Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Recommended Cantatas
General Discussions - Part 15: Year 2011

Continue from Part 14: Year 2010

Short List

David McKay wrote (January 5, 2011):
I run a six week Music Appreciation course through U3A [University of the Third Age] annually and am hoping to do a further series on Bach, after a general one i ran in 2003.

This time I hope to play a sacred cantata each week, as well as playing some of the familiar instrumental music.

I'm working on creating a short list and have put BWV 124 into my list. I think it is an accessible cantata, with lively tunes and catchy rhythmic accompanimnnt and including a lovely cello obbligato in one movement.

We live in the western New South wales town of Bathurst and I see that the cantata almost has a connection with us because of the English translation of the line in the opening chorale
klettenweis an ihm zu kleben
"to cling to him like a burr."

Australia has a small, irritating spiky lump we call a Bathurst burr that hurt your feet if you are walking barefoot. But I don't know that they are specially a Bathurst problem, but we do call them "Bathurst burrs" and a local junior rugby union team is named after them.

What would be on your short list of 10 cantatas for beginners to hear, please?

Evan Cortens wrote (January 5, 2011):
[To David McKay] I think, for beginners, it's important to get BWV 147 (which includes "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring") and BWV 140 (which includes "Zion hört die Wächter singen"). Perhaps also BWV 78, for "Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten."

Obviously it's going to be extraordinarily difficult (nigh impossible!) to whittle things down to ten without leaving out great music. That said, I think beginning with some movements people may have a bit of familiarity with is a good place to start.

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (January 5, 2011):
[To Evan Cortens] I find that two of the most beautiful and interesting cantatas, certainly accessible to beginnners, are BWV 19 "Es Erhub sich ein Streit" (magnificent trumpet parts, choir parts reproducing the movement of the "serpent") and BWV 78 "Jesu der du meine Seele" (remarkable harmonic developments upon a bass following the traditional French passacaille, including some oboe passages identical to the Passacaille by Louis Couperin).

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 78 Discussions Part 4

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 6, 2011):
[To Claudio Di Veroli] I would add some cantatas related to specific events, for example:
BWV 80 for Reformation Day, with a chorale basis, as well
BWV 106 for a funeral, and an early alto aria, characteristic of Bach throughout his life (comnpare BWV 232, Bminor Mass)
BWV 91 for Christmas, a persoanl favorite, especially the accessible sop/alto duet.

David McKay wrote (January 5, 2011):
U3A

Thanks so much, my fellow Bach lovers for the suggestions for my short list for introducing Bach's cantatas in the Music Appreciation group I run for U3A each year.

Are you aware of this organisation? This is what the Canberra, Australia group says about itself:
U3A is an international movement which promotes and practises lifelong learning by providing low cost educational opportunities for retired people in a relaxed and informal environment. No prior educational qualifications are required; no degrees are awarded.

In our town of Bathurst, in western New South Wales, people pay a one-off fee of $25 per year and can then participate in as many different groups as they like.

My own Music Appreciation group has been running for about 15 years, I think, and I took it over when the previous leader moved away. He is now in his 80s and is still running a group in Lismore, NSW.

Most of the people who run the groups are also retired. I'm a casual worker and have a morning available to run a group once per year for 6 weeks.

David McKay wrote (January 6, 2011):
Interest in Bach

How did you become interested in Bach?

I grew up with little exposure to classical Music, other than the piano pieces I was learning. My parents listened to Easy Listening radio, and had lots of gospel Music recordings and Broadway musicals, and one Strauss LP with a red cover.

My uncle Dave [after whom I was named] told me he liked classical Music, but he didn't like Bach.

At first, I thought of Bach as the composer of those little pieces in the Anna Magdalena songbook, which I enjoyed and began playing. I was miffed when I was told he probably didn't write them!

When I trained as a high school music teacher, my girlfriend and I were asked to arrange the piano part in the vocal score of the Gloria from Bach's Mass in B minor for 2 pianos to play, to accompany our choir. The choir performed the Gloria, which we found to be a thrilling experience.

Later, we learnt the whole B Minor Mass and it was accompanied by a small orchestra.

I was enraptured by the B Minor Mass and have been ever since. What is your favourite recording of it? I don't mind the one in the Bach 2000 set by Harnoncourt and Concentus Musicus Wien.

The first one we owned was Munchinger and Wiener Singakademiechor. It now sounds out of tune in places to me and I've grown to dislike it.

