Cantata BWV 100Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan [III]
Discussions - Part 3
Continue from Part 2
Discussions in the week of July 21, 2013 (3rd round)
Aryeh Oron wrote, on behalf of Paul Beckman (July 21, 2013):
Cantata BWV 100 Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan - Intro to the Weekly Discussion
On behalf of Paul Beckman, here is his intro to the weekly discussion.
Our cantata for this week is Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (What God does is well done), BWV 100. The work is based on a hymn by Samuel Rodigast (not to be confused with the wizard figure from The Lord of the Rings). Bach used the chorale as the basis for three works; BWV 100 is the latest of the three, being composed somewhere around 1734. As with a number of the later cantatas, Was Gott tut treats the verses unchanged, with the chorale melody occurring in two of the movements (here the first and last). Here, however, there are no recitatives; rather, we have three solo arias, a duet, and the opening and closing treatments of the chorale melody. The first movement is structurally related to the fantasia in BWV 99, written about ten years earlier. The main difference in the two pieces is the addition of horns and timpanis to the latter work.
Which brings me to my consideration of the recordings, and a comment on the horns - oh, those horns! They appear to cause several of the players distinct and, to my ear, embarrassing difficulties. Leonhardt's version is nearly unlistenable, and is further marred by intonation problems that his boy sopranos suffer. Leusink's band also produces some painful moments, and his singers don't help any. I may be a bit picky, but, once the opening movement founders on such instrumental rocks, I am unable to give the rest of the performances much attention.
On a happier note, I find both Koopman's - who is becoming one of my favorites - and Gardiner's productions to be strong, clean, and well-balanced. It seems to me that the opening movement especially requires a really confident, robust approach, and that both of these conductors make the grade. Rilling's offering is also decent, with particularly excellent singing by soprano Arleen Auger on the third movement. Unfortunately, his duo on the duet is a bit much, being somewhat unfocussed. In listening to the different versions of BWV 100, I missed having Suzuki in the mix.
The highlight, for me, of the work is the exquisite flute writing, both in the opening movement and in the soprano aria. Bach was certainly blessed with one or more superb flautists, and I always wonder (not an original thought, of course), what his obbligato parts would have attained had there been virtuosi available at all times rather than the inconsistent talent about which he complained from time to time.
I wanted to conclude with a thought from last week's cantata, BWV 97 (In allen meinen Tatten). Despite the fact that there are numerous recordings of the work, there seems to be a plethora of comments about it being rather pedestrian, banal, and to put it baldly, "bad." Crouch gives it a 3, putting it on his lowest level; I recall (perhaps incorrectly) that Schweitzer was not fond of it, and I believe others have made somewhat derogatory comments about the content (the word "doggerel" was one such slam). I understand that the length may be daunting, and that the text is not the most powerful; however, I have never had a strong negative reaction. Some of the vocal and instrumental passages are excellent, especially the violin obbligato. The use of a suite form give interest and variety, as well. It could be that the key is, obviously, to keep the piece moving at a decent pace so as not to make it drag.
Anyway, here are the links to Julian Mincham's discussion - http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-57-bwv-100.htm
- and to the Cantata pages - http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV100-D.htm
A great and blessed week to all.
Aryeh Oron wrote (July 21, 2013):
Cantata BWV 100 & Cantata BWV 97 Recordings
[To Paul Beckman] I have added more recordings to listen to directly from the Cantata Discography pages.
Regarding this week's Cantata BWV 100, you can listen to 3 recordings:
 Gustav Leonhardt (audio)
 Pieter Jan Leusink (audio)
 Ton Koopman (audio, 3 parts)
Regarding last week's Cantata BWV 97, you can listen to 3 recordings:
 Nikolaus Harnoncourt (audio)
 Pieter Jan Leusink (audio)
 Ton Koopman (audio, 4 parts)
Simply click on the TV image/s below the details of the relevant recording and start listening.
William Hoffman wrote (July 21, 2013):
Cantata BWV 100: Chorale & BCW Notes
(The following are excerpts from previous BCW materials)
Bach's Cantata BWV 100, "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" [III] (What God does, that is done well), was one of his last original sacred compositions, presented in Leipzig about 1734. Running 25 minutes, it is infused with special characteristics and is an exemplary summation of his compositional technique. Most significant is his pervasive use of galant style in this valedictory cantata. Bach's generic four-part plain chorales contain three galant characteristics: singable melodies, symmetrical phrases, and homophonic textures.
