be by G. M. Hoffman. I would be grateful for any information - also has anyone an English translation of the text?

Russeel E. (Russ) Davis wrote (December 10, 1998):
(To Antony Davis)Yes. According to the 1998 "little" Schmieder catalog (see it at, it has now been moved to Anhang II, which is the Appendix for questionable works. "Mo"glicherweise von Melchior Hoffmann" below means either "possibly" or "probably" by him, though I'm not certain of the distinction between them, i.e. what the degree of certainty is. As to the translation, that may prove more difficult. I'm sorry I can't help you, for it's left out of my book of cantata libretti due to it's absence from the main Schmieder catalog. I hope someone can help you with older versions before it was removed to the Anhang, but I can't. Sorry.

From the 1998 "little" Schmieder catalog for BWV 189 in Anhang II at
"Meine Seele rühmt und preist
Kantate für T solo, Fl, Ob, Vl, Bc
BG 37: 215 - Möglicherweise von Melchior Hoffmann
Literatur: Dürr, BJ 1956: 155 - Glöckner, Die Musikpflege an der Leipziger Neukirche zur Zeit Johann Sebastian Bachs, Beiträge zur Bachforschung 8, Leipzig 1990: 54"

Russeel E. (Russ) Davis wrote (December 10, 1998):
(To Antony Davis) Oh, by the way, I forgot. For what little help it is, one thing I can supply you with is the songs in it from the website I just mentioned:
1. (Aria): Meine Seele rühmt und preist
2. Recitativo: Denn seh ich mich und auch mein Leben an
3. Aria: Gott hat sich hoch gesetzet
4. Recitativo: O was vor große Dinge treff ich an allen Orten an
5. Aria: Deine Güte

Ben Crick wrote (December 11, 1998):
(To Antony Davis) Russ Davis has answered your first point. And he provided the first lines in German of the numbers. Here's the English equivalent:
1. Meine Seele rühmt and preist / My soul glorifies and praises
2. Denn seh ich mich und auch mein Leben an / For I examine myself and my life
3. Gott hat sich hoch gesetzt / God has set himself up on high
4. O was für große Dinge treff ich an allen Orten an / O what great things I encounter in all places
5. Deine Güte, dein Erbarmen / Thy goodness, thy mercy

John Flint wrote (December 11, 1998):
Sorry I haven't time to put this into elegant English from W. G. Whittaker's literal translation in his: The cantatas of J.S. Bach, vol. 1, pp. 47-52: (OUP 1959)
1.(Aria) My soul magnifies and praises God's grace and rich goodness and my spirit, heart and mind and whole being is in my God rejoiced Who my salvation is called.
2. (Recitative) Then if look I upon myself and also on my life, so must my mouth into these words break: God what hast thou then to me done! It is with a thousand tongues not once to be expressed how good Thou art, how friendly thy faithfulness, how rich thy love is. So be to then then laud, honour and praise sung.
3. (Aria) God has himself on high established and looks upon that which lowly is; ordained that me the world petty and miserable holds, yet am I highly esteemed, because God me not forgets.
4. (Recitative) O what great things discover I in all places that God to me has done, for whic I to himmy heart as offering bring. He does it, whose might the heaven can confine, on whose name's splendour the seraphim in lowliness only meditate. He has to me body and life, he has to me also the right to blessedness, and what me here and there rejoices, from pure grace given.
5. (Aria) Thy goodness, thy mercy endures, God, for all time. Thou showest mercy to those thy faithful poor. [A rough paraphrase of part of the Magnificat]


Recordings of Non Bach Cantatas

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 26, 1999):
Does anybody know if someone has recorded (or is planning to record) a set of the complete cantatas included in BWV list and not composed by Johann Sebastian Bach? It could be a nice supplement to the complete sets of the cantatas (Rilling, Harnoncourt/Leonhardt, Suzuki, Koopman, and Kruidvat). It is interesting also to hear these cantatas, because the people who prepared the BWV list (in the 19th century), thought at that time that those cantatas were really written by JSB and I believe that they found some reasons in the scores which led them to think so.

