Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Conductors of Vocal Works: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Singers & Instrumentalists

Andrew Parrott & Taverner Consort & Players
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions

Heart’s Solace

David Harbin wrote (January 13, 2002):
Could anyone please comment on the Parrott/Taverner Consort performances in their Heart's Solace CD (Sony) which includes two funeral motets with 198. How does this compare to the Herreweghe BWV 198? Does the reduced number of voices improve the sound?

BTW, we have not had any recordings from Parrott for a long time. Is there any hance he may commit more Bach canatas to CD? I am a bit of a fan.

I ask about the Heart's Soace CD as I snapped it up for £3.99 in a bargain bin and want to know if this was a rash decision :-).

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 13, 2002):
[To David Harbin] Cantata BWV 198 and its recordings were discussed in the BCML about two years ago. You can find a list of the recordings of this cantata in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198.htm
And the discussions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198-D.htm
A list of Andrew Parrott's recordings of Bach's vocal works:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Parrott.htm

I consider Parrott's rendition to be among the best of the modern interpretations of this cantata with its transparancy, calmness, tenderness and sensitivity. Like you, I wish that Parrott will record more Bach Cantatas.

 

3000 cheerrs for Andrew Parrott

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 3, 2002):
From the Arts and Leisure Section of the Sunday New York Times, February 3, 2002:
Bringing Hope for Early Music
February 3, 2002
By JAMES R. OESTREICH
AS the once thriving early-music scene in New York becomes an ever smaller pond, what is needed, some think, is a big fish. Questioned about the shrinkage several years ago, some in the field bemoaned the lack of a charismatic leader like John Eliot Gardiner in London or William Christie (alas, an expatriate American) in Paris.

Prominent conductors have occasionally applied: Trevor Pinnock, from London, as the founding music director of the short-lived Classical Band more than a decade ago, and the venerable Gustav Leonhardt, from Amsterdam, as the founding music director of the New York Collegium three years ago. But both proved fleeting figureheads, barely involved in the day-to-day, long-term process of planning, cultivating, building, nurturing, refining.

"I'm not sure charisma is my main specialty," Andrew Parrott said recently with just the right self- effacement. Yet he arrives as the collegium's new music director with a heavy load of hopes if not necessarily expectations on his shoulders. Mr. Parrott, 54, an Englishman who has had great success with his Taverner Consort, Choir and Players since 1973 and with the London Mozart Players since 2000, certainly has the qualifications for the job. What remains to be seen is the level and duration of his active involvement in New York.

Mr. Parrott, who conducted a concert in each of the collegium's first three seasons, makes his debut as music director on Friday evening at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, with a performance of Bach's "St. John Passion" (BWV 245) that promises to raise eyebrows. For openers, the work itself has been deemed controversial in recent years for what many perceive to be anti- Semitism contained in St. John's text and enhanced in Bach's score. All of this figured in a book by the musicologist Michael Marissen, "Lutheranism, Anti-Judaism and Bach's `St. John Passion' " (1998), which tended to exculpate Bach, and the work now often comes accompanied by a symposium airing the issues fully.

The collegium will deal with the matter in a preconcert lecture. For the rest, Mr. Parrott counts on the listener to make the necessary distinctions and allowances.

"The best warning against anti-Semitism is to know that our forefathers were guilty of it," he said, referring to his own father, who, as a boy in London in the 1920's, joined friends in mocking their counterparts from the Jewish school across the street for the way they looked. "With hindsight, he was desperately ashamed, but to pretend that it never happened is much more dangerous.

"Similarly, in Bach's time, the anti-Semitism was absolutely standard. It's not that Bach was more anti-Semitic than everybody else. It's that Germany was. Most countries were, at that time, and the New Testament is, and those two things feed each other. To rewrite history is far more dangerous than just understanding it sensibly. So we will be performing what Bach wrote and what represents 18th-century thinking. And that does not in any way imply that I subscribe even to any Christian doctrine in it, let alone an anti-Semitic one."

For his part, Mr. Parrott will make the evening only more contentious by using the vocal soloists to perform the choruses as well, singing one voice to a part. The practice stems, if not from Bach, from research, explications and performances by the nettlesome American musicologist and conductor Joshua Rifkin over the last two decades, insisting that Bach's own "choruses" were generally mere agglomerations of soloists. The idea has made relatively little headway among academics and performers of early music, and it still spurs heated debate.

But Mr. Parrott has embraced it wholesale, advancing the cause in his book "The Essential Bach Choir" (2000) and in his recordings of recent years. In addition to exploring the history himself, he began to experiment with reduced forces of his own.

"The more I did it, the more blindingly obvious it became that this was so much easier musically, so much more natural," he said. "A lot of people will cynically think
you've done it for economic reasons, and that is so superficial a view. If it were done for economic reasons, it backfired hugely, because in the Bach year, 2000, I wasn't asked to do one single performance of Bach in Britain.

"Meanwhile, the so-called experts have been complacently spewing out the standard objections and stifling the debate. I'm not telling people that they must only do it that way. I'm just saying that if we're interested in musical history, let's get it right, and the scholars are the people who should be doing that. They've hidden the evidence that is there - and it is right out there – from the public. They've pretended that it's a subject incapable of resolution. It's incapable of resolution only if you don't deal with it."

