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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

Matthäus-Passion BWV 244
General Discussions - Part 13

Continue from Part 12

SMP BWV 244a & b

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 18, 2006):
Aryeh Oron has placed the following research paper on the origin, history, chronology of Bach's SMP and its connection to/with its secular 'sister' work BWV 244a.

It can be found at the following address (as a PDF file): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/SMP244avsb.pdf

This investigation was prompted by the recent discussion of parodies, particularly from sacred to secular, and, interestingly enough, touches upon another topic recently discussed, the Sanctus in D (later in the Mass in B minor), which was performed on Christmas Day in 1724. The loss of key evidence has prompted endless speculation about the early form of the SMP and the date for its first performance. Recent research by Andreas Glöckner in the NBA KB from 2004 calls into question many previous commentaries and assessments regarding chronology and the relationship between both works. This now outdated information is, however, still to be found in books and articles before this date, more recently circa 2000: Wolff, Geck, Küster, Robin A Leaver's article on the SMP in the OCC (1999), etc.

The complexity surrounding this subject matter should not hinder an interested reader from grasping the essential details of the various arguments that have been presented pro and con regarding specific theories
offered by a variety of Bach experts for well over a century now.

I do not wish to begin a long discussion on this subject now, since our primary focus should be on this week's cantata discussion, but any questions, corrections, or suggestions would be welcome.

 

St Matthew Passion

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 27, 2007):
< I don't know Suzuki's recording of the SMP, but I must confess to liking Richter's 1958 recording, probably because it is the one I was brought up on. >
All year I've been enjoying the van Veldhoven performance that was on Dutch radio last year. They did about a dozen concert performances of it, as a series during Lent. One spot especially startles me -- in a good way, because the dramatic pacing is so strong. That's the end of "Aus Liebe" where an exquisitely calm and sorrowful mood has been set up over the past five minutes, and then suddenly the crowd shouts again for Jesus's execution. Excerpt: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/st_matthew_passion/

Orchestra 1 had both harpsichord and organ available, and they did some great stuff using the harpsichord for sudden accents -- here and through other especially strong parts of the drama. Yum. Orchestra 2 also had an organ; and the various bowed-bassline players come into and out of the texture throughout this drama, according to taste. I was reminded of the excellence in this performance by Neil's complaint: about continuo players (and their conductors) sometimes not being imaginative enough with their realizations....

 

"Mache dich"

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 28, 2007):
Peter B:
< I agree withyou on the Richter SMP - I still think that Fischer-Dieskau' s performance of Mache dich, mein Herze, rein is the most impressive on record - although Henschel comes mighty close on the most recent of the Harnoncourt versions... >
John P:
< Absolutely, Peter! That wonderful aria in particular. I nearly burnt out side 8 of my father's LP listening to that particular aria when I was about 16. >
For me at 16 it was the Walter Berry performance of that "Mache dich", in the Vienna/Woldike set of LPs...wearing out side 8. I even photocopied text and translation and posted them on my wall.

I still like that Berry/Woldike performance, although now it seems a little bit too slow and somber to me; the piece has room for more joy than that. It's rather gigue-like in its 12/8, resembling the last movement of Brandenburg 6 or the last movement (6/8) of the Pastorella BWV 590.

That aria "Mache dich" is an important clue in Joshua Rifkin's 1970-75 paper dating the first likely performance of the St Matthew (1727, instead of 1729 or 1736). Some of its violin part is on the back of a viola part from the D major Sanctus (later to be used in B minor Mass) from 1726/7 performance. Apparently the scribe was copying out "Mache dich" and made some mistakes, so abandoned it with a cross-out; and later that piece of paper got reused for the "Sanctus" part by flipping it over, and ignoring the crossed-out bit of "Mache dich". (Rifkin's dating argument is much deeper than this; this piece is merely part of his introduction.) Rifkin's article is in Musical Quarterly 1975, if anybody's interested in taking a look.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 28, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>That aria "Mache dich" is an important clue in Joshua Rifkin's 1970-75 paper dating the first likely performance of the St Matthew (1727, instead of 1729 or 1736). Some of its violin part is on the back of a viola part from the D major Sanctus (later to be used in B minor Mass)from 1726/7 performance. Apparently the scribe was copying out "Mache dich" and made some mistakes, so abandoned it with a cross-out; and later that piece of paper got reused for the "Sanctus" part by flipping it over, and ignoring the crossed-out bit of "Mache dich".<<
That the SMP existed in its earlier incarnation (Frühfassung) and was performed in this earlier form (not necessarily containing all the parts we now associate with it), is now generally accepted by Bach scholars:

Andreas Glöckner (NBA II/5b p. VI of Editorial Comment) 2004:

The viola part from the D major Sanctus BWV 232(III) was used for its first performance during the Easter Feast, specifically on April 13, 1727.

