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Arias in Bach's Vocal Works

Part 1

Soprano Arias

Old Soul David
wrote:
I accompany a lyric soprano and am VERY tired of Händel! Could anyone suggest any Bach pieces (be it from a mass or oratorio or cantata or WHATEVER).

Sybrand Bakker wrote (January 6, 2000):
[To Old Soul David] Werner Neumann in his Handbuch der Kantaten Joh Seb Bach's list 3 pages of soprano arias. There are 7 arias with continuo only

'Höchster, mache deine Güte' from cantata BWV 51
'Öffne, dich mein ganzes Herze' from cantata BWV 61 (very dangerous piece for the boy soprano recording it with Leonhardt/Harnoncourt in the 1970's, but beautiful)
'Komm in meins Herzenhaus' from cantata BWV 80
'Jesu, Brunquell aller Gnaden' from cantata BWV 162
'Patron, das macht die werbelnde wind' from cantata BWV 201
'Phoebus eilt mit schnellen Pferden' from cantata BWV 202
'Weil die wollenreichen Herden' from cantata BWV 208

I can imagine you get tired from Händel. Leonhardt once gave an interview, in which he stated that Händel was terribly overrated. Unluckily, this soundbite made it to the magazine, a small storm was the result and AFAIK Leonhardt never gave an interview again. I once played the Water Music in an arrangement for 5 recorders. You soon notice, the effect of this piece is based on 5 percent music, 80 percent orchestration and 15 percent musicians. Whenever you try to look behind the scenes, there's nothing.


Favourite Bach Arias

Charles Francis
wrote (March 18, 2000):
Bach's Jesus always has a deep voice, and in cantatas BWV 86 and BWV 87 Jesus actually gets to open the show. This results, not surprisingly, in two superb bass arias, filled with emotion and spiritual power. Both are on Vol.34 of the Rilling's set, and Walter Heldwein gives a powerful performance. The arias are:

BWV 86 "Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch, so ihr den Vater etwas bitten werdet in meinem Namen, so wird er's euch geben"
BWV 87 "Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen".

Any other favourites out there?

Darryl Clemmons wrote (March 20, 2000):
(To Charles Francis) First, if you were checking out great bass arias with Christi Vox, then why didn't you look at the bass aria in cantata BWV 88? This is a famous aria with Christ as the voice if I interpret my German correctly. Also, the bass aria with chorus from Cantata BWV 67 is simply marvellous. I would interpret the bass voice as being Christ.

Another famous bass aria is from Cantata BWV 104. I would be remise if I didn't mention cantatas BWV 56 and BWV 82 (I don't remember the version) as being great cantatas for Bass.

My favourite bass arias from the oeuvre are in cantatas BWV 172, BWV 110 and BWV 66. However, if you are talking about deep and wonderful bass arias, I suggest the Arioso from cantata BWV 71. I have a recording with Theo Adam singing this that is absolutely enthralling!

I think a complete listening of all surviving cantatas is a must for all serious Bach lovers.

Charles Francis wrote (March 20, 2000):
< Darryl Clemmons wrote: First, if you were checking out great bass arias with Christi Vox, then why didn't you look at the bass aria in cantata BWV 88. This is a famous aria with Christ as the voice if I interpret my German correctly. >
The orchestration here is marvellous, but as for the vocal writing, I prefer the two arias I mentioned. The speaker is the evangelist, and not Jesus directly "See now, I will send out many fishers saith the Lord, whose work is to catch them. ". As a vegetarian and animal lover, I cannot identify with the "fishing" and "hunting" images in the opening aria - the introduction of the hunting horn to "And then I will many hunters send also, whose work is to catch them on all the mountains and on all the highlands and in all the hollows" is positively grotesque - it reminds me of the aristocracy in the UK on horses watching their dogs tear a fox to bits, and makes me really glad I escaped the pack. But, it also tells me something about the taste of the Leipzig wolves Bach wrote his music for!

< Also, the bass aria with chorus from Cantata BWV 67 is simply marvellous. >
The opening chorus is marvellous! But, it's with Soprano, Alto, Chorus, Bass.
I don't think the bass aria with chorus is that good.

< I would interpret the bass voice as being Christ. >
If you mean the bass aria with chorus (towards the end), Yes. Jesus sings "Peace be unto you!" While the chorus sings "O joy! Jesus helps us battle and the foes' great rage to dampen, Hell and Satan, yield!" (more violent imagery, I'm afraid - 'Church of the Holy War' stuff.)

