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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 131
Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Random movement comments

Chris Kern wrote (May 31, 2006):
These are just a few comments on some specific movements of cantatas I've been enjoying lately:

1. BWV 76, movement 1, Suzuki

I just love the fugue in the second part of this. The first time I heard the subject I thought it seemed too long but of course Bach shows he has no difficulty with it. The way he uses it is so joyful and well done that it overcame my doubt. Also hearing the combination of Midori Suzuki, Robin Blaze, Gerd Turk, and Chiyuki Urano is great.
(But I actually like the Leusink and Harnoncourt versions of the fugue as well...)

2. BWV 46, movement 1, Leonhardt

Leonhardt's fugue of this movement is excellent -- somehow when the boys first enter with the initial subject of the fugue it has an almost haunting effect.

3. BWV 131, Mvt. 4, Herreweghe [14]

Herreweghe made the unusual decision to use a lute for this cantata, and it works especially well in the tenor aria.

4. BWV 131, Mvt. 3:, Suzuki [18]

The fugue is done by far the best by Suzuki -- the soprano entries are powerful, and the oboe playing is exceptional.

5. BWV 75, the choral movements, Suzuki

Suzuki seems to be the best of the HiP crowd at conducting choral movements; this might be because he has actual experience with church singing.

 

Hello One and All.........Remarks about BWV 131 (Gardiner)

David Jones wrote (May 27, 2008):
Hello all! My name is David Jones and I say hello and merry meet to all fellow Bachophiles. As many of you probably well know, three new Soli Deo Gloria CDs have been released...and the internet almost kept me from buying Gardiner's jewel of an interpretation of BWV 131 [21]. Gardiner has recorded this particular cantata twice, once on the Erato Label [10]...and on a slightly off note, I must say that I bet Gardiner's old company Archiv is really eating crow now!!!!! Anyway, in the Erato recording, the first phrases are sung by a full choir, whereas in the new recording, there is an alternation between concertisten and ripieno. When I was listening to clips from the new recording on Amazon, I thought that Gardiner had followed behind Joshua Rifkin's OVPP theory, which I find terribly insulting to Bach as well as lacking in impact and force; you mean to tell me a great musician like Bach can't rustle up more than FOUR singers for a choir? are you kidding me? The first phrases were sung by the concertisten, and so, I almost DIDN'T buy this recording, but once I got it, I was so glad I did. He brilliantly reconciles the OVPP theories and the luminosity of the full choir style in this recording; his tempos are finely calibrated and once you get used to Gardiner in this regard, you'll think anyone else is a record going too slow or fast....absolutely dazzling. And how about those pictures on the covers? Absolutely haunting..........

Neil Halliday wrote (May 28, 2008):
David Jones wrote:
>in the Erato recording, the first phrases are sung by a full choir, whereas in the new recording, there is an alternation between concertisten and ripieno.<
We know that Bach himself liked this alternation between concertists and ripienists; while there are no such markings in BWV 131, BWV 24/3 is one example of several where he specifies this in the score.

BTW, Rifkin's theory would appear to be a bit shaky in the case of BWV 24/3, which is a cantata from the first year in Leipzig (June, 1723); it looks like any other of Bach's SATB choruses at the start, without any indications as to the number of singers; but half way through, the marking 'solo' appears over each of the BTAS lines in succession, followed later by a return to 'tutti' over each of the BTAS lines in succession, which means that, for example, at one point we have the soprano soloist still singing alone on the S line while the ripieniists have all resumed on the ATB lines, until she (he) too is joined by ripienists on the S line. The fact that there is no indication that multiple singers are required to be singing on each of the SATB lines at the start would suggest this was the norm rather than the exception as Rifkin contends.

>He (Gardiner [21]) brilliantly reconciles the OVPP theories and the luminosity of the full choir style in this recording; his tempos are finely calibrated and once you get used to Gardiner in this regard, you'll think anyone else is a record going too slow or fast....absolutely dazzling.<
Yes, I like his use of multiple voices on chorale melody lines, contrasting with one or more soloists on other lines.

However, I personally find Gardiner's tempo [21] in "meine Seele harret" (marked 'Largo'), the section featuring the repeated alternation of a beautiful and haunting figure from oboe to violins (which figure by the way is too quiet in the Erato recording), to be faster than desirable, but that's a matter of taste.

David Jones wrote (May 28, 2008):
Bach as Spiritual Supplement

Before I begin, let me say right off that MUSIC IS UNIVERSAL. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A CHRISTIAN OR A LUTHERAN TO APPRECIATE BACH. That being asserted, how many of the members here are Christian and read the Sunday readings of the day before, during or after the cantata attached? Gardiner actually prints the Gospel and Epistle of the Sunday the cantata is on in his liner notes and I have found it a wonderful devotional practice to read the Scriptures as I listen. Also, if an opening movement is Scripture based, I read that scripture as well. One of the most haunting cantatas of Bach's is based on Paul "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" I listen to this cantata often and find myself on the verge of tears.....it is powerful and cleansing. I wanted to have my own personal penitential service with candles and prayers when I bought Gardiner's new recording of BWV 131 [21] and spent time on the internet looking for what might have been the Penitential rite in Bach's day. I even asked some lutheran pastors about it........

