Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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 in D major BWV 243
Magnificat in E flat major BWV 243a
General Discussions - Part 7

Continue from Part 6

Magnificat and BWV 29 performance mystery solved

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (May 3, 2009):
As many of you know; Continuo parts are usually played by the Organ in Bach's Kantata parts (although other instruments, if we are following the Monteverdi model, can be used).

Thomaskirke once had two organs---one in the swallows nest and the other at the present general location. During Bach's time; Thomaskirke had only one Organ and the swallows nest was not large enough to accomodate the full orchestra, chorus and organ.

I was very priviledged to see, study and examine the original autographs of Bach for BWV 29 and the Magnificat. This solved the problem questions of continuo and what Bach apparently meant which the BWV folks back in 1860 misunderstood. Bach had to go with what he had available and not hire outside musicians to do some Mahlerian work he had in mind=--which the Romantics would have done. Bach did not intend, as the folks back then thought, to have two separate parts--one for Organ and one for continuo. What he meant was a united continuo part with the Organ NOT a separate contunuo part and Organ. The autograph score reads "organo e continuo" written on the same staff line. Publishers since 1860 have copied wrongly without consulting the autograph scores what the BWV folks misrepresented.

This misrepresentation can be understandable as continuo playing by the 19th century was a dead and almost forgotten art, if not forgotten, perhaps recalled by certain musicologists. The Classical Age almost killed of Continuo playing and the Romantics finished the Job so that by the time that Beethoven came along ---continuo playing was only recalled by the like of people like Haydn and when they died--the art died off until the researches of Arnold and others taught us how it was done.

I was first struck by the layout of the instruments. In modern scores, it is standard layout to have woodwinds, followed by Brass,followed by percussion and miscellaneous instruments and strings with usually the vocal parts at the top of the score or in the case of Wagner somewhat lower in the layout.

In Bach; we have the layout of Turmpets first, Timpani, Flutes, then strings then vocal parts..

The autograph scores are, at least for me, easily readable although one does have to content with old staves. As nearly everyone knows there are two versions of this with discrepancies as far as instrumentation. When Bach scores for trumpets and timpani we can be assured to know that a particular work is to be performed for 'High' Church. In Bachs, time the Magnificat was perfomed at other times in German but for High Church Festive occaisions was done in Latin in which the Magnificat is normally done such as before Christmas and Easter. The orginal E E flat insturmentation varies from the D flat in that the D flat calls for flauto traverso (or the modern orchestra flute) and the E flat calls for Blockflutes (which are erroneously called by blockhead abusers of the English language 'recorders'). This is an important note in the History of the Orchestra because we can trace the disappearance of the Blockflute from the Orchestra to about the time of
this work. Before then; the flauto traverso was an exotic flute and not a normal instrument of orchestra or band groups.

Next, it appears that there is a close relationship between the Magnificat and BWV 29. For one thing the continuo part in the beginning is almost identicial or like Boellman's famous Toccata made famous by Virgil Fox --the same with extra notes added.

Next the autograph continues making efficient use of the space available instead as in modern scores stopping at the end of a movement and beginning a new page for the next movement.

Continued later

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 3, 2009):
Ludwig wrote:
"I was first struck by the layout of the instruments. In modern scores, it is standard layout to have woodwinds, followed by Brass,followed by percussion and miscellaneous instruments and strings with usually the vocal parts at the top of the score or in the case of Wagner somewhat lower in the layout."
Yes, that's very standard for baroque/classical period manuscripts, and I think it makes MUCH more sense-- I believe they did this by highest sounding instruments at the top and lowest at the bottom. For my editions, I do not re-arrange the staves, I leave them as they're found in the manuscript.

