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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

Mass in B minor BWV 232
General Discussions - Part 15

Continue from Part 14

BMM: Philadelphia article yesterday

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 14, 2007):
An article from yesterday's Philadelphia newspaper: reviewing some BMM recordings.... This writer treats Rifkin's work as if it were only the notorious 1982 recording by him that created an "academic firestorm": like just some fad or wacky experiment!
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/weekend/music/20070513_Comes_in_all_sizes.html

And as if van Veldhoven is simply copying Rifkin's recording to get ideas how to do the piece, now! "Aligning himself with Joshua Rifkin's long-derided 1982 recording that had one voice to a part, conductor Jos van Veldhoven has become convinced of the approach's historic validity."

From his closing paragraph: "So nobody is right or wrong. Some performances are more right than others - at different times and places. Rules are elastic."

Well, I think that's taking cultural relativism too far, and weakening the value of knowledge and study down to near zero. Some people can be flatly wrong about some things, especially if they're not aware of important facts, or disdainful of those facts as irrelevant.

"So nobody is right or wrong" here apparently means something like: "I guess I'm not qualified to tell anybody what's right or wrong, even as a professional critic for a major metropolitan paper, and therefore I suppose it's either unknowable or irrelevant...and different people ENJOY different things anyway, so hey. Leave the academic firestorms to people who actually research the material and have some intellectual stake in it, not merely enjoying it or buying records...."

I would agree with a flexible perspective if it were stated somewhat like this: if someone really wants to hear Bach's music done by an Elgarian oratorio society with gigantic everything, and will be personally satisfied with nothing else, that is a valid musical and historical approach...and anybody's free to enjoy that if they want to. Bach's gone, and his music is fair game for anybody to do with as they can, with conviction and talent. But, a person with such expectations about the big choral society shouldn't claim that Bach would have "recognized it without bewilderment" (to borrow a phrase from Marie Leonhardt). Bach might have enjoyed such a production, given an opportunity for such a thing ever to happen; but that's not to say he expected it or wrote deliberately for that. For such forces, Bach might have written entirely different music to take advantage of the available effects.

=====

One little spin-off from this article: the writer mentions the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, and the recent performance by the Netherlands Bach Society there. Well...some of the musicians of the NBS told me at the end of their tour, that museum concert in New York was sabotaged by the hall's too-dry acoustics, not suiting the piece well! They said it was the worst place to perform, on this tour.

So now, here's this Philadelphia writer praising the hall and ensemble for "a modern auditorium where details can be heard", as opposed to the more resonant churches this ensemble more regularly performs in, and better suits their own approach! The writing here smears over the fact that the NBS's recording was made in the Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam -- a 15th century building -- not a crisp modern concert hall. In his enthusiasm for this new recording, wasn't he paying attention to that fact? In a resonant space like that, a smallish ensemble (in numbers) can indeed sound full and large...which should be part of the point. A good resonant church (with acoustics that do their part of the work!) gives five voices the visceral effect that take a couple dozen voices to achieve in a less congenial space. Small ensembles in bad halls just sound puny.

A photo of that space inside the Waalse Kerk: http://www.waalsekerk-amsterdam.nl/agenda.htm

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 14, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>And as if van Veldhoven is simply copying Rifkin's recording to get ideas how to do the piece, now!<<
And yet critics who have tried to determine where van Veldhoven's approach (OVPP with ripieno singers at times) to the BMM comes from obtain answers from van Veldhoven as follows:

Philippa Kiraly from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/classical/312325_bach20.html

on April 19, 2007 quotes van Veldhoven as follows:

"It was organized in Bach's time like this. The soloists sing the complete music beginning to end, plus a few singers who step in and out all the time."

Isn't this, essentially, Rifkin's OVPP theory in operation?

Later on Kiraly states:

>>Bach didn't write directions as to when there should be more singers or less, but, Veldhoven says, the clues are there in the instrumental music and in the music of Bach's contemporaries, who did give directions.<<

What are "the clues in the instrumental parts"? [Does this refer to instances when the trumpets and timpani play. Is that an indication that more than one vocalist per part should be singing? - This was already covered in Parrott's book. Where do the instrumental parts tell us that only one vocalist would be singing in a choral mvt.?]

Who are the Bach contemporaries being referred to here? [Telemann, perhaps? How do his sacred choral works compare with Bach's? Which groups did Telemann have in mind when he composed and had his sacred printed?]

Van Veldhoven, as far as I can determine, has based his approach mainly upon the Rifkin OVPP theory. A listener/critic hearing both van Veldhoven's and Rifkin's recordings of the BMM would be struck by the major similarities of approach by both conductors when compared to all the other more traditional recordings that do exist. The fact that 4 concertists are singing certain choral mvts. alone and at other times with an added ripieno group (this according to the choice of the conductor), still describes the performance practice arrangement governed by the controlling idea that emanates from Rifkin's OVPP theory.

So far there is no clear explanation for Rifkin's assertion that "no more than one singer read from any of these parts" ('parts' referring to the single copies of each voice part that were prepared for a performance).

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 14, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< So far there is no clear explanation for Rifkin's assertion that "no more than one singer read from any of these parts" ('parts' referring to the single copies of each voice part that were prepared for a performance). >
No; apparently "so far there is no clear explanation" that Thomas Braatz is willing to read and take seriously!

Quite a different thing. It says nothing one way or another about other people writing or reading good explanations; only that Thomas Braatz refuses to acknowledge that they might exist beyond his personal knowledge and preferences.

And there goes yet another perfectly fine discussion thread, only a few hours old: already co-opted by an omniscient Braatz assertion of a universal negative (i.e., that something he wouldn't fancy anyway simply DOESN'T EXIST, so why bother?).

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 14, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The fact that 4 concertists are singing certain choral mvts. alone and at other times with an added ripieno group (this according to the choice of the conductor), still describes the performance practice arrangement governed by the controlidea that emanates from Rifkin's OVPP theory. >
It is just perverse obfuscation to question that the "soloists" didn't sing in the "choral" movements.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 14, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>It says nothing one way or another about other people writing or reading good explanations....<<
in regard to Rifkin's assertion "no more than one singer read from any of these parts", an assertion which has now been declared axiomatic by some of the OVPP theory's staunchest adherents.]

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 14, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>It is just perverse obfuscation to question that the "soloists" didn't sing in the "choral" movements.<<
This was never in question as far as Bach's performance practices in Leipzig are concerned. What is being questioned here is Rifkin's axiom: "no more than one singer read from any of these parts".

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 14, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< This was never in question as far as Bach's performance practices in Leipzig are concerned. What is being questioned here is Rifkin's axiom: “no more than one singer read from any of these parts”. >
You've obviously missed Doug's point. His point, as far as I understood it, was about YOUR obfuscatory separation (whether deliberate or not, by you!) of the words "choral" and "solo".

As if some musical texture with N vocal parts in the score suddenly becomes "choral" (for some larger body of vocal performers), at N+1 or N+2 or N+3 or whatever.

Doug has already made the excellent point, elsewhere, from the example of "Suscepit Israel" in the Magnificat: it doesn't suddenly become some composition to hand to more than three singers SSA (i.e. doing it with a whole "choral section" per part), just by virtue of not having hired a second soprano "soloist" for the gig. And yet, many ensembles continue blithely to do it that way...whether to give "the chorus" more to do, or because it's part of some traditions, or ignorance, or whatever. There's nothing in the score to distinguish that movement X belongs with "soloists" per line, and movement Y belongs with "the chorus" of considerably more than one per line.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 14, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>As if some musical texture with N vocal parts in the score suddenly becomes "choral" (for some larger body of vocal performers), at N+1 or N+2 or N+3 or whatever.<<
Or that an "aria" automatically means that only the concertist gets to sing the part!

