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OVPP (One-Voice-Per-Part)

Part 2

 

 

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Matthew Westphal
wrote (February 5, 2000): 3:54
<<[Ryan Michero] I agree that the results of one-to-a-part Bach can be very beautiful, but I've yet to be truly convinced that the principle is relevant for all of Bach's vocal works. >>
< Steven Guy wrote: Like Ryan, I too am yet to be convinced that one-to-a-part should be rule of thumb. >
For what we do now? Or for what we think Bach did? (They're not the same issue, of course.)

< Wouldn't the appearance of works for SSATB or SSAATB (and then later moving to SATB in the same work) or even SATB/SATB in double choir works indicate that in a least some instances more singers were needed than merely solo SATB? >
Rifkin, Parrott et al. are only claiming that, unless evidence in the surviving materials indicates otherwise, you'd have one singer on each part. If you have a work scored SSATB (BWV 31; the Kyrie + Gloria of the B-Minor Mass in the Dresden version) or SATB/SATB (BWV 50), then you'd have five or eight singers in those instances (as Parrott has done).

< Doesn't the B Minor Mass exhibit a variety of choral forces? (SSATB, SSAATB & SATBSATB) >
Yes, but it is a compendium of movements from a variety of choral works.

(The consensus seems to be that Bach did not intend a performance of the B-Minor Mass as a whole -- rather, that it is a sort of "reference" or idealised collection along the lines of The Art of the Fugue, which was compiled at around the same time.)

< I can't imagine singers from the choir walking on or off for various movements? Or worse, standing there the whole night, just to sing in the 'Osanna' - at least the extras would get two chances to get it right! [Snip] It just doesn't make sense to me to have two sopranos, two altos, two tenors and two basses throughout the whole work and not use all these singers all the time? Does it? >
No, it doesn't (IMHO). But it's exactly what Rifkin does in concert. (I've heard him do it live three times.) He has his five soloists -- and three local singers (who obviously have much lower fees) who slink on at the end. I think it would make a LOT more sense to go ahead and spring for eight soloist-level singers and have them switch off over the course of the performance. (I'd go ahead and get a third soprano to substitute in for the other two - and have all three of them just for "Dona nobis pacem".)

I know McCreesh has done the B-Minor Mass in concert - I wonder if he does that...

< I also worry about balance. [Snip] I know that recordings can fiddle with the balance and the results of solo voices can be very attractive. >
Rifkin and Parrott have always insisted that they do no fiddling with balances and record only with stationary microphones placed well in front of the ensemble as a whole. (No one who has witnessed any of the session has ever indicated otherwise, and I'm sure someone would have busted Rifkin or Parrott if they had seen otherwise.) Certainly the balance I have heard in Rifkin's live performances is more or less the same as on the recordings.

At one point in their exchange in EARLY MUSIC (in an article), Koopman suggested darkly that Parrott "cheated" by manipulating the balances. Parrott responded by asking, is it "cheating" with the balances to use more than twice as many singers per part as instrumentalists and then put those singers in back of those instrumentalists -- and farther away from the microphones?)

< I think that is nice to hear works performed this way but lets hope that it doesn't become the prevailing orthodoxy. >
Why exactly?

Because you prefer it the other way? That (one's preference) is ultimately the only reason that matters. Parrott has more than once expressed the wish that Koopman would just admit that he performs Bach the way he does because he prefers it so and leave it at that. (That's basically what Herreweghe said to me in an interview, by the way -- more power to him.) Reading his arguments, it seems to me that Koopman gets himself into trouble only by claiming Bach did it the way Koopman does it. (Koopman's claim is the other way around, of course, but I find him less and less convincing on that score.)

< I sung in the choir of a performance of Mozart's arrangement of Handel's Messiah and some of the choruses were sung be the soloists. Members of the audience that I spoke to afterwards were not impressed - maybe they didn't expect it or they were that mythical thing 'purists'? I don't know? Small choirs sound great in Messiah but one-voice-per-part seems to rob the work of something. I can cope with solo voice choruses in Bach but I hope we don't start getting Handel oratorios performed a la Rifkin. >
Rifkin would NOT do Händel's English oratorios one-singer-per-part -- because the evidence is very clear that Handel wrote them for a small choir.

