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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 140
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Cantata No. 140

Gillian Lyons wrote (December 4, 2003):
A few years ago I borrowed a recording of Cantata BWV 140 from the public library. I wanted it specifically to hear the duet "Mein Freund ist mein" (no. 6) and I loved this recording. It used bassoon instead of cello which sounded wonderful with the oboe and organ. I'd like to borrow the recoding again, but can't remember which one it was! I thought for sure it was part of the complete cantatas with Ton Koopman, but I've looked at every volume, and it isn't there. The only other recording they have of this is with cello, not bassoon. Could anyone tell me which recordings of Cantata No. 140 use bassoon?

Thanks.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 5, 2003):
[To Gillian Lyons] Bassoon instead of Cello?

I understood that Bassoons and Cellos were always in the Continuo of any movement in Bach's Vokalwerke (except where specifically for winds, such as the Arie that replaced Nrs. 19 and 20 in the 1725 version of the Johannespassion).

Neil Halliday wrote (December 5, 2003):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:

"I understood that Bassoons and Cellos were always in the Continuo".
Not always, David.

For example, in cantata BWV 140, Rilling [20] uses a bassoon, double bass and harpsichord (no cello or organ) in the continuo.

Richter [16] uses continuo bassoon and organ in this cantata, but I doubt this is the version Gillian is looking for. (Gardiner [27], maybe?)

Rilling often uses bassoon, and no cello, in the continuo of those arias that feature an oboe, obviously because of the complementary timbres of the two wind instruments.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 5, 2003):
[To Neil Halliday] Then what does constitute the Conitnuo group, what the composer intended or whatthe performer intends?

Anything I have read states that the Bassoons and Celli (unless used as solo instruments) were and are to be used in the Continuo without any alteration.

Gillian Lyons wrote (December 5, 2003):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] I have never heard the rule that you describe below... I can see bassoon and celli (and harpsichord or organ) being used for all chorus parts and some arias, but for one such as "Mein Freund ist mein", using both cello and bassoon would overbalance the single oboe and organ, not to mention the problems there would be with intonation etc. My husband plays bassoon and I play harpsichord and organ. We have played The Messiah and The Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) and there are many numbers in which the bassoon is instructed to tacet. I do not know for sure whether this is on the instruction of Händel and Bach, but it does make sense.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 5, 2003):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Then what does constitute the Conitnuo group, whatthe composer intended or whatthe performer intends? >
Why are there only two choices for you, David? As if knocking off one choice or the other would automatically make the remaining one true?

What about (at least) the third option: "what practical solution the composer might have used in other performances, other circumstances to be dealt with, outside our existing documentation"? And a fourth one: "what practical solution the composer might use if he were here today"?

Is it not more important to think like the composer as far as can be determined, and then come up with a good practical solution to current circumstances, than to niggle over the literalistic reproduction of historical circumstances that can never be fully reproduced?

< Anything I have read states that the Bassoons and Celli (unless used as solo instruments) were and are to be used in the Continuo without any alteration. >
Methinks you should read more, and get more practical experience performing the music directly, instead of spouting restrictive nonsense from books that you have sort-of read and halfway remembered. Better yet, go learn this stuff under the guidance of an accredited program in musicology and performance practices; that's what such programs are there for.

Robert Sherman wrote (December 5, 2003):
[To Gillian Lyons] Bravo to Gillian for discussing a practice in terms of whether it "makes sense" -- that is, how it sounds -- rather than in terms of what Bach and Händel may have found to sound best with the instruments and players they had on hand at any particular moment, or on what various musicologists may have said about what Bach and Händel may or may not have done.

My own view (I play piccolo trumpet and sing choral bass) is that in most cases, whether continuo or full orch, the best Bach and Händel generic instrumentation is that of strings. Double-reed instruments, like trumpets, should be used only for special effects when their particular color serves a particular purpose.

For example, I find the near-universal practice of using oboes to double many of the choral soprano parts in Messiah to be totally odious and irrational. It obscures the soprano color and unbalances what should be four equal voices. Maybe Händel needed it to keep his sopranos in tune, or whatever. So maybe it's authentic. But it's not musical, and with a good modern chorus it's not needed.

