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Cantata BWV 123
Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of December 31, 2006

Roar Myrheim wrote (December 31, 2006):
Week of December 31, 2006

Cantata BWV 123, "Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen", Chorale Cantata for the Feast of Epiphany

Composed for 1st performance January 6, 1725 in Leipzig

Main Cantata page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV123.htm
Previous Discussion http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV123-D.htm

Provenance: (Origin & Owner history): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV123-Ref.htm
Comentaries: (Oron, Braatz, Robertson, Young, Whittaker, Finscher, Schweitzer, Dürr, Humphreys): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV123-Guide.htm

Text:

German: http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/123.html
English: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV123.html
English, interlinear: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV123-Eng3.htm
Other translations: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV123.htm

Score Vocal & Piano: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV123-V&P.pdf

Recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV123.htm#RC
Listen to Leusink recording (free streaming download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Stream/BWV123-Leusink.ram

Libretto: Unknown
Based on the hymn of Ahasverus Fritsch: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Fritsch.htm
with the same name as the cantata (1679).

Chorale Text: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale124-Eng3.htm
Chorale Melody: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Liebster-Immanuel.htm

Readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Epiphany.htm
Epistle: Isaiah 60: 1-6 "The Gentiles shall come to thy light"
Gospel: Matthew 2: 1-12 The Wise Men seek Christ

======================================

Structure:

1. Chorus SATB (1st verse of chorale)
Flauto traverso I-II, Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

2. Recitative A (2nd verse of chorale paraphrased)
Continuo

3. Aria T (3rd verse of chorale paraphrased)
Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo

4. Recitative B (4th verse of chorale paraphrased)
Continuo

5. Aria B (5th verse of chorale paraphrased)
Flauto traverso, Continuo

6. Chorale SATB (3rd verse of chorale)
Flauto traverso I/II in octava e Oboe d'amore I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll' Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

==================================================

As introductions to cantata BWV 123 "Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen", I recommend Aryeh Oron's and Thomas Braatz' commentaries: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV41-Guide.htm.

I also quote the sleeve notes to Rilling's recording:

The text treatment of this chorale cantata follows the pat­tern most frequently used by Bach in that it keeps the framing verses, while rewording the others. The cantus firmus of the hymn by Ahasverus Fritsch predominates the opening chorus with repetitive notes offering the instruments an easily recognisable motif. In 9/8 time, the composition has a lilting but not festively exuberant mood. Occasionally Bach does away with the continuo and lets the strings play in unison with the wind instru­ments, producing an attractive effect. He interpolates the choir line by line, emphasising words like "come now soon" or "hold" with repetitions and long notes. The recitative is followed by a tenor aria (Mvt. 3); its somewhat bulky, suspensionled character, its interpolated se­quences with semitonal sharps are definitely inspired by the text, which speaks of the "cruel cross's journey" and "fare of bitter weeping". Bach gives a vivid account of the "raging tempests" in the middle section with added drive and a linear oboe construction sending salvation from above.

Another expressive recitative leads us into the next bass aria (Mvt. 5). This is a devout but affirmative dialogue between solo flute and singer. The rationale behind this intimacy and behind the reflective fermatas and contem­plative melody could be the "grievous loneliness" the believer would resort to, despite the miracle of Jesus' in­carnation; the lyrics have curiously little to do with the Gospel reading of the day (Matthew 2: 1-12), any association is best found in higher spheres, rejection of "idle fancies" the three wise men offer the infant Jesus. The fact that Bach repeats the final lines of the chorale in piano mode and enlightens them by modulating to a major key, has nothing to do with this approach but is an obvious con­clusion of the text. It speaks of the grave, the future passageway to eternal salvation.

==================================================

New recordings since the last time this cantata was discussed are:

Koopman [5]: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman-Vol14.htm
Suzuki [6]: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Suzuki-Rec2.htm#C32

I now have finished my introductions to the past 5 cantatas, and therefore hand over the responsibility for introducing the cantata of the week to Ed Myskowski. Good luck to you, Ed!

I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Peter Smaill wrote (December 31, 2006):
The unusual compound metre of this Chorale was explored in the prior round of BCW conversations. However, there are a number of features of the final chorale BWV 123/6 which additionally stand out and are variously observed by the commentators.

Commonly observed is the unusual repeat of the final lines, the Abgesang, allowing for a echoing piano rendering of the line."Till one day I am laid in the Grave". As Dürr points out, a quiet ending is rare (cf. BWV 106, BWV 71 and BWV 68). But appropriate on Epiphany? It suggest the overall contrast with the resplendent BWV 65, Sie werden aus Saba", and the final part of the WO BWV 248 part 6., both written for this day. Bach generally seems to have deployed brass far less in the Chorale Cantata cycle than in 1723/24, and this Feast is a further illustration. Whether horn or trumpet instrumentalists were unavailable or too costly is an open question. Perhaps the trumpeters were exhausted after BWV 41, for the New Year 1725?

Secondly, the alto line is made to rise above the soprano in the Chorale, at the fourth measure of the Abgesang. this is most odd, affecting the line of the chorale, but Bach's frequent musical illustration of the interchanging of flesh and divinity at this time in the Christian year would give an explanation.

