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Henry Purcell & Bach

King's Purcell; and a Purcell connection to Goldberg Variations

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 23, 2004):
< I haven't heard it yet, so I can't tell. I am very curious, though. The Choir of New College is one of my favourites.
BTW: This choir was also involved in the recording of Purcell's complete sacred music by Robert King on Hyperion. The 11 CDs have been collected in a box, and last week I have listened to all of them in a row. That recording is just marvelous. The treble soloists are excellent as well. I don't think the interpretation would have been that good if women were involved in the anthems. (King sensibly only uses them in some devotional songs.) >
I haven't heard that boxed set, but this weekend picked up a used copy of the single disc sampler (79 minutes) by King, "Essential Purcell." Very enjoyable. Must be a real treat to listen straight through that complete set! I did some of these airs and anthems last year with some local counter-tenors, in a mostly-Purcell concert; nice now to get a recording of these lovely pieces. Yesterday I checked out King's and Peter Holman's books about Purcell, from a library; looking forward to reading those soon.

On Leonhardt's CD of Purcell (Philips, reissued on Musical Heritage Society), half organ, half harpsichord: he plays the "Ground in Gamut" that has the same bass progression as the aria of the Goldberg Variations...any chance that Bach knew that piece?

Johan van Veen wrote (February 23, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] I am a total Purcell nut, so I try to listen to as many recordings as I can.

A complete recording always contains pieces which are hardly ever performed or recorded, but are very worthwhile. In fact I have never heard any piece by Purcell which I found boring.
It is a shame so many singers always choose the same songs for their recitals. In the set are all so-called devotional songs. These are just great and often very dramatic pieces; it would be nice if singers would sing those instead of 'Music for a while' etc.

As far as the 'Ground' is concerned, it is well known that Bach was an avid collector of Italian and French keyboard works, but I have never read anything about English music.
Maybe it is just a coincidence. What about 'Ay que dolor' by the Spanish composer Joan Cererols? The first notes are exactly the same as the beginning of the opening chorus from the St Matthew Passion, but it is very hard to believe that Bach knew that work (or any Spanish music).

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (February 24, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< the "Ground in Gamut" that has the same bass progression as the aria of the Goldberg Variations...any chance that Bach knew that piece? >
well there were of course a bunch of cliche sequential patterns floating around? could that be one of them?

 

OT: Purcell - Dido and Aeneas

Ehud Shiloni wrote (August 5, 2004):
Here's an OT recommendation: Purcell's Dido and Aeneas new version on Virgin is pure delight. The conductor is Emmanuelle Haim whose reading made me wish that she will move into Bach's territory as well.

Dido's part is sung by Mezzo Susan Graham, and, despite some vibrato, her singing of "When I am laid in earth" will for sure bring tears to your eyes - it's the most touching version of this beautiful and tragic aria that I have come across.

Recommended.

Leila Batarseh wrote (August 6, 2004):
[To Ehud Shiloni] Anybody know if this is one of Virgin's corrupt copy-protected discs?

Charles Francis wrote (August 6, 2004):
[To Ehud Shiloni] Thanks for the tip! I have quite a few versions of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, and the aria you mention is one of my favourites. Purcell's religious music is also excellent - I've uploaded an outstanding example to the files section of the cantatas group: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/

Neil Halliday wrote (August 6, 2004):
Interesting samples at amazom.de (but not the famous aria).

1. I like the passionate, exciting string sound of 'Le Concert d'Astree' in the (French) Overture, which reminds me of Harnoncourt's 'white-hot' strings in the opening chorus of BWV 61. (No enervating bell-shaped tone production in either of these performances, from the period strings). These performances are an acceptable alternative to the more traditional (non-HIP) performances of a French overture movement.

2. Check out the recitative sample, movement #7 on the amazon.de site.

Why can't Bach's SMP secco recitatives be given this interesting type of continuo treatment?

Uri Golomb wrote (August 6, 2004):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< 2. Check out the recitative sample, movement #7 on the amazon.de site.
Why can't Bach's SMP secco recitatives be given this interesting type of continuo treatment? >
I have not yet heard the sample in question, but generally speaking: you can hear some very creative and varied continuo accompaniments in secco recitatives in Bach cantatas (for instance, on Rene Jacobs's Secular Cantatas album). I wouldn't be surprised if something along these lines will be adopted in some future performance of the SMP (or perhaps already has been -- I do not claim familarity with all recordings of the SMP, and I have certainly only heard a tiny fraction of live performances!).

