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My First Cantata

 

 

My First Cantata

Aryeh Oron
wrote (June 27 2001):
There are already more than 170 members in the Bach Cantatas Mailing List (BCML) and it is still growing. But the number of actual contributors to the weekly cantata discussions is indeed small. So I thought about a topic for discussion, in which most, if not all, the members of the BCML can participate. It is called ‘My First Cantata’. Here is my story:

BWV 4 was the first cantata I have ever heard. And like a first love, I shall ever cherish it. I came to it by accident, because nobody guided me to hearing Bach music, let alone his vocal music, let alone his cantatas, or let alone BWV 4 in particular. The recording that I bought was by Wilhelm Ehmann on a Vanguard budget LP. I heard it endless times during the first half of the 1970’s, during my days as a student. I remember that about 3 years passed, before I saw in a record shop the first box of ‘The Browns’. That was the nickname, which was given to the series of Harnoncourt/Leonhardt on Telefunken. I remember that I hesitated before buying that box. Firstly, it was very expensive, and secondly, I had already had BWV 4 in another recording. When I came home, the first cantata from that box that I put on the turntable was, of course, BWV 4. I remember how astonished was I to hear the cantata I had known so well in such a different performance. Gradually I started to get used to it, but it never replaced for me my first love.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 27, 2001):
As a teenager, the first cantata that I consciously heard and listened to over and over again, was a recording of BWV 4 by Robert Shaw with any further details about the musical group, choir, or singers long since forgotten. But I remember being impressed with the description of the cantata on the back of the record album. It pointed out a number of the unique features of this cantata and stated that it was a cantata nearly perfect in form (it showed how the movements were created with a balanced structure.) I was impressed. After that, whenever I heard a new cantata that I was not acquainted with, I would be disappointed because it did not have the 'perfect' form that it was supposed to have, based on BWV 4. In retrospect, however, I am glad Bach did not follow this scheme slavishly each time. Now I marvel at the great variety of cantata types Bach used, and I understand how he would evolve new types and structures to fit the given circumstances, but also continue to improve upon what he had already accomplished. He was also able to demonstrate his complete mastery of musical composition by being able to say to himself (as with this week's cantata, BWV 7): "Let's see now. Last week the altos had the Cantus Firmus in the first movement, the week before that the sopranos, so now the tenors will have their turn at singing the long notes of the chorale melody." This is one of many reasons, why I admire Bach.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (June 26, 2001):
Good idea for a chat, Aryeh...

Well, in my case, my first cantatas were BWV 1, BWV 2, BWV 3 and BWV 4, in the Leonhardt/Harnoncourt set (or perhaps that was only one of them) on LP.

I had been discovering Bach seriously, around the age of 23, and a friend once said, "Bach's real music is in the cantatas." I had been listening mostly to the smaller instrumental works - solo works for violin and cello, Goldbergs, etc. But I have always been curious, so, one day, I went out and bought the first box in the series.

I don't recall being especially moved by it, but I do recall BWV 4, with its beautiful arias. It didn't change my life radically at the time, but it set the stage for future changes.

An anecdote - in 1984, I went with the same friend to hear a performance of the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) at Lincoln Center in NY. That evening, after the powerful music, was when I decided to leave NY and move to France...

John Downes wrote (June 27, 2001):
My first cantata experience was a compulsory set piece in an O level music examination taken at the age of about 14 in 1965.

It was BWV 140 'Wachet auf' and I have to say that even taking into account the pretty cheesy recording they gave us to listen to, I didn't particularly enjoy it. The opening chorus had no charms for me once the opening ritornello had passed, the chorale (on which the whole thing is based) seemed boring in its repeated manifestations and the duet between the tenor and the soprano seemed quite risible.

I should perhaps say that by this time I had developed a strong liking for Bach's keyboard music, I was well into the WTC and playing as much of it as I could handle on the piano.

