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Systematic Discussions of Bach’s Other Vocal Works
Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 - Cantata 4

Discussions in the Week of October 31, 2004

Planned but not discussed.

 

Discussions in the Week of September 6, 2009

William Hoffman wrote (September 9, 2009):
Cantata BWV 248IV: Intro

This week's discussion concludes our study of Bach's cantatas for New Year's Day with the last and liturgically correct work, BWV 248IV. The template can be found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV248.htm. Scroll down to 248/4

Last year's BCW discussion included: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV213-D2.htm. Questions I raised last year:

I would like to lead this discussion by framing some pertinent questions that I have encountered through previous BCW discussions which I think are relevant to this BWV 213. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers, and while sources are helpful, I think imagination and connecting the dots can offer possible new insights or directions!

1. Different performing approaches to the original music and its parodied version. While we know from Bach's Obituary that he put a great deal of emphasis on the words in his settings of the sacred four-part chorales, can we assume that he labored likewise with the sacred parodied text from the original secular version? A comparison of the original BWV 213 text with the parodied versions found in the XO, BWV 248, can be helpful. In both versions we have several factors to consider: 1. the context (placement) of the music, both original and parodied; 2. any changes in the actual music, such as revision or the addition of instruments such as the oboe in the XO (BWV 248); 3. the treatment of the dance forms from BWV 213/1,3,5,9,11,13; and 4. of course, the overall intended affect. The opening chorus is considered "minuet-like," and the closing chorus, "gavotte-like"; the others, I would guess, are primarily gigue-like or giga-like, or generic pastorale-style.

2. Did Bach original compose BWV 213 to stand alone, or did he intend from its beginning to transform it through parody into the XO (BWV 248)?

3. The original context of BWV 213 and the music in the XO (BWV 248). Was Bach able successfully to "create" music with a dual purpose: to serve both his sovereign on earth and the ruler of the universe; to demonstrate both his allegiance to profane authority while creating the penultimate component (oratorios, then Masses) of a well-regulated music to the glory of God alone? What were Bach motives?

4. Concerning the setting at Zimmermann's, what were Bach's particular methods and opportunities? Consider the audience, the potential for "staging" and the use of female voices and a full choir.

5. Simon Crouch in his overview of BWV 213 says: "The libretto, by Picander, is a wonderfully sycophantic piece of kitsch!" Picander, who is assumed to be the literary collaborator with Bach on the text of the XO (BWV 248), is still considered in some Bach critical quarters to be an embarrassment. Besides being a skillful parodist, what other qualities do you find in his BWV 214 and BWV 248 texts, especially as realized by Bach?

Fugitive thoughts:

Bach's composition of the XO in late 1734, especially Part 4 for New Year's Day, shows that he wanted to strengthen the well-ordered church music with the appropriate readings for the day. Thus, the XO provides the most comprehensive settings of the six events of the Christmas Festival, including Part 5, the Sunday After New Year's (2nd Sunday After Christmas), which we will begin discussing next week.

The instrumentation in BWV 248/4 includes two hunting horns, derived from Cantata BWV 213. It is the only one of the six parts that has horns instead of trumpets. Parts 2 and 5 have no brass instruments. Thomas Braatz' article,
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Trumpet-List.htm. shows the use of trumpets in Bach cantatas for church festivals. I would assume the same is true for horns.

I think Bach's connection with horns, although not ubiquitous like trumpets, is equally significant. We know that Bach used horns for works with royalty, especially princes and dukes who liked to hunt, BWV 208, BWV 1046, BWV 213. In a few weeks, we will discuss Bach's first cantata for Epiphany, BWV 65, with its great opening chorus of hunting horns, recorders, and hunting oboes. I'll also explore Bach's connection with Count Franz Anton von Sporck, an amazing man, who had strong connections to the horn, Picander, Vivaldi, and Bach's Masses

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 9, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< I think Bach' connection with horns, although not ubiquitous like trumpets, is equally significant. We know that Bach used horns for works with royalty, especially princes and dukes who liked to hunt, BWV 208, BWV 1046, BWV 213. In a few weeks, we will discuss Bach's first cantata for Epiphany, BWV 65, with its great opening chorus of hunting horns, recorders, and hunting oboes. I'll also explore Bach's connection with Count Franz Anton von Sporck, an amazing man, who had strong connections to the horn, Picander, Vivaldi, and Bach's Masses >
Great post, but I wanted to make the point, that during the baroque (and especially Bach), the use of horns was really a historic invocation of Roman triumphant processions. There's a significant difference between the use of trumpets and horns for baroque composers, and there's a reason why.