>>There's nothing in the score to distinguish that movement X belongs with "soloists" per line, and movement Y belongs with "the chorus" of considerably more than one per line.<<
There is, however, when Bach marks a mvt. or section of a mvt. 'solo' as in 'Baßo solo'. And a turba section in a Passion marked "Chorus" would most reasonably be considered to call for more than simply the 4 concertists.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 15, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< There is, however, when Bach marks a mvt. or section of a mvt. 'solo' as in 'Baßo solo'. And a turba section in a Passion marked "Chorus" would most reasonably be considered to call for more than simply the 4 concertists >
Not necessarily. "Chor" can mean that all the performers sing together in a particular movement. As early as Monteverdi (where OVPP was the norm,) the score has "solo" and "tutti" markings. This was not an indication that a larger choral ensemble suddenly began to sing at "tutti" but that "all" the solo singers sang together in that passage.

17th century Venice is not 18th century Leipzig, but you can't decide a fortiori that there were "soloists" and a larger "choir" and then interpret the evidence to support that opinion.

In fairness to Rifkin and Parrott, they show that the inherited repertoire of the 17th and early 18th century presumed a substantial amount concerted works which were performed by solo singers. The vocal parts of the Mass in B Minor look like these pieces.

As I've said before, I suspect that there was a broad application of ensembles of varying sizes. I could be convinced that an outdoor performance of a secular cantata could use a large choral and instrumental ensemble while the same music as a sacred cantata could be OVPP.

We just don't have the documents to make dogmatic conclusions. The difference with Handel is striking. His Roman oratorios have detailed accounts of the set-up in the hall, the number of muscians engaged and even names them! There is nothing in the Bach documents which even apporaches this level of documentary evidence.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 15, 2007):
I wrote (among other things, including relevant context!):
>>There's nothing in the score to distinguish that movement X belongs with "soloists" per line, and movement Y belongs with "the chorus" of considerably more than one per line.<<
Thomas Braatz then contradicted it, thus:
< There is, however, when Bach marks a mvt. or section of a mvt. 'solo' as in 'Baßo solo'. And a turba section in a Passion marked "Chorus" would most reasonably be considered to call for more than simply the 4 concertists. >
And of course the explicit context that you snipped out of the above quotation of my words, before going on to contradict it gratuitously, was Bach's Magnificat: a composition which indeed has nothing in the score to distinguish "solo" vs "chorus" sections.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 15, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>We just don't have the documents to make dogmatic conclusions. The difference with Handel is striking. His Roman oratorios have detailed accounts of the set-up in the hall, the number of muscians engaged and even names them! There is nothing in the Bach documents which even apporaches this level of documentary evidence.<<
Not true!

Bach-Dokumente I, item 22, p. 63
"Entwurff, 1730"
(Prefects: Pezold, Lange, Stoll)
Frick, Krause, Kittler, Pohlreüter, Stein, Burckhard, Siegler, Nitzer, Reichard, Krebs, sr. and jr., Schöneman, Heder and Dietel

For the school year 1744-1745 (document from the Leipzig Stadtarchiv Sift B VIII.26)

There are 17 names in the Primary Choir. Some of the names I have been able to decipher from the German handwriting are: Elisius, Machts, Pietsch, Weise, Heys, Rauch, Rohls, sr. and jr., Kaulisch, Fritsch, Cunis, ...., Schmartzer, Vaguss, Herstenberg, Mittenzwey, Moude.

Aside from the regular members of the City Pipers, we have quite a number of instrumentalists who are mentioned in Bach's letters of recommendation.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 15, 2007):
(Getting back on topic of the subject line, see 1st message in this page)

Is anybody interested in following up or commenting upon my original posting in this thread, which is copied again here?

It is frustrating that all of this thread (9 follow-up postings so far) has been not about this original batch of remarks, but rather about Thomas Braatz's immediate hijacking of the thread off to his own usual Rifkin-bashing misunderstandings. Four by Braatz, three responses by me, and two by Cowling. I would like to withdraw mine, as it's by now clearly pointless that nothing Mr Cowling or I say is going to change Mr Braatz's argumentative views. It's obviously just a waste of time. Whoops, now I see that there's a fifth posting by Braatz, freshly in there a couple of minutes ago, and smacking Cowling upside the head for something he said that Braatz didn't favor. And on and on it goes. That's 10 postings now (and the one I'm typing right now is the 11th), all not on the topic of the Philadelphia Inquirer article or the related questions I brought up in its regard.

I apologize that it's partly the fault of my own first response to Mr Braatz's, where (in frustration) I pointed out already the way he had hijacked it; I should have simply ignored him and his deliberately ignorant tof Rifkin's work. My bad. By "deliberately ignorant" I refer to his open refusal to read Rifkin's published thesis on this matter. Braatz, instead of reading Rifkin, spins his own straw-Rifkin thus, and smacks Jos van Veldhoven with the back of the same hand: "The fact that 4 concertists are singing certain choral mvts. alone and at
other times with an added ripieno group (this according to the choice of the conductor), still describes the performance practice arrangement governed by the controlling idea that emanates from Rifkin's OVPP theory."

"Choral mvts."? ("Choral mvts" only exist IN THOMAS BRAATZ'S OWN MODEL BY WHICH RIFKIN IS ALREADY CONVENIENTLY ASSUMED TO BE WRONG -- because it presupposes the existence of a "choral" ensemble as contrasted against the concertists! And, it's used in the same phrase as "The fact that..."; see how insidious and subtle this is?)

"Controlling idea that emanates from Rifkin's OVPP theory" (what kind of a bizarre phrase is that, coming from a guy who REFUSES TO READ Rifkin's own explanations of his historical theory?!)? What is a "controlling idea" and what is the process by which it "emanates" from anything?

Braatz also wrote: "A listener/critic hearing both van Veldhoven's and Rifkin's recordings of the BMM would be struck by the major similarities of approach by both conductors when compared to all the other more traditional recordings that do exist." Has Braatz actually listened to any or all of van Veldhoven's recording yet, or is he just making up more speculative schput on his way to knocking both Rifkin and van Veldhoven down? I, for one, have listened closely to both Rifkin's and van Veldhoven's recordings of the B Minor Mass, multiple times each. "Major similarities...compared to ALL THE OTHER MORE TRADITIONAL RECORDINGS THAT DO EXIST"--meaning what? "More traditional" meaning more like Gardiner, Richter, Karajan, Herreweghe, or what? Does "traditional" imply that the one-per-part basic approach should never become mainstream or centrist, but that it should always be thought of as merely radical or experimental or wacky? According to Braatz? Or according to musicians and researchers?

The "major similarity of approach" that I hear in both the Rifkin and van Veldhoven recordings, along with many other recordings that I enjoy, is that there is excellent clarity and shaping of musical lines...along with grace and beauty and poise. And, to me, that's largely independent of the numbers of singers assigned to those lines. Rather, it's about musicianship and sensitive listening and phrasing across the whole ensemble of singers and players. So there! Am I wrong, for not hearing things Mr Braatz's way and falling into his mold as a "listener/critic", expected to agree with his foregone conclusions? Or, does the phrase "listener/critic" for him simply mean "whatever Braatz thinks should be true", and all other listeners and/or critics just aren't sensitive enough?

Enough of this crap. It too easily goes on forever. See what I mean about the thread being hijacked such that it's Mr Braatz's own expectations and foibles being discussed ad nauseum, instead of discussing the material? The way he expresses himself here, in his wording and so on, regularly draws attention away from topics and toward his own pet views that he'll never change or back down from; over and over and over again. His expectations have to win, and to squelch reasonable discussions. And his misrepresentation of other people's serious work, in doing so, appears not to faze him; he just digs in his heels deeper, whenever it's pointed out that he's made up things that are not in the sources he proposes to criticize. I guess I'll have to do what I've done before, which is to send his postings off to a folder where I don't even look at them; because if I do look at them they just make me angry, and then I waste hours of my time. (Not entirely his fault; partly mine, obviously.) I'd rather spend those hours listening to and practicing music.

