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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

Magnificat BWV 243
General Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Magnificat in D major - Gardiner vs. Parrott

Benjamin Mullins wrote (October 17, 2000):
In the spirit of changing subjects, I though I would finally get around to comparing the two versions of the Magnificat that I own.

I. Coro: Magnificat
Since Gardiner uses several to a part (11 sopranos, 5 countertenors, 4 tenors, 3 basses) and Parrott uses one-to-a-part, comparing the two is somewhat like apples to oranges. For overall sound I think I prefer Parrott. Not because the vocal lines are any more defined (which they really aren't, I found it very difficult to hear the inner voices on either), but because the performance seems more thought out and not as "in your face." I think it is a pity that the trumpets are not as prominent in Parrott's version as
they are in Gardiner's. The tempi of both are about the same.

II. Aria: Et exultavit spiritus meus (soprano 2)
The text of this section is as follows: And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Parrott, I think, conveys this sense of joy more than Gardiner. Not only does he take the aria a bit quicker than Gardiner, but the strings don't sound as heavy. Both are done very well, but the Gardiner is more ponderous where it probably shouldn't be.

III. Aria: Quia respexit humilitatem (soprano 1)
Vocally, Nancy Argenta on Gardiner's recording is much more satisfying than Evelyn Tubb on Parrott's. Argenta has just the right amount of vibrato, using it as it should be, an ornament. Her tone is very solid and pleasant to listen to. However, instrumentally, Parrott is the winner. The oboe d'amore in Parrott's version is much more fluid and the tone quality more uniform and pleasing. Again, tempi are the same.

IV. Coro: Omnes generationes
So what are you in the mood for? A little rough around the edges and very dramatic, almost frenzied. Or not as fast, very polished, more though out, and a bit (in some parts quite a bit) clearer. The Gardiner clocks in at about 1:10 and Parrott at 1:18. Not THAT much of a difference temporally, but boy is there a difference sonically! In the end I think I like Parrott better, the emotionally impact is still there for the most part (or is it just a different emotion?) but it sounds more together and solid. It sounds as though Gardiner's wheels may fly off at any moment! Not that that's a bad thing. Certainly, if I'm in the mood for supercharged drama I will always turn to Sir John.

V. Aria: Quia fecit mihi magna (basso)
Ah, my favourite part of the whole thing! I don't know what it is about this aria that I love so much. As far as comparisons go Parrott blows Gardiner out of the water! Parrott takes the aria a little quicker, but this isn't really what makes his better. In Gardiner's version David Thomas is the bass and in Parrott's, Simon Grant. I think both of them do a very nice job, though I think I prefer Mr. Grant's tone. So the singer isn't it either. What is it? The continuo. Gardiner's cont. plays the notes on the page with a few harmonies added. Parrott on the other hand adds a wonderful left-hand part that fits the rest of the music perfectly. Just the sort of thing a good continuo should do!

VI. Duetto: Et misericordia
I have never liked to set "rules" for myself like: <I only listen to period performances> or <I only listen to modern performances> or <I only listen to countertenors> or <I only listen to female altos>. If I did what a pity it would be! Either way I would miss out on so many breathtaking performances! Here we have in Gardiner's a countertenor and a tenor, and in Parrott's a female alto and a tenor. Ironically, I think Caroline Trevor in Parrott's sounds more like a countertenor than Charles Brett does in Gardiner's! Parrott takes it faster than Gardiner, 2:50 compared to 3:24. This gives it a nice flow, which is good ion Bach. Also, Ms. Trevor and Mr.
Crook (the tenor in the Parrott) blend and compliment each other's voices better than Mr. Brett and Mr. Rolfe-Johnson. Again, I like Parrott.

VII. Coro: Fecit potentiam
For Jiggy (I use the term affectionately) this section suffers the same malady as the first "Coro." The individual lines are enveloped by their own sound. As you listen to this movement you see pillars, mighty paeans of "Fecit potentiam". During these two bar sections one voice has a running line of sixteenth notes that then continues in a sort of filigree of another two bars. This pattern repeats itself five times, the running sixteenths appearing once in all five voices. Unfortunately for Gardiner this running line in the "pillars" is all but inaudible. In Parrots version however this line, while still rather difficult to pick out, is more apparent. I think this makes the movement more cohesive, this filigree motif giving the movement its momentum and also making it more of a whole. The tempi are the same.