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 24 - Discussions

William Hoffman wrote (May 19, 2008):
William Hoffman responds [To David Jones]:
Connections: The text of BWV 131 is Psalm 130, de profundis, "Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord. Hear my voice." Wow, to that whole cantata! Then I just looked at the OT reading for this week, which includes the reference in Deuteronomy 11:20 to the Jewish custom of the Mezuzah, the sign at the door which to me essentially means, "The Word of God is in this house," it tells those who would knock and seek to enter. Then I remember another Bach connection, the beautiful bass arioso in Cantata BWV 61, which I take the liberty to quote (Revelation 3:20) in full: "Behold. I stand before the door and knock on it. If anyone my voice will now heed, and the door made wide, to this will I enter into, and the evening meal with him partake, and he with me." And then I remember a 2003 CD called "Re: Bach" by a young violinist, Lara St. John, with a 5:33 track interpretation of that arioso, a sort of theme and four variations. Despite the Moog synethsizer and closing percussion, I am still moved by yet another voice moved by JSB. Amen.

 

BWV 131 and BWV 106 (was: Re: Bach & theology (BWV 131)

Terejia wrote (June 11, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28135
< Maybe we could consider that the impression get from BWV 106 has to do with love more than with death (and life). >
Interesting. I don't know about the historical/documental/academic detail but I FEEL your intuition is not far off. I suppose I remember you mentioning your choir performing BWV 106 along with BWV 198 on All Souls' Day-I hope my memory is correct?

For me, as is usually the case with me, what strikes me is BWV 131 is in basically in G-minor, which is the same key with the opening chorus of sheer stark sounding St. Johanness Passion, and that famous organ piece Fantasie and Fugue, etc., the collateral major key of which appears in "Mache dich mein Herze lein" and BWV 106 is in Es-dur, the same in the final choir of St. Johanness Passion (BWV 245); the collateral minor key of which is adopted in penultimate funeral chorale in St. Johanness Passion (BWV 245) and the closing chorus of St. Matthews Passion-and also in some of the famous Beethoven's piano sonatas.

< For me the soprano part I mentioned is really like the song of a lover who waits for the loved one (Jesus). This may also explain that this music speaks to so many people. >
According to hearsay that I heard from a professional Bass Baritone singer, who has recorded BWV 56, 82 with period instrument ensemble, he told me Bach often adopted soprano as "a voice of soul ", "a bride of Christ", which may well be true my intuition feels al though I don't know about academic details.

Terejia wrote (June 11, 2008):
Terejia wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28248
PS : I'd like to add

BWV 78, Mottet No. 5 "Komm, Jesu, Komm", Tenor aria and final chorale of BWV 6 to G-moll list
opening chorus of BWV 6 to C-minor list . its beautiful alto aria to Es dur list.

I'll stop here, although I'm absolutely sure there are other important and beautiful masterpieces to be added to the list. My point was, 2 flats key and 3 flats key somehow attract my attention, which may well be just a personal interest of mine...

Terejia wrote (June 11, 2008):
Terejia wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28249
PPS : I didn't take church mode into account in my last e-mail(although I'm reading and posting from website) . There are mistakes in my listing up due to church mode. Since this list consists of members with far better musical knowledge than myself, please excuse me for leaving corrections to the hands of knowledgeable experts and go off to my work.

 

BWV 131

Richard Mix wrote (May 27, 2009):
Out of the deep or out of the depths? This cantata opens with the words "Aus der Tiefe" and bears that title in the BGA, but the 'value added' scanned piano score gives "Aus der Tiefen" as the title. The latter seems to have been adopted here as well as at Amazon.com, but the item described there as "Aus der Tiefen" says "Aus der Tiefe" on my copy: hmm. The Library of Congress seems to favor "Tiefe", Grove, Oxford companion & Wolff "Tiefen"; the library with NBA is closed.

Has anyone looked into this deeply? :-)

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 27, 2009):
Richard Mix wrote:
< Has anyone looked into this deeply? :-) >

Luther's translation of Psalm 130 has:

Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 27, 2009):
Richard wrote:
< Out of the deep or out of the depths? [...]
Has anyone looked into this deeply? :-) >
A very shallow reply:
The subtle distinctions between deep and depths in modern English are probably difficult to relate to the original language of Psalm 130. Which was?

RSV Common Bible has:
A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to Thee, O Lord.

Charles Mingus has:
Beneath the Underdog. Been down so long it looks like up to me.