< Another famous bass aria is from cantata BWV 104. >
For me, not particularly good and, let's face it, who wants to be a stupid sheep!
"Ye herds, so blessed sheep of Jesus..."

< I would be remise if I didn't mention cantatas BWV 56 >
OK, but not outstanding IMHO. "I will the cross-staff gladly carry, ... When I in the grave all my trouble once lay, Himself shall my Saviour my tears wipe away."

< and BWV 82 (I don't remember the version ) as being great Cantatas for Bass. >
This is a lovely one: "I have enough, I have now my Saviour, the hope of the faithful… I would now, today, yet, with gladness make hence my departure"

< My favourite bass arias from the oeuvre are in cantatas BWV 172 >
You're joking! This whole cantata (apart from the closing choral) is awful!! I suggest that everything, other than the final choral, was written by someone else (not Bach) or else its an early work by Bach written when he was 12.

< BWV 110 >
Now this really is by Bach... But, still, you rather like those strident trumpets, don't you? This one reminds me of the wake up call at a military camp "Wake up, ye nerves and all ye members..."

< and BWV 66. >
Another nice one: "Raise to the Highest a song of thanks giving..."

< However, if you are talking about deep and wonderful bass arias >
Yes, yes, you've got it!

< I suggest the arioso from cantata BWV 71. I have a recording with Theo Adam singing this that is absolutely enthralling! >
Disappointing - either I've got a bad recording or our tastes are very different. By the way, this cantata was apparently written for the election of the Mühlhausen town council! The aria is "Day and night are thine...".

< I think a complete listening of all surviving Cantatas is a must for all serious Bach lovers. >
Can you recommend one - preferably on-line?

< Enjoy! >
I did - thank you for this - I really enjoyed my evening checking these out! And, assuming your list is exhaustive, my two favourites seem to be the only occasions where Jesus opens a Cantata by speaking in the first person (it was probably considered a blasphemy by many):

BWV 86 "Truly, truly, I say to you, if any ask for something from the Father, and ask in my name, he will give it to you"

BWV 87 "Till now have ye nought been asking in my name's honour"

If you're interested, both are available on Volume 34 of the Rilling Cantatas with Heldwein singing bass. And, from the perspective of Rilling's performances, they remain my favourites.

Darryl Clemmons wrote (March 21, 2000):
< Charles Francis wrote: The orchestration here is marvellous, but as for the vocal writing, I prefer the two arias I mentioned. The speakis the evangelist, and not Jesus directly "See now, I will send out many fishers saith the Lord, whose work is to catch them". As a vegetarian and animal lover, I cannot identify with the "fishing" and "hunting" images in the opening aria - the introduction of the hunting horn to "And then I will many hunters send also, whose work is to catch them on all the mountains and on all the highlands and in all the hollows" is positively grotesque - it reminds me of the aristocracy in the UK on horses watching their dogs tear a fox to bits, and makes me really glad I escaped the pack. But, it also tells me something about the taste of the Leipzig wolves Bach wrote his music for!" >
You have an interesting perspective. I find nothing offensive about hunting and fishing.

<< Also, the bass aria with chorus from cantata BWV 67 is simply marvellous. >>
< The opening chorus is marvellous! But, it's with Soprano, Alto, Chorus, Bass. I don't think the bass aria with chorus is that good. >
<< I would interpret the bass voice as being Christ. >>
< If you mean the bass aria with chorus (towards the end), Yes. Jesus sings "Peace be unto you!" While the chorus sings "O joy! Jesus helps us battle and the foes' great rage to dampen, Hell and Satan, yield!" (more violent imagery, I'm afraid - 'Church of the Holy War' stuff). >
Maybe you would prefer the version in the short Mass in A major (BWV 234). Most scholars rate this movement among Bach's best in the cantatas.

<< Another famous bass aria is from cantata BWV 104. >>
< For me, not particularly good and, let's face it, who wants to be a stupid sheep! "Ye herds, so blessed sheep of Jesus..." >
<< I would be remise if I didn't mention cantatas
BWV 56 >
< OK, but not outstanding IMHO. "I will the cross-staff gladly carry, ... When I in the grave all my trouble once lay, Himself shall my Saviour my tears wipe away". >
Cantata BWV 56 is not one of my favourites, but the boys who write things think it is a great Cantata.