In broader matters as in this one, limited numbers seem to hold no terrors for Mr. Parrott. On a visit to New York (postponed from September because of the terrorist attacks) to meet with Dorothea Endicott, the collegium's executive director, and finalize plans for next season, he took issue with this reporter's suggestion of last year that not even the most ardent authenticist would advocate meager period-size audiences for early music.

"Actually, I do like the idea of period audiences," he said. To Ms. Endicott, who was present, he added, "That's the last thing you want to hear me say."

Indeed, another of the complaints of those early-music professionals several years ago was that economic pressures in New York are such that large audiences - and thus, large, often inappropriate halls - are needed for any ambitious performing institution to succeed. Mr. Parrott calls that a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"What I'm not interested in is putting immaculately proportioned small formations in big venues or unsympathetic venues," he said. "That does nobody any service, merely to get larger numbers. I just think one has to find venues that are appropriate to the music, have forces that are appropriate to those venues, cost it accordingly and find ways of making it work. It's just a different equation."

Mr. Parrott readily acknowledges that for every 100 people who like going to the opera, themay be only one person interested in hearing, say, Baroque music done really well. Still, he adds, if early music could command even a hundredth of the budget of either the Metropolitan Opera or the New York City Opera, it might well flourish.

"New York has a lot of talent that has not been properly tapped," he said. "All that's needed is the opportunity to develop. What New York lacks in the Baroque field, the period- instrument field, is just the sheer opportunity. So many good people from the States have gone to Europe and are the backbone or have been crucial ingredients in what, from here, some people look at with envy. What we need to do is not import foreign talent but simply create the opportunities sensitively and sensibly to develop what is already here and, of course, build audiences to support it financially."

Mr. Parrott's speech conveys vibrant energy and urgency in its rapid pace, as syllables, words and ideas tumble over one another, and incisive intelligence in its articulateness. All those qualities will be needed to breathe life and purpose into a group that has shown flashes of brilliance amid expanses of bare competence or mediocrity, and into the early- music scene here generally.

The New York Collegium, a small period-instrument band with chorus, was founded in 1999 by Michael Feldman, who also founded the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble in 1974 and oversaw its evolution into the thriving Orchestra of St. Luke's, then left it in 1995. Even before the collegium's first concert, he espoused grand visions in The New York Times: "I'd like to jump over the Classical and early Romantic repertory and have a second organization, called the Romantic Orchestra Project, that would begin with the 1840's and move up through Wagner."

It is questionable whether any of the more established groups in Europe that have tried such an audacious leap, like Roger Norrington's London Classical Players, have succeeded. One thing is sure: they at least got good before they went big.

"That's not realistic," Mr. Parrott said of the Romantic imperative. "It wasn't realistic then. First you've got to put in the hard work to do this repertory really well."

Mr. Feldman resigned in June 2000, and Ms. Endicott took over the next month. Last year, she signed Mr. Parrott to a three-year contract.

What may be a more realistic hope for the collegium now is recordings, at least small-scale ones, since Mr. Parrott has been widely recorded, and he continues to work even amid the current chaos of the classical- record business. But funds must first be raised, and Mr. Parrott has no interest in the likes of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." He wants to find a real need in the recorded repertory and fill it.

"Parrott is the most original thinker among conductors of Baroque music," said Nicholas Kenyon, the director of the BBC Proms in London and an avid follower of early music around the globe. Mr. Parrott slowly rose to a lofty position in a crowded field in London. Here he starts at the top. But then, so did Mr. Pinnock and Mr. Leonhardt.

MR. PARROTT was born in Walsall in 1947 to a not particularly musical family. His father was a local businessman; his mother went back to school in midlife and became a teacher. He experimented with many instruments early on "with greed and huge arrogance," he said, and he learned to play several. But he had settled on keyboards by the time he reached Oxford to study music, mainly history and theory.

There, although actual music- making was not part of the curriculum, he began conducting concerts, starting with a program of Tudor music, "because that was what I was meant to be studying, and I had no idea what it sounded like," he said. He also took up singing, "because it made conducting easier," allowing him to demonstrate phrasing by example. Then came the Taverner group and a busy career as a performer. He has not composed much.

"I feel a failure in that if I had been an 18th-century musician, I'd have been a composer," he said. "I have not found a way to do that in my musical life, though I've made tentative, small steps by arranging and doctoring other composers' music."

Mr. Parrott, who lives in Stanton St. John on the outskirts of Oxford with his wife, the soprano Emily van Evera, and their daughter, expects to conduct half of the collegium's four or five programs a season. He originally hoped to open next season with Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers, but that has been put off, probably until 2003- 4. Wisely, one suspects, Mr. Parrott intends to concentrate on developing the strings before getting embroiled with exotic brass instruments. He will therefore start the season with Handel's "Israel in Egypt" in November and end it with Biber's Easter Mass in the spring of 2003.

Beyond that, he intends to keep exploring for new finds, new adventures. His real specialty, he said, is making life difficult for himself.

And others, evidently: "I'm learning," Ms. Endicott chimed in.