In the opening and closing chorale choruses with independent orchestral parts, there are strong rhythms and a sense of uplift. Dance style is found in three of the four chorale arias, as well as transparent scoring with pleasing, virtuosic solo instruments. Alfred Dürr in <The Cantatas of JSB> (p.793) points out another galant-style characteristic: the strict symmetrical phrases in the Bar-form folk song of the bass aria (Mvt. 4). Bach continued to sustain a high level of creativity through transformation of his materials, and also found opportunities to make varied use of these chorale cantatas. [Cantata 100, Details & Discography: BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV100.htm .]
When it came to this final utilization of the chorale, Bach clearly made his ultimate statement regarding this beloved hymn, using all six stanzas verbatim (per omnes versus). As was his custom in the chorale cantatas, he used Verse 1 for the opening chorale fantasia chorus, in this case borrowing the material from Cantata BWV 99. The rhythmic meter was changed from common time 4/4 to march-like cut time in 2/2, with the addition of two horns and drums supporting the strings, with the interplay of solo flute and oboe d'amore. He did the same with the closing chorale chorus, Verse 6, borrowed from Cantata BWV 75, adding elaborate instrumental texture.
In between, Bach composed four non-da capo arias in succession, set to the original text, Verses 2-5 respectively, with varied accompaniment: continuo only for the alto-tenor duet (Mvt. 2); soprano aria with flute (Mvt. 3), bass aria with strings (Mvt. 4), and alto aria with oboe d'amore (Mvt. 5). The three arias all use dance style, from the feel of the gigue in 6/8 time, then 2/4 pastorale, and finally 12/8 polyphonic siciliano. While 35 of Bach's some 50 chorale cantatas contain movements in dance style, all nine final chorale cantatas have at least one dance-style, three have two (BWV 112, BWV 117, BWV 97), and BWV 100 has three. Movements BWV 177/1 and 97/4 have quirky Lombard rhythm.
As Ludwig Finscher writes in the notes to the Gustav Leonhardt recording: "the three arias, with their sensitive writing. . .display Bach at his most modern: the Soprano aria has a most taxing flute part, the oboe d'amore is given a dulcet, affective solo to play in the Alto aria (Mvt. 5), and ingratiating parallel third and sixths played by the violins introduce an element of the gallant into the Bass aria (Mvt. 4)." By c, the alto-tenor duet (Mvt. 2) is in traditional motet style in the manner of an Italian chamber duet of Handel and Steffani, ideal fare for Bach's Collegium musicum.
For further information, musical details and examples, see Julian Mincham's exemplary commentary at BCW, http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-57-bwv-100.htm .
This wasn't Bach last statement on the matter of "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan." Besides the initial performance between 1732 and 1735, Bach repeated BWV 100 about c1737 and again c.1742. In what settings, we don't know but we can assume that Bach made "well-done" use of this work, quite possibly for a church wedding as well as during the omnes tempore season of Trinity, the time of teaching and proclamation.
Background for Cantata 100 is found in BCW, Cantata 100, Discussions 2, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV100-D2.htm .
In 1734 (year according to John Elliot Gardiner) pure-hymn (<per omnes versus) Cantata BWV 100, "Was Gott tut, das its wohl getan III" (What God does, that is well done), was inaugurated. The hymn has been variously designated for Trinity 6, 15, and 21 as well as <per ogni tempo> for anytime, and for weddings. Cantata 100 also is listed for the 15th Sunday after Trinity (after 1732) in the Karl Richter Archiv 1978 recordings of "Bach's Cantatas for the middle Sundays after Trinity" (Sixth to the 17th Sunday). "We do not know for which Sunday Bach intended the work, but like BWV 98 it is perfectly suited for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, whose Gospel contains the passage "Sorget nicht" [care not] (Matthew VI, 24-34) from the sermon on the Mount," says Martin Cooper's translation of Walter Blankenburg's recording liner notes.
See John Elliot Gardiner Bach Pilgrimage 2000 essay on the cantatas for the 15th Sunday after Trinity, BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV100.htm , http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-P1&2.htm (P80, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Gardiner-P08c[sdg104_gb].pdf . IMHO it is the most informative and stimulating of the cantata commentary liner notes, followed by Suzuki's BIS series and the Harnoncourt-Leonhardt on Warner (not "complete"). The Koopman-Christoph Wolf and Leusik on Brilliant Classics are skimpy and perfunctory. Still unavailable are the Rilling Haenssler with various fine scholars (it's on CD ROM), and the selective Richter series (mostly one cantata per service) with Walter Blankenburg.
