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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 134
Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß
Cantata BWV 134a
Die Zeit, die Tag und Jahre macht
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of March 26, 2006

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 25, 2006):
March 26 - Intro to Cantata 134

Week of March 26, 2006

Cantata BWV 134: “Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß

First Performed: April 11, 1724 - Leipzig;
2nd performance: March 27, 1731 - Leipzig;
3rd performance: April 12, 1735 ? - Leipzig

First Annual Cantata Cycle, 1723-24 (Jahrgang I)
Previous Sunday in 1724 (Easter Day)
BWV 31, “Der Himmel lacht” & BWV 4. “Christ Lag in Todesbanden
Previous Day: BWV 66, “Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen
Next Sunday (Quasimodigeniti): BWV 67, “Halt in Gedächtnis

Libretto: Anon
Text:
See http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/134.html
Translations:
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV134.htm

Movements & Scoring:

Mvt. 1 - Recitative
Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß
Soloists: Tenor, Alto
Instruments: Bc:

Mvt. 2 - Aria
Auf, Gläubige, singet die lieblichen Lieder
Soloists: Tenor
Instruments: 2 Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Mvt. 3 - Recitative - Dialog
Wohl dir, Gott hat an dich gedacht
Soloists:: T, A
Instruments:: Bc

Mvt. 4: Aria - Duet
Wir danken und preisen dein brünstiges Lieben
Soloists: A, T
Instruments: 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Mvt. 5: Recitative
Doch würke selbst den Dank in unserm Munde
Soloists: Alto, T enor
Instruments: Bc

Mvt. 6: Chorus
Erschallet, ihr Himmel, erfreue dich, Erde
Choir: SATB
Instruments: 2 Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Liturgical Comments:

Written for Easter Tuesday. Cantatas were sung on the three days of Easter: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (the Lutheran reduction of the weeklong Ocatve of Easter)

The orders for Mass and Vespers can be found in an appendix at the end of this posting. Extracted from Wolff.

Texts of Readings:
Readings: Epistle: Acts 13: 26-33; Gospel: Luke 24: 36-47
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Easter-Tuesday.htm

Introduction to Lutheran Church Year:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download)
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV134.htm

Recordings:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV134.htm#RC

Music (free streaming download):
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV134-Mus.htm

Commentaries:
http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/134.html
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:3946~T1

Previous Discussion:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV134-D.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV134-Guide.htm

Performances of Bach Cantatas:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Concerts/Concert-2006.htm

Appendix:

ORDER OF SUNDAY & HOLYDAY MASS (Amt) - 7:00 -10:00 am

1. Choir: Hymn in figural or polyphonic setting
2. Organ: Prelude introducing Introit
3. Choir: Introit Motet in figural or polyphomic setting

4. Organ: Prelude introducing Kyrie
5. Choir: Kyrie in figural setting
6. Choir: Gloria in figural setting (minister sings intonation from altar)

7. Minister & Altar Singers (lower form boys):
Salutation & Collect (Prayer of Day) sung from altar
8. Minister: Epistle sung from altar steps

9. Organ: Prelude introduing Hymn
10. Congregation: Hymn of Season (de tempore)
11. Minister & Altar Singers: Gospel with responses sung from altar steps

12. Organ: Prelude introducing cantata
13. Choir: First Cantata

14. Choir:: Credo sung in chorale setting, minister intones from altar steps
15. Organ: Prelude introducing Wir Glauben
16. Congregation: Wir Glauben All (German Credo)

17. Minister: Spoken annoucement of Sermon from altar
18. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
19. Congregation: Hymn
20. Minister: Text of Sermon & Lord’s Prayer from pulpit
21. Minister: Sermon (8:00 a.m., 1 hour)
22. Minister: Prayers, Announcments & Benediction from pulpit

23. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
24. Congregation Hymn
25. Mnister & Altar Singers: Preface in Latin from altar
26. Choir: Sanctus in figural setting (without Osanna or Benedictus)
27. Minister: spoken Communion admoniton, Words of Institution
28. Congregation: Distribution of Communion at altar steps

29. Organ: Prelude introducting Communion Cantata
30. Choir: Second Cantata

31. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
32. Congregation: Hymn during Communion
33. Minister & Altar Singers: Collect with responses sung from altar
34. Minister: spoken Benediction

35. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
36. Congregation: Hymn
or
36. Choir: Hymn in figural setting (festal days)

ORDER OF AFTERNOON VESPERS ­ 1:30 pm

1. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
2. Choir: Hymn in figural setting