Your comment about continuo playing dying out in the classical period is a wee bit off-- Mozart's church music (as well as his peers) makes consistent use of figured bass.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 3, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Your comment about continuo playing dying out in the classical period is a wee bit off-- Mozart's church music (as well as his peers) makes consistent use of figured bass. >
Mozart wrote a delightful account of his continuo-playing when he visited a church at the beginning of mass and slipped onto the organ bench at the invitation of the organist. His description of staccato chords and pedalwork in his realization provides invaluable clues about the extensive use of the organ in Classical church music. To set the key for the choir at the beginning of the Gloria, he improvised a flourish which was so spectacular that the clergy at the altar turned around to see who was playing. Even the famous "Ave Verum Corpus" from 1791 is very carefully notated with figures and "tasto solo" markings. In the "Missa Solemnis", Beethoven not only figures the bass but adds quite explicit Romantic effects.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 3, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>To set the key for the choir at the beginning of the Gloria, he [Mosart] improvised a flourish which was so spectacular that the clergy at the altar turned around to see who was playing. <
Were the clergy appreciative, or simply looking to the source of the distraction, to make certain it would never recur?

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (May 3, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] That was early Mozart. So did Haydn's early music also.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 3, 2009):
Ludwig wrote:
< That was early Mozart. So did Haydn's early music also. >
No it wasn't. Do yourself a big favor and look at the online PDFs of the NMA edition, specifically the Requiem. Lo and behold, what's that? Why there are dozens upon dozens of bass figures by Mozart! GASP

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 4, 2009):
The Age of the Continuo

Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< No it wasn't. Do yourself a big favor and look at the online PDFs of the NMA edition, specifically the Requiem. Lo and behold, what's that? Why there are dozens upon dozens of bass figures by Mozart! >
The end of the age of the continuo could be argued in organ part of Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" which, in addition to being used for Romantic orchestral effects, is often used very much in the manner of Bach with choral doubling and tasto solo markings.

William Hoffman wrote (May 4, 2009):
Haydn's Creation has an integral basso continuo part. I saw Igor Markevitch conduct it at the Salle Playel in Paris in 1965, from the harpsichord (his back to the audience), amplified, with speakers on either side of the stage. The soloists were Agnes Giebel, Richard Lewis and Kim Borg.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 4, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
> Haydn's Creation has an integral basso continuo part. <
I've seen period performances which use fortepiano.

Mike Mannix wrote (May 5, 2009):
The last working harpsichord was retained by the Paris opera for use in recitatives throughout the 19th century. This surely perpetuates the continuo tradition.

Telemann, on the other hand, is often regarded as the first composer to abandon continuo with the precursor of the 'modern' string quartet.

William Hoffman wrote (May 5, 2009):
The discussion on continuo practice, one of the defining elements of the baroque period, reveals for me some interesting concepts involving Band various baroque conventions. I find certain irony in a man who could be considered by later generations to be both an anachronism and a mannerist. Imagine the greatest keyboard player in the world -- eat your heart out D. Scarlatti, G. Handel, and L. Marchand -- and a representative of the forte-piano industry, yet we have no Bach composition utilzing this instrument. So, I pose the two key questions fundamental to Bach studies, says Hans-Joachim Schulze in "Bach in the Early 21st-Century": "'why so and not otherwise' must normally follow on the heels of the analyzing question concerning the 'How'" (Erickson's <The Worlds of JSB> 2009). I also apologize for not having Googled the BCW discussions on Bach and the Pianoforte where these questions already may have been answered.

I am also grateful that in recent years we have the Dreyfuss studies on Bach's exploitation of the continuo group, including the dual continuo, and his expansion of the SMP's two performing groups' separate supporting instrumental ensemble with their own separate continuo groups.

We also have the Dreyfuss (and others') related concepts of Bach's "patterns on invention," synthesis, and extension, sometimes to the point of mannerism. Is it possible that the convention of the continuo became a mannerism, and therefore was dispensed with, along with other baroque manifestations such as figured bass and imitation in 1750 as we entered the modern world?

Yet, I do not think that mannerism is necessarily an anachronism, especially in the hands of Bach, Mauchet, Gesulado, Palestrina, Haydn's "Creation," Beethoven's "Great Fugue, and Mahler's "Eighth Symphony," and maybe Bernstein's "Mass." All we need is, as, Schulze says, a "close collaboration of scholarship and practice," to "reflect further on the music. At least it should be asked 'with what justification' an utterance of the Lord or a prophet takes the form of a four-voice choral fugue,'why' a statement of religious dogma poured into rhyme produces as its musical corollary a densely worked-out quartet or quintet movement for voices and instruments, 'why' a cantus firmus in a medieval church mode is embedded not in a modern concertato texture but rather in an old-fashioned motet movements? Bring on the scholars, the practitioners and others like us at BCW?