I think that the age of 14 was (for me) just too young for this stuff! The key to Bach's choral music for me was a performance of the St John Passion (BWV 245) by the Birmingham Bach Society I attended a couple of years later. I attended that concert expecting to (more or less) like it... and I came out a changed man who has revered Bach's music above that of any other ever since.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (June 27, 2001):
I have to place an asterisk next to the subject, "My First Cantata". I'm not entirely certain what cantata I heard first; but 'Christ lag in Todes banden', BWV 4, was the first to which I paid conscious attention and has become my first-and best-loved cantata.

I can recall that, shortly after I began participating with the "Bach List", which is now the Recordings List, that having heard so much about Bach's vocal works that I decided to venture out of my vocal void and I purchased a CD of "Best Loved Choruses" or some such title, a Gardiner recording. What a disappointment! I'm sure that the recordings were top-quality; that the actual works were wonderful; but the compilation left me cold as it was a series of unconnected choruses outside of the context of the original works.

I remember purchasing a volume or two of the Koopman "Complete Cantata" series. But there was no Bach Cantata List at that time and I had no methodology by which I could approach the works. But I remember exchanging e-mail with a British member of this list (hi Jane!) who mentioned that BWV 4 was one of her favourites and I sat down to listen to it.

I read over the libretto and notes in the accompanying booklet and pushed, "Play" on the stereo and started to listen. I cannot say that it was love-at-first-sight (listen???) until I got to the duet, "Den Tod neimnan". I'm a sucker for sopranos and the ethereal sound of this SA duet captured me. I listened to that duet over and over...and over...and over. It took weeks or more before I really paid much attention to the rest of that magnificent cantata. Some months later, in a discussion of the OVPP (One Voice Per Part) practice, I became aware of, and ordered the Cantus Cölln/Junghänel recording, "Actus Tragicus" and started listening to BWV 4 anew. (I had been listening to the Koopman recording) and, perhaps like others on this List, it was a revelation to hear a beloved piece with a strikingly different interpretation. So, I started in with the listening over and over and over. Eventually, I became aware of another OVPP version, that of Andrew Parrot. Whoops! The over and over and over thing all over (and over).

Eventually I began listening to the Suzuki version, and then to the version that has Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, a recording that is anything but OVPP or HIP...but wonderful all the same.

I think that BWV 4 is my favourite vocal work of Bach...and it was the beginning of a passionate (and expensive) pursuit of the vocal oeuvre.

Well, that's my stor!

Ehud Shiloni wrote (June 27, 2001):
BWV 131.
And here is the "story":
As a young man I listened to Beethoven and to pop music. Of Bach I knew only BWV 1052 on piano, and some Brandenburgs. Much later in life, well into my 40's, I decided to get an "education" in classical music listening, and I turned to my wife, whose profession is music, for recommendations. Based on her guidance I started a collection of Schubert, Schumann, Mozart, Stravinsky, Haydn and many others. When we got to Bach, she recommended the Motets. I asked: "What about the Cantatas?" and she said: "Oh, yes, the Cantatas - there are quite a few of those, but all I remember from my Music Academy years are BWV 4 and BWV 140". Surprisingly there were BWV 4 or BWV 140 at the store, and I settled for my first cantata "sampler" - Joshua Rifkin, performing with what I now know to be OVPP. I put the CD in my car player, the opening "Grave" of BWV 131 started slowly to roll, and then Rifkin's quartet broke out with "Herr, höre meine Stimme" - and, voila - transfiguration!! I was hooked for life!! It is at least 400 CD's later now, all JSB's, and there is no end in sight for me....

Marie Jensen wrote (June 29, 2001):
My first cantata: BWV 68: Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt!

As a poor student just moved away from my home in the early 70’s I could not afford buying LP's. But I had a tape recorder and a simple transistor radio, and I browsed the radio programmes every day for one purpose: J.S. Bach!

And suddenly it was there, this wonderful cantata! And I listened and listened to it hundreds of times as I did to the passacaglia, the Schüblers, the Goldbergs, and Brandenburg 2 and 5 and the few other BWV's I had. Radio noise or not. It did not matter very much in those days. Especially the soprano aria was divine, ascending like a lark, optimistic and silvery as a summer morning. I sat on the tiny balcony very early and listened before I went to clean municipal offices. It sang in my head while I was biking through the city. I felt so extremely happy!