I enjoy the version in the Eliot Gardiner 22 CD set put out by Archiv, but find it takes adjustment to listen to it performed by such a small vocal ensemble.

In 2001, I bought the Bach 2000 set. The list price in the lcoal shop was $2200 and the shop owner was unable to sell and offered it to me for $1500.

When I listened to the cantatas, one after the other, 60 cds at about 2 per day, as I recall, I found it quite an ordeal. At times the boy sopranos were downright painful to listen to.

And many of the cantatas sounded pretty similar to one another.

But when I heard John Eliot Gardiner's recordings of the cantatas, I became interested and began purchasing the Pilgrimage set. The pricing got more and more attractive as the Australian dollar became worth more against the English pound.

The sign up deal of 15 pounds per 2 cd set, post-free went from about $45 AUD to $23!

I think Rachmaninov's saying that

Music is enough for a lifetime
But a lifetime is not enough for Music

is particularly apt applied to Bach!

I'm going to enjoy working through the recommendations list members have kindly given me for my short list.

P S: My girlfriend and I have now been married for 37 years and are still enthralled by Bach. My wife's email userid is Bachrocks.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 6, 2011):
David McKay wrote:
< Thanks so much, my fellow Bach lovers for the suggestions for my short list for introducing >Bach's cantatas in the Music Appreciation group I run for U3A each year. >
Your short list and course outline (or more) would make an interesting article for the BCW archives. I hope you will share with uys, when appropriate.

David McKay wrote (January 6, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks Ed
It is going to be quite a process of getting to know a few cantatas.

I find that I love the choruses, chorales and sinfonias, enjoy some of the duets, recitatives and arias, and don't have such a warm response instantly to some of the arias.

I find it hard to remember which cantata is which. If I listen without the text or score in front of me, not much at all is recalled later. It would be a lot easier if I understood some German.

I would be shy about publishing my programs for such an esteemed audience. so many scholars and knowledgeable people here! However I will give it a go and hope my weak efforts are not too amusing.

Marva Watson wrote (January 6, 2011):
[To David McKay] I teach a music appreciation class at our local junior college. I do my best to encourage our young students to listen to some great musical works. I appreciate these suggestions and any others that you may hafor introducing these works to those who have never even heard of Bach. Thanks!

David McKay wrote (January 6, 2011):
BWV 19: WAS: Short List

[To Claudio Di Veroli] Appreciate the suggestions for my short list. I listened to BWV 19 this afternoon.

It sounds like a great one for a short list of suitable cantatas to play to a group of music lovers who are not familiar with Bach's cantatas.

I think I would play the opening chorus, following recitative and aria, and pick up again with the concluding recitative and chorale, if I ended up deciding to use it.

Thanks for the recommendation, Claudio!

Henner Schwerk wrote (January 6, 2011):
[To Marva Watson] Perhaps it is a good idea, to present the students music of Bach, that shows not only the extraordinary beauty, the esthetic quality. But also the construction of the music: the formal logic, the proportions and the equivalences. And the number symbolisms in the music of Bach and how Bach used the music-affects of the baroque period. In my experience, even people who have not much to do with classical music or at least nothing with vocal religious music are amazed of Bachs music and are getting exited of it. The music is also in a certain way a kind of mathematics. People do not need to get a musical education to get an idea of the Bach music.

I think good examples are numbers of the St Johns (BWV 245) and St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and the h-moll Mass (BWV 232).
Here are three pieces in different length, which are showing very much:
long: Sanctus from h-moll Mass (BWV 232)
medium: "Lasst uns den nicht zerteilen" from Johns Passion (BWV 245)
short: "Herr, bin ichs?" from Matthewpassion (BWV 244)
If you want, I could send you some short texts I wrote for concert intruductions in my congregation (sorry, in German!).

Paul Farseth wrote (January 6, 2011):
U3A - Intros to Bach's Counterpoint

[To Marva Watson] Folks who want to get some sense of Bach's contrapuntal genius (or who want to introduce studnts to some appreciation for the weaving that goes on in the counterpoint) might want to look at Cantata BWV 137 ("Lobe den Herren, den maechtigen Koenig der Ehren", particularly the interior stanzas) ... and at the six keyboard partitas, BWV 825-830. My own love of these comes from some old Glenn Gould CDs which bring out the many voices nicely. Indeed, they once inspired the following tribute essay (which I think I have not shared with this list, though I once gave it to Aryeh off list):

Why Children Should Be Enabled to Listen Often to Glenn Gould Playing Bach Keyboard Music on the Piano (the six keyboard partitas, BWV 825-830)
(at Breakfast, at Lunch, at Play, in the Halls at School, and while Falling Asleep )

– Bach teaches us to live and to think with a cantabile or "singing" frame of mind.