<<And BWV 82 (I don't remember the version) as being great cantatas for Bass. >>
< This is a lovely one: "I have enough, I have now my Saviour, the hope of the faithful... I would now, today, yet, with gladness make hence my departure". >
I am beginning to see a pattern here.

<< My favourite bass arias from the oeuvre are in cantata BWV 172) >>
< You're joking! This whole cantata (apart from the closing choral) is awful! I suggest that everything, other than the final choral, was written by someone else (not Bach) or else it's an early work by Bach written when he was 12. >
I have read by some commentators who thought this cantata was a masterpiece. I certainly haven't read anything, which suggested it was not authentic. Also, I believe the final choral was the first movement repeated. Adding a choral would be consistent with a Leipzig performance. I have heard it done both ways.

<< BWV 110 >>
<
Now this really is by Bach... But, still, you rather like those strident trumpets, don't you? This one reminds me of the wake up call at a military camp "Wake up, ye nerves and all ye members..." >
Actually, I like the trumpets from cantata BWV 130 also - especially in the bass aria. However, I don't think the vocal line is equal to the accompaniment. Maybe I need to listen to a version with a more accomplished singer, I don't know.

<< And BWV 66 >>
< Another nice one: "Raise to the Highest a song of thanks giving..." >
<< However, if you are talking about deep and wonderful bass arias >>
< Yes, yes, you've got it! >
<< I suggest the Arioso from cantata
BWV 71. I have a recording with Theo Adam singing this that is absolutely enthralling! >>
< Disappointing - either I've got a bad recording or our tastes are very different. By the way, this cantata was apparently written for the election of the Mühlhausen town council! The aria is "Day and night are thine..." >
I am curious, which version were you listening to? I have been disappointed by the Teldec, Suzuki and Koopman recordings. My old Virgin Classic recording with Rotzsch conducting is the best I have heard by far.

<< I think a complete listening of all surviving cantatas is a must for all serious Bach lovers. >>
< Can you recommend one - preferably on-line? >
<< Enjoy! >>
< I did - thank you for this - I really enjoyed my evening checking these out! And, assuming your list is exhaustive, my two favourites seem to be the only occasions where Jesus opens a cantata by speaking in the first person (it was probably considered a blasphemy by many): >
My list is not exhaustive, but only from memory. However, it is unusual for Bach to open a cantata with Jesus speaking in the first person. I can't think of any others.

BWV 86 "Truly, truly, I say to you, if any ask for something from the Father, and ask in my name, he will give it to you"

BWV 87 "Till now have ye nought been asking in my name's honour" If you're interested, both are available on Vol.34 of the Rilling Cantatas with Heldwein singing bass. And, from the perspective of Rilling's performances, they remain my favourites.

Charles Francis wrote (March 21, 2000):
< Darryl Clemmons wrote: Maybe you would prefer the version in the short Mass in A major. Most scholars rate this movement among Bach's best in the cantatas. >
I'm totally perplexed - I can't find the matching piece in the A-major mass -
which movement do you mean?

< Cantata BWV 56 is not one of my favourites, but the boys who write things think it is a great Cantata. >
Well, they probably work for the record company!

< I am beginning to see a pattern here. >
Ah, so what's the pattern?

< I have read by some commentators who thought this Cantata was a masterpiece. I certainly haven't read anything which suggested it was not authentic. Also, I believe the final choral was the first movement repeated. Adding a choral would be consistent with a Leipzig performance. I have heard it done both ways. >
The closing chorale in the Rilling version is great, shame about the rest!

< Actually, I like the trumpets from cantata BWV 130 also - especially in the bass aria. However, I don't think the vocal line is equal to the > accompaniment. Maybe I need to listen to a version with a more accomplished singer, I don't know. >
You clearly like loud drums and the trumpet-drum combination is clearly irresistible to you. I think you're a closet Beethoven/Wagner fan infiltrating the Bach group.

< I am curious, which version were you listening to? I have been disappointed by the Teldec, Suzuki and Koopman recordings. My old Virgin Classic recording with Rotzch conducting is the best I have heard by far. >
Rilling, but I guess I should look out for the Rotzch.

Darryl Clemmons wrote (March 21, 2000):
<< Darryl Clemmons wrote: Maybe you would prefer the version in the short Mass in A major. Most scholars rate this movement among Bach's best in the cantatas. >>
< Charles Francis wrote: I'm totally perplexed - I can't find the matching piece in the A-major mass - which movement do you mean? >
This is the second movement - the Gloria. However, it is no longer a bass aria with chorus. He did some rearranging of the component parts with a slightly different slant on the whole thing. Certainly, it is worth a peak.

