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OVPP (One-Voice-Per-Part)

Part 9

 

 

Continue from Part 8

OVPP and Bachisches Chorwerke

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 9, 2004):
If I am reading the latest posts right, I assume the the OVPP being mentioned is "one voice per part". If that is so, then in Bach's Chorwerke, this does not apply, since even in his day (as born out by countless treatises, as well as his own memorandum on performance practice in religious music and note on its decline in Leipzig in his time dated Anno 1730) there were 10 voices per part. In other words, 10 singers sang the Sopran part, 10 the Alt part, 10 the Tenor part, and 10 the Bass part. There were always double the amount of singers as instrumentalists in Germany at the time, and especially in the larger churches (such as the ones Bach worked at in Leipzig). The performers were publically funded (as were the other musicians) and the bigger the city/town, the greater the size of the Orchestra and Choir.

The other reason for this was sheer necessity. In those days, one must remember that medical technology and knowledge was not as it is today and therefore a Choir needed to be prepared. Therefore they had twice as many singers per part as necessary so that they could have a smooth transition in case of death, illness, or any other catastrophy. So while there might have been say 20 or 30 singers in a regular performance, the Choir consisted of about 40 or 50 singers. In the case of a church like the Thomaskirche zu Leipzig, where there was always two choirs, the each Choir consisted of about 40 or 50 singers. The uniqueness of the ensemble required by the Matthäuspassion (BWV 244) is not the double Choir or double Orchestra, therefore, but the 3rd Ripieno Choir in the 1st and the last movements of Part I in the standard (1742 and modern) version of the work. I would even go so far as to hypothesize the the 2nd version of the Johannespassion (BWV 245) (the one dating from 1725) and the Markuspassion (BWV 247) (1731) were both scored for double Choir and double Orchestra largely because of the church that they were written for (the Thomaskirche). I have also noticed a flaw in the 1997 recording of the Johannespassion (BWV 245) by Helmuth Rilling. In his introduction (Disc 3, Track 1) to Movement I" (the setting of "O Mensch, bewein' dein' Suende gross'" later used as the last movement of Part I of the Matthäuspassion (BWV 244)), he said that when Bach used this to finish Part I of the Matthäuspassion (BWV 244) in 1736 (replacing the Choralsatz "Jesus lass' ich nicht von mir"), he kept it as a single-Choir and single-Orchestra movement. When looking at the score I have (the Dover reprint of the BGA edition), I see it scored as a double-Choir and double-Orchestra movement. Not to mention the fact that he got the dates wrong. He said that it was used 3 years after the 1725 of the Johannespassion (BWV 245). The Matthäuspassion (BWV 244) version (according to recent belief and theory) was written in 1727. However, it was not until 1736 that Bach used this setting of "O Mensch, bewein' dein' Suende gross'" again (transposing it from Es-Dur to E-Dur and lengthening the final note in the Bass), utilizing it as the final movement for Part I of the Matthäuspassion (BWV 244) (replacing the above-mentioned Choralsatz).

Peter Bright wrote (January 8, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jt.] Dear David, your post seems to be so full of claims seemingly plucked out of thin air that I don't know where to start!

1.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: < Chorwerke, this does not apply, since even in his day (as born out by countless treatises, as well as his own memorandum on performance practice in religious music and note on its decline in Leipzig in his time dated Anno 1730) there were 10 voices per part. >
Please expand on this and cc to Rifkin and Parrot - they will thank you for clearing this mess up once and for all.

< In other words, 10 singers sang the Sopran part, 10 the Alt part, 10 the Tenor part, and 10 the Bass part. There were always double the amount of singers as instrumentalists in Germany at the time >
I think Bach will be pretty damn pissed off if he's reading this part of your post.

< and especially in the larger churches (such as the ones Bach worked at in Leipzig). The performers were publically funded (as were the other musicians) and the bigger the city/town, the greater the size of the Orchestra and Choir. >
The size of the choirs throughout the Baroque era and throughought Europe were far from ideal probably because they were too expensive for the tight-fisted authorities.

< The other reason for this was sheer necessity. In those days, one must remember that medical technology and knowledge was not as it is today and therefore a Choir needed to be prepared. Therefore they had twice as many singers per part as necessary so that they could have a smooth transition in case of death, illness, or any other catastrophy. So while there might have been say 20 or 30 singers in a regular performance, the Choir consisted of about 40 or 50 singers. >
No. Perhaps an ideal, but this flies in the face of paractically all the evidence doesn't it? They had twice as many vocalists as they needed because half of them might die? Where did you get these numbers from?