VIII. Aria: Deposuit potentes (tenor)
Here again we have a big difference in tempo and fire. Gardiner's is 1:46 and Parrott 2:00. Really, the differences in this movement are just about the same as for VI. Omnes generationes. For Gardiner fire and intensity are important. Considering the text (He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.) this does make sense, the faster tempo gives a greater sense of toppling the mighty. Still, I like Parrott here for the same reasons I did for VI. His sounds more together and solid.

IX. Aria: Esuriesntes implevit bonis (alto)
Unlike earlier, when I mentioned how Ms. Trevor sounded more like a countertenor than Mr. Brett, here she certainly doesn't. While both do a good job, the deciding mark for this movement is the quality of the soloist, and to a lesser extant, the continuo. As I said, both do very well, but Mr. Brett tends to be "hooty". And I think Ms. Trevor's tone is more pleasant and solid. Now, about the continuo. The two flutes end their first phrase with a quick trill (fluttery thing ; )). In the Gardiner the very first time this happens the continuo answers back with an echo of this figure. This little trill happens ten times through the movement, and 8 out of 10 times the continuo echoes back. In the Parrott however, the continuo echoes with the same trill only twice. To me this shows more imagination (not just doing the most obvious), I think it is more aesthetically pleasing, and it also lets the flutes have something of their own (the continuo doesn't "steal their thunder"). The tempi are the same.

X. Aria: Suscepit Israel (soprani 1,2 alto)
What a nice movement! I think for this to work two things must happen: 1) The three voices must mix well with each other and 2) the oboes must mix well with the voices. Unfortunately for Gardiner neither of these things happened. Especially poignant are the oboes. Their tone is very strident and taxing to the ear. By the end they sound more like trumpets than oboes and certainly don't mix at all. In fact, the last chord is, for me, very unpleasant. Parrott is the winner again. for me everything works perfectly. The voices compliment each other well and the oboes almost sound like a fourth human voice. The final chord is perfectly in tune. The tempi are the same.

XI. Coro: Sicut locutus est
This is a great little piece of music, isn't it? Strangely enough the Monteverdi choir wins this one! I found it MUCH easier to follow and hear each part. It may seem strange, but in this movement I actually have a favourite note! Listen every time the basses sing the word "et". I have always thought one of the great assets of the Monteverdi Choir was the basses and this recording is a perfect example why. Every "et" is so dark and rich and powerful, I love it! Now let's not forget Parrott's bass Simon Grant. His "et"s are just as deep and rich. Not bad for a bass all by his lonesome! Gardiner wins and the tempi are the same.

XII. Coro: Gloria Patri
I think both versions end their respective recordings (with their respective styles) very well. Yet, if I had to only listen to the movement by itself I would have to choose Parrott. He takes the opening scales faster then Gardiner, and the faster tempo fitand I don't think takes away any grandeur from the movement. Using one singer per part gives a clarity that the Gardiner lacks. When the music from the beginning returns (After all, how else would you set "As it was in the beginning" to music?) Gardiner really takes off while Parrott is slower by comparison. There is a ten second difference in times.

Conclusion
While I wouldn't be without either, if I had to choose, obviously Parrott would be it. Overall the performance seems more solid and thought out, not as "rough around the edges." Also, the recorded sound is, I think, better. Gardiner seems a bit too far away. If you don't have this recording and plan on getting it, be sure to get the 2-for-1 set. It includes the Magnificat, Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (aka the Ascension Oratorio) BWV 11/249b, Christ lag in Todes Banden BWV 4 (An amazing performance, the opening Sinfonia is unearthly!), Osteroratorium (Easter Oratorio) BWV 249, and Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft BWV 50. For about $10-12 US it's not a bad deal!

Robert Murphy wrote (October 17, 2000):
(To Benjamin Mullins) Enjoyed your critique of the Parrott and Gardiner Magnificats.

My personal favourite of the two is Gardiner-hands down!! To my ears Parrott's use of one voice to a part sounds too thin. The trumpets and timpani make no impact for me.

But I think the old Karl Richter blows both of them out of the water!!!

Janet Baker and Helen Watts are far superior in their respective renditions of "Esurientes" Ernst Haefliger cannot be beat in "Deposuit". I also find Philip Ledger with King' College and ASMF to be quite enjoyable-especially the LP as he has the Christmas Interpolations on it!!

Sorry to disagree, but I really did enjoy you review!! Thanks!

Any one else to describe their favourite Magnificat recordings?