Thirdly, but this may be a quirk of Reimenschneider, trills are set out (leading to the final cadences) in the version in the "371" three times, but thappear to refer to the accompanying instrumentalists since the choristers sound so to render the notes unembellished (Leusink). I can find no other such example in this collection.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 31, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Bach generally seems to have deployed brass far less in the Chorale Cantata cycle than in 1723/24, and this Feast is a further illustration. Whether horn or trumpet instrumentalists were unavailable or too costly is an open question. Perhaps the trumpeters were exhausted after BWV 41, for the New Year 1725? >
I'm curious if there is any specific evidence which links Bach's scoring of particular cantatas to the unavailability, fatigue or lack of ability of his instrumentalists.

For instance, I often read in program notes that Bach scored Cantata BWV 51 for solo soprano because his choir wasn't good enough that week even to sing a simple concluding chorale. I just don't believe that: I think Bach wrote the cantata he wanted and he wanted the soloist to sing the concluding chorale and then launch into a concluding cadenza-like coda.

I'm wondering if this commonplace is a result of a continuing misinterpretation of the communications to the Leipzig council, which in the popular imagination has the heroic underappreciated Bach pitted against penny-pinching philistines of Leipzig.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 31, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>>Thirdly, but this may be a quirk of Reimenschneider, trills are set out (leading to the final cadences) in the version in the "371" three times, but these appear to refer to the accompanying instrumentalists since the choristers sound so to render the notes unembellished (Leusink). I can find no other such example in this collection.<<
Indeed! the NBA KB I/5, pp. 60-61 contains all the variants noted in Mvt. 6. In respect to the above: The Soprano part (as well as the Flauto traverso I, Oboe d'amore I, and Violino Primo parts) have no 'tr' mark for the 1st note in m 4; while the Flauto traverso II, Oboe d'amore II, and Violino Primo (doublet) do. In m7 only the Oboe d'amore I has the trill (tr) but the Oboe d'amore II part as well as all other parts playing along with (or singing) the soprano part do not. The same is true in the penultimate measure.

BTW, this is another example where Bach composed and had parts prepared in a great hurry with help from his little army of copyists upon which he relied when he was faced with time constraints that come from producing new music almost weekly for new cantatas to be performed in church: Johann Andreas Kuhnau, Christian Gottlob Meißner, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (for the continuo doublet) and 3 anonymous copyists. It is easy to imagine that Bach composed the 4-pt chorale while overseeing how the copyists were doing with their assigned tasks. Kuhnau still managed to finish copying the vocal parts by adding the final chorale to the parts he had already finished, but the other copyists were not as good or as fast. After all had left and gone to bed, Bach personally added the final chorale mvt. to the instrumental parts (including the one (continuo part) that the 14-year-old) W.F. had been laboring over before he went to bed. It is difficult to surmise reasonably that the procedure that can be ascertained from examining the copy process here could be due to long-time planning on Bach's part with various rehearsals in mind before the first performance took place.

As far as having instruments execute trills or include passing notes which are not in the vocal parts, I am reasonably certain that there are other instances of this in Bach's final chorales (of the 'simple' type). [Beware of the Riemenschneider in this regard.] If I have a little time, I will further investigate this matter.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 31, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< After all had left and gone to bed, Bach personally added the final chorale mvt. to the instrumental parts (including the one (continuo part) that the 14-year-old) W.F. had been laboring over before he went to bed. It is difficult to surmise reasonably that the procedure that can be ascertained from examining the copy process here could be due to long-time planning on Bach's part with various rehearsals in mind before the first performance took place. >
Where is the evidence for all this sleepy-time activity? This sounds like a Hollywood movie.:

Wilhelm Friedemann: Golly Papa, I'm so tired, and I still have to add all these trills.

Johann Sebastian: That's all right, Willi, you go to bed now. I'll be up to read to you from the Cavlov Bible when I get these trills done. I hope I remember where they all go.

Wilhelm: You shouldn't have had that third beer at dinner!

Johann: BURP!

And it is never reasonable to surmise that Bach only began composing a new cantata on Monday and ever performed his music without rehearsal.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 31, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Where is the evidence for all this sleepy-time activity? This sounds like a Hollywood movie.<<
The evidence is right in the order in which the parts were copied and by whom.

Kuhnau was, without a doubt, the most reliable copyist Bach ever had in his employ. He could deliver clear, accurate copy very swiftly. It is he who usually copies the bulk of the parts. Other copyists are enlisted as the need arises and here, with BWV 123, that did certainly occur since this was a cantata composed specifically for Epiphany which in 1725 fell on a Saturday, meaning that Bach, who had just finished supplying music (mostly his own) for New Years and/or the Sunday after New Year, also had to have a cantata ready to perform the following day, the 1st Sunday after Epiphany. All the signs are present in the numerous details that the NBA editors have been able to discover in the parts. Had Bach planned ahead to allow himself sufficient time by composing the score in advance as soon, or at least quite soon, after the libretti for the Sundays & Holidays in which this text occurred had been published, Bach would not have encountered all the irregularities in simply copying out all the parts for this cantata. Kuhnau was certainly eminently capable of accomplishing this task when given a sufficient amount time to do so. But there were limits to his facility and capabilities when Bach appeared with an incomplete score without the final chorale and needed the parts for a rehearsal (if there even was one) on the next day. Now Bach had to call upon his reserves who were not perhaps quite as well prepared and as adept as Kuhnau who had had much experience by now in helping Bach with his copywork: on the scene appears an 18-year-old Christian Gottlob Meißner who completes Mvt. 1 of the instrumental parts from mm 94-143 (the end) while Kuhnau completes mvts. 3, 4, and 5. It is easier when a master copyists begins a mvt. to have someone else finish it. There is much 'dove-tailing' which goes on here and a very complicated picture arises hecause every second is precious. 3 more anonymous copyists are called upon to complete the doublets (sometimes AMB was called upon to do this type of copying where a freshly copied part is copied once again for the doublet part). For instance, W.F. Bach copied only mvts. 2 and 3 for the doublet of the Violino Primo part, the same mvts. of which had just been copied by Meißner beforehand).