< In the case of a church like the Thomaskirche zu Leipzig, where there was always two choirs, the each Choir consisted of about 40 or 50 singers. >
Ditto.

I'm not claiming that you are wrong, simply that I have never heard such strong claims passed off as supposed fact before.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 9, 2004):
[To Peter Bright] Most of the information I presented that seems to you to be "plucked out of thin air" I got from Tim Dowley's biography of Bach (which is the only area that I truly agree with in his biography) and is substantiated and supported by all things that I have read, from Spitta's biography to Schweitzer's to the New Grove Dictionary's entry on Bach to some of the things I have seen in the Bach-Jahrbuch.

As to the latter part, it is only logical. In the 1700s, infant mortality and child mortality was very high around the world. There were of course many factors that led to this: the lack of knowledge about common hygenics, the less than stellar knowledge of medicine, the lack of sanitary living and working condictions (things such as sewage, etc.), the growing populations in the urban centers, the rise in prices and its counterpart in the decrease in most of the wealth amongst the common people, the rampant wars (Germany during Bach's childhood was still trying to recover from the effects of the 30 Years' War), etc. Along with that came the fact that one was considered old when one hit his/her 20s. The reason being that the average life expectancy was so short that people who lived to be Bach's age were considered to be remarkable. In those days the choir was made up primarily of children (especially young boys, who sang the Sopran and Alt parts and older boys to sing the Tenor and Bass parts). If one was to have an operating Choir in one's church, therefore, one must have some recorse for the inevitable. That is one reason why there were 10 choristers to a part required in an average choir. Of course there might have been other factors as well: the attempt to rival Venice in Germany, the spaciousness and acoustical effects of the church, etc., but this also has to be considered.


Christoph Wolff on OVPP/OPPP

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 10, 2004):
I have just found a recent summary of Wolff's theory on OVPP/OPPP in the New Grove (Oxford University Press, 2003.) This is a summary backed up by a large bibliography; however, specific references are not related or connected to the text and it is left up to the reader to reaall the pertinent references to make the connections which may have gone into this summary statement. Attempts at applying reasoning or giving proofs/evidence are not available here.

Here is the short passage that touches upon this subject comes from a long article on Bach:
>>The cantata was an integral part of the Leipzig Lutheran liturgy. It followed immediately on the reading from the Gospel, preceding the Creed and the sermon (the second part of a two-part cantata would follow the sermon, ‘sub communione’). Apart from organ playing and the congregational singing of hymns, selected by the Kantor, the other musical constituent of the liturgy was the introit motet, which would be taken from the Florilegium Portense(1618) by Erhard Bodenschatz, a collection mainly drawn from the 16th century (Lassus, Handl etc.), and was performed a cappella with harpsichord continuo. Services began at 7 a.m. and lasted three hours; this allowed a mere half-hour for the cantata, and Bach rarely overstepped this duration. The normal performing forces consisted of some 16 singers and 18 instrumentalists; the precise number varied according to the work, but it was rare for the total number of singers and players to fall below 25 or to exceed 40 (the figure required on exceptional occasions, like the St Matthew Passion, which demanded two Kantoreien and double the normal number of instrumentalists). Ordinarily the performing forces consisted of four groups: pupils from the Thomasschule (the first Kantorei); the eight salaried town musicians, until 1734 headed by J.G. Reiche and thereafter by J.C. Gentzmer; University students (principally Bach’s private pupils); and additional assistants (probably regularly including one or two paid soloists) and guests.<<

Some points of interest here:

1) the introit motets referred to here do not include Bach's own 'extraordinary' motets which were (at least in one of them for which some instrumental parts survive) performed with a larger (than indicated above) ensemble of instruments playing colla parte.

2) the congregational singing does not include having the congregation join in when the choir(s) sing the cantional-type chorale (usually at the end of the cantata.) [I spent a few hours today researching David Glenn Lebut Jr.'s direct claim that the congregation would join in singing such a chorale that was part of a chorale. He had criticized Rilling as follows: >>I have read where he insists that the Choraele of the Kantaten and other larger Vokalwerke were only performed by the Choir.<< Here the burden of proof (simply referring to what Luther wanted and what he actually got at the beginning of the 18th century as being one and the same thing) is so monumental since this entire subject has been investigated quite thoroughly, that I fear that David will not be able to supply any credible evidence that will connect Luther's wish with the practices that Bach encountered in the 1720's in Leipzig. Of course, open-minded investigators will always want to learn something new, particularly when it is as important as this matter. Can you supply some meaningful evidence to support your claim, David?