Matthew Westphal wrote (October 26, 1999):
CPO, the German label, has released the following three titles:

The Apocryphal Bach Cantatas BWV 217-222 - #999139 (217-1)
The Apocryphal Bach Motets BWV Anh. 159-165 - #999235
Bach: Apocryphal St. Luke Passion - #999293

I'm afraid I haven't reviewed or even heard these (though I do have the St. Luke Passion on my desk), but (for whom I write "in-house" reviews) has performer details and Real Audio clips for all three. Just go to the classical or opera/vocal page and put "apocryphal" into the Keyword Search box.

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 27, 1999):
Thanks to Matthew. Has anybody listened to the above mentioned records? Numbers 1-200 in BWV list also include non-Bach cantatas, such as - BWV 15, BWV 53, BWV 118, BWV 141, BWV 142, BWV 189. Have they ever been recorded?

Steven Langley Guy wrote (October 27, 1999):
The French Counter-tenor Henri Ledroit has made a very attractive recording of BWV 53 on the Ricercar label (53-9). Robin Blaze has also recorded this one, I believe, on a Hyperion CD (53-10).

BWV 118, The group Concerto Palatino has recorded BWV 118 on EMI (CDC 7 54455 2) - see my comments on this recording on the main Bach Website. BWV 118b has been recorded by the Monteverdi Choir/English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner on Archiv (with the very appropriate couplings of BWV 106 & BWV 198 on Archiv 429 782-2) and it is also a fine recording of Bach's later version of this work which seems to be more suitable for indoor performance. I don't think anyone else has recorded this cantata (perhaps better described as a "motet movement"?) as it requires a very high cornett (the piece works better on a cornettino) and two "litui", which must be some sort of horn. Concerto Palatino use natural horns (corno da caccia) and this seems to be a functional solution.

Simon Crouch wrote (October 27, 1999):
If you take a look at my Cantata Website at:
Then you'll find, under the individual entries, details of recordings of all the non-Bach BWV entries that I know about. I'm fairly sure that I've got all that's currently available (but please inform me if I'm wrong!) Some works like BWV 142 used to get performed a lot and has been recorded, but since it was attributed to Kuhnau it's disappeared from recording catalogues.

BTW, the BWV was put together in the 1930's and 1940's and published in 1950. I think that you're referring to the BG (Bach Gesellschaft) that published the first complete Bach edition in the nineteenth century.

PS. I have tried to persuade Hyperion to record these works but with no luck so far. Maybe if some more of you wrote to Ted Perry...

Donald Satz wrote (October 27, 1999):
I've had the Bach Apocryphal St. Luke Passion (BWV 246) on CPO for about 2 years. It's fine music, particularly the chorales. Arias are not abundant and do not seem to me to be of the highest musical invention. Overall, I have no regrets about buying the set. Performances range from good to excellent, and the recorded sound is satisfying.

Carl Burmeister wrote (October 27, 1999):
I have been meaning to post something about BWV 142 for some time now.

Actually, BWV 142 has been one of my favourites since I first heard the Concerto and Chorale on E. Power Biggs "Music of Jubilee " back in 1955. I know that Biggs never was really very good, especially at Bach interpretation. He did however open my eyes to the cantatas.

After this exposure, I started my cantata collection by purchasing real recordings of the cantatas sampled on the Biggs LP. Among these was a recording of BWV 142 by Conductor Heinz Markus Gottsche with the Mannheim Bach Choir, the Heidelberg Chamber Orchestra and soloists Petrina Kruse (soprano), Sabine Kirchner (Alto), Friedrich Melzer (Tenor), Edmund Illerhaus (Bass) and Marga Scheurich (Harpsichord). Its in the Bach Oryx Series BACH 1112 from peerless Record Co. Ltd (142-1).

I still have this LP.

About a year ago while trying to find decent CD recordings of the cantatas that I have on LP, I discovered that current opinion is that the work was not by Bach but by Kuhnau.

You can imagine my shock that one of my favourite Bach cantatas was not by Bach at all. I still have trouble accepting this but who am I to doubt current music scholarship in this regard. I guess that Kuhnau was a better composer than his discography (empty) might suggest.

