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Performance of Bach’s Vocal Works
General Discussions - Part 19

Continue from Part 18

Bach Cantata Performance As Originally Intended

Paul T. McCain wrote (October 30, 2008):
Just thought the group would like to know that it is possible to find the Bach cantatas being used, to this day, in Lutheran congregations, as they were originally intended and designed: as part and parcel of the Lutheran Hauptgottesdienst, or Chief Divine Service. Our congregation in Des Peres, Missouri is offering the following. It is good to know, that from time to time, Bach is heard in congregations, rather than concert halls.

The Book, the Bridegroom, the Bride, and Bach
Sunday, November 9, 2008

8:00, 9:30, & 11:00 AM Divine Services

The Old Testament book of The Song of Songs (The Song of Solomon)
Jesus' "Parable of the Ten Virgins" (Matthew 25: 1-13)

Christ the Bridegroom and His bride, the Church

J.S. Bach's Cantata BWV 140, "Wake, Awake for Night is Flying"

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Mitchell. guest preacher
Adult Choir, School Choir, soloists, orchestra

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 30, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Any chance it will be recorded, at least for the congregation's web site?

Are they doing it at all three services that day?

I still like the liturgical performance of Mozart's Requiem that served as most of JFK's funeral. The chanted sections and the organ prelude/postlude brought it up to about 85 minutes. (It was published as an RCA 2-LP set.) The piece makes a much different effect when its movements are not all next to one another as they are in concerts.-

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 31, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< I still like the liturgical performance of Mozart's Requiem that served as most of JFK's funeral. The chanted sections and the organ prelude/postlude brought it up to about 85 minutes. (It was published as an RCA 2-LP set.) The piece makes a much different effect when its movements are not all next to one another as they are in concerts. >
Actually, the Mozart Requiem was performed at the mass marking the first year "memory" of JFK's death.

Evidently, Erich Leinsdorf, the conductor of the Boston Symphony, was horrified at the music of the actual funeral which, in true Irish-American fashion, was mostly sentimental Marian hymns. He took it upon himself to convince the Boston Symphony and Chorus and a quartet of first-rank soloists to donate their services to a full Austrian high mass.

The Boston Catholic establishment was not pleased and there was much grumbling about noisy German music-making. However the presence of Jacqueline Kennedy and Cardinal Cushing silenced the complaints and a full Viennese high mass was mounted.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 31, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Evidently, Erich Leinsdorf, the conductor of the Boston Symphony, was horrified at the music of the actual funeral which, in true Irish-American fashion, was mostly sentimental Marian hymns. >
A listing of the music peformed at President Kennedy's funeral can be found at the John F. Kennedy library and museum: http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Funeral+Music.htm

I don't believe there was really enough time to mount a performance at the funeral, which was undersstandable, given the circumstances.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 31, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Good point about it not being the actual funeral; my mistake. However, it wasn't a year later, either, but only about seven weeks. That recorded service was from January 19th, 1964, according to the front of the LP box. The soloists were Sara Mae Endich, Eunice Alberts, Nicholas DiVirgilio, and Mac Morgan. Leinsdorf led the Boston Symphony and four combined choruses.

I wasn't big enough at the time to be aware of it.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 1, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>Good point about it [Mozart Requiem for JFK] not being the actual funeral; my mistake. However, it wasn't a year later, either, but only about seven weeks. That recorded service was from January 19th, 1964, according to the front of the LP box.<
My LP box reads the same! Date confirmed by other internet sources.

BL:
>I wasn't big enough at the time to be aware of it.<
EM:
I was. Rumors of internecine squabbling are greatly exaggerated.

Vivat205 wrote (November 1, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< I still like the liturgical performance of Mozart's Requiem that served as most of JFK's funeral. The chanted sections and the organ prelude/postlude brought it up to about 85 minutes. (It was published as an RCA 2-LP set >
I got it (the complete mass, not just the Requiem) on a 2-CD Japanese RCA Red Seal set a couple of years ago -- # BVCC-38391-92. Front cover is in English but the back cover and the booklet are entirely in Japanese.