3) The statement about when the services began has been severely truncated and as such is quite misleading. I have reported previously (it is on Aryeh's Bach-Cantatas site) on this matter listing the various services that typically took place at the various churches, the music for which Bach was responsible.

4) The final sentence regarding the performing forces highlights the difference between Wolff's description and Rifkin's notion of complete dependence upon the pupils from the Thomasschule, pupils which are simultaneously singers and instrumentalists, and are placed into rather immoveable categories (the 'shell game') with 1st-string singers/players never receiving any help from the other 'string's' or from outside the school. Wolff, on the other hand, points to the other groups on which Bach depended and from which he could draw singers as well as instrumentalists: a) guests (these were visiting musicians who played their instruments excellently. Bach, in some instances, would even write a special solo parfor them - the next time the cantata was performed, perhaps years later, Bach would have to rewrite the part for a different instrument, because it would be too difficult to play well.) b) some soloists would be adults from the community (perhaps former alumni of the Thomasschule) who could play or sing their parts with professional excellence not possible for the pupils in the first Kantorei (a good bass voice, which it is known that Bach used frequently.) These adults Bach would probably have to pay from his own pocket since rarely did he receive extra money from the church for this purpose. c) university students, studying music or not, often possessed excellent musical skills and abilities and wanted to be part of the musical experience that singing or playing the cantatas, etc. could provide. As indicated above, they were frequently Bach's private pupils. As such he would not have to pay them money to perform. d) die Stadtpfeiffer - the salaried group of eight town musicians could always be relied upon. These were truly professional musicians. Just hearing the name J. G. Reiche should make this point absolutely clear!


OVPP, and judging scholars by their performance choices, and vice versa

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 19, 2004):
<<<< Essential reading in this matter is, of course, the very well-researched book by Andrew Parrott: The Essential Bach Choir, 2000.
http://www.boydell.co.uk/3986.HTM
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0851157866 >>>
<<< What about Christoph Wolff's biography and the works by Spitta, Schweitzer, and Geiringer? >>>
<< Their old assumptions are overturned in this presentation, and Parrott explains why he believes some of Wolff's points are mistaken. Read his book, considering the detailed evidence presented. Then, see if you still agree with Spitta (et al), beyond being accustomed to their previously unquestioned assumptions, and accustomed to your own. >>
< Also, I have an issue with Parrott anyways.
His recording of the Johannespassion advertizes itself to be a recording of the 1749 version. However, there is very little of it that is the 1749 version. And before you say that it is, I have read the text that he uses. He only changes the last part of Nr. 19 and thee entirety of Nr. 20. According to what I have heard in the 1997 Rilling recording of the Johannespassion, there were a lot of alterations in this version (in the text as well as in instrumentation). One example is the first Soprano Aria. In the 1749 version, it changes from "I folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten" to "Ich folge dir gleichfalls, mein Heiland, mit freuden". However, Parrott does not use this change. Not to mention that he uses many of the changes that Bach made in the not performed during his (Bach's) lifetime 1739-1749 revision (the source of the modern version and the standard performances of the work). >
The basic problem here is pretty obvious: whatever you've encountered first (whether it's Spitta's book, or Wolff's, or a recording by Rilling) is automatically the Truth, and you're unwilling to re-examine any assumptions you've drawn from that.

Therefore, Parrott is "wrong" to you (gives you "issues" on which you doubt his intelligence) simply because he disagrees with something you think you already know. But that's not a valid method for deciding whether he is, in fact, right or wrong on any given point; nor is it a good excuse not to read the book. Evidence is necessary to make any such determination. And that's what Parrott's book about choirs is: presentation of a mountain of evidence.