The following material is found in BCW, Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 15th Sunday after Trinity; http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity15.htm :
Dominating the cantatas for the 15th Sunday after Trinity, the popular <omnes tempore> hymn, "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan," is an affirmation of trust in God as just and supportive, upholding and affirmative, caring and healing, the light and the way, comforting and consoling, and steadfast and assuring. Bach's use of the hymn is significant in several respects. He used it the most (in six cantatas), including three with the same opening polyphonic chorale chorus dictum: BWV 98, 99 (text paraphrase cvantata) and 100 (full hymn text). In the other three cantatas presented in the first annual cycle he employed the hymn in homophonic chorales closing Cantatas BWV 14, 69a, and 133. The sacred song also was utilized in Bach's first Leipzig Cantata, BWV 75, "Die Elenden sollen essen" (The wretched shall eat) as a plain chorale to close Parts 1 and 2 and the melody is found in the instrumental sinfonia opening Part 2, as well as for one of his last cantatas, BWV 100, in 1734.
Chorale Cantata BWV 99, "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan II" was first performed on Sept. 17, 1724 (Cycle 2). The chorale was written by Samuel Rodigast in 1675, melody (Zahn 5629) by Severus Gastorius in the 1690 Nürnberg hymnbook. It has six stanzas of eight lines each. (ABABCCDD). A newer hymn, it is not found in the 1682 <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) but is found in the Dresden hymn schedules in Bach's time for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, says Günther Stiller in <JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig> (St. Louis, Concordia, 1984: 246). It is still found in the current <Evangelical Lutheran Worship> hymnbook as No. 776, "What God Ordains Is Good Indeed" (8787877 syllables per line) under the heading "Trust, Guidance." It also is listed under "Cross and Comfort" as No. 521, "What God Ordains Is Always Good," in the 1941 Concordia <Luthern Hymnal> (Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod). The dictum, "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan," opens each stanza. The melody is found in the first and last movements:
1. Chorale chorus (S.1) concerto; . . . "Es bleint gerecht sine Wille" (His will remains just), reused as Cantata BWV 100/1.
6. Plain chorale (S.6) . . . "Dabei will ich verbleiben" (I will abide by that).
[Text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale014-Eng3.htm ; Chorale Melodies, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Was-Gott-tut.htm . ]
"The commentary below, quoted from the liner notes to the Beringer's recording on Rondeau Production , was written by Dr. Theodor Glaser, Member of the High Consistory (retired). The author used to be suffragan to the Lutheran Bishop of Bavaria. In his clerical capacity, Glaser is in particular demand in the leading of sung services, above all in the performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas.
"Was Gott tut, das ist wohl getan ("What God doth, that is rightly done") - the text of this chorale is by Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708), rector of the Gymnasium des Grauen Klosters (Grey Cloister Grammar School) in Berlin. He wrote just the one hymn text, dedicating it to his seriously-ill friend, cantor Severus Gastorius. The invalid was so moved by the comforting words, that he at once composed an accompanying melody. The chorale, full of hope and faith, quickly became a firm favourite in religious circles."
Other Bach Uses of "Was Gott tut'
Bach had systematically employed homophonic harmonizations of the "Was Gott tut" hymn in church cantatas. According to the notes of Marianne Helms and Artur Hirsch in Helmut Rilling's recording of BWV100 (Hänssler Complete Bach, Vol. 7), Bach began in Weimar in Cantata BWV 12, "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" (Weeping, crying, Caring, Sighing) for the Third Sunday after Easter (repeated in Leipzig in 1724) in the closing chorale (No. 7). He reused the hymn in Cantata BWV 69a/6, "Lobe den Herren, meine Selle" (Praise the Lord, my Soul) for the 12th Sunday after Trinity in 1723, with obbligato oboe or trumpet. He also used it in Cantata BWV 144, "Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin," (Take what Is Thine and Go Away) for Setuagesima Sunday in the Epiphany season of 1724 in his first cantata cycle.
Bach as well employed the chorale twice in chorale choruses: closing Part 1 of his 1723 inaugural Leipzig Cantata BWV 75, Die Elenden sollen essen," beginning the Trinity Season, and as an opening chorale chorus in Cantata BWV 98, "Was Gott tut" [I], for the 21st Sunday after Trinity in 1726 in his third cantata cycle, librettist unknown, perhaps Picander.
Bach also used the hymn in his collection of wedding chorales for a church service about 1731, BWV 250-52, before the wedding sermon. In addition, Bach set the melody in the early (c.1700) Neumeister Collection free-paraphrase chorale setting, BWV 1116, and listed it in the Weimar <Orgelbüchlein> (Little Organ Book) of chorale preludes as No. 112 in the <omnes tempore> section for "Christian Life and Conduct."