Mary wrote (November 1, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Both Holy Trinity Lutheran in NYC and Christ the King Lutheran in Houston have well-established series of Bach Vespers during the year. The Holy Trinity series has been going since the 1960s. The Thomaskirche in Leipzig regularly does cantatas on the weekends, often accompanied by the Gewandhaus orchestra.

Mary wrote (November 1, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad, have you ever heard the old 1950s recording of the Mozart Requiem on Archiv that was recorded in the Dom in Vienna? It was also done in the full liturgical setting. It was my introduction to the piece.

Mary wrote (November 2, 2008):
Holy Trinity also often observes the anniversary of Bach's death with a Sunday morning service incorporating one of the cantatas.

William Hoffman wrote (November 2, 2008):
Bach Cantata Performance..."Assembledges"

Thank you for the valuable references to the Mozart-Kennedy recording and other sources. For me, McCreesh has opened up a whole new world of context and enhanced enjoyment and appreciation. To the list of "assembledges," I would propose several Bach-related settings as well-regulated music for the church year. There could be the full Passion Vesper Service on Good Friday in Leipzig (Rost, 1723-31), with a Bach Passion plus chorales and motets. I believe the only "reading" of the Gospel is within the Oratorio-Passion setting. The Passion Collect is intoned. I'm not sure about any organ prelude or postlude during Lent. To McCreesh's Bach Epiphany(Christmas) setting I would add Easter, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday Festival Services. Also, there are at least three CD settings of the German Organ Mass (ClavierUebung-Cathechism chorales) -- Hänssler, Veldhoven-Channel Classics, and Suzuki-BIS -- as well as the Deutsche Messe chorales (BWV 371, 260, 437, 325, 401). There also is a pasticcio Bach Advent Oratorio, "Good Tidings of Great Joy" by Richard T. Gore (Concordia, 1970), who also did a realization of the entire SMkP, BWV 247, in English (Chantry Press, ?1984). Now there's a banquet for thought as we enter the third cycle of discussion!

As for the Mozart (Kennedy) Requiem service setting, I believe there is a long history of composite Requiems, including those involving Monteverdi (lost), Verdi, and Rilling's Requiem of Reconciliation. It appears that Kennedy's death not only led to the anniversary Mozart Requiem and Bernstein's Mass but a possible alternative to the Mozart anniversary performance involving movements solicited from Samuel Barber's "Agnus dei," Stravinsky, and Bernstein, among others. Apparently, Bernstein was intrigued to take the lead but after talking to Jackie Kennedy and Cardinal Cushing, opted for his Mass some six years later at the dedication of the Kennedy Center.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 3, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< As for the Mozart (Kennedy) Requiem service setting, I believe there is a long history of composite Requiems, including those involving Monteverdi (l), Verdi, and Rilling's Requiem of Reconciliation. It appears that Kennedy's death not only led to the anniversary Mozart Requiem and Bernstein's Mass but a possible alternative to the Mozart anniversary performance involving movements solicited from Samuel Barber's "Agnus dei," Stravinsky, and Bernstein, among others. Apparently, Bernstein was intrigued to take the lead but after talking to Jackie Kennedy and Cardinal Cushing, opted for his Mass some six years later at the dedication of the Kennedy Center. >
Bernstein's "Mass" was resurrected just last week in Baltimore, conducted by Alsop. There was a big story about it in the Washington Post: a full-page article in the "Style" section M with lots of photos. The reviewer said she was present at a 1972 New York performance at age 6, since a relative was singing the role of the Celebrant.

The web site isn't working properly for me this morning, but that article "should be" showing up here:
http://tinyurl.com/5ut93h

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 3, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Bernstein's "Mass" was resurrected just last week in Baltimore, conducted by Alsop. There was a big story about it in the Washington Post: a full-page article in the "Style" section M with lots of photos. >
It's worth noting that Bernstein's "Mass" is a theatre piece not a liturgical work,

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 3, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It's worth noting that Bernstein's "Mass" is a theatre piece not a liturgical work, >
Just like Verdi's Requiem and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and most 18th century settings of the Mass (highly theatrical concerted music that had NOTHING to do with the spirit of the Mass or anything to do with community singing), despite their performances in churches.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 3, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] It's worth noing that all the great concerted 18th settings of the Catholic mass were written to be performed as liturgical settings within the celebration of mass. Bach's Mass in B Minor may or may not have been performed at Dresden, and the Missa Solemnis was intended for the installation of a princely prelate (Beethoven missed the deadline). All of Haydn and Mozart's masses were sung liturgically. Although scale has been used as an argument that Bach and Beethoven's settings are "closet" masses, we know that Beethoven expected both of his masses to be sung as part of a liturgy.