I would love an up to date HIP recording of this but I guess for the moment I'll have to settle for making a CD from the LP. Rather than complain maybe I'll try to make a recording happen myself at some point - don't hold your breath thou.

BTW, there is a modern "Music of Jubilee" type recording on CD which includes the opening concerto. It's "A Bach Festival / Empire Brass, Douglas Major" (142-4) and its on Amazon at:

Donald Satz wrote (October 27, 1999):
Kuhnau, although no Bach, was a very good Baroque composer. Discography wise, his Biblical Sonatas have been recorded a few times on CD, and there's a fairly recent sacred works disc on Hyperion directed by a superb conductor, Robert King. Given Kuhnau's musical qualities, there's every reason to feel fine about liking a work from his pen.

Steven Langley Guy wrote (October 27, 1999):
As I have said many times Bach did not compose his music in a vacuum... Yes, Kuhnau was no second rate composer and he was one of the many fine Cantors at the St. Thomas church Leipzig. They did not give this job to just any Tom, Dick or Harry in Leipzig! You had to be a pretty skilled musical all-rounder. Bach must have thought a lot of Kuhnau as he also arranged Kuhnau's motet "Tristis est anima mea". Needless to say, some of Kuhnau's cantatas music may still have been performed occasionally in Bach's time.

A short plug: please check out a CD called "Cantors at St. Thomas's before Bach" performed by Cantus Cölln/Konrad Junghänel on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 05472-77203-2 This recording features eight cantatas by Sebastian Knüpfer, Johann Kuhnau & Johann Schelle. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Kuhnau's Biblical sonatas (for keyboard) have been highly regarded for many years.

Josiah Armes wrote (October 27, 1999):
I agree here. Kuhnau, was, in fact, organist of the Thomasschule Church at Leipzig before Bach. He is credited with the creation of the sonata as a musical form as it is today. Definitely, many people [at least in terms of organ] tend to that quality is Bach and nothing else is quality. I think it should only give one yet a higher opinion of other composers as well.

Carl Burmeister wrote (October 28, 1999):
I stand very much corrected on the issue of the empty <or not> discography for Kuhnau.

I have tracked this down at German Music Express under the official name "THOMASKANTOREN VOR BACH" HARM772032

But more in line with the "BWV 142 not" discussion, you can find "Uns ist ein Kind geboren" Kuhnau et al with the Capella Brugensis and Collegium Instrumentale Brugensis on Amazon. This also has a setting of "Uns ist ein Kind geboren" by Homillius as well as a couple of works by Brenda and Stötzel.

I should have checked before making the comment about the availability of Kuhnau recordings. There is a fair selection if you don't mind collections of different composers.

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 29, 1999):
Do you have a label name (and number)?

Carl Burmeister wrote (October 29, 1999):
Sorry, I should have included that. Have you ever heard of "Eufoda (Bel)"?

Amazon shows:
Eufoda (Bel) - #1272 / October 26, 1999
Audio CD / DDD / Number of Discs: 1
Conductor: Patrick Peire

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 27, 1999):
(142-1) I have the same recording on a release from the US Musical Heritage Society.

As the MHS did, in the early seventies, Oryx bought copyrights of quite a few Bach (and other) recordings from small German labels. Some of these (unfortunately no Bach so far) have been released on CD by Cantate and Musicaphon. So with a bit of luckand some patience...? Who knows? It worked with a few recordings I am very fond of (a.o. Buxtehude, Schütz).

In used-LP shops (reading The Gramophone, there are quite a few around in the UK, anybody have any experience in searching?) you may still find a very satisfying recording of BWV 142 by Kurt Redel, conducting the Choir and Orchestra "Pro Arte", Munich, coupled with the Magnificat. Soloists a.o. Theo Altmeyer and Heinz Rehfuss (142-2). Philips 6581 014 in their UNIVERSO series (so that must have been a re-release, don't know the number of the original release). Judging by the sleeve, the Universo release was intended for the British market.

Worth hunting for. It's a wonderful cantata (in all it's simplicity, compared to most Bach cantatas) and hearing Heinz Rehfuss sing is quite an experience by itself.