Greed again, in Mr. Parrott's summary: "I am in this business because I am selfish and greedy, musically, to learn more." When he does, you may be sure, he will pass it on with his typical brimming enthusiasm. Here's hoping that he can engender the same in the collegium players and singers.

NY Times Article

THREE THOUSAND CHEERS FOR THE RARE HONEST HUMAN BEING LEFT.
YOEL WHO RARELY SEES ANY TRUTH ACKNOWLEDGED RE THE PASSIONS AND OTHER SACRED MUSIC. INASMUCH AS BACH'S PASSIONS ARE THE GREATEST VOCAL SETTINGS OF ALL MUSIC, SUCH ACKNOWLEDGEMENT IS TRULY VITAL. IT IS EVER SO RARE.

Dick Wursten wrote (February 4, 2002):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman]
1. Lanuage problem: What is meant by: 'period-size audiences ' ?

2. Parrot advocates the small choir (or soloists choir) approach of Bach cantatas (like Rifkin). I'm not an expert in these matters. I only know that the number of capable musicians (choirboys) Bach had at his disposal was relatively small (the famous letter of complaint of Bach to the council of Leipzig from 1730 (?)) and I read somewhere (don't know where) that can be doubted whether ripienists were used per voice on the basis of the material parts of the voices that we have (don't remember the line of thought here). Perhaps someone with more knowledge can give a summary of the arguments pro et contra used in this discussion. I would be grateful. I can only speak from my own little bit of experience: The times I heard a cantata or a passion with a small choir, I always was charmed by it: clarity and transparence on the one hand and expression in horizontal lines (polyfonic) on the other hand. I even once heard a final choral sung by two soprano soloists, while the orchestra were taking good care fo the other voices. Wonderful... But I acknowledge: this is a personal opinion, a matter of personal taste... not a scientific opinion, and not at all a dogma...

3. In this article Parrot and the interviewer also touch a very delicate subject, anti-semitism by Bach and esp. in the Passions. I think what is said in the article about his subject is correct and wise, but as a theologian with a historical passion, I always advocate the thesis that we should make a difference between anti-judaism and anti-semitism. Anti-judaism is a theological concept of christianity in which they claim that about the messiah-hood of Jesus they (themselves mostly jews!) are right and the other Jews are wrong... This debate was still fiercely going on in the first century and was not settled at all, when the NT was written. This debate explains the hard anti-judaistic passages in the NT. Anti-semitism on the other hand is a psycho-sociological phenomenon, a form of racism, which exploits very deep, old and dangerous anixieties of 'man' (incl. scapegoat-mechanisms). Of course anti-semitism and anti-judaism often appear together and the one makes the other stronger... but in my opinion it is historically incorrect to accuse John the evangelist of anti-semitism. He was Semite (Jew) himself. In the youngest parts of his gopsel he proves himself to be a fierce anti-j(In the older parts he is much more positive about the religion of Judaism); Bach on the other hand is as anti-semitic as were most of his contemporaries. That is no excuse, it 's a pity and a shame.

Johan van Veen (February 5, 2002):
Dick Wursten wrote:
< 1. Lanuage problem: What is meant by: 'period-size audiences ' ? >
As I understand this part of the interview, it is about the problem of performing early music in venues which are too large for the music. 'Period-size audiences' mean a smaller number of people listening, perhaps more in line with the size of the audiences in the time the music was composed than the size which concert organisers of today would like to see. It is a serious problem, in my view. Too often music can't be done justice, because the venue is inappropriate.

< 2. Parrot advocates the small choir (or soloists choir) approach of Bach >cantatas (like Rifkin). I'm not an expert in these matters. I only know that the number of capable musicians (choirboys) Bach had at his disposal was relatively small (the famous letter of complaint of Bach to the council of Leipzig from 1730 (?)) and I read somewhere (don't know where) that can be doubted whether ripienists were used per voice on the basis of the material parts of the voices that we have (don't remember the line of thought here). Perhaps someone with more knowledge can give a summary of the arguments pro et contra used in this discussion. I would be grateful. >
The best thing to do is read the book by Andrew Parrott and Joshua Rifkin, The Bach Choir. As far as I remember the subject was discussed at some length on this list, so you should be able to find some about it in the archive.

< 3. In this article Parrot and the interviewer also touch a very delicate >subject, anti-semitism by Bach and esp. in the Passions. I think what is >said in the article about his subject is correct and wise, but as a >theologian with a historical passion, I always advocate the thesis that we should make a difference between anti-judaism and anti-semitism. Anti-judaism is a theological concept of christianity in which they claim that about the messiah-hood of Jesus they (themselves mostly jews!) are right and the other Jews are wrong... This debate was still fiercely going on in the first century and was not settled at all, when the NT was written. This debate explains the hard anti-judaistic passages in the NT. Anti-semitism on the other hand is a psycho-sociological phenomenon, a form of racism, which exploits very deep, old and dangerous anixieties of 'man' (incl. scapegoat-mechanisms). Of course anti-semitism and anti-judaism often appear together and the one makes the other stronger... but in my opinion it is historically incorrect to accuse John the evangelist of anti-semitism. He was Semite (Jew) himself. In the youngest parts of his gopsel he proves himself to be a fierce anti-judaist (In the older parts he is much more positive about the religion of Judaism); Bach on the other hand is as anti-semitic as were most of his contemporaries. That is no excuse, it 's a pity and a shame. >
You are absolutely right in pointing out the difference between anti-semitism and anti-judaism. But I still fail to understand, why this is always discussed in relation to the St John Passion (BWV 245). Firstly, I don't think Bach has written any part of the text of the SJP (BWV 245) himself, therefore he can't be taken responsible for any of it.