Later the municipality sent me to clean in the head library instead. What a coincidence: in the music section! While I was washing the floor, my eyes caught some Bach biographies. I had to continue my job, but the first thing I did afterwards was to return to the library and borrow Schweitzer’s Bach book and a few others...

BWV 68 does not end with a chorale but with a fugue "Wer an ihn gläubet, der wird nicht gerichtet..." so it also made me read the beautiful gospel of John.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 28, 2001):
OK, Harry, if you get one asterisk (you from the CD age and the age of electronic lists, etc., even if you suffered for a while without a specific cantata list, SIGH), I cannot possibly say what is the first cantata I heard or was impressed with. I know for sure that I came to Bach via vocal and not via instrumental music and I know it was the SMP (BWV 244). After that there were a lot of cantatas, all very non-HIP and there were great singers and awful singers. Most of them were Werner and Prohaska conducted. Some were Scherchen conducted and then there were a few with Gonnenwein (whose name I am not spelling correctly, so no need to worry about +/- umlaut). Helmut Krebs ruined a lot of the cantatas, sorry. My major Bach vocal jolt came, as I've stated before on the Recordings list, with the Gillesberger-Harnoncourt SJP. And I wish that I could find that thing in CD format as my LP set is really worn out.

What I do know from this list is that I never came to know the music like the more active posters here. But I've learned that on most of my music list. Oh well, the pleasure is still there.

Jim Groeneveld wrote (June 28, 2001):
I do not remember which cantata (or part of it) I heard firstly. Very likely I have heard much cantata-like music of Bach during my early childhood, because my mother enjoyed it (but probably not yet HIP). But I am not aware of which. What I do remember is hearing (by Mary Hess? on the piano and playing it myself) the "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" chorale from cantata BWV 147 and possibly other popular pieces as well. Later I recorded several cantatas from the radio and one of the first LP's with cantata music that I bought (or got) was the Coffee+Peasant cantata by Harnoncourt, which I (still) like very much. My very first real acquantance with Bach was attending (the first part of) the SMP at the age of 4 (heavy, but not HIP) and quite regularly since then. But I was mainly interested in instrumental music (Bach, but especially Händel) upto my early twenties. Then I also started singing, which is my main hobby at the moment.

Anyway, the first cantata I sang was BWV 117, "Sei Lob und Ehr' dem höchsten Gut" (not a difficult one, neither very interesting as compared to other ones, I think) in a students church choir, when I would have been around 23. Cantatas, that we performed after that, were much more appreciated by me; I specifically remember BWV 106 (Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, Actus Tragicus), BWV 150 (Nach Dir Herr verlanget mich) and BWV 143 (Brich dem Hungrigen Dein Brot). My memories to those cantatas are associated with a lovely (students) time in which we together had the same interest in singing, Bach for a large part. And that was the start of another means of practising music, that will never end. BTW, I met my wife in that choir.

Nicholas Baumgertner (June 28, 2001):
Just joined this list--thanks to all for such enlightening contributions. I studied Piano at Oberlin Conservatory and German Literature at Oberlin College, and am now a law student at Vanderbilt University. However, I am keeping my grip in the music world by publishing an occasional article on European Bach interpretation. One of my current projects is to compare practical reasoning in statutory interpretation with similar approaches throughout the Early Music movement.

I owe my first Bach Cantata "experience" to Professor Sylvan Suskin, long-time instructor of Music History at Oberlin. His yearly tradition was to introduce us to Cantatas with BWV 140. We began with a more conservative recording (Richter) and then through the course of a week listened to all sorts of interpretations, culminating with Joshua Rifkin's. For the rest of the year, I found myself whistling the string accompaniment to the Tenor Chorale! Having at that point only been a pianist (now a harpsichordist as well), my exposure to Bach's choral music had been nil. BWV 140 opened an entirely new world for me.

In that vein, I would be very interested in hearing responses from this group to a question I have posed throughout my research to dozens of Bach scholars and performers throughout the world--one that centers on the Cantatas. What does the religious dimension in Bach's music mean for us today? To what extent is this dimension still valid, or even necessary, given that many of us today live in a primarily secular society?

