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Cantata BWV 148
Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of October 23, 2005

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 23, 2005):
BWV 148 - Intro to Weekly Discussion

Identification:

The cantata which has been selected, based upon the chronological sequence of Bach's performances, for this week's discussion is BWV 148 "Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens" which had its first performance in Leipzig on September 19, 1723.


Provenance:

Neither the autograph score nor the original set of parts has survived. It is even possible that the only contemporary (the watermarks indicate this could only have happened after 1756) copy made by Bach's son-in-law, Johann Christoph Altnickol (1719-1759), serves as the main source and it seems to have been copied from the original score rather than from the original set of parts. This may have been the copy
which CPE Bach had in the inventory of his estate dating from 1790. This meager transmission means that much has been lost in regard to the composer's directives for performance (specific orchestration, dynamics, ornamentation, phrasing, figured bass, etc.) In particular, there is a serious gap created by the omission of any indication as to which text should be sung in the final chorale. For the NBA edition, however, the Altnickol copy is the only relevant source which was used.


Text:

It is advisable for the reader to check out, in advance of the following discussion, the prescribed readings (the liturgical connection) for the 17th Sunday after Trinity: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity17.htm

The biblical citation for the text of the introductory chorus is based on Psalm 29:2,

"Bringet dem HErrn Ehre seines Namens; betet an den
HErrn in heiligem Schmuck!
"
[Luther unrevised 1545]

"Give honor to the LORD for the glory of his name.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness."
[New Living Translation]

These words [the Luther text] agree completely with Bibles printed in Leipzig 1707 and Nürnberg 1720.

In regard to the text in the following movements, two important questions remain unanswered:

1. Who was the poet who wrote the verses?

2. Which chorale text (and which particular verse)
were intended for the final chorale?

Regarding the first question, Philipp Spitta (1841-1894) (Vol. II, pp. 992-995 of his Bach biography), had already discovered that the text of mvts. 2 to 5 point back to a poem by Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander), but in such a hidden form that you would have to be confronted with both selections listed side-by-side in order to see some of the correspondences. The poem in question appeared in Henrici's book entitled:

"Sammlung | Erbaulicher Gedancken | über und auf die | gewöhnlichen | Sonn- und Fest-Tage, | in gebundener Schreib-Art | entworffen | von | Picandern."

In this collection there is a poem for the 17th Sunday after Trinity using Alexandrine verse with no breaks for separated verses as would be the case with the cantata text. The poet chastises those who do not keep the Sabbath holy. After this Picander has 6 verses to be sung to the melody "Jesu der du meine Seele." The NBA editors find only a very generalized connection between Bach's text and Picander's. Here, for comparison, is the Picander original:

"Der Eifer trieb sie fort. Wo, sprach sie, soll ich bleiben,
Da mich die Uppigkeit will in das Elend treiben?
Wie sündlich wird der Tag des HErren zugebracht,
Wie laulicht und wie kalt der Gottesdienst geacht!
Sechs Tage magst du, Mensch, nach deinem Willen schalten,
Nur einen hat sich GOtt zur Feyer vorbehalten.
Da sollst du heilig seyn, denn GOtt will in dir ruhn,
Und du in ihm zugleich: Und du machst dir zu thun?
Du willst dich als ein Glied zur Christenheit bekennen,
Und dich, bedenck es doch, nach Christi Nahmen nennen;
Wohlan, so stelle dich bey der Versammlung ein,
Da die Erwehleten des Allerhöchsten seyn.
GOtt schärffet das Geboth, den Sabbath zu verehren,
Und will ein gantzes Land mit Dampff und Gluth zerstören,
Das seinen Sabbath schmäht; O! Volck, o! Stadt, o! Land!
Die Rache hat bereits die Ruthen in der Hand
.

Mel. JEsu der du meine Seele etc.

1.
WEg, ihr irrdischen Geschäffte,
Ich hab ietzt was anders für,
Alle meiner Seelen Kräffte
Sind, mein JEsu, bloß bey dir.
Alles dichten alles dencken,
Soll ich ietzt zum Himmel lencken,
Denn in meines Hertzens Schrein
Soll des Höchsten Ruhe seyn.

2.
Eilet, ihr behenden Füsse,
Stellet euch im Tempel ein,
Ach! wie lieblich, ach! wie süße
Soll mir GOttes Stimme seyn,
Rede Herr, dein Knecht will hören,
Weil ihm deine Lebens=Lehren
Mehr als Gold und Silber sind,
Und dich dadurch lieb gewinnt.

3.
Wie ein Hirsch aus dürrer Höhle
Nach dem frischen Wassern schreyt,
Ach! so dürstet meine Seele,
GOtt, nach deiner Lieblichkeit.
Denn mein hertzliches Verlangen
Ist allein, dich zu empfangen,
Mein Vergnügen meine Ruh,
Ist sonst niemand, außer du.

4.
Herr, mein Hertze steht dir offen,
Ach! so sencke dich hinein.
Lieben, gläuben, dulden, hoffen,
Soll dein Ruhe=Bette seyn.
Weder Leben, Sterben, Leiden,
Soll uns von einander scheiden,
Weil ich nach dem Geist und Sinn,
In dir eingewurtzelt bin

5.
Oeffne mir auch deine Wunden
O! du Felßen meiner Ruh,
Denn da bring ich meine Stunden
Ewig in Entzückung zu.
Da da werde ich alles haben,
Was mich kan unendlich laben,
Manna hab ich nur an dir,
Wie ich will, so bist du mir.

6.
Reinige mein Hertz und Willen,
Leer es aus von aller Welt.
Laß es mit den Güthern füllen,
Die im Himmel mir bestellt,
Biß ich endlich nach dem Leiden
Mich in deinem Schooße weiden,
Und den besten Ruhe=Tag
Bey dir selber halten mag.


2. The Untexted Chorale

The reader will be better prepared to understand the following discussion by first glancing at the following link: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Wo-soll-ich-fliehen-hin.htm

The ambiguity surrounding the chorale melody associated in Leipzig during Bach's lifetime with the chorale texts, "Auf meinen lieben Gott" and "Wo soll ich fliehen hin" allowed a disparity of opinion to arise regarding the best choice of text as a fitting conclusion to this cantata. While Philipp Spitta and Paul Graf Waldersee, in preparing the first printed version of this cantata in the 2nd half of the 19th century [BGA 30], had previously come up with the suggestion that the last verse of "Wo soll ich fliehen hin" should be used, Erk, Wustmann and Neumann (with which the NBA concurs) decided to choose the final verse of "Auf meinen lieben Gott" as most suitable.