– Bach teaches us that each voice in the enterprise has something to contribute, some unique expository content beyond the simple "AMEN" or "I agree" of the yes-men in the harmony. Bach models democratic diversity.

– Bach reminds us that in the reciprocity of counterpoint there is a yielding by each solo line which works best when the various voices are listening to each other.

– Bach teaches us that energy gets work done when it is applied with skill after practice to implement a design. We clap our hands in delight, seeing how the forcefulness so effortlessly carries forward the musical dialogue, the harmonic progressions, the sense of the inevitability of what we as listeners had not even expected.

– Bach tempers the harsh incommensurable rationalities of our lives with small compromises to let them sing together in four and six part harmonies that march successfully around the circle of fifths full of the incessant energies of grief and of delight.

– Bach teaches us that by listening carefully, and again and again, we find something new and interesting. Marriages should be like this, and sometimes they are.

– Bach teaches us to recognize emotions for which we have lacked words, allowing us on recognizing them to cry or dance or work again. Bach reminds us that life is played in more than one key, more than one rhythm, more than one theme, but that all these can be played together with direction, harmony, tension, and consonance.

– Bach reminds us that Chaos is not the final master of the universe, nor its creator
 
some unique expository content beyond the simple "AMEN" or "I agree" of the yes-men in the harmony. Bach models democratic diversity.

– Bach reminds us that in the reciprocity of counterpoint there is a yielding by each solo line which works best when the various voices are listening to each other.

– Bach teaches us that energy gets work done when it is applied with skill after practice to implement a design. We clap our hands in delight, seeing how the forcefulness so effortlessly carries forward the musical dialogue, the harmonic progressions, the sense of the inevitability of what we as listeners had not even expected.

– Bach tempers the harsh incommensurable rationalities of our lives with small compromises to let them sing together in four and six part harmonies that march successfully around the circle of fifths full of the incessant energies of grief and of delight.

– Bach teaches us that by listening carefully, and again and again, we find something new and interesting. Marriages should be like this, and sometimes they are.

– Bach teaches us to recognize emotions for which we have lacked words, allowing us on recognizing them to cry or dance or work again. Bach reminds us that life is played in more than one key, more than one rhythm, more than one theme, but that all these can be played together with direction, harmony,tension, and consonance.

– Bach reminds us that Chaos is not the final master of the universe, nor its creator
 
– © Paul Farseth, Spring, 2003

Marva Watson wrote (January 6, 2011):
[To Henner Schwerk] Thanks! What a great idea! Yes, please send the texts. Unfortunately, I cannot converse in German, but can muddle through reading it a bit. I have a friend who speaks fluently who can help me. (My great-grandfather was German but he would not let his family speak German when they arrived in this country. He made them all speak English and now, very sadly, none of us can speak German. I'm hoping to change that:)

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 7, 2011):
Marva Watson wrote:
< He made them all speak English and now, very sadly, none of us can speak German. I'm hoping to change that:) >
Change what? Having them all speak English?

Henner Schwerk wrote (January 7, 2011):
[To Marva Watson] Hi Marva, see the attachment of texts of St Johns (BWV 245) and St Matthews passion (BWV 244); I hope somebody can translate. If its not possibel, please let me know, so I will practis my English :)

Marva Watson wrote (January 7, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] Ha, Ha. I took some German classes and am trying to convince my nephews, Taylor & Seth Heil, to learn some German with me.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 9, 2011):
[To Marva Watson] I am glad you took my humorous intent, easily misunderstood. I make occasional stabs at Polish, from an analogous background.

Marva Watson wrote (January 11, 2011):
[To Henner Schwerk] I did not get the attachments. Can you send them again to _____.
.
Thank you!