Why did the 14-year-old W.F. Bach copy a double continuo part from the original continuo part (mvts. 1-3 by Meißner and 4-6 by Kuhn) and stop at Mvt. 5, allowing his father to complete Mvt. 6, the final chorale?

The final, transposed continuo part is copied in entirety by anonymous 3 with J. S. Bach adding the figured bass later.

Although very difficult to discern at first, there is perhaps a logical procedure which defines the sequence of copying being applied here. Also, it is quite clear that all of this is being accomplished under the pressure of time, otherwise a single copyist like Kuhnau could easily have completed this task with fewer errors than those that have occurred in this instance.

Faced with evidence such as that given above, it becomes illogical to assume that Bach planned far enough ahead to complete his compositional tasks so as to allow for sufficient time for numerous rehearsals beforehand.

Again, any inconsistencies or errors that occurred during the copy process, if they were not remedied/corrected by Bach in his final checking of the parts, certainly would not be corrected during a rehearsal. After the performance, Bach would not make any changes/corrections to the score or parts until the next time he would pull out the cantata. Then he would assess the quality of musicians with their varying capabilities and revisit the score and possibly edit and change whatever he felt was necessary for a repeat performance.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 31, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>> Where is the evidence for all this sleepy-time activity? This sounds like a Hollywood movie.<<
< The evidence is right in the order in which the parts were copied and by whom. >
Where is the evidence for late night copying and no rehearsals? This is a fantasy scene masquerading as fact?

Paul T. McCain wrote (January 1, 2007):
How much time did Bach have to rehearse?

Doug, I finished reading recently the very nicely done little illustrated biography of Bach: Johann Sebastian Bach: His Life in Pictures and Documents, with CD by Hans Conrad Fischer [1985]. He provides a nice summary of just how busy Bach was:

"The Cantor was third in importance after the head and assistant head [of the St. Thomas' School]. It was his duty to give three lessons a day, besides his other duties at church. Bach gave lessons in vocal and instrumental music to the seniors. On Saturday afternoon the rehearsal for Sunday's cantata took place." (page 123)

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 1, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Where is the evidence for late night copying and no rehearsals? This is a fantasy scene masquerading as fact?<<
Of course, no one can prove as an actual fact that this happened this way, but the procedure illustrated in many cantatas where we have such evidence as we do for BWV 123 clearly points to the opposite of the extremely well-organized cantor who finished composing and preparing the parts well in advance of the actual date of performance because he happened to have the libretti for cantatas in hand two or three months ahead of time.

Somewhere I had recently a comment by a Bach expert which indicated the possibility that cantatas may have been performed on the designated Sunday or holiday without any rehearsals. I regret now that I did not write down this source immediately. It had simply confirmed what I had been thinking all along.

I am at a point now where it seems more reasonable to interpret the evidence from the score and parts as pointing again and again in the direction I have outlined. If there was not a single rehearsal at the Saturday afternoon vespers because it would have disturbed the old ladies and serving girls who were in attendance then because they would be unable to attend the regular cantata services on Sunday mornining or because it would have 'held up' unnecessarily the order of services at the Vespers, then perhaps the notion of no rehearsal with a Saturday night copying and composing (the final chorale) session at Bach's house before the Sunday or holiday performance would seem entirely in order and make a lot of sense, taking into consideration Bach's ability to compose swiftly if necessary and the capabilities of his vocal soloists and key instrumental players to sight-read meaningfully and musically the music set before them.

The evidence from the score and original parts points towards a last-minute, 'burning the midnight oil' effort to fulfill the task in time notwithstanding the experience of hundreds or thousands of church composers and musicians to the contrary.

It is perhaps much more of a fantasy scene to envisage Bach having composed and having copyists copy all of the parts neatly and well-organized well ahead of time so that individual musicians, to feel more secure in performance, could practice this music over the course of a few weeks at least without in some way making the used parts show:

1. the usual wear and tear that comes from using a part

2. making even the slightest changes to the part (fingerings, a wrong note or accidental which the copyist and Bach may have overlooked, special breath marks, etc. etc.)

3. collaboration between composer and performer where the composer makes changes perhaps recommended by the individual player/singer.

In absence of such information which ought to be evident in the parts themselves, it is a much more reasonable assumption to interpret all the signs of hurried activity on the part of Bach and his copyists as being indicative of a pressing need to have the parts ready for either a single rehearsal within hours of the actual performance or for the performances without rehearsal which would take place the following morning.