Conversely, listen to the repeat of the opening Grave in Solti's Messiah recording. He does it as an oboe solo. Totally non-authentic I'm sure, but to my ear it provides a dramatic and pleasant contrast with the first time through. It works, scholarship notwithstanding.

 

Wachet Auf by whom?

Jonathan Howard wrote (June 30, 2004):
I've been looking at different Wachet Auf versions. There is a German conducter from the 60s that had it played slowly and delicately (red disk), whereas Gardiner [27] preferred it played with quick and powerful mighty beats. I prefer the slow and stretching tune (just like Air from BWV 1068). Who was the best conducter of Wachet Auf and plays is slowly yet beautifully?

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 1, 2004):
[To Jonathan Howard] A complete list of the recordings of Cantata BWV 140 'Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme' can be found at the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV140.htm

It seems that the recoding you are looking for is by Wolfgang Gönnenwein [13], but it might also be Erhard Mauersberger [12]. Both are very good indeed. The first is among my favourites recordings of this cantata.

Jonathan Howard wrote (July 1, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you very much (are you an Israeli? "Aryeh Oron = Lion Little-light), I must have been mixed up. I have the white disk (Wolfgang Gönnerwein) and it is my favourite (I only heard two). I must have been mixed up between that and the disk I have of Cantata BWV 147 (that's red)...

I'll try out (if I'll be able to) Erhard Mauersberger [12]. He's excellent I figure. How's Richter [16]?

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 1, 2004):
[To Jonathan Howard] You caught me. I am an Israeli and the English translation of my name is correct (-:

Cantata BWV 140 was discussed in the BCML during December 2002 and couple more times. Those discussions have been compiled into 3 full pages, the first of which is: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV140-D1.htm
You can find there interesting and various views of the cantata by many members. You may find them helpful in making your own choices.

BTW, the place to discuss the cantatas is the BCML. If you are not yet a member, you are invited to join.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 2, 2004):
[To Jonathan Howard] I don't know of the best, but for my money I would recommend the recordings featuring the Thomanerchor Leipzig.

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 6, 2004):
Jonathan Howard wrote:
< I've been looking at different Wachet Auf versions. is a German conducter from the 60s that had it played slowly and delicately (red disk), whereas Gardiner [27] preferred it played with quick and powerful mighty beats. I prefer the slow and stretching tune (just like Air from BWV 1068). Who was the best conducter of Wachet Auf and plays is slowly yet beautifully? >
I like the performance that is the opening track on Tragicomedia's Teldec CD, a collection that is (mostly) of pieces from the Anna Magdalena notebooks. They have arranged it from both the Cantata 140 version and the organ prelude 645: scoring it for harp, lute, and tenor (John Potter). So elegant!

Tragicomedia is/was the continuo group consisting of Stephen Stubbs (lute/director), Andrew Lawrence-King (harps and various keyboards), and Erin Headley (viola da gamba). Potter is half of Red Byrd, with bass Richard Wistreich--who also sings in several of the shorter pieces in this album.

John Pike wrote (July 6, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Andrew Lawrence-King is a superb harpist (also part of the Harp Consort). I once had the privilege of playing with him in a music week he was directing.

 

BWV 140 & 147: Looking for a full score free or to borrow

Anne DeBlois [Canada] wrote (November 4, 2004):
I have a few projects for my school's string orchestra. Last year, we performed Bach's Cantata BWV 4 (Christ lag in todesbanden), it was a huge success. I would like to perform other cantatas in the future, and my friends told me that church cantatas BWV 140 and BWV 147 are beautiful. I found the vocal score on the Bach Cantatas Web site (with piano acc.), but is there a full score available for free on the Internet (PDF) or can I borrow it from somebody in order to study it?

Thanks in advance,

Doug Coweling wrote (November 4, 2004):
[To Anne DeBlois] Both of these wonderful cantatas are extremely difficult to perform and have virtuoso instrumental solos (violin in BWV 140 and trumpet in BWV 147). I would suggest "Nun Komm Der Heiland Heiland" which, like "Christe Lag" is scored for strings only (double viola). It has some wonderful movements (Christ knocking at the door with pizzicato strings). The choral and instrumental parts are well within the abilities of a good school choir and orchestra.