 

Cantatas and recording quality

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 20, 2011):
Recently I've been listening to some cantata recordings on headphones. I've got a smart playlist in iTunes with just arias from cantatas, and it chooses at random from the many recordings I have. Last night, listening on my good headphones (i.e., not the ones I use outdoors), I noticed just how terrible the recordings of the Leonhardt/Harnoncourt cantatas are. While I hear this speakers, it's much more obvious on headphones. Compared to them, the Gardiner recordings sound like audiophile recordings; and this from live recordings with only one extra take to fix problems.

I've currently got a L/H aria on, and the strings sound very odd, the soloist is way off to the left, the instruments are separated on the different channels in many cases, and the overall sound is "old-fashioned." Suzuki recordings are excellent, and Rilling recordings are ok, but the L/H really sound odd when compared so closely with others.

Muniini Muler wrote (July 20, 2011):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Sound matters. No doubt my musical enjoyment is first and foremost based on the composition itself. Bach's cantatas - all of them - are gems that I could listen to exclusively for the rest of my life. Second, the performance matters. To these ears of a non-musician music lover, the cycles by Gardiner, Leonhardt/Harnoncourt, Koopman & Suzuki are very satisfying performances, with differences here and there.

However, the recording and sound reproduction so affects my enjoyment of this wonderful music that it is an equal member of the trinity [composition-performances-sound quality] I find myself listening to the Suzuki's way more often than the others. BIS has done a consistently outstanding job. The Gardiners are a close second.

I have not ventured into the i-world yet and so I have no experience in that regard. Thank you for the interesting observation.

Randy Lane wrote (July 20, 2011):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I've also noticed the lack of realistic sound stage present in most of the L/L series for a few decades. And I did not need headphones to do so. European, most especially German, recordings of the late 70s to late 80s often employed something you could identify, similar to a performing acronym, OMPP, one microphone per performer. Very annoying and highly unrealistic. In the late 80s many classical recording house experimented very successfully with a switch to using live recordings, a move that owed its success, IMHO, to the impracticality of OMPP when taping a live performance (which Gardiner's Pilgrimage is done with emtirely though supplemented with non-live dubs made with the same environment).

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 20, 2011):
Randy Lane wrote:
< (which Gardiner's Pilgrimage is done with emtirely though supplemented with non-live dubs made with the same environment). >
As far as I understand, they did only one rehearsal and one performance of each work. There were no other dubs. If the rehearsal was better for certain movements, they used that. I doubt they did much actual patching.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 20, 2011):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I know in the album versions of those L/H recordings, they included photographs of the sessions and to be honest, the equipment used looked pretty primitive. Considering what Columbia Records was doing in the 1960s, I'm not sure why these recordings are so bad. They even seemed to me dated at the time of their initial release, and very "dead" sonically.

I remember some of the Karl Ristenpart Bach recordings that were released on Nonesuch, and they were all produced prior to 1968, and even they had much better sound than the Telefunken records produced in the 1970s/1980s.

The Bach Collegium Japan are the most luscious and beautifully recorded, but then BIS has some fantastic production values. Their Bach cantata project has another advantage by being recorded in a nearly perfect location too.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 20, 2011):
Randy Lane wrote:
<< (which Gardiner's Pilgrimage is done with emtirely though supplemented with non-live dubs made with the same environment). >>
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< As far as I understand, they did only one rehearsal and one performance of each work. There were no other/ dubs. If the rehearsal was better for certain movements, they used that. I doubt they did much actual patching. >
Any specific reason for the doubt, re patching? In any case, the Gardiner series certainly represents a peak of achievement for live recording.

Randy Lane wrote (July 20, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Another practice that live recordings like the Gardiner series eliminates is doing separate sessions for ensembles and soloists. Could that practice account for the qualities we don't like about L/H? I think BIS "policy" does not support that practice, but I may be mistaken.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 20, 2011):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< The Bach Collegium Japan are the most luscious and beautifully recorded, but then BIS has some fantastic production values. Their Bach cantata project has another advantage by being recorded in a nearly perfect location too. >
Right, but it gets a bit monotonous over time. The Gardiner set, in different venues with different acoustics, actually is more interesting than having exactly the same acoustics for each recording.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 20, 2011):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< Right, but it gets a bit monotonous over time. The Gardiner set, in different venues with different acoustics, actually is more interesting than having exactly the same acoustics for each recording. >
I'm ok with consistently fantastic-quality recordings ;)