Paul T. McCain wrote (January 1, 2007):
Bach's Challenges

We'll never know, of course, how things went for Bach before Sunday, but there is every indication from all that we do know that Bach was incredibly busy and during those years when he was cranking out Cantatas for every Sunday in the Church Year, save for the respite of Advent and Lent, it was simply the case that he was far too busy with all his duties to approach his task in a leisurely manner with plenty of time for copying and extensive rehearsals. He was rushed, harried and pressed on all sides, which makes his accomplishment with the Cantatas even that much more impressive.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Bach Composing - Part 4 [General Topics]

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 1, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>>Thirdly, but this may be a quirk of Reimenschneider, trills are set out (leading to the final cadences) in the version in the "371" three times, but these appear to refer to the accompanying instrumentalists since the choristers sound so to render the notes unembellished (Leusink). I can find no other such example in this collection.<<
Try BWV 81/7 m. 16 on "schrek" where the soprano has no 'tr' but the 2nd Oboe and 1st Violin do. I am certain there are other examples of the same since I only had to look at a half dozen volumes of cantatas (NBA) to find this additional example. Now we already have two separate instances where the Soprano part (cantus firmus) does not have a trill on a note which is executed with a trill on only certain "odd" treble instruments; for instance in tis example the 1st Oboe does not have a trill indicated!

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 1, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It is easy to imagine that Bach composed the 4-pt chorale while overseeing how the copyists were doing with their assigned tasks. Kuhnau still managed to finish copying the vocal parts by adding the final chorale to the parts he had already finished, but the other copyists were not as good or as fast. After all had left and gone to bed, Bach personally added the final chorale mvt. to the instrumental parts (including the one (continuo part) that the 14-year-old) W. F. had been laboring over before he went to bed. It is difficult to surmise reasonably > that the procedure that can be ascertained from examining the copy process here could be due to long-time planning on Bach's part with various rehearsals in mind before the first performance took place. >
I feel like a one-armed paper-hanger with the other arm tied behind my back (many ACE): I am constrained from using words which begin with sp**** and which derive from the Latin speculari (Eng.: to view). Fortunately, Doug Cowling has covered the essential points with the appropriate language, and I can revert to my proper role.

Can we anticipate that the above fantasia will be followed by a fugue?

Rick Canyon wrote (January 1, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<< It is easy to imagine that Bach composed the 4-pt chorale while overseeing how the copyists were doing with their assigned tasks. Kuhnau still managed to finish copying the vocal parts by adding the final chorale to the parts he had already finished, but the other copyists were not as good or as fast. After all had left and gone to bed, Bach personally added the final chorale mvt. to the instrumental parts (including the one (continuo part) that the 14-year-old) W. F. had been laboring over before he went to bed. It is difficult to surmise reasonably that the procedure that can be ascertained from examining the copy process here could be due to long-time planning on Bach's part with various rehearsals in mind before the first performance took place. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Can we anticipate that the above fantasia will be followed by a fugue? >
You know, I don't mind these little scenarios people come up with. I like putting flesh on Bach's bones. And this story seems very unthreatening. I mean, I appreciate that there's problems with "Amadeus" yet I'm not sorry someone went ahead and made a play/film.

And, Mr. Cowling, wouldn't you agree that Bach most probably had wine with his dinner rather than beer(Dose?)? True...your satisfying belch seems more logical after the swilling of beer, but fine wine seems much more likely as Bach's creative fuel. (it might also have the benefit of making these texts which some disparage as unpoetic appear positively inspirational). If, indeed, Friedeman ended up as an alcoholic, one wonders if he might not also have shared a goblet or two with his father at dinner.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 1, 2007):
I previously wrote:.
I feel like a one-armed paper-hanger with the other arm tied behind my back (many ACE): I am constrained from using words which begin with sp**** and which derive from the Latin speculari (Eng.: to view). <end quote>
In subsequent exchanges, which were slowed by a technical error on my part, Aryeh has clarified his position. It is fair, and somewhat different from what I originally understood. He is simply asking me (indeed, all of us) to recognize that the word speculate (and derivatives) has negative connotations for many (Aryeh says most) BCML participants. It should be used carefully, with consideration of the potential negative misunderstandings. I have readily accepted this, as I do not find that the request in any way compromises free speech, which is the underlying and essential issue.

This seems an opportunity to repeat what I have often stated: I have great respect for the job Aryeh does successfully in maintaining orderly discussions and archives, without compromising the free and open nature of the BCML forum. We are an unruly bunch, none more so than me. I apologize for any misunderstandings I may have caused in the present instance.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 2, 2007):
BWV 123 Probable Composition & Copy Procedure

BWV 123 "Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen"

A probable scenario for its composition and the preparation of its performing parts

Existing conditions:

Although Bach had some time (possibly 2 to 3 weeks during Advent 1724) to devote to composing new music

and

although Bach may already have had in hand the printed booklet of cantata libretti (possibly beginning the church year with the 1st of Advent until the Sunday after New Year or beginning with New Year and continuing into the Sundays after Epiphany),

Bach may have begun composing BWV 123 only after January 1, 1725 when all of the music for Christmas and New Year had been completed and performed.

In the 4 days (January 2nd to 5th, 1725) allotted to him for composition, Bach would necessarily also need to be concerned about not only the music to be composed and performed on Epiphany (January 6) but also for Sunday, January 7, the 1st Sunday after Epiphany, for on that Sunday Bach had composed and performed another cantata, BWV 124 "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht". [For the latter cantata, both the autograph score and all the original parts are extant. There are many similarities in the preparation of the cantata materials between both BWV 123 and BWV 124 each being performed in sequence on successive days.]