Jens F. Laurson wrote (May 27, 2009):
Richard Mix wrote:
< Tiefe -- or Tiefen?
Has anyone looked into this deeply? :-) >
Correct is, pace Douglas, "Aus der Tiefen..."

Whether Luther's translation of "de profundis clamavi ad te Domine" used "Tiefen" or "Tiefe", I can't currently confirm (only that without the "n" is now the standard reading), but Bach used "Tiefen". It is, however, not a different word (or even just the plural of "Tiefe", in this case*. It's an archaic form of the same word. (In its ambiguous singular.) Perhaps that explains why the "n" has been so easily and regularly dropped?

Of course this would be more convincing if we could find a primary source to confirm...

(*Otherwise it would be "Aus _den_ Tiefen...", as in the Elberfelder translation.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 27, 2009):
Jens F. Laurson wrote:
< Correct is, pace Douglas, "Aus der Tiefen..." >
I'm curious about online editions of the Luther Bible. "Aus der Tiefe" appears in Psalm 130 of the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft edition at: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/luther/

Does this represent Luther's original text or has it been edited beyond modern spellings? (The King James Version, the comparable text in English, has modernized spellings)

I know that we often only see modernized Bach texts -- e.g."Ich habe genug" rather than Bach's original "Ich habe genung". What is in Bach's manuscript for this cantata ?

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 27, 2009):
Thomas Braatz provided a PDF, which should answer some of the questions recently raised in the discussion of BWV 131.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV131-Tieffen.pdf

I add:

Richard Mix wrote:
"the library with NBA is closed."
AO:
The text in NBA I/34 (from the website of Nagamiya Tutomu):
"Aus der Tiefen"
See: http://www.kantate.info/cantata_text14-2.pdf#page=3

Ed Myskowski wrote:
"English are probably difficult to relate to the original language of Psalm 130. Which was?"
AO:
The original language of Psalm 130 was, of course, Hebrew.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV131-Heb1.htm
The English meaning of the original Hebrew is "Out of depths..."

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 27, 2009):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Thomas Braatz provided a PDF, which should answer some of the questions recently raised in the discussion of BWV 131. >
Fascinating how later conventions and literary tastes are imposed on texts.
Do any of the HIP performers make it a point of performing Bach's original texts?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 28, 2009):
[To Jens F. Laurson] Luther uses "Tiefe" in the Bible translation and the one Choral on this Psalm and "tiefer" in the other Choral on this Psalm (the famous "Aus tiefer Noth schrei' ich zu dir")

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Does this represent Luther's original text or has it been edited beyond modern spellings? (The King James Version, the comparable text in English, has modernized spellings)
I know that we often only see modernized Bach texts -- e.g."Ich habe genug" rather than Bach's original "Ich habe genung". What is in Bach's manuscript for this cantata ? >
Actually, Doug, it (the Bible translation that you provide the link to [the 1981 "Lutherbibel"]) has nothing at all to do with Luther, but rather is more a German translation of the NRSV. The 1545 Lutherbibel (the last one [with the exception of the 1546 one published posthumously and partially worked on by another] Luther had anything to do with) has "Aus der Tiefe".

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 28, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Actually, Doug, it (Bible translation that you provide the link to [the 1981 "Lutherbibel"]) has nothing at all to do with Luther, but rather is more a German translation of the NRSV. >
Do you have a link to an online text of the original Luther translation?
What version do the readings on this website use?

Francis Browne wrote (May 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling asked:
"Do you have a link to an online text of the original Luther translation?
What version do the readings on this website use?"
I used the 1545 translation with modernised spelling but after four years I cannot find the exact site I used for the texts.

Original spelling can be found at : http://enominepatris.com/biblia/index.htm

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Do you have a link to an online text of the original Luther translation?
What version do the readings on this website use? >
Actually, I have two:

Here is the one for the ARTFL website (1534 Lutherbibel):
http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/efts/ARTFL/public/bibles/luther.search.html

Here is the link for the "Textus receptus" version of the 1545 Lutherbibel:
http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/germtoc.htm

The version that the site in question (and actually most sites) uses is the 1984 version, which, as I stated earlier, has nothing at all to do with Luther, but rather is more a German translation of the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) English Bible. Other versions used by most places is the 1912 "Lutherbibel" (also nothing to do with Luther).

The following is the progression of Luther's work on Bible translation:

April 1517: His first Biblical translation appears--"Die sieben Busspsalmen mit deutscher Auslegung" ("The seven penitential Psalms with German Interpretation") (Wittenberg, Johann Rhau-Grunenberg).

Mid-December 1521: After his short visit to Wittenberg, under stimulation from Melancthon, Luther begins his New Testament translation at the Wartburg.

6 March 1522: Luther returns with the finished written record of his translation of the New Testament to Wittenberg; subsequently joint Manuscript examination with Melancthon.

May 1522: Beginning of the editing of the New Testament.