3. Choir: Cantata (repeated from morning)

4. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
5. Congregation: Hymn
6. Minister & Altar Singers: Psalm
7. Minister: Lord’s Prayer from altar steps

8. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
9. Congregation: Hymn

10. Minister: Annoucement of Sermon from pulpit
11. Congregation: Hymn
12. Minister: Sermon from pulpit
[13. Choir: Passion or narrativer oratorio, no cantata]
14. Minister: spoken Prayers, Collect & Benediction from pulpit

15. Organ: Prelude introducing Magnificat
16. Choir: LatinMagnificat in figural setting
17. Congregation: German Magnificat Hymn (Meine Seele)

18. Minister: spoken Responsary, Collect & Benediction from altar
19. Congregation: Hymn ­ Nun Danket Alle Gott

Peter Smaill wrote (March 26, 2006):
The parody of Coethen material by BWV 134,"Ein Herz das seine Jesum lebend weiss", its third metamorphosis, displays an interesting structure which has not yet been examined by the usual sources. My understanding (from Dürr) is that the recorded versions are of the final form, after 1731, rather than the version for 11 April 1724, but this observation should apply regardless:

The central structure is symettrical:

Recitative (AT)
Aria (AT)
Recitative (AT)

with the middle aria having an odd number of lines, five, thus centring the work in terms of its poetic layout on "der Sieger erwecket die Freudigen Lieder" ("The Victor arouses joyful songs"). The "Christus Victor" image also features in the last line of the final chorus, a theological standpoint examined with reference to the SJP in Jaroslav Pelikan's "Bach among the Theologians". Here the image becomes emphasised as the central theme of the work as well as in the "abgesang", the final sentiment of the work.

The Tenor's first-line "lieder" are also thus re-emphasised by the central message, the "Victor's songs.", creating a further symettrical balance in the text.

The comparison is the highly structured BWV 63, "Christen Aetzet diesen Tag," from Christmas 1723 .That Cantata is, as previously noted, of palindromic form centring on a seven verse recitative, the equally doctrinal "In lauter Heil und Gnaden" ([Suffering.....] "is turned into pure salvation and Grace").

What demands are made of the Tenor, on stage throughout! Whittaker uses a lovely expression for his solo spot:

"[BWV 134/2], of which the first 144 bars are missing from the manuscript, long and calls for a tenor robusto!"

Neil Halliday wrote (March 27, 2006):
The order of movements in BWV 134 is unusual; movements 1, 3 and 5 are secco recitatives, movement 2 is a tenor aria, movement 4 is an A,T duet, and movement 6 is a full-scale chorus (replacing the more usual closing chorale). Movements 2, 4 and 6 are all long, melodious, `da capo' movements.

Like last week's BWV 66, this one has a secular origin; issues of setting alternative texts for sacred purposes are explored in this interesting article from Emmanuel Music (found in the `commentary' section for this cantata at the BCW): http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/notes_trans/notes_cantata/bwv134.htm

The Rilling CD booklet [2] notes that "When we survey the cantatas Bach performed in the course of his first official year in Leipzig, the number of newly composed works, three dozen in all, is particularly impressive. After all, he already had thirty church cantatas at his disposal.. which would hardly be familiar to the burghers of Leipzig. However, Bach was circumspect when it came to economising on effort by reusing music he had already composed. (....) The first time Bach performed a sizable group of his earlier church cantatas was between Sexagesima Sunday Feb 13th and Easter April 9th, 1724.On the second day of Easter, we find for the first time a sacred parody (BWV 66) of a secular cantata; on the third day of Easter we find .another sacred parody, BWV 134".

---------------

Beginning on the dominant, a rising major triad at the start of the ritornello is a significant structural figure in the tenor aria. The combined 1st violin and 1st oboe announcing this figure are followed at a bar's distance, as if in a `canon at the unison', by the 2nd violin and 2nd oboe, and immediately followed by the continuo two
octaves below. Listen for the repeated occurrences of this pattern throughout the movement.
---------------
The AT duet has full-textured writing for strings, which, in the Rilling recording [2] at least, reminds me of the timbre of the 1st movement of the 3rd or even the 6th Brandenburg. The alto and tenor move in a close-knit range, in a melodious fashion. (The Rilling CD booklet lists a violin solo as well as the usual parts for strings, but I can't hear separate violin solo and violin 1 parts; and the BGA only shows the usual string parts.
---------------
The tuneful ritornello of the closing chorus soon displays strong syncopation, which also actuates the vocal parts, usually after a rhythmically `straight' presentation. Parts for the soloists precede chordal writing for choir, as in 66/1. The central section has several fugatos for choir separated by passages for the alto and tenor soloists.