Thanks for a great job

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 9, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< 5. Simon Crouch in his overview of BWV 213 says: "The libretto, by Picander, is a wonderfully sycophantic piece of kitsch!" Picander, who is assumed to be the literary collaborator with Bach on the text of the XO (BWV 248), is still considered in some Bach critical quarters to be an embarrassment. Besides being a skillful parodist, what other qualities do you find in his BWV 214 and BWV 248 texts, especially as realized by Bach? >
It's funny that 21st century audiences have more trouble with Bach's secular texts than they do with his sacred texts! The secular cantatas have not received their just due because modern sensibilities cannot tolerate the conventions of 18th century homage poetry. It's really inexcusable for Crouch to call these texts kitsch. Can he not give us an historical critical apparatus which allows us to appreciate why Bach found them perfectly worthy as vehicles for his art?

The Romantic disapproval of "parody" technique -- can we not find another term?! -- rumbles in the background of commentaries on both the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) and the Christmas Oratorio but the genius of the two works generally silences such modern prejudices. Not so lucky are the "Lutheran" Masses. They are magnificent example of Bach's mature vocal style, and yet they are sniffed at and all but dismissed because they are primarily drawn from other works.

It's time for revisionist criticism!

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 10, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The Romantic disapproval of "parody" technique -- can we not find another term?! -- rumbles in the background of commentaries on both the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) and the Christmas Oratorio but the gof the two works generally silences such modern prejudices. Not so lucky are the "Lutheran" Masses. They are magnificent example of Bach's mature vocal style, and yet they are sniffed at and all but dismissed because they are primarily drawn from other works. >
Perhaps the revisionist criticism has already begun. David Hoose, prefatory to a BMM (BWV 232) performance in recent years, noted that at one point the layering reache a depth of 13 lines, and the work represents Bachs counterpoint at its absolute richest. I do not recall him making any mention of parody technique.

I believe Doug is onto something, the common usage of parody is simply incorrect. Even as a strictly musical term it implies satire or caricature (Harvard Dictionary, 1972, 1981 reporint), certainly not appropriate to Bachs technique. It appears that the more precise term is contrafactum. I will leave the promotional logistics of the change to Doug.

William Hoffman wrote (September 10, 2009):
Cantata BWV 248IV: Parody

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The Romantic disapproval of "parody" technique -- can we not find another term?! -- rumbles in the background of commentaries on both the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) and the Christmas Oratorio but the genius of the two works generally silences such modern prejudices. Not so lucky are the "Lutheran" Masses. They are magnificent example of Bach's mature vocal style, and yet they are sniffed at and all but dismissed because they are primarily drawn from other works. >
Ed Myskowski pointed out the term overlay (of new text) or contrafactum involving text substitute with Latin.

Whatever the term, it was a widespread practice beginning in the Renaissance with popular songs adapted to Latin and later to German hymns.

Handel took lots of tunes and put new words to them, often from other composers. The Messiah is full of them. Also, we have Bach's and Handel's practice of adapting instrumental music into vocal music.

Much of the prejudice comes from the 19th century, which deplored "borrowings" or (self) plagiarism while expanding opera tunes into virtuoso instrumental fantasies.

Timing had a lot to do with the reception of Bach reworkings. The Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) was performed before most of the cantatas from which it was borrowed. The Christmas Oratorio was not so fortunate. Surviving from Emmanuel's estate along with its original sources, the secular homage Cantatas BWV 213-BWV 214-BWV 215, it was frowned on by Bach scholars, along with the Masses and the St. Mark Passion (BWV 247), which are virtual borrowings.