Martin Geck "Bach:Leben und Werk", Hamburg, 2000, p. 392:

The introductory chorus of the SMP was most likely performed as early as 1727 [Good Friday assumed here].

Konrad Küster: "Bach Handbuch", Bärenreiter, 1999, p. 452:

The date for the first performance given by Zelter (1729) (upon which the timing for Mendelssohn's revival of this music was based) is highly improbable. The first performance must have been on Good Friday 1727.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 28, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< For me at 16 it was the Walter Berry performance of that "Mache dich", in the Vienna/Woldike set of LPs...wearing out side 8. I even photocopied text and translation and posted them on my wall. >
This is my favourite movement in all of Bach. After all the drama and shouting in the SMP, the aria comes as pure balm. I am always reduced to tears.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 1, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] I've put up two more samples, and will leave them up for a few more days: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/st_matthew_passion/

One is from that Berry/Woldike classic of 1959, the first two minutes of "Mache dich".

The other is the last three minutes of it -- the whole middle section plus the da capo return --, from last year's van Veldhoven series. (It was on the web for a while as a radio broadcast, from one of those recorded concerts.)

From the perspective of the original Chorton organ part, this aria is in A-flat major with its middle section in F minor; therefore it gets the character of those keys, while the rest of the orchestra is in B-flat and G minor. That's part of the composition's extraordinary mood, and indeed the last half hour of the St Matthew Passion being mostly in these deep flat keys, after the death point. (e.g., The final chorus is in C minor for the band, but that's Bb minor for the original continuo organists....)

This van Veldhoven performance has the continuo temperament appropriately transposed, so the organists can play from the usual modern editions (no longer in the right original continuo keys), but get the effects from the transposing situation as if the music's in A-flat and F for "Mache dich", etc. As I explained at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/larips/vocal.html

Wilhelm Morais wrote (March 1, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is that rarest of rare things: a genuine world-premiere recording of a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach appropriately entitled Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' (All with Got and Nothing Without). A single-movement cantata setting of a birthday ode for Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar composed in 1713, the work was discovered in the collection of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in June 2005. Searching for source documentation of German music during the Baroque period, musicologist Michael Maul found the anonymous manuscript and immediately identified Bach's characteristically elegant soprano clef sign. In this recording by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, violinists Alison Bury and Kati Debretzeni, violist Katherine McGillivray, cellist Alison McGillivray, organist Silas John Standage, and lutinist David Miller, Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' receives a deeply affectionate, profoundly dedicated, and wonderfully musical performance.
http://rapidshare.com/files/11142216/Bach_Alles_mit_Gott.part2.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/11141297/Bach_Alles_mit_Gott.part1.rar
password: clavecin

http://rapidshare.com/files/14918654/Vivaldi-Motetos-Ciofi.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/14930861/Scarlatt-OratorioPerLaSantissimaTrinitai.rar

Philip Peters wrote (March 2, 2007):
[To Wilhwlm Morais] [1st group] I believe this was commercially issued by Gardiner.

[2nd group] I downloaded these (thanx!) but is there more information about the performers?

 

azavthani/ sabachthani

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 7, 2007):
Very simple matter that I have been meaning to post forever.

Certainly some scholar has dealt with this.

In Matthew 27:46 in the Greek Jesus's cry "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" is cited in ARAMAIC sabachthani (as correctly in all English bible translations that I know of). Luther, followed by Bach reverts to the Hebrew that Jesus was citing, namely Ps. 22:1 with azavthani.

And so we have in the Bach passion Ps. 22:1 and its Hebrew rather than Matthew 27::46 with its Aramaic.

Warum denn?

Shabtai Atlow wrote (March 7, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] As I wrote Yoel privately, this whole thread struck me as very funny, so soon after we discussed Purim - Psalm 22 is the Psalm of the day for Purim! These very words are put into Eshter's mouth, by the midrash (collection of Rabbinic homiletics), as she is taken from hearth and home and lead to Ahashverosh (forgive my transliteration).

That aside, the Aramaic 'sabacthani' bothered me -- it just seemed wrong. So, I consulted my Aramaic books as well as two different translations of the Psalms into Aramaic. It seems to me that the correct word ought to be "shvaktani" (the Aramaic Sh-V-K being the verb stem corresponding to the Hebrew A-Z-V, where b and v interchange in these stems).

Now, I would ask a speculative question - would a Galilean, who most likely spoke Aramaic on a day to day basis (shvaktani seems to me to be near enough to the correct Aramaic dialect that one would expect for the time and place), but probably knew his bible very well in Hebrew, be more likely to say his last words in Hebrew (quoting the verse) or in Aramaic (paraphrasing)?