Evidence from the autograph score: [This score is referred to by the NBA as "C".]

Unfortunately, the autograph score was lost during WWII. However, a comparison with the existing autograph score of BWV 124 would make it apparent that the score for BWV 123 also would have been a composing score in contrast to a clean copy score which would be the type of score that Bach would have preferred both for conducting and for possible reuse by himself or others. This is one indicator that Bach did not have sufficient time to prepare the performance materials as well as he might have liked had he allowed himself more time for preparation.

Since we have Alfred Dörffel's critical commentary for the BGA 26, pp. XXff., we know, for instance that Bach's own title on the cover page read:

Festo Epiphanias. | Liebster Immanuel, Herzog d Frommen. | à | 4 Voci. | 2 Traversieri | 2 Hautb. d'Amour | 2 Violini | Viola | e | Continuo | di | J:S:Bach.

There were 4 sheets numbered from 2 to 4 with the notation ending at the bottom of page 7 verso and page 8 unused.

The title at the top of the first page read:

J. J. Festo Epiphan: Christi, Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen.

In order to get two bracketed score systems on each of the pages containing the 1st mvt., Bach had to write both the 2nd Violin and Viola parts on the same staff. The final chorale, mvt. 6, did not have a separate staff for continuo; also, no text had been included for the verse of the chorale to be sung. In general, there was no indication before each staff to specify which voice or instrument was meant. Only after the preceding recitatives were the arias announced as follows: "Aria seqt 2 Hautb d'Amor" and "Aria seqt. Travers. solo".

There is some evidence from a set of parts made after Bach's death by Johann Georg Nacke (1718-1804) with help from his pupil Christian Friedrich Penzel (1737-1801):
Nacke had access to 3 original parts (doublets) and the autograph score. The watermark for the newly generated set of parts is documented for 1759. These new parts show some changes made out of necessity for a performance at that later date. There is even a trombone in D part which was not in the original. This set of parts is referred to by the NBA as "B".

Evidence from the original parts:
[These parts are referred to by the NBA as "A".]

Here is the simple list of these parts:
1. Soprano
2. Alto
3. Tenore
4. Basso
5. Flaut: Travers:1
6. Flaut: Travers:2
7. Hautbois. 1. d'Amour
8. Hautb: 2 d'Amour.
9. Violino Primo
10. Violino Primo (doublet)
11. Violino 2do
12. Violino 2do (doublet)
13. Viola
14. Continuo
15. Continuo (doublet)
16. Continuo (transposed)

Here is a more detailed listing of the above indicating who copied each part and the corrections and additions made by J. S. Bach. The following abbreviations will be used to conserve space:

JAK = Johann Andreas Kuhnau (born 1703 - at this time circa 21 years old)
CGM = Christian Gottlob Meißner (1707-1760 - at this time circa 17 years old)
WFB = Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784 - had turned 14 a month and a half ago on 22, 1724)
JSB = Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750 - will turn 40 in about 3 months from now)
C1 = Copyist 1 identified by Dürr only as Anonymous IIf
C2 = Copyist 2 identified by Dürr only an Anonymous IIg
C3 = Copyist 3 identified by Dürr only as "Main" copyist C

[Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, born 1714 would turn 11 two months later. Was he perhaps one of the two anonymous copyists mentioned above? For reasons not given, Dürr seems to have rejected this idea although he would certainly have considered this possibility.]

1. Soprano
JAK: mvts. 1, 6 with tacets for mvts. 2-5
JSB added the text for mvt. 6

2. Alto
JAK: mvts. 1, 2, and 6 with tacets for mvts. 3-5
JSB added the text for mvt. 6

3. Tenore
JAK: mvts. 1, 3, 6 with tacets for mvts. 2, 4, 5
JSB added the text for mvt. 6 + headings for mvts. 3 and 6

4. Basso
JAK: mvts. 1, 4-6 with tacets for mvts. 2 and 3
JSB added the text for mvt. 6

5. Flaut: Travers: 1.
JAK: mvt. 1 until m 94, mvts. 5 and 6 with tacet for mvt. 4
CGM: mvt. 1 from 94 until the end with tacets for mvts. 2 and 3
JSB: added the name of the part and title for mvt. 6

6. Flaut: Travers. 2.
JAK: mvt. 1 until m 93
CGM: mvt. 1 from m 94 with tacets for mvts. 2 and 3
JSB: mvt. 6 and the tacets for mvts. 4 and 5 plus the name of the part

7. Hautb: 1 d'Amour
JAK: mvt. 1 until m 84, mvt. 3 beginning at m 19 until the end
CGM: mvt. 1 from m 85 to the end, mvt. 3 until m 18 with tacet for mvt. 2
JSB: mvt. 6 with tacets for mvts. 4 and 5 and adding the title for the part

8. Hautb: 2 d'Amour
JAK: mvt. 1 until m 83, then beginning with m 87 to the end with tacet for mvt. 2
CGM: mvt. 1 mm 84-86 only
JSB: mvt. 6 and tacets for mvts. 4-5 as well as the title for the part