The "spirit" of the mass in the 18th century did not envisage any congregational participation (unlike Bach's Lutheran situation). Congregations at the Tridentine mass were mute observers who didn't even receive communion. This was especially so in cathedral and courtly churches where there were large budgets for commissions and performers.

In village churches in Germany and Austria, there was still a tradition dating to the Renaissance of metrical hymns being sung while the priest said the mass. Joseph II of Austria and his friends in the hierarchy (Mozart's much-maligned Archbishop Collerdo among them) tried to promote congregational singing and a reduction in "art music" settings. The Josephist reform did not succeed, although Schubert's "Deutsche Messe" is a part of the tradition.

Congregational singing of the official parts of the mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Gradual, etc.) was not promoted until after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The present resurgence of the "extraordinary" form of the Tridentine mass has meant the suppression of much congregational music in favour of plainsong and art settings performed by choirs.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 3, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Congregational singing of the official parts of the mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Gradual, etc.) was not promoted until after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The present resurgence of the "extraordinary" form of the Tridentine mass has meant the suppression of much congregational music in favour of plainsong and art settings performed by choirs. >
Yes, talk about real theatrics in churches: Tridentine Latin Masses, or as I call it-- liturgy for the voodoo lovers. I've always asked that crowd, why is it you believe God loves Latin, such a vulgar lingo? Why not Greek? Or better yet, why not Hebrew or Aramaic, definitely the language of the Bible? One true mark of a "traditionalist" is to watch their reaction during the sign of peace, for some odd reason, they despise it. They'd rather have a relataionship with a dead tongue more than with the person sitting next to them.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 3, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Or the person sitting next to them giving them tongue.

Back on the Bernstein Mass, since we're off topic anyway: anybody here like the Nagano recording? I don't; it lacks some pizzazz, compared with Bernstein's original. I hope Alsop has a go at recording it, based on the current production.

Mary (Arthur Ness) wrote (November 3, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] An addition to your list (one each week):
http://emmanuelmusic.org/concerts/cantatas.htm

=====AJN (Boston, Mass.)=====

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 3, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Or the person sitting next to them giving them tongue. >
Only in Charismatic/Pentecostal parishes. :-P

< Back on the Bernstein Mass, since we're off topic anyway: anybody here like the Nagano recording? I don't; it lacks some pizzazz, compared with Bernstein's original. I >
Agreed with you on that one.

Evan Cortens wrote (November 3, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
<< Yes, talk about real theatrics in churches: Tridentine Latin Masses, or as I call it-- liturgy for the voodoo lovers. I've always asked that crowd, why is it you believe God loves Latin, such a vulgar lingo? Why not Greek? Or better yet, why not Hebrew or Aramaic, definitely the language of the Bible? One true mark of a "traditionalist" is to watch their reaction during the sign of peace, for some odd reason, they despise it. They'd rather have a relataionship with a dead tongue more than with the person sitting next to them. >>
< Or the person sitting next to them giving them tongue. >
I think the topic of this group is pretty broadly construed, and certainly includes discussion of religion, seeing as how the cantatas were religious music. However, I think we must be careful to avoid denigration of any liturgical tradition, no matter whose they may be. I think there is perhaps a place for that, but I might argue that here is not it.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 3, 2008):
AJN wrote:
< An addition to your list (one each week):
http://emmanuelmusic.org/concerts/cantatas.htm
=====AJN (Boston, Mass.)===== >
Alert to the extremely picky: the Emmanuel Music performances are Anglican rather than Lutheran, in a church which takes pride in its open-minded (not to say liberal) leanings.

For those adept at Boston transportation, it is enlightening to listen to the WGBH broadcast at 8:00 AM, then make it to the 10:00 AM service.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 3, 2008):
Bach Cantata Performances [OT?]