José Miguel wrote (June 28, 2001):
I subscribed this list over six months ago and I have learned a lot of new things about Bach's Cantatas since then, many things which it is not easy to learn from books....I feel proud of being a subscriber here. Thanks God there are very good specialists in Bach's Cantatas who are writing on a regular basis to the list....Regarding Aryeh Oron encouragement in order that we the lurkers could contribute to the list more often, I would say that I would like very much to do it but, due to my fairly poor knowledge about the subject, I felt shamed to do it and I have chosen keep silence rather than say nonsenses..... I bet this is the same feeling of other lurkers in the list. I hope you understand, Mr. Oron.

Asfor my first cantata, I suppose that the earliest music I listened might be some highlights from BWV 147, though I remember very well that the first one which I listened carefully and many times was BWV 129 "Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott". Moreover, this is now one of my favourite cantatas, one of the few ones I have got several recordings of, among I would select the one conducted by Karl Richter. This could be in the earliest 1980’s, when I was in my twenties. It could be said that I discovered the wonderful world of Bach's Cantatas since this one, now I have got the complete set of cantatas conducted by Harnoncourt/Leonhardt and I have never felt tired of discovering many new things from this music.

"Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott”, BWV 129 composed to be played the Domenica Trinitatis, has a very beautiful introductory chorus which I particularly love not only by the music but also by the text and the support that one gives the other. IMHO the joyful and exultant music goes very well with the text which gives a image of how grateful we must be to God. Another parts I feel particularly fond of is the soprano Aria N. 3 and the final Chorale...It is difficult to choose from such a wonderful music.

I would dare to recommend this cantata particularly to those who have never listened a complete cantata before, it could be a good start indeed. And please, don't forget to read the texts at the time you listen the music, you'll enjoy much more.

Have a nice time, thanks for your time

Alexander Johannesen wrote (June 28, 2001):
This is not only my story, but also my first post to the list;

I'm a rather newbie Bach worshipper, and even if I came to Bach through the cembalo concertos, my love now truly lies in the cantatas and the misseas.

My first love was, as it seems with a lot of other people here, the "Christ lag in Todes Banden" (BWV 4), heard live in a concert in the Cathedral of Oslo, Norway, with the Oslo Domkor and the Oslo Baroque Ensamble, where my best friend was a part of the choir. Oh, how wonderful that concert was! No one left the building that night without a tear in the corner of their eye. There was a german cantata expert flown in for the occation (Bach Institute in Leipzig, I seem to remember), and he told us some bits and pieces of how and when the cantatas were composed and played, all very interesting and added an extra flair to the concert. I will never forget that evening, and I long for it still ...

Bach is best heard live, no doubt about it.

Tony Collingwood wrote (June 28, 2001):
I too am a new, and very appreciative, subscriber to this list.

My first exposure to a Bach cantata resulted from being forced to participate in preparing for a school choir performance of Jesu, joy of man's desiring. Until that point in time, my only musical interests were rock, r&b, blues and pop music. That experience opened up a completely new world to me - classical music in general but Bach in particular, even more so the Cantatas. So the first Cantata I listened to was BWV 147 (Karl Richter) followed closely by those making up the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). Funny how something that you didn't want to do in the first place can have such a profound impact and bring depths of enjoyment which I am still exploring many many years after (and further enhanced by stumbling on this mailing list).

Steven Langley Guy wrote (June 29, 2001):
My first experience of Bach cantatas was when I bought the first three Harnoncourt/Leonhardt cantata boxed sets when I was twelve. I like Bach and I knew that some of these works used the Zink (cornetto) and I had just bought a Christopher Monk instrument. I would listen to them before school in the morning and when I got home in the afternoon. I staggered through the scores using my cornett and after a few months I became pretty proficient at reading music in all the C clefs. (A great life
skill for any twelve year old! ;-))

Of course BWV 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden became my favourite – because of the music and the cornetto. I was also captivated by the voice of Paul Esswood. I would cycle to school on my bike fantasizing about playing my cornett in this work in a cathedral in Europe...