=====

Well, first, let's at least try to get this back on topic, more constructively:

If there's any "controlling idea" present, it's that Bach wrote down in his scores the sufficient instrumentation and vocal deployment to perform his music. Bach did not specify extra singers per line, in those scores. One singer per line is sufficient, as has been demonstrated both in musical practice and with the rigor of scholarly research, whether some people would accept that outcome or not. Joshua Rifkin just happens to be one who deserves credit for scraping away previously unexamined assumptions that were pointing in wrong directions; an admirable task of trying to get to the historical facts about performance practices under Bach's own direction. Those facts point toward the sufficiency of one singer per part, as general practice. The point can be and has been debated; but the debates make sense only insofar as they "emanate" from people who actually read the material on the way to deciding their opinions!

=====

Now....

Can we actually discuss this Philadelphia newspaper article, and/or the remarks about flexibility of musical expectations, and/or the acoustics of Amsterdam's Waalse Kerk and similar churches (and the way acoustics apply to the music)? Please? I was hoping to stimulate good conversation this morning by commenting upon an article I thought was interesting; but immediately it got reduced to the usual argumentative rubble. That's annoying. It feels like a waste of my time to have shared my opinion about the Philadelphia thing at all.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 15, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< For the school year 1744-1745 (document from the Leipzig Stadtarchiv Sift B VIII.26)
There are 17 names in the Primary Choir. Some of the names I have been able to decipher from the German handwriting are: Elisius, Machts, Pietsch, Weise, Heys, Rauch, Rohls, sr. and jr., Kaulisch, Fritsch, Cunis, ...., Schmartzer, Vaguss, Herstenberg, Mittenzwey, Moude. >
No, you're wrong. Those are the names of the people on the roster of Choir 1. There is no evidence that they all sang every Sunday. Yes, they had a statutory obligation to be in the choir loft, but we do not know the names of specific performers on specific days. This is particularly puzzling because the music is often clearly shaped with individual singers in mind: "Jauchzet Gott" is perhaps the most extraordinary example but there are many others. The lack of anecdotal descriptions of particular performers playing or singing particular works is almost unique in the history of music.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 15, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>If there's any "controlling idea" present, it's that Bach wrote down in his scores the sufficient instrumentation and vocal deployment to perform his music. Bach did not specify extra singers per line, in those scores.<<
No, because he knew what forces he could depend upon: the vocalists in the Thomanerchor generally numbered circa 16.

BL: >>One singer per line is sufficient, as has been demonstrated both in musical practice.<<
This is an attempt at empirical proof based upon today's musicians and conditions. There is no way to completely reconstruct the conditions Bach faced from 1723-1750 in Leipzig. Why, however, would he have an additional 12 Thomaner 'sitting out choral mvts.' and 'waiting for their turn to sing the final chorale'?

BL: >>. and with the rigor of scholarly research<<
Since when is declaring "no more than one singer read from any of these parts", as Rifkin did, considered an assertion based upon "the rigor of scholarly research"? Simply because he could find only a single copy for each vocal part does not automatically mean that only one singer could read from any of these parts. It is not a question here of accepting on belief or getting to like Rifkin's scholarly results, but rather whether this axiomatic statement is based upon, among other things, a restrictive interpretation of Bach's Entwurff with which Rifkin leads the reader toward a minimalist orchestration (number of singers per part) as being Bach's norm for the performance of his sacred music in Leipzig. As Hans-Joachim Schulze, when referring to Rifkin's theory, puts it in his booklet: "Bach stilgerecht aufführen: Wunschbild und Wirklichkeit", Wiesbaden, 1991, p. 21, the problems Bach describes in the Entwurff ".geben somit keine Veranlassung, die von ihm geforderte Minimalbesetzung als Norm zu akzeptieren, und schon gar nicht mittels eines spitzfindigen Argumentationsverfahrens eine solistische Ausführung aller Stimmen zu unterstellen." (".are not a reason to accept as a norm the minimum number of singers and players, and certainly not to insinuate/allege by means of a pedantic method of argumentation that all vocal parts were sung only by soloists.") [*"spitzfindig" - to be overly subtle in one's arguments, to split hairs]

BL: >>Those facts [uncovered by Rifkin] point toward the sufficiency of one singer per part, as general practice.<<
Ah, but this is not really what Rifkin has stated most recently. He is not saying that one singer per part was sufficient to perform Bach's music today. He has now clearly stated that "no more than one singer read from any of these parts". He claims he has presented the evidence for this statement, one main contention (not evidence, but now assumed to be a fact) being that no more than one singer can sing from a single part. According to Rifkin and his supporters, Bach generally prepared only one part for each voice category, hence only one singer did/could read from it at one time.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 15, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>There is no evidence that they all sang every Sunday. Yes, they had a statutory obligation to be in the choir loft, but we do not know the names of specific performers on specific days.<<
So the remaining 12 or so Thomaner simply sat out most of the figural choral music Sunday after Sunday while the Concertists would perform even the Coro/Chorus/Chorale sections or mvts. of all the cantatas OVPP except for a few instances where Bach indicated Ripienists should join in at a certain point or where he allowed them to sing the cantus firmus of a chorale? Does this really make any sense?

Johann Conrad Dreyer, the Lüneburg cantor who succeeded August Braun under whose direction J. S. Bach sang in 1700, reports in his autobiography, printed by Johann Mattheson (remember JSB, after numerous requests from Mattheson, never did submit such an autobiographical account to Mattheson) that "Mein gantzer Schüler-Chor, welcher aus einigen 20. bestehet, muß musikalisch seyn, zugleich im Singen und Spielen, Dazu kommen noch 10. Bestellte Instrumentalisten, deren 6. die erste Violin besetzen; die übrigen aber blasende Instrumente handhaben. Alle Mittelstimmen werden von Schülern gespielet, und wer nicht singet, muß ein Instrument nehmen. Ich musicire also alle Sonn- und Fest-Tage mit einem starck-besetzten Chor." ("My entire student/pupil choir consists of some 20 choir members. They must be musical in singing and in playing instruments. In addition there are another 10 instrumentalists ordered in [from outside the school], of which 6 of them play the 1st violin part, the others must be able to play [various] wind instruments. All the inner parts [2nd
violin and viola] are played by students/pupils and whoever is not singing (for any reason like hoarseness, lack of voice) must play an instrument. And thus I perform every Sunday and Feast Day with a well-appointed {strong/great in numbers} choir.") *'starck-besetzt' = a full number of singers with at least 4 singers to each part.

Bach would also have been acquainted with the larger number of performers used by Buxtehude in his Abendmusiken in Lübeck (December, 1705).

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 15, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< So the remaining 12 or so Thomaner simply sat out most of the figural choral music Sunday after Sunday while the Concertists would perform even the Coro/Chorus/Chorale sections or mvts. of all the cantatas OVPP except for a few instances where Bach indicated Ripienists should join in at a certain point or where he allowed them to sing the cantus firmus of a chorale? Does this really make any sense? >
That's not what I said. I said that the list of names was the roster of students who provided singers and some of the instrumentalists. The variety of music -- chorales, chant, motets, and cantatas -- may very well have been performed by varying sizes of ensembles. Even today, the performance of a Bach cantata means more waiting than singing for a choir.