>One true mark of a "traditionalist" is to watch their reaction during the sign of peace, for some odd reason, they despise it. They'd rather have a relationship with a dead tongue more than with the person sitting next to them.<
What ever happened to <love your neighbor>? Oh yeah, good works dont count in heaven.

No <dead tongue> humour from this Old Dude, but I did note contributions from others.

William Hoffman wrote (November 4, 2008):
Thanks to all of you who contributed to this subtopic. The New York Times had one advance story rehashing the response, especially's Schoenberg's. It included digs at Swartz' lyrics and the passing of the peace at the end. I had the priviledge of covering the Southwest Premiere of Mass in 1974 at the University of New Mexico's superlative Popjoy Hall. It was a joint production of four UNM departments: music, theater, dance and art. The three performances were sold out and the closing passing of the peace was memo, with an audience of town's people, university members and a large contingent of Episcopalians attending a regional conference. Yes,
there have been few repeat performances or revivals, altho I think there is a chamber version.

While Mass is indeed a theatrical (semi-staged) piece, it contains the Mass text, both Ordinary and Proper, as well as interpolative commentary in the manner of Bach's liturgical Passions. I can think of no other setting that uses both texts, perhaps Penderecki. What impresses me is that in the Proper, there are several texts from the Jewish Testament, most notably the opening: "Introibo ad altare Dei" ("I will go up to the altar of God"), Psalm 43:4; as well as Psalm 31, De Profundis, as a meditation; the Sanctus & Benedictus in Hebrew; and the hymn Almighty Father.

It is my understaning that Naxos may record Alsop's rendition, which also was done this past summer at, yes, the Hollywood Bowl!

 

Early bach performance

Julian Mincham wrote (January 23, 2009):
I am indebted to Teri Noel Towe for reminding me, in a recent exchange, of the chapter on the St Matthew Passion in Henry Wood's biography My Life of Music (a book I read as a student and always intended to re-read).?Wood created the Proms in London and was responsible for a number of?forward looking practices?ranging from championing 'modern composers' (the first conductor to perform works of Schoenberg in England for example) and he was a great advocate for women mucisians, unlike several other conductors of his time.

The interest for this list is what he has to say about Bach performance, size of choirs (over 300 in 1908!) and orchestras (12--yes twelve double basses!) and harpsichord (he was against it, not really surprising with those forces). Also telling is an exchange with Busoni 'You must do it [a 'historical performance of the SMP] in a church or in a very small hall seating not more than 300 people. You must use Bach's original instruments ----with an Orchestra of 28 and a Chorus of 40; but this would be absurd? in a large hall-in a modern Festival'.

An interesting document of how attitudes and prevailing practices have changed so radically in under a century.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 23, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote (citing Wood):
>You must use Bach's original instruments ----with an Orchestra of 28 and a Chorus of 40; but this would be absurd? in a large hall-in a modern Festival'.<
Curiously, these would be large forces by todays standards, at the outer limits of what might be embraced by the HIP umbrella. Boston's Cantata Singers are about that size, as is the Suzuki recording ensemble (I believe).

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 23, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote (citing Wood):
< You must do it [a 'historical performance of the SMP] in a church or in a very small hall seating not more than 300 people. You must use Bach's original instruments ----with an Orchestra of 28 and a Chorus of 40; but this would be absurd? in a large hall-in a modern Festival'. >
It's worth pointing out that Bach did not perform his choral works with small forces in a small building: he performed his works with small forces in a very large building. I forget the actual number of people which Tanya Kervorkian posits attended St. Thomas' on a Sunday morning, but, with its original pews and galleries, it must have seated nearly a thousand people. St. Thomas' is bigger than Westminster Abbey. It ain't no village church.

 

Multiple approach to Bach

Terejia wrote (January 13, 2009):
In Japan, the author/researcher to whom many Bach fans refer themselves is Mr. Masashi Isoyama and Mr. Isoyama refers J.S.Bach to be "an Evangelist of the soul". Until I came to learn different approaches than this in this list, I had taken evangelical approach to be a standard. It is good that I learned different approach.

Last night, I was reading a short biography of major performers in Wiki, both in English and in Japanese. Some of them like Richter/ Rilling seem to have a solid evangelical background while other major HIP oriented performers seem to have more background in musical education itself. I have a personal fugitive impression that HIP performers might be paying more attention to scientific/mathematical approach in order to express objective beauty of the music itself.