 

Magnificat

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (December 13, 2009):
This afternoon I listened to our Belgian French speaking music radio and there was a comparison of six versions of Bach's Magnificat, with notably Greta De Reyghere in the jury. Each part was listened to and discussed in detail.

As a result the two best versions were Belgian (I should specify that it was a blind comparison... ;-)). The almost best was the "old" but excellent Herreweghe recording. The best version was a new (OVPP) recording by the Ricercar Consort.

I was particularly interested, because we will perform the Magnificat, Part III of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) and cantata BWV 57 next Sunday in the chuch of Beersel, with Benoit Jacquemin as director.

This morning we have already performed Part III of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) and cantata BWV 57 in our usual venue, the Church of the Minimes. The concert went on very well and the church was crowded. Soloists: Rita Matos Alves and Eliette Prévot-Tamestit, sopranos, Annelies Dille (alto), Yvan Goossens (tenor) and Dirk Snellings (bass).

Among performing details: we were asked to emphasise the dance like character of chorus 1 of "Herrscher des Himmels" by emphasising the first beat, more strongly in one of two measures and more lightly in the other. That also helped us to avoid rushing at the end...

More news after next Sunday..

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 14, 2009):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< This afternoon I listened to our Belgian French speaking music radio and there was a comparison of six versions of Bach's Magnificat, with notably Greta De Reyghere in the jury. Each part was listened to and discussed in detail.
As a result the two best versions were Belgian (I should specify that it was a blind comparison... ;-)). >
Quel (quelle?) coincidence, eh?

< The almost best was the "old" but excellent Herreweghe recording. The best version was a new >(OVPP) recording by the Ricercar Consort. >
It would be interesting to know what the other four were, if that is available. I believe (from memory), Herreweghe employs the ideal chorus for some folks (12), or close to it, while the Ricercar OVPP represents current scholarship as to authenticity (i.e. Bachs performance reality, if not necessarily his secret desires). A nice opportunity to compare and contrast.

TH:
< I was particularly interested, because we will perform the Magnificat, Part III of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) and cantata BWV 57 next Sunday in the chuch of Beersel, with Benoit Jacquemin as director.
This morning we have already performed Part III of the Christmas Oratorio (
BWV 248) and cantata BWV 57 [...]
Among performing details: we were asked to emphasise the dance like character of chorus 1 of "Herrscher des Himmels" by emphasising the first beat, more strongly in one of two measures and more lightly in the other. That also helped us to avoid rushing at the end... >
EM:
Thanks for the performance report, as well as the recording comparisons. These are not everyones favorite specifics on BCML, but they certainly are mine. Details of dance emphasis are especially relevant to ongoing discussion topics.

TH:
< More news after next Sunday... >
EM:
We are looking forward to it.

David McKay wrote (December 14, 2009):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] Will you be performing the Magnificat version in E flat or in D?

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (December 14, 2009):
[To David McKay] "Zweite Fassung in D-Dur" according to Breitkopf.

Laurent Lehman wrote (December 14, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>>As a result the two best versions were Belgian (I should specify that it was a blind >comparison... ;-)). <<
< Quel (quelle?) coincidence, eh? >
Quelle, yes.

< It would be interesting to know what the other four were, if that is available. >
The selected versions are listed here : http://www.tablecoute.blogspot.com/

In short (full details on the site):

Collegium Vocale – La Chapelle Royale - Philippe Herreweghe 1990
Gabrieli Players – Paul McCreesh 2000
Le Concert d’Astrée – Emmanuelle Haïm 2006
Ricercar Consort – Philippe Pierlot 2009
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir – Ton Koopman 1998
Bach Collegium Japan – Massaki Suzuki 1998

Herreweghe is the conductor that made me fall in love with classical music 20 years ago, and this version of the Magnificat is still "the one" for me.

