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J.S. Bach’s performance of music by other composers

Bach's performances of music other than his own

Otto Klesz wrote (July 13, 2004):
I am doing the music programming at Bach-Radio.com.

I could need some help in finding more info on music which was performed by Bach but 'not'composed by him.

thank you

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 13, 2004):
[To Otto Klesz] One recommendation would be Christoph Brembeck's recording of the Keiser Markuspassion (now thought to be by Friedrich Nikolaus Bruhns, the brother of Nikolaus Bruhns). The recording in question is of the 1712 version Bach made of the work.

John Pike wrote (July 13, 2004):
[To Otto Klesz] Goodness. This would be a very long list. It would include many works by his own family which he admired a lot; Kuhnau, his predecessor at Leipzig; Lotti, many other european composers (living and dead) whom he admired and the St Luke Passion by another composer (still unknown, I think): the music in the surviving score is copied out in Bach's own hand but, with the exception of one item, is not by Bach himself.

This is probably a very incomplete list just off the top of my head.

John Reese wrote (July 13, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Vivaldi concerto for four violins. (aka four harpsichords, transcribed by Bach)

Johan van Veen wrote (July 13, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] There is another recording of this work which I personally prefer:

Monique Zanetti, Kai Wessel, Samuel Husser, Bruno Renhold, Gerd Türk (Evangelist), Jacques Bona (Jesus); Ensemble vocal Sagittarius; Le Parlement de Musique/Michel Laplénie (Accord - 205312)

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 14, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] Is that of the 1712 Bach version, however? The only one I know of (and this from all lists that I have seen of Bach Cantata and other Vokalwerke recordings) is the one by Christoph Brembeck.

Otto Klesz wrote (July 15, 2004):
[To John Pike] Thanks to all who replied to my post!

If somebody could point me to a list or publication listing those performances (maybe with date)?

I was hoping for something "complete" after reading some books and getting mostly hints (Andreas Bach book, Möller Manuscript, Nekrolog, Transcriptions etc.)

and John... I love to find that "very long list"

Charles Francis wrote (July 16, 2004):
Otto Klesz wrote:
< I am doing the music programming at Bach-Radio.com. I could need some help in finding more info on music which was performed by Bach but 'not'composed by him. >
With regard to Roman Catholic sacred music composers, Hans-Elmar Bach notes:

"J.S. Bach was well acquainted with them and did not shrink from studying the great practitioners of Roman Catholic sacred music. The way in which he orchestrated a mass by Palestrina, for example, shows an extraordinary sensitivity to the differences of timbre between Palestrina's age and his own. He uses none but wind instruments, and the only string instrument is the violine which joins the organ continuo."

The notes below are from the 1992 Concerto Palatino CD EMI: 567-754 455-2 and were written by Bruce Dickey (with support from Clifford Bartlett). Also on the CD is music for cornetts and trombones by Pezel and Reiche, and Kuhnau's motet Tristis est anima mea, and Bach's motet O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, BWV 118):

"Preserved in the Stadbibliothek, Berlin, is a group of instrumental and vocal parts to Palestrina's six part Missa sine nomine partly in the hand of Bach. These parts suggest that Bach performed the mass, or at least the Kyrie and Gloria of it, at Leipzig: as was then customary with music in the "stile antico" (the classical 16th-century polyphonic style still current in Leipzig churches in the 18th century), the performance added cornetts and trombones to double the vocal lines, and continuo parts were supplied for organ, harpsichord and violine. This material bears witness both to the importance of the "stile antico" in Bach's activity and to his association with a venerable Leipzig institution: the Stadpfeifer.

By the 15th century, most German civic authorities maintained a wind band, its principle instruments were (by the 16th century) the cornett and sackbut, but each player mastered many instruments. The Leipzig Stadtpfeifer probably reached their peak during the time of Kantors Knüpfer, Schelle and Kuhnau; Bach's complaint in 1730 that they were partly retired, and partly nowhere near in such practice as they should be, undoubtedly reflects a decline which took place after 1720. In the second half of the 17th century, the Stadtpfeifer were an uncontested élite among professional musicians: they enjoyed significant privileges and almost total control over their string-playing associates (the Kunstgeiger) in the Ratsmusic, or civic musical establishment. Indeed, nearly all Stadpfeifer began their careers amongst Kunstgeiger and were later promoted to the more prestigious wind band.