The significance of the XO is the transformation of old music into a larger, unique mosaic narrative setting, with unity, cohesion, and impact. This wasn't a cut-out and paste-up job! Particularly impressive are Bach's original settings of the chorales in their widest possible forms (elaborated interludes, cantus firmus arias and ariosi and a tutti chorus); the poetic use of original ariosi; and the dramatic use of recitative and turbae choruses (possibly borrowed from the St. Mark Oratorio Passion).

The XO is in a league with its sister form, the St. Matthew Oratorio Passion, as well as the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232), which is a stark contrast in its use of many old and new forms, a stile misto or mixed style, that fits together in profound settings of the established Catholic Mass.

I would add my own belief that Bach's great oratorios could well have been a stunning collaboration of composer Bach, lyricist Picander, and Pastor Christian Weiss selecting the chorale texts and suggesting religious illusions, as well as preaching the sermon.

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 10, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Timing had a lot to do with the reception of Bach reworkings. The Mass in B Minor was (BWV 232) performed before most of the cantatas from which it was borrowed. >
It is not much of a stretch to suggest that Bach could foresee this, that the details might be dispersed, but that a condensed compendium of the well regulated church music might survive, even prevail.

Douglas Cowling wrote (to reiterate):
< Not so lucky are the "Lutheran" Masses. They are magnificent example of Bach's mature vocal >style, and yet they are sniffed at and all but dismissed because they are primarily drawn from other works. >
In my circles they are not sniffed at, they are simply unheard of. That may give you some idea of my scruffy friends, and why I enjoy to take a moment to exchange ideas on BCML.

A very fundamental thought. The Mass is the fundamental rite of Christianity. As Bach matured, he grew ever closer to it. In a well regulated fashion? I will leave it to Will to argue (or dispute) that point.

It is a reasonable speculation (hypothesis?) that as Bach aged he became closer to basic Christianity, the Mass, and chose that as the format to preserve his best (or favorite) ideas.

Dang that Art of Fugue, as just one counter-example.

Terejia wrote (September 10, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/31898
< The opening chorus is considered "minuet-like," >
I concur with you that it is minuet-like.

> The instrumentation in BWV 248/4 includes two hunting horns, derived from Cantata BWV 213. It is the only one of the six parts that has horns instead of trumpets. <
Yes indeed. For me it is also a striking fact that this is the only flat-key Part while all the other 5 Parts are in sharp key. Whatever the reason might be, this cantata could make a good aethetic contrasting accent with the other 5 cantatas, in my impression.

> Parts 2 and 5 have no brass instruments. <
Indeed now that you mentioned I noticed that.

Different instrumentation has different aethetic effect. Thank you for your insight.

Neil Halliday wrote (September 11, 2009):
BWV 248 tenor aria

The tenor aria is an invigorating fugue-like piece, with at times 'jazzy' continuo movement. The long semiquaver motive of the last 2/3rds of the theme affords a lively workout for voice and instruments alike, especially effective when (continuo) cello and double bass join in the action.

In comparing this version with the secular original (in BWV 213), one feels that the original words better realise the music's driving, soaring motion; specifically, in the secular text, the image is of "flying to the stars like an eagle", whereas the 'sacred' text is a more general invocation of strength to praise and glorify the Lord.

I have Richter and Münchinger for the XO version, and Rilling for the secular version. The first two are 'big-band' versions that enlarge Bach's scoring from two solo violins to string orchestra proportions, which happens to work very well in these - both fine - performances of the aria. The bass strings tackling the 1/16th note continuo passages at lively tempo are indeed impressive.

Unlike the XO version with two solo violins, BWV 213 has perhaps more colourful scoring for solo oboe and solo violin; maybe Bach delibately toned-down the vivid contrast in the timbre of these instruments, for the XO version.