Secondly, which parts of the "free" text - other than the text of the gospel - could be considered "anti-semitic"? I can't see any. And as far as I can see there is no reason to state that Bach was as anti-semitic as most of his contemporaries. There is no evidence of that, and I don't think that kind of generalising statements are justified. And this matter is too serious to make generalising statements like that.

Peter Bright wrote (February 5, 2002):
Johan van Veen wrote:
< As I understand this part of the interview, it is about the problem of performing early music in venues which are too large for the music. 'Period-size audiences' mean a smaller number of people listening, perhaps more in line with the size of the audiences in the time the music was composed than the size which concert organisers of today would like to see. It *is* a serious problem, in my view. Too often music can't be done justice, because the venue is inappropriate. >
Just out of interest, from someone who doesn't follow too closely the issues of period and "modern" scale in Bach's music, do we know whether Bach ever complained about the number of musicians/singers at his disposal (I'm well aware that he was dissatisfied with the quality from time to time)? Is it possible that he might have envisaged how a large scale choir might have been preferable in large scale works such as the Passions?

Perhaps, such considerations would never have been contemplated during his time (due to practicalities of the venue and working traditions) but I'm quite interested in the difference between what was possible at the time and what was in the composer's mind about how such works should be staged. I expect Bach may not have wrote such thoughts down but it's an interesting one. If push came to shove I would have to admit a general preference for small forces (but not one to a part) for the cantatas (Suzuki's ongoing series is often staggeringly beautiful) but large forces for the Passions, beyond which could have been possible for Bach (I just can't leave Richter and Klemperer alone here).

Richard Grant wrote (February 5, 2002):
[To Dick Wursten] Your point is well-taken and,as usual, thought provoking. I do hold, however, that with men and women of good-will and intelligence no subject is too delicate for discussion.

 

Andrew Parrott

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 7, 2002):
Andrew Parrott is one of the most respected of Bach scholars and thus I was enormously pleased to hear his perspective. It is for that reason that I shared it. The discussion from many of the participants avoided the central question and descended into an idiotic place in my humble opinion. And I am really surprised that, when a list owner says that he is issuing a warning, that members just keep at it. As to the poster who says what if he said he was homosexual or a Fascist, etc., I will reply that I see no reason on a music list for anyone to discuss his politics or his sexuality. The question of whether passion plays, even set to glorious music, do harm or historically have done or contributed to harm, is an important question.

Whew!

Richard Grant wrote (February 8, 2002):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] And should the fact that you see no reason for the discussion of a given topic on a music list or find aspects of it "idiotic" be binding on all the members of that list. Yours, as is the list's owner's, is just one more opinion among many. And again no one obliges you to listen to - or comment on - any opinion or discussion you find "idiotic" And your - or anyone's - attempt to mold the discussion more to his liking conjures up, in my mind at least, a certain socio-political philosophy without even mentioning its name or elaborating on its politics.

 

Parrott

Charles Francis wrote (July 25, 2002):
Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote:
< This is off message a little bit, but I was wondering if any of you have read Andrew Parrott's book The Essential Bach Choir, and what you though of it? What about his production of the B minor Mass? (BWV 232) >
I have Parrott's book and his B minor Mass (BWV 232). The book is a superb read and I recommend it highly. It contains Rifikin's original paper on OVPP as an appendix and this is also an excellent read. Parrott's B minor Mass (BWV 232) is very good and is different in its way from Rifkin (a little more polished than Rifkin, particularly as regards the Brass). I also have a recorded radio interview with Parrott on MP3 discussing his book.

Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote (July 25, 2002):
[To CharleFrancis] Thank you! I have read the book too, and enjoyed it very much. However, since I am not an expert in these matters I was wondering what others thought. I think I will go ahead and buy the B minor mass (BWV 232), which can be purchased fairly inexpensively.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 25, 2002):
[To Charles Francis] I have a review of this book at: http://www.mcelhearn.com/bachbib.html

 

Review Choral Works - Andrew Parrott

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 5, 2002):
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)

Choral Works [approx. 280 min.]

Bach: St John Passion
Mass in B minor

Taverner Consort & Players / Parrott

St John Passion BWV 245
Easter Oratorio BWV 249
Ascension Oratorio BWV 11
Mass in B minor BWV 232

Emma Kirkby soprano
Evelyn Tubb soprano
Emily Van Evera soprano
Margaret Cable alto
Panito Iconomou alto
Caroline Trevor alto
Rogers Covey-Crump tenor
Charles Daniels tenor
Wilfried Jochens tenor
Stephen Charlesworth bass
Peter Kooy bass
David Thomas bass

Solisten des Tölzer Knabenchors
Taverner Consort & Players, Andrew Parrott direction

CDs 1, 2: St John Passion (BWV 245)
CD 3: Easter and Ascension Oratorios
CDs 4, 5: Mass in B minor (BWV 232)

Rec: 1985, 1990, 1991, 1994. No locations specified.