Summer 1522: Luther begins with the translation of the Old Testament out of the original text, whose first written record he subjects subsequently with Melancthon and the Hebraist Aurogallus of an exact examination.

ca. 21 September 1522: The "Newen Testaments Deutzsch" (the "September Testament") appears (Wittenberg, Melchior Lotther der Junger). Between the years 1522 and 1546, there appeared in Wittenberg 21 imprints of the New Testament.

December 1522: The second, already improved by Luther, version of the September Testament appears (the "December Testament").

ca. July 1523: The first part of the "Alten Testaments deutsch" (the 5 books of Moses) appears (Wittenberg, Melchior Lotther der Junger). Between the years 1523 and 1528, there appeared in Wittenberg 7 imprints of the Old Testament, Part I.

ca. January 1524: The second part of the Old Testament (Historical books Joshua-Esther) appears (Wittenberg, Cranach-Doering). Between the years 1524 and 1527, there appeared 3 imprints in Wittenberg of the Old Testament, Part II.

End of September 1524: The first Special Edition of the "Psalters deutsch" appears (Wittenberg, Cranach-Doering). Between the years 1524 and 1544, there appeared in Wittenberg 12 imprints of the Psalter.

Beginning of October 1524: The Third Part of the Old Testament (Job-Song of Songs) appears (Wittenberg, Cranach-Doering). Between the years 1524 and 1525, there appeared in Wittenberg 2 imprints of the Old Testament, Part III and between 1535 and 1546 1 Special Edition of the books of Solomon (Proverbs-Song of Songs).

ca. March 1526: The Book of the Prophet Jonah (with interpretation) appears (Wittenberg, Michael Lotther). Altogether, there appeared in Wittenberg 2 imprints of Jonah.

June 1526: The Book of the Prophet Habakuk (with interpretation) appears (Wittenberg, Michael Lotther). Altogether, there appeared in Wittenberg 2 imprints of Habakuk.

February 1527: Beginning of the Isaiah translation.

January 1528: The Book of the Prophet Zechariah (with interpretation) appears (Wittenberg, Michael Lotther). Only this one imprint appeared in Wittenberg.

Beginning of October 1528: The Book of the Prophet Isaiah appears (Wittenberg, Hans Lufft). Only this one imprint appeared in Wittenberg. Appearance of the Luther alone-revised "New German Psalter" with new Foreword (Wittenberg, Hans Lufft).

End of June 1529: The Wisdom of Solomon appears.

ca. June-December 1529: Luther and Melancthon revise the New Testament, which appears (along with a new Foreword to the Revelation to John) in the early part of 1530.

ca. April 1530: Appearance of the Book of the Prophet Daniel.

24 April-4 October 1530: Translation of the rest of the Prophets (with part of Ezekiel).

ca. June 1530: Chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Ezekiel appears.

January-15 March 1531: Luther and friends revise the Psalter.

Beginning of April 1531: Psalter revision appears.

Middle of March 1532: the "Propheten alle Deudsch" (Part IV of the Old Testament) appears.

Beginning of January 1533: The Book of Jesus Sirach appears. The Book of I Maccabees appears (in the second imprint appears the "History of Susanna and Daniel" and "Bel and the Dragon of Babylon").

24 January-? 1534: Luther and friends revise the entire Bible.

6 August 1534: Elector Johann Friedrich grants three printers (Goltze, Vogel, and Schramm) the privelage for the first Wittenberg Complete Bible.

ca. September 1534: the first Wittenberg Complete Bible appears.

17 July 1539-ca. August 1541: Luther and friends revise Bible.

Early part of 1541: the revision appears.

Late Autumn 1544: Luther and friends revise the beginning of the Pauline Epistles (this appears first in the Bible of Summer 1546).

Early part of 1545: the last Wittenberg Bible edition of Luther's lifetime appears (in Medium Format).

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 28, 2009):
BWV 131 - Bach's Pronunciation

[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Thanks for the links: this information is worth having on the site.

I'm loathe to reopen an old war, but I'm still interested in the question of how German was pronounced in Bach's Leipzig: did they sing "ich habe genung" or "ich habe genug"? Was there a standardized German accent e.g. Bühnendeutsch by the mid 18th century? Did the church preserve a more archaic pronunciation from Luther's period or did Bach assume his singers would use a native educated Saxon accent?

I've never seen any scholarly work on the pronunciation of Bach's works. When I've asked native German-speaking singers, they have reeled in horror at the notion of a historical, regional accent in the performance of Bach. It seems that the Saxon accent is viewed somewhat like a Mississippi accent in the U.S.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Thanks for the links: this information is worth having on the site.
I'm loathe to reopen an old war, but I'm still interested in the question of how German was pronounced in Bach's Leipzig: did they sing "ich habe genung" or "ich habe genug"? Was there a standardized German accent e.g. Bühnendeutsch by the mid 18th century? Did the church preserve a more archaic pronunciation from
Luther's period or diBach assume his singers would use a native educated Saxon accent? >
It was a standard Hochdeutsch (High German [a.k.a. Saxon]) accent. The "g" on the end of "genung" was pronounced like a "k". The "w" was pronounced like a "v". The "j" and the "ch" (the "ch" at the end of words, that is) was pronounced like a throaty "h". etc.

