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Bach and Chalemeau

Bach and the Chalemeau

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 7, 2008):
I've been editing two Graupner pieces that use the chalemeau- one is an orchestral suite for 2 horns, 2 chalemeau, timpani, and strings; and the other is a beautiful cantata that is scored very smally for strings, and 2 chalemeau. The orchestral suite is not as much of a compositional success as the cantata-- to be frank, Graupner (as did many other baroque composers) had a wierd fascination with bass instruments, especially woodwinds. The two bass chalemeaux works great in the cantata due to the nature of the lyric and the theme, but in the suite it's a different matter. While I certainly wouldn't dismiss Graupner because of this particular suite, I also don't think it wise to glossing over pieces of music that less than excellent.

All of this got me thinking: I wonder why Bach didn't write for the chalemeau (that's with the assumption that the 45 percent of the missing music didn't include pieces that used it). I wondered while working on the Graupner suite, what would have Bach done with such a lavish orchestra that included such opulent scoring. Fasch, Telemann, Keiser, and many other German baroque composers used this instrument, I would assume it was just a lack of opportunity on Bach's part?

Thanks much

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 7, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< All of this got me thinking: I wonder why Bach didn't write for the chalemeau (that's with the assumption that the 45 percent of the missing music didn't include pieces that used it). I wondered while working on the Graupner suite, what would have Bach done with such a lavish orchestra that included such opulent scoring. Fasch, Telemann, Keiser, and many other German baroque composers used this instrument, I would assume it was just a lack of opportunity on Bach's part? >
I've always assumed that we just don't have enough secular instrumental works by Bach. The Brandenburgs certainly show a genius for exotic orchestrations. Bach's instrumental pallete in both orchestral and choral works is much more lavish than Handel's who relies almost exclusively on a string band with occasional wind additions. Doesn't he use chalemeaux in one of the oratorios? (Solomon? Saul?)

By the way, if you like chalemeaux, listen to Vivaldi's concerto for two oboes and two "clarinets". It has a wonderful 'music-box' middle movement for just the four solo instruments. I used it as the music for the St, Mark's Clock in my children's CD, "Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery" for Classical Kids (shameless self-promotion .. Sorry)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 7, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I've always assumed that we just don't have enough secular instrumental works by Bach. >
Yes, the majority of them are lost unfortunately. Dr. Wolff proves this by using the music paper orders that survive from Kothen during Bach's tenure (rather odd such mundane things as purchase orders surive, but not the actual music?).

A heavy loss of Bach's instrumental music is also inferred from an examination of Bach's life after he finished the five cantata cycle in Leipzig: it's hard to believe that he didn't contribute in a major way to the Zimmerman coffee house tablemusic concerts-- much more than what's survived. Never mind the hundreds of pieces of music by other composers that had to have been performed over 20 years; all of which had to have been excellent music- I doubt Bach would have performed "duds."

Thanks

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 7, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< A heavy loss of Bach's instrumental music is also inferred from an examination of Bach's life after he finished the five cantata cycle in Leipzig: it's hard to believe that he didn't contribute in a major way to the Zimmerman coffee house tablemusic concerts-- much more than what's survived. >
To return to the scoring of the cantatas, I am always astonished by Bach's endless inventiveness in the scoring of his choral works. Even cantatas which do not spark much commnet on this list always have some unique texture
or colouring which hasn't been heard before.

My question ... Is Bach's genius in orchestration unique to him or do other cantata composers such as Telemann and Graupner show the same concern for orchestral colour? I have to admit that my acquaintance with other
comtemporay cantatas is almost neglible. I tend to compare Bach with the Corelli-Vivaldi-Handel axis of church music which relies almost exclusively on a standard string band with the occasional wind solo (Messiah has only
one aria with obligato instrument).

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 8, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Actually we may not have lost all that much of Bach secular music if the B Mass is in any indicator. Bach mined this piece for all of his Cantatas as well as we know some of his secular works. Most of his works are derived from the B-minor Mass.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 8, 2008):
Ludwig wrote:
< Actually we may not have lost all that much of Bach secular music if the B Mass is in any indicator. Bach mined this piece for all of his Cantatas as well as we know some of his secular works. Most of his works are derived from the B-minor Mass. >
You're kidding, you're not serious, right? Please tell me you are. Please! :-)

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 8, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Horror of horrors more corruption of Bach!!! It should be enought that we have the Glen Gould folks trying to fallaciously convince us tha J.S. Bach wrote his harpsichord works for the Piano instead of the Harpsichord.

The reason that Bach did not write for the instrument that you speak of which sounds more like an Oboe than a Clarinet---is that there were none around and also this instrumet had fallen by the wayside in general us some 200 years before he was born.

As far as woodwinds are concerned: Bach had the Blockflute family, the traverse flue (or what we call today just 'Flute", the Oboe d'amour and the Oboe da caccia for which he is credited with inventing and which if wrote for frequently---presumably he owned one although none are listed in the catalog of his possessions at the time of his death and finally he had the Organ which does have a Chalmeau stop. Clarinet kind of sounds were not totally unknown to Bach but they came from the Organ by drawing a Rhorflute 8'+ Sesquialtera II. You can hear this effect on the organ as used by E. Power Biggs in which he plays a catilena in one of his arrangements of the Vivaldi concerti for Organ.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 8, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I am serious. I first notice this after going through all 200 or so Cantatas and there are frequent borrowings from the B minor mass in the Cantatas or barely hidden re-writings of the B-minor mass parts. You can also find the same in the Passions. TO notice this you will have to be extra acquainted with all the Cantatas---and the bminor mass.and have heard all of them each at least 20 times or more.

Do not dispare. Bach did not do this as much as Handel did.

Neil Halliday wrote (July 8, 2008):
Ludwig wrote:
>there are frequent borrowings from the B minor mass in the Cantatas or barely hidden re-writings of the B-minor mass parts.<
I'm sure you meant to say there are borrowings from the cantatas (and other works) that Bach reused in the BMM.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 8, 2008):
Ludwig wrote:
< As far as woodwinds are concerned: Bach had the Blockflute family, the traverse flue (or what we call today just 'Flute", >
I had my flue cleaned a few years . I guess I'm just a recorder-head.

William Hoffman wrote (July 8, 2008):
Missing Music (was: Bach/Chalemeau)

With all due respect to Christoph Wolff, whose book, JSB:TLM, our University of New Mexico graduate seminar dissected one semester, one of my few reservations about the most thorough, revealing and stimulating study-biography is the premise about lost music. Re. Köthen, Bach purchased music and paper from the Court fund. He had scribes, copyists, and librettists like Hunold, also paid from Court funds. It was for Court performance and the Royal library, and quite a collection, according to Wolff and others: vast amounts of regional music and copies of French and Italian masters. I believe that Bach's manuscripts were Royal property. Alas, all was lost, except the music Bach had the foresight to take with him.

Friedrich Smend was the first Bach scholar to go to Köthen and part the curtains. He was also the first to challenge Spitta's dating of the chorale cantatas and to look at the parodied "lost" St. Mark Passion. Yes, Smend made serious errors, especially with his NBA edition of the Mass in B Minor (what a parody work that is!).

And Wolff follows and eclipses Smend in his willingness to challenge established wisdom and cast a wide net.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Lost Works - Part 2

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Last update: żAugust 3, 2008 ż00:05:42