I have yet to examine if Richter and/or Rilling consciously take evangelical approach in their Bach performance. It doesn't seem to be correct either if I say that those two maestro neglected scientific/mathematical approach. Indeed when it comes to Rilling I have personal impression that he takes much effort in objective expression of music itself.

When it comes to Richter, amateur listener's first impression tends to be inclined to believe that he has conscious approach to Bach as "an evangelist of soul" even though I fail to find any evidence so far. In a careful listening it sounds Richter does have objective approach with occasional exception. For me Richter still seems to have much mystery.

Mount Fuji has several routes for climbers to go up (if you pardon me using Japanese analogy here).

Uri Golomb wrote (February 27, 2009):
[To Terejia] The recent discussion on the B-minor Mass reminded me of a debt I owe to the list - one which probably no-one but me is aware of. Terejia, in the message quoted below (I've quoted it in full since it's over a month old, and might not be fresh in people's memories), raised some points and questions regarding the approaches to Bach in as "evangelical" or "mathematical", both in general and specifically with reference to the performances of Rilling and Richter.

Well, as it happens, I discussed this very topic extensively in my dissertation, and meant - and then forgot - to mention this. To be very brief - my main point is that, as far as performance is concerned, the "evangelist" and "mathematician" views of Bach have surprisingly much in common, esp. in the 20th century. The Lutheran approach to Bach has increasingly encouraged the emergence of an objectivist, ascetic performance aesthetics, much in line with the mathematical image. This wasn't always the case - Spitta and Schweitzer, to name just the two most famous examples, both had an image of Bach's music as both intensely religious and intensely expressive - but in more recent decades, the view that Bach's Lutheranism encouraged him to create reserved, somewhat impersonal music has been very influential.

As I said earlier today, my dissertation can be downloaded in full from http://snipr.com/ugphd_abs ; the most relevant chapter is chapter 3: "Bach as Lutheran: Karl Richter and Helmuth Rilling". I also discussed these questions specifically with regards to Rilling in an article on his interpretations of the Mass, drawn largely from the PhD: that's on http://snipr.com/golomb_rilling .

Sorry for my tardiness.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 28, 2009):
Uri wrote:
< Terejia, in the message quoted below (I've quoted it in full since it's over a month old, and might not be fresh in people's memories), raised some points and questions regarding the approaches to Bach in as "evangelical" or "mathematical", both in general and specifically with reference to the performances of Rilling and Richter. >
Well, as it happens, I discussed this very topic extensively in my dissertation, and meant - and then forgot - to mention this. To be very brief - my main point is that, as far as performance is concerned, the "evangelist" and "mathematician" views of Bach have surprisingly much in common, esp. in the 20th century.<

Without making the effort to access Uris thesis (rewarding as that might be at some point), I would suggest that the distinction betweeen evangelist and mathematician is artificial. As I read the evidence, Bach supports the relationship between numbers and spirit at every opportunity. His music expresses that relation, as well.

John Pike wrote (February 28, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] I agree. I don't think there is any conflict between "mathematical" aspects of Bach's music and the other aspects, including the artistic/aesthetic beauty. The sense of proportion, rhythm, structure etc all add to the effect. Some people complain that Bach's music is "too mathematical" but my view is that, almost without even trying, it is also some of the most deeply expressive and emotional music ever written.

Uri Golomb wrote (February 28, 2009):
[To John Pike] I would certainly concur. My original point was not about Bach's music in itself, but about later images of it - the way people thought about his music, talked about it and performed it. My own (hardly unique) view is that Bach's most elaborate and complex works are often profoundly expressive, not despite their complexity but because of it (the different lines in Bach's dense polyphonic textures generate inner dialogue, even inner conflict; harmonic complexity enhances the sense of dramatic tension).

However, there have been prominent writers, musicologists, analysts and performers who thought that Bach's music is essentially restrained and objective, that its complexity was a substitute to intensity. I don't accept this view - but I cannot deny its existence or its influence; and my point was that this austere view of Bach's music has been promoted using both the "evangelical" and the "mathematical" images (both of which, I believe, have much truth in them - and neither of which tells the whole story). In particular, this view of Bach-the-impersonal has impacted upon - and been promoted by - influential Bach performers, who, in their renditions, downplayed the music's expressive import. The opposite danger - of overplaying the drama at the expense of the complexity - also exists, of course. The ideal, for me, is for performers to try and project both elements, though obviously that's not at all easy.