I rate the Rilling recording [2] highly, although I would like to hear Hamari and Equiluz in the duet (Winschermann). BTW, Rilling's recitatives are more successful than in his recording of BWV 66, because the balance between the harpsichord and continuo strings is better in this cantata; and one can hear the interesting chordal modulations (shown at the BCW piano vocal score) realised in elaborate harpsichord arpeggios by Martha Schuster.

Surprisingly more effective are the powerful chords, though shortened, in the 3rd recitative, in the Rotzsch web sample [4] (compare with Koopman [5]!). However, Rotzsch's use of full choir throughout the final chorus is not as effective as Rilling's [2] (and Koopman's, another fine performance) division into solo and tutti sections.

I notice Suzuki [8] uses both harpsichord and organ, for extra musicality, in the recitatives, but he is defeated by performance conventions. I especially like the clean singing (restrained vibrato) and vocal balance in Suzuki's charming AT duet.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 28, 2006):

BWV 134

Peter and Neil have already made some interesting contextural observations about this piece so I will limit myself mainly to observations concerning Bach's practice of recycling his own works. It occurred to me some years ago that when adapting previous compositions he worked on different levels, according to purpose, often producing as much variety and invention from his reworking of pieces as from his original composition.

For example, sometimes he retained the core and structure of the work but rewrote idiomatic parts for important instruments. The keyboard concerti are good examples of this practice, mostly derived from (and in some cases, fortunately for us, only surviving in this form) violin concerti. He did not do this lightly; a comparison with the solo violin and keyboard versions of, say the 4th Brandenburg concerti shows the care with which he translated highly idiomatic string writing into equally appropriate keyboard layouts. However in this sort of recycling the fundamental structure of the movements (form, harmony, phrasing etc.) remained unchanged.

Similarly so when he added additional parts to existing movements. Of the many possible examples, the addition of wind parts to Brandenburg 3 (first movement) and of four vocal parts to the (already musically fully complete) slow movement of the D minor keyboard concerto, are particularly notable (BWV 174 and BWV 146)

A complete reorchestration is a more radical way of reusing movements without making structural alterations. One of the best known is the arrangement of the violin partite forming the sinfonia for BWV 29.

A different level of revision is apparent when we look at the aria from BWV 11 (although it probably originally came from a lost source) which he completely rewrote (and refined) to become the Agnus Dei of the Great Mass in B-. Here the middle section is largely removed and Bach has striven for a much tighter construction throughout with a consequent intensification of expressive effect. This revision has much less the feel of an such radical recomposition and extension of material may be found in the 1st and 3rd movements of the triple concerto in A minor BWV 1044, amazingly wrought out of a much shorter prelude and fugue for keyboard.

The reworking of BWV 134, however, comes at the other end of the scale, falling into the category of most minimal revision. From what we know of Bach's output we know that he must have worked at great speed and it is reasonable to conjecture that he may well have produced this particular revision in an afternoon or evening. Much of the original, including the two arias and the concluding chorus is untouched but for the occasional detail of word setting. However, the recitatives show progressive reworking.

The first retains the phrase and harmonic structure of the original with some melodic embellishments. The second retains a degree of the structure but moves further away from the original. The last (one of the recitatives, along with the alto aria is dropped for the cantata) displays vestiges only of the original.

There is doubtless a potential academic thesis here for the student who wishes to compare, analytically these recits and to attempt to determine whether Bach made changes for textual, imagic or purely musical reasons.

Two final questions. BWV 134 is dominated by the idea of dualism. All movements except the tenor aria use pairs of voices (even the chorus has a number of paired entries). Doubtless this would have had symbolic significance for Bach in the Easter context. I'd be interested in people's ideas about what this might be. Secondly, Bach did not attach the usual closing chorale. Why? Certainly it would have been unusual to end with two choral movements (chorusand choral) following each other. But he could have solved that by changing the order of the earlier movements. Any ideas?

Re recordings, I don't know how many conductors offer both BWV 134 and 134B. Koopman does, in his tenth box of the complete works.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 28, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>Two final questions. BWV 134 is dominated by the idea of dualism. All movements except the tenor aria use pairs of voices (even the chorus has a number of paired entries). Doubtless this would have had symbolic significance for Bach in the Easter context.<<
I think that the reason for the use of pairs of voices is due to the dialogue nature of the original where the allegorical figures "Zeit" and "Göttliche Vorsehung" sing all the way through the cantata (BWV 134a) with 'Tutti' appearing only interspersed in the final chorus. I do not see any symbolic significance in this that might particularly relate to Easter.