Glen Armstrong wrote (May 28, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< It was a standard Hochdeutsch (High German [a.k.a. Saxon]) accent. The "g" on the end of "genung" was pronounced like a "k". The "w" was pronounced like a "v". The "j" and the "ch" (the "ch" at the end of words, that is) was pronounced like a throaty "h". etc. >
I could have sworn that was the 5th, rather than the 6th, of August, 1534. I seem to recall reading that the 6th was skipped that year, but time alone will tell. Doesn't 'privilege' look like it had a serious collision with 'saxifrage'? What a delightful superfluity of trivia we're getting, and all after endless scrolling.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 29, 2009):
<>
Some contributors have found the excruciating level of detail (depths vs. deep), in the original, and in subsequent translations over the millenia, to be tedious. Other contributors have found the discussion scholarly.

I stand with Bob Dyoan, for the moment. Time Out of Mind.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 29, 2009):
< I stand with Bob Dyoan, for the moment. >
A very brief moment. That should read Bob Dylan (Dyoan), nee Robert Zimmerman. I blame the error on the QWERTY keyboard, now standard for more than a century! Go figure.

I continue to stand by the expression Time Out of Mind, which Bob (either) liberated (as we used to say in the sixties (60s)) from earlier sources. Citations of Biblical (or other) origins for the expression are encouraged, especially with the tieffen (depths) analogy included.

Dylan was reportedly not averse to liberating scarce records from acquaintances (friends, as well?), in the early years. No wonder his mother made him change his name.

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 29, 2009):
Linked now from the main page of BWV 131, under Commentary: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV131.htm

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 29, 2009):
In the depths of the Grateful Dead Orgy(r) at whrb.org, there will be an eight hour respite (for Deadheads to nap?), from 1 to 9 PM EDT (1700 to 0100 UT, as best I can calculate), Friday May 29.

I do not see any specific setting of Psalm 130 listed, but the program ranges from Bach to Zemlinsky (two of each, from a quick scan). Deep stuff.

Joel Figen wrote (May 30, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
<< Actually, Doug, it (the Bible translation that you provide the link to [the 1981 "Lutherbibel"]) has nothing at all to do with Luther, but rather is more a German translation of the NRSV. >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Do you have a link to an online text of the original Luther translation?
What version do the readings on this website use? >

Not responding to anyone's comments in particular, just willing to share a little grammar.

It was common at the time especially in poetry to find an -en ending on feminine weak nouns in the oblique cases of the singular. So we often find "auf Erden" and the like. This could easily be one of those cases. (pun) Modernizing the text would drop the n and then want to capitalize the T. This isn't just a matter of spelling. It's a change in declension that was in progress at Luther's time, still going on in Bach's, and completely finished now. (So "auf Erden" is a historical form, as is "Aus der Tiefen". In today's German, it's wrong, and the impulse is to correct it. Use it and your German teacher will usually circle it in red....)

Someone pointed out that this instance can't be plural, for then the article would be den. I concur.

"Tief" is fundamentally an adjective, used here in the position of noun. One way to make an adjective into a noun is use a standard transformation that adds an -e (with umlaut, if possible, which it isn't here) to make a feminine weak noun of quality ("deepness"). In this case it would also be capitalized in print. Interpreting it thus, I would translate "Out of the depth," literally, but for historical reasons, I'd add the s, treating the german usage as idiomatic, reverting to the pluralas used in Latin and Hebrew.

Another way to use an adjective as a noun is simply to inflect it as an adjective and let that be the end of the substantive phrase. This is commonly done in inflected languages, like german, latin, greek, russian, etc, etc., and we still have a few residual instances where we do it in English, without the inflection, of course, as in "The good". Most of the time when we see such constructs in an inflected language, we have to supply a noun in the translation, or something that stands in for a noun, like "one." In this case, the adjective might or might not be capitalized. If there are rules governing this, I haven't found any consistency in them. Interpreting it thus, I would translate "Out of the deep ____" and pick a noun like "despair" or "yogurt". I suggest that this is not a likely interpretation, unless - big unless - unless the phrase was in previous use, which should be easy enough to falsify or verify.

We can be certain, however, that "aus der" can't be plural. So, if we translate "depths" we do it for historical reasons.