It made me want to hear more Bach, more Baroque music on period instruments, more countertenors and I really wanted to hear the music of Bach predecessors - composers like Schelle, Kuhnau, Schein and Knüpfer. I was reading about these composers in the Grove and trying to imagine what their music might be like! The instrumentations seemed to include ensembles like this... 4 trumpets, timpani, 2 cornetti, 4 trombones, 2 violins, 2 violas, dulcian and organ... What did this stuff sound like? Why were there no oboes, bassoons or transverse flutes in this music? (the French and English composers used these instruments?) Only the occasional 'piffaro' (treble shawm) or flauto (recorder) were added to the German 17th century line up... (Don't bother explaining - I know now!) Why was Bach the only 18th century composer who used cornetti? I later discovered that tons of 18th century composers wrote for the cornetto in cantatas and other works - Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Joseph Fux being two of the most famous.

Bach's cantatas were a 'Genesis point' for many of my subsequent musical interests.

Andrew Oliver wrote (June 29, 2001):
When I was still at school, during the sixties, my favourite composer was Händel, although I liked the music of numerous other baroque and classical composers as well. By the early seventies, my allegiance had changed, and I then recognized that J.S.Bach was simply the greatest and most profound composer. At that time, the music of his that I knew best, and enjoyed most, was his orchestral works (the concertos), some organ works, and the four major choral works (the Matthew (BWV 244) and John Passions (BWV 245), the B minor Mass (BWV 232), and the Magnificat (BWV 243)). Although I heard individual movements from the cantatas, it was not until comparatively recently that I became acquainted with cantatas in their entirety.

The first cantata that I listened to right through was BWV 8, (Liebster Gott, wann werd ich sterben?), on 3 March 1999, and this remains one of my favourite cantatas. The first one which I heard performed live was the one which we considered last week, BWV 39, (Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot), on 23 May 1999, and that I like also, though perhaps not as much as some others.

For me, the text always enhances my appreciation of the music, since it is possible to see how Bach always endeavours to match the composition to the libretto. However, I recognize that it is perfectly possible to enjoy the music regardless of the text, although its value, for me, is then diminished.

Charles Francis wrote (July 4, 2001):
As a child, I attended an amateur performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio at a nearby church in my home town. I remember it started very, very, late (8 PM as I recall) and it was dark by the time we reached the church. The performance was in two parts and at the interval I was given the choice of staying for the second half or going home. Well I'd enjoyed the music, but there seemed to be an awful lot of it, and in two minds, I eventually decided to leave. After all, it was well after nine o'clock and I'd been sitting on an uncomfortable bench for an eternity.

I now know Bach's Christmas Oratorio consists of six cantatas to be performed on different days (my intuition as a child wasn't wrong!). I had heard three cantatas that evening:

1) BWV 248/I "Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage" (Christmas Day 1734)
2) BWV 248/II "Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend" (2nd day of Christmas, 1734)
3) BWV 248/III "Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen" (3rd Day of Christmas, 1734)

Boyd Perhrson wrote (July 4, 2001):
Thanks Andrew for starting an interesting discussion! (As are all discussions on Bach Cantatas) My first Bach Cantata was "Wachet auf, ruf uns die Stimme" BWV 140 (a very appropriate title for a Bach Cantata I must say). I was 13 and in boys choir at the time. We sang just the choral parts. Through teen years I went wild on rock, and slowly in my mid-twenties I was re-aquainted with Classical Music. I was puzzled as to why my peers didn't share my growing passion for something as beautiful as choral music. Only later did I realize, after stumbling upon an old concert program from my boys choir days, that "Wachet auf..." had been a favourite of mine from when I was 13! The memories came flooding back, and I realized that my training in Bach and Brahms, and traditional music had planted seeds that were now bearing fruit! And oh how sweet it is. Musical art is among the greatest of gifts we can impart to our children. And we must introduce them to works such as the Cantatas at an early age so they will have the ability to appreciate it later. My 18 month old great-neice loves her "Bach Collection" CD! When I hold that CD up, she gets her blanket and sits beside me - ready for a relaxing trip into Bach's wonderful world!