The Berlin parts of Palestrina's mass do not constitute an arrangement, but are rather, an accurate copy of Palestrina's original which have nevertheless been altered in three material ways: through (1) the addition of a significant number of harmonic 'modernisations' by means of unorthodox (or anachronistic) musica ficta; (2) a sometimes radical reworking of the text underlay; (3) the addition not only of a wind ensemble but also of a continuo group (there are figured parts for organ and harpsichord and a part for violine)."

Such changes, illustrate how Bach adapted ancient music to contemporary instruments and needs; the modern practice of employing period instruments being a Twentieth Century invention.

Otto Klesz wrote (July 16, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Thanks so much for your very interesting reply.I am trying to get all the recordings mentioned in this thread and broadcast them. In my search I just came across a website in German language which is the answer to my question and a very good starting point (with listing of recordings). It is called "Diskographie der Werke Johann Sebastian Bach & der Bach-Familie" and contains a section"Die Notenbibliothek Johann Sebastian Bachs" at: http://www.s-line.de/homepages/bachdiskographie/index.html

For those of you who are interested.

Thanks again

Johan van Veen wrote (July 20, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
< The notes below are from the 1992 Concerto Palatino CD EMI: 567-754 455-2 and were written by Bruce Dickey (with support from Clifford Bartlett). Also on the CD is music for cornetts and trombones by Pezel and Reiche, and Kuhnau's motet Tristis est anima mea, and Bach's motet O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, BWV 118):
<snipped>
Such changes, illustrate how Bach adapted ancient music to contemporary instruments and needs; the modern practice of employing period instruments being a Twentieth Century invention. >
Another example of a misinterpretation based on personal prejudice.In his instrumentation Bach didn't use a single instrument which did notexist in Palestrina's time. Therefore Bach's instrumentation can't be used as an argument against the use of period instruments.

Besides, nobody - as far as I am aware - ever claimed that Bach wanted us to perform his music in our time with his instruments. The question how Bach wanted his music to be performed in our time is an unanswerable question, and therefore not worth discussing.

The only argument in favour of using period instruments is that the intentions of the composer as laid down in his music comes through the best possible way by using the instruments the composer had in mind when he wrote the music.

Cara Peterson wrote (July 21, 2004):
< The question how Bach wanted his music to be performed in our time is an unanswerable question, and therefore not worth discussing. >
An important thing to keep in mind (only that) is that Bach MAY have not even expected his music to even make it to our time. You know the Bach 'drill': the fate of everything is up to God. He probably wasn't sure and had too many things to care about aside from whether his music would make it to the 21st century or not. Obviously, this is my opinion, but it's something to think about.

Charles Francis wrote (July 21, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] A fair point, although a priori it is questionable as to whether or not the intentions of the composer as laid down in his music do come through in the best possible way by using the instruments the composer had in mind. As has been discussed ad nauseum here, there are questions as to the accuracy and quality of our reconstructed instruments, the missing skill needed to play them correctly etc. Then there is the personal aesthetic judgement call which each individual must make in deciding whether, say, the intonation of a valve-based trumpet sounds better or worse than the natural instrument, or whether a steel violin string is preferred to the gut of a kitten etc. When Bach changed Palestrina and Mendelssohn cut out parts of Bach's Matthew Passion, I doubt the musicologists of the day were too concerned. I do suggest that in recent times we have become more sensitive towards the preservation of the past, at least within Europe, and this is no bad thing, of course.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (July 21, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
"Then there is the personal aesthetic judgement call which each individual must make in deciding whether, say, the intonation of a valve-based trumpet sounds better or worse than the natural instrument, or whether a steel violin string is preferred to the gut of a kitten etc."
If one believes that Bach's intentions are best served by using the instruments he had in mind, whether or not one prefers their sound to that of their modern counterparts is irrelevant.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (July 21, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
<< The only argument in favour of using period instruments is that the intentions of the composer as laid down in his music comes through the best possible way by using the instruments the composer had in mind when he wrote >>
You mean we're supposed to not actually like the instruments better than modern ones? Now that's a first!

Johan van Veen wrote (July 21, 2004):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] No, of course not. But that is a purely subjective matter, a matter of taste.

For me that is irrelevant in regard to the performance practice of 'historical music'. Even if I wouldn't like baroque instruments better than modern ones I still would prefer them being used in the performance of baroque music.

But, as much as I like baroque violins, I wouldn't want them to be used in the performance of Mahler's symphonies (even though that would probably make me sort of like them, who knows).

 

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Last update: ęDecember 5, 2008 ę12:30:42