John Pike wrote (February 28, 2009):
[To Uri Golomb] I had understood this point, Uri, and I agree with everything you wrote in your e mail below and in the previous one.

Many thanks to all those who have recommended the Bernius, Veldhoven and Mynkovski recordings of the MBM. I have decided to get them all! I have a very large number of recordings already, but these do seem to come very highly recommended. For those living in the UK, the Bernius (Carus) is available on MDT but not, so far as I can see, on Amazon.co.uk. The Mynkovski will be available on Amazon.co.uk later in March.

 

Mystery

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (January 26, 2011):
I am planning to get a group together to perfomr a few of Bach's Cantatas. However, I have encountered some obstacles in doing this resulting from the way the instrumentation is listed.

The first is what trumpet or trombone is needed when Bach calls for Tromba da tirisi or Zug Tromba This solution is not as easy as it seems. I have been told that he did not want trumpets at all but basson. Other research seems to show that this is somekind of trombone in the Soprano range. Are there any Brass players on this list that could speak more authoritatively on this.

This other problem comes from Continuo. The old saw is that the Harpsichord is never used except when the Organ is down. The Organ in many cases can do Continuo perfectly well In the score of the Magnificat and in BVW 29 (Kalmus edition) we have an Organ part plus continuo part which is basically the same part as the organ.

Those of you who have the Harnoncourt recordings of the these works know that Harnoncourt used several different instruments for the Continuo with Organ. Unfortunately, today the average player of one line instruments does not know how to do figured bass readings. So did Harmoncourt have a score printed out with the figured bass already done for the one line instruments and what about the Organ part in BVW 29 which is doing what amounts to a Concerto for Organ while in the same part of the score we have figured bass below the organ part. I find this very confusing.

Next problem is finding Oboe da caccias. Supposedly, according to Wikipedia, a number of people make these but when I have tried to contact them to commissiion such an instrument ---it has ended in failure. Anyone know where we could rent or purchase an Oboe da caccia which is essential to play the taille parts of Bach's scores. I refuse to use substitutes as was done in the past as I want as nearly authentic sound as we can create today.

Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote (January 26, 2011):
[To Ludwig] First, where do you live? If in Europe, you can find good musicians who play those instruments. Ifyou live in some country in the Americas... well, quite difficult or almost impossible. Plus, if you rent the instruments, the musicians need to learn how the play the instruments which takes quite some time.

About the continuo: use only a continuo organ for most of the cantatas. I just conducted the Magnificat and used the harpsichord plus the organ in some parts. A teorbo is very nice, at least, looking at it (it does not have a big sound).

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 26, 2011):
Ludwig wrote:
< The first is what trumpet or trombone is needed when Bach calls for Tromba da tirisi or Zug Tromba
This other problem comes from Continuo. we have an Organ part plus continuo part which is basically the same part as the organ.Unfortunately, today the average player of one line instruments does not know how to do figured bass readings.
what about the Organ part in BVW 29 which is doing what amounts to a Concerto for Organ while in the same part of the score we have figured bass below the organ part. I find this very confusing.
Next problem is finding Oboe da caccias. >
Unless you have the participation of an experienced period-instrument orchestra, you should probably rely on using players with modern instruments.

Finding players of the Tromba da tirisi (a Renaissance slide trumpet) and oboe da caccia (alto oboe) is an impossible task. The latter are especially difficult to play even by first-rate players. Much safer to play on Cor Anglais (English Horn).

Modern trumpets and trombone produce too large a sound for the Tromba part. If you are using a large organ, you might consider a solo stop or give it to an oboe.

Most modern orchestral parts provide an organ part which is a realization of the figured bass This realization often also appears in the full score.

Wir Danken Dir (BWV) opens with a sinfonia which has a virtuoso single line for organ solo based on the E Major Violin Partita. Bach includes the bass line for the organist without figures. Dreyfus discusses the cantata extensively in "Bach's Continuo Group" and concludes that both organ and harpsichord were used, the latter realizing the bass line.