Andrew Oliver wrote (July 4, 2001):
[To Boyd Pehrson ] Thankyou, Boyd, for your interesting contribution, but I cannot claim the credit for starting this topical thread. It was Aryeh's idea, and began with his contribution on 27th June, two days before I added mine.

Robert Sherman wrote (July 4, 2001):
I was 20 and into Brahms, Tchaikovsky etc. Loved Messiah but had no interest in and not much contact with Bach. I was at Oberlin and about the #4 trumpeter. Due to various circumstances the three guys who were better than I was were unavailable, so I was asked to play trumpet with the Oberlin College Choir on the very King of Cantatas, Ein' Feste Burg BWV 80. Robert Fountain conducted and we had some good performers, including Ed Brewer, who now has a baroque chamber orchestra, on harpsichord.

As I discussed a few days ago, this is a most difficult part. It was more difficult then than it would be today because Selmer had not yet invented the modern piccolo trumpet. D trumpet parts were played on a D trumpet, which made them risky. We did about 15 performances in various cities and, not to put too fine a point on it, my high notes were a bit like spinning a roulette wheel. With the adrenaline thus cranked up to max, I lived, ate, and slept nothing but Ein' Feste Burg for two weeks. Got deeply into BWV 80 and have been hooked on the cantatas ever since.

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (July 6, 2001):
I must have been seven years old, when my mother first told me about Bach. For days she would tell me she would go to Naarden on Good Friday to listen to the Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society, conducted by the legendary Dr. Anthon van der Horst. Naarden in the early 1950’s was the annual Mecca of Bach worshippers in The Netherlands. Mum told me I could not join her because the music was still too difficult for a young boy and it would be hard to sit still for three and a half hours on the unrelenting wooden pews, so I did not care at the time. How I wish now she had let me come with her. Probably because ours used to be a Calvinist and not a Lutheran country, the Passions have long been far more popular and well-known than the Church Cantatas and they still are, although the cantatas have reached new audiences, not in the least thanks to the large circulation of nearly 100.000 copies in this country alone of the Leusink recordings.

It was not until the late 1950’s that I bought my first Bach LP record, “A Recital of Bach and Händel Arias” by Kathleen Ferrier with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. I loved those arias, especially Händel’s more lively and joyful ones. And I loved that voice!!! But still no cantatas.

For many years I only was into Beatles first and then into sweet soul music. My first contact with a cantata was through Chris Hinze’s jazz combo playing “Schafe können sicher weiden’ from BWV 208. I was about twenty-seven and did not know what a cantata was! The first complete cantatas I actually listened to were on a Teldec CD I bought in 1989. Imagine, I had already lived 44 precious years without the greatest art treasure that has since musically dominated my existence. On this Harnoncourt CD there were BWV 140 and BWV 147 and I have often wondered when that tiny laser beam would start burning holes in it.

Then we started our great adventure with Holland Boys Choir in 1999, recording all the sacred Bach cantatas within a year and a half. It was a wonderful time and since then, no matter how hectic life may often be, there is hardly a day now without a cantata. Mostly one of our own, but also such different interpreters like Herreweghe, Richter and Rifkin are among my favourite performers. And my all time favourite? Impossible to say, since it keeps changing. The more I listen to a cantata, the deeper it invades and permeates my soul. Whenever I find one of them my favourite I find another one. So I guess there is no end to finding favourites.

Jane Newble wrote (July 6, 2001):
My first cantata strangely enough was not until about 4 years ago.

From when I was 12 I went to a live performance of the Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) every year in Zwolle (Holland). Apart from the Brandenbergs I did not realize there was more Bach! Then I came to England, and the annual SMP delight stopped. The performances I could find were all in English, and used counter-tenors. The two together was something I could not face.When a German performance was scheduled in Winchester, I could not go to it, as I was ill!! So I listened to tapes every year.