However, the NBA editors (Helmuth Osthoff and Rufus Hallmark, 1984) offer the following important observation:

"The cantata text begins with praising God and the service which is accorded Him. The main ideas are concerned with calling God (invocation), praising Him, and the longing for Him and His splendor. Even in the final recitative immediately preceding the final chorale, the cantata text once again expressly refers to God. Nowhere is there any mention of Jesus Christ. This is a good reason to follow this direction to its inevitable conclusion in selecting a chorale text verse which also relates expressly to God the Father and not to Jesus Christ. As an alternative suggestion, the editors suggest the first verse of "Auf meinen lieben Gott":

"Auf meinen lieben Gott
Trau ich in Angund Not;
Er kann mich allzeit retten
Aus Trübsal, Angst und Nöten,
Mein Unglück kann er wenden
Steht alls in seinen Händen
."

Although the NBA prints the suggested text "Amen, zu aller Stund" (the last verse of "Auf meinen lieben Gott") which contains a reference to "Herr Christ," it is quite clear that this choice is fraught with problems which can not be easily reconciled with the
rest of the preceding cantata text.

Aryeh Oron, in the previous discussion of this cantata, offered the following personal viewpoint:

"I looked in the Bible at the original text of the opening Chorus (Psalm 96: 8-9) and the words were very familiar to me. And then I realised that they are actually part of 'Sidur' - the Jewish prayer book. It arose for me the question if a Bach cantata could be used as it is, also as a Jewish prayer. I am not religious, and therefore I can allow myself playing with such peculiar ideas. I looked hopefully into the other movements of this cantata. Mvt. 2 (aria for tenor) passes the test. Mvt. 3 (recitative for alto) mentions the Sabbath, which is one of the basic Mitzvoth of the Judaism. No. 4 (aria for alto) is also OK, and Mvt. 5 (recitative for tenor) mentions again the Sabbath. AFAIK, along the first 5 movements of this cantata there are not any signs alluding to its text being Christian, and there is no mention of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. And then we reach the concluding Chorale and we find 'Herr Christ' ('Lord Christ'). Except of this Chorale, I believe that the text of this cantata could have been accepted, not only by Christians, but by Jews as well. So far regarding the text, which most probably was not written by Bach, is concerned. Regarding the music, I have no doubt in my mind. Its universality stems from a genius mind, which combines humanity, with intellect, and with feelings. Bach's music crosses any barriers of religion, race, sex, or any other kind of factor, which causes people to fight one against the other. In these days of turbulent Middle East, this is an important message."

Peter Smaill pointed out how, in the chronological sequence of the cantatas recently discussed, one cantata would include references to Christ while a following cantata would not.

Behind all of this there seems to be a reasonable, deliberate outline which was being followed in the presentation of cantata texts.

On Aryeh's link to this mvt. specifically, he, I believe, has correctly placed the text options in an order which reflects current research: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/INS/BWV148-06.htm

In the first discussion devoted to this cantata, Marie Jensen commented:

"This week there are two details I don't like. None of them has to do with Bach: First: The meter in the final chorale...oucch! The two worst examples: The first Amen has a stress on "men" and this is not Missa Criolla in Spanish! "Ewiglich" with stress on "wig" is not nice either. Second: The English version in the Koopman textbook [6] is worse than ever, completely different from the original."

Her astute observation that the 'wig' of 'Ewiglich' has too much stress is revealing in that Bach places the stress on this 1st note in this measure (on 'wig') and even makes it a dotted note (this is not so in some of his other settings of this melody). The conductor is not at fault here. It is the choice of this specific verse which makes it a very awkward fit (actually, musically nonsensical.) Using the 1st option given above "Steht alls in" instead of "Ewiglich", there is no problem at all. This text "Auf meinen lieben Gott" (1st verse) fits much better than "Amen zu aller Stund." This seems to be the only time Bach dots the note on 'wig' or 'alls' in all of his other chorale settings. Check it out on the melody page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Wo-soll-ich-fliehen-hin.htm


Dating the Composition:

Without any original sources whatsoever being available to scholars, it would appear that it might be impossible to ascertain the date of the first performance. Luckily, based upon CPE Bach's inventory of his estate (1790), this cantata is listed as belonging to the first yearly cantata cycle which allows the date of the first performance to be set as September 19, 1723. The relationships, between this cantata text and Picander's verses (not before 1725) given above would most likely force this cantata to have been composed after 1725, a fact which is rather improbable. However, it is still possible that Picander may have composed his verses before 1725 but did not get them into print until 1725.


Orchestration:

A clarino (a high D-trumpet) is assumed from assessing the notation, but it still remains an open issue whether a trumpet (probably a 'tromba da tirarsi' = slide trumpet) might have been used in the final chorale or whether the trumpet player may have even played a different instrument, not in the tromba or horn group, in the final mvt.

Another question that remains unanswered is whether oboes would have been used elsewhere in the cantata (the Altnickol copy lists only oboes I, II, III for mvt. 4) such as in the 1st mvt. where according to Bach's usual practice they would support the strings or in any other mvts. after the first or also play along, as they might normally, with the upper three parts of the chorale in the last.

There are no details given about the continuo group, but it can be assumed that a typical orchestration would have included a bassoon, violoncello, violone and organ at least.


Text & Translations:

For German text (Bischof): http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/148.html
English Translation: (Ambrose): http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV148.html
Another English Translation (Dellal {Emmanuel}: Movements side-by-side): http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/notes_trans/transl_cantata/bwv148.htm
French (Grivois: Note-to-note): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV148-Fre4.htm
Hebrew (Oron): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV148-Heb1.htm
Indonesian (Pardede: Word-for-word): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV148-Ind.htm
Spanish (Casabona): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV148-Spa5.htm

PDF file of score (Vocal/Piano): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV148-V&P.pdf
Continuo Score samples of what is left out in many HIP performances: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/Continuo4-Sco.htm

Some Short Commentaries Available:

Crouch: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/148.html
AMG (James Leonard): http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:147417~T1
Spanish (Reyes): http://www.cantatasdebach.com/148.html


Recorded Music Available for Listening:

Harnoncourt [5] (m3u) & Leusink [8] (RAM): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV148-Mus.htm

Here is a more extended commentary on this cantata from the "Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach" ed. Boyd, Oxford University Press, 1999:

>>"Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines " ('Ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto his name'). Cantata BWV 148, for the 17th Sunday after Trinity, first performed on either 19 September 1723 or 25 September 1725. *[This latter date is only possible if certain assumptions as given above are preferred over CPE Bach's testimony.] The anonymous libretto is based on (or possibly an earlier version of) a libretto by Picander, "Weg, ihr irdischen Geschäfte," which was published in his "Erbauliche Gedancken" (1725) but draws on the Psalter for the opening chorus (taken from Psalm 96: 8-9, or alternatively from Psalm 29: 2). The central theme of the text is drawn from the Gospel for the day (Luke 14: 1-11), which concerns the legitimacy of healing on the Sabbath. The librettist, who on the whole seems in sympathy more with the Pharisees' view of the episode than with the evangelist's, lays a heavy emphasis on the inviolability of the Sabbath consecrated to the praise of God.