Pascal Bédaton wrote (October 17, 2000):
I agree that Gardiner is very good, but have you already listened the Fasolis one (budget price coupled with Cantata BWV 21 and a motet) or the Herreweghe one?

IMO they are both excellent.

Philip Peters wrote (October 17, 2000):
Robert Murphy wrote:
< But I think the old Karl Richter blows both of them out of the water! Janet Baker and Helen Watts are far superior in their respective renditions of "Esurientes" Ernst Haefliger cannot be beat in "Deposuit". >
Did Richter record the Magnificat twice? I have a 1961 recording with Stader and Töpper instead of Baker and Watts, Haefliger is also in though as is FiDi. Is the Baker/Watts version available on CD? I love both these singers.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (October 17, 2000):
I have the Fasolis recording (Arts, 47374) and it's a great recording...not only is his Magnificat wonderful (I prefer it to Herreweghe, who is usually my standard). I'm only starting to listen to the Parrot recording, which I like a heckuva lot, but Fasolis rates highly...especially the recording of BWV 21, "Ich Hatte Viel Bekümmernis".

The Parrott recording, BTW, is excellent and his BWV 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden" is fabulous. For the price, one can hardly err.

Zachary Uram wrote (October 17, 2000):
(To Robert Murphy) The Hogwood version is superior to both of them! :)

Robert Sherman wrote (October 18, 2000): 1:19
(To Robert Murphy) I couldn't agree more. Richter's performance is definitive. There was a period of about six months when I would play that recording every day when I came home from work, just to unwind. My only reservation is that the recorded sound quality, which was crystal clear state of the art when it was made, is a tad muddy by modern standards. In my copies, the LP sounds better than the CD.

Robert Sherman wrote (October 18, 2000): 1:46
Harry Steinman wrote:
< Fasolis rates highly...especially the recording of BWV 21, "Ich Hatte Viel Bekümmernis". >
Harry, how is the finale. On the Richter and Rilling recordings, the finale to BWV 21 is the most exhilirating thing imaginable. Is the Fasolis in the same league or better?

Harry J. Steinman wrote (October 18, 2000): 5:12
(To Robert Sherman) Bob...I read your msg too quickly and then went and listened to Fasolis/Parrott/Christophers (from the Brilliant Classics recording) of the Gloria (the final movement) of the Magnificat, rather then BWV 21.

Hmmm....tell you what: I'll try to get to BWV 21 in the next day or so. In the meantime, I can tell you that of the three Mag's listed above, I enjoyed Parrott's Gloria the most...clear, distinct, wonderful voices. The Christophers' version was good; the word "Gloria" sounded really ethereal and otherworldly, but the movement sounded a bit thin.

Well, it's late here in Boston, so, Later!

Zachary Uram wrote (October 18, 2000): 5:40
(To Harry J. Steinman & Robert Sherman) LISTEN TO THE HOGWOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Robert Murphy wrote (October 18, 2000): 5:46
(To Philip Peters, regarding the recording of the Magnificat by Richter) The Helen Watts recording I have is on LP with the Bach Magnificat coupled with Vivaldi Magnificat. For the life of me I cannot think of the other singers. I know that Robert Tear si the tenor, I think that Margaret Marsahll is the soprano. I cannot find the LP now as my new condo is in dissary and my CD's and LP's are all out of order!!

The Baker I have on a LP of bach arias with Marriner/ASMF, and also an old LP from the 1970's with Barenboim condcuting the New Philharmonia O & Ch coupled withe the Bruckner/Te Deum.

Robert Murphy wrote (October 18, 2000): 6:12
[To Robert Sherman, regarding the recording of the Magnificat by Richter]
Yes, I have found the same thing. The CD quality is horrible for the Richter!! The sound is very harsh and grating, but the LP still has lots of warmth and space around the singers and orchestra!!

Zachary Uram wrote (October 18, 2000): 6:27
(To Robert Murphy) GET THE HOGWOOD!!!!!! is no one listening????????

 

Hogwood!

Zachary Uram wrote (October 18, 2000): 2:58
People, listen to me please, do your ears a favor: get the HOGWOOD version which using choir of Christ Church, Oxford and is lead by SIMON PRESTON. it also features the incomprabla Emma Kirkby. Richter version was first I heard completely and I like it though whoever said recording process makes it sound a bit muddy is correct. I have at least 12 different recordings of the Magnificat and the Hogwood is easily my favorite so please someone go buy it.

