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Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

Systematic Discussions of Bach’s Other Vocal Works

Motets BWV 225-231 - Summary

 

 

Discussions in the Week of February 22, 2004

Aryeh Oron
wrote (February 28, 2004):
Last year we have agreed that 2004 would be dedicated to systematic discussions of J.S. Bach's Other Vocal Works (Non-Cantatas). January & February were dedicated to discussions of the Motets BWV 225-231.

Now, before closing, it is time to sum up. I have some simple questions to all members:

a. What is your favourite motet?
b. What is your favourite recording of the complete set of the motets?
c. What individual recording of a motet would you take with you to a desert island?

Adam Strange wrote (February 28, 2004):
< a. What is your favourite motet? >
BWV 229 "Komm, Jesu, Komm"

< b. What is your favourite recording of the complete set of the motets? >
The Scholars Baroque Ensemble under the Naxos label. The ensemble is around 8 or so singers, so there is much attention given to each line as there is only one or two people per part. In addition to that, each singer is a virtuoso in their own right. Its an amazingly inexpensive recording since its under the Naxos label. However, its also just like Naxos to present a rare treasure that most overlook. for less that 15 dollars you can grab the CD and a Venti Toffee Nut Latte from Starbucks, sit outside with a portable CD player (provided its a nice day), and i PROMISE you will have a life changing experience.

< c. What individual recording of a motet would you take with you to a desert island? >
See answer "b"

Marek Ulanski wrote (February 29, 2004):
a. What is your favourite motet?
BWV 227 "Jesu meine Freude"
b. What is your favourite recording of the complete set of the motets?
Herreweghe /1986/ harmonia mundi
c. What individual recording of a motet would you take to a desert island?
See answer "b"

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (February 29, 2004):
a) favourite Motets:

Der Geist Hilft-closing chorale is my favourite chorale overall (I love those syncopations just near the phrase endings!-is the rhythm from Bach's setting or Luther's original?)

Jesu Meine Freude-cyclical structure is great, and what he does with the sraight, four-part settings are magnificent (seems to be a pattern with me), from the forceful activity of "Weg mit allen Schaetzen" to the calm serenity of the opening and closing movements, and the opening/closing line

b) only got one-Tafelmusik, and it's the perfect showcase for the Tafel choir's world-reknown clarity, precision and agility. For some reason (space on the CD?) it doesn't have BWV 231 though, but that isn't too much of a problem. Wouldn't mind checking out the Herreweghe and SBE recordings.

Sw Anandgyan wrote (February 29, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron]

a. Jesus, meine Freude.
b. Pierre Cao and the Arsys Ensemble
c. I can hardly answer question 'b' properly with Fasolis, Herreweghe, Harnoncourt and Jung to choose from. I tried to answer but I'm still too 'green' ...

Francis Browne wrote (February 29, 2004):
Aryeh asked:
a. What is your favourite motet?
b. What is your favourite recording of the complete set of the motets?
c. What individual recording of a motet would you take with you to a desert island?
I have not been able to contribute anything to the discussion of the motets, but to answer briefly: Jesu, meine Freunde; Herreweghe.

I have to admit though that if I were sent to a desert island and had a choice of taking the motets or the next work scheduled for discussion – the Mass in B minor - I would not hesitate for a second to leave the motets behind.
[snip]

Klaus Langrock wrote (March 1, 2004):
< a. What is your favourite motet? >
Fürchte dich nicht

< b. What is your favourite recording of the complete set of the motets? >
I don't know any, sorry

< c. What individual recording of a motet would you take with you to a desert island? >
Thomanerchor, Kurt Thomas, recorded in 1958 or 1959, Archiv Produktion DGG

Sw Anandgyan wrote (March 1, 2004):
P.S. Now I'm listening to my favourite motet conducted by Jacobs and I like it a lot again ... What to do but keep quiet ?

Arjen van Gijssel wrote (March 1, 2004):
a. Singet dem Herrn: the best piece of music ever written. Although Jesu meine Freude a cathedral in itself, and therefore very interesting, and quite an experience to sing.

b. I like a couple recordings, among which Corboz, Herreweghe and of course my own recording (for different reasons, obviously).

c. Singet dem Herrn. Probably Corboz (and definitely not Thomanerchor Leipzig). It is the piece which gives me new energy no matter when and where.