Rilling's BWV 231 version is suitably bright and energetic, with prominent continuo bassoon and double bass (no cello) complimenting the oboe and violin.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 11, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< In comparing this version with the secular original (in BWV 213), one feels that the original words better realise the music's driving, soaring motion; specifically, in the secular text, the image is of "flying to the stars like an eagle", whereas the 'sacred' text is a more geneinvocation of strength to praise and glorify the Lord. >
It's interesting that Bach seems to have adopted a consistent method of ignoring the vivid word-painting of the secular source movements for a more generalized "affekt" in the oratorio. The most notable example is the opening chorus in which the depiction of Baroque instruments in "Tönet Ihr Pauken" becomes a non-specific joyous movement in "Jauchzet Frohlocket". That's odd because there are plenty of cantata movements drawn from the psalms that depict instruments: Pauken, Saiten, Harfen and the like.

Another example which we've mentioned is the B section of "Bereite Dich Zion" in Part One in which the writhing serpent motif in the bass of the Hercules cantata becomes a exclamation about the shining cheeks of the
Daughter of Zion.

I've never looked at the libretto closely, but I suspect we'd find that Bach has intentionally ignored word-painting when the secular movement was adapted for the sacred text. Why? Was he afraid that listeners would remember the secular words and consider the association improper: like singing a hymn to popular song? (the chorales based folk songs had probably long lost their secular cononations by Bach's time). Or did Bach worry that there would be criticism that he was recycling works when he was being paid to write new ones? (Handel certainly heard that grumbling).

Are there any adaptations from secular works in the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) or the Lutheran masses?

William Hoffman wrote (September 11, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It's interesting that Bach seems to have adopted a consistent method of ignoring the vivid word-painting of the secular source movements for a more generalized "affekt" in the oratorio. >
William Hoffman replies: Great observation! I think thereason is context and audience: outdoors in the evening, church during the day.

< Are there any adaptations from secular works in the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) or the Lutheran masses? >
William Hoffman replies:
Confrimed in MBM (BWV 232): Osana from "Preise deine gluecke," BWV 215, and Es liebe die König, BWV Anh., I think. Also, Rifkin originally suggested that some phrases such as the "Gloria," the "Et in terra pax" and the one from BWV 171 originated in Köthen instrumental pieces (in courtly setting). Also, the opening Kyrie phrase was cited in Bach the Borrower to the opening of "Lass Fürstin," BWV 198/1, which is a sort of in-between secular-sacred work. Also, the origins of the Cum Sancto and the Benedictus are still nebulous.

The few remaining unidentified movements' sources in both the MBM (BWV 232) and the Missae could come from lost German secular cantatas through contrafaction with the surviving texts. This is extreme difficult to determine through texts only and the possible "affekt" the texts suggest, like Osana above.

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 11, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< The few remaining unidentified movements' sources in both the MBM (BWV 232) and the Missae could come from lost German secular cantatas >
This is beginning to sound more like Bach the Conservator than Bach the Borrower?

Julian Mincham wrote (September 12, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It's interesting that Bach seems to have adopted a consistent method of ignoring the vivid word-painting of the secular source movements for a more generalized "affekt" in the oratorio. >
William Hoffman replies:
< Great observation! I think thereason is context and audience: outdoors in the evening, church during the day. >
I'm not too convinced by this. There are many examples of very explicit word painting right throughout the cantatas. If Bach was prone to do this in newly composed movements, why avoid it in the parodies? (incidentally I agree--this is a rotten word. I prefer 'reworkings' as that gives some sense of the actual process). I think that a desire not to evoke memories of the original words and images is a more likely explanation than the contrast of contexts and times of the day.

Incidentally there are a number of recitatives with striking images which Bach ignores completely. There doesn't seem to be any consistency in his approach as many others really glorify in the imagery. Could it be that he was used to turning out the recitatives in a matter of minutes and often just didn't give them much additional time, leaving the more graphic images to be portrayed in the aria and choruses?

A point discussed on list before (but never to any real depth) is the way in which Bach wrote for the three voices not carrying the chorale melody?in the chorale fantasias so as to reflect some image or aspect of each particular line of text. This is a point well worth devoting some time to when the fantasia cantatas (of the second cycle as well as the dozen later ones) are discussed.