The exceptions to that may be the works that Handel composed at Cannons for the Duke of Chandos (the Chandos Anthems, ACIS & GALATEA and the first version of ESTHER). There is apparently some evidence to indicate that there was no choir (or at least none capable of singing Handel) at Cannons or the nearby parish church. There is one recording of three of the Chandos Anthems done this way --

Matthew Westphal wrote (February 5, 2000): 3:57
< Ben Mullins wrote: Correct me if I'm wrong, but in Bach's day didn't boys reach puberty later than they (we) do nowadays? Perhaps an older 'boy' soprano (15, 16, or even 17 years old?) would have a more powerful voice. >
Yes -- and a more solid technique (and physical apparatus) as well -- one more equal to the demands of Bach's writing. That's why I much prefer women who sound (more or less) like boys in Bach to today's 9-12-year-old boy trebles. The latter are usually just not up to it, and the strain is audible.

Matthew Westphal wrote (February 5, 2000): 4:22
< Johan van Veen wrote: I don't know about the reasons of conductors to adopt this approach. I know that Rifkin has theories about the practice in Bach's days, but I don't know whether the others share his views. >
McCreesh and Parrott definitely do -- in recent years, Parrott has been the chief proponent of Rifkin's theories in print (more so than Rifkin himself). Parrott also has a book on the subject coming out in the UK in the spring.

< There are very conflicting views on this issue. In the series of books accompanying the recordings of Bach's cantatas by Ton Koopman, he has made clear that he just doesn't believe that there is any historical evidence supporting Rifkin's views. >
Koopman seems to be the current leader of the vocal opposition to Rifkin's views. Having read the series in EARLY MUSIC to which I referred earlier, it seems to me that there is less historical evidence behind Koopman's views than behind those of Rifkin and Parrott. To put it another way, Koopman's interpretation of the evidence seems much shakier to me than that of Rifkin and Parrott.

Does the public library in Utrecht or the university library have EARLY MUSIC, Johan? If so, have a look at those articles.

< So far I am not convinced either. Maybe it would be different if Rifkin was a better performer. Some on this list will thrash me, but I find Rifkin an utterly boring musician. [Snip] (I also think that Parrott's Bach recordings lack expression. They are just too British.) >
I don't entirely agree with that sentiment, but I definitely understand it. Try McCreesh (Epiphany Mass, the radio broadcast of the SMP), the Purcell Quartet (Missae BWV 234 and 235) and/or the American Bach Soloists (cantatas Vol.4 or 5).

< It is an interesting question who was singing the solo parts in Bach's cantatas. He didn't have "soloists" in the modern sense of the word. They were all part of the vocal ensemble. One wonders if the solo parts in a cantata were always sung by one singer. Could it be that for example in a cantata the tenor aria was sung by the first tenor, and then a recitative by the second tenor? >
Possible, Isuppose. But passing the part around would seem to be unnecessarily troublesome. Is there any evidence indicating that that was done? I think Parrott & Rifkin would say that if there isn't such evidence -- that if it's just a "they could have done so-and-so / they may well have done such-and-such" idea (say, passing the tenor part around) -- then whatever seems the easiest, most practical thing to do with the materials at hand (each singer singing from his own part - so there were as many singers as there were parts) was probably what was done in the event (viz. Occam's Razor)

Matthew Westphal wrote (February 5, 2000): 5:31
< Sybrand Bakker wrote: A few remarks about the theory, and I see problems in it too... Usually, if you are going to revive a Bach vocal work from the Leipzig period, it is a good idea to take the Entwurff from 1730 as a reference. >
Parrott and Rifkin maintain that it's the best idea to take the surviving performance materials (score and/or parts) as your primary reference. If there is something in another source (such as the Entwurff) that seems inconsistent with the evidence in the performing materials, then you have to work out a way to resolve the apparent conflict.

In some of Bach's sacred vocal music (BWV 21, BWV 71, SJP), there is explicit evidence (ripienists' parts, "tutti" or "ripieni" indications in the score) that there was more than one singer on each part. In light of this, Rifkin and Parrott maintain that in the cases (most of Bach's sacred vocal music) where there is no such evidence, one ought not assume out of hand that there was more than one singer per part anyway.

Here's an example of evidence for one-per-part performance. (It's not the only case, but it's a case involving music with which most of us are familiar.) The performing parts for the Missa (Kyrie + Gloria) of the B-Minor Mass (as Bach sent it to Dresden) have survived. As you all probably know, the first-soprano/tenor duet "Domine Deus" leads directly into the S2-A-T-B chorus "Qui tollis peccata mundi". In the original tenor part, "Domine Deus" continues on into "Qui tollis" without any indication of a change - no "tutti" or "chor" marking, no heading, not even a double-barline. Bach left the score and parts in Dresden - he did not direct a performance of the work there. So there seems to be no way for any choral tenors to know when to enter for the chorus "Qui tollis".