Neil Halliday wrote (May 15, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
> An article from yesterday's Philadelphia newspaper: reviewing some BMM recordings.... (the reviewer): "Aligning himself with Joshua Rifkin's long-derided 1982 recording that had one voice to a part, conductor Jos van Veldhoven has become convinced of the approach's historic validity."<
Notice the words "long-derided"; there does appear to be a large group of people who do not think that an OVPP BMM is entirely successful. Anyone for an OVPP Hallelujah Chorus? The Sanctus of the BMM is even more grand/magnificent, empirically requiring more than OVPP - surely Bach would not have envisaged OVPP for such a movement as this. Yes, OVPP does appear to work in some cases, depending on acoustics, balance etc, eg, I liked Montreal Baroque's BWV 1 quite a bit, but OTOH I was disappointed by their BWV 147 mainly because of the small vocal group. Personally, I like the one complete movement of Veldhoven's BMM that I have heard (internet sample) - the "Et resurrexit" - but in any case this has ripieni passages with 3VPP, which is a long way from OVPP.

BTW, Doug mentioned that 'tutti' can simply refer to all the concertists, but we know of at least one case in Bach where this is not the meaning of 'tutti': BWV 110, where at one point in the score there is actually a reduction in the number of (occupied) vocal staves where this designation occurs.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 15, 2007):
Bach-Radar

Neil Halliday wrote:
< The Sanctus of the BMM is even more grand/magnificent, empirically requiring more than OVPP - surely Bach would not have envisaged OVPP for such a movement as this. Personally, I like the one complete movement of Veldhoven's BMM that I have heard (internet sample) - the "Et resurrexit" - but in any case this has ripieni passages with 3VPP, which is a long way from OVPP. >
This was my instinctive reaction to Rifkin's "Sanctus" -- it sounded like six overwhelmed soloists. On the other hand, I was surprised how effective the "Et Resurrexit" was in OVPP -- certainly an improvement over the usual choral society sound with tutti tenors and basses belting out the "Et Iterum".

And as you point out, there are numerous ooccasions in the cantatas where there are true solo/tutti designations. I still remain baffled why soloists begin the closing chorus of Cantata BWV 21, "Ich hatte Viel" when the opening chorus has no such markings.

It is in these cantatas with ripieno markings tI thought that Rifkin and Parrott really didn't come up with a satisfactory explanation to sort out a consistent performance practice for these odd cantatas. One of the things I'm doing as we work through the cantatas is asking myself if I have an instinctive, subjective feeling that the cantata would be best served in OVPP performance. I'm sad to report that my Bach-Radar hasn't told me much.

Uri Golomb wrote (May 15, 2007):
Brad Lehman wrote:
> An article from yesterday's Philadelphia newspaper: reviewing some BMM recordings.... (the reviewer): "Aligning himself with Joshua Rifkin's long-derided 1982 recording that had one voice to a part, conductor Jos van Veldhoven has become convinced of the approach's historic validity."<
and Neil Halliday responded:
< Notice the words "long-derided"; there does appear to be a large group of people who do not think that an OVPP BMM is entirely successful. >
Two points. First of all, "long-derided" implies that all, or most, reviews of Rifkin's BMM were negative. In fact, the recording attracted a wide-range of opinions -- from highly positive (the recording won a Gramophone award, for instance) to highly negative. So "controversial" would be a more accurate term than "long-derided". For a partial survey of the recording's reception -- focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the more positive reviews -- scroll towards the end of: http://www.bsherman.org/rifkin.html.

Secondly, we should try to separate the reception of OVPP from the reception of Rifkin's recording. It's hard, I know, because so far Rifkin's is the only genuinely OVPP version of the Mass -- even those who were convinced by his research (Parrott, Junghanel, Veldhoven) use ripienists in some movements and passages of the BMM. But still -- if someone did not like Rifkin's version, this doesn't automatically imply a rejection of OVPP. In fact, Nicholas Kenyon (quoted by Sherman in the link above) specifically complained that Rifkin "misses many of the opportunities offered by one-to-a-part performance": which implies that he didn't like Rifkin despite his use of OVPP, not because of it. (I think I have an inkling as to what he meant. OVPP allows for a combination of intimacy and dramatic impact, with individual singers shaping their lines with palpable detail and emphasising indiviudal words and phrases. You can hear that sort of thing in Junghanel's BMM -- in my view it makes his OVPP passages more alive than his 2VPP passages; there's even more of it in his cantatas disc -- especialy in the Actus Tragicus. Similar effects can be he heard in Jeffrey Thomas's OVPP interpretations of some of the early cantatas. There's little of this in Rifkin's recordings. I would guess that this is what Kenyon was missing -- but I'm not sure, as I haven't read his complete review).

For my part, I feel there is much that I enjoy in Rifkin's BMM, but I also think he and his musicians did better in several of their later Bach recordings.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 15, 2007):
< Two points. First of all, "long-derided" implies that all, or most, reviews of Rifkin's BMM were negative. In fact, the recording attracted a wide-range of opinions -- from highly positive (the recording won a Gramophone award, for instance) to highly negative. So "controversial" would be a more accurate term than "long-derided". For a partial survey of the recording's reception -- focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the more positive reviews -- scroll towards the end of: http://www.bsherman.org/rifkin.html. >
A good-looking survey, and everybody quoted there hears something different....

I like the remarks there about Rifkin's Scott Joplin recordings, too; some of my favorites in that repertoire.

I remember when that Rifkin BMM set came out. I was the music director at our mostly student-run radio station, and made sure it got on the air a few times...but even more, I took it home and listened to it over and over. Sounded good to me, if also foreign in shaking up my expectations at the time.

Now, more than 20 years later, when I go back and listen through it again occasionally (like this morning), the thing that especially surprises me is not the scoring, balances, tempos, or the relatively flat-lined dynamics in the instruments. Rather, the thing that jumps out to me first is the amount of vibrato the singers used in the opening Kyrie. At the same time that it helps their lines to stand out and to be simultaneously perceptible...it also makes me wish they'd used less vibrato and more dynamic contrast, instead.

I'm sort of spoiled now, I guess, by what I enjoy from Parrott and Junghanel and van Veldhoven; and by some other conductors who have done such shaping with groups of approximately 15-25 singers in tutti (Leonhardt, Hengelbrock, Fasolis, both of Herreweghe's, et al). Or even with bigger groups than that: Harnoncourt 1986 and that alert phrasing he got from the Arnold Schoenberg-Chor!

The "plain-spokenness" and general flow of Rifkin's interpretation, here, reminds me of...(hold your breath)...Otto Klemperer and the way he conducted the suites, Brandenburgs, and BMM! Vastly different head counts and tempos, of course. (Two others in this interpretive mould are Keith Jarrett in the WTC, and Christopher Hogwood in various things....) The music churns along, cleanly and well-prepared with fine articulation, but without much inflection from moment to moment. Personally, I prefer to hear lines with a more natural rise and fall to them, the way speech does in clauses and sentences.

I'd be curious to hear what a Rifkin remake sounds like, if he ever gets around to doing one.

Is Rifkin's BMM really out of print now? It appears so. I especially liked his disc of Bach oboe concertos played by Stephen Hammer, too. Dare we hope for these to come back, plus their rendition of the B minor orchestral suite 1067 played in A minor with violin (as explained in his newest book)?

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 16, 2007):
Translation as creative bending of truth in unwarranted directions

< Johann Conrad Dreyer, the Lüneburg cantor who succeeded August Braun under whose direction J.S. Bach sang in 1700, reports in his autobiography, (...) "Ich musicire also alle Sonn- und Fest-Tage mit einem starck-besetzten Chor."
(...)
And thus I perform every Sunday and Feast Day with a well-appointed {strong/great in numbers} choir.”) *’starck-besetzt’ = a full number of singers with at least 4 singers to each part. >

It's shameful that this has been put forth with the masquerade of translation.

"{strong/great in numbers}"

"a full number of singers with at least 4 singers to each part"

In what reputable dictionary, and/or established literary usage, does "starck-besetzt" specifically mean "at least 4..." of each thing, and further implying that all of those things would be deployed at the same time?