Robert Murphy wrote (October 18, 2000): 6:14
(To Zachary Uram) I WILL go out and buy it!! I have always wanted to hear it. I think it is coupled with the Vivaldi Gloria. However, if I don't like it, I am coming after you!!!:) Thanks for your enthusiastic endorsement of the Hogwood!!

P.S. Can you loan me about $15.00??:)

Zachary Uram wrote (October 18, 2000): 6:27
(To Robert Murphy) Oh yes the Vivaldi "Gloria" is on there as well. If you don't LOVE it you probably are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals hehe I am wrong person to ask for a loan as I only have $0.20 in bank account now and I am in debt :)

Harry J. Steinman wrote (October 18, 2000): 12:34
(To Zachary Uram, regarding the recording of the Magnificat by Hogwood) OK, ok...you don't have to shout! ;D Or maybe you do, if it's THAT good of a recording...I'll try it if you can lemme know where I can find it...did a real quick search of Amazon, of HBDirect, Berkshire Records...zip! What label? Where to find?

Zachary Uram wrote (October 18, 2000): 6:24
(To Harry J. Steinman, regarding the recording of the Magnificat by Hogwood) L'Oiseau Lyre.

Charles Francis wrote (October 18, 2000): 7:42
(To Zachary Uram, regarding the recording of the Magnificat by Hogwood) This is my favourite Magnificat recording. It reflects a chorale tradition which has vanished in the German speaking world. Just compare with the Tölzer Knabenchor!

Zachary Uram wrote (October 18, 2000): 8:23
(To Charles Francis, regarding the recording othe Magnificat by Hogwood) Yay! Finally someone else has heard and loves it besides me :) Everyone on this list should go and buy this IMMEDIATELY! :) I liked it so much I bought 2 copies of it, one is kept in safe deposit box hehe.

Daniel Baldwin wrote (October 18, 2000): 7:56
(To Zachary Uram, regarding the recording of the Magnificat by Hogwood) Is it full price? mid price? budget price?

Zachary Uram wrote (October 18, 2000): 8:12
(To Daniel Baldwin, regarding the recording of the Magnificat by Hogwood) Hmm upper mid price, depends where you get it, may be able get mid priced.

Diederik Peters wrote (October 19, 2000): 6:37
(To Zachary Uram, regarding the recording of the Magnificat by Hogwood) Also, the conductor is actually Simon Preston.

Peter Bright wrote (October 22, 2000):
(To Zachary Uram) While we're on the subject of Hogwood, has anyone heard his harpsichord concertos (with the Academy of Ancient Music)?. Incidently, I used to live in a house in Cambridge (UK) that doubled up as an office for Christopher Hogwood (he lived next door) - he also kept a beautiful sounding harpsichord in a room on the first floor - I occasionally heard him tinkering away. Tragically, I wasn't listening to Bach (or any classical music) at that time - much more of a Jazz fan.

Zachary Uram wrote (October 22, 2000):
(To Peter Bright) Wow, what a story! That is very tragic indeed!

 

Magnificat (was: Best CD of Mass in B minor?)

Darryl Clemmons wrote (November 7, 2000):
Sybrand Bakker wrote:
<< You are again blatantly wrong! Did you ever read the Magnificat? Then you should have known the Magnificat is a hymn sung by Mary, not to Mary. Either you are completely ignorant on this subject, or you are purposively making comments, which many will consider annoying and blaspheming. In fact, the only reason you post these comments, of which you well know they are completely wrong, is to irate people and to provoke a flame war. >>
Charles Francis wrote:
< You are correct in saying the Magnificat is a hymn sung by Mary. However, Luther, in his "Commentary on the Magnificat", starts with an invocation to the Mother of God. Furthermore, he closes with a prayer referring to the intersession of Mary. Within his commentary, Luther notes "Men have crowded all her glory into a single phrase: The Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees".
I see three possibilities:
1) Bach was unaware of Luther's Magnificat commentary (!)
2) Bach reflected Luther's commentary in his music
3) Bach reflected some other perspective >
One of the basic tenants of Luther was the priesthood of all believers. This means it is up the individual to decide for himself right or wrong. It allowed the believers to interpret the scriptures for themselves. Consequently, Bach was not bound by the writings of one man. The gist of what I am driving at was Luther was not the Pope of Luthereanism. I believe the most likely choice is (3).

You seem to think Bach worshipped Luther. There is no evidence of this. Bach had his own opinions. He was well read in the area of religous theology. You need to examine the books Bach had in his private library. Then you will have a better understanding of Bach perspective.