<< Cantata BWV 56 is not one of my favourites, but the boys who write things think it is a great Cantata. >>
< Well, they probably work for the record company! >
<< I am beginning to see a pattern here. >>
< Ah, so what's the pattern? >
Give me a break! You don't agree with some of the Luthernism that Bach's music is covered with. It seems to me you are a little judgemental. Let and let live. I am sure Bach wasn't always happy with his librettos.

<< I have read by some commentatwho thought this Cantata was a masterpiece. I certainly haven't read anything which suggested it was not authentic. Also, I believe the final choral was the first movement repeated. Adding a choral would be consistent with a Leipzig performance. I have heard it done both ways. >>
< The closing chorale in the Rilling version is great, shame about the rest! >
<< Actually, I like the trumpets from Cantata
BWV 130 also - especially in the bass aria. However, I don't think the vocal line is equal to the accompaniment. Maybe I need to listen to a version with a more accomplished singer, I don't know. >>
< You clearly like loud drums and the trumpet-drum combination is clearly irresistible to you. I think you're a closet Beethoven/Wagner fan infiltrating the Bach group. >
HEY, THEM'S FIGHTING WORDS!

<< I am curious, which version were you listening to? I have been disappointed by the Teldec, Suzuki and Koopman recordings. My old Virgin Classic recording with Rotzch conducting is the best I have heard by far. >>
< Rilling, but I guess I should look out for the Rotzch. >
I misspelled Rotzsch; however, those old Virgin Classics are quite a bargain at $10 a pop.


Bach's most depressing piece

B.J. van Hengel
wrote (October 25, 2000):
< Schreef Arcredring wrote: What is Bach's most depressing piece? I know there's Cantata BWV 21, but I need something much sadder. >
You probably will be disappointed as Bachs music is never depressing. Sad, yes, melancholic, yes, intens, yes, but never depressing because Bach always offers you a way out, a solution, a way to salvation, if you wish. Probably the best example is the Choral "wenn ich einmal soll scheiden" in the Matthäus Passion (BWV 244), it starts off very sad in a-minor, which is repeated in the second frase (>Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden, >so scheide nicht von mir, >Wenn ich die Tod soll leiden, >so tritt du denn herfür!) but then suddenly, just before you are losing all hope, he lifts you up through A-major to E-major (>Wenn mir am allerbängsten >wird um das Herze sein, >So reiss mich
aus den Ängsten >Kraft deiner Angst und Pein!
). So even in the saddest moment (Christs death) Bach is able to give you a feeling of consolation...

Maybe "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen?" BWV 12 which is also the Crucifixus of the b-minor Mass, although even there he turns around from minor to major in the last bar (et ressurexit!), I give up, I think I can't help you...

Hell Spree wrote (October 27, 2000):
The opening and closing choruses of the Matthew Passion (BWV244).

Edward Rands wrote (October 27, 2000):
(To Schreef Arcredring) What about 'Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben' from Part 2 of the St Matthew Passion (BWV244)? Depressing perhaps is not the word, but it is most incredibly sad.

...to think that some people say that Bach's music is without emotion!

Dave Taylor wrote (October 28, 2000):
<< Charles Francis wrote: transcription by Leopold Stokowski.... And what about the unfinished edifice of the Art of Fugue? A bright candle extinguished in the night, the triumph of darkness over light... >>
< Zachary Uram wrote: Ugh please charles to say darkness triumphed over light in this case is absurd and reflects no understanding of Bach's Christian faith. Yet I KNOW you are aware of this yet you persist in >
Surely the question of who/what the triumph belonged to must take into account the beliefs of the questioner? Even if Bach believed himself to be transported to a better place after death, if Charles doesn't subscribe to your religion then for him, this must appear as a great loss (as it does to me). To you, on the other hand, as a committed Christian, it would be, as it would be for everyone, the apotheosis of his life's work (if that's not a blasphemy). It's a bit like Quantum Theory, really.

Charles Francis wrote (October 29, 2000):
< Sven Berglund wrote: If you are referring to the unfinished final fugue, surely the ending that is not there cannot be considered a "Bach piece"? :-) >
And, perhaps the unfinished fugue is not as depressing as the 3 missing Passions, the hundreds of missing cantates (some used to wrap fish), the missing chamber works etc. etc.