Cantata 148 is scored for SATB with trumpet in D, three oboes, strings, and continuo, and follows the six-movement form frequently found in the Leipzig cantatas. The opening chorus, jubilant in tone, is divided into two halves by a central entry of part of the instrumental ritornello (bars 100-9). The chorus parts are partly based on a fugal treatment of the fanfare-like opening figure of the ritornello, which is unusually long and complex, and supplies much of the material for the movement. There is no closing instrumental ritornello, although the final section (bars 114-47) is essentially a rescored repetition.

The second movement, 'Ich eile, die Lehre des Lebens zu hören' ('I hasten to hear the teaching of life'), is a tenor aria in B minor with a florid obbligato for solo violin. The violin part moves with appropriately fleeting motion and makes a feature of arpeggiation across the strings. The aria is in ritornello form, with an effect of recapitulation created by the return to B minor at bar 92. After the subsequent accompanied recitative for tenor, cadencing in G major, there follows a second aria, 'Mund und Herze steht Dir offen', for alto, accompanied by two oboes, oboe da caccia, and continuo. It is in 'da capo' form and has a placid, pastoral tone imparted by the reed instruments, with much of the material generated by the short, uncomplicated phrases of the ritornero. The central section includes undulating ostinato figures appropriately representing the text 'Glaube, Liebe, Dulden, Hoffen, Soll mein Ruhebette sein' ('Belief, love, endurance, and hope shall be my resting couch').

After a final tenor recitative comes the closing chorale in a plain four-part harmonization. It is untexted, but the melody was associated with two hymn texts, "Auf meinen lieben Gott" and "Wo soll ich fliehen hin," and presumably a strophe from one of these would have been sung here. DLH

[DLH David Humphreys is a lecturer in music at the University of Wales, Cardiff. He graduated at Cambridge University and went on to take the Ph.D. with a dissertation on the Elizabethan and Jacobean motet. He has since taken an interest in symbolism and attribution problems in the music of Bach, on which he has published a book and several articles, and he has also undertaken research on the lutenist and composer Philip van Wilder.]<<


Recordings:

A list of all known recordings is available at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV148.htm

They include recordings (in chronological order) by Gönnenwein [1], Richter [2], Rilling [3], Harnoncourt [5], Koopman [6], Suzuki [7], and Leusink [8].

In addition to comments on the above, especially as to the choice of the correct chorale verse to insert into the untexted final chorale and the probable orchestration used throughout the cantata, I invite all readers, listeners, and particularly all list members, no matter which recording or recordings they might own or listen to with the help of internet sources listed above, to share their thoughts and opinions regarding the recordings or other specific aspects of this composition and its background.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 23, 2005):
BWV 148: The main motive of the opening chorus

The trumpet gives out the main motive of the movement in the first eight bars, with the eighth bar serving to modulate from D major to A major. This motive, syncopated and rhythmically strong, is then heard in the 1st violins; this is the last time the motive is heard in its entirety until he arrival of the final section of the movement.

The first choral section, accompanied by continuo alone, is homophonic, with the first half of the main motive heard in the sopranos, and (a variation of) the second half continued in the basses.

After the following ritornello, we have a fugue beginning in the sopranos whose subject is the first half of the main motive, followed after three bars by this semi motive in the altos; both the entries of these voices are masked to an extent by simultaneous homophonic writing in the tenors and basses, but the situation becomes clear when one hears just the sopranos and altos continuing fugally, with the addition of another three bars before the tenors and finally basses enter with the semi-motive. This section concludes with the trumpet also announcing the semi- motive (1st half of the main motive). Notice the entries of the (semi) subject in this first fugal section are in the order SATB,trumpet.

Immediately we have the second fugue whose subject is the second half of the main motive, and this proceeds in the order TAS,trumpet,B.

Following the next ritornello, we have the final (homophonic) section of the movement performed by the entire ensemble; as mentioned above (but after a choral presentation in which the sopranos give the first half of the main motive) the complete main motive is once again heard, first in the trumpet (accompanied first half by sopranos then 2nd half by altos) and for the last time in its entirety, in the sopranos. Thereafter, the choral and instrumental writing becomes freer in form, as it approaches the movement's ecstatic conclusion.

(BTW, the piano-vocal score, available at the BCW, is worth consulting, as always. The trumpet part having the complete main motive, is shown with notes having up stems on the treble clef, in the first eight bars; in bars six, seven and eight, the trumpet part is the highest part moving in 1/8 notes).

Santu de Silva wrote (October 24, 2005):
At last, here we are with the cantata which is the home of one of my favorite choruses!

The opening chorus of 148 is one of my absolute favorites. I tried repeatedly to analyze the structure of the fugue, but I keep getting distracted by the sheer exuberance of it! The version I'm listening to now is by Koopman [6] --oh, it's over, and too soon!-- but I have enjoyed equally Harnoncourt/Leonhardt's version [5], as well as that of Reginal Jacques / King's College. (This last I'm not sure of, I'm sure I have heard it, but I have never been able to find the recording again! The one place I haven't looked is on our Bach Cantatas Website, I must confess.)

I do like the contralto aria also, again without the objectivity that Tom Braatz entreats us to use in listening these works! They make me want to get up and sing along, though I've become pretty good at resisting this urge.

The chorale, too, is wonderful.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 24, 2005):
I wrote:
<"This motive, syncopated and rhythmically strong, is then heard in the 1st violins; this is the last time the motive is heard in its entirety until the arrival of thfinal section of the movement">.

With further listening to this music without looking at the score, I heard another complete entry of the main motive in the continuo, at the end of the introductory ritornello (in what are the last seven bars, without the modulatory eighth bar, confirmed by the BGA but not made clear in the piano reduction score).
----------
So in the entire movement, the complete main motive occurs (I think!) only five times when allotted to a single instrumental or vocal part -three times in the opening ritornello (successively on trumpet, 1st violins, and continuo) and twice near the beginning of the final choral section, first on trumpet, then immediately taken up by sopranos.