Neil Halliday wrote (August 6, 2004):
"Purcell's religious music is also excellent - I've uploaded an outstanding example to the files section of the cantatas group.."
An excellent example indeed - dare I say more exalted than the average Bach cantata concluding chorale? [An unfair comparison, perhaps, because the cantata chorales have a necessary didactic concluding element, as part of a church service; but I suppose this Purcell piece is a more 'abstract' piece of (religious) music?].

Anne Smith wrote (August 6, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Is there a reason why you didn't upload the file to our group? If you put it in the BachRecordings files we could listen to it.

Charles Francis wrote (August 6, 2004):
[To Anne Smith] Yes, the "upload" option is not enabled for members of the Bach Recordings group.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 7, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] I have changed the settings of the BRML. Every member can now upload files to the Files Section of the BRML at YahooGroups.

Charles Francis wrote (August 7, 2004):
[To Anne Smith] It is now available at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/files/

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (August 8, 2004):
Aryeh Oron wqrote:
< I have changed the settings of the BRML. Every member can now upload files to the Files Section of the BRML at\ >
nice!

did you do the same for the BCML? if you did and sent the email out I must've deleted it accidentally!

So any news about getting those scores back up?

Anne Smith wrote (August 8, 2004):
[To Charles Franis & Aryeh Oron] Thank you Charles and Aryeh. This is lovely.

 

OT: Score for Purcell - King Arthur - Air du froid

Hendrik Oesterlin wrote (September 29, 2005):
On a sampler of different vocal music, I discovered a lovely piece sung by counter-tenor Klaus Nomi. It should be named Purcell - King Arthur - Air du froid

I have put a midi-file and a printout of this file in PDF here to allow you to clearly identify the piece I am talking of:
www.oesterlin.de.vu/div/prclcold.mid
www.oesterlin.de.vu/div/air-du-froid-purcell.pdf

I am searching for a score, even a piano+voice version should be fine, both complete score and Piano would be marvelous...

If somebody could help me? Many thanks in advance!!!

 

Completely OT: Identification of Purcell's "Two Trumpet Tunes and Air"

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 22, 2008):
Could someone please identify specifically the pieces used in Henry G. Ley's arrangement of Purcell's music, meaning what are the pieces from? I believe there are really only two trumpet tunes and subsequent versions of this arrangement just became "Trumpet Tune & Air."

I don't have a copy of the Leyarrangement, and there is a great deal of confusion with Purcell and Clarke over who wrote what. Any help about this particular piece would be greatly appreciated.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 24, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Is there a convenient place to hear the arrangement on the web?

 

OT: Purcell

Continue of Discussion from: Cantata BWV 212 - Discussions Part 2

Terejia wrote (December 12, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 212 Mer haln en neue Oberkeet (alias Peasant Cantata)

Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29423
< This work and your comments reminded me two songs by Purcell: "What can we poor females do" (a lot of fun to sing!) and the duet from King Arthur "Shepherd, shepherd, leave decoying", which says "But a little after toying, women have the shot to pay"...
>>
Now Therese mentioned Purcell. As I don't have Purcell among my CD collections, which are not so large anyway, I searched web and I am listening to Purcell as of this writing. Today, we were listening to some pieces of F. Couplin in the legal office (as a BGM, sorry music lovers). As Bach fans, probably we cannot help noticing something distinct about Bach.

The cantata on our agenda happens to be BWV 212 this week. By no means I would say that Bach didn't do really good job on this type of music-on the contrary. However, to my personal ears, it sounds that Bach doesn't differentiate himself from other Baroque composers in this type of pieces as distinctly as he does in his contrapunct pieces.

Good luck with your singing,Thérèse.

John Pike wrote (December 12, 2008):
[To Terejia] For those of you who have not yet discovered Purcell, I urge you to start soon. I know I am British and would say it anyway, but Purcell is one of my very favourite composers. There is such a rich output there, ranging from the deeply profound, heart felt, spine-tingling and moving to the hilariously funny, and just about everything inbetween. I wouldn't rank Purcell with Bach, but there is much versatility there.