Also, the paragraph about the SJP is confusing. First you say that Parrott in his recording changes only #19 and #20; but then later you say he has incorporated other changes from the various versions by Bach. Your lack of consistency makes it quite a challenge to understand yourwriting, if in fact you know what you meant by it.... :)

=====

Anyway, on to a more important issue:

Please keep in mind: whatever Andrew Parrott has done as a conductor or a keyboard player or a singer, on a recording (i.e. coming to it as a performer and making performer's choices) is not automatically the same thing he does as a scholar, for a book. His performances have to be judged on musical criteria (i.e. as communicative artistry), and his scholarly work by scholarly standards (as scientific research, sound in its logic and accurate in its detail). Ditto for John Butt, Laurence Dreyfus, Joshua Rifkin, Richard Taruskin, and others who are distinguished both as performers and as scholars: we can't listen to their recordings and automatically assume they're brilliant scholars or terrible scholars; nor can we read their books and automatically assume they're brilliant musicians or terrible musicians. It's far too easy (but wrong!) to make assumptions one way or another, instead of taking people's work seriously on its own merits.

To test this, take a simple example of a scholar who's not known as a performing musician: say, Christoph Wolff or Malcolm Boyd. If a recording by him would turn up, and we happened not to enjoy it, would that automatically make his scholarly work of any less value? Of course not! Or if it was a wonderfully communicative performance, would that increase the value of his writings? Again, of course not!

Yet--that is a criterion by which (as I observe) quite a few list members judge the value of writings instead of reading them: by a judgment of the writer's musicality as a performer and/or composer (whether it's Quantz or Koopman or Harnoncourt or Butt or Kirnberger or Parrott or Rifkin), to decide whether to take him seriously or not as a researcher. A fallacy! That would be like saying Bill Gates is only an average businessman, judged by the way he plays bridge.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Also, the paragraph about the SJP is confusing. First you say that Parrott
< in his recording changes only #19 and #20; but then later you say he has incorporated other changes from the various versions by Bach. Your lack of consistency makes it quite a challenge to understand your writing, if in fact you know what you meant by it.... :) >
My point is this: If you are going to present/record the 1749 version of the Johannespassion, then do it. There are many differences between the 1749 version and the 1739 revision (which was never performed in Bach's lifetime and is the basis of the modern version so often recorded). Parrott's recording uses everything from the 1739 revision with the exception of the last part of Nr. 19 and all of Nr. 20. Even a glance of the text would tell one that it is not a true recording of the 1749 version. A listening to it would go even further.

Here are the major differences between the true 1749 version and the version as conducted by Parrott:

1.) Nr. 1: In the 1749 version, the Continuo part has all eighth notes. In the 1739 revision (and in Parrott's recording) the Organ/Keyboard and the Bass Viol have quarter notes.

2.) Nr. 3: In the 1749 version, the Choral is in blocked chords. In the 1739 revision, it is more fluid.

3.) Nr. 7: There are some slight differences in the music between the 1749 version and the 1739 revision.

4.) Nr. 4: Jesus's Recitative is accompanied by single chords in the 1749 version, not fluid like the 1739 revision.

5.) Nr. 9: In the 1749 version, the Aria text is completely different. Instead of "Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten", it becomes "Ich folge dir gleichfalls, mein Heiland, mit Freuden". In Parrott's recording, he does not use the correct text.

6.) Nr. 10: In the 1749 version, Peter's scene begins in a low register, the word "Hohenpriester" is accented by a raising of the register, and the word "Hueter" in "Thurhueterin" is accented. In the 1739 revision, the scene begins in a high register, "Hohenpriester" is in a low register, and "Thur" instead of "Hueter" is accented.

7.) Nr. 13: It is exclusively strings in this number. As Bach returned to the 1724 version (with the exceptions of some of the texts and a few instrumentation changes) in this version, any wind instruments in this movement would have been eliminated.

8.) Nr. 19: The instrumentation in the 1749 version in this movement was the same as the 1732 version.

9.) Nr. 20: See Nr. 19.

10.) Nr. 35: The 1749 version doubled the Flutes with muted Violins.

Donald Satz wrote (March 20, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] It is not uncommon for performers/conductors to use parts of different versions of works. Parrott is one of many to do so, assuming that Mr. Lebut is correct in his listings.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 22, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] My point is, then, that in advertizing and recording it, that that fact should be made known and acknowledged. Instead, Parrott does not acknowledge it and presents his recording as genuine 1749 version of the Johannespassion (BWV 245).


Rifkin/Parrot vs Koopman - the OVPP debate

Jack Botelho wrote (April 12, 2004):
"The artistic choices on this recording are a reflection of the current debate on the performance style of the choral works of J.S. Bach. Perhaps one of the most interesting (and informed) discussions on the subject took place on the pages of the British magazine 'Early Music' (November 1996 - November 1998).