There are three more instances where the main motive occurs in a complete form, but with its first and second halves allotted to different vocal or instrumental lines: in the first (homophonic) entrance of the choir (where the allotment is from S to B); the crossover from the first to the second fugue (allotment changes from trumpet to T voice), and the accompanying voices to the complete trumpet statement (S to A) near the start of the movement's final section. The case of the change from fugue 1 to fugue 2 is especially striking, because the key also changes (from trumpet, in D major) to tenors (on "betet", in A major).
-----------
I find this type of structural analysis aids in the appreciation of complex music such as this, if one has access to the BGA or NBA (plus the vocal-piano score - available at the BCW - to get around those horrible vocal clefs in the BGA!). But obviously people will respond to the sheer musicality and vitality of this brilliant and joyous movement, without concerning themselves with such matters.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 24, 2005):
Neil Halliday (is it 2 'l's or just one?) wrote:
>>I find this type of structural analysis aids in the appreciation of complex music such as this....<<
Here is an analysis of the 1st mvt. courtesy mainly of Alfred Dürr on pp. 621-622 of his "Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Kantaten" [Bärenreiter, 1995 (last revision)]

Aryeh Oron kindly provided a page on the BCW at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV148-M1.htm

If I have time I will supply the instances of the 2nd fugal subject ("betet an den Herrn...") for examination.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 25, 2005):
BWV 148: Structural Analysis 1st mvt..

With Aryeh's kind help, an addition has been made to the page devoted to the structural analysis of the 1st mvt.

The treatment of the 2nd fugue subject can now be viewed at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV148-M1.htm

A careful study of this entire page will reveal to the satisfaction of some listeners what methods Bach has used to create a fully integrated movement where everything seems to unfold from only a few kernel ideas and then to be intensively interlinked with repetitions and variations of musical forms/shapes of melody. One way to describe this process of developing/unfolding a musical idea is to think of a 'Gestalt' or "Urform" as Goethe applied this term to his scientific investigations. The "Urpflanze" ["original form of a plant" "the mother/father of all plants"] incorporates/embodies, in a very basic form, all the varied possibilities that may arise from it. From a basic musical form, such as a fugue subject, Bach was able to envision in his mind all the potential possibilities of how things would work out well or would not be suitable for treatment when being developed further.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 25, 2005):
< http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV148-M1.htm
A careful study of this entire page will reveal to the satisfaction of some listeners what methods Bach has used to create a fully integrated movement where everything seems to unfold from only a few kernel ideas and then to be intensively interlinked with repetitions and variations of musical forms/shapes of melody. >
Which portions of that page are available in books by Alfred Dürr? The header line sort of implies that it all is. (Clarity of attribution, please?) Or does it switch over at the point where Dürr is no longer quoted for the rest of the page? Does Dürr really cite the bar 49 "continuo very approximate" entrance, or say that the mm 51-54 are "full-chorus"? (These are serious questions, to understand which parts are really by Dürr, as I don't have his book handy, but they don't seem to me like something that Dürr would say.)

There's no quarrel from me that Bach expanded small motivic ideas to make larger and "fully integrated" compositions; that's basic compositional practice and hardly remarkable. I'm just wondering which parts of this are Dürr's analysis, and which parts (if any) are a "value-added reseller" attempt by anyone other than Dürr. I like Dürr's book about the WTC where he picks apart the little musical motifs, and lays out a graphical structure of each fugue. One can see at a glance, viewing the fugue graph as a whole, wherever there are any little sections (episodes) that are non-thematic; it's a good clear presentation, with the assumption that any serious reader of his analysis will have a separate score handy for direct consultation.

A side point, a more general one: in a closely-worked composition such as a fugue or a vocal-ensemble movement, a large part of the musical interest really comes from the free material that is put up against subject entrances and subject modifications, in the continuations of the other parts. The workout of little motifs into larger themes is mainly a scaffolding to give the piece some large coherent structure, some form, a skeleton. That will be there, but so what? The musical felicity is what happens in the free counterpoint, making melodic and harmonic tensions against the stuff that is already in place as a "given". More fun and inspiration in analysis can be had by teasing out all the little stuff that the composer did between the subjects, where he had some free workspace to fill in with intuitive and capricious ideas. Where did the composer make little expansions or shortcuts, or jam the ideas together more tightly than one might expect, or put less-interesting ideas for relief, or do things that look deliberately irrational against the pedantic backdrop of his structure?

In performance--and in analysis--that's an argument not to downplay (or make quieter or more unobtrusive) the non-thematic material. But, some ensembles (and keyboard soloists, and analysts) still dutifully pound out the subjects, triumphantly emphasizing scaffolding ahead of the supple musculature and graceful movements. [The 1961 Karl Richter B minor mass (BWV 232) recording especially comes to mind here: every subject entrance brought out much louder than the stuff around it....] Without a really creative composer (as Bach was) handling the free material, in the foreground, fugues turn into little more than pedantic and uninspired workouts: permuting the transpositions and modifications of the themes, but without any real life to it. Dry analysis as a blueprint to compose a pedantic piece, creativity-by-numbers like paint-by-numbers kits!

In appreciating a tiger, what visitor to the zoo really wants to focus on merely the bones that hold the beast together? The more interesting thing about a tiger is the way it moves, and the way all its parts together appear to have unified purpose, plus whatever the viewer projects onto it as to the behavior of mammals different from oneself; all the stuff that is hardly apparent in the mere blueprint to build a tiger.