Michael Kennedy wrote (March 2, 2004):
a. What is your favorite Motet?
Singet dem Herrn
b. What is your favourite recording of the complete motets?
Diego Fasolis
c. What individual recording of a motet would you take with you to a desert island?
a conducted by b

Marcus Song wrote (March 3, 2004):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Of course, realizing that picking a favorite Motet is impossible, I also have a strong affinity for BWV-226 "Der Geist hilft" and its concluding 4-part chorale on "Komm Heiliger Geist" (one of my favorite chorale melodies). "Singet dem Herrn" is a contrapuntal tour-de-force and "Jesu meine Freude" is a manifold display of chorale
settings, which makes these obvious choices as favorites, but "Der Geist hilft" is also special.

Despite its context as a funeral piece (and written for the funeral of the Rector of the Thomas-Schule, Johann Heinrich Ernesti on Oct. 24, 1729), the music (and text) is relentlessly positive and joyful from start to finish in the key of Bb-major. Even in the only significant section in a minor-key "sondern der Geist", the rhythmic momentum of the contrapuntal lines leaves little feeling of sadness, or sorrow.

The concluding chorale is one of Bach finest 4-part harmonizations. Because it is in the key of Bb-major, all the voices (SATB) are singing in their upper tessitura which immediately yields a bright, brilliant, sonorous timbre. Coupled with the text "Du heilige Brunst", and both choirs singing in unison, it is a powerful plea and affirmation of faith to God, in life and death. It is a uplifting reminder that a funeral need not be full of sadness and mourning.

Compare this harmonization of the chorale with the version in Cantata BWV 59. Both are very similar, and my guess is that the motet chorale is a refinement of the earlier first-version used in the Cantata. I frequently play both chorales on the piano and sing-along for musical enjoyment.

b. I only have one recording of the Motets - the Archiv version by the Regensburger Domspatzen conducted by Hanns-Martin Schneidt.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 3, 2004):
Komm heiliger Geist

< Of course, realizing that picking a favorite Motet is impossible, I also have a strong affinity for BWV 226 "Der Geist hilft" and its concluding 4-part chorale on "Komm Heiliger Geist" (one of my favorite chorale melodies).(...) The concluding chorale is one of Bach finest 4-part harmonizations. Because it is in the key of Bb-major, all the voices (SATB) are singing in their upper tessitura which immediately yields a bright, brilliant, sonorous timbre. (...) Compare this harmonization of the chorale with the version in Cantata BWV 59. Both are very similar, and my guess is that the motet chorale is a refinement of the earlier first-version used in the Cantata. I frequently play both chorales on the piano and sing-along for musical enjoyment. >
Yes, terrific tune!

Another G major setting is in cantata BWV 175, with text "Nun werther Geist, ich folge dir." [1725]

#69 in the "371" is also in G major but different from both of those. I think that one is only a transposition of the BWV 226 version, but I haven't checked all the way through it yet.

And of course the two in the "great 18" organ settings. Ever watched the film "Slaughterhouse-Five"? Glenn Gould assembled the soundtrack for it. The BWV 651 setting of this chorale (played by Rogg) is superimposed over the firebombing of Dresden. Yow.

There's a nice little seof this chorale by Walther: G major, three voices, manualiter, 6/4, fairly easy to play. The chorale is in the top voice, lightly decorated. The two free parts are also based loosely on each phrase of the chorale, in diminution. This could be arranged very easily as a solo, too: just give the top part to a singer or another instrument while continuing to play the lower two on keyboard. It turns into four-part texture in only the last three bars, as the top voice holds the final G.

Pachelbel's manualiter setting is also easy to play and a pleasant little piece of counterpoint. Four parts.

There are three by Zachow (Handel's teacher), all manualiter. One has the melody in soprano with two free voices doing some leaping stuff. Another is pretty much like Pachelbel's except that it makes a big deal of going back and forth from F# to F in the bass...interesting (sort of being in G and C at the same time). And the third one is a stile antico setting in four parts, making a lot of use of a dotted rhythm...my favorite of these three settings. That one also does plenty of wavering between F# and F. That's what comes from leading with the lower voice so often, with a chorale that is so persistent in tonicizing the dominant....