(Check out a 2-CD set on Philips DUO with works by Telemann: a St. Mark, a German and a Latin version of the Magnificat. The German Magnificat has a heartbreaking Arioso, magnificently sung by Theo Altmeyer: "Die Hungrichen fuellet er mit Gueter....")

The opening Sinfonia (by Helmut Winschermann and the Deutsche Bachsolisten; soloists: Ameling, Equiluz a.o.) can be found in 5 CD box with 13 Cantatas & various chorales and Sinfonias on Philips 454 346-2 (142-3) (currently on special offer by Universal Music). The 1"40 minute Sinfonia is almost worth buying the whole box (which BTW is very attractive for all its contents).

These are the ONLY recordings of BWV 142 I've ever come across.

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 27, 1999):
(217-1) Though Helbich is not in the same league as Herreweghe, Koopman, Suzuki and the likes, his recordings are more than satisfying, and I'm grateful they are available. Wished that CARUS Verlag would release the Gerhard Rehm LP recording on CD.

Never heard the apocryphal motets by Helbich though. Anybody have any comments?

BTW: The Koopman reconstruction of St. Mark premiered in Stuttgart on Sept. 4. Haven't come across any reviews or other information. The CD release is scheduled for March 2000. Anybody know more?

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 28, 1999):
I've always found it strange that till now this idea has not come up with at least one recording company. I'm sure that, with good ensembles and soloists such a set would be a hit.

Not claiming that I've got the whole thing complete, I can add the following re: non-Bach (not mentioning some priceless LP's), though there might be a few question marks on current availability:

BWV 53:
Fidelio 8826 (P. 1988): Leo van Doeselaar, Jard van Nes (a), Amsterdam Bach Soloists; Coupled with BWV 54, 169, 200.

(53-3) Vanguard Classics 08 9094 72 (P. 1966), 2 CD-set: Antonio Janigro, Maureen Forrester (a), I Solisti di Zagreb; Coupled with BWV 54, 169, 170 & Bach and Händel arias.

(53-7) Bongiovanni GB 2113-2 (P. 1990, live): Gloria Banditelli (a), Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana. Coupled with BWV 1083 (Psalm 51) & Pergolesi: "Salve Regina" (mediocre on all counts).

BWV 160 & BWV 189:
(160-1) EMI CZS 5 65 685-2 (P. 1971), 4-CD set ("Nicolai Gedda: Les introuvables"): Hans-Martin Linde, Nicolai Gedda (t), Vokalensemble und Instrumentalisten der Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Coupled with BWV 55 & (unfortunately) with three CD's filled with opera and Lieder (also well sung though).

Wim Huisjes wrote (October 28, 1999):
The one on ARCHIV is indeed BWV 118b. Gardiner recorded BWV 118 on Erato (1982). It is/was available on a 2-CD set ECD 88117, coupled with the motets, including BWV 231 & "Der Gerechte kommt um" (can't find a BWV number, though IIRC, there should be one) and cantatas BWV 4 & BWV 50. Not Gardiner at his best (well, it was 1982: his choir and orchestra weren't yet the well-oiled ensembles they're now). I don't think the 2-CD set it still available, but I've seen these recordings till quite recently on single CD's.

Simon Crouch wrote (October 28, 1999):
Yes, "Der Gerechte kommt um", should at least appear in one of the appendices. I believe that its status is something like "It is an arrangement (believed to be made by Bach) of the motet "Tristis est anima mea" (that is believed to be by Kuhnau)". It's very beautiful and worth a detour to hear.

Simon Crouch wrote (October 28, 1999):
(Recordings of the apocryphal motets by Helbich) They're well up to the standard of Helbich's other work and certainly worth hearing if this sort of thing interests you!

Ehud Shiloni wrote (October 28, 1999):
(Never heard the apocryphal motets by Helbich though. Anybody have any comments?) "Pleasant" music and, as Simon said, nicely presented by Helbich. The only piece which comes close to tugging at this listener's emotions is Anh.159 ["Ich lasse Dich nicht"], and, not surprisingly, I read in the liner notes that "the final word in the authenticity debate has not yet been spoken", which means that it could have been composed by JSB himself after all!