John Hartford wrote (November 8, 2000):
John wrote:
<< You need to examine the books Bach had in his private library. Then you will have a better understanding of Bach perspective. A private library which included the complete works of Luther, twice over. >>
Darryl Clemmons wrote:
< Twice over? I didn't know that. I thought he had commentaries from other people too. >
Yes, you can find confirmation of his owning two full sets of Luther's works in the specifications of Bach's estate found in the New Bach Reader on page 253, 'Theological Books'. There you will also find the other books in question.

 

Question

Jimmy Setiawan wrote (November 15, 2000):
I'm just curious, how to pronounce Magnificat? Is it like pronouncing Magnify in English or manyee (like anyus for Agnus)?

Can somebody help me? Thank's in advance.

Stephen Thomas wrote (November 15, 2000):
(To Jimmy Setiawan) The g is pronounced in Magnificat. I sung in a men/boys Anglican church choir for many years and the 'cat' was always pronounced ' caught ' Magnificaught. Hmm... On this thread, how is "Clavierbung" properly pronounced?

Johan van Veen wrote (November 15, 2000):
(To Jimmy Setiawan) This depends on the language of the composer or the place where the work was performed. For a long time the Italian pronuciation (manyee) was the standard. But the dominance of the Italian pronunciation is something of the 20th century. Nowadays more and more interpreters are aware of the differences in the Latin pronunciation in the past. So I am sure that in Germany in the time of Bach they will have pronunciated Magnificat as the English "magnify".

JSB441 (John) wrote (November 15, 2000):
(To Stephen Thomas) I'm not sure how " Clavierbung " is pronounced, but Clavier-Ubung, with an Umlaut over the U, Uebung, uses normal German pronunciation.

Eric Ostling wrote (November 15, 2000):
(To Jimmy Setiawan) When you sing it at least, the latter pronunciation is generally the accepted one (mah-nyee-fee-caht), but I have heard both used in performance. Of course, maybe it was just unwashed heathen doing one of the renditions I heard.

Jimmy Setiawan wrote (November 16, 2000): 5:36
Johan, Eric and Stephen, thank's for your replies.

I think I will prefer Magni rather than manyee in pronouncing Magnificat since I have heard that more recordings use it.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (November 16, 2000): 6:24
So...I guess pronouncing Magnificat to rhyme with "certificate" is definitely out?? ;D

Frank Fogliati wrote (November 16, 2000):
Eric Ostling wrote:
<snip> < When you sing it at least, the latter pronunciation is generally the > accepted one (mah-nyee-fee-caht), but I have heard both used in
performance. >
Yes I've heard both also. However strictly speaking it should be as you demonstrate above. Just think of words like gnocchi, tagliatelle, and Fogliati ;-)

Even the most basic English dictionary lists these words (but not Fogliati) with correct pronunciation. When a 'g' and 'n', or 'g' and 'l' are pairedthey reverse and the 'g' takes on a 'y' sound. If any of you have studied Italian (any opera singers out there?) this is usually covered in one of the first lessons.

< Of course, maybe it was just unwashed heathen doing one of the renditions I heard. >
Could well be. My father is one of these, as his parents anglicised their surname upon arrival in Australia.

Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote (November 17, 2000):
(To Frank Fogliati) OK, that's the case with Italian but not necessarily with Latin. It's always difficult to say which is the correct way of pronouncing a dead language. It depends on the period or time you are referring to. As far as I know, the old Latin way of pronouncing "Magnificat", was MAG-NEE-FEE-KAT.

The G always had the soft sound of the English G in words like "go", even before e or i. For example progenie [progenie] (proghenie). In the combinations of the letters a+e and o+e BOTH LETTERS were pronounced (as a diphthong): coelis [koelis] (even [kwelis]), bonae [bonae] The c ALWAYS sounded like K, even before e or i. benedicimus [benedikimus], excelsis [exkelsis]. (Compare for instance Caesar [Kaesar] with the German word Kaiser) The v sometimes sounded like the English double o (e.g. "oo" in "foot"): veritas [weritas] (ooeritas)

Some changes in the pronunciation were made afterwards. In some places the poeple adopted the Italian pronunciation, in other places the French, the Spanish or the German pronunciation, etc. That's why we have different ways of pronouncing Latin.