As a purely esthetic matter, I consider it slightly more musical without the n, and Bach's glorious setting sounds best without it.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 30, 2009):
BWV 131 - Bach's Texts

Joel Figen wrote:
< We can be certain, however, that "aus der" can't be plural. So, if we translate "depths" we do it for historical reasons.
As a purely esthetic matter, I consider it slightly more musical without the n, and Bach's glorious setting sounds best without it. >
I'm curious that you give us a very valuable historical analysis of the grammatical and orthographic shifts in the German language, but then conclude with an aesthetic judgment that Bach sounds better if corrected to modern standards. As a musician, I think that the pronunciation of a word is an intrinsic part of the music. Thus, if Bach chose a particular text, just as he chose a particular form or key, is that not an immutable part of his work?

For decades, music from the late English Renaissance and early Baroque was relentlessly modernized and the music actually changed to accomodate: Thomas Tallis set "commandements" as three syllables: editors changed the text and music to two syllables. Thomas Weelkes regularly set "Alleluia" as five syllables not four: editors imposed four syllables on the music.

I've been thinking about this recently after watching a telecast of a HIP production of a Rameau opera on the Canadian French network. I was puzzled when the opera began and there were French subtitles for a French opera. I then realized that they were recreating period pronunciation which sometimes sounded like a visit to Britanny: "moi" was always two syllables. Given the inextricable union of music and text in French opera, it did not take long to adjust, but I wondered what the effect was on the modern francophone audience.

Just as I wonder what Saxon Bach's reaction would be to hear his Evangelist sing his Passions in a modern high German accent which, as far as I can ascertain, was only coalescing in the mid-18th century.

Question: did the NBA retain Bach's orthography and other textual peculiarities or were they modernized with added punctuation?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 1, 2009):
Glen Armstrong wrote:
< I could have sworn that was the 5th, rather than the 6th, of August, 1534. I seem to recall reading that the 6th was skipped that year, but time alone will tell. Doesn't 'privilege' look like it had a serious collision with 'saxifrage'? What a delightful superfluity of trivia we're getting, and all after endless scrolling. >
The Privilege was merely the permission to print the Kompletebibel.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 1, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] In the case the Johannes-Passion, they were modernized.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 1, 2009):
Joel Figen wrote:
< and we still have a few residual instances where we do it in English, without the >inflection, of course, as in "The good". >
EM:
One of the many difficulties in the subtleties of this thread, as I implied in my original question, is that the interpetations of 21st C. American English (the language of BCW) are not always easy to relate to Bachs German (18th C.), nor to Luther's interpretation and translation of the Bible (16th C.), not to mention the original language of the Biblical texts from several millenia earlier.

Nothing illustrates this point better than the distinction between The good and the goods, at least on my block (21st C. USA). Implied by Joel?

Doug responded to Joel:
>Thus, if Bach chose a particular text, just as he chose a particular form or key, is that not an >immutable part of his work? <
EM:
That strikes me as the key issue. However, I also agree with the rest of Dougs post, especially the relevance of authentic diction.

At least a couple of key questions remain:

(1) To what extent was Bach free to choose his texts? (see my subsequent post re BWV 74)

(2) How does Bachs 18th C. interpretation (equivalent(?) to Luther's 16th C.) of Biblical texts compare with the originals, as we presently (21st C.) comprehend them.

I note Aryeh's response to my question, stating that the original Hebrew of Psalm 130 corresponds to the modern C. English depths. That in turn would make it easy to impute a continuum of accurate translation, for several thousand years. I wonder.

I write from the deep of my own time, out of mind. One god, one depth. I do not seek to convince anyone else to see it my way, but to me deep (or depth) is singular, in this context. A singularity, as a physicist might say, contemplating the Big Bang.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 1, 2009):
>The Privilege was merely the permission to print the Kompletebibel. <
Permission from whom? Or was this comment merely following the humour of the original post.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 1, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Permission from whom? Or was this comment merely following the humour of the original post. >
From the Elector (Johann Friedrich I) of Saxony. Remember, in those days, the ruler of an area was the one that was in charge of getting things printed, because they were the ones to whom printers had to go for the rights to print material (books, etc.).

Joel Figen wrote (June 2, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I note Aryeh's response to my question, stating that the original Hebrew of Psalm 130 corresponds to the modern C. English depths. That in turn would make it easy to impute a continuum of accurate translation, for several thousand years. I wonder. >

Efforts were made to keep biblical translations "accurate." Often there really is no way to do that, but they try, and yes, there is a continuum here, from the Hebrew, to the Septuagint, to the Vulgate, to the various English translations.

< I write from the deep of my own time, out of mind. One god, one depth. I do not seek to convince anyone else to see it my way, but to me deep (or depth) is singular, in this context. A singularity, as a physicist might say, contemplating the Big Bang. >
This is clearly too modern a mindset for the task at hand, and you know it. good joke though.