VIRGIN CLASSICS 5620682ú [approx. 280 min.]

Andrew Parrott’s recordings of Bach’s sacred music are an acquired taste. His approach is at one extreme in the wide range of ways to perform and record Bach¹s sacred music. Parrott is one of the leading proponents of the one-voice-per-part (OVPP) style of performing this music, which states that Bach had no access to the kind of huge choirs we often hear performing these works, and settled for one, or, at best, two singers for each of the parts in the choir (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). While many conductors and performers are totally against this approach, first posited in the 1980s by Joshua Rifkin, Parrott has shown, in his recordings, that it is not only feasible, but that it can be musically satisfying, if listeners can rid themselves of preconceptions and habits as to how they feel the music can be performed and heard.

It must be said that this approach is mainly apparent in the choral movements of these works. Take the opening Kyrie eleison of the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), for example. The lightness and ethereality of the music takes on a new dimension. Gone are the dense, heavy choirs of the more “classical” performances of Bach¹s choral music. Here the choir is present in subtle strokes, and does not overwhelm the music. Of course, for one familiar with this music, hearing Parrott¹s rendition for the first time, this can be a shock. But the beautiful texture that is apparent in this music - take the et in terra pax, for example, where one can hear the subtle interplay of the various parts - makes it all worthwhile. The listener can imagine being transported to a different, when the music was meant to fill a church, and not a huge concert hall.

The intensity of the opening choral movement of the St John Passion (BWV 245), or of the penultimate movement of the same work, does not suffer greatly from the smaller forces. What is lost in quantity is gained in the magnificent texture. Since there is a fine balance between the smaller vocal forces and the instrumental forces, the works sound like “chamber” versions of what most listeners know as massive choral works.

(It should be noted that while Parrott’s and Rifkin’s ideas have not been embraced widely among performers of Bach, they have greatly influenced current performance practice. Masaaki Suzuki¹s recordings of Bach’s cantatas are not OVPP, yet they remain very limited; and Paul McCreesh has been performing the St. Matthew Passion with very small forces (two small choirs, each of eight singers) and is to record the work in 2003.)

Unlike Rifkin, whose OVPP recordings, made in the 1980s to show the viability of his theories, suffered from soloists of limited quality, Parrott has some of the finest singers possible for these works. To note just a few, Emma Kirkby and Evelyn Tubb are excellent in the Ascension Oratorio (BWV 11), bass Peter Kooy, who has recorded many of Bach¹s cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki, stands out in the Easter Oratorio (BWV 249), and Rogers Covey-Crump is a brilliant evangelist in the St. John Passion (BWV 245). The singers¹ voices seem to have been chosen to work together at a much different level than usual, and the combinations in all these works are very satisfying.

The recordings are quite good, though not excellent; one cannot often hear the harpsichord, even in the smaller movements, but aside from that the recordings work well with the scale of the works. One critique for Virgin - the notes with this set are quite minimal, and give no context to Parrott’s performance practice. Listeners discovering this music without an understanding of why he chooses such small forces might be a bit taken aback. But Andrew Parrott recently wrote a book, The Essential Bach Choir, which gives a clear presentation of this approach and evidence to defend it.

While a bit unorthodox, Andrew Parrott is certainly one of the essential figures in recordings of Bach¹s sacred music. This budget set is a must-have set for anyone curious to hear Bach in a different light, and contains some of the most interesting recordings available of these great works.

Matthew Westphal wrote (October 6, 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Thanks to Kirk for his several reviews. A couple of points about the Parrott review:

< (It should be noted that while Parrott's and Rifkin's ideas have not been embraced widely among performers of Bach, they have greatly influenced current performance practice. Masaaki Suzuki¹s recordings of Bach’s cantatas are not OVPP, yet they remain very limited; and Paul McCreesh has been performing the St. Matthew Passion with very small forces (two small choirs, each of eight singers) and is to record the work in 2003.) >
Suzuki's choice of forces is more likely influenced by his old teacher, Ton Koopman (as violent an opponent of the one-voice-per-part camp as ever there was) and Herreweghe than by Rifkin. Suzuki's choir is generally 16 singers, about the same size as the Amsterdam Baroque Choir and Collegium Vocale of Ghent.

Paul McCreesh, on the other hand, is entirely in the one-voice-per-part camp -- he speaks about it at some length in an interview at:
http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=18169. His last tour of the St. Matthew Passion was with two choirs of four singers each (see:
http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=16397 for a review of the London performance); he and his musicians recorded the St. Matthew immediately after that tour and the recording is scheduled to be released in 2003.