"The argument was not a new one - some sixteen years had elapsed since the American musicologist Joshua Rifkin had revolutionized attitudes by recording Bach's 'B minor Mass' with single instrumentalists and a small consort of eight singers. However the debate became intense as the English conductor Andrew Parrot sided with Rifkin. On the opposing camp stood the Dutch conductor Ton Koopman, whose new recording cycle of the cantatas prompted the debate, argued bravely on the merits and scholarship behind the use of the more standard chamber orchestra, chamber choir and soloists."

- Kevin Mallon
excerpt liner notes from Naxos 8.554825 recording of Bach's Cantatas Nos. 36, 132 and 61 by the Aradia Ensemble.

The above is the basic story on the now-famous debate carried by the 'Early Music' magazine concerning the OVPP (one voice per part or close equivalent) approach vs performing Bach's choral works with chamber choir.

The Koopman cantata series seems to have been aborted. Does anyone know the reason for this? Did the above debate have any effect to weaken Koopman's series or are the reasons why it remains incomplete have to do with recording company problems or otherwise?

From reports, the Koopman series is very highly rated. Does the current Suzuki cycle replace it stylistically – utilize a chamber choir or one-voice-per-part approach?

The above are, of course, 'beginners' questions, but may spark some interest here.

Fumitaka Sato wrote (April 12, 2004):
Jack Botelho wrote: < The Koopman cantata series seems to have been aborted. Does anyone know the reason for this? Did the above debate have any effect to weaken Koopman's series or are the reasons why it remains incomplete have to do with recording company problems or otherwise? >
I am subscribing to the Koopman cantata series, and I have not heard that the series was aborted. What is the source of the information? I am not very familiar with the debate which you mentioned to, but I hear that the theory of Hans-Joachim Schulze in the book "The World of the Bach Cantatas" (eds. Christoph Wolff, Ton Koopman) is very persuasive. Now, I feel I am obliged to check up the article by Hans-Joachim Schulze, myself.

ack Botelho wrote (April 12, 2004):
[To Fumitaka Sato] Hopefully the Koopman cycle will continue and be completed then? I should emphasize my statement used the word 'seems'. I hope I am incorrect about this assumption, and that is part of the reason why I posted this message (to be clarified on this point).

Fumitaka Sato wrote (April 12, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] Currently the Koopman cantata series has its vol.15, and will continue to publish after that. http://www.tonkoopman.nl/newseng.htm

I am actually going to check up the refuting article by Hans-Joachim Schulze of the one voice one part theory. It may take more than a week for me to read, and if I have something I feel like to say I would post it here.

Jack Botelho wrote (April 12, 2004):
[To Fumitaka Sato] Thanks for this correction, and I look forward to reading more regarding this article by Hans-Joachim Schulze, if you would like to report more about it or provide a summary of its findings in the future.

Jack Botelho wrote (April 15, 2004):
[To Fumitaka Sato] Good news about the Koopman cycle continuing and becoming available for those new to this series. Could it be said these productions approach what Bach could have employed if he wrote church cantatas for the Dresden court chapel?

Fumitaka Sato wrote (April 20, 2004):
Fumitaka Sato wrote: < I am actually going to check up the refuting article by Hans-Joachim Schulze of the one voice one part theory. It may take more than a week for me to read, and if I have something I feel like to say I would post it here. >
The article that I referred is chapter 8 (written by Hans-Joachim Schulze) of the book "Johann Sebastian Bachs Leipziger Kirchenkantaten III", Christoph Wolff and Ton Koopman (eds.), which I read with a Japanese translation and found persuasive. However I have noticed that the volume III is yet to be translated into English. For the sake of precise terminology, I am sorry that I am not capable of citing the points of the article which I read in Japanese. But it can be said that the article proves that in the days of Bach or somewhat later, there can be found examples of a few singers (not one singer) using a single part score.

It would be appreciated if someone could read the original article and if it is convincing in the readers opinion the person would post summaries or introduction to more rigorous proofs.


Some questions on OVPP

Juozas Rimas wrote (May 18, 2004):
After listening to BWV 8 by Rifkin I must say I have a growing interest to listen to as many choir movements of cantatas as possible sung one voice per part. That removal of any "sound halo" that even the best choirs produce, creates an almost different piece!
(works especially well for chorales or intricate choruses with lots of ornamentation/fugal voices).