Or, what was the intent of the translator leaving the phrase in Aramaic? (Exact quote of famous last words?) I can understand Luther changing the transliteration to the Hebrew words - since everything else would have been said in Aramaic, leaving them in Hebrew shows that they were somehow different.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 7, 2007):
Shabtai Atlow wrote:
< That aside, the Aramaic 'sabacthani' bothered me -- it just seemed wrong. So, I consulted my Aramaic books as well as two different translations of the Psalms into Aramaic. It seems to me that the correct word ought to be "shvaktani" (the Aramaic Sh-V-K being the verb stem corresponding to the Hebrew A-Z-V, where b and v interchange in these stems). >
As we all know, there are endless temporal and local variations in the long period and in the many places where Aramaic was used in the whole Middle East. There are various Aramaics from c. 1000 B.C.E (in dialects which differ one from another). That is fine. Our present problem is not one of Comparative Aramaicology or of Comparative Semitics, both very worthy endeavors, to be sure but certainly beyond the interests of this list. I myself find the information you gave about Esther in the Midrash fascinating and illuminating. However let us stick with the Gospelly given words of Jesus for present purposes:-)

< Now, I would ask a speculative question - would a Galilean, who most likely spoke Aramaic on a day to day basis (shvaktani seems to me to be near enough to the correct Aramaic dialect that one would expect for the time and place), but probably knew his bible very well in Hebrew, be more likely to say his last words in Hebrew (quoting the verse) or in Aramaic (paraphrasing)? >
All that matters is that these words, this sentence is given in the Greek New Testament (and followed by the Latin and all early translations) in Aramaic as indeed are several Semitic phrases elsewhere uttered by Jesus. They are given in Aramaic. It is certain that, when Jesus read the Scriptures in public, he read them in Hebrew. There is no doubt about that (and perhaps also employed a verbal/oral Targum).

The only question relevant here is why Luther misrepresented what Matthew gives as the words of Jesus and therefore Bach too misrepresent this utterance in his wake.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 7, 2007):
Shabtai Atlow wrote:
< That aside, the Aramaic 'sabacthani' bothered me -- it just seemed wrong. So, I consulted my Aramaic books as well as two different translations of the Psalms into Aramaic. It seems to me that the correct word ought to be "shvaktani" (the Aramaic Sh-V-K being the verb stem corresponding to the Hebrew A-Z-V, where b and v interchange in these stems). >
Yes, of course, the Peshit(e)ta (the bible of the Syriac Church) also gives in Matthew 27:46 sh(e)vaqtani, to be precise.

However when transliterating Semitic Sh- into Greek, we get an s;
when transliterating a Semitic Schwa into Greek, we get a full vowel;
when transliterating the postvocalic b, we get a v;
when transliterating the emphatic q, we get a k;
when transliterating the t (tav), we get a th.

So, let's give the Greek Gospel writers a break and still worry about what Martin Luther did in his translation reverting to the Hebrew which no doubt he found in Ps. 22:1.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 7, 2007):
< The only question relevant here is why Luther misrepresented what Matthew gives as the words of Jesus and therefore Bach too misrepresent this utterance in his wake. >
The Henrici/Bach libretto gives them in translation immediately after that, sung by the Evangelist, for the congregation not speaking either Hebrew or Aramaic. "Das ist: Mein Gott, mein Gott, warum hast du mich
verlassen?
"

It's plain, right there, in the vernacular of Bach's congregation -- for everybody to get. What's the problem?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 8, 2007):
[To Bradley Lehman] You really don't understand the problem? Every translation gives the gloss bc. the gloss is in the Greek Original. The problem is all other translations that I know of give the right Aramaic words followed by the gloss in the manner of the Urtext. Luther took the Hebrew from the Psalms locus and substituted it for the Aramaic and distorted the reality of the text. It distorts that Jesus spoke in Aramaic.This is a major philological problem. It is not your field and hence not a for you??? It is a question of fidelity to the text.

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 18, 2007):
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani

Yoel, would you please explain precisely what you are driving at when you keep asking about Luther's use of the Hebrew from Psalm 22? The Aramaic in the Gospel of Matthew is unmistably a quotation from the Hebrew of 22. "Eli Eli lama Sabachthani" is merely the Aramaic of Psalm 22. What's your point?

 

BWV 244

Chris Stanley wrote (March 20, 2007):
If this is webcast it maybe that it is available for up to a week later at: http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/Stream.html

FRIDAY 23 March St Thomas's Church, 5th Avenue, New York

7:30 CONCERT
with The Saint Thomas Choir, Soloists, and Musica Angelica Los Angeles; Orchestra Wiener Akademie

Martin Haselböck, Conductor
Johann Sebastian Bach SAINT MATTHEW PASSION

Andreas Karsiak, Evangelist Stephen Salters, Christus
Christine Brandes, Soprano Carlos Mena, Countertenor
Mark Bleeke, Tenor Klaus Mertens, Bass

Canyon Rick wrote (March 20, 2007):
[To Chris Stanley] This choir uses boys for the sopranos? Altos, too?