Laurence Dreyfus has pointed out a good use for skeletal reductions, as only an intermediate stage to appreciating all the free material and its varied purpose when it is put back in. (Subtract it first, to see why it is necessary to exist....) From his analysis of the C major fugue, WTC 1: "Laying out the devices without the incremental layers of free counterpoint, as Bacdid when he 'disposed' the results of his RESEARCH (as shown in skeletal form in Ex. 5.6), reveals a great deal about the ultimate logic of the fugue as a complete piece of music as well as about the relation between fugal invention and the harmonic process within which the devices participate. Even though one must not consider the disposed inventions as an empirical stage in Bach's compositional process, it is useful to postulate this stage as representing a kind of contrapuntal background against which the free voices were elaborated, no matter what actual order he composed them in. Heard against the completed work, moreover, the skeletal disposition exposes the daring and ingenuity of Bach's free counterpoint as well as casting light on irritations in his voice-leading that he attempted to eliminate, perhaps ultimately without achieving an unqualified success. As is well known, canonic devices in particular can result in exceedingly dry if not downright awkward counterpoint, for the simple reason that there is a limit to how many pleasing combinations can be produced by successive recursions of a single musical line onto itself. The task of the free voices was first of all to cover up each infelicity, if not to turn it to bold advantage. To a great extent this is exactly what the free voices manage to do in the C major fugue. As seen in Ex. 5.7, the free voices in mm. 7-9 and 17-19 provide a completely unexpected harmonic environment in which to house the contrapuntal complex; indeed, some of the most compelling measures in this fugue owe their existence to this kind of elaboration, which merges seamlessly with the inventive process. The free voices also have to cope with the harmonic punctuation and provide medial and final cadences in the conventional keys, a task in which the canonic combinations do not participate, since these strettos have trouble enough coping with the treatment of dissonances and avoiding impermissible fifths and octaves. Bach's fugal invention can make extraordinary cognitive demands which sometimes even require that we hear a piece out of time, as for example in the F# minor fugue, which seems to suggest a relatively static rather than a dynamic reading, even upon first acquaintance...." (pp 153-5, Bach and the patterns of invention, 1996)

That's the type of analysis that I personally find compelling, while working out these pieces for performance. I have to understand why every note is in there, especially in the free material, so I can decide how much emphasis to give it within the performance as a whole; not just bashing out every subject entrance. Subject entrances are like people in a crowd wearing bright red: it's easy to pick them out without any effort, just because the consistent redness draws attention to itself. So what? The more interesting aspects of the crowd might well be the people who are NOT wearing red, and the things they are doing.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 25, 2005):
BWV 148 - Anabasis or Catabasis (or both?) Eric Chafe

In keeping with his main theory (anabasis/catabasis of keys in Bach's cantatas), Eric Chafe "Analyzing Bach Cantatas" [Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 263, footnote 14] gives this observation why BWV 148 fits into the category of catabasis cantatas (keys moving downward and having, for this reason, a special significance. Unfortunately a twist at the end makes this cantata partake of aspects of both anabasis and catabasis. BWV 148 moves down from D major through B minor, G major to E minor and then ends in F sharp minor:

>>In this connection we might compare the ending of "Christum wir sollen loben schon" [BWV 121] with that of Cantata 148, "Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens," for the seventeenth Sunday after Trinity, 1723. The latter work features a "descending" sequence of movement keys from its initial D major (chorus), through B minor (aria) and G major (recitative and aria), to E minor (recitative beginning), in conjunction with the idea of the "indwelling" of God in humankind: "Denn Gott wohnt selbst in mir" (ending of first recitative); "Mund und Herze steht dir offen, Höchster, senke dich hinein!" (second aria); "Bleib auch, mein Gott, in mir" (second recitative). After the arrival on e, the prayer for God to give His Spirit leads to the anticipation of eternity: "Damit ich nach der Zeit in deiner Herrlichkeit, mein lieber Gott, mit dir den großen Sabbat möge halten," at which point Bach shifts to f# for the remainder of the recitative, remaining in that key for the final chorale as well. The descent by thirds up to the penultimate movement mirrors the indwelling of God through the Spirit, while the shift from e to f # mirrors the anticipation of eternity. In contrast with Cantata BWV 121, however, the ending of Cantata 148 is a securely established minor, whose final harmony is altered to major.<<

In his earlier book "Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach" [University of California Press, 1991, p. 205], Chafe writes about the shift upwards that transpires within the second recitative (mvt. 5) which begins in E minor, but then >>the modulatory direction is then reversed to end in F sharp minor, the key of the final chorale. although the reversal and higher ending of Cantata 148 might qualify it for one of the other categories, its textual relationships to several other catabasis cantatas are more significant. Here the descent is associated with increasing intimacy with God, first through the teaching of the church on the Sabbath (mvt. 2), then, as the close of the first recitative indicates, through God's indwelling in the individual ("Denn Gott wohnt selbst in mir".) The latter idea is expanded in the alto aria with two oboes d'amore and oboe da caccia, "Mund und Herze steht dir offen, Höchster, senke dich hinein! Ich in dich, und du in mich; Glaube, Liebe, Dulden, Hoffen soll mein Ruhebette sein," a sentiment that is very close to that of "Erschallet, ihr Lieder." And the beginning of the second recitative reiterates the prayer: "Bleib auch, mein Gott, in mir" (E minor.) The change of direction coincides with the appearance of the Spirit and the anticipation of eternity:

"Und gib mir deinen Geist, der mich nach deinem Wort regiere, dass ich so einen Wandel führe, der dir gefällig heisst, damit ich nach der Zeit in deiner Herrlichkeit, mein lieber, Gott, mit dir den grossen Sabbat möge halten."<<

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 26, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Which portions of that page are available in books by Alfred Dürr? The header line sort of implies that it all is.<<
The key-word here is 'sort of' with the beginning being entirely Dürr's and I picked up where he left off. If I were to get this printed in 'Early Music' or some other music journal or book, I would certainly have carefully separated the two sections.

BL:>> Does Dürr really cite the bar 49 "continuo very approximate" entrance,<<
No, that was my insertion and I would not count it as an exact or nearly exact image of the motif. I simply put it there to illustrate the extent of variation or transformation of the motif that still allows us to see it as belonging to this motif family.

BL:>>or say that the mm 51-54 are "full-chorus"? <<
Dürr refers to this as a "4-taktigen vollstimmigen Chorkomplex" which is not identical to the quasi-'Devisen' choral block that constitutes the first entry of the chorus (mm 34-41.)

Dürr is trying to distinguish between the first entry of the chorus and the next choral section where all the voices (and players of the orchestra) are performing simultaneously with the sopranos having the announcement of the 1st fugue subject (rather unusual for Bach) after which the fugue develops rather normally as Neil pointed out: A, T, B, Clarino. Dürr calls this phenomenon: "Verschleierung" ("'a pulling of a veil' over the beginning of a normal choral fugue.") I had originally translated this as a 'disguised' beginning of a fugue.