Sorry, I can't help you about the other works but do have a glance at the Bach homepage. I am sure Simon Crouch would know if there are any (decent) recordings of the other works you mentioned if anyone would!


BWV 15

Simon Crouch wrote (May 10, 2000):
As usual another of my projects runs late... I thought that I'd let the group in for a little Easter treat (well, I hope that it's a treat!)

BWV 15, "Denn du wirst meine Seele", also know as the German Magnificat, used to be thought of as J. S. Bach's earliest cantata. That is, until W. Scheide identified it as being by Johann Ludwig Bach at the end of the fifties. Since then it seems to have disappeared into oblivion and I'm not aware of any available recordings of it. This seemed to be a glaring omission from the catalogue, so I decided to put together a MIDI file version of it. It's now done and members of this group are to have the world premiere inflicted upon them!

Point your browsers at:
And you will find it on my new Bach Anhang page.

Please note:
(i) I haven't MIDI sequenced this in any way yet. It's exported as type 1 MIDI straight from a notation program.
(ii) I've omitted ornaments.
(iii) I've not realised the Basso continuo.
(iv) I've paid not the slightest attention to current thinking on how to play the Basso line in recitatives!

I'd love to hear your comments, both on the work itself and on the current state of the MIDI file!

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 10, 2000):
Sorry to disappoint you, Simon. But BWV 15 has already been recorded. Here are the details of the CD, as appear in

(15-1) Bach, J.S.: Kantaten 57-59, 15
Audio CD: ()
CD Anzahl: 1
Label: Hungaroton;
ASIN: B000027C8W
Kunstler: Pál Németh

Unfortunately, I do not have it. When I tried to order it from them couple of months ago, they informed me that it is no longer available. I wonder if anybody in the list has it or has heard it. I know that Wim had it, because in the discussion of BWV 57 (December 1999) he mentioned a good recording of that cantata under the conducting of Pál Németh with Maria Zadori (S) from Hungaroton. It should be the same CD, which includes also BWV 15. However, Wim is no longer with us. We all miss him and his contribution to the list.

Simon Crouch wrote (May 10, 2000):
Ah yes, I am aware that it has been recorded...and there's the problem. Despite keeping my eyes open, I've never been able to catch it!

Simon Crouch wrote (May 15, 2000):
Maybe I should really be sending this to a "non-Bach non-Recordings" list. The cantata BWV 15 was long thought to be one of J.S. Bach's very earliest works, dating from the Arnstadt years. However, doubts were expressed about the worquite early on in Bach scholarship and it was probably rather a surprise that Schmieder gave it a main catalogue number in the BWV. Eventually, a detailed analysis of the cantatas that J.S. Bach borrowed from his uncle J.S. Bach to plug gaps in the third cantata cycle assigned BWV 15 to J.L. Bach's authorship and to virtual oblivion from the recording catalogue. There is a recording on Hungaroton but I've never been able to lay my hands on it, so it's rather difficult for us now to come to our own opinions about the matter. Until now, that is [roll on the drums]....

A quick visit to my site at:
And twenty or so minutes of listening will allow you to come to your own opinion about the authenticity of this work.

So, what do you think - Is it by J.S. Bach? Or was William Scheide right to say no?

F. Oreja wrote (May 15, 2000):
You wanted to say surely:
"Eventually, a detailed analysis of the cantatas that J.S. Bach borrowed from his ***cousin J[ohann]. L[udwig]. Bach*** to plug gaps in the third cantata cycle assigned BWV 15 to J. L. Bach's authorship and to virtual oblivion from the recording catalogue."

Simon Crouch wrote (May 16, 2000):
You are quite right! I shall go and write out the family tree one hundred times.

F. Oreja wrote (May 17, 2000):
Please, don't do that: that's quite a long job with such a family! We need your energies for better things. Keep working on your wonderful Bach pages!

Matthew Westphal wrote (May 15, 2000):
If it's not J.S. Bach, it's certainly in the family. I just wish I could get my hands on that Hungaroton recording (especially since I'm a fan of Maria Zadori) (15-1). Thanks for posting this, Simon.