< Somewhat less facetiously: for this somwhat ghoulish project, I think we should look into Bach's secular, instrmental output. (Hopeless depression in a sacred piece would be decidedly and demonstratively heterodox ...) >
Jesus is reported to have felt forsaken by God, which would be a very dark moment for such a religous man. Bach's Passion music might be expected to reflect this mood.

< One can, I think, find some examples of unrelieved anguish. At least, that is how I understand Contrapunctus IV. Not quite the same as "depressed", though. >
The only performance I know that adequately captures this emotion is the 1949 Scherchen arrangement for orchestra. One hears in Contrapunctus IV, the work of old Bach as he slowly goes blind and is approaching death. A remarkable insight by Scherchen, given current chronology.

Schreef Arcredring wrote (October 29, 2000):
Sorry everyone. I was in a funky mood the other day and I wanted something to listen to. Bach's music is all very beautiful and can even make heaven out of the saddest notes that he wrote.

Kip Williams wrote (November 16, 2000):
< P. Nnooten wrote: there is no such thing as a depressing piece of Bach! every note he wrote was of the purest abstract and subjective depth and meaning! I wonder if they even knew the word 'depressing' in the 17th century... >
They knew "melancholia." Duhrer did a famous print on the subject.

I must agree, though, that I haven't run into a Bach piece yet that depressed me.


Arias with 'lilting' effect in rhythm

Simon Brewer
wrote (November 18, 2000):
One thing I've wanted to discuss for a while is the continuous stream of arias in Bach's cantatas which have a strong lilting quality. Hopefully you can understand which ones I'm referring to. I don't know what kind of time signature is used and whether he normally uses a specific key, instruments or even sentiments in the words to these arias. But to me they seem to be meant to comfort in some way (like a lullaby?). They seem to me as close to the essence of Bach as his fugues. But what do
you think about these arias?


Bach arias - midi & pdf files

Art Levine
(ear-training, theory, music in general) wrote (January 21, 2001):
Just finished a biggish project. Have midi files and associated pdf files for approx 225 arias from various cantatas. Intention is to make them available on my website, a different one every 2-3 weeks. They are yours for the taking. Great for ear-training and musicianship stuff, which is what I use them for mainly, but they are obviously killer music, period, the best there is. The one I have started with is, fittingly, Cantata BWV 1, movement 3.

Now arithmetic. If I post a different midi / pdf combination every three weeks, it will take over a decade to do the rotation. If you want more, sooner, contact me, and Iıll sell you something or other for lots of money.

I would like to know what you think of this project of mine, whether you think Bach is the greatest European composer by a significant margin, and also whether anyone has suggestions for other newsgroups or sites who might be interested in this sort of thing.
http://www.artlevine.com


More Bach stuff

Art Levine
wrote (February 6, 2001):
Hereıs another nice piece, which you can get from my site as both a midi file and a pdf file. This one is the third movement of Cantata BWV 2 (sensing a pattern here?). The title of the cantata is "Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein". This movement, although itıs not one of the arias that drive me insane, that leave me, you know, astonished with their beauty, is still a very interesting piece. Notice the sudden twist to F minor from F major, which Bach uses to underscore the word "verkehren" -- to reverse, invert, per, etc. Typical word-painting from the master. (My file doesnıt have the words, but you can still get what's happening) Also, the tonal instability in the middle, which moves back and forth between F major and G minor. Also, the sudden quotation of the chorale melody in the vocal line. Not to mention the cool violin obbligato.

Hope you enjoy this piece. If you try to sing it, you will find the experience quite rewarding and challenging. If you only play it or listen to it, thatıs okay too.