Frank Fogliati wrote (November 17, 2000):
Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote:
<snip.> < OK, that's the case with Italian but not necessarily with Latin. It's always difficult to say which is the correct way of pronouncing a dead language. It depends on the period or time you are referring to. <snip> Some changes in the pronunciation were made a. In some places the people adopted the Italian pronunciation, in other places the French, the Spanish or the German pronunciation, etc. That's why we have different ways of pronouncing Latin. >
Absolutely correct.
Talk to a lawyer, a taxonomist, a musician, and a scholar. They will never agree on the correct pronunciation of latin. I remember when studying botany some years ago we were urged to purchase Botanical Latin: A Guide to Pronunciation. It's an excellent publication, but quite useless for legal practice ;-)

I would say that taxonomic latin is quite vulgar (possibly the most base) as none of the g/n or g/l combinations, for example, are adhered to. Thus Rhododendron magnificum is mag-nif-ee-cum. A scholar of high latin would disagree with this completely. Of course botanists are not obsessed with historically correct pronunciation, just speaking a universal language of flora. It is truly one of the joys of working with plants that I can converse with non-English speakers around the world with my rudimentary command of vulgar latin.

Enrico Bortolazzi wrote (November 17, 2000):
<< <snip> When a 'g' and 'n', or 'g' and 'l' are paired they reverse and the 'g' takes on a 'y' sound. If any of you have studied Italian (any opera singers out there?) this is usually covered in one of the first lessons. >>
< OK, that's the case with Italian but not necessarily with Latin. It's always difficult to say which is the correct way of pronouncing a dead language. It depends on the period or time you are referring to. As far as I know, the old Latin way of ronouncing "Magnificat", was MAG-NEE-FEE-KAT. >
This is an open question. I'm not an expert of this question bu I studied latin and I'm italian. The latin pronunciation changed a lot during the centuries. GN pronunced as g-n (as in english 'ignore') it's the pronunciation of the classical latin (more or less Before Christ). But the Magnificat it's a church text so the correct pronunciation is gn like 'gnocchi', a sound that in english and german doesn't exists, as far as I know. The church texts were born in a period when the latin pronunciation was the same as the italian of today.

< The G always had the soft sound of the English G in words like "go", even before e or i. For example progenie [progenie] (proghenie).In the combinations of the letters a+e and o+e BOTH LETTERS were pronounced (as a diphthong): coelis [koelis] (even [kwelis]), bonae [bonae] The c ALWAYS sounded like K, even before e or i. benedicimus [benedikimus], excelsis [exkelsis]. (Compare for instance Caesar [Kaesar] with the German word Kaiser) >
According to the 'church' pronunciation, ie the late latin, you can follow the Italian:
g (before i,e)- jingle
g (before u,o,a,h) - as in English or German (game, gas)
gn - as said above (the spanish has the same sound written written ñ as in niño)
c (before i,e) - ciao, china (usually in english you start china stronger like tch, in italian its soft)
c (before u,o, a, h) - like k
coe - as c before e (the diphthong oe and ae are like e)

< The v sometimes sounded like the English double o (e.g. "oo" in "foot"): veritas [weritas] (ooeritas) >
I never heard this, neither in the latin pronunciation. I always used and heard v like Venice.

< Some changes in the pronunciation were made afterwards. In some places the people adopted the Italian pronunciation, in other places the French, the Spanish or the German pronunciation, etc. That's why we have different ways of pronouncing Latin. >
This is true and it's a matter of study. While almost all agree that Bach used a German pronunciation, this is not the same for Mozart, that lived in a catholic context dominated from the italian 'style' (and Mozart also spoke Italian). So you can heard both the pronuciations but I preferr the italian one when in doubt. Years ago I read an article were the author stated that the Bach's Magnificat must be pronunced with the german pronunciation and the musical analysis show this. I cannot find now the article but the thesis was that if Bach used another pronunciation some musical figures would have been different. Somebody know something more about this article?

For Spanish I have no doubt that the latin it's the same as for italian, even if there are differences from Italian (i.e. the 'ge' of Argerich).For French I don't know but Kirk can help us. How is your latin Kirk?

However the big differences are with anglosaxon languages. And even great conductors and interpreters are often wrong: I have a Gloria by Vivaldi directed by Gardiner with an english pronunciation as they were singing Händel. Not to speak about Monteverdi (this is Italian).

I hope this can help somebody,

Jimmy Setiawan wrote (November 17, 2000): 3:26
Thank's Alan, your reply is very much a help for me.