There are worse places to start than the Ode for St Cecilias Day and the Music on the death of Queen Mary.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (December 12, 2008):
OT: Purcell

[To John Pike] I fully agree with you about Purcell.

I was lucky enough to have a voice teacher who appreciates this composer very much.

His operas are also fantastic. I really love King Arthur and Dido and Aeneas. It is so diversified, never a dull moment, and the music is wonderful. Dido's lament never fails to break my heart.

Funny thing, the first time I heard a part of King Arthur was by a pop singer, Klaus Nomi ("Cold song"). I was fascinated by this music, but it took me years to realize that it was a classical piece...

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2008):
[To John Pike] Agreed. For those who haven't explored him as yet works like Come Ye Sons of Art (Ode for the birthday of Queen Mary) are immediately attractive but there is a lot to be explored also in lesser known works such as the Masque of Dioclesian. To explore the composer at his most abstruse the three and four part fantasias, though early works, should be investigated, contrapuntal puzzles which have certain elements in common with Bach's Art of Fugue.

Also although there may well be a dissenting voice or two on list, I think that few would fail to enjoy the sheer colour of Alfred Deller singing the songs. A good start here would be the Harmonia Mundi CD of Purcell songs sung by Deller 'Music for a While' if it is still available. A pity that the 1950s recordings by the Deller Consort of C17 'Catches and Glees'(by Purcell and others) doesn't seem to be available on CD.

John Pike wrote (December 12, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Please forgive me if I am muddled but I thought "Come, come ye Sons of Art" was part of the Ode for St Cecilia's Day. I agree...it's terrific, and Alfred Deller singing it is also pure joy. Deller is not to everyone's tastes but I think he is one of the greatest counter-tenors, and he did a superlatively good recording of BWV 54 and 170 with Harnoncourt and Leonhardt.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2008):
[To John Pike] John Yes you have conflated two works written at the extremes of Purcell's (sadly short) career. Come Ye Sons of Art was a birthday ode for the queen in 1694 (the year before Purcell's death) and it includes the well known canon Sound the Trumpet. The Ode to St Cecilia's day was much earlier, composed not long after the fantasias and showing certain elements of their style. It was composed in 1783 when Purcell was 24.It was commissioned by the London Musical Society to celebrate St Cecilia, patron of music. You have in these two works the first and one of the last of Purcell's odes.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 12, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 212 - Purcell

John Pike wrote:
< I wouldn't rank Purcell with Bach, but there is much versatility there. There are worse places to start than the Ode for St Cecilias Day and the Music on the death of Queen Mary. >
I would certainly rank him as one of the greatest composers of the second half of the 17th century anywhere in Europe. His concerted anthems, such as "Sing Unto the Lord", "They That Go Down to the Sea" and "Rejoice in the Lord" are really cantatas filled with stunning counterpoint and incomparable solo work.

Purcell had a devoted fan in Handel. Upon arriving in England, Handel was commissioned to write several works for the Chapel Royal and asked to see music in the English style. After a week of studying Purcell, Handel emerged with the synthesis of the English and German Baroque which would eventually lead to the great oratorios such as 'Messiah.'

The Tallis Choir of Toronto plans a concert of his music in its 2009-2010 fall season.

John Pike wrote (December 12, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Thanks, Julian. Yes I was conflating two works, but the Ode for St Cecilia's Day that I was thinking of (as being particularly good) is the later one, from 1692. It transpires that he wrote two, the earlier one being in 1683, which is what you meant to write, not 1783!!

Kim Parick Clow wrote (December 12, 2008):
John Pike wrote:
< I wouldn't rank Purcell with Bach, but there is much versatility there. >
The day people stop comparing oranges and apples; and Bach with composer X, is the day I live for.

John Pike wrote (December 12, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] You can probably look forward to a very long life, then. :-)

PS Have just been listening to Stölzel's Christmas Oratorio, after your recommendation of the composer...great stuff, as is the rest of his music that I have listened to (trying very hard to resist making any comparison with ANother compoer). I'm also looking forward to the Telemann you mentioned the other day.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2008):
Purcell--at last!