Skip Jennings wrote (March 20, 2007):
[To Chris Stanley] They will be here in Savannah this Thursday evening as a part of the Savannah Music Festival: http://www.savannahmusicfestival.org/events.php?id=26

I'll be there. I've never been to a live performance of the St. Matthew before.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 20, 2007):
[To Skip Jennings] It's like Götterdämmerung -- always go the washroom BEFORE the concert. The lines at the interval are impossible.

Canyon Rick wrote (March 21, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] What did the congregation at the Thomaskirche in 1736 do then? Did they know how long the SMP was going to be beforehand? Indeed, an hourlong sermon takes the place of our intermission. Did the TK even have toilets then? (an actual "restroom", as we know them? Was the concept even known then?) Leipzig did seem to have a sewer system. It's just that the idea of half the congregation getting up at the start of the Rector's Good Friday sermon seems... well, maybe it wasn't so impolite then. I recall a recent post commenting on congregation etiquette. (perhaps everybody just brought a chamber pot with them)

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 21, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< ... well, maybe it wasn't so impolite then. I recall a recent post commenting on congregation etiquette. (perhaps everybody just brought a chamber pot with them) >
Rather like a Grand Canyon guide or visitor, in a sacred space?

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 21, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< What did the congregation at the Thomaskirche in 1736 do then? Did they know how long the SMP was going to be beforehand? Indeed, an hourlong sermon takes the place of our intermission >
Tanya Kevorkian's article on the behaviour of Bach's congregation seems to argue that in the 18th century there was a general tolerance of movement and activity in both church and opera house that disppeared when the "Bayreuth Hush" descended over concert halls in the mid 19th century. The expectation of "quiet" in church is historically and culturally conditioned.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 21, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It's like Götterdämmerung -- always go the washroom BEFORE the concert. The lines at the interval are impossible. >
the analogy of Götterdämmerung to what persons call here the st. matthew passion is very interesting and not for reasons of length.perhaps res ipsa loquitur.

Canyon Rick wrote (March 21, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Having largely abandoned a Wagner group because of the Nazi trolls, I can see good practical reason for avoiding this type of connotation. I mean, Yoel, the connection you propose is quite a bit less than flimsey: GD=Nazi, GD=long, SMP=long; therefore SMP=Nazi.

Personally, thinking of Hitler while listening to Wagner ranks in the same trivial category as listening to William Tell and thinking of the Lone Ranger.

Having said that:

Right on the Bach-Cantata website is a factual comment from Peter Smaill about BWV 163 from 5/14/05 (the last time this cantata was discussed). I have no reason to doubt Peter's eyesight.

"Pleasure BWV 163, was, however, tarnished by visiting Weimar last year. The title of the cantata is, as far as can be seen in Unger's concordance of the Bach texts, not actually a quote from scripture; "Nur Jedem das Seine", "Only to each what [he deserves]" is a gloss on the the text regarding the Caesar/God dichotomy. However, in chilling imitation "Jedem das Seine" was chosen by the National Socialists to be the text above the entrance to the konzentrationslager, mainly a labour camp, outside Weimar, at Buchenwald."

Peter goes into this a bit more deeply. Click on the discussion to BWV 163 and scroll down a ways. If I'm not mistaken, this was one of the Weimar cantatas.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 22, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< Having largely abandoned a Wagner group because of the Nazi trolls, I can see good practical reason for avoiding this type of connotation. I mean, Yoel, the connection you propose is quite a bit less than flimsey: GD=Nazi, GD=long, SMP=long; therefore SMP=Nazi. >
I never proposed any such connection. Any connection at all was Doug's. I was wondering what was in Doug's head. I have a number of times attended the Matthäus-Passion but have never attended any Wagner opera. I have listened to Wagner operas all my life. I have never found the MP long in person nor do I recall any toilet problems. The crazy Wagner persons speak of "longueurs" in Les Troyens. I attended Les Troyens with LHL and was mesmerized for the whole period of time (except that Voigt was not involved as Cassandre at all).

I could come up with a connection between the Passion of Brünnhilde, the beloved Daughter of the Father and the Bach Passions if that was in Doug's mind.

Canyon Rick wrote (March 22, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] First of all, Yoel, I support your continued presence on the list if for no other reason than if you left, who would I have a chance of winning an argument against (except maybe Ed :))

< I have a number of times attended the Matthäus-Passion but have never attended any Wagner opera. I have listened to Wagner operas all my life. >
It is the opposite for me. However, when I say "many", it has to be put into context. I went to many Grateful Dead shows (much more Wagnerian than Bach-ish) but I was nowhere near Bill Walton territory (he was a famous stoner American basketball player). Same with Wagner.

< I have never found the MP long in person nor do I recall any toilet problems. >
Of course not. You had an intermission and restrooms. What did Bach's congregation have other than a long sermon?