Arias for oboe and bass voice

Todd wrote (February 20, 2002):
I am looking for arias from the canatas for bass voice and oboe. Does anybody know of any off hand? I do know that it was acceptable for a bass to sing alto arias, as well, so any alto and oboe arias that you may know of would be much appreciated, as well. Thank you very much.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 20, 2002):
[To Todd] Procure a copy of the Oxford Composer Companions: J.S.Bach [Malcolm Boyd], Oxford University Press, 1999. Look at Appendix 2 (Text Incipits) pp. 584 ff. Decide if you can also include the oboe d'amore and the oboe da caccia. Read down the column "Scoring" for all the single A's and B's [Alto/Bass] that are listed with the instruments (either ob, obda, obdc) + bc.) If you locate a mvt. that fits what you are searching for, look at the next column to the right (BWV) to find the cantata, passion, oratorio, etc. mvt. The first one I find is listed as "A, ob(da), bc" from 110:4 [BWV 110, mvt. 4], the second "A, ob, bc" is from BWV 48:4, etc. I think you will find a long list of compositions that fit your description. If you need a quick, cheap source of all J.S.Bach Church Cantatas in piano/vocal reduction score form (printable from your computer), check out CD Sheet Music, LLC's Double CD-ROM set (Theodore Presser Co. at www.cdsheetmusic.com). I have no special interest in promoting these two items. They are simply ways to achieve your goal as quickly as possible.


Bach Arias

Francine Renee Hall wrote (February 27, 2002):
Since Bach didn't write operas, the closest thing we've got is his cantatas, oratorios and passions. Since many own Händel aria CDs with famous sopranos and such, why not Bach? There's a lovely Newport Classics CD recorded in 1994 titled 'Bach's Great Arias' with the lovely, memorable voice of Julianne Baird (who's on the Rifkin mass). She is also famous for singing Monteverdi, Barbara Strozzi and other Venetian greats.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 27, 2002):
[To Francine Renee Hall] There is also a beautiful recording by Magdalena Kozena, which I discussed a few weeks ago...

Robert Sherman wrote (February 28, 2002):
[To Francine Renee Hall] Baird's Messiah with Radu strikes me as displaying incredible technique, beautiful sound, and flawless baroque taste. She just doesn't seem to get into Messiah very much. Her singing there is magnificent but generic. Francine, would you say her Bach arias don't have that problem?

Francine Renee Hall wrote (February 28, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] I think Julianne Baird suffers most when the engineering and sound departments are of poor quality. Newport Classics is not a very good label in this regard. Then everything sounds bad. I found her Händel, Bach, Monteverdi, Strozzi, et al. improved when she sang on the Dorian label, or when she was under superb direction (like Gardiner in Monteverdi's 'Orfeo' on Archiv). My very first CD I got by her (besides Rifkin's B-moll Mass) was a collection of Venetian songs on Dorian 90123 called 'Musica Dolce' with Colin Tilney on harpsichord. I gasped and was ecstatic by the richness of her voice and felt she really poured out her emotions, her heart. I found the same thing happend also to Emma Kirkby and Glenda Simpson. When they sang on the Hyperion label, for example, they were wonderful. When I heard them on some cheap labels like 'Ermitage' and 'SAGA' respectively, I could barely believe my ears. I guess production and all really count. I do enjoy Baird's Bach anyway and feel she isn't generic or just going through the motions, or just singing for the pay. Her Händel and Telemann on Dorian are really good too. She also did some Purcell "mad" songs on the same label, and she pulled that off nicely.

Robert Sherman wrote (February 28, 2002):
[To Francine Renee Hall] Thanks. This is encouraging. I'll buy according to your recommendations.

BTW, on her Messiah with Radu, Vox's recording quality is breathtaking. Probably the best of my 30 Messiahs. Baird sounds as if she's standing right in your listening room.

Francine Renee Hall wrote (February 28, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] Wow, you've got 30 Messiahs? That's fantastic! (I only have four).

Philip Peters wrote (March 1, 2002):
[To Francine Renee Hall] Not to brag, but I have 34.... including two of Mozart's arrangement. Of course wisdom is not in numbers but it sure is nice to have a choice ;))

Robert Sherman wrote (March 1, 2002):
[To Philip Peters] OK, I'm impressed. I wouldn't be caught dead with Mozart-pollution, but still 32 is neat.

Which would be your six desert-islad choices among the modern instrument versions?

Mine:

1. Westenberg, far and away the best. Chorus, orch, tenor, soprano, some bass.
2. Scimone. Chorus
3. Mackerras. Bass, mezzo, some chorus
4. The first Marriner. Tenor, some soprano.
5. The first Colin Davis. Soprano, some chorus.
6. The second Marriner. Mezzo, trumpet.

A lot of good stuff in the newer Davis and Marriner too.

Among the singles:

1. Auger with Schwartz
2. Terfel with Mackerras
3. Shaw choruses from 1966

Santu De Silva wrote (March 1, 2002):
< Francine Renee Hall wrote: I do enjoy Baird's Bach anyway and feel she isn't generic or just going through the motions, or just singing for the pay. >
I think Julianne Baird is a wonderful singer, though her performance with Rifkin on one cantata had some weaknesses. (In fact, I think one note was faked, and that spoiled everything.)