< [Sybrand Bakker] A few remarks about the theory, and I see problems in it too...
Usually, if you are going to revive a Bach vocal work from the Leipzig period, it is a good idea to take the Entwurff from 1730 as a reference.
In this memorandum Bach describes the ideal disposition. He assumes 2-3 singers per part, including soloists. Of course, this also assume there were 55 alumni in the Thomas School, who all could sing in some way. >
Rifkin and Parrott argue (with ample citations from the Entwurff for context) that Bach isn't describing the ideal disposition (scoring) of performances of his music, but rather the number of singers he needs at his disposal for the program of church music to function properly week-to-week. (Notable passage: "... three singers on each voice part, so that if one becomes ill we can at least do a double-choir motet.") They point out that the Bach cantata was far from the only music in the Thomaskirche or Nicolaikirche on a given Sunday -- there were motets (taken from published collections and usually dating from the 17th century) as well as chant, organ music and hymns. Bearing that in mind, and remembering that Bach refers throughout the Entwurff to "concertists" and "ripienists" as different from each other, Rifkin & Parrott conclude that the figure of 2-3 ("and four" would be even better") per part in the Entwurff refers to what he wanted on his roster of available musicians -- and that we shouldn't presume that Bach used that full complement of three-or-more-per-part in works where there is no indication of their presence.

< Rifkin assumes two things: Bach and his circle were very economical. They always copied the correct number of parts, and all those parts have been preserved. Also he assumes every part was used by only 1 singer. >
Why wouldn't they be economical?

Rifkin doesn't assume that all parts have been preserved - it's clear that where, for example, an SATB cantata (as shown in the score) has only surviving alto and tenor parts, then the soprano and bass parts have been lost. He does assume that where only one part for each voice range has survived or no parts at all have survived, it makes no sense to presume that there must have been extra parts that didn't survive without some indication (say, "ripieni" or "tutti" markings in the score) that such parts had once existed.

< Comments: in some cases there is one part for a concertist and one part for a ripienist. This is a clear case of more than one singer to a part. Ton Koopman states it was customary two people were singing from one part, as is shown from 18th century iconology. So, according to him, the number of parts doesn't tell us anything about the number of singers. >
When parts for both concertists and ripienists survive (or there are markings in the score indicating that there once were such parts), Parrott & Rifkin perform accordingly (viz. Parrott's St. John Passion).

The illustrations that Koopman uses as evidence that it was customary for two people to sing from one part were published in his EARLY MUSIC articles -- and in Parrott's rebuttals. To my eye (as to Parrott's), those illustrations are ambiguous at best -- and some don't look to me at all like they do to Koopman.

< In the last Utrecht Early Music Festival Jos van Veldhoven conducted a B-minor mass where all fugue entries where sung by soloists. As soon as all voices have made their entry, the entire choir starts to sing. This must go back on the ideas of Wilhelm Ehmann about 'concertisten and ripienisten in the B-minor Mass'. I have no exact details about those ideas, but I found them very unconvincing. >
I was at that concert. I found it unconvincing as well. I thought that the soloists sounded very, very good (except for tenor Jeremy Ovenden, who never sounds good, IMHO) in the fugue entries; what didn't work was having this large choir join in suddenly. If memory serves, a couple of the choruses (e.g., Crucifixus) were done by soloists throughout - and that worked quite well. The biggest failure was the Osanna, where choir one was the soloists and choir 2 was the large choir. It was inevitable, I think: the choir made the soloists seem weak and pale, the soloists made the choir sound sloppy and indistinct.

I give Jos van Veldhoven credit for the courage to try this out, though - especially at the head of an organisation with as much institutional history as the Netherlands Bach Society.

Steven Langley Guy wrote (February 5, 2000): 6:45
It strikes me that the one-to-a-part theory has already become a kind of orthodoxy. I wish people were so passionate about Bach on historical keyboard instruments instead of Steinways!

Bach may have had one singer on each line in many or most performances but was this his vision for his music? Well, probably that is a wanky question (I'm sorry) because no-one can answer it. I can tell you for sure that in music from the 17th century composers expected large numbers of choristers (well up to 18 or 20 in some works) because vocal parts demand this many voices. It just seems strange and perverse that Bach would take the "Glass-option" (Baroque minimalism) after the previous century's opulence? Well maybe Bach was the Steve Reich of his time?