9. Violino Primo
JAK: mvt. 1 until m 75
CGM: mvt. 1 from m 76 to the end with tacets for mvts. 2 and 3
JSB: mvt. 6 and the tacets for mvts. 4 and 5 and the title for the part

10. Violino Primo (doublet)
C1: mvt. 1 until m 56
WFB: mvt. 1 from m 57 to the end and tacets for mvts. 2 and 3
JSB: mvt. 6 and the tacets for mvts. 4 and 5

11. Violino 2do
JAK: mvt. 1 until m 72
CGM: mvt. 1 from m 73 to the end and the tacets for mvts. 2 and 3
JSB: mvt. 6 and the tacets for mvts. 4 and 5 and the title for the part

12. Violino 2do (doublet)
C2: mvt. 1 entirely and tacets for mvts. 2 and 3 JSB: mvt. 6 and the tacets for mvts. 4 and 5

13. Viola
JAK: mvt. 1 entirely and tacets for mvts. 2-5
JSB: mvt. 6 and the title for the part 14. Continuo
CGM: mvts. 1-3
JAK: mvts. 4-6

15. Continuo. (doublet)
WFB: mvts. 1-5
JSB: mvt. 6

16 Continuo. (transposed, partly figured)
C3: mvts. 1-6
JSB: added figures for the bass line

Totals:

C1: 1st Violin Doublet mvt. 1 mm 1-56 only

C2: 2nd Violin Doublet mvt. 1 entirely

C3: Continuo (transposed) mvts. 1-6 but not the figures for the bass line

JSB: Mvt. 6 added to the following parts: 2nd Flute, Oboe d'amore 1&2, 1st and 2nd Violin + doublets,
Viola, Continuo doublet

CGM:
1st Flute mvt. 94 to end
2nd Flute mvt. 1 m 94 to end
1st Oboe d'amore mvt. 1 m 85 to end, mvt. 3 from m 19 to end
2nd Oboe d'amore mvt. 1 mm 84-86 only
1st Violin mvt. 1 m 76 to end
2nd Violin mvt. 1 from m 73 to end, Continuo mvts. 1-3

JAK: all the rest of the copy work

A probable sequence of tasks that might explain how and why the parts were copied as they appear to us today:

1. The Layout of the Original Score

Bach is still finishing composing the cantata but has already completed a good portion of it, possibly everything but the final chorale. There are, as Dörffel indicated in the BGA, 4 sheets with music notation. These are divided in such a manner that there are 8 'pages': side 1 = pages 1 & 2, side 2 = pages 3 & 4, side 3 = pages 5 & 6, side 4 = pages 7 & 8. Page 8 is blank. Page 7 would include the mvt. 6 (the final, 4-pt chorale which was added later). However, page 7 is 'verso', the back side of a page turned over for viewing. It is not clear just how these 'pages' were connected or not. Depending upon these connections, it might not be possible for one copyist to be working from one part of the score while a different mvt. might still be connected to it on the back side or the continuing larger page if these pages were not all cut apart as separate entities. In any case, there are some restrictions preventing two copyists from copying from a single score at the same time, unless some of the pages are loose and can be separated.

2. Parts Finished before Final Chorale Was Composed

Johann Andreas Kuhnau began copying certain instrumental parts from the score while Bach was still composing the final chorale. [In each part, with the exception of the doublets and continuo parts, it is JAK who always begins copying a new part.] That Bach still had not finished composing the final chorale is evident from comparing the parts which JAK completed entirely (including the final chorale) with those where he stopped before reaching the final chorale which JSB later inserted. The parts in question where Bach added mvt. 6 are: 6-13, 15: Flute 2, Oboi d'amore 1 & 2, Violins 1&2 +doublets, Viola, Continuo (doublet). These parts were essentially completed before the final chorale mvt. was added to the score.

3. The Violin Parts

The most reasonable parts to copy out first are the first and second violin parts since other copyists can directly copy doublets from these parts.

JAK begins to copy the 1st violin part but only gets to m 75 of mvt. 1 when he abruptly stops and lets CGM take over copying the last half of this mvt. An important, unresolved question here is why JAK in copying various parts had so many break-off points in the middle of mvt.1: at mm 72,75, mm 83-84; mm 93-94. Was he called away for a reason other than beginning to copy another part? Did Bach need to compose the final chorale on a sheet/page that was attached somehow to the same page which JAK needed in order to continue? Did JAK have a prior commitment of fairly short duration or did AMB have a meal ready for him knowing that this was going to be a rather long and intensive copy session? Were these copy breaks intended to give the hand and mind some rest before continuing with a marathon session?] As stated above, in all instances except for the first/main continuo part (14), JAK is always the first to begin copying any non-doublet part. Even with all the other copyists involved, the amount that he copied was more than any other copyist present at this session. But why did these breaks occur at various points within the first mvt.?

Now the 1st violin part (9) is complete except for the final chorale to be added later because it has not yet been written down in the score.

This 1st violin part is now given to C1 who begins copying but only gets to m 56 of the mvt. 1, not even as far as JAK did. Now JSB tells WFB to continue where C1 left off. C1 now leaves the copying marathon and does not return. WFB finishes the remainder of mvt. 1 and the part is now complete except for the addition of mvt. 6 by Bach later on.