Certainly the last word has not been said about Bach's complex approaches to the musical depiction of textual images.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 12, 2009):
BWV 248 Bach & his Librettists

Julian Mincham wrote:
< I'm not too convinced by this. There are many examples of very explicit word painting right throughout the cantatas. If Bach was prone to do this in newly composed movements, why avoid it in the parodies? >
Bach may have viewed it as an improper intrusion on his poet librettists' art: "So in this movement, make sure you mention trumpets in the first line, and I need a snake in the middle section of this aria".

Perhaps Bach indicated which texts he wished to adapt. Armed with a poetic metre and a general affekt, the librettist would have written the sacred texts without the emblematic images which would appear in original works. I think we have to admit that there some problems in the Christmas Oratorio. The energetic minor key theme of "Bereite dich Sion" works well as an image of bustling preparation, but the serpentine bass motif makes no sense as an accompaniment for the beautiful rosy cheeks of the Daughter of Sion in the B section.

Yet on larger structural questions, there must have been discussion between librettist and composer. "Wachet Auf" is so finely laid out as three choral- fantasies flanking two love duets that it is hard to imagine Bach opening his mail one day and seeing the libretto for the first time. So too the exquisite unity of the Christmas Oratorio.

Golly, I wish Bach had been a letter-writer. We really know so little about his professional working relationships. There is nothing like the wealth of correspondence and anecdote which we have for Handel and Jennens, his librettist. Where did the literary ideas which are so crucial to Bach's art come from? There are very few "literary" composers in history -- Monteverdi, Bach, Wagner and Britten -- composers for whom the genesis of the musical act is first and foremost a literary event. Even music without texts -- the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) for example -- are literary works in conception.

William Hoffman wrote (September 12, 2009):

Douglas Cowling writes:
< Golly, I wish Bach had been a letter-writer. We really know so little about his professional working relationships. There is nothing like the wealth of correspondence and anecdote which we have for Handel and Jennens, his librettist. Where did the literary ideas which are so crucial to Bach's art come from? There are very few "literary" composers in history -- Monteverdi, Bach, Wagner and Britten -- composers for whom the genesis of the musical act is first and foremost a literary event. Even music withouttexts -- the Goldberg Variations for example -- are literary works in conception. >
Julian Mincham writes:
< Certainly the last wohas not been said about Bach's complex approaches to the musical depiction of textual images. >
William Hoffman responds:
The key to Bach's literary conception speaks for itself, I think, beyond what he and his collaborators could have discussed. The proof is in the finished product and how it is received. Our task is to go back to the conception and genesis and to examine the source-critical evidence for the elements (content) and the process (form). Bach's techniques and collaboration are astounding, just based on the results. Wait to you see some of the evidence in our pending discussion of Cantata BWV 153, especially Eric Chafe's challenging, complex thoughts about tonal allegory. Like the term "parody," I'm not sure I really grasp "tonal allegory," let alone embrace it. I think the significance is not so much in Chafe's conclusions, but the discoveries he suggests which can lead us in many productive directions. Look for my thoughts on Bach's use of musical rhetoric, which I will include in my BWV 153 introduction today or tomorrow. The end result is a musical sermon accomplished through extensive, fruitful collaboration of composer, librettist and sermon preacher. I think it doesn't get any better.

J.M. also writes:
< Incidentally there are a number of recitatives with striking images which Bach ignores completely. There doesn't seem to be any consistency in his approach as many others really glorify in the imagery. Could it be that he was used to turning out the recitatives in a matter of minutes and often just didn't give them much additional time, leaving the more graphic images to be portrayed in the aria and choruses? >
William Hoffman replies:
We have only begun to scratch the surface of Bach's recitatives, beyond the fundamental compositional technique. I did a paper for the American Musicological Society in 1995, as a beginning graduate student, on "Bach's Parodied Recitatives: A Close Examination." There are Bach scholars who say that he never wrote any, displaying not so much ignorance as disinterest.