In particular I have "A Baroque Christmas" featuring her on the MHS label with the Aulos Ensemble, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Francine Renee Hall wrote (March 2, 2002):
[To Santu De Silva] Yes, I've got Baird's 'Baroque Christmas' too. And you are right. She is weak with her high 'A's. Critics love her but duly note her singing limit. But I think that's a flaw easily forgotten when listening to her.

Pete Blue wrote (March 2, 2002):
[To Francine Renee Hall] I don't even call it a flaw. It's just part of the humanity of a superb artist. The great Renata Tebaldi, also, had a "short top."

Francine Renee Hall wrote (March 2, 2002):
Dear Bach lovers -- here's one Baird CD one should be willing to 'die' for!!!! It's a gem!
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000001Q86.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Santu De Silva wrote (March 6, 2002):
[To Francine Renee Hall] Well, I was refering to the really high note on one of the "Alleluia"s in the Rifkin cantata compilation. I suspect it was recorded an octave lower, and raised to the proper pitch, and spliced in. (The vibrato on it is too fast, like chipmunks.) I think I could almost have preferred her to sing it an octave lower. Let's see; it was Jauchzet Gott in allen Lande, I believe.

To summarize, in spite of that single terrible note, I consider myself a fan not only of Julianne Baird, but of the Aulos ensemble as well, the outfit that plays on the Baroque Christmas CD.

Robert Sherman wrote (March 7, 2002):
On Kirkby's "Exsultate Jubilate" she takes the final high C down an octave. And I've heard her sing effortless high Cs elsewhere.

Could be they both just had bad days. But for a soprano not to have even an A.....?

Anyway, I agree that singing an octave down is better than using shameful recording tricks. The chipmunk vibrato must really be awful. I find that even changing the pitch a half step -- to match "historical" and modern-instrument recordings -- changes the character of the singing intolerably. Chipmunk vibrato and weird diction if you're going up, woofy if you're going down.


Bach’s da capo arias

Ivan Lalis wrote (May 15, 2003):
I was listening to Herreweghe's SMP yesterday (the one that comes with CDROM) and realised that I still did not hear any of Bach's arias ornamented in the repetition. I might be spoiled by baroque opera, but there the purpose of the repetition is to give an opportunity to singers (and players) to show what they can do with the music. One is supposed to do something different there than we already heard at the beginning. Why is it not so in Bach? Was the purpose of his da capo arias different? What that would be? Would he object if they are ornamented in a "classic" way? Nothing excessive or spectacular long cadenzas, but something. What's the sense of listening to exactly same music twice? Well, I noticed very small differences in Herreweghe which one would rather blame to singer's problems and not to his creativity :-)

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (May 15, 2003):
[Ti Ivan Lalis] It's funny-I've often wondered the exact same thing, but never bothered to ask!

I was listening to Herreweghe's CD of BWV 122, BWV 110 and BWV 57, and I think there was some minimal ornamention on the repeat. (Or was it the Rifkin set?-it was some cantata anyway!)

btw, the CD-rom also comes with his recording of the MBM (which is where I got the disc-very nice, btw) and I think the ChO too. I think it also comes with Jacobs' ChO too, and I wouldn't be surprised if HMF released it with other recordings. Now all they have to do is do a Händel cd in a McGegan opera!

Johan van Veen wrote (May 15, 2003):
Lalis Ivan wrote: >>> I was listening to Herreweghe's SMP yesterday (the one that comes with CDROM) and realised that I still did not hear any of Bach's arias ornamented in the repetition. I might be spoiled by baroque opera, but there the purpose of the repetition is to give an opportunity to singers (and players) to show what they can do with the music. One is supposed to do something different there than we already heard at the beginning. Why is it not so in Bach?<<<
That is a subject of debate. Some musicians hold the view that generally speaking Bach has written out all - or at least most of - the ornaments. And if you compare the scores of Bach's works with comparable scores of pieces by - say - Telemann, you immediately notice the difference: Telemann's scores seem 'empty' in comparison to Bach's. So Bach seems to leave far less to the interpreter. Whether that means that there should be no ornamentation at all? I don't know how how many recordings of the Passions don't have any ornamentation.