Good luck.

 

New opportunities to play the cantatas

Julian Mincham wrote (April 28, 2017):
I have been given permission to reproduce the following article which some members might find of interest. It is from The Chamber Musician, a periodical published by Chamber Musicians of Northern California, vol 27, no1, April 2017.

The project aims to make available both scores and parts of all the cantata arias and the bulk of the choruses arranged for small chamber groups.It is a marvellous opportunity for groups of students and amateurs to get involved in the experience of actually performing these workswhen the full forces are not available. All can be downloaded from ISMLP. Julian Mincham.

"The Bach Cantata Project: Peter Lang, Russ Bartoli, and Johann Sebastian Bach:
By Elizabeth Morrison

About five years ago Peter Lang, whom many of us know as an energetic violinist from Vancouver, inherited a collection of CDs. Among them was a recording, by Itzhak Perlman, Kathleen Battle, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, of arias for soprano and violin from eleven of Bach’s cantatas. Peter fell in love with the music. From his enthusiasm was born an ambitious project: to transcribe Bach’s over 200 cantatas so they could be played by chamber ensembles.

But wait–there are over 200 Bach cantatas? Indeed there are. Scholars say that Bach may have written even more, but 209 survive, each with multiple movements. Though the cantatas are not uniform, a “typical” cantata has six or seven movements: an opening chorus, four or five recitativesand arias, and a closing choral. Some have more. We are talking about over 1500 separate pieces, or about eighty hours of music, all on the very highest level of musical achievement. It is, as the Bach scholar Julian Mincham has written on his website, JSBachcantatas.com, “surely one of the greatest canons of Western music.” Transcribing this much music is a massive undertaking and requires dedication to the point of obsession.

Peter, as his friends well know, is always in pursuit of new musical delights. He has a perhaps unequaled collection of chamber pieces for every possible combination of instruments. For years, he had a regular chamber group that met weekly and never repeated anything. I won’t guess that he was running out of obscure nonets to play with his friends, but I can easily imagine how inspired he must have been to find a trove of great pieces he could add to his library once he had transcribed them to chamber music form.

A year or so into the project he was joined by Russ Bartoli, the San Francisco cellist and pillar of our musical community. Peter originally asked Russ, who is well versed in music theory, to review his transcriptions. Russ in turn was bitten by the Bach bug, and began doing transcriptions as well. Today the two of them have the end of their labors within sight. Many of Russ’s transcriptions are already on IMSLP. Use this linkor search IMSLP for “Bartoli, Russ,” and you will find a trove of transcriptions, including Bach movements and much more (he has also transcribed music by Purcell, Beethoven, Telemann—you will be amazed.) As for Peter, he is planning to go on line with one big splash with all his transcriptions when he is finished. Both are making their work free of charge under IMSLP’s Creative Commons provision.

Peter’s original plan was to transcribe the arias and duets like the ones on the CD. He expanded his reach as he went along, and has now covered all the arias, duets and trios, and some choruses—over 850 movements in all. He uses as many instruments as are needed for the lines in the originals, using ensembles ranging from duets to octets. He has made multiple versions of most of them, so they can be played in different combinations: regular string quartet, three violins and cello, four violins, four cellos, flute or oboe in place of violin, and so on. He stayed away from the large-scale orchestra and chorus numbers, which he describes as the “hard parts.” These are the ones Russ has taken on. Neither of them is transcribing the recitatives, the lightly accompanied vocal pieces where the focus is on just the melody and the words.

Russ confirms that the big pieces indeed present significant challenges, mainly because they include so many voices. For example, this linkis to his transcription of the opening chorus of Cantata 78 for two violins, two violas and two cellos. The original instrumentation called for a flute, two oboes, one horn, strings, a four-part choir and basso continuo—a total of 13 separate lines. Some pieces have as many as 20 lines. It takes skill to reduce the number of lines from 13 to six without losing anything; Russ says his motto is “First, do no harm.” He has transcribed some of the large works for as many as nine instruments, but mostly he keeps them to a number that can be plausibly assembled in his music room. He especially likes transcribing for a string septet of three violins, two violas and two cellos, which he finds has a Bachian balance of treble and bass voices that fits well with the resonances of the original.