I play the cornetto and I have played with sackbutt players and let me tell you all that we ain't afraid o' no boy sop'! We could blast any SATB soloists off the planet for power and volume! The problem of cornetts and baroque trombones is to play soft enough to not overcome a small choir! - Let alone a team of soloists!

See Bach BWV 135, BWV 68, BWV 4, BWV 121, BWV 28 (cornettino), BWV 23 (the Zwischen version), BWV 25, BWV 28, BWV 133, BWV 101, BWV 118, BWV 238, BWV 64. Some of these only require a single cornett on the soprano line, which may or may not be a 'Cantus Firmus'. There are other cantatas where the number of enharmonic notes in the soprano part would indicate that the specified "corno" is indeed a "cornetto" or "zink" rather than a natural horn.

I simply cannot believe that even a single 17-year-old pre-pubescent lad could match the power of a single cornetto, let alone 3 clarini and their mate on timpani!

PS. Thanks to Matthew for all his responses to these issues!

Sybrand Bakker wrote (February 5, 2000): 9:14
<< [Sybrand Bakker] A few remarks about the theory, and I see problems in it too... Usually, if you are going to revive a Bach vocal work from the Leipzig period, it is a good idea to take the Entwurff from 1730 as a reference.
In this memorandum Bach describes the ideal disposition. He assumes 2-3 singers per part, including soloists. Of course, this also assumes there were 55 alumni in the Thomas School, who all could sing in some way. >>
< Matthew Westphal wrote: Rifkin and Parrott argue (with ample citations from the Entwurff for context) that Bach isn't describing the ideal disposition (scoring) of performances of his music, but rather the number of singers he needs at his disposal for the program of church music to function properly week-to-week. (Notable passage: "... three singers on each voice part, so that if one becomes ill we can at least do a double-choir motet.") They point out that the Bach cantata was far from the only music in the Thomaskirche or Nicolaikirche on a given Sunday -- there were motets (taken from published collections and usually dating from the 17th century) as well as chant, organ music and hymns. Bearing that in mind, and remembering that Bach refers throughout the Entwurff to "concertists" and "ripienists" as different from each other, Rifkin & Parrott conclude that the figure of 2-3 ("and four" would be even better") per part in the Entwurff refers to what he wanted on his roster of available musicians -- and that we shouldn't presume that Bach used that full complement of three-or-more-per-part in works where there is no indication of their presence. >
Thank you for your insightful comments, Matthew. I have one question. I always read the Entwurff as follows:

'There should be 48 alumni of various capability, and they will be divided in 4 choirs of 12 each'.

AFAIK the custom was every Sunday a cantata at St. Thomas and a motet at St. Nicolai, the next week this procedure was reversed and the cantata was done at St. Nicolai and the motet at St. Thomas. So I read the Entwurff as providing the requirements for the first choir. An exceptional case like the SMP would have been sung by the first choir, the second choir and the third choir (the soprano in ripieno part in the opening choir and the chorale 'O Mensch bewein'). If there were as few as capable singers as you seem to imply, why write a work for double choir? After all, the Thomas school was visited by 55 alumni (who were living in the premises), there seem to have been other pupils (and far more than 55), not alumni, and not required to sing. (That's what I read from the last book by Wolff/Koopman). I hardly can't imagine as little as say 12 or 16 singers divided into two groups. Where do you read 2-3 per part is the overall number of singers Bach needed (as you seem to imply) instead of the disposition of the first choir.

Matthew Westphal wrote (February 5, 2000): 21:17
< Steven Langley Guy wrote: It strikes me that the one-to-a-part theory has already become a kind of orthodoxy. >
Well, yes... the fifteen-to-thirty-singers-to-a-part was orthodoxy for nearly a century; later eight-to-twelve-singers-to-a-part was the orthodoxy. It sure looks to me like the current orthodoxy is period-instruments-with-three-to-five-singers-to-a-part. (You find a lot more of recordings in that style coming out than you do of one-singer-per-part, even today.)

Parrott has pointed out that his position on performing Bach cantatas has been far more likely to hurt than help his performing career. Most concert presenters and record companies still run shy of one-to-a-part; "and anyway," as he has written, "the larger the performing venue and the greater the number of performers, the more I tend to get paid."