Does a "starck besetzt" kitchen or a "well-appointed" kitchen for a home have at least four refrigerators in it, and four ovens? Or, does the phrase simply mean it has sufficient utensils and workspace to make a dinner, for the normal number of people the kitchen usually serves on an ordinary day?

I.e., the simple meaning that there are sufficiently decent facilities and resources available?
http://www.google.com/search?client=opera&rls=en&q=%22well-appointed+kitchen%22

Even if we'd make some blindly literal translation of "starck besetzt" as "strongly full" or "strongly occupied", it still doesn't get us there, does it? Any specific numbers have to come in FROM ELSEWHERE, and not from that adjective itself. It doesn't belong in a faithful translation as gratuitous and misleading commentary. The point. The translator quoted above has allowed HIS OWN PRECONCEPTION of the word "Chor" to leak into the translation.

A "starck besetzt" medical office for eye/ear/nose/throat specialty would simply be a sufficient number of qualified doctors (plus equipment and support staff) to handle the workload, wouldn't it? Like maybe two or three doctors, for a large neighborhood, and where each patient would normally be served by one doctor from that strongly occupied team?

=====

It's worse than that isolated pair of problems from that one sentence.

This other part from the same translation (i.e. all the rest of it!) is also misleading:

< "Mein gantzer Schüler-Chor, welcher aus einigen 20. bestehet, muß musikalisch seyn, zugleich im Singen und Spielen, Dazu kommen noch 10. Bestellte Instrumentalisten, deren 6. die erste Violin besetzen; die übrigen aber blasende Instrumente handhaben. Alle Mittelstimmen werden von Schülern gespielet, und wer nicht singet, muß ein Instrument nehmen." (...) ("My entire student/pupil choir consists of some 20 choir members. They must be musical in singing and in playing instruments. In addition there are another 10 instrumentalists ordered in [from outside the school], of which 6 of them play the 1st violin part, the others must be able to play [various] wind instruments. All the inner parts [2nd violin and viola] are played by students/pupils and whoever is not singing (for any reason like hoarseness, lack of voice) must play an instrument. >
It doesn't say 20 choir members there in the German. "Choir members" conveniently and gratuitously misleads English-speaking readers to envision 20 people standing up there all singing at the same time! But, the German says the whole school ensemble has 20 members who must be musically skilled in both singing and playing. That's not at all the same thing as "20 choir members".

Maybe a better translation for "Schüler-Chor" is "student ensemble", instead of the misleading English cognate "choir"?

The phrase "(for any reason like hoarseness, lack of voice)" is also not in the German. There goes the translator again! But, let's continue.

Think about it. If they've got these 10 other people coming in, 6 of whom play first violin and the other 4 of whom play winds, the "20 choir members" (humoring the misleading translation for the moment) have to do everything else. At least a couple of 2nd violins, at least one viola, at least one or more bassline players (remember, we're balancing six first violins and some winds!), and at least one keyboardist, and maybe some more winds. And anybody with a hoarse voice (according to the translator's gratuitous explanation) is playing, too, instead of singing.

So, how many singers are left in this pool of 20 musically skilled students, singing rather than playing? Starting to sound closer to one or two per part rather than four, on average, isn't it?

How do we get from here to the translator's very next sentence, which magically invokes 4 or more phantom people to sing each part? Who are these 16 or more people remaining out of the 20?!

< And thus I perform every Sunday and Feast Day with a well-appointed {strong/great in numbers} choir.”)
> *’starck-besetzt’ = a full number of singers with at least 4 singers to each part. >

How about if the German original:
"Ich musicire also alle Sonn- und Fest-Tage mit einem starck-besetzten Chor."
...just gets rendered honestly as: "So therefore, on all these Sundays and Feast days I perform with an ensemble adequate to the job", i.e. well-appointed? The writer has just named the 30 roles that his adequate ensemble entails; and most of them are playing instruments, NOT singing.

Hmm.

Let's even try it with the extreme case: the 6 already-mentioned first violinists from outside the school, the 4 already-mentioned wind players from outside the school, and the students supply just one each of 2nd violin, viola, cello, and keyboard (as if this supplies enough middle and low to balance 6 firsts?), and no students playing winds; and further assume nobody's out of voice for the day. That's the only way to beef up the singing ensemble to as many as 16 remaining, out of the 20.

And it's not what the writer said. If the writer had wanted only one each of 2nd violin, viola, cello, etc (as if that balances 6 violins and 4 winds), he could have found a way to say so here, to be clear that all these lower and middle parts are done with one per string part; but instead, he said more generally that whoever's not singing must play something. And if all the students were either singers or string players, but not wind players or percussionists or keyboardists etc, he could have said that too.

What do we have? All these 30 musicians (20 + 10) are performing together, all on duty, but most of them are not singing. However it's sliced and diced here, there simply aren't 16 students left to do the singing. A conservative estimate would give us maybe 8 or 9 of those 20 students forming the remainder of the orchestra, and maybe allowing 1 or 2 out sick; where are we getting as many as 12 singers remaining? That's not even 3 per part, anymore! Nor does it guarantee that the (say) 11 remaining singers are conveniently balanced evenly among soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, or balanced evenly as to singing skill! Nor should we assume that every single piece of music given to the ensemble would have the same instrumentation....

Therefore, the translator is creatively misleading (to say it charitably), and far overstepping a translation role, when he asserts that there are "at least 4 singers to each part". Phantoms!

Q.E.D.

This Dreyer document from Lüneburg looks to be a nifty piece of evidence for singing basically 1VPP or 2VPP, on the assumption that the translator still thinks it's an important piece of evidence at all. He brought it up.

Also notice: none of this is about pieces of paper (copies of handwritten parts extracted from a score) handed out for musicians to perform from, or any head-counts thereof. It's about the fundamental make-up of the concept "Chor", from the perspective of an 18th century German music director of a student ensemble. And it's about the concept of "well-appointed" sufficiency, too. It apparently means many players, and relatively few singers.

=====

Another wasted hour, I fear, unless there are any reasonable readers here who have found this exercise enlightening.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 16, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Q.E.D.<<
Hans-Joachim Schulze would characterize and criticize this type of argumentation as specious. This is the same criticism leveled against Rifkin as shared on a recent post.

In comparing Bach's Thomanerchor with the Chicago Cubs, Brad has demonstrated the extent to which OVPP supporters will go in order to support a failing theory.

Chris Kern wrote (May 16, 2007):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< In fact, Nicholas Kenyon (quoted by Sherman in the link above) specifically complained that Rifkin "misses many of the opportunities offered by one-to-a-part performance": which implies that he didn't like Rifkin despite his use of OVPP, not because of it. >
This is how I feel about McCreesh's OVPP Matthew Passion. My favorite parts it in are the arias. I can get the feeling that OVPP would be effective in the hands of a less frenetic conductor and less vibrato-ridden soloists (the recitatives are particularly painful to listen to).

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 16, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>The translator quoted above has allowed HIS OWN PRECONCEPTION of the word "Chor" to leak into the translation.<<
An example of what "Chor" means in German (taken from a respected Germmusicological dictionary)

From Wilhelm Stahl's article on Buxtehude's Abendmusiken in the MGG1, Bärenreiter, 1986) :

"Buxtehude erweiterte den Aufführungsapparat durch Heranziehung von Chor und Orchester..Buxtehude bewog kunstliebende und begüterte Bürger, Geldmittel bereitzustellen, aus denen links und rechts neben der Orgel hoch oben an den Wänden des Mittelschiffs mehrere sich gegenüberliegende Emporen für die Abendmusiken erbaut werden konnten. Auf ihnen ließen sich etwa 40 Sänger und Instrumentisten aufstellen. Für die Continuo-Begleitung wurde ein transportables, wenig Platz beanspruchendes Regal benutzt. - Den Stamm des Orchesters, das höchstens 12-14 Mann stark war, bildeten die 7-8 Ratsmusikanten. Den Chor stellten wie im Gottesdienst die Schüler der Lateinschule zu St. Katharinen. Er zählte in guten Zeiten etwa 24 Sänger. Im Allgemeinen wurden auch die Sologesänge von einheimischen Chormitgliedern ausgeführt."