BL:>> I'm just wondering which parts of this are Dürr's analysis, and which parts (if any) are a "value-added reseller" attempt by aother than Dürr.<<
Instead of disparaging my efforts as a 'value-added reseller,' I would appreciate further enlightenment from experts who can point out precisely where something I have offered is incorrect and needs to be changed. I would hope that your efforts as a
performer are simply that of a 'value-added reseller' and not one who would willingly distort Bach's music by emphasizing only the oddities and 'teasing out all the little stuff that the composer did between the subjects' to the detriment of the 'skeleton'-structure which holds everything together. How often have I listened to Harnoncourt's recordings of Bach's cantatas and have noticed that certain fugal entrances were inaudible, just as if Bach had never written them
down for us to hear.

BL:>>In performance--and in analysis--that's an argument not to downplay (or make quieter or more unobtrusive) the non-thematic material. But, some ensembles (and keyboard soloists, and analysts) still dutifully pound out the subjects, triumphantly emphasizing scaffolding ahead of the supple musculature and graceful movements.<<
And it was Harnoncourt, in particular, who set in motion the type of micro-managing HIP performances in which Bach's over-arching, long phrases are slashed into many pieces consisting of 2- or 3-notes of which the first receives a hammer-blow to distract everyone's attention from the overall structure of a section and the other notes are diminished to the point of inaudibility.

BL:>>.all the stuff that is hardly apparent in the mere blueprint to build a tiger. <<
Bach generally gave us much more than a 'mere blueprint to build a tiger' by indicating his intentions more meticulously than almost any other composer living during his era. The problem lies with performers who callously disregard the composer's intentions (recently when I listened to a Harnoncourt recording of one of the cantatas being discussed, Harnoncourt had changed substantially all of the phrase markings Bach had indicated. Harnoncourt split up the longer phrases with many shorter ones giving him even more opportunity to drop notes or make them practically inaudible.)

Dreyfus states: >>Bach's fugal invention can make extraordinary cognitive demands which sometimes even require that we hear a piece out of time<<

What does this mean? Take the time signature away? Make every note have an equal value? What kind of exercise is this?

BL: >>I have to understand why every note is in there, especially in the free material, so I can decide how much emphasis to give it within the performance as a
whole; not just bashing out every subject entrance.<<
Too much emphasis on the 'free material' is just as bad as 'bashing out every subject entrance. (Too many trees and little sight of the woods.) Ideally everything should be audible as the composer intended it.

BL:>> Subject entrances are like people in a crowd wearing bright red: it's easy to pick them out without any effort, just because the consistent redness draws attention to itself. So what? The more interesting aspects of the crowd might well be the people who are NOT wearing red, and the things they are doing.<<
Certainly any listener with a keen ear to appreciate subtleties would desire a performance which allows both skeleton structure and more subtle 'free' passages with interesting aspects to be heard.

What I keep on discovering in an analysis of a cantata choral movement such as this one is how much of the 'free' material is not really 'free' but derived from the kernel motif(s). You can peel away the outer skin (skeleton structure) only to discover that Bach had provided a number of different levels and all of these levels are interesting and come from the top level, but certainly one level should not be favored over another. It is this type of material which gives this movement its tight coherency, a coherency against which many HIP conductors militate by dissecting, bashing out 2- or 3-note phrases, speeding up the tempo to make this sacred music into a light, courtly entertainment (easy on the ears for background listening.) HIP practitioners who indulge in performance tactics of this sort are literally distorting Bach's intentions (and we know most of his intentions when he notates carefully which notes are to be heard (not simply dropped or cut extremely short) and how these notes should ideally be presented with his articulation, ornamentation, dynamics, etc. and not be left open to the various types of distortion which have become commonplace with many HIP recordings.

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 26, 2005):
HIP Conductors in one bed (was: BWV 148: Structural Analysis 1st mvt.)

[To Thomas Braatz & Bradley Lehman]
Thomas Braatz wrote:
"What I keep on discovering in an analysis of a cantata choral movement such as this one is how much of the 'free' material is not really 'free' but derived from the kernel motif(s). You can peel away the outer skin (skeleton structure) only to discover that Bach had provided a number of different levels and all of these levels are interesting and come from the top level, but certainly one level should not be favored over another. It is this type of material which gives this movement its tight coherency, a coherency against which many HIP conductors militate by dissecting, bashing out 2- or 3-note phrases, speeding up the tempo to make this sacred music into a light, courtly entertainment (easy on the ears for background listening.) HIP practitioners who indulge in performance tactics of this sort are literally distorting Bach's intentions (and we know most of his intentions when he notates carefully which notes are to be heard (not simply dropped or cut extremely short) and how these notes should ideally be presented with his articulation, ornamentation, dynamics, etc. and not be left open to the various types of distortion which have become commonplace with many HIP recordings."
Although, I certainly agree that many choral movements in H&L joint cycle are corrupted by the tendency to break the musical lines into many separate pieces (Harnoncourt does it more than Leonhardt), I can hardly concur with the generalisation of putting all the HIP performers into one bed. Who of the familiar HIP conductors has adopted this approach: Herreweghe? Koopman? Suzuki? Gardiner? Leusink? Rifkin? J. Thomas? Based on interviews I have read and heard with conductors as Koopman (recent Goldberg's Bach volume on the web), Gardiner (TV), Herreweghe (TV), Leusink (BCW), and Koopman (TV), and careful comparative listening to almost every available recording of the cantatas along 4 intensive years (1st cycle of cantata discussions), I know that each one of these conductors has developed his approach individually. I believe that none of them saw H&L scheme as a model that should be adopted. Herreweghe and Koopman specifically said that they have developed their own approaches as a counter-approach to H&L. It is too late now to go further into this matter. I shall only sum up by saying that every generalisation is dangerous and might lead to wrong conclusions. Each performer should be judged on his own terms. How close he is to Bach's intentions and what "added value" does he offer to the listeners.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 26, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] An interesting and valuable speculative analysis by Chafe.

But the simpler method is to listen directly to the specific sounds of those keys. Set up a harpsichord/organ/piano with the specification at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/larips/vocal.html , download the voice-and-piano score: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV148.htm
and play through the whole cantata listening for the different tensions of those keys to find out what expressive thrust they might have.

That last chorale, for example, ends on the brightest major chord available on the organ. (The most intensely beating, and energetic.)

In the first movement, some of the most poignant spots are where the C naturals intrude into D major. In the second movement, one of the most expreand surprising chords happens just a few seconds before the tenor singer enters, at
the end of that introduction. The most harmonically intense stuff happens during "und suche mit Freuden das heilige Haus" and in the interlude immediately following it.

The alto recit "So wie der Hirsch" starts off with an absolutely startling contrast, where the G major is the calmest thing available and is so much more relaxed than the B minor and F# major/minor we just heard through the preceding aria. "O, wenn die Kinder..." is considerably more tense, and then it relaxes again at "Gott wohnt selbst in mir."