>>Secondly, Bach did not attach the usual closing chorale. Why? Certainly it would have been unusual to end with two choral movements (chorus and choral) following each other. But he could have solved that by changing the order of the earlier movements.<<
You have already answered in part the question you raised. The concluding chorus (which is definitely entitled "Schlußchor" in the parts) is rather unmoveable. It should also be considered, as Doug Cowling pointed out in his order of the Sunday and Holyday main service, that there is a place for a first and a second cantata. This may have been the first cantata during this special holiday service.

Alfred Dürr has a good description of the stages in the process of remaking a secular cantata function as a sacred work. Dürr refers to the first revision in 1724 as "die derart oberflächliche Umarbeitung", "the very superficial revision" or "the adaptation which has very much the nature of being superficial". Perhaps someone with the English translation of this background section of Dürr's book on the cantatas can share the pertinent paragraphs in which Dürr summarizes the various stages of this cantata.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 28, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< that there is a place for a first and a second cantata. This may have been the first cantata during this special holiday service. >
I meant to say in my earlier email that I thought this was an interesting supposition.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 28, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< I think that the reason for the use of pairs of voices is due to the dialogue nature of the original where the allegorical figures "Zeit" and "Göttliche Vorsehung" sing all the way through the cantata (BWV 134a) with 'Tutti' appearing only interspersed in the final chorus. I do not see any symbolic significance in this that might particularly relate to Easter. >
I don't think that this fully answers the question. Obviously Bach approached BWV 134 with the earlier work based upon the allegorical dualities and this conditioned his compositional structuring. That obviously is part of the reason, and it may be the complete reason. Equally it may not be. I have read through the texts of the recits of 134 again and see no reason why this structural duality should have been retained. There is the question of the different tessituras of the different voices, of course--but as I pointed out, Bach revised the latter two recits to such a degree that making the minor changes of range in order for one singer only to sing them would have presented very minor difficulties for him. Additionally, the non-recit movement which he dropped was one of the two solo arias, not one of the duets, strenghtening the vies that the retention of the two voices largely throughout was significant.

All of which leads me to surmise that either a) Bach revised the original in a great hurry, making as few alterations as possible (not his usual practice and there is no external evidence for this) or b) he retained the strong sense of duality throughout the revision because it had some additional significance. I, likewise, do not know what that might be which is why I put the question to see whether others might have some suggestions.

Re the lack of chorale you suggest that the chorus is 'rather immovable'. I would be interested to know your reasons for this suggestion. Why couldn't it be used as the opening movement? It has the general sort of 'resound and rejoice' sentiment which one finds in some other opening movements.

At present I tend to the view that this was, on balance' a rather uncharacteristically 'rush job'.

But JSB's clinging to the dualisms makes me feel that I might have missed something.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 28, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>All of which leads me to surmise that either a) Bach revised the original in a great hurry, making as few alterations as possible (not his usual practice and there is no external evidence for this)<<
Why is it not Bach's usual practice to revise an original in a great hurry? Where did you get the idea that it took Bach many weeks or months to accomplish such a relatively simple task (with most of the music remaining unchanged for the 1st performance of this cantata in Leipzig?)

On the other hand, there is another possibility worth mentioning here: Alfred Dürr (NBA I/10 KB p. 91) states regarding BWV 134 as it parodied BWV 134a "Nicht einmal ein Schlußchoral wurde angefügt -- vielleicht ein Anzeichen für eine besonders frühe Entstehungszeit der Parodie" ("Not even a final choral was added --- perhaps this is an indication the parody was completed at a very early date") [long before it was needed in Leipzig, but with Bach already having prepared it far in advance - perhaps still in Köthen while he was preparing his auditions for the Director of Music position in Leipzig]. If I remember correctly, Bach, during and right after his auditions in Leipzig had approached the authorities about presenting some Passion music or Easter cantatas, but this did not materialize. Could it be that this was one cantata which he quickly prepared? Again, the parody may have been prepared very quickly at an early date (in Köthen) to have it ready for performance (around Easter 1723) but then it was put aside as the opportunity for its use did not materialize before he officially took over his position on Trinity Sunday, 1723. Since Bach was able to reuse the original score and most of the original instrumental parts (except one of the continuo parts for organ, he had only to write the new text into the score and the vocal parts (conceivably only into the original vocal parts), but the latter have never been found. Instead, only the vocal parts with the new sacred text from 1723 (earliest date for the watermark of the paper used) exist.