< Bach may have had one singer on each line in many or most performances but was this his vision for his music? Well, probably that is a wanky question (I'm sorry) because no-one can answer it. >
I'm afraid so. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that Bach didn't necessarily have any "vision" of his music for posterity. He was composing for that week's church services -- and for particular musicians whom he knew well. Does it really make sense that he would write and perform music that was beyond the capabilities of his performers? If nothing else, doing so would not make him look good before his employers.

< can tell you for sure that in music from the 17th century composers expected large numbers of choristers (well up to 18 or 20 in some works) because vocal parts demand this many voices. >
Yes -- for some works. (You do Biber's Missa Salisburgensis one-to-a-part and you still have an enormous complement of musicians.)

What works are you thinking of, Steven?

On the other hand, Praetorius and Schütz (as good examples of 17th-century German precursors to Bach as I can think of off the top of my head) state *explicitly* that their music is at base for single voices -- any ripienists are optional. (In fact Praetorius, echoed by some later writer-composers, says that if you have extra singers for ripieno contingents, you shouldn't group them all together in one place but rather have an extra SATB quartet or two at different spots in the church.)

< It just seems strange and perverse that Bach would take the "Glass-option" (Baroque minimalism) after the previous century's opulence? Well maybe Bach was the Steve Reich of his time? >
Was the music of the previous century really opulent all the way round? Or is it just that the relatively few opulent from the 17th century are the ones to which we're most frequently exposed today - that being because it's the opulence that makes them interesting to present-day presenters and audiences?

Also (sorry that this is getting off-topic, but Steven has unwittingly hit on a pet peeve of mine), it makes no sense to me to draw an analogy between JS Bach on the one hand and Steve Reich and Philip Glass on the other - especially in this instance. (It takes a LOT of people to do EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH.) I definitely understand the attraction of the term "minimalism" -- it probably makes sense for referring to one-singer-per-part Bach -- but the term is really a misnomer where Glass, Reich and their "school" are concerned. Follow the rhythmic patterns -- or even the scoring -- in, say, Reich's TEHILLIM or MUSIC IN TWELVE PARTS or Glass' LA BELLE ET LA BETE. There isn't much "minimalist" about it. (I think the term might better describe the music of "Holy Minimalists" such as Part and Taverner.)

< I play the cornetto and I have played with sackbutt players and let me tell you all that we ain't afraid o' no boy sop'! We could blast any SATB soloists off the planet for power and volume! >
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Steven Langley Guy wrote (February 6, 2000): 1:38
(To Matthew Westphal) Thanks for you comments.
A warning - there is a lot of information in this email off-topic.

<< Steven Langley Guy wrote: It strikes me that the one-to-a-part theory has alrbecome a kind of orthodoxy >>
< Matthew Westphal wrot: Well, yes... the fifteen-to-thirty-singers-to-a-part was orthodoxy for nearly a century; later eight-to-twelve-singers-to-a-part was the orthodoxy. It sure looks to me like the current orthodoxy is period-instruments-with-three-to-five-singers-to-a-part. (You find a lot more of recordings in that style coming out than you do of one-singer-per-part, even today.) >
Yes, this is true.

< Most concert presenters and record companies still run shy of one-to-a-part; "and anyway," as he has written, "the larger the performing venue and the greater the number of performers, the more I tend to get paid." >
In Australia we call it "Bums on seats" and you gotta have 'em if you want entrepreneurial support.

< One thing to keep in mind, though, is that Bach didn't necessarily have any "vision" of his music for posterity. He was composing for that week's church services -- and for particular musicians whom he knew well. Does it really make sense that he would write and perform music that was beyond the capabilities of his performers? >
I agree entirely but it is funny how this ethos isn't translated into others areas of Bach's music by many.

<< can tell you for sure that in music from the 17th century composers expected large numbers of choristers (well up to 18 or 20 in some works) because vocal parts demand this many voices. >>
< Yes -- for some works. (You do Biber's Missa Salisburgensis one-to-a-part and you still have an enormous complement of musicians.) >
No. For many of works (or at least works that have survived).

< What works are you thinking of, Steven? >
I'll list a few...

Jan Krtitel Tolar:

Missa Viennensis - SSSSAAAATTTTBBBB concertato, SATB cappella, 2 Cornetti, 2 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Fagotto, 3 Violins, 2 Violas, Violoncello, Violone, Organ

Miserere mei Deus - SSAATTBB concertato, SSAATTBB cappella, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Trumpets, 2 Cornetti Muti, 3 Trombones, Violone, Organ

Antonio Bertali:

Missa Archiducalis: SSATTB concertato, SSATTB ripieno, 2 Violins, 2 Cornetti, 2 Violettae, 2 Violas, Trumpet, 4 Trombones, Organ (Dated 1669) (I have the parts & score!)