I've searched for "OVPP" in the group's archive but couldn't find answers to at least these questions:
1) what is the dominating opinion on OVPP among Bach listeners/performers?
2) who besides Rifkin (and that one Junghanel CD) record OVPP cantatas?
3) why Herreweghe, Koopman, Suzuki, Gardiner etc do not use OVPP?
4) which of Bach's cantatas, if any, have the composer's direct instructions to perform them OVPP?

Could anyone drop some sentences in answer? Thanks.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 18, 2004):
Juozas Rimas wrote: < I've searched for "OVPP" in the group's archive... >
Start with Andrew Parrott's book, The Essential Bach Choir.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 19, 2004):
Juozas Rimas asked:
>1) what is the dominating opinion on OVPP among Bach listeners/performers?<<
Judging from the number of recordings in OVPP vs. non-OVPP, certainly the latter group predominates, but since many of these recordings are ‘historical’ (even predating the beginning of the HIP recordings starting in the late 50s and 60s), it would be of greater interest to tabulate the relationship between the two types over the past 2 or 3 years, in which case, I presume, the number of OVPP recordings would be much greater than one would suspect from an over-all, all-time summary of all Bach choral recordings ever made.

There has been a rather steady decline in the number of voices per part used in Bach choirs ever since the appearance of Arnold Schering’s book “Johann Sebastian Bachs Leipziger Kirchenmusik” [Breitkopf & Härtel, 1936] where he called for a ‘reduction in force’ for Bach choirs based upon Schering’s reading of the historical record. This decline in voices per part seems to have accelerated considerably with the publication of Rikfin’s theory (and his with his recordings) – you’ll find a good reprint of this theory in the book by Parrott that was mentioned twice on these lists in the past 2 days.

>>2) who besides Rifkin (and that one Junghänel CD) record OVPP cantatas?<<
I think if you check carefully on Aryeh’s Bach Cantata site, you will be able to find others fairly easily. I am certain that others will respond to your query.

>>3) why Herreweghe, Koopman, Suzuki, Gardiner etc do not use OVPP?<<
They do, but only partially. If you listen carefully, you will hear some choral cantata mvts. with the solisti (obviously, the OVPP group) vs. the ripieni, remaining 2, 3, or 4 voices which fill in when called for in the score. There are other instances, choral mvts., where it can be assumed that the same procedure is called for.
With Suzuki I have detected that he has had a few final chorales sung using OVPP. These versions to my ears sound superb, but I also like to hear them sung non-OVPP as well.

I am still dreaming of a recording of all Bach chorales sung OVPP with the same perfection of the sound you can hear in some of Suzuki’s cantata recordings (no vibrato, perfect intonation, with expression of the text.) It seems as though Suzuki has stopped doing this in the later recordings (after vol 10 or so.) Someone correct me please, if I am wrong about this. He probably concluded very wisely upon the evidence that we have that only some of the pre-Leipzig cantatas could be performed in this manner.

Check also on Aryeh’s site for OVPP AND Koopman. I believe, but I am not sure, that I may have reported on Ton Koopman’s article “Bachs Chor und Orchester” in volume 3 of “Die Welt der Bach-Kantaten” [Metzler-Bärenreiter] in which Koopman addresses Rifkin’s theory and presents his (Koopman’s) own views regarding OVPP, which still entail using a small choir, but definitely more than just one or two voices per part. He quotes Bach as preferring to have at least 16 choir members in each choir not including the 20 – 24 instrumentalists which were also needed. He also includes a statement made by Johann Matthias Gesner, who frequently attended Bach’s church performances and heard with amazement the concordance of sound that Bach was able to create with 30 to 40 musicians.

>>4) which of Bach's cantatas, if any, have the composer's direct instructions to perform them OVPP?<<
Here are some generalizations which I have not verified completely:

1) Bach rarely uses any direct instructions for this procedure ( I am guessing that at this point of my cursory search, there are probably no more than a dozen or so instances where this can be verified as Bach’s direct instructions.)

2) It would be much more likely to consider some of the Weimar cantatas (including the chorales at the end) for performance in the OVPP manner, whereas this is not the case for the bulk of Bach’s cantatas from his mature Leipzig period.

3) The key chorale cantata movements do not generally show any need for OVPP treatment as many of them have the chorale in long notes, with the other voices in any accompanying, albeit frequently fughetta-type mode.