>>or b) he retained the strong sense of duality throughout the revision because it had some additional significance. I, likewise, do not know what that might be which is why I put the question to see whether others might have some suggestions.<<
Dürr, in his book on the cantatas, points to the strong connection/similarity that is maintained between the secular original (BWV 134a) and its sacred parody (BWV 134) in regard to the use of dialogue. There was no original connection with Easter, but rather with New Year. I fail to see any special Easter symbolism being alluded to here.

>>Re the lack of chorale you suggest that the chorus is 'rather immovable'. I would be interested to know your reasons for this suggestion. Why couldn't it be used as the opening movement?<<
The first thing Bach did before the cantata was to be performed for the first time in Leipzig was to have a copyist copy out from the score of BWV 134a the vocal parts (without text). Then Bach had someone work out a new text (or possibly helped in creating the sacred parody text from the original secular text, or as some believe, made all the changes himself). Helater added the revised text under the new vocal parts that had been created. On a soprano part, Bach himself crossed out "Chor..." (the continuation is illegible) and wrote over this ''Schluß Chor" ("Final Chorus") indicating where in the cantata the soprano would sing. It would appear that Bach had fixed the position of this mvt. to make it immovable (all subsequent performances were performed in this manner). That a chorale might have followed such a final chorus might still have been theoretically possible, but still rather rare. Think of BWV 245 (SJP) which has a final chorus BWV 245/39 "Ruht wohl" followed by a chorale BWV 245/40 "Ach Herr, laß dein lieb Engelein". But generally this does not happen.

>>At present I tend to the view that this was, on balance' a rather uncharacteristically 'rush job'.<<
Despite the numerous versions that quite a number of cantatas underwent, implying for some people that Bach would have to have spent many hours and days arduously preparing the music for performance, each stage was more likely to be a 'rush job'. Dürr points to the great number of autograph cantata scores (comparatively speaking when all existing autograph cantata scores are considered) that were left as 'composing scores' (essentially 1st drafts) and never did make to the next inevitable stage: a 'clean copy' autograph score. 'Rush jobs', thus appear to be quite characteristic for Bach in his preparation of the yearly cycles of cantatas in Leipzig.

>>But JSB's clinging to the dualisms makes me feel that I might have missed something.<<
For your sake, I do hope you will find the information you are seeking and will share your discoveries with
the BCML members.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 29, 2006):
Thomas Braatz writes:
< Where did you get the idea that it took Bach many weeks or months to accomplish such a relatively simple task >
MR Braatz You are often the first to complain when you are misrepresented. I would hope that you might set an example by not misrepresenting others in order to make a cheap point. I neither stated or implied anything of this kind. Had you read my comments carefully you would have found that that I surmised that he might well have completed this particular task in an evening or afternoon.

I gave a number of examples (of which many more can be given) of Bach's usual care and attention to detail in his reconstructions and simply inferred from this that this seemed to be a particularly simple and possibly rushed job by comparison.

I relish the opportunity to debate issues about the man and his music with people who are steeped in research or who have a first rate knowledge of the scores; or both. Misrepresentation of the clear statements of others simply
debases this process.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 29, 2006):
Julian Mincham stated:
>>All of which leads me to surmise that either a) Bach revised the original in a great hurry, making as few alterations as possible (not his usual practice and there is no external evidence for this)<<
I am sorry for the confusion I may have caused.

I understood your statement to mean:

"Bach made his revision of BWV 134a as a sacred parody for its 1st performance as BWV 134 in Leipzig in a great hurry" I agree.

"Bach made as few alterations as possible [in this revision]" I agree.

"Bach's usual practice was not to revise in a big hurry and make as few alterations as possible"

This generalization is the point where I disagree and where I offered evidence given by Dürr that in the composing of the 'weekly' cantatas (which includes revisions of older materials) Bach was generally 'in a great hurry' to accomplish this task, i.e. he may have had some prior ideas in his or even a few short sketches on paper, but the actual composing task along with the preparations of the parts for performance gives all the appearance of being done 'in a great hurry' and at the latest possible moment before a deadline. It is remarkable that he was generally able to sustain such a high level of quality over a few years in which most of the cantatas were composed.

"There is no external evidence that this was Bach's usual practice [that Bach would be in a great hurry and would make as few alterations as possible to an already existing score)"

Another example of this is given by Dürr who cites BWV 184 as having gone through a similar process. Dürr refers to the "recht oberflächliche Parodiefassung von 1724" ("the truly superficial 1724 revision as a sacred parody") which Dürr claims would scarcely have satisfied Bach for any length of time. It also had to undergo substantial revisions.