The next big surprise is on the downbeat of the fourth of the four "Mund und Herze" in the aria. And then the middle section of this aria is more intense than the other two around it, simply because E minor has such a strong-sounding dominant adding tension to the proceedings; great compositional contrast here.

There doesn't really have to be any guesswork about harmonic shifts being an "anticipation of eternity" or whatever. The contrasts between the keys are right there in the sound for direct perception. And the end of the cantata leaves us charged-up, with its intense brightness.

A couple of weeks ago, with a musical guest to the house, I played through large chunks of the B minor Mass that way. My guest reported being "blown away" by the way the music has naturally-moving tensions and relaxations in it, and always appropriate to the liturgical point in the piece. That is, having some clear expressive purpose that helps the composition's intensity of contrasts. The act of interpretation becomes relatively easy: just listen to what the music is already doing harmonically/melodically, and respond instinctively to those shifts of tension.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 26, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks for the link to the web page of these examples of the score, Tom.

Readers can see what I refer to as "the complete main motive" in the first seven bars of the upper clef shown there.

I need to add what I hope is the final correction to my own analysis; namely, there are six, not five, expositions of the complete main motive in the movement (when allotted to a single line, or a line that is doubled by another voice, as in the final bars). I should have looked at the last eight bars of the movement, because here we have the continuo doubled by the choir basses singing the complete main motive set to the two lines of text (and remember, there are only two lines of text for the entire movement).

Hence the resulting overall symmetry, i.e., in the opening ritornello, the complete main motive occurs three times, successively on trumpet, 1st violins, and continuo, while in the closing choral section (labelled `D' in the vocal-piano score) the complete main motive also occurs thrice, successively on trumpet, choir sopranos, and (at the close) continuo doubled by choir basses.

(I have noted three others occurrences of the complete motive that differ in that the two halves are allotted to different vocal/instrumental lines, eg, in the opening (homophonic) choral section, the sopranos have the first half of the motive (sung to the first line of text), while the second half of the motive is immediately taken up by the basses singing the second line of the text, so that the complete motive sung to the complete text is started by the sopranos and finished by the basses).

The point of all this is that non-musicians, or people who don't read scores, can at least discover the skeleton of the music, to which they can attach more and more of the flesh as they become more and more familiar with the music. I admit to not becoming aware of the occurrence of the complete main motive in the continuo in the movement's closing bars, until after quite a few hearings. (Gosh, Bach sure must have been writing for himself, or posterity! How much of this music was comprehended by the poor parishioners at the first performance who heard it but once in their lives?).

For example, listen to the Rilling amazon example (link at the BCW recording page) [3], not because it's necessarily the best recording, but because it illustrates the point: everyone ought to be able to come to recognise the main motive that is first presented on the trumpet (takes about 10 seconds), is immediately presented by the 1st violins (with the trumpet now adopting an `accompanying' role, then after a section built on subsidiary motives (often short sections of the main motive, as Tom has pointed out) is finally heard in the continuo (for score readers, bars 27-33; note that the first note of the motive begins on an off-beat and is therefore extended by being tied over
into the following bar 27).

----------

I agree with Aryeh's comments regarding the Richter [2] and Rilling [3] recordings of the opening chorus, ie, they are somehow quiet, with a restricted frequency range, and lack `oomph'. I have to turn the amp up for the Rilling recording, and then turn it down again for the other cantatas that follow on this same disk! But both have good points. Richter's choir well captures the exciting whirling, imitative, even contrary motion of the ecstatic choral elements of the closing pages of the score (or rather, all these elements add up to produce an ecstatic effect). Pity about the organ accompanying the choir!

Harnoncourt [5] (sample) and Leusink [8] have some `bite', but lack polish. Leusink's trumpet, with the main motive in the first 8 bars fades severely on several notes; OTOH, his alto entry in the `1st fugue' is quite clear (if I remember rightly).

Koopman [6] is another one that is quiet, lacking sparkle or drive, in the opening chorus (ritornello especially - amazon sample).

Suzuki [7] (sample) offers a performance that is lively, vital, and polished, but where's the main motive in the 1st violins (bars 9-15)?

I would certainly buy Goennenwein's performance of this chorus, judging by Aryeh's remarks, but this recording appears not to be available commercially.

Arjen van Gijssel wrote (October 26, 2005):
Aryeh Oron stated:
"I shall only sum up by saying that every generalisation is dangerous and might lead to wrong conclusions. Each performer should be judged on his own terms. "
I agree. The remark by Thomas that HIP is "easy on the ears" is more appropriate for that other guy (Rilling), who Thomas so admires. Rilling has made an adaptation of Bach's baroque musique to modern times, to a modern audience. Wasn't that for convenience?

John Pike wrote (October 26, 2005):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Herreweghe and Koopman specifically said that they have developed their own
approaches as a counter-approach to H&L. >
Of course, Herreweghe was choral director for a number of those H+L recordings so he was able to see intimately their ways of working. His own approach, if a counter-approach, (and I'm not questioning that) is nevertheless based on a profound understanding of H+L's approach and any shortcomings in it.

John Pike wrote (October 26, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] I forgot to say that Suzuki was trained in the west, by Koopman and others, I think, and his own style, though maybe individual and distinctive, nevertheless has behind it a profound understanding of the approaches of many of these western HIP conductors.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 26, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>An interesting and valuable speculative analysis by Chafe.<<
And an even more speculative analysis is one which expects a listener to listen "for the different tensions of those keys to find out what expressive thrust they might have." Statements such as "G major is the calmest thing available and is so much more relaxed than the B minor and F# major/minor" based upon an improvised temperament, a variation of a multitude of different temperaments still circulating among musicians during Bach's lifetime and still being devised today, fly in the face of documentary evidewhich points to the possibility of equal temperament as a desired, ideal goal which would resolve all the problematical aspects caused by all other non-equal temperament solutions.