And the two by Buxtehude, both as two-manual pieces with pedal, with heavily decorated melodic line. I recorded one of those as a trumpet solo with organ, with nothing to the arrangement but handing that top line to the trumpet player.

=====

Aryeh: I tried to download the BGA of BWV 59, BWV 175, and BWV 172 but those files are not found.

Marcus Song wrote (March 4, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks Brad for the follow-up with pointers to other compositions using this tune. I have the first 3-part Zachow arrangement you mentioned in a Peters-edition Chorale Prelude collection that I often play. I look forward to my next visit to the local music-shop to get the other manualiter arrangements by Walther and Zachow that you mentioned. My "pedalling" skills are still feeble, so Buxtehude will have to wait!

I managed to download the scores to Cantatas BWV 59 and BWV 175 from the website and found that the vocal parts are identical in both chorales. The only difference is meas. 10 where the alto part sing an A in BWV 175 vs. BWV BWV 59 where it doubles the soprano on the d.

In my copy of the "371", the notes by Riemenschneider say that indeed #69 is a G-major transposition of the ending chorale from motet "Der Geist Hilft". A cursory inspection of the vocal parts confirm this, and because it has already been transposed to Gmaj - lends an easy comparison to the Cantata arrangement in Gmaj. In my last post, I made a poor choice of words saying that the motet arrangement was a "refinement" of the Cantata version - that was a silly statement! I have no idea which version is older or even if one is a derivative of the other - despite many similarities in the part-writing. I certainly enjoy both versions.

I have yet to see the movie nor read the acclaimed book Slaughterhouse-Five, but imagining scenes of the Dresden bombing overlaid with Bach's Fantasia bring the words 'bizarre' and 'perverse' to mind! (now I gotta rent it!)

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 4, 2004):
< I look forward to my next visit to the local music-shop to get the other manualiter arrangements by Walther and Zachow that you mentioned. >
The editions I have here are Breitkopf's, both edited by Lohmann:
- Zachow's complete keyboard works, #6646 ...only 72 pages...
- Walther's chorales A-H (#6945) and I-Z (#6946)

They have some newer Beckmann editions of Walther that I haven't seen yet: probably very good, judging by the excellence of his editorial work on Boehm and Buxtehude.

< I managed to download the scores to Cantatas BWV 59 and BWV 175 from the website and found that the vocal parts are identical in both chorales. The only difference is meas. 10 where the alto part sing an A in BWV 175 vs. BWV 59 where it doubles the soprano on the d. >
...and having the same music underlaid with texts that have different numbers of syllables!

< I have no idea which version is older or even if one is a derivative of the other - despite many similarities in the part-writing. I certainly enjoy both versions. >
Cantata BWV 59: 1723/4. BWV 175: 1725. Motet BWV 226: 1729.

< I have yet to see the movie nor read the acclaimed book Slaughterhouse-Five, but imagining scenes of the Dresden bombing overlaid with Bach's Fantasia bring the words 'bizarre' and 'perverse' to mind! (now I gotta rent it!) >
That was probably a deliberate juxtaposition of incongruities. The book is about all sorts of incongruities, and jumps around even more than the film does. Powerful book, and short: can be read in about the same amount of time as watching the film.

Another twist on Vonnegut: in the film "Back to School" Rodney Dangerfield plays a rich but not very intelligent businessman who goes back to college. His term paper is supposed to be an analysis of Vonnegut's work, so he hires Vonnegut himself to write it. The paper gets a low mark, which of course bewilders Vonnegut. Pretty funny scene. Sort of like the Marshall McLuhan cameo in "Annie Hall"...about the way written works acquire an authority (in the minds of some) that trumps even the author's own explanation of them.


Motets BWV 225-231: Details
Recordings: Until 1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Systematic Discussions: BWV 225 | BWV 226 | BWV 227 | BWV 228 | BWV 229 | BWV 230 | BWV 231 | BWV 225-231 - Summary
Individual Recordings:
Motets – Cantus Cölln | Motets – Ericson | Motets – Fasolis | Motets – Harnoncourt | Motets - Kammler

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

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Last update: ýMarch 6, 2004 ý13:26:36