< Parrott is one of the leading proponents of the one-voice-per-part (OVPP) style of performing this music, which states that Bach had no access to the kind of huge choirs we often hear performing these works, and settled for one, or, at best, two singers for each of the parts in the choir (soprano, alto, tenor, bass).>
The choice of the words "settled for" and "at best" betray an interesting, and probably unconscious, prejudice (and one that is very widespread) -- the idea that Bach, regardless of what he actually had, would have preferred something closer to whatever a given writer prefers in Bach's sacred works, be that the large choirs Klemperer used, the somewhat smaller choirs favored by Shaw and Rilling, or the ensembles of between 14 and 20 singers currently used by Herreweghe, Suzuki, Gardiner aKoopman.

Rifkin's and Parrott's original idea was to look at the surviving parts and other documentary and pictorial evidence to get an idea of what forces Bach actually wrote for -- Bach having been employed to produce music for specific performers and specific occasions -- rather than what he'd have liked.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 5, 2002):
Matthew Westphal wrote:
< Suzuki's choice of forces is more likely influenced by his old teacher, Ton Koopman (as violent an opponent of the one-voice-per-part camp as ever there was) and Herreweghe than by Rifkin. Suzuki's choir is generally 16 singers, about the same size as the Amsterdam Baroque Choir and Collegium Vocale of Ghent. >
If I'm not mistaken, I saw his SJP (BWV 245) on TV once, and the choir was smaller - perhaps 12...

< Paul McCreesh, on the other hand, is entirely in the one-voice-per-part camp -- he speaks about it at some length in an interview at <> His last tour of the St. Matthew Passion was with two choirs of four singers each (see <> for a review of the London performance); he and his musicians recorded the St. Matthew mmediately after that tour and the recording is scheduled to be released in 2003. >
Noted. I thought he was less clear on that - I recall hearing the SMP (BWV 244) on the radio, and it didn't sound like two choirs of four...

< Rifkin's and Parrott's original idea was to look at the surviving parts and other documentary and pictorial evidence to get an idea of what forces Bach actually wrote for -- Bach having been employed to produce music for specific performers and specific occasions -- rather than what he'd have liked. >
Another good point. But it's not an unconscious slip, since I, too, prefer the smaller forces.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (November 7, 2002):
Has anyone seen this re-issue available online in the USA? I do not see it at the usual places.Thank,

 

Parrott's Bach Recordings

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 18, 2004):
John Pike wrote:
< Talking of Parrotts (deliberate mis-spelling), many thanks to you and Gabriel for recommending the Parrott recordings of the SMP (BWV 244)/SJP (BWV 245). Last night, I took up the recommendation and ordered it through Amazon.co.uk marketplace. One of the suppliers (direct offers) was offering a Virgin box set of Parrott's recordings of the SMP (BWV 244), B minor mass (BWV 232), Easter Oratorio (BWV 249) and Ascension Oratorio (BWV 11) (5 CDs). Total cost, including postage UKP 12.36. This is unbelievably good value for money. I hope some other people out there will take advantage of it. >
AFAIK Parrott has not recorded the SMP (BWV 244) (yet?).

You can find a list of his recordings of J.S. Bach's vocal works at the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Parrott.htm
Nevertheless, the box set is still a good value for money.

John Pike wrote (June 18, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks, Aryeh for correcting me. I have SMP (BWV 244) on the brain. The box set contains the SJP (BWV 245), (not the SMP (BWV 244)), as well as the other works I listed. As Gabriel pointed out a few days ago, this recording of the SJP Passion (BWV 245) is the 1749 version and includes a harpsichord. There was a question about this in previous discussions about this recording on the Bach Cantatas Website which was never resolved at the time. AFAIK, the 1749 version was basically a return to the 1724 version with addition of harpsichord. There is no recording of the 1730s version since the music involved in the main change from the 1725 version is lost, as another correspondent pointed out recently.

Maybe Aryeh could update the BCW section on Parrott's recording of the SJP (BWV 245) to show that it is the 1749 version. I found that information on versions very helpful when choosing a recording of the 1725 version. I finally went for Herreweghe 2 for the 1725 version (2001 on HMF).

 

Parrott John Passion & Mass

Chris Kern wrote (November 13, 2007):
I got the 5-disc set of Andrew Parrott from amazon.com. Some quick thoughts about it:

Mass in B-Minor (BWV 232): Incredible. I agree with those who say it's better than Rifkin. I still think Herreweghe 2 is the best MBM I've heard, but I put this on intending to only listen to the first Kyrie and listened to the whole thing instead.

John Passion (BWV 245): I was somewhat transfixed by this as well. I like Covey-Crump's Evangelist; he doesn't scream the lyrics or try to put extra emotion into the recitatives. You can really hear the "melody" of the recitatives. Overall this is a very good effort -- I was surprised to see all the negative reviews on the site of it. Now if only he would do a Matthew Passion (BWV 244) as well.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (November 13, 2007):
Chris Kern wrote:
> I got the 5-disc set of Andrew Parrott <snip>
I was surprised to see all the negative reviews on the site of it. Now if only he would do a Matthew Passion as well.<

Well, some of the old timers on the List, mainly in lurking mode now - like myself, actually like Parrott dearly. I find myself returning to his recordings time and again. His comtinued absence from the recording scene is regrettable, and I join your wishes that he gets the funding to do an SMP (BWV 244).