Cantata 100 Provenance
Designation. The parts of chorale cantatas BWV 97 and the score and (presumably) the parts of BWV 100 were found in Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach's estate catalog (1790). The rest of the manuscripts of the chorale cantata scores probably were taken by Wilhelm Friedemann. Thus, these two cantatas were not considered part of Bach's Chorale Cantata Cycle (2), which were inherited by Friedemann (scores) and Anna Magdalena (parts). In Emmanuel's catalog, the materials of Cantatas BWV 97 and BWV 100 were not found in the listings by church year occasions, beginning with Advent (BWV 61 and BWV 36) and ending with the Feast of St. Michael (BWV 19). Cantata BWV 97 appears early in the listing of Sebastian's vocal music, following the oratorios, among the occasional works, both secular and sacred mixed together on catalog pages 70-72, followed by Mass movements, motets and the Church Year. These three pages also include all of the secular works with BWV 213-215 together with generic descriptions as congratulatory cantatas (BWV 213, BWV 215) or drama (BWV 214). The interspersed sacred occasional works included those for the town council, weddings, and two Passions, BWV 245 and BWV 244.
It is believed that Emmanuel stored - - and catalogued - - the works in the same manner as his father had done and in the same pattern that he had received of this inheritance at his father's death. BWV 100 is found at the end of the vocal music, after the Feast of St. Michael, with two incomplete works, an early version of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and Cantata BWV 190 for New Year's. Bach's second-oldest son apparently never examined these three works since there is no mention in the catalog listing of the specific materials as being scores, parts, or doublets. Obviously both BWV 97 and BWV 100, listed only by their first vocal line incipit, were considered by Sebastian as not being part of his established church year works, treated instead as occasional pieces.
While both BWV 97 and BWV 100 were based on chorales listed for weddings at St Thomas Church, neither is divided into two parts to be presented before and after the service. Instead, many church uses have been suggested, primarily in the Trinity Season, based on prior usage of the chorale melody in other cantatas.
Incidentally, BWV 100 is the only chorale cantata where Bach borrowed music from a previously written cantata. Clearly, Bach was very deliberate, purposeful, intentional, as he also was with the general distribution of the cantata cycles to his sons (see Wolff, JSB:TLM, p.457ff).
Chorale Wedding Connections
Chorale "Was Gott tut das ist wohlgetan" was one of four presented at Leipzig wedding Masses in Bach's time. It was sung before the service, with "In allen meinen Taten," says Günther Stiller (Ibid.: 94). The texts of the four works might fit a wedding ceremony in a very general sense as Bach c.1730 created four special four-part harmonizations that were used for "eine halbe Brautmeße," for more modest half-wedding Masses: BWV 250 (Before the Ceremony), BWV 251 (After the Ceremony), and BWV 252 (Postlude, After the Benediction.):
BC B 17, BWV 250-252, Three Wedding Chorales (c.1730):
1. "Was Gott tut das ist wohlgetan," BWV 100; 1732-35
2. Sei Lob und Ehr' Dem höchsten Gut, BWV 117, 1728-31
3. Nun danket alle Gott, BWV 192, 1730
1730s Chorale Cantatas
In the 1730s, while Bach's interest in secular vocal music flourished with his celebratory cantatas, especially for the Dresden Court, his involvement in sacred cantatas showed only sporadic although intentional interest. In contrast to his first four years in Leipzig when he created three complete cantata cycles (1723-27), there was little activity presenting church service cantatas on a regular basis. The only new sacred cantatas Bach composed in the first half of the penultimate decade of his life are part of the genre of chorale cantatas.
Bach created as many as nine new chorale cantatas. Five filled gaps in his chorale cantata cycle -- BWV 140 (Trinity 27), BWV 112 (Easter 2), BWV 177 (Trinity 4), BWV 14 (Epiphany 4), and BWV 9 (Trinity 6), which totaled 42 in his original second cycle. Four are without church year designation (BWV 192, BWV 117, BWV 97, and 100). Bach also repeated some eight other chorale cantatas from the 1724-25 cycle (BWV 94, BWV 129, BWV 139, BWV 177, BWV 93, BWV 139, BWV 91, and BWV 96).