Joel Figen wrote (June 2, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
Joel Figen wrote:
<< We can be certain, however, that "aus der" can't be plural. So, if we translate "depths" we do it for historical reasons.
As a purely esthetic matter, I consider it slightly more musical without the n, and Bach's glorious setting sounds best without it. >>
< I'm curious that you give us a very valuable historical analysis of the grammatical and orthographic shifts in the German language, but then conclude with an aesthetic judgment that Bach sounds better if corrected to modern standards. >
Sorry for the abrupt shift. The last paragraph is purely my opinion. Perhaps I should have drawn a line above it or simply left it out. But... it's the part that sparked debate.

(It occurred to me after I sent the previous point that we could say in English "Out of the deep I call to thee/you", using "deep" as a nounless adjective. This is enough for me to add a point or two to the second possible interpretation I mentioned, inflected adjective without noun. In this case, the -en is mandatory. But it's all really in shades of gray, I guess, since the possible "correct" forms are so similar and so much in flux at the time.)

< As a musician, I think that the pronunciation of a word is an intrinsic part of the music. Thus, if Bach chose a particular text, just as he chose a particular form or key, is that not an immutable part of his work? >
I agree, but I would grade these things, and not make them equal in all cases. For instance, I transpose an aria when I have a singer (usually me) who sounds better in a different key. And while I don't try to change the form, ever, I've been known to cut a da capo here and there. And, while I agree with you about the importance of the text, I don't think every detail of it is equally sacred, or that the written form always agrees with what is to be sung.

For instance, in one of the passions, in an Evangelist's recitative, biblical text, sacred as all get out, at least one recording I've heard chose to modernize the grammar a little, by replacing the relative pronoun "das" with "die", where the antecedent was "ein Weib" (neuter in gender, but meaning "a woman".) It sounded wrong to me, since I'd always heard it the other way. But then I reflected that for performance in Germany, "das" would sound wrong to most people. What I'm seeing here, then, is a case where too much authenticity has a negative effect. Bach's original listeners heard language that usually sounded fairly normal to them (although the poets took some mighty liberties.) Modern German-speaking listeners hear, in this recording, what sounds normal to them. Who is to say which pronoun is more authentic in this case?

(A bit of grammar: der,die,das is both definite article and relative pronoun, but the relative pronoun is declined differently. I have no idea how this came about. "Weib" means "woman", but the gender is irrationally neuter. Articles and adjectives that modify it have to be in the neuter form. But relative pronouns underwent a shift at some point, from grammatical to natural gender. that point was sometime between Luther and today. I will try to narrow this down if anyone cares. Right now I don't really know when it happened) (relative pronouns in english are who, which, that, introducing a clause that describes or restricts something mentioned in the previous clause, they are weakly gendered along a person/thing axis, but have no sex-reference)

Regarding those mighty liberties the poets took: In one cantata-ending chorale, the text rhymes "abe" with "habe". Now I scratched my head a while over "abe". It didn't seem to be a real word. Then I realized that it's simply "ab" with -e added to make it rhyme. This brings us down to what I'd call tv-jingle language, if it were in a tv commercial. So it's a little hard to picture Bach concerned about a final n that was, after all, optional in his time, and probably occured mostly in poetry. For all I know, he might have written this chorus fully expecting the n to be dropped and/or not caring. It's not particularly easy to make it come out clearly in singing. At some point, at least some people, almost certainly read the words "auf Erden" without the n. This seems to be like that, to me.

< For decades, music from the late English Renaissance and early Baroque was relentlessly modernized and the music actually changed to accomodate: Thomas Tallis set "commandements" as three syllables: editors changed the text and music to two syllables. Thomas Weelkes regularly set "Alleluia" as five syllables not four: editors imposed four syllables on the music. >
I bow to your wisdom in this matter, as in most matters.

< I've been thinking about this recently after watching a telecast of a HIP production of a Rameau opera on the Canadian French network. I was puzzled when the opera began and there were French subtitles for a French opera. I then realized that they were recreating period pronunciation which sometimes sounded like a visit to Britanny: "moi" was always two syllables. Given the inextricable union of music and text in French opera, it did not take long to adjust, but I wondered what the effect was on the modern francophone audience.
Just as I wonder what Saxon Bach's reaction would be to hear his Evangelist sing his Passions in a modern high German accent which, as far as I can ascertain, was only coalescing in the mid-18th century. >
I don't know, but I suspect he'd be even more shocked at our instrumental and vocal performance practices, and once he realized that he'd been timewarped, he'd understand that language changes. (And, I hope, that Buehnendeutsch is really pretty nice...)

You touched on my point when you mentioned the effect on a modern francophone audience. Sometmes the effect on the audience is more important than absolute authenticity, or at least it can be a judgment call.

< Question: did the NBA retain Bach's orthography and other textual peculiarities or were they modernized with added punctuation? >
I'm not enough of a musicologist to know, but I'll bet someone here does.