Fact: one-fifth of Bach's "parodies" are indeed recitatives, primarily from Koethen and Leipzig secular works. Like his creativity in the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), these are not simple text substitutions of perfunctory recitatives. These involve complex techniques using partial musical and textual changes, only reuse of the figured bass, initial incipit statement, and a blending of several. Just look at the genesis of the reworked recitative in BWV 134 in three versions over seven years, beginning with just text substitution from BWV 134a to compleat revision. I suggest that this is an example not of "improvement" or perfection (Mozart's Arrow) but of transformation (Bach's Circle)

Further, if we cast a wide net, we will find suggestive reworkings, notably in the turbae choruses of the St. John Passion. Here Bach takes four different musical themes and varies them in clusters of extended choruses with different biblical texts, giving John's episodic Passion narrative in Bach's Oratorio Passion structural and thematic unity. These were revealed by Spitta, Schweitzer and Smend. A decade later Bach weaves another marvelous, unique design for his Christmas Oratorio.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 12, 2009):
BWV 248 Bach's Recitatives

William Hoffman wrote:
< We have only begun to scratch the surface of Bach's recitatives, beyond the fundamental compositional technique. I did a paper for the American Musicological Society in 1995, as a beginning graduate student, on "Bach's Parodied Recitatives: A Close Examination." There are Bach scholars who say that he never wrote any, displaying not so much ignorance as disinterest. >
William, has anyone looked systematically at Bach's recitatives to see if there are any formal links between the cantillation formulas used every Sunday to chant the scriptural readings and Bach's recitative technique? Or is the trajectory of development through Italian secular examples from the late Renaissance?

Luther clearly had some sort of contemporary recitative technique in mind when he replaced the traditional Gospel melodies for the dramatic registers of the Passion tone: middle range for the narrator, low for Christ and high for other characters and the crowd. Those symbolic tessiaturas are very much behind the voicings in the Bach Passions.

In terms of the reception of the cantatas and oratorios at a Sunday service, the recitatives followed extended texts sung in what is essentially a secco recitative. Add the polyphonic settings which the choir sang in the chant dialogues and you have something of the effect of secco recitative and concerted choral responses. Did Bach see his recitatives in an aesthetic continuum with the chant?

I've just edited some of these chant and fauxbourdon sections for a performance in December. If people would like to see how Bach's choir sang the Gospel on festival days, I could send a PDF to be posted somewhere on the site.

William Hoffman wrote (September 13, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I've just edited some of these chant and fauxbourdon sections for a performance in December. If people would like to see how Bach's choir sang the Gospel on festival days, I could send a PDF to be posted somewhere on the site. >
William Hoffman replies:
Yes! I've always wondered what Bach's choir sang during the rest of the main service, besides the chorales and church piece, especially their musical connections, contexts, and connotations. Even for those who don't readily embrace the religious sphere. These texts and readings set to music and are also part and parcel of a well-regulated church music. And, we have the sermons set to music. Their called Bach's cantatas. As Ed would surely echo (in chant): "Let it all hang out!"

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 13, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< The proof is in the finished product and how it is received. Our task is to go back to the conception and genesis and to examine the source-critical evidence for the elements (content) and the process (form). Bach's techniques and collaboration are astounding, just based on the results. >
I have isolated this concise, nicely stated thought, in the hope that everyone may read it at least once. It gains on repetition

Douglas Cowling wrote:
<< I've just edited some of these chant and fauxbourdon sections for a performance in December. If people would like to see how Bach's choir sang the Gospel on festival days, I could send a >>PDF to be posted somewhere on the site. >>
William Hoffman replies:
< Yes! I've always wondered what Bach's choir sang during the rest of the main service, besides >the chorales and church piece, especially their musical connections, contexts, and connotations. >Even for those who don't readily embrace the religious sphere. These texts and readings set to >music and are also part and parcel of a well-regulated church music. And, we have the sermons >set to music. Their called Bach's cantatas. As Ed would surely echo (in chant): "Let it all hang out!" >
Ed Myskowski adds:
(1) Yes! as well. Perhaps an Article for BCW archives?