My original statement:
>>Where did you get the idea that it took Bach many weeks or months to accomplish such a relatively simple task<< was prompted by your claim that seemed to imply that Bach usually took or had or took more time to complete his composing and revising tasks than demonstrated in the history of BWV 134.

I would look forward to the evidence that you can offer that Bach generally had more leisure (much more time in which to accomplish his composing and preparation tasks). I am not disputing that fact that BWV 134 and BWV 184 were done under extreme pressure and that Bach's subsequent substantial revisions of them indicate that he was very much dissatisfied with the original revisions.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 29, 2006):
(I first intended to send this discourse off line. But on reflection I feel that it raises some pertinant issues which may be of general interest).

From Thomas Braatz
>>All of which leads me to surmise that either a) Bach revised the original in a great hurry, making as few
alterations as possible (not his usual practice and there is no external evidence for this)<<

I am sorry for the confusion I may have caused.

I understood your statement to mean:

“Bach’s usual practice was not to revise in a big hurry and make as few alterations as possible”

From JM: Yes I agree that this statement could lead to some misinterpretation in that it might well be assumed that he was not usually in a hurry. His output would imply that he was almost always pressed for time and worked at great speed He didn't, for example have the long creative 'holidays' from composition that Beethoven enjoyed.

However I think that the second part of the statement is fairly supposed. i.e. his usual practice was not to make the least possible of alterations. Having studied a large part of the Bach repertoire which he himself revised, I believe it to be apparent that he seldom 'cut corners' . Major revisions were not always forced upon him for immediate practical reasons (as when a part might have to be rewritten for a different, and currently available
instrument) and he often changed/improved/developed more than might have been minimully necessary.. He had great concern for the effectiveness and appropriateness of his revisions and this is what I mean when I suggested that his usual practice was not to cut corners, to take the easiest path, or limit himself to the minimum number of alterations. The fact that this (i.e. the very minimum of change necessary) seems to be the case in 134 is an observable point of interest.

TB: This generalization is the point where I disagree and where I offered evidence given by Dürr that in the composing of the ‘weekly’ cantatas (which includes revisions of older materials) Bach was generally ‘in a great hurry’ to accomplish this task, i.e. he may have had some prior ideas in his or even a few short sketches on paper, but the actual composing task along with the preparations of the parts for performance gives all the appearance of being done ‘in a great hurry’ and at the latest possible moment before a deadline. It is remarkable that he was generally able to sustain such a high level of quality over a few years in which most of the cantatas were composed.
JM: I agree.

TB: “There ino external evidence that this was Bach’s usual practice [that Bach would be in a great hurry and would make as few alterations as possible to an already existing score)”

Another example of this is given by Dürr who cites
BWV 184 as having gone through a similar process. Dürr refers to the “recht oberflächliche Parodiefassung von 1724” (“the truly superficial 1724 revision as a sacred parody”) which Dürr claims would scarcely have satisfied Bach for any length of time. It also had to undergo substantial revisions.
JM: As did 134 with at least one later revision, according to Wolff in 1731'. The fact that he further revised both works supports the supposition that the first revision was unusually rushed and possibly ultimately unsatisfactory for the composer.

TB: >>Where did you get the idea that it took Bach many weeks or months to accomplish such a relatively simple task<< was prompted by your claim that seemed to imply that Bach usually took or had or took more time to complete his composing and revising tasks than demonstrated in the history of BWV 134.

JM: NO, answered above, I think

TB: I would look forward to the evidence that you can offer that Bach generally had more leisure (much more
time in which to accomplish his composing and preparation tasks).

JM: I didn't ever claim he had more 'leisure'. Noone with any real knowledge of Bach's life of output could claim this. I simply remarked on the fact that 134 seems to have been done in a particular hurry, compared with many other revisions, a point on which you seem to agree.

TB: I am not disputing that fact that BWV 134 and BWV 184 were done under extreme pressure and that Bach's subsequent substantial revisions of them indicate that he was very much dissatisfied with the original revisions.
JM: two final points, largely to dispel misunderstandings.

1 the point as to whether Bach had plenty of 'leisure' or not is of little interest. The substantive point is where and why he produced substantive, almost monumental revisions on the one hand, and extremely minimal ones on the other.