Shaun Ng wrote:
I am interested to find out about the cantata BWV 217, the sources and where >it remains in autograph. Also, the reasons why it is not considered a work by Bach and any other informantion.

Michael Zapf wrote (October 29, 2000):
(To Shaun Ng) I suggest you consult the Schmieder, Anhang II-23. The earliest manuscript of that cantata is from 1800, all other sources are from the first half of the 19th century. The Schmieder cites various secondary sources for the authenticity debate, starting from the second volume of Spitta to an article by Dürr (Musica 7, 1953) which covers other dubious cantatas as well.


Cantata BWV 53 (Pseudo-Bach)

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (January 22, 2001):
The only cantata I have multiple recordings of is not by Bach "any more". Nevertheless, it is of much interest to all Bach lovers. I often listen to the seven recordings I have managed to find of "Pseudo-Bach" Cantata BWV 53 "Schlage doch gewünschte Stunde", a solo cantata for alto. I began with the first interpretation I ever heard of this and most likely still the most beautifully sung, as I perceive it, that of Hilde Rössl-Majdan with Scherchen conducting (53-1). It is funny how, in general, our tastes don't change that much. I had much the same reaction today to all the recordings as last time I ran through them some few years ago.

(53-12) Next I listened to the Helen Watts recording with Thurston Dart conducting. I found her interpretation to be a child-like and naive reading of the text. By this I mean that it struck me as though she were singing one of those Mahler Symphony texts with those enigmatic and intentionally naive views of the heavenly life. This doesn't accord with my response to Bach. I listened to some of the other Bach items on this LP to check my response and this was the same response I had to her singing also of the aria "Erbarme dich, mein Gott" from the Matthäus Passion (BWV 248) as well as to the fragment from Cantata BWV 200 "Bekennen will ich seinen Namen". Dart was a renowned authentic interpreter of Bach style in his day. These are all, of course, about 40 year old recordings.

(53-2) Third I played the old MHS re-release of the Erato Fritz Werner series of Bach cantatas on which the alto was Claudia Hellmann whom (1) I don't know from Eve and (2) came to with no preconceptions as I don't recall the last time I listened to this. Her recording really seemed to have the requisite heft and right type of seriousness and was very successful for me. I often don't like the interpretations on this at one time prominent set of Bach cantatas.

(53-3) Fourth I put on the Maureen Forrester reading with Antonio Janigro who made Zagreb famous before the relatively recent tragic events. I find Forrester in Bach totally not to my taste. I simply don't respond to certain oddities of the voice and lack the terminology and musicological understanding to specify better. It is not appealing to me.

(53-11) Fifth is someone I never would have picked up, if not for the fact that it was yet another reading of the BWV 53. This is one Herta Glaz (Mezzo-Soprano of the Metropolitan Opera Company) on a MGM LP (with another Bach cantata and with the Pergelosi "Salve Regina", with the Guilet String Quartet). This was a totally appealing and lovely reading.

(53-13) For sixth I turned to a CD cheapo re-issue. This is Shirley Love with the Amor Artis Baroque under Johannes Somary. This was the most unsatisfactory performance. I have been to various Somary Oratorio performances and own many of his Händel oratorios and have replaced them all. He was a devoted conductor of this repertoire at a time when much better groups were coming on the scene. Ms. Love was really nothing to rejoice in.

(53-5) And, in a perverse, but knowing manner, I kept for last the one that I acquired last and which alone came out only on CD, the one that is musicologically and Bach-wise the most representative of the Bach style, that of Ensemble 415 with counter-tenor René Jacobs. Now here we have an interpretation that fits both needs. It is authentic in today's terms (not as the term was understood 30-40 years ago) and it was beautifully sung and very satisfactory in every possible way.

Alas, when I came to the only possible competition, the alto cantatas as done by Andreas Scholl with Philippe Herreweghe, BWV 53 is already excluded as not being by Bach. Too bad. It would have been very nice to compare and Bach indeed did copy and did appreciate this delicious cantata.

The speculation as to by whom it is ranges and is not that relevant here. Or maybe it is. So, to respond to myself: Is one to prefer the "authentic" to the great singers who did Bach? Well, obviously Bach is big enough for both and we probably want to have both.