Good luck,

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 4, 2004):
[To Anne DeBlois] What about picking up one or both of the Dover reprint volumes from the Bach-Gesellschaft? Accurate enough that you can get to know the pieces, at least. And the price can hardly be argued with!
http://store.yahoo.com/doverpublications/0486249506.html
http://store.yahoo.com/doverpublications/0486232689.html

Or, visit your local university libraries, which should have the Neue Bach-Ausgabe (NBA) or at least the B-G.

Dale Gedcke wrote (November 4, 2004):
RE: BWV 147; Anne's query and Doug's reply (appended below):

MY SUGGESTION:

The Choral from BWV 147 is the beautiful "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" otherwise known as "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring". The original German words to this choral can be found at http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/bach.html. There is an arrangement for string quartet plus trumpet available from Latham Music Inc. at: http://www.latham-music.com/index.html?mgiToken=KIHY3K71N15OEB. It is not very expensive.

I have played this Latham arrangement with a string quartet. It is scored for a Bb trumpet, but the trills are a little bit easier on a C trumpet. As I recall, the trumpet score is pretty well within the limits of the treble clef. So a reasonably skilled high-school trumpet player should be able to play it. The main challenge will be getting the trills to be smooth and delicate. Otherwise it is easy for a trumpet player. I play trumpet, not strings, but I think the scores for the 1st and 2nd violins, viola and cello will be manageable by reasonably skilled high-school players. You can extend the string quartet parts to a full string orchestra by adding multiple string instruments to the quartet parts. But, you will want to use only one trumpet to achieve clarity and balance.

I don't know of a specific source for the vocal parts to the choral. But, I understand such is readily available. If you find a vocal score that you like, please inform me of the details. I would like to do the same thing you are planning, but with my community orchestra plus chorus around Easter time next Spring.

If you want to hear how this sounds, you can purchase the CD, "Angelic Voices" by the Vienna Boy's Choir. They perform exactly that same arrangement with chorus, string orchestra and trumpet. It sounds great!

 

Wachet auf (BACH #140) text question [ChoralTalk]

Jim Edgar [Milwaukee] wrote (September 8, 2005):
In the final chorus, final line of JSB#140 there is this text:

"Des sind wir froh, io, io!
ewig in dulci jubilo
."

What does the "io, io" mean? I just thumbed through my Albert Schweitzer books and could find nothing to explain it. Is this just a 'filler'? I would not think it of Bach.

Stephen A. Stomps [Director of Choirs - Auburn High School Choirs, Auburn. New York] wrote (September 8, 2005):
[To Jim Edgar] Just filler but, I guess, io could serve as an exclamation of joy at the promise of eternal jubilation.

Alan Jones wrote (September 8, 2005):
[To Jim Edgar] A Latin exclamation of joy or triumph: "Hurrah!" It's part of the hymn text, not JSB's invention.

Jerome Hoberman wrote (September 8, 2005):
[To Jim Edgar] Um, it's not Bach. Bach didn't write the words. Oh! And Bach didn't write the tune, either -- just the harmonization.

Dr. James D. Feiszli [Director of Music Activities - South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD] wrote (September 8, 2005):
[To Jim Edgar] "Io" is, like "Eia" in "In Dulci jubilo" (to which Bach's librettist is referring), is simply an expression of joy. Not even an actual word. Occurs in several Medieval carols.

Allen Simon [ChoralNet Chair of Website Development] wrote (September 8, 2005):
[To Jim Edgar] I've always translated it as "wahoo!"

 

BWV 140 - librettist

Sam Sawatzky wrote (March 29, 2006):
Hi all, I've looked through the archives, and haven't found this mentioned; I hope this isn't a repeat.

In the book Analyzing Bach Cantatas, (2000, New York ; Toronto: Oxford University Press, pg 120) Eric Chafe asserts that the librettist for this cantata is Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici), yet all other sources I have found believe it to be unknown. Can anyone shed some light on the accuracy of Chafe's assertion?

Thanks In Advance

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 29, 2006):
[To Sam Sawatzky] Source hymn by Nicolai; librettist of BWV 140 unknown...at least according to the 1998 edition of BWV, and the 1999 Oxford Composer Companion: Bach.