A similar procedure occurs with the 2nd violin part: JAK begins mvt. 1 and gets to m 72, after which CGM (WFB may still be working on the 1st violin doublet) continues from m 73 to the end. The part now awaits Bach's addition of the final chorale once it is ready to be copied.

4. The Viola Part

Somewhere in the midst of exchanging the score with CGM and possibly by being able to access pages of the score that CGM is not using at the moment, JAK is able to copy out all of mvt. 1 for the Viola part which then is complete with the exception of the final mvt.
to be added by JSB later.

5. The 1st Oboe d'amore Part

At this point, JAK turns his attention to the 1st oboe d'amore part. He begins mvt. 1 and gets to m 84 and stops; then CGM continues mvt. 1 from m 85 to the end. Now CGM begins copying mvt. 3 and arrives at m 18 where he stops and turns it over to JAK who continues from m 19 to complete mvt. 3. Again the final chorale cannot be completed at this time. It is entered later by JSB himself.

6. The 2nd Oboe d'amore Part

The situation with the 2nd oboe d'amore part is even stranger yet: JAK begins copying mvt. 1 until rm 83 at which point he turns the copy task over to CGM who manages to complete only 3 measures before JAK returns and finished the mvt. The final mvt. 6 is still missing at this point and must be added later by JSB. [What was the reason for JAK's short interruption and, more importantly, why was it so absolutely necessary for CGM to jump in so that not a single spare moment might be wasted during this copy marathon? Is it not obvious that under more normal circumstances a reliable copyists would be allowed sufficient time to get a bite to eat or to take a necessary toilet break?]

7. The Flute Parts

The next project is to tackle the 2nd Flute part. Here JAK copies all the way to m 93 of mvt. 1 before handing this task over to CGM who finishes mvt. 1 from mv. 94 to the end. JSB still needs to add mvt. 6 later on.

8. The Final Chorale is Finished!

Finally, while JAK begins copying the 1st Flute part, JSB has completed mvt. 6 in the score so that JAK can copy it from the score directly into the part that he happens to be working on, but not without the usual interruption in mvt. 1. JAK manages to reach the middle of m 94 after which CGM continues from m 94 to the end of the mvt. JAK takes the part over again and copies all of mvt. 5 into this flute part. Then JAK, with the ink still wet from Bach's notating the chorale into the score only a few minutes earlier, copies this flute part directly from the soprano line. When JSB quickly inspects the part complete 1st Flute part, he discovers that JAK had taken his task too literally for the flute would not add much to the soprano part if it played in unison with it. JSB then added "in ottava sopra" to remind the 1st Flute player to play everything an octave higher.

Now JSB takes the 2nd Flute part and adds mvt. 6 but adjusts the notation of this part so that the notes represent the actual sound the flute will play (the notes are now written an octave higher than the soprano part) and the notation "in ottava sopra" is no longer necessary.

9. The Vocal Parts

While JSB revisits all of the parts that have been copied thus far (the rest of the wind and string parts already completed) in order to add mvt. 6, the final chorale, to each one of them, JAK proceeds to copy all the vocal parts without any interruptions. In the process, JAK adds all the text for each vocal part, but not for the final chorale because JSB, in a great hurry, never got around to adding the text for the chorale [actually, it was left in this state in the score as Dörffel reported in the BGA]. It was thus left to JSB to add the text of the final chorale to each part separately after JAK finished his task.

10. The Continuo Parts

The last set of parts to be complete are the continuo parts of which there are normally 3 copies necessary for performances in Leipzig.

The 1st and primary continuo part was copied after the final chorale had been added to the score. CGM copied mvts. 1-3 after which JAK did mvts. 4-6. It is certainly unusual for JAK not to begin copying any part except the doublets. JAK may have been finishing copying the vocal parts - perhaps he intentionally copied out mvt. 1 for each vocal part, thus making this mvt. available to CGM for use in beginning the copying of the longest mvt. into the primary continuo part. In any case, CGM was able to complete mvts. 1-3 before JAK took over.

Once the primary continuo part had been completely copied (including the final chorale which was now available in the score, the task for completing a copy of the same part (a doublet) was given to WFB, who had earlier finished creating the 1st Violin Doublet which C1 had left incomplete after only 56 measures. It is an established fact determined by the NBA editors that this doublet is based upon the primary continuo part and not on the actual score which is in constant use by other copyists and Bach when he belatedly added the last chorale mvt. Nevertheless WFB, for some unknown reason, does not copy mvt. 6 which is already available in the primary continuo part. The reason for this is unclear, unless (14) the primary continuo part had only been completed through mvt. 5 and that JAK added mvt. 6 later when the chorale had been completed by JSB.

The last, very necessary task, is to provide a 3rd continuo part for the organ (at a different pitch). Here everything from the primary continuo part has to be transposed. This task was left entirely to C3, an unnamed, but important 'main' copyist. After completion, Bach added the figures for the bass line.

11. Corrections and Additions

At this point when all the copyists had left the house or had gone to bed, Bach would go over the parts one last time to catch any copy errors and to make additions wherever necessary: articulation, dynamics, embellishments, etc. The types of errors he found and corrected were missing accidentals, changing one note into a different one, changing one word into a different one. The additions he made included ties and slur markings, 'tr' trills to be added, additional figures in the continuo which he had missed the first time and the inclusion of 'warning' accidentals (those which remind the musician that the accidental no longer applies in a following measure). Bach then revisited each part to assure that the title (name of the cantata and the type of instrument or vocal part) was written at the top and that the 'tacet' markings had been included. For most of these, he had to add this information himself. It was also necessary for him to add the text for the final chorale to the vocal parts since the score had no text indicated.