< I could come up with a connection between the Passion of Brünnhilde, the beloved Daughter of the Father and the Bach Passions if that was in Doug's mind. >

Well, try this one (and I don't know the answer):
What does the German verb "vollbringen" mean?
I usually think of "fulfill".
Is it archaic? or, rarely used?
I mention this because at the moment,
I only can think of 2 moments
when a form of vollbringen is used in musical text.
I am sure there must be more.
I just lack the worldliness of others to know for sure.

"Es ist vollbracht" (what then is "Ich habe genug"?) and "Vollbringt Brunhildes Wort"

And I'm also trying to remember where I heard this or read this-- maybe here--but, there was an idea that Hans Sachs is very Bachian in nature (much moreso than an actual representation of the time of Sachs; the ultimate triumph of Bach as artist--Wagner's own tribute to one, he believed, who escaped the constraining bonds of conformity to lift music as art to its highest level. Indeed, Wagner did write, "Bach's noble countenance seeks to come forth from under its wig". Unfortunately, this is from Wagner's "Jewishnesin Music". OK, all this is in Gutman and there are a couple of pages about the Bach influence on Wagner being filtered through Theodor Weinlig who was the Cantor in 1831, when Wagner was 18. (Gutman says Weinlig was the last of Wagner's formal teachers and the most successful).

Wagner, of course, would have been exposed to the Mendelssohn-style of Bach. I gather he was rather dismissive of Mendelssohn as a composer. One might wonder, however, if Weinlig had some inkling of Bach's working conditions and would have cautioned Wagner about such.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 22, 2007):
OT: Wagner and Bach Passions (was: BWV 244)

Canyon Rick wrote:
< First of all, Yoel, I support your continued presence on the list if for no other reason than if you left, who would I have a chance of winning an argument against (except maybe Ed :)) >
I didn't know, Rick, that we were voting members off the Island:)-

< It is the opposite for me. However, when I say "many", it has to be put into context. I went to many Grateful Dead shows (much more Wagnerian than Bach-ish) but I was nowhere near Bill Walton territory (he was a famous stoner American basketball player). Same with Wagner. >
Sorry, I was never a dead-head. Started out with Opera and then other Classical Music and later occasionally took an interest in some pop stuff. I understand that their name comes from the Book of Tobit.

< Of course not. You had an intermission and restrooms. What did Bach's congregation have other than a long sermon? >
We have our world with its problems; they had theirs.

< Well, try this one (and I don't know the answer):
What does the German verb "vollbringen" mean?
I usually think of "fulfill".
Is it archaic? or, rarely used?
I mention this because at the moment,
I only can think of 2 moments
when a form of vollbringen is used in musical text.
I am sure there must be more.
I just lack the worldliness of others to know for sure.
"Es ist vollbracht" (what then is "Ich habe genug"?) and "Vollbringt Brunhildes Wort" >
I am not the German philologist on this list but "vollbringen" sounds like a common German word to me. Of course in "Es ist vollbracht" context gives it a connotation. I don't know the Wagner texts well enough. You have made me however understand the phenomenon of the "Wagner-lunatics" online. I was not fully aware that we were dealing with a religious phenomenon. Their reaction to any criticism of either the endless hours often filled with no-music, e.g. much of pre-Act III Siegfried before the glorious last half-hour, or of the man and his "ideas" is like certain reactions here we witness about non-acceptance of ONE Particular religious orthodoxy.

Let's get back to Brünny. She is caused by the Father to undergo kenosis just as Christ undergoes kenosis. If you do not accept kenosis, you fall into the docetic heresy.

There is something about The Ring to Wagnerites that speaks of the redemption of creation and it is truly a return for them to Germanic Religion.

It is a frightening phenomenon. Mind you, I am not speaking of those who merely enjoy the music-dramas but of the crazies online and I assume in real life.

 

Girls (was: SMP boys)

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 3, 2007):
Bensch wrote:
< I'd like to mention that it's not only about technical aspects when Gardiner says that he prefers adult singers. It's about mental maturity, too. And I second that: there is difference between a 14 year old soprano and a 19 year old one.
I've been a choir boy myself and I have to say that I think this tradition is just over, at least where I live (Austria). Only a few boys were really interested in singing. And as the times have been changing -- forunately -- you can't force them to sing in the ways you could force them 20 or 30 years ago. >
You make a very interesting case. Here is what I want to ask:
What about girls singing Bach? What do girls' voices sound like?
One always hears that girls at that age are much more mature than boys.

Canyon Rick wrote (April 4, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< You make a very interesting case. Here is what I want to ask:
What about girls singing Bach? What do girls' voices sound like?
One always hears that girls at that age are much more mature than boys. >
Doesn't Gardiner use girls' voices on his SMP?

Regardless...since I've just put on a new DVD called Anthems From Kings, your question is most timely.