Missa Nihil: SATB concertato, SATB cappella, 2 Violins, 3 Violas, 2 Cornetti, 4 Trombones, Violone, Organ

Missa Resurrectionis: SSAATTBB, 2 Violins, 4 Violettae, 2 Cornetti, 2 Trumpets, 5 Trombones, Bc (Dated 1669)

Missa Omnium Sanctorum: SSAATTBB concertato, SSAATTBB cappella, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, 3 Violae Tromboni, 2 Cornetti, Fagotto, Violone, Organ (I have the parts)

Missa Cellensis 19 voci: SSAATTBB, 2 Violins, 4 Violas, 2 Cornetti, 3 Trombones, Violone, Organ (I have the parts)

Missa Consecrationis 26: SSSAATTTBB, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Cornetti, 5 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Violone, Organ

Missa S. Spiritus: SATB SATB concertato, SATB SATB cappella, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, Viola da Braccio, 2 Cornetti, 2 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Fagotto, Violone, Organ (I my copy of this work the Cornetti (on the title page) are marked Cornettini on the parts but and switch to Cornetti mutti in some movements)

Missa Redemptoris: SSAATTBB, 2 Violins, 4 Violas, 2 Cornetti, 5 Trombones, Organ (Dated 1677)

Vidi Luciferum. de S. Michäele: SSAATTBB, 2 Violins, 2 Cornetti, 2 Violas da gamba, 3 Trombones, Violone, Organ

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber

Missa Alleluia: SATB concertato, SATB cappella, 2 Violins, 3 Violas, Violone, 2 Cornetti, 3 Trombones, 6 Trumpets, Timpani, Tiorbo, Organ (Dated 1698)

Missa Bruxellensis: SATB soli, SATB tutti (Cappella), 4 Trumpets, Timpani, 2 Cornetti, 3 Trombones, 2 Violins, 3 Violas, Bc.

Missa Christi resurgentis: SATB, SATB, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Cornetti, 2 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Violone, Organ

Giovanni Maria Bononcini

Missa brevis 2 cori con stromenti aggiunti da Harrer: SATB, SATB, 2 Violins, Viola, Cornetto, 3 Trombones, 2 Oboes, Bc (unfigured), "Basso ripieno", Cembalo, Organ (ms is dated 1752!)

Bernardino Borlasca (c.1560 - c.1631)

Scala Iacob, octonis vocibus, et varijs instrumentis omnibus anni solemnitatibus decantatanda... opus sextum. Venice: Giacomo Vincenti, 1616

1. Preparate corda vestra Domino: ChI SATB (+ Cornetto, 3 Viola da Braccia o 3 Viola da Gamba, Harp, Lirone etc.), ChII SATB (+ Cornetto, Violin, 2 Trombones)

2. Isti sunt: ChI SATB (+ Cornetto, 3 Violas, Harp, Lirone etc.), ChII SATB, (Cornetto, Violin, 2 Trombones)

10 works with the same forces +

11. Salve Regina a 16: ChI SATB, (Cornetto, 3 Violas da gamba/braccio, Harp, Lirone etc), ChII SATB, (Cornetto, Violin, 2 Trombones), ChIII SATB, (Cornetto, 3 Violas da gamba/braccio, Harp, Lirone etc.), ChIV SATB, (Cornetto, Violin, 2 Trombones)

A preface by the printer Vincenti explains "the will of the author": "The first choir is to consist of four principal parts with a soprano and a castrato or a pleasant falsetto, accompanied by a body of diverse stringed instruments such as viole da braccia or da gamba, a large harp, a lirone, or other similar instruments as are common today, especially at the Bavarian court; indeed His Serene Highness has examples of every kind of instrument of this sort, as well as men of exquisite excellence. Moreover, where the letter V. is found, the voice should sing; at the word Sinfonia the instruments should play, and at the letter T. the voices and instruments should play together. The second choir should, like the first, also consist of the same voices, but of different instruments. For, if in the first are found plucked instruments or strings, in the second should be placed wind instruments, such as cornetts and trombones, and pleasingly tempered by a violin playing the contralto part an octave above. In this same way in the first choir a cornett playing the same part, if it is a choir of viols, is such a different instrument that by following these instructions one will be assured of obtaining lovely and delightful harmony." The above works contain V and T markings at frequent intervals, whereas the earlier titles in this print are Mass movements, which do not contain such markings. The only Sinfonia indications are in the second Magnificat, where only the ChI tenor part is texted. Borlasca's work remained unperformed in the 20th Century.