 

E Flat Magnificat

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 24, 2010):
Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote:
< I started working on the Magnificat which my choir and orchestra will perform during Christmas. (We are doing the Eb version with the 4 Christmas chorales). >
Please tell us about your experiences with this unfairly neglected version.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 24, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] Is there a score of the E flat version online anywhere?

I'm working on an sinfonia by Endler for the same key, with trumpet and timpani, and I have some questions about it.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 24, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Is there a score of the E flat version online anywhere? >
I couldn't find one when I did the commentary on the Magnificat in D.

Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote (October 24, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] Ok. My experience is the following:

We are doing this in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I am using two chamber choirs.We don't have decent winds in my country so a whole set of wind players arecoming from Buenos Aires to help out, which includes the three trumpet players who are bringing the right trumpets, so they told me. They'll be joining us during the last week of rehearsals prithe concerts. Meanwhile, I am working with the choirs some of the soloists and the strings plus continuo.

The four chorales are wonderful, not easy at all. We are doing the Gloria in Excelsis Deo with the choir and the remaing three chorales are done by soloists, it works better like that.

The diference between the two versions of the Magnificat is minimal, some different cadences and articulations in some of the movements, but in general, it is the Magnificat we all know.

I bought the Bärenreiter edition in Berlin. The good thing is that the scores include normal oboes (transcribed) as I couldn't find any oboe d'amore in South America.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 24, 2010):
Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote:
< The four chorales are wonderful, not easy at all. We are doing the Gloria in Excelsis Deo with the choir and the remaing three chorales are done by soloists, it works better like that. >
Works better in what way? Easier to sing, or better sound.

Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote (October 24, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] Better sound. Those are duets, with basically organ or basso continuo accompaning flowing, very transparent melodic voices. I found that having the choir sing these chorales, made them sound too heavy.

And yes, they are not easy to sing, so the soloists can manage them much better.

By the way. Something interesting: these three chorales are in German. If an audience knows the Magnificat very well, these chorales are a big surprise, both becuase of the change in language and the style is very different. I guess, Bach used medieval chorales, they sound very ancient in their melodic and form construction, and turned them into beautiful poliphonic works. Too bad this version is not done often. It is a perfect work for Christmas.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 24, 2010):
Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote:
< Too bad this version is not done often. It is a perfect work for Christmas. >
There is a Herreweghe recording available: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV243a-Rec1.htm

He has also recorded the more conventional D major without Christmas chorales, so be alert.

Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote (October 26, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] I just found the Eb Magnificat BWV 243a
You can download the PDF file at:
http://imslp.org/wiki/Magnificat_in_E-flat_major,_BWV_243a_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 26, 2010):
[To Elizabeth Schwimmer] Thanks for that link. I checked that site a few days ago, and didn't see this!

Herr Braatz was kind enough to help me with my pressing questions about brass and timpani in E-flat major pieces in the meanwhile.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 26, 2010):
[To Elizabeth Schwimmer] Well, I think that link is for the 4 motets that were included in the E-flat Magnificat, not the entire music.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 26, 2010):
[To Elizabeth Schwimmer] There doesn't seem to be a score to download.

Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote (October 26, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Bad news, they only have the 4 chorales but the rest of the Magnificat is not there.

Arthur Robinson wrote (November 3, 2010):
[To Elizabeth Schwimmer] Ironic, isn't it, that, the score of the E Flat version is difficult to obtain today. When the "Magnificat" was first published, in Bonn in 1811, it was the E Flat version, not the D Major version, that was used.

 

Other possible Bach settings of the Magnificat

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 26, 2010):
The E flat Magnificat came up for discussion recently, and while I was looking for a score online, I did come across an edition (no music) but the preface was available online. The editor cited Bach's obituary, and the composition of "Magnificats," and believed there were other settings that have not survived. Of course, two versions of the one we now know would suffice and maintain the accuracy of the statement in the obituary. While Bach could have performed other composers' settings of the Magnificat (Graupner, Kuhnau come to mind), it's fascinating to wonder if he did write other settings.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 26, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< The editor cited Bach's obituary, and the composition of "Magnificats," and believed there were other settings that have not survived. Of course, two versions of the one we now know would suffice and maintain the accuracy of the statement in the obituary. While Bach could have performed other composers' settings of the Magnificat (Graupner, Kuhnau come to mind), it's fascinating to wonder if he did write other settings. >
I suspect that the Three-Day festivals of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost were the designated days when new concerted settings of the Sanctus at mass and the Magnificat at Vespers were performed. We have Bach's Sanctus and Magnificat for his first Christmas. Are the settings missing for his first Easter and Pentecost?