12. Future Prospects

Before going off to bed, JSB's final thought on this late Friday night before Epiphany, the next day, Saturday, when this cantata will be performed: "Now I have to repeat this entire process once again very quickly tomorrow with my next cantata 'Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht', which is to be performed this Sunday. J. J. !!!"

Paul T. McCain wrote (January 2, 2007):
I'm exhausted just reading about it!

Neil Halliday wrote (January 3, 2007):
BWV 123: some notes

In the ritornellos of the opening chorus, the vibrato on the flutes and oboes is problematic in the Rilling recording [1], causing the separate timbres of these instrumental groups to become less distinct, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the orchestration. All of the period groups, with less vibrato, represent an improvement in this regard, though some of the woodwind entries are barely audible. Suzuki [6] performs the vocal and instrumental trills as such, better than Harnoncourt's mordents.

Using Suzuki as an example [6], is there a variation in the score as shown in the BGA? He seems to have both oboes and flutes (in unison, flutes above oboes) entering an octave apart right from the start, whereas the BGA has only the oboes entering initially, on the stave, with the flutes then entering above the stave in bar three. (This
concerns the six-note figure, corresponding to the six syllables of "Liebster Im-man-u-el", or the first six notes of the chorales melody, which permeates the entire movement).

It's a lovely movement, with the vocal harmony becoming more complex as it progresses.

Suzuki [6] has a moving, slow (6.15) performance of the `Lento' tenor aria, with very expressive oboes (more expressive than Rilling's [1]) forming a lovely trio with the attractive singing of vocalist Andreas Weller. The short `allegro' section ("wild weather") is very well performed.

However, in the bass aria, the modern flute in Rilling's recording [1] is more expressive/effective in its solo (obbligato) role then the wooden (period) flute, but Huttenlocher (with Rilling), while expressive, is not my favourite bass singer.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 3, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>Using Suzuki as an example [6], is there a variation in the score as shown in the BGA? He sto have both oboes and flutes (in unison, flutes above oboes)entering an octave apart right from the start, whereas the BGA has only the oboes entering initially, on the stave, with the flutes then entering above the stave in barthree.<<
The NBA confirms what you see in the BGA.

Peter Bright wrote (January 3, 2007):
BWV 123: Baroque 'cross'

I note from the Oxford Composers Companion that the tenor aria 'Auch die harte Kreuzesreise' contains a motif of "which could perhaps be seen as a version of the Baroque 'cross' figure", with the cross symbolised by the 3 sharps of the key-signature (F sharp minor) and by additional sharps as accidentals. I was hoping for some further information on Bach's use of this symbolic scoring? Does anybody know whether i. such a motif was commonly applied during Bach's era and/or ii. whether he appeared to intentionally apply this form throughout other sacred works (presumably in which the texts highlight the Cross as a dominant theme)?

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 4, 2007):
BWV 123 Probable Composition & Copy Procedure

By the way, all my same questions apply to this wholly separate fantasy-scenario of copying BWV 123, as well as BWV 124. We need the page numbers and volume numbers to read reliable material about this piece's copying process (its own 12-step tableau), too. Including the part about what Bach was thinking as reported in step 12, and how we know this today. This part:

< 12. Future Prospects Before going off to bed, JSB’s final thought on this late Friday night before Epiphany, the next day, Saturday, when this cantata will be performed: “Now I have to repeat this entire process once again very quickly tomorrow with my next cantata ‘Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht’, which is to be performed this Sunday. J. J. !!!” >
Jesu juva indeed! Lordy help us all, and not just the humble servant JSB.

Thanks in advance. I trust that all these facts will be forthcoming today. They'd have to be, because they'd have to exist for reference before the tableaux themselves were written, explaining it all so clearly.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 5, 2007):
Peter Bright wrote:
>>I note from the Oxford Composers Companion that the tenor aria 'Auch die harte Kreuzesreise' contains a motif of "which could perhaps be seen as a version of the Baroque 'cross' figure", with the cross symbolised by the 3 sharps of the key-signature (F sharp minor)and by additional sharps as accidentals. I was hoping for some further information on Bach's use of this symbolic scoring? Does anybody know whether i. such a motif was commonly applied during Bach's era and/or ii. whether he appeared to intentionally apply this form throughout other sacred works (presumably in which the texts highlight the Cross as a dominant theme)?<<
I do not have any information about item (i), but I have attempted to summarize what I have found in Bach's works in an article on the BCW.

Find BWV 123 under "2nd Leipzig Year" about 2/3s of the way down the page at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Esoteric.htm

I have not reread this article at this time, but I think we should be able to find at least a few other examples to confirm Bach's intentional use of this 'cross' figure.

Peter Bright wrote (January 5, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks for your quick reply - I found your article very useful. There certainly appears to be ample evidence of Bach's intentional use of the cross figure in the context of relevant texts... I still manage to be surprised by how he managed to produce so much music that, despite such depth and complexity, remains accessible to all and anything but academic.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 123: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýSeptember 27, 2011 ý09:34:42