I think I may have posted not too long ago a link to an article about a major reason boys don't want to sing. It has to do with "boy bands" such as Backstreet Boys, nSync, etc. Apparently, boys assume that the 20-something "boys" who sing in these groups are the way boys are supposed to sound. Thus, most actual boys have developed this shyness, and even embarrassment, about not having voices that sound like Justin Timberlake.

Of course, one may also ponder if the lack of boy singers is actually simply the beginning of the slippery slope which will result in Bach being performed by rock bands in churches. (how churches who pontificate to others about living a moral life can turn around and blast their congregation with such drival in the name of God is beyond me)

I'll try to track down this article again if you would like. It's either BBC or London Times.

The reason I regret so much the movement away from boys singing Bach is that it seems so wholesale. ALL the conductors, producers, etc. use pretty much the same arguments which have worn rather thin over time. It seems almost a kneejerk type of reaction. Use of boys is a curiosity rather than an alternative. I appreciate more than you can imagine the differences between Bach's Thomanerchor and the current edition. Yet, I find myself being drawn much closer to Bach when I hear his music performed by a boychoir--soloists included. (some may appreciate a similar feeling when they hear the WTC on a harpsichord rather than piano)

btw, Thomaskantor Christoph Biller has said that the admission of girls into the Thomanerchor remains a closed subject. Interestingly, the Thomasschule itself, appears to have a mixed chorus.

 

Schering's amazement

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 7, 2007):
While glancing through Arnold Schering's "J.S. Bachs Leipziger Kirchenmusik", Leipzig, 1936, this morning,
the following portion of Schering's discussion of the SMP caught my eye:

p. 174
".das Material .verrät kein Bruch, kein Riß, kein Eselsohr, keine Abnützung über Gebühr eine unter Schweiß und Mühen stattgefundene Vorarbeit. Nur am unteren oder linken Rand der Singstimmen sind Spuren der jungen Hände zurückgeblieben, die einstmals diese kostbaren Blätter hielten."

(.the copied parts.reveal no breaks, no tears, no dog-ears, no excessive wear and tear that may have been caused by any preparatory study or rehearsals carried out under great effort (sweat and tears). The only traces of human contact by young musicians can be found along the bottom or left side of the vocal parts where these precious pages were once held by these young hands.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 7, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< (the copied partsSreveal no breaks, no tears, no dog-ears, no excessive wear and tear that may have been caused by any preparatory study or rehearsals carried out under great effort (sweat and tears). The only traces of human contact by young musicians can be found along the bottom or left side of the vocal parts where these precious pages were once held by these young hands.) >
Let us pause and contemplate the proposition that the SMP was sight-read without any rehearsal.

Bradley Lehman wrote (Apri 7, 2007):
< Let us pause and contemplate the proposition that the SMP was sight-read without any rehearsal. >
A nice thing about his Cöthen job was that he got paid extra for the rehearsals he was holding at his house.

(Peter Williams's new book, page 154.)

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 7, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>A nice thing about his Coethen job was that he got paid extra for the rehearsals he was holding at his house.<<
So how about Bach's attitude in Leipzig possibly amounting to: "No extra payment for rehearsals, hence no rehearsals." This thought in addition to the fact that Bach simply did not have the time for rehearsals in Leipzig due to his other major commitment: private lessons from morning until night time. Also, his parts were rarely ready until just before the performances. BWV 42's copy procedure is another one of those completed just in the nick of time for performance on April 8, 1725. Details will follow soon.

Bradley Lehman wrote (Apri 7, 2007):
< So how about Bach's attitude in Leipzig possibly amounting to: "No extra payment for rehearsals, hence no rehearsals." >
Bach, as a self-respecting musician responsible for public performances, would get to that point? How?

Bach, as a musician, would get to that point? How?

Besides, if he had wanted to dodge rehearsals, he might have written MUCH EASIER MUSIC as a result, the better to get away without rehearsing it.....

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 8, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Besides, if he had wanted to dodge rehearsals, he might have written MUCH EASIER MUSIC as a result, the better to get away without rehearsing it.....<<
Why would he consider lowering his musical standards to write much easier music when he knew that the musicians that he had hand-picked were capable of sight-reading more difficult and more interesting music?

 

Another assessment of the BWV 244 at Glyndebourne

Neil Halliday wrote (July 5, 2007):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
>With thanks to both Chris H. and Jonathan F-A for bringing this significantly less enthusiastic review to my attention:<
I notice some of the comments (following the review) concerning tempi:

"Tempos were wholly disconnected from context. How is "Lass ihn kreuzen" supposed to convey the threat of the mob when taken at presto?"

and

"Saddest of all perhaps, was the chorus' rendition of ''Truly this was the Son of God' (arguably the most divine of music) which was tossed off before one had time to be prepared to be moved".