Four years ago my Dutch cousin came to stay and brought a Dutch CD of Gerard Akkerhuis with the Bach Choir performing cantatas BWV 24 and BWV 182 as part of their church cantata services every month in the Kloosterkerk in Den Haag. It was BWV 182 that really spoke to me.(Himmelskönig, sei willkommen) and has ever since remained one of my favourite cantatas, both in text and music. It was a promise of a box of precious jewels, and Bach kept his promise. Since then I collected all the cantatas. Talk about addiction!

Nagamiya Tutomu wrote (July 28, 2001):
The first cantata I consciously heard was Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), though I didn't know that was cantata.

Then I was a junior high school student and go to church every Sunday. The climax of every year for me was Christmas season. On Christmas eve, we walked around the street singing Christmas hymn, and on Christmas night, we played Nativity Play; my part was usually "shepherd 1" and so on. After the play, we had Christmas Party, the greatest pleasure in a year for me. I remember all these things with this music.

This oratorio includes many beautiful chorales most of which were familiar for me as
church hymns. The story was which I myself played every Christmas night. There are many beautiful and intimate melodies like sinfonia of cantata II or "echo aria" of cantata IV and so many. To hear this, my heart is warmed, with music itself and with memories of my childhood.

The recording I heard was with Kurt Thomas and St. Thomanerchor. My father gave me the LP and I have it until now. So it wear well for over 35 years. This is the story of My First Cantata.

BTW, my name is Nagamiya (surname) Tutomu (given name). Surname comes first in Japan. I think there are many countries where surname comes first. (e.g. Korea, China, Hungary ... do you know others?) So, please call me Tutomu.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 28, 2001):
[To Nagamiya Tutomu] Welcome to the list, Tutomu, or Nagimiya-san. Do you play go by any chance?

Harry J. Ste wrote (July 28, 2001):
[To Nagamiya Tutomu] The XO (BWV 248) is one of my favorites also... especially the sinfonia to the 2nd cantata and the alto aria in the same cantata. I've always felt that the sinfonia would be wonderful transcribed for a guitar.

Dan (Son of cheese Messiah) wrote (July 29, 2001):

I've been lurking for a couple of weeks quite over-awed by the amount of knowledge on display! (I used to think that I knew something about the cantatas).

I can't remember the first cantata I listened to, but the first I bought was a longplay cassette by Dame Janet Baker; it had a long selection of a Bach arias on one side and complete performances of cantatas BWV 82 and (the underrated) BWV 169. Her performances were almost universally excellence. Sadly this cassette was chewed up by my player long ago and as far as I'm aware none are currently available.I have gained enormous knowledge from reading this list...it is a mine of information!

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 30, 2001:
[To Dan] Welcome to the BCML. You are invited to contribute to the weekly cantata discussions.

< I can't remember the first cantata I listened to, but the first I bought was a longplay cassette by Dame Janet Baker; it had a long selection of a Bach arias on one side and complete performances of cantatas BWV 82 and (the underrated) BWV 169. Her erformances were almost universally excellence. Sadly this cassette was chewed up by my player long ago and as far as I'm aware none are currently available. I have gained enormous knowledge from reading this list...it is a mine of information! >
This recording is available! I bought it from a local (Israeli) store about a month ago. Title: J.S. Bach & Händel - Solo Cantatas & Vocal Works.
Performers: Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano); Conductors: Yehudi Menuhin, Neville Marinner & Raymond Leppard.
Works: J.S. Bach's Cantatas BWV 82, BWV 169; Arias from BWV 190, BWV 129, BWV 34, BWV 11, BWV 508, BWV 245, BWV 6, BWV 161, BWV 248; Händel - 2
cantatas.
Label : EMI Classics (Double fforte) 7243 5 74284 22 (2-CD)

I hope that it is available in UK or from some of the Web stores.

< I have gained enormous knowledge from reading this list...it is a mine of information >
There is more material about the cantatas (and about Bach's other vocal works) in the Bach Cantatas Website, which is mostly based on the discussions in the BCML. The address is: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/

Enjoy and welcome again!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (July 29, 2001):
[To Dan] I believe that it is also (USA) available at www.broinc.com (Berkshire Record Exchange). In other words, it's around.

Dan wrote (July 30, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for the info Aryeh!


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Last update: ýJanuary 4, 2005 ý14:30:37