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 20, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>>> (which Gardiner's Pilgrimage is done with emtirely though supplemented with non-live dubs made with the same environment). <<<
>> As far as I understand, they did only one rehearsal and one performance of each work. There were no other dubs. If the rehearsal was better for certain movements, they used that. I doubt they did much actual patching. <<
> Any specific reason for the doubt, re patching? In any case, the Gardiner series certainly represents a peak of achievement for live recording. <
I recall reading that there were just the two takes for each work. (Though they might have done specific movements more than once in rehearsal.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 20, 2011):
Acoustic Meaning

Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< Right, but it gets a bit monotonous over time. The Gardiner set, in different venues with different acoustics, actually is more interesting than having exactly the same acoustics for each recording. >
Although I find audiophile debates hopelessly subjective, it does raise the question of what acoustic we should hear when we listen to a recorded Bach cantata. The last 20 years has a seen a relentless proxmization of recording so that there is very little large ambient reverberation. We hear the clacking of oboe da caccia keys, and organ solo movements rarely feature a large organ with any colour. The listener is essentially a close listener in a chamber studio performance.

One of the reasons I like McCreesh's "recreation" recordings is that he places the performers in their proper positions in churches similar to those for which the music was written. The Epiphany Mass is especially telling in recreating the spatial dialogue of the Lutheran service. We have have four sources of music: the rear elevated choir loft with choir and orchestra, the organ above that, the congregation in the nave and the clergy at the altar. That produces what one wag has called "celestial air-conditioning": the circulation of sources of music around a large building.

I think this is an important factor in the aural meaning of Bach's music. One of the most eloquent passages in Wolff's 'JSB: The Learned Musician' (p.302) is his analysis of the opening chorus of the Matthew Passion. He points out that the two choirs sing their dramatic lament in E minor from the choir loft, but the third ripieno choir sings the German Agnus Dei in G major from the gallery on the "Paradise" arch of the chancel, the very arch beneath which the congregation passed to receive communion. Here the very architecture and acoustic expresses the meaning of the music.

Eric Basta wrote (July 20, 2011):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< recall reading that there were just the two takes for each work. (Though they might have done specific movements more than once in rehearsal.) >
I talked to Gardiner once in Chicago during a "box lunch" talk before a concert and I asked him specifically about how he rds because I always loved the way his horn section sounds on his earlier recordings. He said he used two microphones, a stereo pair, crossed over each other, in front of the orchestra close to where he was conducting. He said the more you want to control, the more you have to control, so he favored a minimalistic approach.

At the other side of the recording spectrum are some of Helmuth Rilling's recordings where the basso-continuo and vocals are in both speakers and the other instruments are only in one (the left I believe). A good example is his recording of cantata BWV78, especially the duet. It is sort of like listening to the stereo mix of Meet The Beatles with the vocals on one side of the stereo image and the instruments on the other. I always thought these Rilling recordings were fascinating because when listening with a good pair of speakers, the stereo image was quite remarkable in that it seemed like you were standing dead in the center of all the musicians, offering a unique musical vista. Listening to the same in headphones is a completely different experience, and rather difficult.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 21, 2011):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
KM:
< As far as I understand, they did only one rehearsal and one performance of each work. There were no other dubs. If the rehearsal was better for certain movements, they used that. I doubt they did much actual patching. >
EM:
< Any specific reason for the doubt, re patching? In any case, the Gardiner series certainly represents a peak of achievement for live recording. >
KM:
< I recall reading that there were just the two takes for each work. (Though they might have done specific movements more than once in rehearsal.) >
EM:
Yes, I recall the same thought, probably from Gardiners booklet notes, although I did not try to recover the source at the moment. Probably worth doing so, at some point.

My recollection is that the live performance tapes were favored in almost all instances, with only a few exceptions due to technical and/or preformance issues. But I also recall that the rehearsal tapes were avaialble for patching minor issues, as necessary. I was simply curious as to whether there is any specific information to the contrary. It is my understanding (very limited!) of the technical challenges that such patching of digital files is relatively straightforward these days, not like the old days of cutting and splicing tape.

I enjoyed the post from Eric (ebasta) re the different stereo effects achieved with various microphone arrangements, and the different perception of such effects via headphones versus speakers.

Not to sound like a geezer, but simpler is better, in my experience. That has not changed much over the years, despite the astounding changes in technology.