For me Rössl-Majdan's only competition is Jacobs.

Johan van Veen wrote (January 24, 2001):
(To Yoël L. Arbeitman) (53-9) There is another fine recording by the late Henri Ledroit with the Ricercar Consort (Ricercar RIC 20 002).


Cantata BWV 53

Ludwig wrote (January 1, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you and a happy New Year to you. I am wondering if anyone knows if there is a recording of the Cantata "Slage doch----" which uses real bells (these would weigh several tons) or a Carillon at the bass pitches which Bach asks for??? The places where such bells are available are few. If so: would appreciate knowing about these and the labels. There is no real substitute for these sounds as Wagner's Parsifal and Mahler's Symphonies have taught us.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 5, 2002):
[To Ludwig] Cantata BWV 53 'Schlage doch, gewunschte Stunde' was not composed by J.S. Bach but by M. Hoffmann.
A list of its recordings appears in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website:
Although it was not composed by Bach, this is still a charming piece of music.
Since I do not have all the recordings of this cantata, I am not sure if there is a recording which uses real bells.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 6, 2002):
Regarding realbells and BWV 53: if my memory does not fail my completely here, I remember hearing real bells (a single, small bell such as a percussion section might have, with the single note being struck repeatedly) on an LP recording that I heard in the late fifties and never again after that time. This is the recording that Yoël L Arbeitman owns and discussed:

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (January 22, 2001):
< The only cantata I have multiple recordings of is not by Bach "any more". Nevertheless, it is of much interest to all Bach lovers. I often listen to the seven recordings I have managed to find of "Pseudo-Bach" Cantata BWV 53 "Schlage doch gewünschte Stunde", a solo cantata for alto. I began with the first interpretation I ever heard of this and most likely still the most beautifully sung, as I perceive it, that of Hilde Rössl-Majdan with Scherchen conducting. It is funny how, in general, our tastes don't change that much. I had much the same reaction today to all the recordings as last time I ran through them some few years ago. >
Perhaps Yoël can tell us, if this is done in one of the mvts. of this recording of the cantata.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] There is a new recording of BWV 53/Melchior Hoffman's "Schlage doch, gewunschte Stunde":
Carlos Mena, CT
Ricercar Consort
Philippe Pierlot, conductor
TT : 5'17"
Mirare records MIR9911
Recorded in november 2000.

Ludwig wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Riccardo Nuges] Thank you. Would you happen to know what proof there is that Bach did not write this and that Hoffman "borrowed" phrases from Bach--based on the excerpts I have heard. Would you also happen to know if this recording uses real church bells in it??

Ludwig wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz] The score which is mentioned in a classic Orchestration text by Forsyth and according to Forsyth calls for two deep toned bells. Irregarless of whether or not Bach wrote it; it is a very important work from the point of Orchestration. It is the only work along with one by Handel that calls for genuine bells with Orchestra and voices.

The bells called for would weigh in the neighborhood of 20,000 lbs or more. Now where such bells existed in Bach's neighborhood when he was living can not be determined be cause Napoleon and others after him requisitioned bells and made them into Cannon and guns. The Nazi's did the same thing during WWII and the Kaiser also did during WWI. Russia use to be a place of great bells that is until Napoleon and Hitler came there.

Ludwig wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Among my many musical talents is that I am a Carillonneur.

You would be surprized how many fake bell sounds are out in the world trying to pass as real tuned bronze bells. It does not take a rocket scientist to know the difference because the sounds of real bells is not easily duplicated by tubular chimes,electronics or other cheap substitutes. Real musical bells are made of Bronze and thus tend to be expensive. When a real bell sounds it sounds more than one note---in fact a chorus of them. The tuner puts the newly cast bell on a lathe and voices the bell so that it's tuned fundamental note is the loudest while the other notes act like the Mixture Stop of an Organ. Thus when you hear a bell; you have the illusion of hearing only one note but if you listen carefully you will hear all the others also.