>>>Was the purpose of his da capo arias different? What that would be? Would he object if they are ornamented in a "classic" way? Nothing excessive or spectacular long cadenzas, but something. What's the sense of listening to exactly same music twice?<<<
Repetition is an important element in baroque music. It can be interpreted as a way of underlining the importance of what is sung. Repetition is one tool of rhetorics which is an important element in baroque music.

Hugo Saldias wrote (May 15, 2003):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] I have beentold (I am not documented) that sometimes in the aria repetitions the singer will have free time to improvise,add ornaments or even have liberties to do as pleases...

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 16, 2003):
< Johan van Veen wrote: Repetition is an important element in baroque music. It can be interpreted as a way of underlining the importance of what is sung. Repetition is one tool of rhetorics which is an important element in baroque music. >
Yes; but EXACT repetition is not such a useful rhetorical device. One can say exactly the same words two or three or four times, but most naturally there will be a difference of emphasis (pitch and/or volume and/or articulation and/or pacing) to help the listener get the parts they may have missed the first time.

Wayne: "Sphincter boy says what?"
victim: "What?"
Wayne: "Sphincter boy says what?"
victim: "What?!?"
Wayne: "Sphincter boy says what?"
victim: "What?!?!?!?"

(Wayne's World)

And regeneration is sometimes used in recordings. An example is in Christophe Rousset's recording of Bach's B minor ouverture (or partita) for keyboard, BWV 831: the fugal section of the first movement is just copied into there twice, exactly, assembled with digital edits. Did they think we wouldn't notice the sameness of this?

Glenn Gould's recording of Mozart's A-major sonata K331 also has regeneration in the "Rondo alla Turca" finale. Did they think we wouldn't notice the sameness of this?

I don't have a specific example from 78 rpm days, but I've heard that sometimes da capo arias (if long enough) would be recorded on both sides of the same disc; the consumer was supposed to play side A, then side B, then side A again.

Hugo Saldias wrote (May 16, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] That is good, but Thomaskantor Prof.Gunther Ramin does another procedure:when reaching the end repeats da capo al segno (this means go to the first bar of the aria) and repeats till the voice enters and cuts the bar before.This is done to reduce the 78rpm .Now I do not know if this is how shows in the CD that he recorded.

Uri Golomb wrote (May 16, 2003):
< And regeneration is sometimes used in recordings. An example is in Christophe Rousset's recording of Bach's B minor ouverture (or partita) for keyboard, BWV 831: the fugal section of the first movement is just copied into there twice, exactly, assembled with digital edits. Did they think we wouldn't notice the sameness of this?

Glenn Gould's recording of Mozart's A-major sonata K331 also has regeneration in the "Rondo alla Turca" finale. Did they think we wouldn't notice the sameness of this? >
I don't know the Christophe Rousset recording, so I don't want to comment on it. But a thought occurs: what Gould did in the "Rondo all Turca" reflects, , among other things, his fundamental dislike for much of Mozart's music (this rondo included, probably). If it seems disrespectful, that's probably because it was... (It does beg the question: why did Gould bother to record it at all? Gould has tried to answer that question, but I never quite understood his answers. He said he likes Haydn's sonatas much more than Mozart's, and I believe him. Why, then, did he not treat us to a Haydn cycle? He only did the last six sonatas!) But I find it difficult to believe that Rousset is as contemptuous towards Bach as Gould was towards Mozart!


Two exquisite soprano arias

Neil Halliday wrote (November 20, 2004):
1. BWV 30/10: "Eilt, ihr Stunden, kommt herbei"

Soprano: Iiyama Emiko, with Werner (1971). Unison violins and continuo.

This slow performance (7.44) seems to disappear with miraculous haste!

She caresses the high notes with incredible ease and sweetness; and Werner's sensitive accompaniment allows delicious details such as the trills in the strings to be savoured. As well, the slow tempo allows the comprehension of the intricate and subtle swapping of motives between the vocal and orchestral parts.

2. BWV 32/1: "Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen".

Soprano: Arleen Auger, with Rilling (1981).

Another 'andante' aria (6.16), this time with oboe and strings; the richly scored music reaches its climax in the extraordinarily long melisma on "erfreue" (in "Ach, mein Hort, erfreue mich"), where broken phrases on the oboe combine with the exquisite vocal writing to fully express the singer's bliss.



Continue on Part 2

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Last update: ŭJanuary 31, 2006 ŭ08:50:48