("Buxtehude expanded his musical forces ["the performing organization"] by bringing together the choir and the orchestra. Buxtehude got art-loving and well-to-do citizens to provide the monetary means for building several balconies high up on the walls of the central nave of the church [Marienkirche in Lübeck] to the left and right of the organ but situated across from each other for the purpose of performing the Abendmusiken. On these balconies he could place about 40 singers and instrumentalists. For the continuo accompaniment a small, portable regal was used. The main part of the orchestra [these were the regular members who always played along], which had at most 12 to 14 instrumentalists, was supplied by 7 to 8 City Pipers. The St. Catherine Latin School boys supplied the voices for the choir just as they normally did for church services. Optimally, during good times, there were approximately 24 singers in this choir. Generally the vocal solos were also performed by local choir members."

This is the type of performance that Bach heard in Lübeck when he visited there. Very likely it served as a model or ideal which Bach later attempted to emulate in Leipzig.

The account of Buxtehude's performing forces [circa 40 singers and instrumentalists] tallies quite well with Gesner's description (Bach-Dokumente II, item 432) of his first-hand observation of Bach's own performance using "30 to 40" musicians at one time with no singers or instrumentalists 'sitting on the sidelines' waiting to participate in a choral/instrumental mvt.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 16, 2007):
< An example of what "Chor" means in German (taken from a respected German musicological dictionary) From Wilhelm Stahl’s article on Buxtehude’s Abendmusiken in the MGG1, Bärenreiter, 1986): „Buxtehude erweiterte den Aufführungsapparat durch Heranziehung von Chor und Orchester…. (...) >
What does this have to do, SPECIFICALLY, with the direct example that was brought up as alleged support of 4VPP?

That one, let's not forget or change the subject, was about "Dreyer, the Lüneburg cantor" -- where a misleading translation with unwarranted clauses in it was pressed in: to make it look as if this Dreyer were calling for (and I quote directly one of those unwarranted clauses) "at least 4 singers to each part".

And then a head count of the musicians, stepping through that evidence itself (Dreyer's words) line by line, revealed that the translator was using that source in a dishonest manner by adding stuff that wasn't in there...or if it wasn't deliberate lying by him, at least he hadn't thought through his own argument and evidence sufficiently, before putting it up.

It's not about what "Chor" means in German, generally, now. It's about what "Chor" meant specifically to Dreyer as he wrote that document and described the normal make-up of his ensemble.

I didn't bring up the example of Dreyer. The guy who's misusing Dreyer's evidence in a twisty and mistranslated way to lie about Dreyer's circumstances is the one who brought it up (fashioning also a red-herring tie to Bach and Leipzig); and now he's sidestepping it by schwinging off to Buxtehude instead -- failing to defend directly the piece of evidence that he brought up as important.

Hmm.

=====

And then, at the end of all that Buxtehude distraction away from the topic, it's cast thus:

< This is the type of performance that Bach heard in Lübeck when he visited there. Very likely it served as a model or ideal which Bach later attempted to emulate in Leipzig. >
"Very likely" that statement itself is wishful thinking, no more and no less.

The argumentative truth-bender makes it clear in his next paragraph that he's brought this Buxtehude bit into here because he can force it to fit with his own foregone conclusion about Bach, viz.:

< The account of Buxtehude's performing forces [circa 40 singers and instrumentalists] tallies quite well with Gesner's description (Bach-Dokumente II, item 432) of his first-hand observation of Bach's own performance using "30 to 40" musicians at one time with no singers or instrumentalists 'sitting on the sidelines' waiting to participate in a choral/instrumental mvt. >
And not because it supports Dreyer. It doesn't support Dreyer. The Buxtehude anecdote contradicts Dreyer.

And nevertheless, he's trying to use both Dreyer (on Monday) and Buxtehude (last night after 1:00 a.m.) to support his foregone conclusion about Bach. It doesn't work that way. It's just more failure to draw reasonable conclusions from evidence that he says is important, and that he himself brought up.

Neil Halliday wrote (May 16, 2007):
<deren 6. die erste Violin besetzen>
This seems hardly credible, especially for that time (early 1700's), and given that the numbers of 2nd violins and violas need to be in appropriate balance; is it possible that the author meant that of the ten extra instrumentalists (from outside the school body), six were string players and the remainder wind instrumentalists? But what then would be the "inner voices". What's wrong with the Germans? Can't they express an idea with clarity? :-).

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 16, 2007):
[To Neil Halliday] Again, there is a distinction between the roster and the performer list (watch "Law and Order" for an example of on-duty and roster officers). Louis XIV founded the 24 Violins of the King (Charles II followed suit after the Restoration in England). That was a roster of violins, violas, cellos and basses. It's clear that not every player played on every occasion. A weekday mass or vespers may have had OVPP while a grand court occasion might have had the whole ensemble. We just don't have comparable evidence to know how Bach disposed his musicians.

I'm not arguing in favour of OVPP with Bach as a norm. I still suspect there were varying sizes of ensemble.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 16, 2007):
Brad Lehman wrote:
>>It's not about what "Chor" means in German, generally, now.<<
>> Q.E.D.<<
We know that Bach, Buxtehude and Dreyer did draw upon their 'singing musicians' to provide for instrumentalists mainly in the 'filler' parts for which a virtuosi were not required. But the argumentation that wishes to force the conclusion that a group designated to consist of singers (Bach's Thomanerchor, Buxtehude's Katharinenchor and Dreyer's Mettenchor) could be so severely depleted by lits members to the orchestra so that only OVPP remains as a viable option is specious [OED: specious = of reasoning, arguments, etc.: plausible, apparently sound or convincing, but in reality sophistical or fallacious].

The primary purpose of a 'Chor' ('Choir') in Bach's time is 'cantare'. The choirs mentioned recently were drawn mainly, but not exclusively from associated schools where singing was primary and playing an instrument was secondary, although to be a member of such a choir a boy had to show musical abilities in both categories (Dreyer wanted them to be equal in both). The cantors involved considered first of all whether they should have 3 or 4 vocalists per vocal part (this is substantiated by Bach in the Entwurff and elsewhere where he lists how many vocalists (boys from the Thomanerschule) are needed for each part. It is only by means of specious argumentation on the part of Rifkin and his epigones that these numbers are reduced to only OVPP or rarely 2VPP when a division into concertists and ripienists is indicated.

With Dreyer there was already a group of 10 regular instrumentalists from outside the main choir. If he used 6 of these for the 1st violin and the remainder for wind instruments (oboes, flutes, trumpets - not all of these would be playing simulataneously), he would need to reduce his 'choir' from 5 to a part to 4 or 3 to a part, possibly with some vocal parts being read by 3 vocalists and others with 4.

With Buxtehude's Abendmusiken we have a 'choir' of circa 24 vocalists 'in the best of times' with the orchestra never needing more than 12 to 14 instrumentalists of which 7 to 8 were automatically supplied by the City Pipers. So reduce the 'choir' (again we can assume that these boys could play 'filler parts' if needed) to 20 or even 16 and you will have at least 4 singers per part (assuming normal SATB settings). As we found out, the additional concertists were drawn from outside the boys' school.

With Bach's Thomaner performing his cantatas in Leipzig a very similar situation prevails and this has been discussed at length here: he generally had about 12 to 16 boys available for singing, a number which might be reduced when some boys were required to play 'filler parts'. The picture we are now getting, however, is quite fluid (unlike the constricting, limiting boxes which Rifkin has proposed through his misinterpretation of the Entwurff would account for OVPP) with singers (very likely used as concertists) and instrumentalists (in addition to the City Pipers) flowing into the Thomanerchor for performances as needed from outside the school (Bach's private music students, university students with very good musical abilities, etc.).