The nine new chorale cantatas of the 1730s involve mostly pure-hymn verses, without chorale text paraphrases in arias and recitatives, except three chorale cantatas: BWV 140 (Trinity 27), all three original verses (Mvts. 1, 4, 7, plus inserted arias & recitatives); BWV 14 (Epiphany 4), verses 1 and 3 plus paraphrases of verse 2 (Mvts. 2-4); and BWV 9 (Trinity 6), surviving 1725 chorale cantata text with verses 1 and 7, 2-6 paraphrased). Other characteristics include familiar chorales, elaborate orchestration, and some use of borrowed materials. No chorale cantatas involved parodies since it would have been extremely difficult to fit old, non-chorale texts into new stanzas of a set chorale text. The only opportunity for text substitution involved the use of different stanzas of the same hymn text, a sort of "parody," or different text underlay.
One characteristic is Bach's exemplary use of instruments, especially in his last chorale cantatas. There are pairs of hunting horns (BWV 100, BWV 112, and BWV 192) with the added air of festivity and joy. Striking horn solos are found in BWV 14 and BWV 140. In addition, Bach uses pairs of horns for his full instrumental setting of three wedding chorales, BWV 250-252, composed in the early 1730s. One of these, BWV 250, also has Bach's favorite chorale, "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan."
Claudio De Veroli wrote (July 21, 2013):
Aryeh oron wrote on behalf of Paul Beckman:
< Which brings me to my consideration of the recordings, and a comment on the horns - oh, those horns! They appear to cause several of the players distinct and, to my ear, embarrassing difficulties. Leonhardt's version is nearly unlistenable, and is further marred by intonation problems that his boy sopranos suffer. Leusink's band also produces some painful moments, and his singers don't help any. I may be a bit picky, but, once the opening movement founders on such instrumental rocks >
I do not have the recordings with me now, but I remember having seen pictures of horn players in both the Leonhardt and Gardiner's recordings. Having been for about 15 years a natural horn player, I did not find Leonhardt's horn playing bad at all, and that of Gardiner's is of course better. There is a serious problem, though. We are here referring to recordings with "authentic instruments", meant to convey the sound, feeling, articulation AND tuning of early instruments. And here all present day recordings fail to a large extent:
- Leonhardt players employ the HAND HORN technique, with the hand in the bell in different positions which significantly improve the intonation, but also introduce differences of timbre and loudness: this technique (typical of Mozart's time) was unheard of in Bach's time: it was not even practicable with the single-loop small-bell horns then in use. As for Gardiner's horns, they are real replicas of Bach's instruments and are played without hand in the bell: the sound is thus very authentic, however, but to avoid the serious intonation hurdles, they have NODE HOLES, which help to produce a near perfect intonation (they can be seen in the recently produced Christmas Oratorio version recorded by Gardiner in Germany where the players move the fingers as if they were playing a cornet!): nice intonation, but again very inauthentic.
There have been recent attempts to produce what Bach players did: use lips and throat to tune those pesky notes as best as possible. This is the only authentic way, and so far there are only a handful of natural trumpet players (notably the Madeuf brothers) who have mastered it in recent years. I am sure we will soon have REALLY AUTHENTIC natural horns around. It will be marvellous to hear precisely what Bach and his audience expected. Well in tune, alas, they will not be.
Best regards and thank you again for your dedication to help to improve our understanding of Bach's music.
PS: My book on temperaments (of which a 3rd revised edition has just been released) has a chapter devoted to natural brass playing, treating in full detail each natural pitch and many temperaments: hopefully that will help: http://temper.braybaroque.ie/
Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Brass Instruments in Bach's Vocal Works [General Topics]
Richard Burdick wrote (July 23, 2013):
I would like to comment o this comment: "horns - oh, those horns! They appear to cause several of the players distinct and, to my ear, embarrassing difficulties. Leonhardt's version is nearly unlistenable"
I love the Leonhardt recording of Cantata 100. This to me sound the most authentic of any recording out there that I know!
It opens up questions about how good the intonation was in the baroque era, and with every organ tuned a little differently, a musician with an instrument that can't be tuned, they ether play out of tune, or figure out the hand in the bell, which may have just been a "trade secret"
The horns in this recording are using hand-horn techniques, but it's the obvious thing to do. Vent holes is just cheating. A possibility that no one bats around when discussing baroque horn is that they may have played longer horns that the key specified. IF the horn is long enough, one can play any note in the upper register, and the playing then becomes virtually like singing.
Richard O. Burdick
First Horn Regina Symphony
I Ching Music
My recent natural horn Cd release:
Natural Horn Music FOUND: CD Baby
Claudio De Veroli wrote (July 23, 2013):
[To Richard Burdick] Thanks Richard!
Have just heard the "incipits" of your Natural Horn CD: excellent!!
Continue on Part 4
Cantata BWV 100: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4