Sam Sawatzky wrote (March 29, 2006):
Hi again, I have made a mistake; the reference of Picander is in W. Murray Young's "The Cantatas of J.S. Bach, an Analytical Guide" (1989) and not in Chafe's book. I'm sorry for any confusion.

Teddy Kaufman wrote (March 29, 2006):
As mentioned by Brad, the librettist is Philipp Nicolai.

His detailed biography has been outlined at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Nicolai.htm

 

Wachet auf, et al

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 27, 2007):
<< Using "full" sections on chorale-based movements is a long-standing "tradition" which probably goes back to the 19th century. I have never heard a performance of "Wachet Auf" which didn't give "Zion Hört die Wächter" to all the tenors. >>
< There's a terrific one in Tragicomedia's CD "Notenbuchlein fur Anna Magdalena Bach", 1994, sung by John . Sample of track 1:
Amazon.com
They arranged it back from the organ version, BWV 645. >
I have to mention two other classics as well, even though they're both done by two or more singers instead of soloist. Both of these are by the Swingle Singers, giving the chorale melody in octaves!

The old one, from the late 1950s, is still around on CD: Amazon.com
Despite the silly title and packaging, it's a fine album. It shuffles together most of that first Bach album by the Swingles, plus most of "Play Bach" volume 1 by Jacques Loussier's trio. (And coincidentally, the same bass player is in most of these tracks by both groups!) Hearing this CD in the car once, my four-year-old demanded to hear it over and over and over, which is anecdotal evidence that this album is a delightful winner. I like it too, and it's good to have it on CD since my LP copies were worn out. The "Wachet auf" on here, track 1, is done with "Ahhhhhhh" on the chorale, against all the "dubba-dubba" scat by the other singers, plus bass and brushes.

The newer one, from 1991, is part of this other two-CD set: Amazon.com
In this arrangement, at slightly higher pitch than the old one, the accompaniment is pretty similar; but this time the chorale is sung in English. Then they follow this with the four-part chorale, sung in (badly accented) German. The blend and balance are terrific all the way through this album, where they (obviously) miked and mixed it all separately.... It's a pop album. But it's lovely, and so is disc 2 of selections by Mozart.

 

BWV 140 (was: BWV 204)

Contine of discussion from: Cantata BWV 204 - Discussions

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 7, 2008):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Rilling has overcome some problems encountered in his earlier reoordings of the sacred cantatas, such as a too prominent bass line; in this performance he in fact uses the double bass in only two of the the movements - the accompanied recitative and the last movement - highlighting and enriching the fuller instrumentation of these two movements. I have already described his tasteful treatment of the seccos with cello and harpsichord (with reservations about the harpsichord's clarity); usually I reach for the 'skip' button with seccos, but not so in this recording. >
Is there any historical documentation for playing around with which continuo instruments are used in Bach cantatas? For instance, it is almost standard practice to have bassoon alone with oboe in the the second duet "Mein Freund ist Mein" In "Wachet Auf". Some HIP practioners would argue that Bach intended the 16-foot tone of the bass viol to be used throughout, even in secco recitatives.

Peter Smaill wrote (March 7, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Doug asks, Did Bach vary the continuo group? which is an interesting practical as well as historical question.

The leading book here, which I don't possess alas, is Lawrence Dreyfus' "Bach's Continuo Group". As he is a noted viol da gambaist you may not find sympathy for the use of the bassoon in this famous duet from BWV 140, and Dürr does not state it as an instrument for the work.

Bach very particularly in BWV 140 specifies the instrumentation for the Cantata to include the Watchman's insrument, the horn, and also the violino piccolo which lends the ecstatic and mystical quality to the duet BWV 140/3. Stapert points out, following Herz, that this instrument was used because Bach was "influenced by the instrument's association with night music", which Leopold Mozart noted in 1756. (The action of "Wachet Auf! takes place according to the parable at midnight).

Drifting rather off topoic, there is (to me) an astounding and novel hermeneutic in the text of BWV 140.