Crato Bütner (1616 - 1679)

Te Deum laudamus (1662): SSATB, SATB, ATTB, 2 Violins, Viola, 2 Cornetti, 2 Trumpets, Timpani, 4 Trombones, Violone, Bc

Deus in adjiutorium meum intende: SSATB concertato, SSATB ripieno (which may be doubled or replaced by 2 Cornetti & 3 Trombones), 2 Violins, 2 Cornettini, 2 Violas, Bass Viola, Bombard Grosso

Siehe, es hat Überwunden: SSATTB concertato, SATB ripieno, 2 Violins, 2 Cornettini, 2 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Bass Viola, Bombard Grosso

Mauritio Cazzati (1620-1677)

Deus in Adjutorium meum intende: ChI SATTB, ChII SATTB ripieno (+ Cornetto, 4 Trombones), 2 Violins doubled by 2 Cornettini, Bass Viola, Bombard, Fagotto, Organ (Dated 1641)

Ignatio Donati (c.1575-1638)

Salmi Boscarecci concertati a sei voci, con aggiunta, se piace, di altre sei voci, che servono per concerto... con il basso principale per sonar nell'organo. Op.9 Venice: Alessandro Vincenti

17 works (Masses, Magnificats, Vespers Psalms etc.) with identical forces:
Choir I SSATTB soli; Choir II SSATTB ripieno, 3 violins, 3 Cornetti, 3 Trombones o Fagotti; Organ

Antonio Draghi (1634/35 - 1700)

Missa Assumptionis: SSATB concertato, SSATB cappella, 2 Cornetti, 4 Trombones, 2 Violins, 4 Violas, Violone, Organ (Dated 1684)

Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741)

My source gives the full details of 118 (surviving) works of medium to large scale for voices, choirs and instruments. Here are a few examples....

Dies Irae: SSATB concertato, SSATB ripieno, 2 Violins, Viola, 2 Cornetti Muti, 2 Trombones, Fagotto, Violoncello, Violone, Organ (Edition: FuxW series 1 Vol. 7)

Dixit Dominus: SSAATTBB, 2 Violins, Viola, Cornetto, 2 Trombones, Fagotto, Violoncello, Violone, Organ

Domine Jesu Christie: SSATB concertato, SSATB ripieno, 2 Violins, Viola, 2 Cornetti Muti, 2 Trombones, Fagotto, Violoncello, Violone, Organ (Fux W Vol.7)

Requiem et Kyrie: SSATB concertato, SSATB ripieno, 2 Violins, Viola, 2 Cornettmuti, 2 Trombones, Fagotto, Violoncello, Violone, Organ (FuxW series 1 Vol.7)

Johann Kaspar Kerll (1627-1693)

Missa 3 Chori: SATB, SATB, SATB, 2 Violins, 3 Violas, 2 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Violone, Organ (Edition DT - 49)

Sebastian Knüpfer (1633 - d Leipzig 1676)

Quare fremuerunt gentes: SSATTB concertato, SATB cappella, 2 Violins, 3 Violas, 2 Cornetto Muto, 4 Trombones, Fagotto, Organ (dated 1672 - and it should be noted that the wind instruments are concertato as in all Knüpfer works)

Surgite, populi 34: ChI SATB concertato SATB cappella; ChII SATB concertato SATB cappella; 5 Trumpets, 2 Violins, 3 Violas, 2 Cornettini, Cornetto Muto, 3 Trombones, Fagotto, Timpani, Organ (Dated 1688)

Veni Sancte Spiritus 30: SSATB concertato SSATB ripieno, 4 Trumpets, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Cornettini, 3 Trombones, Fagotto, Timpani, Organ, 5 unspecified instruments (SSATB) in ripieno, Bass continuo (Dated 1676)

Johann Kreiger (1652-1735)

Hallelujah, Lobet den Herren in seinen Heiligthum 32: SATB concertato, SATB concertato, SATB cappella, 2 Violins, 2 Violas, Violoncello, 2 Flutes, 2 Trumpets, 2 Cornettini, 3 Trombones, Cembalo, Fagotto, Cymbals, Harp, Timpani, 2 Organs (Dated 1685)

Pietro Lappi (1575-130)

Messa secondo libro: ChI SATB, ChII ATB, ChIII SATB, 2 Cornetti, ChIV SATB, Cornetto, Violin, Trombone, Organ

Sebastian Lemmle (fl 1630s)

I have details of 29 works in large to very large settings. Two examples...