Why have Peter and Russ gone to such lengths to make this music available? They were struck originally by the comparative obscurity of the cantatas, compared with more popular Bach pieces like the Brandenburg Concertos, violin sonatas and cello suites. The G major cello suite, for example, has long been famous enough to sell products on TV, including American Express cards and kitty-themed neck pillows. While a few cantatas are familiar, and some arias are repertory staples to singers, the bulk of music is somewhat remote.

This may be partly because of their foundational religiosity. The “sacred” cantatas (which is most of them) were written for Lutheran church services and are deeply imbued by what Alex Ross called, in a recent New Yorker article, “Bach’s unruly obsession with God.” Like Haydn’s Seven Last Words, there is not an easy approach to the cantatas outside of their original religious context. This is where Peter and Russ come in. Their transcriptions give us a path by which we can finesse the religious implications and proceed straight to the music.

On the other hand, access to the religious content can add to your depth of experience, if you are so inclined. Knowing the music intimately means that you would know the words of the vocal pieces and have a sense of their place in the liturgy. This is knowledge I like to have. Julian Mincham’s website JSBachCantatas, mentioned above, makes an excellent companion to the transcriptions. For example, one of the pieces on the Battle-Perlman CD is the soprano aria from Cantata 115. Using the online resources we have today, including IMSLP for the vocal score, Emmanuelmusic for translation, and JSBachcantatas for insight, I learned that when Kathleen Battle first enters, after the lovely introduction, she is singing the word Bete, pray. The falling two-note phrase, over a dissonant harmonic suspension, conveys, Mincham suggests, resignation and entreaty. Of course you do not need to know the words to appreciate the music, and you can certainly hear the yearning in the phrase. But these are words Bach was setting, and I appreciate his genius even more when I am paying attention to them as well.

To have the opportunity to play so much of Bach’s music, in our own favorite kinds of ensembles, is very exciting. At the February workshop at San Francisco State I had the job of freelance coordinator, so I invited freelancers to play cantata transcriptions with me. I was delighted when twelve string players, including a double bass player new to CMNC and a bassoonist who joined the cello parts, signed up. Russ himself came and brought great piles of music. We had thought to divide into smaller groups and play quartets and quintets, but in the end we decided to all stay together in one room. With Russ helping as a conductor, we played four of Bach’s largest pieces, transcribed for octet or nonet with bass: the opening and Fecit Potentiam of the Magnificat BWV 243, the opening of Wachet Auf BWV 140, the great chorus from BWV 21 (which Russ calls Bach’s “Alleleuia chorus”), “Jesu, nun sei gepreiset” from BWV 41, and the Sanctus from the B minor mass BWV 232. It was a truly wonderful evening.

These transcriptions are exciting to play, full of variety, lively, complex and challenging, especially at tempo. From Russ’s IMSLP page you can print out and play them yourself, and in a year or so you will be able to access Peter’s transcriptions as well. That will be a great day! Peter modestly told me that he would be surprised if more than a few hundred people ever played his transcriptions, but I am sure he is wrong. I predict they will go totally viral. Peter and Russ are producing a major body of creative work that, without exaggerating, is destined to bring great joy to the entire musical world."

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 29, 2017):
[To Julian Mincham] As much an opportunity to say (an all too scarce, these days) hello to Julian and other BCML friends, as to provide a few bits of humor to confirm that I actually read the article

I won’t guess that he was running out of obscure nonets

That would indeed explain a lot!

He uses as many instruments as are needed for the lines in the originals, using ensembles ranging from duets to octets.

But then why no nonets? No no nonets? From notes by David Hoose to a Boston Cantata Singers performance of the Bm Mass several years back, I recall that he mentioned that he had identified as many as seventeen (17!) distinct lines in that work. I never took the trouble to try to check that out. If anyone is interested, I can probably recover the exact reference.

topic, I have a handwritten (not to me) note signed by Jon Hendricks on an LP I bought second-hand: To Bill -- World's shortest jazz poem, one word: LISTEN!

 

Performance of Bach’s Vocal Works - General Discussions: 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


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Last update: Monday, September 11, 2017 14:56