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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 115
Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of August 5, 2012 (3rd round)

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 4, 2012):
Introduction to BWV 115 -- Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit

Weekly reminder:

This week we continue Trinity season cantatas with BWV 115, the second of three works for the 22nd Sunday after Trinity. Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion for this week are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV115.htm

The commentary by Julian Mincham, music examples included, is especially recommended as an introduction to listening.

The BWV 115 page has convenient access to notes from the Gardiner, Koopman (notes by Christoph Wolff), Suzuki, and Leusink (and more!) CD issues, via link beneath the cover photo.

The chorale text and melody are accessible via links at the BWV 115 page. Francis Browne has recently added new commentary on the cantata texts to his interlinear translations, linked via [English 3]. We can expect these to continue, not necessarily weekly. Douglas Cowling and William Hoffman are also posting relevant to chorales and other music for the Lutheran Church Year, accessible via LCY pages

I do not always take the time to check all links before posting Special thanks to the folks who provide timely corrections.

Charles Francis wrote (August 5, 2012):
According to the provenance information, kindly provided by the knowledgeable Thomas Braatz, it appears that the performance parts for this cantata are now all lost, while the surviving score has somehow found its way to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/

As would typically be the case given the Leipzig cantatas where the parts have survived, one might anticipate that there would be a Cornet-Ton transposition notated four positions anticlockwise, allowing for major and minor modes, according to Johann David Heinichen corrected 'Musicalischer Circul' of 1728, (page 837): http://imslp.org/wiki/Der_General-Bass_in_der_Composition_(Heinichen,_Johann_David)

With that in mind, I constructed two virtual organ arrangements from the Cornet-Ton perspective. Again various problematic low notes were encountered, namely in the transposed opening chorus, rendered at the octave to accommodate the range of the historic organs at my disposal. The density of the part writing is stunning here: for example, at various points all four contiguous notes of the Lydian and Phrygian tetrachords sound simultaneously - one may readily echo Sigiswald Kuijken in asking 'My God, where is this coming from'?

Chorus: http://youtu.be/jvH_D4dPe5k
Choral: http://youtu.be/0xSz118aGOE

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 5, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< Choral: http://youtu.be/0xSz118aGOE >
Why in Bar 8 of the bass line is the fourth note (A) missing? It's in range for for all bass and keyboard instruments.

Charles Francis wrote (August 6, 2012):
[To Douglas Cowling] In response to Doug Cowling's feedback, I have uploaded a revised video including the omitted low pedal notes additional to the SATB. This shows that, in contrast to the opening chorus, a tentative Cornet-Ton transpose would fit the organ range perfectly, even utilising the low C at cadences.

The organ emulation for this second attempt utilises recorded audio from the 1722 Gottfried Silbermann instrument at the St. Marienkirche, Rötha. While one would clearly need to study an actual photo, perhaps the apparent asymmetry of the pedals may suggest a missing note or two? There is a possible Bach connection: Wolff & Zepf write 'The nearest Silbermann organs to Leipzig were the instruments in Rötha, about ten miles south of the city. We can assume Bach's acquaintance with them, even though they were built before he arrived in Leipzig.'

The video is here: http://youtu.be/WL9jILyKrNU

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 6, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< In response to Doug Cowling's feedback, I have uploaded a revised video including the omitted low pedal notes additional to the SATB. This shows that, in contrast to the opening chorus, a tentative Cornet-Ton transpose would fit the organ range perfectly, even utilising the low C at cadences. >
It is a real treat to hear the chorale cyber-played with pedals. Modern concert audiences are so used to portatives that they have never heard a real 16' sound on the bass line.

A question, Charles. While you were inputing the notes, did you discover whether it was physically possible on your cyber-organ to "solo" the chorale melody with the right hand on one manual, play the alto and tenor lines with the faux-left hand on another manual, and play the bass line with feet on the pedal?

In the cantatas, Bach always weights the chorale melody with all the upper instruments, even adding brass which only double the vocal line to provide colour. I suspect this reflects Bach's method of accompanying hymn-singing.

Any chance, you could record a version with strongly-contrasting registrations on the three divisions?

Charles Francis wrote (August 7, 2012):
[To Douglas Cowling] The suggestion of Doug Cowling to move the chorale melody onto a separate registration is indeed possible with a two manual instrument such as the Gottfried Silbermann instrument at the St. Georgenkirche in Rötha, completed one year before the St. Marienkirche instrument. It was consecrated on November 9, 1721, when, apparently, Johann Kuhnau conducted celebratory music composed to a text by Johann Christian Langbein.

Nothing interesting can be deduced from the pedal board as it was replaced in 1842 when the organ was modernised to equal temperament. The pedal coupler, as with the St. Marienkirche instrument, was originally permanent, suggesting a 16' pedal bass was normative.

The contracted stop list for the St. Georgenkirche is here: http://www.milandigitalaudio.com/st-georgefacsimile.htm

and for comparison the St. Marienkirche is here: http://www.milandigitalaudio.com/st-marienfacsimile.htm

I was surprised to see no obvious mention of the Tertia stop, something that is inevitably present on surviving Silbermann organs. Am I missing something?

Wolff & Zepf give other info and literature in their book.

For a new video with chorale melody on the main lower manual, alto and tenor parts on the secondary upper keyboard and bass in the pedal, the following stops were used:

Oberwerk: Gedackt 8', Quintadena 8', Rohr-Flöte 4', Tertia 1-3/5'
Hauptwerk: Bourdon 16', Principal 8', Rohr-Flöte 8', Spitz-Flöte 4'
Pedal: Principal Bass 16'

Allowing for couplers this gives:

Chorale melody:
Bourdon 16', Principal 8', Rohr-Flöte 8', Gedackt 8', Quintadena 8',
Spitz-Flöte 4', Rohr-Flöte 4', Tertia 1-3/5'

Alto/Tenor:
Gedackt 8', Quintadena 8', Rohr-Flöte 4', Tertia 1-3/5'

Bass:
Principal 16', Bourdon 16', Principal 8', Rohr-Flöte 8', Gedackt 8',
Quintadena 8', Spitz-Flöte 4', Rohr Flöte 4', Tertia 1-3/5'

The video is here: http://youtu.be/LGY4QoKEqiA

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 7, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< Nothing interesting can be deduced from the pedal board as it was replaced in 1842 when the organ was modernised to equal temperament. The pedal coupler, as with the St. Marienkirche instrument, was originally permanent, suggesting a 16' pedal bass was normative. >
Modern Bach performances are so adverse to a strong 16' sound in the bass line that it is fascinating to hear the chorale played with ped. I've never seen any scholarly speculation about the extent which Bach used pedals on the bass line in the cantata. If he did, the colour of each movement would be very different.

Thanks for these reallzations, Charles. It's kinda weird to see Bach's invisible hands and feet playing the keys in the animation. Worth noting that the instrument has a Baroque straight pedal-board. The modern fan-shaped pedal-board didn't appear until the late 19th century.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 9, 2012):
[To Charles Francis] Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Thanks for these reallzations, Charles. It's kinda weird to see Bach's invisible hands and feet playing the keys in the animation. Worth noting that the instrument has a Baroque straight pedal-board. The modern fan-shaped pedal-board didn't appear until the late 19th century. >
Thanks from me, as well! How are these U-tube links which Francis provides archived on BCW?

 

Continue on Part 5

Cantata BWV 115: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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