John Pike wrote:
< Thanks, Julian. Yes I was conflating two works, but the Ode for St Cecilia's Day that I was thinking of (as being particularly good) is the later one, from 1692. It transpires that he wrote two, the earlier one being in 1683, which is what you meant to write, not 1783!! >
Yes thanks John. I had forgotten that he had written two of the St Cecilia odes. As to the date I can only blame a partially working brain prior to a good breakfast!

By the way, a reminder to us all, and very much including myself, that we need, as Aryeh gently reminds us from time to time, to alter the headings of out emails when we change the subjects. I forgot that as well this morning (should have been Frid 13th rather than the 12th!)

Still, despite today's various errors we can't go wrong in uniting to recommend Purcell as a great composer well worth exploring. I have always found his harmony, an odd and unique mixture of modal and the tonal principles, very individual and highly expressive. In a sense one could argue that his harmony is more personal that that of either Bach or Handel.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2008):
Apples and oranges

[To Kim Patrick Clow] Broad blanket comparisons do not have much value, if any. But the comparisons of details e.g. different approaches to harmony, instrumentation, formal structures etc can be highly illuminative and the serious student learns much from such an approach.

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 12, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< I fully agree with you about Purcell.
I was lucky enough to have a voice teacher who appreciates this composer very much.
His operas are also fantastic. I really love King Arthur and Dido and Aeneas. It is so diversified, never a dull moment, and the music is wonderful. Dido's lament never fails to break my heart.
Funny thing, the first time I heard a part of King Arthur was by a pop singer, Klaus Nomi ("Cold song"). I was fascinated by this music, but it took me years to realize that it was a classical piece... >
I didn't get back to your original references to Purcell earlier, Thérèse, but I've had Purcell in past voice lessons. He's very entertainly to say the least. I also love to attend recitals where Purcell is being performed. Earlier this fall I took my granddaughter to a recital where she heard Purcell for the first time--no classical background there, but she enjoyed it.

Peter Smaill wrote (December 12, 2008):
Juliam Mincham wrote:
< Yes thanks John. I had forgotten that he had written two of the St Cecilia odes. As to the date I can only blame a partially working brain prior to a good breakfast!
By the way, a reminder to us all, and very much including myself, that we need, as Aryeh gently reminds us from time to time, to alter the headings of out emails when we change the subjects. I forgot that as well this morning (should have been Frid 13th rather than the 12th!)
Still, despite today's various errors we can't go wrong in uniting to recommend Purcell as a great composer well worth exploring. I have always found his harmony, an odd and unique mixture of modal and the tonal principles, very individual and highly expressive. In a sense one could argue that his harmony is more personal that that of either Bach or
Handel. >
The observation on Purcell's harmony brought to mind the apercu, from way back since it concerns BWV 71, the Muhlhausen Ratswahl Cantata, that only once does Bach set trumpets in naked consecutive seconds, which is a Purcell trait giving edge to his brass writing. While we can be sure that Bach was acquainted with Handel's music I have never found any evidence that he knew who Purcell was, and will be delighted to be contradicted on that point!

It is true that they also both use the same passacaglia theme but that is I think a common musical device in Baroque times.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 12, 2008):
OT: Purcell and Deller

Julian Mincham wrote:
>A good start here would be the Harmonia Mundi CD of Purcell songs sung by Deller 'Music for a While' if it is still available. A pity that the 1950s recordings by the Deller Consort of C17 'Catches and Glees'(by Purcell and others) doesn't seem to be available on CD.<
We had a related discussion a couple years ago, at which time I found the Harmonia Mundi 4 CD memorial set from 2004 (this may have been a specific recommendation on BCML at the time?): Alfred Deller, Portrait of a Legend, which includes a generous sampling of both Purcell opera (1 CD), and a variety of songs (3 CDs). This appears to have been discontinued by HM, but is recent enough so that it may still be available from vendors, or may turn up second-hand at reasonable price.

It does appear that the CD Julian mentions, <Music for a While>, remains in print.