When Bach uses the word 'Chor', he defines it as follows (in the Entwurff):

A church 'choir' (a 'choir' which sings during church services) consists of vocalists of which there are ideally two types: Concertists and Ripienists. A minimum of 4 Concertists up to 8, if the composition is for double chorus, is necessary. As far as Ripienists go, there should be a minimum of two for each vocal part. Every 'musical' 'Choir' should have at least 3 vocalists for each part; it would, however, be better to have 4 to a part.

A "Chorus musicus" refers to all the musicians, vocalists and instrumentalists as a group.

When Bach uses "Chor" as a general term, he means singers, not instrumentalists: [in etwa: "Jeder Chor muß 16. Persohnen haben"] as when he states that from the total number of boys at his disposal for singing, each 'Chor' ideally ought to have 16 boys/individuals (Persohnen) in it, but at the least there should be 3 Sopranos, 3 Altos, 3 Tenors, and 3 Basses singing in each one. None of these boys are 'sitting on the sidelines' when 'choral' music is called for during church services and/or performing 'filler instrumental parts' in figural compositions unless their voices were 'not up to it'. Bach had numerous way/methods for obtaining good instrumentalists and concertists from the outside without depleting unnecessarily the 'ranks' (the minimum number he could live with) in his primary choir.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 16, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] For once, this is an uncommonly clear and well-organized exposition of YOUR POSITION and YOUR BELIEFS. Thank you.

There are Swiss-cheese holes all through it (that is, it's "specious" all over the place), mostly on your mis-representation of other people's work as fake-cited here ("Rifkin and his epigones" -- YOUR term of condemnation against people who read and think about things you don't fancy!); but at least this organized presentation makes it clear how YOU organize the material...in your variously vitriolic spew against things you refuse to read. You're at least mildly consistent, here.

You've grabbed whatever facts you deem relevant, and stitched them together with your own explanatory (and often-specious) assertions in between as if it's all one and the same thing; but that's usual (for you) and we're accustomed to it. It doesn't make it believable, but at least it expresses your thought process clearly.

And, here's the most important part: the whole thing here (with regard to Bach especially, but also with regard to Dreyer whom you brought up) is all still discolored by YOUR refusal to recognize the absolutely essential difference between roster and line-up. That's your biggest stumbling block here, and it's exacerbated by your refusal to read Rifkin's book where this essential point is made. YOUR assumption is that Bach is demanding a line-up of 12+ singers all warbling through the same cantata; but Rifkin and others have shown that Bach is petitioning for a sufficient roster of the whole season, and not saying how many should be singing in any given piece of music.

Rifkin's argument is much deeper and broader than that, of course; but that's the essential part that YOU don't fathom and won't fathom, short of reading his book free of your own regularly stated prejudices. You're just doing better, today, at stating those prejudices of yours clearly; so again, thank you.

Anyway, that's something. I feel like there's been a breakthrough!

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 16, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>I feel like there's been a breakthrough!<<
There is no breakthrough until you understand and acknowledge Bach's definition of a 'Chor' as meaning singers and that according to circumstances (illness, hoarseness, need for a 'filler instrumental part' to be covered, etc.) a limited number of choristers might wander over to the orchestra rather than singing a part. The usual number of singers per part in Leipzig (in what can be considered choral sections/mvts.) would still be 3 to 4 singers (including the concertists/vocal soloists).

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 16, 2007):
And to summarize, for clarity:

The basic problems with the Dreyer presentation (Monday) are two-fold:

1. The misleading use of phrases not in a source, masquerading as translation. In short, a "translation" that inserts untruths and specious material, instead of faithfully translating the material.

2. The untenable assumption that Dreyer's piece from Luneburg describes a line-up of 30 (20 students, 10 extras) musicians regularly ALL PERFORMING AT ONCE. It's "untenable" because (within that line-up model, as opposed to a roster) a body count doesn't yield enough singers left to staff the "at least 4 singers per part" that is the translator's own unwarranted assertion. Whereas, if Dreyer's description is of a roster, a pool of available musicians who might be deployed as needed for the scoring of any typical piece, the whole thing becomes a lot more flexible and believable. Dreyer's remark, for example, that he has four available wind players [from outside the school] is not a prescriptthat all four of them would be playing on every single Sunday or feast day. Ditto for the 6 "first violinists" he describes; it's not a demand that all 6 play in unison on every occasion, but just that they're available to work if needed. The line-up model (OPPOSED TO THIS) crumbles under its own weight and its own lack of numbers of warm bodies: because of that wrong assumption that everybody available has to be doing something all the time.

And similarly goes Bach's statement in the Entwurff: roster, not line-up.

As Rifkin points out -- among other things -- Bach's demand in the Entwurff for trumpets and drums does not amount to a prescription that they'll be playing every week. To be consistent, then, Bach is also not demanding that all available singers be singing every week, either; he (Bach) is just describing what he needs to staff the whole season adequately across a big and varied workload for everybody. Each musical composition will bring up (by its nature) some appropriate roster of musicians needed to present it...by the requirements of the composition, rather than by some artificial expectation (i.e. modern "choral" expectation) that everybody available will be doing something all the time.

Hence my remarks about the Chicago Cubs having a 40-man roster (some players "active" and some not), but playing only nine of them on the field at once...because that's the nature of baseball.

And my remarks about youth soccer teams not fielding more than eleven at once...because that's the nature of soccer.

Compositions by Bach don't suddenly and magically switch from "soloists" to "bring in a whole (modern) chorus" the moment a fourth voice part appears, or whatever other similar criterion. That's the artificial modern expectation that blocks some people from looking at what Bach was really asking for, with his roster. The incorrect expectation that he was describing a line-up of some 12 or 16 regularly singing bodies constituting a "chorus" to be deployed as a unit, emptying the dugout's bench, whenever Bach happened to write music notated with four vocal lines.

I remember a good case in point, many years ago already, in somebody's published review of one of my favorite Bach albums (then an LP, later on CD). It's Max van Egmond performing the cantatas BWV 82 and BWV 56, directed by Bruggen. And for just the 1'18" chorale at the end of BWV 56, the whole choral school of St Bavo of Haarlem shows up, chorus master and all, just to sing 1'18" of music. It's much less absurd if it's just 3 people (one each of S-A-T) showing up to join the bass soloist....

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 16, 2007):
>>I feel like there's been a breakthrough!<<
< There is no breakthrough until you understand and acknowledge Bach's definition of a 'Chor' as meaning singers and that according to circumstances (illness, hoarseness, need for a 'filler instrumental part' to be covered, etc.) a limited number of choristers might wander over to the orchestra rather than singing a part. The usual number of singers per part in
Leipzig (in what can be considered choral sections/mvts.) would still be 3 to 4 singers (including the concertists/vocal soloists). >
"There is no breakthrough" until everybody thinks INSIDE Thomas Braatz's private box of what he believes should have been true. And no one, especially scholars or other people who read and think, are allowed to come to different conclusions from their own careful study of the material.

Therefore, the "breakthrough" that really should happen is that we all should break into Thomas Braatz's private universe to be able to see it his way, because no other universes are valid but that.

Never mind that we, or at least I, don't really want to go there.

I get it.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 16, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Therefore, the "breakthrough" that really should happen is that we all should break into Thomas Braatz's private universe to be able to see it his way, because no other universes are valid but that.<<
On the contrary, we should all be able to 'break into' Bach's world, as far as we can understand it, so as to be able to see it 'his' way as far as possible. This can only be done by not accepting Rifkin's specious arguments which fail to recognize Bach's failed attempt at a political document (the Entwurff), by which he nevertheless revealed some details of his musical organization in Leipzig, details which help us understand the nature of his primary performance group.