Frankly, besides Magnificat, my choir will sing 2 compositions with Latin text in Christmas. Another one is Quem Vidistis Pastores by Tomas Luis de Victoria. If I am permitted to ask question on Victoria's composition (not by Bach, as far as I know he never wrote this) in this mailling list: how to pronounce it properly?

The text:
Quem vidistis pastores?
Dicite annunciate nobis
Quis apparuit?
Natum vidimus,
et choros Angelorum
Collaudantes Dominum
Alleluia

My choir pronounce it:
kuem vidistis pastores? (widistis?)
dicite anungciate (like "ng" for "king") nobis
kuis ("kui" like "queen"?) aparuit?
natum vidismus (widismus?)
et koros angelorum (like "angel"?)
kolaudantes dominum ("kolau" or "kolo"?)
aleluya

Any corrections?

Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote (November 18, 2000):
Hi Enrico, Jimmy(?), Frank and others
<< [...] It's always difficult to say which is the correct way of pronouncing a dead language. It depends on the period or time you are referring to. As far as I know, the old Latin way of pronouncing "Magnificat", was MAG-NEE-FEE-KAT. >>
< This is an open question. I'm not an expert of this question bu I studied Latin and I'm italian. The latin pronunciation changed a lot during the centuries. GN pronunced as g-n (as in english 'ignore') it's the pronunciation of the classical latin (more or less Before Christ). But the Magnificat it's a church text so the correct pronunciation is gn like 'gnocchi', a sound that in english and german doesn't exists, as far as I know. The church texts were born in a period when the latin pronunciation was the same as the italian of today. >
I actually made a mistake here... I thought about classical Latin, without considering that the church texts were written afterwards, when the Latin was already changing... haha There are important things that can't be forgotten! Sorry for that! Do you have an idea of when (approximately) the Latin pronunciation in churches was like the one of actual Italian? I didn't learn much Latin, but I remember that our teachers at school told us to pronounce it almost like Spanish. They explained that there was a classic pronunciation (the one I mentioned before) and a Spanish one. This Spanish way of pronouncing Latin is not the same as the Italian you mention. The problem here is that quite a lot of Spanish composers went to Italy to study music and lived (and worked) there for some years. When they returned to Spain (the ones that did so), they were used to the Italian pronunciation... I just don't know what they did afterwards... did they adopt the Spanish one or continued using the one they have learnt in Italy? no idea!

< According to the 'church' pronunciation, ie the late latin, you can follow the italian: g (before i,e)- jingle >
Again in Spain: I wouldn't be so sure. The sound you are referring to, developed there and became an unvoiced (?) consonant [x], similar to the German "ch" sound or the "g" sound in Dutch.

< g (before u,o,a,h) - as in english or german (game, gas)
gn - as said above (the spanish has the same sound written ñ as in niño) >
Here we have the same problem again. I'm just not so sure... The combination "gn" in Spanish does still sound like two separate sounds: g-n... it's important not to mix words like "magna" and "maña" in Spanish. They have different meanings.

< c (before i,e) - ciao, china (usually in english you start stronger like tch, in italian its soft) >
C before e or i, sounds like "s" or the English "th". It depends on the zone of Spain or Latin America you are referring to.

< c (before u,o, a, h) - like k
coe - as c before e (the diphthong oe and ae are like e) >
Yes, that was also the case in Spain: coe [ce]

< The v sometimes sounded like the English double o (e.g. "oo" in "foot"): veritas [weritas] (ooeritas)
I never heard this, neither in the latin pronunciation. I always used and heard v like Venice. >
I'm not sure if I actually believe this pronunciation, but that's what they told us. I'm just repeating what I learnt in school, nothing more. Maybe it has something to do with the way they spelled the letters "u" and "v". veritas VERITAS unus VNVS... any ideas? Anyway. In Spanish the [v] sound was substituted by the [b] sound (the "V" sound actually disappeared). I don't know what happened with Latin but it might have been the same as in Spanish: et vitam [et bitam]. You can find lots of spellings errors in words in old music scores. That's the case with "violin" and "biolin" for example; sometimes both terms can be found on the same score.

< [...] Years ago I read an article were the author stated that the Bach's Magnificat must be pronunced with the german pronunciation and the musical analysis show this. I cannot find now the article but the thesis was that if Bach used another pronunciation some musical figures would have been different. Somebody know something more about this article? >
No, no idea, but it's important to keep that in mind. I don't know of any composer who has written church music in Latin, where he wanted their singers to use the classical pronunciation. Some musical figures would have to be changed in order to pronounce Latin in the classic way and I don't think that's the case with any composer I know...