There are curently are few places in the world that have bells the size which Bach/Hoffman wrote for. Big Ben in London is just a few notes above and in fact one octave above the lowest note of what Bach/Hoffman asks for in this work. Some of the places that have bells this size and weight are Riverside Church in New York; Bloomfield Hills in Michigan, The Kremlin in Moscow; and possibly St. Paschal's in Spain (which has the worlds largest rollover bell (i.e. it can rotate 360 degrees).


BWV 53 and those who leave out doubtful mate

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 26, 2002):
Ludwig wrote:
< Now if Bach wrote this or not the case for it is that there is an autograph copy.
In the case of
BWV 53; there was an original autograph of JS Bach. If one listens carefully---if even sounds like Bach at least to a certain extent. Could it be that Bach wrote some of this music and added Hoffmans music to it or is it that Hoffman copied Bach's score and added something of his own. Or maybe Bach sketched things out roughly and then had Hoffman fill in the details for him? >
Alfred Dürr is mainly responsible for removing BWV 53 from the list of Bach's cantatas. The evidence is contained in books that I do not have access to: Dürr, Alfred "Studien über die frühen Kantaten J.S.Bachs, Leipzig, 1951, 1977, [Vol. 2, p. 58] and the Bach Jahrbuch 1955 [p. 15, note 9]. I have nothing to indicate that this work is in Bach's handwriting.

In all probability this work is by Georg Melchior Hoffmann. BWV 53 is not a genuine, original work by J.S. Bach.

Spitta, in the late 19th century, states that it is obvious that this work was not to be performed in a church since it is much too short for a church service and for a funeral the words are not suitable. And you can be assured that Bach "eine wirkliche Campanella in der Kirche doch nicht hätte mitwirken lassen" ["would not have allowed a real campanile to play along in the church."] He would not have had objections if this piece were played in a home situation.

Schweitzer, very early 20th century, says that "strictly speaking it is not a cantata, but a "mourning aria," as it is called on the title page of the old manuscript in which it has come down to us. As Bach employs two bells in this work, Forkel thinks that "it does not belong to the period of his [Bach's] purified taste."

Voigt, also very early 20th century, indicates that this piece was frequently performed in the 19th century. He thinks it must have been an extremely early work of Bach's. There was no way to date the manuscript. The manner in which the desire for death is expressed is not the way one usually finds it expressed in other works by the master. Voigt suggests numerous cuts that can be made to shorten the aria. A difficult problem for the conductor is how to perform the "Campanella" which has two notes, 'b' and 'c' that are notated in the bass clef. "Mir ist unbekannt, ob eine Hypothese darüber vorliegt, was für ein Instrument der Komponist sich dabei gedacht haben mag. (Sollten zufällig zwei kleinere Kirchenglocken in dieser Stimmung vorhanden gewesen und mit einem leichten Hammer angeschlagen sein? Oder besaß eine in Betracht kommende Orgel ein Campanella-Register?)" ["I have no idea whether a hypothesis has been given, as to what kind of instrument the composer might have had in mind. (Is it possible that there just happened to be two small church bells with these pitches, bells that could be struck with a light hammer? Or did the organ chosen for the performance have a campanella stop?"] Then Voigt suggests, for a modern performance, the cylindrical steel 'bells' used in orchestras, or glasses filled with water to different pitches. As a last resort a horn can be used as a replacement.


Cantata 53

Hiroluwian wrote (February 6, 2002):
Last year I posted here about the 7 recording of Pseudo-Bach cantata BWV 53 I have and was informed that there were 3 others that I did not have. It remains a sublime piece of music although usually excluded more recently. I was surprised tonight to run across a listing on the site listing it as by G.M. Hoffmann. Yes, I know that it is ascribed to various beings, but I have never seen it listed as by another.

Tilge, Höchster, Meine Sünden
G. M. HOFFMANN: Schlage Doch, Gewünschte Stunde
G. B. PERGOLESI: Salve Regina in la minore
Kathleen Cassello, Gloria Banditelli
Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana
GB 2113-2


Continue on Part 2

Recordings of Non-Bach Cantatas: BWV 15 | BWV 53 | BWV 141 | BWV 142 | BWV 160 | BWV 189 | BWV 217 | BWV 218 | BWV 219 | BWV 220 | BWV 221 | BWV 222 | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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