Living in the hinterlands, I mainly have access to what I can find on the internet. I have two scores of bwv131, in pdf format, one of them complete, one a piano reduction. The complete score uses the n-less form in the cover page, the on-page title, and in the lyrics. neither PDF is marked to let me know what edition it comes from, alas.

The other one, the piano reduction, has the -n in the title, but not in the lyrics.

I have two recordings, both originally on CD, but by now all I have is mp3's of them. One is Rifkin's ovpp performance. The other is from Koopman's full set. It's very hard to tell, but it sounds like Koopman's singers drop the n, while Rifkin's soloists seem to close it but not open it audibly. These are fine soloists, imho, and their diction is impeccable in all other matters. (I recommend the recording highly.) Since you're a choir director, you know how it goes: If a final consonant isn't given some stress, it isn't heard.

So I would strongly suspect that bach didn't intend the -n to be heard, since it usually wasn't heard in speech at the time, and it doesn't really contribute much to the musicality or comprehensibility of the performance.

I appreciate your viewpoint greatly, nonetheless. If it were up to guys like me, we'd start to lose our heritage. Once they start modernizing the Urtext, we've gone postmodern. I respect your concern for Bach's minutest intentions.

Joel Figen wrote (June 2, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Nothing illustrates this point better than the distinction between The good and the goods, at least on my block (21st C. USA). Implied by Joel? >
No, that's not what I implied, (right or wrong here's how I meant it:)

"the goods" would be simply an article and a noun, since adjectives in english don't inflect.

But "the good, the bad, and the ugly" are adjectives with implicit reference to groups of people. We usually add "ones" or whatever in speech, but here an author chose a more commanding and formal form. it just happens to be a survival from Latin or Anglo-Saxon, where the adjective would have carried an indication of case, number, and gender, making the meaning more clear.

many common adjectives have homonyms that are nouns, but the meanings can vary unpredictably:

red (adj) : red (name of the color) : Reds (communists)
good (not bad) : goods (merchandise)
fat (obese) : fat (saturated etc)
thin (not obese) : (can't be noun)
etc

These are separate lexical entries because there's no particular rule about how the meaning changes when the adjective is "cast" (programming terminology) to a noun. It's not even always possible to make this cast, for instance "old" isn't a noun. (the noun is "age") (and age is also a verb, but we don't care about that here)

In german, however, this transformation is more regular, involving -e and umlaut. The semantic equivalent in English would be to add -ness, which always (?) carries the meaning but isn't always the most correct form (e.g., boredom/boredness).

NOte that although "thin" can't be a noun, it can be used after "the" to mean "thin ones" I think all adjectives permit this construction in english. I can't think of any exceptions off the top of my head, as in "the good, the fat, and the thin". This is the kind of construction I was referring to in the second case, in german. (Inflected adjective serving as noun)

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 3, 2009):
Joel Figen wrote:
< Not responding to anyone's comments in particular, just willing to share a little grammar.
<>
As a purely esthetic matter, I consider it slightly more musical without the n, and Bach's glorious setting sounds best without it. >
Actually, Joel, it can be, since the plurality or singularity of a phrase (i.e., "aus der Tiefe") relies on the noun that is in the phrase ("Tiefe"). The singular, in this case, would be "Tief".

In German, "e" or "en" on the end of a noun refers to more than one (i.e., plural).

The difference between the two Luther treatments of Psalm 130 is that in one ("Aus der Tiefe(n) rufe(t) ich, Herr, zu dir"), he uses the noun, whereas the other ("Aus tiefer Not(h) schrei' ich zu dir"), he uses the adjective (note: "er" on the end of nouns changes the nouns to adjectives [except for such words as "Klein" and "Gross", which are adjectives already).

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 3, 2009):
Joel Figen wrote:
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< I note Aryeh's response to my question, stating that the original Hebrew of Psalm 130 corresponds to the modern C. English depths. That in turn would make it easy to impute a continuum of accurate translation, for several thousand years. I wonder. >>
< Efforts were made to keep biblical translations "accurate." Often there really is no way to do that, but they try, and yes, there is a continuum here, from the Hebrew, to the Septuagint, to the Vulgate, to the various English translations. >
Actually, there is a flaw in your statement here, Ed.

FIrstly, you do not include the various intermediary steps between the Vulgate and the English translations, such as the Greek NT of Erasmus and his Greek Bible and the work of Martin Luther (to some degree the immediate influence of Tynsdale's work).

Secondly, in the case of Luther, he rarely used the Vulgate (as Erasmus's work had demonstrated that the Vulgate contained a lot of errors in translation).

Thirdly, the process you mention was not always followed. In principle, for the most part it was followed. However, in many cases, words were not immediately able to be translated to another language from Hebrew (or Greek), much like the case of many of the great Evangelical (Lutheran) Chorales from before 1750. In the case of the latter, it is because the poetic archaic German used in them cannot be easilly translated. In such cases, the meaning of the words is translated into the other language.

 

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