(2) I have been in the forefront of those emphasizing the need to comprehend Bachs religious sphere in order to fully appreciate his sacred music, perhaps all of his music. I have also been in the forefront of the smaller group emphasizing the need to distinguish Bachs 18th C. religious sphere (mainly European) from our own 21st C. sphere, global (plus?). Locate Heaven (Hell, Limbo, Purgatory, etc.) at your pleasure.

(3) I would indeed echo in chant. Perhaps Ravi Shankar, Chants of India (produced by George Harrison, late of Beatles renown). This 1997 CD appears to have lapsed from ready availability. For shame! It is fresh in my mind because it is my spouses favorite background for Tai Chi, and because I recently burned a copy for a friend, since she could not easily buy one. She was interested because her daughter gave her an Aum pendant iturquoise. She finds the Chants appropriate and enjoyable. Also the turquoise. As would Bach, if you read the fine print of his Biblical marginalia with an open mind

The Shankar recording is an extened prayer for peace and tranquility, in musical styles and forms spanning several thousand years, obviously not specifically Christian, but certainly not excluding any tradition, old or new.

<Shaantirme Astu Shaantih> May there be peace in me, peace alone. Dona Nobis Pacem.

Neil Halliday wrote (September 13, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote: (in reply to Douglas Cowling)
> Confirmed in MBM (BWV 232): Osana from "Preise deine gluecke," BWV 215<
Perhaps we owe the magnificent, expanded 8-voice setting of the Osanna in the MBM (BWV 232) to the fact that Bach wished to grab the attention of the royal family, with the splendid double choir opening chorus of BWV 215, first performed in Leipzig, October 5th 1734, for the king's birthday celebrations, as well as the anniversary of his ascension to the Polish crown, all happening during the Leipzig trade fair that year; and apparently he succeeded: the royal family "never left their (observation) window as long as the music was being performed, but graciously listened to it, and his Majesty liked it very much" (quoted in the Rilling booklet from a contemporary source).

I can't recall another double chorus movement in the cantatas.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 12, 2009):
Double Choir Cantatas

Neil Halliday wrote:
< I can't recall another double chorus movement in the cantatas. >
"Nun ist Das Heil" (BWV 50) is set for eight-voice choir although musicologists are controverted about its authorship. There is no autograph score or parts. Scheide suggests that it is another composer's arrangement of a 5-voice chorus by Bach. Rifkin denies that it is by Bach.

If it's not by Bach, it SHOULD be by Bach.

Peter Smaill wrote (September 13, 2009):
Double Choir Cantatas BWV 50

[To Douglas Cowling] John Eliot Gardiner performed this controversial work at Edinburgh this year (as he did at the Albert Hall Proms in London 25 years ago) and clearly does not doubt the authenticity.

Whoever composed it, (and I agree Bach has no known rival for the quality of double fugue writing) may well have been keen on numerology. The natural order number alphabet value (using the original spelling "Heyl" ) for the first fugue is 1509; the sum of the Choir and continuo's notes?is exactly 1509. The whole fugue theme has 65 notes, the number value of "Heyland". (Arthur Hirsch is the source).

Harry W. Crosby wrote (September 13, 2009):
If Rifkin, et alia, believe this is not by Bach, has anyone [qualified] asked them who they conjecture to have written it? And -- if so -- asked them to cite other other works by their composers of choice that establish their credibility at this level of achievement.

I would be very interested to hear other works by putative creators of BWV 50. That would be educational, something I can always use. But if the savants with the conviction that it was not Bach have no alternative candidates, are we to assume that whoever the genius was, this was his first and last work?

I need enlightenment, Harry

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 13, 2009):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Whoever composed it, (and I?agree Bach has no known rival for the quality of double fugue writing) >
Sorry, I really must disagree with that statement. Telemann, Stölzel and Graupner were extremely talented writers of double fugues.