Randy Lane wrote (July 21, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] My reference to "dubs" is meant to account for the rehearsal sequences, which I thought they only used when the live cip(s) were totally unacceptable.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 21, 2011):
Randy Lane wrote:
< My reference to "dubs" is meant to account for the rehearsal sequences, which I thought they only used when the live cip(s) were totally unacceptable. >
Yes, I think we all have the same general impression, but it would be worth recovering the source of the info, with confirmation from JEG or engineers, at some point.

A fine series of recordings documenting a monumental performance effort (Gardiner Pilgrimage), which makes the details worthy of accurate note for future reference.

 

Best Cantatas

Ariel Cymberknoh wrote (August 24, 2011):
I am new to the discussion group. I am a lover of Bach music, especially his masses, passions and organ works. I am not an expert, but just a regular admirer.

Wanted to ask you to reccomend me the best and most representative cantatas from Bach. Those that are a must for a begginer like me to start with.

Any suggestions?

Thank you! Ariel

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 24, 2011):
Ariel Cymberknoh wrote:
< Wanted to ask you to reccomend me the best and most representative cantatas from Bach. Those that are a must for a begginer like me to start with. >
Do you already have recordings? If not, that is an essential decision best made early on: whether to buy an economical complete set via the Brilliant Classics Bach Edition, a more expensive, and arguably better, complete Bach Edition (Hänssler, Teldec), a cantata set only (Koopman is the most complete, but without XO), or individual releases.

For listening, you might start with the Christmas Oratorio (XO) BWV 248 (in fact, a group of late cantatas, with much reworked earlier material) and the Actus Tragicus BWV 106, a very early work, both universally loved. Fill in between by listening and discussing the BCML cantata of the week, to grasp Bach’s representative working methods as best we can unravel them.

Chopin Netto wrote (August 25, 2011):
[To Ariel Cymberknoh] I would definitely suggest three BWVs: "Ich hatte viel Bekummernis" (BWV 21), "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" (BWV 61) and "Ich habe genug" (BWV 82) - the first and the third one as possibly the best introduction to the "subjective" Bach and the second one as a similar intro to the very, very "objective" Thomaskantor. BTW notice how they - the BWV numbers within this selection - nicely sum up together (21+61=82) :-)

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (August 25, 2011):
Best Cantatas 2

[To Chopin Netto] A few further "musts" in Bach's Cantatas:

BWV 19 Es erhub sich ein Streit, with marvellous counterpoint in "snake" initial Choral and lovely parts for the large natural trumpet in C.

BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele, with initial Choral based on French Passacailles and lovely oboe solos.

BWV 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, also famous trumpet in C parts and many famous Chorales.

George Bromley wrote (August 25, 2011):
[To Claudio Di Veroli] Best Cantatas?, well they are all outstanding, think of a box of your favourite Chocolates, which one do you eat first.

David McKay wrote (August 27, 2011):
[To Claudio Di Veroli] G'day Claudio Listening to BWV 19 Es erhub sich ein Streit while I prepare the church bulletin for tomorrow. It's a beauty, isn't it?

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (August 27, 2011):
[To David McKay] Indeed! Woke up early today and, reading your email, went to the stereo and heard it (with headphones to avoid bothering neighbours): what a lovely way to begin the day.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 27, 2011):
[To Claudio Di Veroli] I have always claimed that one of the pathways to human happiness is to hear, or better still play a little of Bach's music every day.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 27, 2011):
[To Julian Mincham] He is my oldest, dearest friend. I was even contemplating getting his monogram as a tattoo.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 27, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Just interested to know where you would place it??

Ariel Cymberknoh wrote (August 28, 2011):
Thank you all for your great recommendations. I have a lot of material to explore now and initiate myself in this that seems to be an amazing world full of surprises.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 29, 2011):
[To Ariel Cymberknoh] If you can spare the time and trouble, I guarantee many pleasant surprises from following the weekly discussion format.

 

Listening to choral pieces as individual works

Ėmile J wrote (October 10, 2011):
I am interested in primarily choral music. I first listened to renaissance choral music: Thomas Tallis, Josquin des Prés, William Byrd, Orlando di Lasso, etc. Then I listened to modern holy minimalists like Rihards Dubra, Morten Lauridsen, etc. For few months now I am learning German and at the same time listening to Bach's cantatas.

His choral works are among the best that I've ever heard. However, the problem is that I don't really appreciate the recitatives or arias. I think they are quite good, and I like some of them, but never as mas choral
pieces.