Just how Rifkin arrives at "no more than one singer ever read from any of these parts" other than depending upon the radical reduction (to OVPP) in choral forces caused by great need for instrumentalists or the notion that singers sat idly by during choral mvts. is still a mystery that Brad and those who have read and studied Rifkin's published articles and books have been unable to or have refused directly to state succinctly in this forum. The effect of this is that the Rifkin's OVPP theory continues to lose its credibility except for those who can be considered its staunchest supporters and believers.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 16, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The effect of this is that the Rifkin's OVPP theory continues to lose its credibility except for those who can be considered its staunchest supporters and believers. >
Nope; it just never had any credibility to begin with, TO YOU in your subjective universe, which is apparently the only thing that really matters TO YOU.

But it has plenty of credibility to people who read it along with its supporting materials, and think, and listen, and do music.

Well, sir, your subjective universe doesn't govern everybody else.

And now you've complained more than 25 times that people don't just hand you stuff (and specifically this book), that you wouldn't take seriously anyway, so why bother! The main thrust of Rifkin's argument in that book already been summarized for you, yet again TODAY in this forum just a few hours ago, and yet you're still whining.

< Just how Rifkin arrives at "no more than one singer ever read from any of these parts" other than depending upon the radical reduction (to OVPP) in choral forces caused by great need for instrumentalists or the notion that singers sat idly by during choral mvts. is still a mystery (...) >
No, dude (I mean, "sir"), it's just a mystery TO YOU in your self-satisfied little bubble universe, refusing to listen to it or read it.

I take it back, what I said earlier today about a breakthrough. It's clearly not happening, for an obvious reason. Nothing gets into your shell that you've constructed around yourself...and now you're claiming to have "Bach's way" in there WITH YOU.

< (...) we should all be able to 'break into' Bach's world, as far as we can understand it, so as to be able to see it 'his' way as far as possible. This can only be done by not accepting Rifkin's specious arguments (...) >
Blah de blah de blah de blah, wort of the Brox, speaking for "Bach's world" which categorically has nothing to do with Rifkin or the arguments that the Brox refuses to read, because the Brox says so, so there, nyah. The Brox has absolute no frippin' idea whether Rifkin's arguments are "specious" or not, because the Brox will never stoop even to READ THEM in any seriousness. Wouldn't be prudent. Gotta hide behind Schulze and anybody else who can be roped into defending against it, by appearances.

That's why your breakthrough ain't happenin', dude. The rest of us out here (atleast some) are trying to see and hear it Bach's way, more than you could apparently ever accept; and when we offer those ideas to you, you just spit upon them and worse. They don't fit YOUR private universe, and YOUR subjective idea about what must be right FOR YOU.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 16, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< None of these boys are 'sitting on the sidelinesą when Ochoralą music is called for during church services and/or performing 'filler instrumental parts' in figural compositions unless their voices were 'not up to it'. >
There is no evidence to prove this so keep it as a hypothesis instead of making dogmatic assertions.

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 17, 2007):
I had stated: "None of these boys [in Bach's primary choir] were 'sitting on the sidelines' when 'choral' music was called for...."
Douglas Cowling responded:
>>There is no evidence to prove this so keep it as a hypothesis instead of making dogmatic assertions.<<
We have a very reliable eye-(and ear-) witness to one of Bach's performances (rehearsals?) where Bach is conducting 30 to 40 musicians (singers and instrumentalists all performing at the same time) in Leipzig in the early 1730s.

Bach-Dokumente II, item 432
Johann Matthias Gesner, Rector of the Thomasschule from 1730 to 1734.

Such documentation is far superior to the dogmatic statement Rifkin included in his Preface to the Breitkopf & Härtel (Wiesbaden, 2006) Urtext edition of the BMM:

"No more than one singer read from any of these parts."

Where is there solid evidence for this dogmatic assertion? Why is this not stated as a hypothesis rather than an axiom? Why are the supporters of Rifkin's OVPP theory having so much difficulty in trying to explain Rifkin's reasoning that led to this conclusion on Rifkin's part?

Philip Legge wrote (May 18, 2007):
Dear Thomas,

selectively quoting your sources again, hmm?

You ascribed to Rifkin:
< Such documentation is far superior to the dogmatic statement Rifkin included in his Preface to the Breitkopf & Härtel (Wiesbaden, 2006) Urtext edition of the BMM:
"No more than one singer read from any of these parts." >

Rifkin actually wrote:
"The great majority of Bach's performance materials contain only one copy of each obbligato vocal part. To all indications, no more than one singer read from any of these parts; only in rare instances, moreover, do separate ripieno parts provide reinforcement." [33]

I would say the prefatory phrase "To all indications", which you have mischievously omitted, hardly represents a dogmatic pronouncement! It admits the possibility of contrary evidence - however as we know the documentation which would support a different conclusion is scanty.

The fact is, as frequently noted by yourself, part scores often show no evidence of actually being used in performance in church. This points to the possibility that the "performance materials" (Rifkin's term) are "examplars" rather than being the actual scores that were subjected to a performance. The disposition of the performers in such an instance then becomes almost completely speculative!

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 18, 2007):
Philip Legge wrote:
>>Dear Thomas, selectively quoting your sources again, hmm?.... I would say the prefatory phrase "To all indications", which you have mischievously omitted....<<
Please check out my message (24519) from May 12, 2007, where I discussed this matter in great detail.

Andreas Sparschuh wrote (May 18, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
Neil H. asked:
What's wrong with the Germans? Can't they express an idea with clarity? :-).
evidently at least not understandable in the englisch language: >

Example:
Already at the end of the last century some famous german organ-builders made their fun and jokes about the patented claims about JSB's alleged original tuning:

In the west:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orgelbau_Klais
http://www.orgelbau-klais.com/
by his own version:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/tuning/msearch?query=klais&submit=Search&charset=ISO-8859-1

In the east: Orgelwerkstatt Wegscheider Dresden - Artikel
in his article: Translated by Google

An alternative automatic generated "translation" can be found in:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachMusicology/message/522
even with an regular record in: http://j.s.bach.gr.jp/tomita/script/bach2.pl?22=21492

Quest:
Which native english speaker here in that group --that also can read the hidden meassages inbetween the lines-- is able to provide an adaequate translation of Wegscheider's story? intensionally written in order to fob and mock the piffling:
http://plaza.ufl.edu/wnb/baroque_temperament.htm

It was about time for comprehending the earlier events about that joke in germany and in consequence of that the embarassingly counterparts appearing later on by some english spoken authors, in concurrence with H.A. Kellner's questionable contributions.

Appearently http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/
had completely overslept all that local developments among the local organ-builders in JSB's home country: It's nothing to write home about that: Old hat!

My hope:
That contribution helps to avoid/prevent any further such ridcoulous ado about that subject in the future in the corresponding academic english spoken journals, happened due to unfamiliar standing aloof from german customs among german organ-builders to make jokes of their colleauges: Who had payed money for for an officially "Patended - Bach-tuning"

Nobody of them cares any more two hoots about such alleged "discoveries".

I'm so sorry for beeing so unmasking

Philip Legge wrote (May 21, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Please check out my message (24519) from May 12, 2007, where I discussed this matter in great detail. >
Unfortunately, I do not wish to re-read your eight hundred words, based on a misreading or misunderstanding of "three little words" of Rifkin's, which seems to be clear evidence that you missed the point. Rifkin's meaning is perfectly clear when it is not presented completely bereft of context, even if you don't happen to agree with it.

 

Continue on Part 16

Mass in B minor BWV 232: Details
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Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 [T. Noel Towe] | Bach’s B minor Mass on Period Instruments [D. Satz] | Like Father, Like Son [B. Pehrson]

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