It's an interesting issue. I heard a bit of the final chorus in a radio news item, which the director Katie Mitchell (not the conductor) described as a lullaby, and yet I found the tempo to be unnecessarily brisk.

I have the same concern about the tempo of Gardiner's (and Koopman's) bass aria in this week's cantata.

Presumably some like these fast tempi, but many people don't.

--------

As for staging the SMP, this is an issue that is bound to be controversial; and while it would appear that some of the theatrical effects were unnecessarily odd and annoying, some of the staging was quite moving for some spectators, and actally acted as a conduit to the music, for one of the commentators.

Continue of discussion from: Events on the Lutheran Church Year - Part 4 [General Topics]

Peter Smaill wrote (August 10, 2007):
Epiphany/Trinity

[To Paul T. McCain] Many thanks to all who responded helpfully to my questions. I am wading through the suggested references at the moment.

Haven't found an answer to a related question which is why did Bach, having written cantatas for the day of Epiphany Jan 6th in the first two cycles there is no one for the third. This seems even more odd when it it noted that it fell on a Sunday in 1726. It also seem unlikely that he would have used a cantata for another composer for this unlikely event. Can anyone throw any light on this one?

On another matter, Peter's comments on the Glyndbourne reminds me of two things 1, the film made some years ago by Jonathan Miller as the first attempt to produce the work in a mores popularist and semi-operatic manner. Worth seeing if you can get hold of a copy.

Secondly for some years i went to every Glyndbourne production as my first wife was a member of the company and I got a free seat for dress rehearsals or, on the day, for unsold seats. this was in the 'old' theatre and I remember that that, at ff--- moments the bats were disturbed and flew around above the singers.

Maybe Peter can report oif this happens in the new theatre??

Peter Smaill wrote (August 10, 2007):
OT: Glyndebourne

[To Julian Mincham] I had'nt heard of the Miller film but there is of course the extensive use of Bach's SMP (I recall) in Pasolini's film of the same name. Thank you for this.

The bats at Glyndebourne I well remember in the old auditorium which is used now as a concert and rehearsal area. They were there in 1965 when I was c. 11 and taken to see Donizetti's "Anna Bolena", not perhaps the easiest starting point for serious opera. I expressed disappointment that the curtain fell at the point of the raising of the axe as that unfortunate wife of Henry VIII met the customary fate (as would any normal horrid little boy). Subsequent invites were to be many years in the future!

Bats are a protected species in the UK so I will look out to see if they are still in the old opera house and naturally very appropriate to Fliedermaus when staged. I believe the Musical Times wrote up the bats at Glyndebourne situation in 1976.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 10, 2007):
OT: NBC SMP

Peter Smaill wrote:
< I had'nt heard of the Miller film but there is of course the extensive use of Bach's SMP (I recall) in Pasolini's film of the same name. Thank you for this. >
In the early 60's, NBC produced a dramatized telecast of the St. Matthew Passion.

The concept was quite clever. The evangelist was a modern clergyman reading the narrative from a bible and the chorales were sung by the choir in modern dress as if attending a church service. The same singers appeared in biblical dress to sing the opening chorus and narrative choruses. When the narrative had dialogue the various characters acted out the exchange. The arias were sung as if by inlookers on the action. A young Maureen Forrester sang the alto part.

It actually made for good television. I remember how "Nun ist Mein Jesu" was sung by the women as from a distance to the action of the arrest. The camera kept cutting to an angry crowd for the interjections "Haltet, bindet nicht".

I should google it to see if it has been rereleased.

 

St. Matthew Passion [MCML]

Simon Reeves wrote (December 8, 2007):
I've been looking for the perfect recording of St. Matthews Passion (laugh it up, the search will be worth it) and so far I've found too fast, too slow, too vanilla, etc. So.... does anyone have an insight and recommendations?

Many thanks for any help.

Peter Herwitz wrote (December 11, 2007):
Simon Reeves writes:
< I've been looking for the perfect recording of St. Matthews Passion (laugh it up, the search will be worth it) and so far I've found too fast, too slow, too vanilla, etc. So.... does anyone have an insight and recommendations? >
There are so many versions of the Matthew Passion from the monumentality and non HIP Klemperer or Gonnenwein to the HIP Harnoncourt(twice) or Herreweghe(twice). I find the second Herreweghe to be the most perfect for me in that the singing is wonderful and the rhythms and orchestration just right. The forces are not too big and not too small. Herreweghe is a Bach specialist so you know you are in good hands with him. But I think one version is not enough for this fantastic piece.

Kevin Sutton wrote (December 11, 2007):
Simon asks:
< I've been looking for the perfect recording of St. Matthews Passion (laugh it up, the search will be worth it) and so far I've found too fast, too slow, too vanilla, etc. So.... does anyone have an insight and recommendations? >
First, if I may be politely bold, the passion was Christ's not Matthew's so the title should be "The St. Matthew Passion" or the Passion according to St. Matthew. As for recordings I have three faves:

Klemperer (yes, Klemperer) because the soloists are phenomenal, and it's only 12 minutes longer than Gardiner. John Eliot Gardiner,fine reading all the way arround. Collegium Vocale with Herreweghe.