And, BTW, how did you like Tessa Bonner's "Zerfliesse, mein hertze" in the St. John? It remains my all time favorite out of nearly 40 different recordings.

 

Parrott's reconstruction of the service for Prince Leopold

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (October 7, 2011):
http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Avie/AV2241

Prestoclassics, a dealer I am very please with, has a good description of the Parrott disk.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (October 11, 2011):
Here is my opinion:

1. A "Hit Parade" medley from the SMP and Trauerode.

2. The singing: Very fine.

3. The playing and the recorded sound: Superb.

4. Recitatives composed by Parrott himself: Perfectly "passable" – did not bother me at all.

5. Overall directing, phrasing etc. - one of the very best.

6. The emotional impact of all the familiar movements remains as strong as in the original(s) despite the new and different context. It becomes clearly obvious that the impact lies in the artistic creative powers of Bach, with the background-specific context or "story" taking a distant back seat [if at all].

7. Bottom line: Parrott says [in the booklet] "Caveat Emptor". This "emptor" took a lot of "caveats" and found out that none was necessary: This is an inspiring CD.

8. Summary: I bought the CD for the novelty. I'll keep it for being a great musical album. It is only a shame that we listeners do not have at our disposal recordings of the SMP and the Trauerode by Andrew Parrott.

Uri Golomb wrote (October 11, 2011):
[To Ehud Shiloni] I shall certainly have to get this CD one day!

Parrott actually did record the Trauerode (recording C4 in http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Parrott.htm#RC); this disc is (apparently) unavailable now, which is a pity, as it contains the finest recording of the Trauer-Ode known to me. In a review of another recording, I wrote that Parrott's version "is perhaps unique in striking the elusive balance between ceremonial restraint and heartfelt grief and in avoiding any hint of inappropriate cheerfulness". This view hasn't changed. The motets that go with it are fine too, but here the competition is fiercer.

I take this oppoto wish a Happy (Jewish) New Year and Happy Succoth to those who celebrate them.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (October 11, 2011):
[To Uril Golomb] Thanks for refreshing [or rather "shaking-up"] my memory! Of course Parrott did record the Trauerode, and I now recall that I did not like that rendition at all at the time, and I believe that I even wrote about it negatively on the List.....

Back to the drawing board: I'll look for that "old" recording and run a comparison with the relevant movements on the new CD. Happy holidays to all - celebrating or not....

Teri Noel Towe wrote (October 11, 2011):
Parrott and BWV 198

Ehud Shiloni wrote:
< It is only a shame that we listeners do not have at our disposal recordings of the SMP and the Trauerode by Andrew Parrott. >
I see the list postings in digest form, so I apologize for the redundancy if someone else already has posted this information.

Andrew Parrott has, in fact, recorded the 'Trauer Ode' (BWV 198), and splendidly, too.

The recording is entry No. 13 on the Trauer Ode page at the website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198.htm#C13

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 11, 2011):
One movement from it remains available online for another 14 hours, at the end of this BBC3 program from last week: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0159w9f#segments

Teri Noel Towe wrote (October 12, 2011):
Leopold Trauer Ode on line

[To Bradley Lehman] A concert performance of the BWV 244a, given by the Ensemble Pygamalion in Taverny, France, on September 17, is available for audition on France Musique for a couple of more weeks:

Here is a link to the pertinent page: http://sites.radiofrance.fr/francemusique/em/concert-am/emission.php?e_id=100000070&d_id=425004432

Ehud Shiloni wrote (October 13, 2011):
[To Uril Golomb] I did manage to locate my Parrott 1998 recording. After doing some comparative listening there is no wonder why it was relegated at the time to the back of the shelf, eventually to be forgotten.

At the time I called that recording "Lethargic", and the new one, in comparison, is indeed a lot more energetic, both in tempo and in overall concept.

Here is a short table of movement time comparison for the three choral movements [1,7 and 10 in the BWV198 original], between "Old" Parrot [1998], "New" Parrott [BWV244a], and my current favorite version by Phillipe
Pierlot, in that order:

1: 7:02 , 6:28 , 5:28
7: 2:02 , 1:52 , 1:56
10: 5:46 , 5:14 , 4:59

Unlike my forgetting all about Parrott's BWV198, I keep going back to his beautiful version of the St. John Passion, and am now hoping for a Parrott version of BWV244 ["proper", with no "a" attached].

Andrew White wrote (October 13, 2011):
[To Teri Noel Towe] Thank you, Teri, for this link. Wonderful concert, with great solo contributions (esp. from James Gilchrist).

Is there a place – besides individual postings on BachCantatas -- where we can be made aware of streaming audio like this?

BBC 3 often has good audio. What are some of the other sites that members frequent?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (October 15, 2011):
Ehud Shiloni wrote:
< Here is a short table of movement time comparison for the three choral movements [1,7 and 10 in the BWV198 original], between "Old" Parrot [1998], "New" Parrott [BWV244a], and my current favorite version by Phillipe Pierlot, in that order: >
I am always fascinated by the manner in which deeply knowledgeable persons have each their own (contradictory) taste exactly as ill-informed music lovers do. I have preferred the Phillipe Pierlot recording to all the various (7 or 8, as memory serves) recording of 198 that I have gathered over the years. As to Parrott, I have not enjoyed any of his older recordings.