I would be interested in the contents of <Catches and Glees> for comparison with the songs included in <Portrai of a Legend>. If I cannot track this information down with a web search, I will ask again.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I would be interested in the contents of <Catches and Glees> for comparison with the songs included in <Portrait of a Legend>. >
There were 2 LPs, Vanguard I am pretty certain made by the Deller consort probably in the late 1950s. They contained a wide variety of stuff, a lot of tavern songs, usually 3 and 4 part canons for unaccompanied voices. Purcell figured strongly but there were also pieces by William and Henry Lawes and others of the period.

The words were often quite rude such that, in the climate of the time, not all were printed on the sleeve notes. But we generally got them through careful, repeated listening!

Sphinx 42 wrote (December 12, 2008):
There's quite a few albums featuring Alfred Deller currently available for download on eMusic.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 12, 2008):
I wrote:
>I would be interested in the contents of <Catches and Glees> for comparison with the songs included in <Portrait of a Legend>.<
Julian responded:
>There were 2 LPs, Vanguard I am pretty certain made by the Deller consort probably in the late 1950s. They contained a wide variety of stuff, a lot of tavern songs, usually 3 and 4 part canons for unaccompanied voices. Purcell figured strongly but there were also pieces by William and Henry Lawes and others of the period.<
It appears that these two LPs, along with all other work by Deller for Vanguard, is just now in the process of compilation and release as a 6 or 7 CD set on a label I am not familar with: <Musical Concepts>. Details of the CDs are listed on-line (I neglected to retrieve the url, but easily recovered with google search), and the set is listed but not yet available at amazon.com.

From a quick look, I did not see any overlap with the Harmonia Mundi set. There also apppears to be a Deller discography on-line, which I did not yet look at, but plenty of material available to entertain Deller fans.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 13, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks Ed: that's interesting.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 13, 2008):
OT: Purcell (?)

>The day people stop comparing oranges and apples; and Bach with composer X, is the day I live for.<
For a discussion group devoted to Bach, there are two polite ways to introduce other composers:

(1) Bach and Composer X

(2) OT Composer X

The day I live for is people reading and following the guidleines for a group. I should live so long.

Terejia wrote (December 13, 2008):
Peter Smaill wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29451
(..)
< While we can be sure that Bach was acquainted with
Handel's music I have never found any evidence that he knew who Purcell was, and will be delighted to be contradicted on that point! >
My personal impression... I feel Bach's music to be more instrumental oriented and Purcell to be more vocal oriented. No academic foundation so far. Haendel? His biography shows he is cultural hybred of German and British.

As Julian suggested: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29449

I once attended Organ Seminar specialized in British music. The lecturer dealt with Elgar, Britin, Gibons, Purcell, and the early composers I can't recall. What I felt there was that British music seems to have different aethetic standard. I still vaguely feel Haendel is aethetically hybred.

< It is true that they also both use the same passacaglia theme but that is I think a common musical device in Baroque times. >
I once learned passacaglia by F.Couplin. To the best of my knowledge, it seems to be common in Baroque times.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 13, 2008):
Many thanks to Ed who has tracked down re-issues of the recordings of the Deller catches and glees I have been looking for for years.? Could not trace them on Amazon but CD Universe seems to have them in stock and I have just ordered a copy as aXmas present to myself. Well done Ed.

 

Purcell

Continue of discussion from: Motet BWV 226 - Discussions

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 6, 2010):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Of course I have no idea whether this "tremulo" effect was frequent or not... >
Purcell used it in the "Freezing" Chorus of "King Arthur" (it's dramatized in the new film "The Young Victoria" although I'm sure the opera wasn't revised until the 20th century.

Handel used the effect in one of the Chandos Anthems for "The Earth Trembled"

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (January 6, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thanks Doug. Indeed I had forgotten Purcell's "Cold Genius".

Your examples (and Julian's) show that it was indeed not limited to a special type of piece, and that Mondonville had many predecessors.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 7, 2010):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< They were amused and baffled by my statement that history has judged Bach (who also was a supreme contrapuntalist, Telemann by his own mouth was averse to contrapuntal complexity) to be a greater composer than Telemann? >
No, that Bach was the supreme contrapuntalist. Obviously, you've made a distinction now you were only talking about Telemann and Bach, not renaissance polyphony.