2 I suspect we would probably agree that primary source material is of the greatest importance when discussing works and performances of Bach's works; where it exists. Unfortunately it is often scanty or largely, or entirely missing. It is then that one turns to the scores themselves for evidence in support of conclusions which, to different degrees, may well be speculative but which can, neverthelless be illuminating. I was extrapolating from the evidence of the scores which I believe is an entirely proper process ---PROVIDING

1) that the knowledge of the scores is scholarly and not superficial and

2) that any such extrapolations do not ignore or conflict with established primary source knowledge.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 184 - Disacussions

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 29, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>I suspect we would probably agree that primary source material is of the greatest importance when discussing works and performances of Bach's works; where it exists. Unfortunately it is often scanty or largely, or entirely missing. It is then that one turns to the scores themselves for evidence in support of conclusions which, to different degrees, may well be speculative but which can, nevertheless be illuminating.<<
The manuscript and original parts history of BWV 134/BWV 134a is quite detailed and complicated as given in the NBA KBs. Is there anything in particular that you would wish to know about the changes taking place at various stages of composition, parody, and repeat performances? Or do you already have easy access to these sources? Perhaps, in order to speed up the process of translating the original German sources:

NBA KB I/10 pp. 68-127
NBA KB I/35 pp. 62-116, and 166-168 (facsimile)

Raymond Joly might even consent to translating these pages into English? That would save me a lot of time
which I need for another Bach project.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 29, 2006):
Thomas Braatz writes:
< NBA KB I/10 pp. 68-127
NBA KB I/35 pp. 62-116, and 166-168 (facsimile) >
Many thanks for the references.

(Fortunately as my wife is multilingual and fluent in German I have access to good transtation facilities)

Neil Halliday wrote (March 30, 2006):
BWV 134: some more observations

An enlivening feature of the syncopation in the ritornello of the final chorus (134/6), later heard in the vocal parts, is its appearance in two basic forms: (a) with a silent beat (i.e., the note is tied from the previous bar) on the first 1/16th note, or (b) a silent beat on the first 1/8th note of the bar. (The treble clef notes with upward stems in the score at the BCW illustrate this, for those without a full score; these notes are played by the unison oboes and violins 1, except for a short interlude for the oboes alone).

The fugatos in the central section (134/6)are especially impressive when all the instrumental and vocal lines combine in extended phrases of 1/16th notes.
------

The `melodies' of the ritornellos of this movement (134/6) and the AT duet (134/4) can both be played as a single line of notes. In the case of the duet, after the first two full bars, the 1st violins have an extended passage (taking up the rest of the ritornello) in continuous 1/16th notes, in a style that I think might be termed `oscillating bariolage' (or is this my own invention?). Note that this `busy' 1st violin line often extends below both the accompanying 2nd violin and viola lines, thus accounting for the dense texture of the string writing. Needless to say, this writing for strings is very Bachian and very attractive.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 1, 2006):
BWV 134(a)

I have only one recording for this weeks discussion, but it may be of interest to others. It is the Unger BWV 134a [BWV 134a-1]. Aryeh has mentioned it previously, but only in passing. I am also citing discussion points from several other BCW members, and doing my best to make the threads clear

Peter Smaill wrote (March 26, 2006):
The parody of Cöthen material by BWV 134, "Ein Herz das seine Jesum lebend weiss", its third metamorphosis, displays an interesting structure which has not yet been examined by the usual sources.
The central structure is symmetrical:

Recitative (AT)
Aria (AT)
Recitative (AT)

with the middle aria having an odd number of lines, five, thus centering the work in terms of its poetic layout on "der Sieger erwecket die Freudigen Lieder" ("The Victor arouses joyful songs").

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 19, 2005) (re Bach Composing/3):
One of my colleagues has a useful illustration. You take a glass jar and put as many big rocks in it as possible. Then, put in as many pebbles as fit, dropping them into the holes between the big rocks. Then, stuff in as much cotton as possible. Then, pour water until the jar is full. Does this illustrate "You can always pack in more with enough diligence?" No, that's not the main point. The main point is that "Big rocks go in first."

I found it instructive to consider the structure (big rocks) first: BWV 134a consists of four big rocks (recitatve-aria pairs) as suggested by Oxford Composer Companion. Perhaps even better, four big rocks (arias, duet, chorus) and four significant pebbles (recitatives). In any case, to get from BWV 134a to BWV 134, remove a rock and a pebble. Circumspect? Hardly. Economy of effort? You bet.

What is left can be analyzed, accurately IMO, as either three pairs of pebble and rock (R-A), or as Peter suggests, an R-A opening, an R-A-R center, and an A (chorus) finale. Large scale hemiola?