But because they form an integral part of cantatas, I tried to like them, thinking that it's maybe I'm not used to listening to non-choral vocal music. But in the end, I realized that I turn off my attention between the opening and closing chorus. I guess it's not really my thing; I tried Schubert's Lieder as well and didn't really like them.

So I'm considering only listening to choral parts of cantatas. I purchase music off the internet, so I can choose to purchase only certain tracks of the CDs, and I don't see the point of paying for the 70% non-choral part that I don't even like. Another factor is that I don't really see a cantata as a integral piece of art; I fail to see the musical relations between each movement. The melodies don't really seem related. Texts seem more or less related, but frankly, one could argue that almost all texts of Bach's cantatas are loosely related.

The problem is: can the choral pieces stand alone? For me, I can appreciate the opening choruses individually without other movements that follow. For the closing choruses, less so. Almost all of them seem to be the "end" of a bigger piece; not necessarily of the cantata that they belong to but an end of something. They have this undeniable character of being a "finale." Also the fact that they are mostly quite short gives them somewhat a incomplete feeling when heard seperately. So my plan for now is to only purchase the opening choruses.

Are there others who share a similar experience? Do you see this as an abomination?

 

Bathurst U3A Bach Cantatas program

David McKay wrote (November 21, 2011):
Thanks for suggestions as to what to include in a short program of Bach cantatas. This is how the six week program ran. Eight years before i had used BWV 140 in my first U3A program, which was on J S Bach.

Week 1: BWV 179
from John Eliot Gardiner Pilgrimage DVD
Also played introduction to the Pilgrimage dvd

Week 2: BWV 147
Also played 1st movt of Brandenburg no 5
and Rutter's Suite Antique [written for same instrumentation]

Week 3 BWV 214 (secular cantata for the birthday of Maria Josepha) from Teldec Bach 2000 set, conducted by Ton Koopman
Also played Nigel Kennedy dvd with Irish Chamber Orchestra, BWV 1042 Violin Cocnerto in E major
and Kennedy and Juliet Welchman [cello] playing Bach 2 part inventions

Week 4: BWV 1 How Brightly Shines the Morning Star [John Eliot Gardiner from Pilgrimage series]
soprano Julia Romano singing Stölzel Bist du bei mir (BWV 508) and Sheep May Safely Graze from the Hunt Cantata (BWV 208)

Week 5 BWV 65 [Epiphany cantata] performed by John Eliot Gardiner, from Pilgrimage series
Tara Chan, played Bach Prelude and Fugue in G min book 2
Zari Newell played prelude from Bach cello suite no 1
and we played Saint-Saens The Swan

Week 6 Selections from The Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) from John Eliot Gardiner's 22 CD Archiv set

About 15 to 20 people aged 50-80 attended each week. Some have been coming for the entire 9 years. One man attended who had previously attended with his wife, until he couldn't come for a couple of years, due to her illness. We were sad that she passed away this year, but glad he was able to join in again.

Next year I hope to tackle Haydn, focussing on the development of the sonata and the symphony, using the Brilliant Classics set, which I have yet to receive, but also other cds i already own, and my DVD of Berlin phil playing The Surprise and my Muti dvd of The Creation

Is there a U3A chapter in your town? Do they already have a Music Appreciation group? You might enjoy running a program. It is a lot of work, but I have a most appreciative group and learn so much

Qui docet discit
[motto of NSW Teachers Federation]
These days they render it as "It's amazing what you learn when you teach"

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 21, 2011):
David McKay wrote:
< Also played introduction to the Pilgrimage dvd >
Thanks for an uplifting post! Be careful of that Gardiner comment re zippel fagottist. An astute student might ask for a translation. Nanny-goat and green-horn definitely do not cut the mustard.

DM:
< Some have been coming for the entire 9 years. One man attended who had previously attended with his wife, until he couldn't come for a couple of years, due to her illness. We were sad that she passed away this year, but glad he was able to join in again. >
EM:
Words fail me. Thanks for sharing that.

 

Continue on Part 16: Year 2012

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Recommended Cantatas - General Discussions: Year 1996 | Year 1998 | Year 1999 | Year 2000 | Year 2001 | Year 2002 | Year 2003 | Year 2004 | Year 2005 | Year 2006 | Year 2007 | Year 2008 | Year 2009 | Year 2011 | Year 2012 | Year 2013

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ύApril 25, 2013 ύ05:07:57