< It would be interesting to take a poll among the world's musicologists on this point; I'm certainly confident it's not a silly proposition. >
Why don't you ask them? It would be a fun project!

< Since I admire Bach's great contrapuntal masterpieces, a form Telemann eschewed by his own mouth, Bach is already ahead of Telemann in my estimation. >
No true Scotman's fallacy much?

< I see you have admitted Bach to be the greatest baroque contrapuntalist. So the debate comes down to whose music one most prefers? >
Nah, I retract that now on 2nd though, Purcell's fantastias while technically weren't fugues, he was doing things Bach never dreamt of.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 7, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>No true Scotman's fallacy much?<
Why fallacy? - I am just stating my own opinion there, with one reason being that Telemann is disinterested in one of my favourite forms (fugue).

But to the specific point: has history - from the baroque up to now, mind you -judged Bach the greater composer (than Telemann)? I originally stated the proposition this way to avoid interjecting personal opinion AFAP.

Purcell's counterpoint greater than Bach? That's an interesting proposition.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 7, 2010):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Purcell's counterpoint greater than Bach? That's an interesting proposition. >
Bach could never have written the electrifying 8 part "Hear My Prayer" because he wasn't Purcell -- the job was already filled.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 7, 2010):
Thanks to Neil for identifying the source of the mis-attributed quotation and to Kim who has apologised to me on list and privately. I guess this demonstrates the dangers of relying on memory for quotations.

Without wishing to carry on a flame war can i go back to my original question which was actually asking for detail about the specific musical aspects which put some medieval music ahead of the 'high baroque'. I actually thought that this could lead to a lively discussion (well, it did, but not of the type I was expecting)

Incidentally I do agree about the Purcell fantasias. I studied all the scores in some detail a few years ago and they are an amazing compendium of contrapuntal devices and very individual harmonic language, pretty much unlike anything else he wrote (stylistically) and all the more incredible when you remember that he was only about 19 when he composed them. I have never heard that Bach had any access to Purcell's music but it would be fascinating to conjecture what he might have thought of them.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 7, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote::
< have never heard that Bach had any access to Purcell's music but it would be fascinating to conjecture what he might have thought of them. >
When the young Handel arrived in London in 1710, fresh from the triumphs of "Dixit Dominus" in Rome, he secured several commissions at the court of Queen Anne, the last Stuart sovereign. In preparation, he made a study of the music of Purcell. The opening of the "Birthday Ode for Queen Anne" showcases a countertenor with a solo trumpet in an astonishing Purcellian moment.

Handel's enthusiasm for Purcell never flagged. At the end of his life, he attended a performance of his own "Jeptha" where the following conversation was recorded.

Stevens (to Handel):
"This movement, sir, reminds me of some of old Purcell's music."

Handel:
"O got te teffel! If Purcell had lived, he would have composed better music than this."

I suspect Bach would have been equally impressed.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (January 7, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote::
< [...]
Incidentally I do agree about the Purcell fantasias. I studied all the scores in some detail a few years ago and they are an amazing compendium of contrapuntal devices and very individual harmonic language, pretty much unlike anything else he wrote (stylistically) and all the more incredible when you remember that he was only about 19 when he composed them. I have never heard that Bach had any access to Purcell's music but it would be fascinating to conjecture what he might have thought of them. >
This is a very interesting question.

Would we know that Bach had heard of Pergolesi's music if we had not found his "parody" of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater?

Maybe we should formulate this otherwise: is it possible / impossible that Bach has had access to Purcell's music?

Julian Mincham wrote (January 7, 2010):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] Good point. I'd certainly be interested if any connection came to light. I suspect that Doug is correct too in assuming that bach would have been impressed. Bach was certainly interested in music by composeres of lesser talent (personally I'd put Vivaldi in that category) so it's pretty likely that he would have recognised Purcell's genious. I wonder though what he might have made of P's harmonic language which, standing as it often did amidst modal and tonal principles, might have seemed a bit old fashioned to Bach who could be viewed as quite 'modern' in this particular respect---but not within his own era more 'progressive'.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 7, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote [reply to Therese Hanquet]:
< Good point [from Therese: Bach's parody of Pergolesi, possible familiarity with Purcell]. I'd certainly be interested if any >connection came to light. I suspect that Doug is correct too in assuming that Bach would have >been impressed. Bach was certainly interested in music by composers of lesser talent (personally I'd put Vivaldi in that category) >
Not to add any unnecessary flame, but I believe I heard a comment in passing recently that some folks call Vivaldi the composer who wrote the same concerto a thousand times. I do not count myself in their number, exactly, but if I had to choose... Is there not some question as to whether Bach transcribed/reworked Vivaldi more or less on order/commission?