A charming detail: at the very center of BWV 134a/4, line 3 (of five total) is the final word, Herzen (hearted). By 1724, when we get to BWV 134/4, line 3, now the very heart of the entire piece, has become Lieder (songs). Herz has moved to the opening line (BWV 134/1).

Julian Mwrote (March 28, 2006):
However, the recitatives show progressive reworking.

The first retains the phrase and harmonic structure of the original with some melodic embellishments. The second retains a degree of the structure but moves further away from the original. The last (one of the recitatives, along with the alto aria is dropped for the cantata) displays vestiges only of the original.

There is doubtless a potential academic thesis here for the student who wishes to compare, analytically these recits and to attempt to determine whether Bach made changes for textual, imagic or purely musical reasons.

Neil Halliday wrote (March 27, 2006):
[...] issues of setting alternative texts for sacred purposes are explored in this interesting article from Emmanuel Music (found in the `commentary' section for this cantata at the BCW):

(from the Emmanuel Music link):
The Cantata BWV 134, an arrangement of a secular New Years work, is characteristic. The secular text is simply rewritten word for word to fit Easter Tuesday. Even the notes of the recitatives remain more or less unchanged.
©Craig Smith

Thanks to Neil for emphasizing the Emmanuel Music link, and liesen (God's mercy) to the graduate student who gets to reconcile the opinions as to what extent the recitatives of BWV 134a were reworked (or not) to get to BWV 134. Give me the big rocks!

The Unger recording of BWV 134a [BWV 134a-1] (coupled with BWV 36b) is easy HIP listening. There is nothing that jumps out and says "new idea" or "big mistake". The tempos are unhurried, although I have no comparison other than total time (39:00) compared to Rilling [36:08) [BWV134a-3].

I enjoyed the major difference between the original and parody: the alto aria BWV134a/6, sung here by counter-tenor Matthias Gorne. Light vibrato, full, unstrained voice. Along with Robin Blaze, these guys are convincing me they can sing as good as altos (girls). Relax, just kidding.

All in all, a consistent and professional performance. Is it the best? It is the best (the only, remember?) I have, and I am happy with the sound. Maybe we can get Aryeh to revisit his comments from March of 2003, and provide a comparative review?

Given that, the fact that it is a Leipzig group adds to my enjoyment listening to it. Don't bother telling me that doesn't contribute to the sound, I am hip (not to say HIP). I enjoy the connection, and you may agree, or not, at your discretion.

Weekly listening details greatly appreciated from all contributors. BCW archives are a growing public resource!

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 3, 2006):
A few additional comments on BWV 134: the cross reference was informative:

Peter Smaill wrote (December 29, 2005) re BWV 63:
the symmetry being even more obvious than BWV 4 or the SJP (BWV 245), the chiastic arrangement of:

Chorus, accompagnato recit, Duet, recit secco, Duet, accompagnato recit, Chorus.

being a palindrome based round the central word "gnaden" ("mercy"), which is contrived to lie right in the middle of a seven-line recitative, BWV 63/4.

In Dec. 2005, Douglas Cowling also responded to this post. I am a bit fuzzy on the exact courtesies to acknowledge these previous posts. I am also a bit fuzzy whether courtesy is an operative concept anymore. I am not ready to concede, just yet.

First of all, chiastic was a new word for me. As I understand it, the origin is the Greek letter chi, and in general, it refers to x-form symmetry. In music, the meaning is less restrictive, and can refer to any palindrome symmetry. For example, the nave (arch or ship) forms discussed in recent weeks. I will use it so, unless corrections ensue. Especially if the symmetry is clear, but not so clear whether ship or arch apply. Suggested:
(1) nave is architecture, of naval origin
(2) chiastic is musical symmetry, like a palindrome
(3) arch form is chiastic, with the big emphasis, the keystone, at center.
(4) ship form (improvements invited), chiastic, biggest rocks at either end.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 28, 2006):
However, the recitatives show progressive reworking. [...]
There is doubtless a potential academic thesis here

I want to be sure that my response to Julian's suggestion for a thesis topic was not misunderstood: it is an excellent suggestion, and consistent with my earlier thought that BCW discussions easily lead to research opportunities. Apparent conflict makes the research all the more necessary. I was merely expressing (and misspelling) <leisen> (God's mercy, from the long Kyrie Eleison discussion) for all graduate students, everywhere. Think before you post: Professor (former graduate student) could be lurking. This is a public forum.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Chiasm in Bach's Vocal Works [General Topics]

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantatas BWV 134 & BWV 134a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 134 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 134 | Details & Recordings of BWV 134a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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