Peter Smaill wrote (September 14, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Delighted you have taken up the question of "Nun ist der heil" (BWV 50); and of course Telemann, Stölzel and Graupner are contemporaries of the first rank. Stoelzel's works we know were performed at the Thomaskirche by Bach and he is perhaps especially interesting in this regard. But can you point us in the direction of a choral double fugue by any of the three which can suggest authorship of this exceptional work.

Werner Neumann observed "(the movement) represents the exhaustive realisation of all the structural possibilities determined by the permutation principle and thus embodies the summit of its formal type". Certainly one can agree with Dürr's position in the absence of another model, "Meanwhile, one might well ask who other than Bach, in the vicinity of Leipzig in the early to mid eighteenth century, could have created a work of such breathtaking power".

This question of authorship is one of the most persistent debates and further contributions to answering Duerr's question from a knowledge of the enormous output of Bach's contemporaries?could be illuminating .

Michael D. Costello wrote (September 14, 2009):
[To Peter Smaill] I just have to chime in and say that I cannot imagine this work being by anyone other than Bach. It is entirely possible, of course; however, some of the harmonic progressions, particularly prior to the two primary cadences (at the mid-point of the work and the conclusion), are so incredibly well-crafted and complicated, yet natural enough that my ears are not shocked by them, that I simply don't feel that others of Bach's day would have been capable of creating such a work. Just my opinion, of course!

Incidentally, I am conducting this piece at Grace in River Forest, Illinois in two weeks. I don't think our choir ever struggled so much over a cantata. It is a joyous challenge and we cannot wait to put it all together!

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 50 - Discussions

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 14, 2009):
Music for the Mass in Bach's Churches

Aryeh has posted my performing editions of four chant and polyphonic items which Bach's choirs sang on Sundays and festivals: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Music-Mass[Doug].htm

1) Collect (Collecta, Oratio) with Responses for Christmas Week
2) Epistle for the Second Day of Christmas
3) Gospel with Responses for the Second Day of Christmas
4) Preface with Responses for Christmas Week

The editions are copyright and posted here for study purposes only. For performance licensing, please contact me.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 14, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thanks Doug! Beautiful music engravings, what software do you use for your editions?

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 14, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I'm an indentured slave to FINALE.

Bruce Simonson wrote (September 22, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thanks for posting these. I am particularly interested in the fauxbourdons chants you provided ... do you know if this style of composition was common practice in Lutheran services in Bach's time? We'll be taking up the Monteverdi Vespers in rehearsal soon, and I'd like to have some additional context for this type of composition as it appeared in Bach's time (for contrast), in case folks ask.

If I recall correctly, BWV 18 has response elements in it which sound (to my ear) like chanted responses, albeit these are mensural (and if I recall correctly), include some moving parts in the harmonization.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 22, 2009):
[To Bruce Simonson] Harmonized plainsong was a constant feature of Bach's services. His choirs used a 1682 collection, the "New Leipzig Songbook" which contains primarily 17th century harmonizations by composers such as Schütz and the ubiquitous Praetorius. We see tsame harmonizations in the Monteverdi "Vespers", especially in the opening "Deus in Adjutorium" where Monteverdi inserts instrumental interludes between the chant portions, but also in the Dixit Dominus where the choir freely chants the texts on a sustained chord, the same kind of fauxbourdons which were still being used by Bach's choirs when they chanted the psalms in Lutheran vespers. The "Deus in Adjutorium" of Demantius was the fauxbourdon used in Leipzig.

You're right about Cantata BWV 18: the recitative Mein Gott hier wird" is interrupted three times by the solo verse and choral response of the German Litany which replaced the Gloria in Lent. The three "-gesima" Sundays are a kind of preview of Lent, and this quotation on Sexagesima Sunday is pointing ahead to the penitential season when the entire Litany was sung, perhaps with this fauxbourdon by Bach. There is a brief quotation in "Jesu Nun Gepreiset" The Kyrie of the Mass in F quotes two themes from the Litany but as a sustained cantus firmus, not in the verse and respond form.

 

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Last update: ýSeptember 27, 2009 ý08:17:54