William Hoffman wrote (October 26, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< The editor cited Bach'sobituary, and the composition of "Magnificats," and believed there were other settings that have not survived. Of course, two versions of the one we now know would suffice and maintain the accuracy of the statement in the obituary. While Bach could have performed other composers' settings of the Magnificat (Graupner, Kuhnau come to mind), it's fascinating to wonder if he did write other settings. >
Doug Cowling
< I suspect that the Three-Day festivals of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost were the designated days when new concerted settings of the Sanctus at mass and the Magnificat at Vespers were performed. We have Bach's Sanctus and Magnificat for his first Christmas. Are the settings missing for his first Easter and Pentecost? >
William Hoffman
Don't forget the Hasse, Caldara and Zelenka Magnificats, as well as the German Magnificats such as Bach's Cantata BWV 10 and (G.M. Hoffmann's) BWV Anh. 21, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herren," and BWV 189, "Meine Seele ruhmt und preis," for Visitation. I wonder if the German Magnificats could have been subsituted for Latin Magnificats at Festival and Marian Vespers.

George Bronley wrote (October 26, 2010):
[To William Hoffman] Can anybody recommend an all-in tour to Leipzig April next year
Thank you

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Events in the Church Year - Part 6 [Lutheran Church Year]

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 26, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Don't forget the Hasse, Caldara and Zelenka Magnificats, as well as the German Magnificats such as Bach's Cantata BWV 10 and (G.M. Hoffmann's) BWV Anh. 21, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herren," and BWV 189, "Meine Seele ruhmt und preis," for Visitation. I wonder if the German Magnificats could have been subsituted for Latin Magnificats at Festival and Marian Vespers. >
I assume that the Graupner Magnificat was performed routinely in Leipzig because of circumstantial evidence-- while the autograph score is in Darmstadt, there are no parts, which is unusual considering nearly all of Graupner's 1420 cantata scores and parts survive complete. Darmstadt didn't use the Magnificat in its liturgical services, so there was no need for Graupner to bother with the Magnificat parts back when he returned to Darmstadt. However the Leipzig audition cantatas were too much of an investment and time and expense to just leave in Leipzig, and could be easily blended into church services at the Hessian court. Those cantatas were written on Leipzig paper, based on watermark studies. Considering the warm reception Graupner's music received by the Leipzig authorities, it seems unlikely that it would have sat on a shelf unused.

I don't know any of the transmission history of the other pieces Will mentioned, and or if Bach would have had copies of them. If others know, I'd love to learn about that process.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 26, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I assume that the Graupner Magnificat was performed routinely in Leipzig because of circumstantial evidence >
Has anyone produced a works list of the Vespers music which Bach may have performed?

 

In Festo Patribus

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 18, 2012):
Fröhliches Vatersfest

Bach's tribute to his father and grandfathers: "As he promised to our fathers" ... written in their old-fashioned motet style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCWgYBI70PA

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 19, 2012):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thanks for accurate expression of the sentiment, and for providing me an opportunity to plug a local band, Aston Magna, now led by Dan Stepner. This year they celebrate the 40th anniversary of Early Music in New England with a series of five concerts, repeated at multiple locations.

The second concert was *Music of Three Bachs and Villa Lobos*, intended to represent the spirit of JSBach, his ancestor JCBach, his son WFBach, and his spiritual son Heitor Villa-Lobos (city of the wolves?).

One of the JSBach pieces was an arrangement of the fourteen canons on the bass line of the Goldberg Variations. These appear to be a late afterthought by JSB, which Dan Stepner interprets to indicate that JSB enjoyed his own music just as musch as we do!

A fitting thought for Vaterfest.

 

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
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Systematic Discussions: BWV 243 | BWV 243a
Individual Recordings:
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

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

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



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýDecember 27, 2012 ý20:27:56