John C. Fiset [Associate Director, Syracuse University] wrote (December 16, 2007):
Kevin Sutton wrote:
< ... As for recordings I have three faves:
Klempe(yes, Klemperer) because the soloists are phenomenal, and it's only 12 minutes longer than Gardiner. John Eliot Gardiner,fine reading all the way arround. Collegium Vocale with Herreweghe. >
Kevin: Which Herrewegghe? He made two recordings as I remember.

Kevin Sutton wrote (December 17, 2007):
John Fiset asked:
< Kevin: Which Herrewegghe? He made two recordings as I remember. >
The one from 1999 with Ian Bostridge and Andreas Scholl et al.

 

BWV 244 - French influence?

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 30, 2008):
I listened to a radio program this evening, on the music of Clement Janequin (1485-1558) and Claudin de Sermisy.(1490-1562), mostly songs (chansons). I was surprised to hear, in the midst of it, a chorale from SMP, <Was mein Gott will> (BWV 244/25), which uses a tune from the Sermisy song, <Il me suffit>.

A quick look into the BCW archives indicates that this derivation is well documented. What is not so clear there is that the Sermisy original is in fact a *chanson damour* , a lover who sings: <I have had enough [of trying to please you?]>. BCW does characterize the original as a secular song.

In this case, the translation from secular to sacred greatly predates Bach. However, it is in the same vein as the more extensive adaptation of amorous feelings that we have seen last week in the text of BWV 49.

Alain Bruguieres wrote (January 30, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] This is no exception : many Chorale melodies go back to mediaeval love songs. Hence by definition, French songs ;)

 

Continue on Part 14

Matthäus-Passion BWV 244: Details
Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Individual Movements
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | BWV 244a | BWV 244b
Systemetic Discussions:
Part 1: Mvts. 1-8 | Part 2: Mvts. 9-20 | Part 3: Mvts. 21-29 | Part 4: Mvts. 30-40 | Part 5: Mvts. 41-50 | Part 6: Mvts. 51-57 | Part 7: Mvts. 58-63b | Part 8: Mvts. 63c-68 | Part 9: Role of the Evangelist
Individual Recordings:
BWV 244 - L. Bernstein | BWV 244 - F. Brüggen | BWV 244 - J. Butt | BWV 244 - R. Chailly | BWV 244 - S. Cleobury | BWV 244 - J. Daus | BWV 244 - D. Fasolis | BWV 244 - W. Furtwängler | BWV 244 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 244 - W. Gönnenwein | BWV 244 - P. Goodwin | BWV 244 - E.z. Guttenberg | BWV 244 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 244 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 244 - R. Jacques | BWV 244 - H.v. Karajan | BWV 244 - O. Klemperer | BWV 244 - T. Koopman | BWV 244 - S. Koussevitzky | BWV 244 - S. Kuijken | BWV 244 - F. Lehmann | BWV 244 - G. Leonhardt | BWV 244 - P.J. Leusink | BWV 244 - E.&R. Mauersberger | BWV 244 - H. Max | BWV 244 - P. McCreesh | BWV 244 - W. Mengelberg | BWV 244 - K. Münchinger | BWV 244 - R. Norrington | BWV 244 - G. Oberfrank | BWV 244 - S. Ozawa | BWV 244 - A. Parrott | BWV 244 - G. Ramin | BWV 244 - S. Rattlr | BWV 244 - K. Richter | BWV 244 - H. Rilling | BWV 244 - H.J. Rotzsch | BWV 244 - H. Scherchen | BWV 244 - G. Solti | BWV 244 - C. Spering | BWV 244 - M. Suzuki | BWV 244 - J.v. Veldhoven | BWV 244 - B. Walter | BWV 244 - F. Werner | BWV 244 - M. Wöldike
Articles:
Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 [T.N. Towe] | Two Easter St. Matthew Passions (Plus One) [U. Golomb] | St. Matthew Passion from Harnoncourt [D. Satz] | The Passion according to Saint Matthew BWV 244 [J. Rifkin] | The Relationship between BWV 244a (Trauermusik) and BWV 244b (SMP Frühfassung) [T. Braatz] | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 - Early History (A Selective, Annotated Bibliography) [W. Hoffman] | Spiritual Sources of Bach's St. Matthew Passion [W. Hoffman] | Bach and the "Great Passion" [D.G. Lebut Jr.] | The Genesis of Bach's `Great Passion': 1724-29 [W. Hoffman] | Early Performances of Bach's SMP [T. Braatz]

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

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Last update: ýMay 8, 2009 ý16:23:35