Allein Gott in der Höhe sey Ehr 22 in Echo: ChI 2 Violins, 2 Violas, Violone: ChII SSATB; ChIII SATB; ChIV 2 Cornetti, 6 Trombones; Cappella SATB; Tiorbo, Violone, Organ (parts dated 1635)

Jauchtzet dem Herren alle weldt: ChI SSSATB, ChII SATB, ChIII 2 Cornetti, 4 Trombones, ChIV Tenor solo, 4 viola da gamba, ChV 6 Trumpets; Organ

Johann Rosenmüller (1619-1684)

Laudate pueri Dominum concertato con istromenti e tromba: SSSSAATTBB, 2 Violins, 2 Violettae, Fagotto, Trumpet, 2 Cornetti, 3 Trombones, Bc
___________________________________________________________

There are hundreds more...

It was hard to pick what to include but I tried to pick average works. Some composers seemed to write only large scaled stuff. Praetorius, for instance, gives a range of informed options with his works, which offer variable models of performance. I accept that there is a large amount of vocal concerti or symphoniae sacrae for small numbers of singers and musicians but there is a hell of a lot for large to very large-scale performance! And that is just the stuff that has survived until out time! How much more has been lost? Look at the composer Giovanni Felice Sances (1600-1679) a large amount of his work has survived but we also have fairly detailed information of many many works that have been lost. Sances also wrote large scaled music.

< On the other hand, Praetorius and Schütz (as good examples of 17th-century German precursors to Bach as I can think of off the top of my head) state explicitly that their music is at base for single voices -- any ripienists are optional. (In fact Praetorius, echoed by some later writer-composers, says that if you have extra singers for ripieno contingents, you shouldn't group them all together in one place but rather have an extra SATB quartet or two at different spots in the church.) >
This is true but both Schütz and particularly Praetorius supply information about choirs singing in their works. Schütz was taught by Gabrieli and the cappella parts of his works are most definitely to be sung by a moderate sized choir. The Rifkin Bach thing I can accept but to try to strip earlier music down to basics is misguided.

< Was the music of the previous century really opulent all the way round? Or is it just that the relatively few opulent from the 17th century are the ones to which we're most frequently exposed today - that being because it's the opulence that makes them interesting to present-day presenters and audiences? >
Emphatically NO! I wish people would put on more of this repertoire! There are hundreds and hundreds of works languishing on dusty shelves by composers like Biber (!), Schmelzer, Fux, Scheidt etc.

< Also (sorry that this is getting off-topic, but Steven has unwittingly hit on a pet peeve of mine), it makes no sense to me to draw an analogy between JS Bach on the one hand and Steve Reich and Philip Glass on the other - especially in this instance. (It takes a LOT of people to do EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH.) I definitely understand the attraction of the term "minimalism" -- it probably makes sense for referring to one-singer-per-part Bach -- but the term is really a misnomer where Glass, Reich and their "school" are concerned. Follow the rhythmic patterns -- or even the scoring -- in, say, Reich's TEHILLIM or MUSIC IN TWELVE PARTS or Glass' LA BELLE ET LA BETE. There isn't much "minimalist" about it. (I think the term might better describe the music of "Holy Minimalists" such as Part and Tavener.) >
I'm sorry I was borrowing the word. I like Glass and Reich and think that the term "minimalism" is strange when applied to many of their works. Glass's operas are certainly rich and full of sound. Maybe the word I was looking for was anorexic?

< I play the cornetto and I have played with sackbutt players and let me tell you all that we ain't afraid o' no boy sop'! We could blast any SATB soloists off the planet for power and volume! >
Point taken. But the point I was making was that early music voices, particularly boy sopranos and "Emma Kirkby" type female sopranos need to be heard above instruments or at least hold their own. As far as Bach goes - well, at least his ensemble never gets too large. But for Hofer, Biber, etc.?

I will look into this further but I hope Rifkin sticks to JSB and Scott Joplin!

But let's not forget that even in Bach's time and beyond the Stadtpfeiffen played the chorales outdoors on a cornetto and three trombones and could be heard for miles! What did Bach's one (or two) boy soprano(s) do when these guys moved into church?



Continue to Part 3


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: June 17, 2005 17:12:37