The text thus:

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
Der Wächter sehr hoch auf der Zinne,
Wach auf, du Stadt Jerusalem!
Mitternacht heisst diese Stunde
Sie rufen und mit hellem Munde:
Wo seid ihr klugen Jungfrauen?
Wohl auf, der Bräutgam kömmt;
Steht auf, die Lampen nehmt!
Alleluja!
Macht euch bereit
Zu der Hochzeit,
Ihr müsset ihm entgegen gehn!

Now this version I transmit has probably been scrambled somewhat by Microsoft/AOL, but if the text is edited for any unintended questionmarks, copied and pasted onto Word, and then the centre alignment function applied, it forms the shape of a chalice. This image, both of the heavenly feast and of the Eucharist, is known since the text of this Chorale was historically set out in this way for symbolic purposes pre-Bach in early chorale collections.

As we previously discussed Easter in 1731 fell between the 22 and 26 March, necessitating a Cantata for the 27th Sunday in Trinity which was thus correspondingly long; just like 2008 when Easter falls on 23 March. Hence by this fluke we have one of the greatest of all vocal works.

Peter Smaill wrote (March 7, 2008):
For those intent on seeing the chalice pattern implied by the opening text of "Wachet auf", , it appears that AOL/Microsoft have double spaced the text for some inscrutable reason! Single spacing between lines gives the best effect. Enjoy!

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 7, 2008):
BWV 140 (was: BWV 204)

< Is there any historical documentation for playing around with which continuo instruments are used in Bach cantatas? For instance, it is almost standard practice to have bassoon alone with oboe in the the second duet "Mein Freund ist Mein" In "Wachet Auf". Some HIP practioners would argue that Bach intended the 16-foot tone of the bass viol to be used throughout, even in secco recitatives. >
In the excellent new recording by Publick Musick that I briefly reviewed on 2/25, with BWV 140 and three other cantatas: http://www.musicaomnia.org/bachchoral.asp

BWV 140/1 chorus, I believe everybody's in there playing, including the bassoon, but I'm not absolutely certain.

BWV 140/2 recit has organ and a remarkably quiet cello.

BWV 140/3 duet is again organ+cello, but the cellist plays more assertively here.

BWV 140/4 chorale (tenor solo) I hear the string bass added; listen to this marvelous movement for free at the link provided above. Organists will also know this from the "Schübler" chorales that Bach himself rearranged and had published.

BWV 140/5 recit has all the upper strings, cello, string bass, and organ.

BWV 140/6 duet "Mein Freund ist mein" has the bassoon and organ, no cello or bass.

BWV 140/7 chorale: as in Mvt. 1.

I should add that it all sounds terrific to me, instrumented conventionally as noted here. From the list of extant parts listed in Dreyfus's book, and from the entry in the BWV, I can't see which movements the "Bassono" was assigned to by Bach. The Bach-Gesellschaft score of BWV 140 is no help here either. Anybody have access to the NBA?

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 7, 2008):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>For those intent on seeing the chalice pattern implied by the opening text of "Wachet auf", , it appears that AOL/Microsoft have double spaced the text for some inscrutable reason! Single spacing between lines gives the best effect. Enjoy!<
I found Peters previous description so accurate, that I was able to envision the chalice from the text, without bothering with the digital translations of slightly garbled transmission.

After Jeans subsequent reference to inkblots, I began to envision even more.

Bradley Lehman wrote:
>In the excellent new recording by Publick Musick that I brireviewed on 2/25, with BWV 140 and three other cantatas: [followed by details of BWV 140 continuo]<
I was about to suggest this recording, along with any from the current Kuijken series, for good examples of current performance practice in tasteful continuo realization, often interrupted, but almost never abrupt.

Discussion of this topic on BCML has opened my ears to details I probably would not have noticed otherwise. Thanks to everyone who contributes, and a fine example of how professional input can be shared with all listeners.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 8, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] I think we might call the process educating the ear. The eye figures in, too.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 8, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote
>I think we might call the process educating the ear. The eye figures in, too.<
Amen.

Terejia wrote (March 8, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] I like your term "educating the ear", Jean. Yes, as Ed says, professional input gives a new depth of insight into aethetics and it helps my playing organ in the church, too.

BWV 140 might be a good place to start for beginners. Even in my church playing " Wachet Auf" seems to have found a favorable response from not-so-trained audience.

 

Continue on Part 6

Cantata BWV 140: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

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

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