OK, I know this is off-topic, so I won't insist on it. I hope this isn't useless at all.

Frank Fogliati wrote (November 18, 2000):
Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote:
<snip> < I don't know of any composer who has written church music in Latin, where he wanted their singers to use the classical pronunciation. Some musical figures would have to be changed in order to pronounce Latin in the classic way and I don't think that's the case with any composer I know... >
This pronunciation thing has really got me thinking. A quick check of my renaissance and mediaeval CD's revealed classical latin. One example is the Codex Calixtinus, Music For St. James The Apostle, Santiago De Composela, 12th Century. Both the Sequentia and Anonymous 4 recordings observe high latin. Words such as insignis, dignis, signis are all 'correct'. I haven't had a chance to go through my collection, but I
know there will be more to follow.

Johan van Veen wrote (November 18, 2000):
Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote:
< Again in Spain: I wouldn't be so sure. The sound you are referring to, developed there and became an unvoiced (?) consonant [x], similar to the German "ch" sound or the "g" sound in Dutch. >
There is quite a difference between the German "ch" and the Dutch "g" - at least in the northern part of the Netherlands the "g" is quite a "hard" sound. In the southern part the "g" sounds much more like the German "ch". The "northern" Dutch "g" is comparable with the Spanish "j" before a vowel.

Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote (November 18, 2000):
Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote:
<< Again in Spain: I wouldn't be so sure. The sound you are referring to, developed there and became an unvoiced (?) consonant [x], similar to the German "ch" sound or the "g" sound in Dutch. >>
< There is quite a difference between the German "ch" and the Dutch "g" - at least in the northern part of the Netherlands the "g" is quite a "hard" sound. In the southern part the "g" sounds much more like the German "ch". The "northern" Dutch "g" is comparable with the Spanish "j" before a vowel. >
OK, I made a mistake again... I forgot one word. ,,Again in Spain: I wouldn't be so sure. The sound you are referring to, developed there and became an unvoiced (?) consonant [x], similar to the German "ch" or EVEN the "g" sound in Dutch.'' The "j" in Spanish always sounds like the German "ch" (that is the case in some parts of Spain and in Latin America) or like the Dutch "g" (in other parts of Spain, like in Madrid). The "g" has to be pronounced differently if it appears before "a", "o" or "u" or if it is before "e" and "i". Before a, o and u the sound is voiced: [g]. It's like the English g in words like gas, go, gun, etc. Before e and i it is pronounced like the Spanish "j".

In "Spanish" Latin, the "j" has to be pronounced like the English "y" in words like "yellow". It's important not to get confused about Spanish and "Spanish" Latin pronunciation. They are similar but not the same.

Galina Kolomietz wrote (November 18, 2000): 7:15
Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote:
< I don't know of any composer who has written church music in Latin, where he wanted their singers to use the classical pronunciation. Some musical figures would have to be changed in order to pronounce Latin in the classic way and I don't think that's the case with any composer I know...
OK, I know this is off-topic, so I won't insist on it. I hope this isn't useless at all.>
*** How can this be off-topic? Pronunciation is so important to vocal music! Imho, it can really affect the flavor of the music. For example, when I hear recordings of French music that don't gallicize their Latin I feel like something is lost. If memory serves, Christie recorded Mozart Requiem with Germanic Latin.

Enrico Bortolazzi wrote (November 20, 2000):
Alan Dergal Rautenberg wrote:
< OK, I know this is off-topic, so I won't insist on it. I hope this isn't useless at all. >
Thanks for your point of view. This is not off-topic: bach wrote few works on latin text but this is enough to discuss the question. I heard many versions of the Magnificat and almost all start with Mag-nificat. But, at least in Italy, you can hear Man-yee-ficat.

As told, regarding Bach I have no doubt (at the moment) the the right pronunciation is like German.

PS: Regarding Spanish, I speak spanish so I know very well the differences with Italian. But I'm not sure about how spanish people pronunciate latin: I will ask.

 

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Magnificats BWV 243 & BWV 243a: Details
Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | BWV 243a | Individual Movements
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BWV 243 - E. Haïm | BWV 243 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 243a - T. Hengelbrock | BWV 243 - P. McCreesh | BWV 243 - J. Rifkin | BWV 243 - H. Rilling | BWV 243 - R. Shaw | BWV 243 - M. Suzuki | BWV 243a - P. Herreweghe

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Last update: ęDecember 27, 2012 ę20:38:58