4) Some Leipzig cantatas have a fugal section (often in the middle and often beginning in the bass.) It would remain questionable to reduce all the initial entrances to a single voice at this point (while speeding up the tempo of the fugue as well) and then add the ripieni later for a crescendo effect if the words/text, as they usually do, denote ‘glory’, ‘great power and honor,’ ‘the Almighty,’ etc.

Those cantatas in which Bach distinguished between and marked accordingly these groups of singers within a choir are {I may have missed a few, but I can’t imagine that there will be many more- I have not checked the Oratorios, Passions, BMM, etc.)

BWV 21/6, 11 solo vs. tutti

BWV 22/1 ms. 57, 60, 62 tutti [the NBA gives ‘solo’ entrances as not being marked by Bach, but it is rather obvious here what is needed]

BWV 23/3 both versions ‘solo’ and ‘tutti’ not marked as such by , but added by the editors

BWV 24/3 solo vs. tutti

BWV 71/1 solo vs. tutti

BWV 75/1 only ‘tutti’ genuinely marked by Bach

BWV 76/1 solo vs. tutti

BWV 150/1 p, pp. f. (whether this qualifies for inclusion here is questionable, just as there are many instances of ‘echo’ effects with choir [short phrases with all or most voices singing and consisting of only a very few measures alternating with ‘forte’ passages. The latter instances should also not be counted in this group)

BWV 110/1 ‘senza ripieni’ and ‘con ripieni’

In an unnamed (without BWV #) choral mvt. by Telemann possibly used/performed by Bach, he marks in his own hand ‘tutti’ but nothing for the soloists – in the Telemann edition, the word ‘Concertato’ appears in contrast to the ‘tutti’ indication that Bach seems to have written.

The two groups of singers were sometimes referred to as ‘voci concerti or ‘voci concertanti’ vs. the ‘voci ripiene’ or ‘ripieni’ in texts of the period, but for Bach the terms he seems to have used exclusively for this purpose in his scores were ‘solo’ vs. ‘tutti.’

Hope this is helpful

Ehud Shiloni wrote (May 18, 2004):
Juozas Rimas wrote:
2) who besides Rifkin (and that one Junghanel CD) record OVPP cantatas?
====

From memory:

Parrot – BWV 198 [on Sony] and BWV 4 [on Virgin]

Kuijken - BWV 9, BWV 94, BWV 187 [on DHM]

Jefferey Thomas - BWV 4, BWV 8, BWV 198, BWV 12, BWV 131, BWV 182 and BWV 61 [on Koch]

Gabriel Jackson wrote (May 19, 2004):
[To Ehud Shiloni]
Also Paul McCreesh - Ascenscion Oratorio and Magnificat
Purcell Quartet - Lutheran Masses
(these last are very fine indeed).

Juozas Rimas wrote (May 19, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: < Hope this is helpful >
It is, for sure, thanks!

John Pike wrote (May 19, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] This is, indeed, very helpful.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (May 19, 2004):
Juozas Rimas wrote: < 2) who besides Rifkin (and that one Junghanel CD) record OVPP cantatas? >
Parrott also did the opening chorus of BWV 11 (Easter Oratorio, but the length of a cantata) and BWV 249 (Ascension Oratorio, but again the length of a cantata)

then of course there's McCreesh's SMP-of which even the soprano in rip (the unison part usually sung by the boy's choir) is a female soprano

>3) why Herreweghe, Koopman, Suzuki, Gardiner etc do not use OVPP?
Didn't Herreweghe do the motets OVPP or 2VPP? for some of the choral sections in his MBM, Gardiner uses OVPP

p.s. who can forget (if they've ever heard it) Mozart's OVPP indications in his orchestration of Messiah-works wonderfully!

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 20, 2004):
[To Juozas Rimas & Matthew Neugebauer] Sigiswald Kuijken recorded 3 Cantatas: BWV 9, BWV 94, BWV 187 OVPP. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Kuijken.htm [C-3]

In the current Bach Festival in Leipzig, I heard him last Sunday doing Cantata BWV 11 OVPP with different line of soloists. Although all 4 vocal soloists were excellent and the match between their voices was better than with the soloists of the CD, there were balance problems between them and instrumental ensemble (La Petite Bande) in the choral movements. Judging by my ears, I feel that small choir would serve the music better.



Continue on Part 10


Choir Form: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
One-Voice-Per-Part (OVPP):
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19
Books about OVPP:
The Essential Bach Choir [by Andrew Parrott] | Bach's Choral Ideal [by Joshua Rifkin]: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýMay 30, 2005 ý21:56:02