JM:
< so it's pretty likely that he would have recognised Purcell's genius. I wonder though what he might have made of P's harmonic language which, standing as it often did amidst modal and tonal principles, might have seemed a bit old fashioned to Bach who could be viewed as quite 'modern' >this particular respect---but not within his own era more 'progressive'. >
EM:
I joined this forum several years ago, believing that the conventional wisdom (which I was already beginning to question) was that Bach was not much of an innovator, rather mainly a summrizer of his predecessors. By now, I certainly disagree, and I wonder if the conventional wisdom has evolved, or if I simply misunderstood it earlier.

Is the point re Bach as progressive within his own era specific to polyphony? Even then, I think it worthy of a bit of elaboration. To the non-specialist, it appears that CPE Bach considered his father an innovator in creating fugues, and there is a thread eaily traced onward through Mozart and Beethoven.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 7, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] A lot of points here Ed

< Good point [from Therese: Bach's parody of Pergolesi, possible familiarity with Purcell]. I'd certainly be interested if any connection came to light. I suspect that Doug is correct too in assuming that Bach would have >been impressed. Bach was certainly interested in music by composers of lesser talent (personally I'd put Vivaldi in that category) >
Not to add any unnecessary flame, but I believe I heard a comment in passing recently that some folks call Vivaldi the composer who wrote the same concerto a thousand times. I do not count myself in their number, exactly, but if I had to choose... Is there not some question as to whether Bach transcribed/reworked Vivaldi more or less on order/commission?
JM:
I think it was only 4-500 times. And sometimes he was extremely inventive. At other times he was very formulaic--which, I suggest, Bach was not----- he seldom repeated himself.

EM:
< I joined this forum several years ago, believing that the conventional wisdom (which I was already beginning to question) was that Bach was not much of an innovator, rather mainly a summrizer of his predecessors. By now, I certainly disagree, and I wonder if the conventional wisdom has evolved, or if I simply misunderstood it earlier. >
JM:
I think one has to try to be precise. I think that Bach was an innovator NOT in inventing formal structures but in taking principles from different one and recombining them to create what seem to be quite new musical forms. I can't think of another Baroque composer who did this to the same degree.

EM:
< Is the point re Bach as progressive within his own era specific to polyphony? Even then, I think it worthy of a bit of elaboration. To the non-specialist, it appears that CPE Bach considered his father an innovator in creating fugues, and there is a thread eaily traced onward through Mozart and Beethoven. >
JM:
again its the specifics. My study of the music leads me to think that Bach was a progressive in terms of structural developments (see above) and in terms of the extreme expressive possibilities of chromatic harmonies within the major/minor tonal system.

Others may disagree. personally I don't give a damn (as the actor said) if they do.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 7, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I think it was only 4-500 times. And sometimes he [Vivaldi] was extremely inventive. At other times he >was very formulaic--which, I suggest, Bach was not----- he seldom repeated himself. >
I guess <a thousand> is in fact a bit hyperbolic, given total output. However, I believe I quoted accurately from other sources.

The more important point is Bach's avoidance of repetition and formulaic composition, with which I agree completely. Indeed, I think we sometimes overlook this as potentially the primary motivation for some of Bach's devices.

Plenty of opportunity for discussion in coming years, as we explore Bachs varied compositions for the same liturgical setting.

Chris Stanley wrote (January 8, 2010):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] Maybe Bach was inspired by hearing a performance of the Pergolesi with soloists such as Sebastian Hennig and Rene Jacobs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcYbpqG7AuI&feature=related

BTW 300 ago years ago on Jan 4th was Pergolesi's birth if that has not been mentioned. No better compliment could be paid than to be parodied by JSB IMO.

 

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Last update: ýJanuary 8, 2010 ý12:46:46