Again, taste, personal response, and deep knowledge are distinct matters although the knowledgeable will always point out some reason why they prefer a particular performance/ recording.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (October 19, 2011):
Leopold Trauer Ode on line

Teri Noel Towe wrote:
< A concert performance of the BWV 244a, given by the Ensemble Pygamalion in Taverny, France, on September 17, is available for audition on France Musique for a couple of more weeks:
Here is a link to the pertinent page:
http://sites.radiofrance.fr/francemusique/em/concert-am/emission.php?e_id=100000070&d_id=425004432 >
Thank you very deeply for supplying this link. I have listened to it several times with increasing enjoyment. I think I may ever have succeeded in recording it well (need to edit it). I have a question for you and anyone else: my aural French has never been strong. I believe I hear the presenter say that this is reconstituté par Rafaël somebody and.I guess therefore that this is not Parrott's reconstruction. Can you or anyone illuminate this matter and how do you find it compared to Parrott's?

Teri Noel Towe wrote (October 19, 2011):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I believe I hear the presenter say that this is reconstituté par Rafaël somebody and.. I guess therefore that this is not Parrott's reconstruction. Can you or anyone illuminate this matter and how do you find it compared to Parrott's? >
Based on what you write, Yoel, I assume that, if it is not Parrott's, the reconstruction was made by the director of the Ensemble, Raphael Pichon.

I am glad that you enjoy the performance.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 19, 2011):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
< A concert performance of the BWV 244a, given by the Ensemble Pygamalion in Taverny, France, on September 17, is available for audition on France Musique for a couple of more weeks:
Here is a link to the pertinent page:
http://sites.radiofrance.fr/francemusique/em/concert-am/emission.php?e_id=100000070&d_id=425004432 >
Capture the web stream, and trim the Lechner motet off the front: the performance then all fits onto one CD, in about 78 minutes.

 

Andrew Parrott on the Leopold Funeral Music

Teri Noel Towe wrote (October 30, 2011):
Yesterday, on The Early Music Show, Catherine Bott spoke with Andrew Parrott about his reconstruction of the lost Funeral Music for Prince Leopold, BWV 244a.

Here is the link to the broadcast, which is available until next Saturday: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016kd3d

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (November 1, 2011):
[To Teri Noel Towe] Much thanks. However (four days left) all I get is the BBC "news". Does the interview require a user name and password?

Teri Noel Towe wrote (November 2, 2011):
The BBC 3 Parrott Broadcast (2)

[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] The segment starts with the reading of the news (about 2 minutes) that precedes the installment of The Early Music Show.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (November 3, 2011):
[To Teri Noel Towe] I suppose that some things are not meant to be.I have now tried multiple times to play and the playing time runs but I get no sound. I have tried my alternate browser and even tried the web of WPRB just to see whether I was having computer problems. WBRB's raucous whatever it was played fine on the webstream, the Early Music Show of BBC generates no sound.Such is life,

Eric Basta wrote (November 3, 2011):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I've tried as well but it seems that the show will not play unless your IP address is in the UK. I really was looking forward to hearing it.

E. Douglas Jensen wrote (November 3, 2011):
[To Eric Basta][ It plays for me here in the U.S.

Eric Basta wrote (November 3, 2011):
[To E. Douglas Jensen] Thank you, Doug. Your comment inspired me to try again. I loaded a different browser and it worked! I am listening to it now. Thank you!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (November 4, 2011):
[To Teri Noel Towe] Teri and all others who have such, Keep the links c. Although this did not work for me, I did of course find someone elsewhere to help and did find the interview fascinating. Ms. Bott is a very intelligent interviewer unlike some I hear regularly on radio stations I regularly listen to where I am forced to cringe.

Comparing the two reconstructions is also fairly fascinating. One only wonders, given that Anna Madelena sang soprano at the Calvinist service, whether the use of alt Carlos Mena is right in the Pichon (i.e. I assume that the alto would have also been a woman).

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 4, 2011):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< a very intelligent interviewer unlike some I hear regularly on radio stations I regularly listen to where I am forced to cringe. >
Or you could just change station?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (November 4, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] Nice to hear from you, Ed.
Perhaps where you live there is an endless variety of classical stations.Where I live there is one full-time, one part-time and WPRB early mornings only.

E. Douglas Jensen wrote (November 3, 2011):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Is it possible for you to get one of the various Internet radios? That would give you access to a great many classical radio stations.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 5, 2011):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Nice to hear from you as well. No endless variety of traditional radio here, either, but there is web access for many folks to a large selection.

I do agree with the point that some interviewers ask silly questions, but the best interviewees parry with clever answers. Those are my favorites.

 

Andrew Parrott: Short Biography | Taverner Consort & Players | Recordings of Vocal Works | General Discussions
Individual Recordings:
BWV 244 - A. Parrott | BWV 245 - A. Parrott
Bach Books:
Book - The Essential Bach Choir [A. Parrott]

Conductors of Vocal Works: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Singers & Instrumentalists

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýDecember 26, 2011 ý16:40:19