On p. 438 of Johann Mattheson's "Das Forschende Orchestre," the 3rd of his three 'Orchestre-Schriften' published in Hamburg in 1721, the author states: "Käme es dereinst / wie zu wünschen / mit einer solchen gleich=schwebenden Temperatur auf allen Instrumenten / insonderheit auf Orgeln / zum Stande / so würde das Gehör / von dessen Zärtlichkeit hier nur die Frage / nicht mehr so viel beleydiget werden." ["If, at some point in the future, the time would come as one would wish {Mattheson is speaking not only for himself, but for all musicians with sensitive ears who do not want to hear obvious differences in various keys as indicated by Brad Lehman} that such a 'gleich-schwebend' temperament {'equal-beating' = intervals such as 4ths and 5ths would beat at an equal rate within the temperament octave with the 4ths beating wide and the 5ths narrow and the 4ths wider than the 5ths are narrow, which is essentially equal temperament allowing all keys/tonalities to be played without favoring any one of them - Mattheson explains this elsewhere} would be available on all instruments, in particular on organs, then your hearing, the sensitivity of which is being discussed here, would no longer have to suffer such insults {insults caused by
the 'out-of-tuneness' of all the other non-equal temperaments.}"]

This statement was widely circulated among musicians through this important book with which Bach would certainly have been acquainted and possibly even had his own copy of this. There is also the possibility that Bach and Mattheson had personal contact around this time as well. One year after this book appeared, Bach assembled and composed his first volume of "Das Wohltemperierte Klavier I," mainly between 1720 and his autograph copy from Köthen, 1722, just at a time when this search for and adaptation of equal temperament on the part of important musicians was becoming acute (it would take many decades, however, before it would become a standard.) The question certainly remains whether Bach would favor the conservatives who were unwilling to accept and adapt to the demands of equal temperament, or whether he was a true musical pioneer as he had demonstrated in the
cantatas recently discussed on the BCML. If he was an experimenter who dared to try out things that others had never put into practice before him, what would hold him back from seeing, as Mattheson could only envision as an ideal, the practicability of equal temperament for composing and modulating in and out of keys/tonalities without encountering stressful, infelicitous harmonic shifts which 'offended sensitive ears' ['die Zärtlichkeit des Gehörs beleidigen'] as Mattheson so aptly put it. The timing of the appearance of the WTC1 places this important work at the forefront of sets of compositions similar in organization to Bach's that had been composed previously, but it was the much higher quality of Bach's compositions and the opportune moment in history to assemble this significant work that would profoundly affect great composers/musicians after its appearance in print.

John Pike wrote (October 27, 2005):
BWV 148

Another very enjoyable cantata, especially the wonderful opening chorus.
I have listened to Leusink [8], Harnoncourt [5] and Rilling [3] and enjoyed them all, especially Harnoncourt's robust opening chorus.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 27, 2005):
"Improvied"?

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< And an even more speculative analysis is one which expects a listener to listen "for the different tensions of those keys to find out what expressive thrust they might have." Statements such as "G major is the calmest thing available and is so much more relaxed than the B minor and F# major/minor" based upon an improvised temperament, a variation of a multitude of different temperaments still circulating among musicians during Bach's lifetime and still being devised today, fly in the face of documentary evidence which points to the possibility of equal temperament as a desired, ideal goal which would resolve all the problematical aspects caused by all other non-equal temperament solutions. >
"An improvised temperament"? Provocative.

Please explain how the condescending word "improvised" there, in intent, is anything but personal contempt against bothering to read my research, and against bothering to try out my proposed formulas directly in Bach's music, using a harpsichord or organ. Yesterday I reported my experiment of playing through cantata BWV 148 and making notes of the features that most caught my attention, tonally. Anyone is welcome to reproduce that same experiment with the conditions I described, to test empirically that hypothesis I have put forth. That plus the rest of the music listed at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/larips/vocal.html
and: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/larips/testpieces.html

I was under the impression, myself, that my published temperament proposals are based on 22 years of practical experience (tuning harpsichords by ear) and historical research (studying same), along with a close analysis of Bach's music and other written documentation by him. I've also been doing computerized analysis of keyboard temperament structures, for the latter 20 of those years, with various BASIC and Pascal programs and then with spreadsheets that I developed for this purpose of research (and for part of which I earned doctoral credit). That's the basis of my publications. How is this improvisation?

And is it presumed that I somehow don't know what my work "flies in the face of"? That I'm somehow unable to sift properly the "documentary evidence" on my own chosen topic, but need to be instructed in this process by somebody who gets to decide what "even more speculative analysis" is?

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 28, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
BL: >>"An improvised temperament"? Provocative.
Please explain how the condescending word "improvised" there, in intent, is anything but personal contempt against bothering to read my research, and against bothering to try out my proposed formulas directly in Bach's music, using a harpsichord or organ.<<
My response: "'A value-added reseller' attempt"? Provocative.

Please explain how the condescending words "attempt" at 'value-added reseller', in intent, is anything but personal contempt against bothering seriously to study and offer criticism of my additional material on the analysis of this experimental introductory mvt. of a Bach cantata currently being discussed.

BL: >>I was under the impression, myself, that my published temperament proposals are based on 22 years of practical experience (tuning harpsichords by ear) and historical research (studying same), along with a close analysis of Bach's music and other written documentation by him. I've also been doing computerized analysis of keyboard temperament structures, for the latter 20 of those years, with various BASIC and Pascal programs and then with spreadsheets that I developed for this purpose of research (and for part of which I earned doctoral credit). That's the basis of my publications. How is this improvisation?<<
It is simply one theoretical temperament out of a number of proposed temperaments that has been put forth and offered for study by musicians during Bach's era as well as during the past half-century, but in lieu of a firm statement by Bach that he did not ascribe to the ideal of equal temperament (as evident in the WTC) which allows easy movement within any tonality from one key to another without calling undue attention to only certain chords and progressions, it remains a matter of conjecture, a conjecture which some musicians (let them decide for themselves the reason why they like a panon-equal temperament over another) have chosen as a momentary, temporary solution much in the same way that many HIP performers have adopted certain performance mannerisms which are not securely founded in the historical sources and continue to use them until another theory (or hopefully firm evidence) will supplant them with something else that they deem will be embraced by a not too critical listening public.

The length of time that a qualified expert spends in devising a theory and attempting to prove it and get it published does not necessarily mean that such a theory is better than one which only took a short time to work out. It is its quality and continued provability which determines its acceptability and endurance over time.

>>And is it presumed that I somehow don't know what my work "flies in the face of"? That I'm somehow unable to sift properly the "documentary evidence" on my own chosen topic, but need to be instructed in this process by somebody who gets to decide what "even more speculative analysis" is?<<
Equal temperament, and the striving for achieving this ideal during Bach's lifetime is certainly not an 'even more speculative analysis.' Mattheson, although temporarily settling for Neidhardt's temperament as possibly the best available at the moment, clearly envisions a temperament which overcomes all the 'oddities' inherent in certain chordal progressions that move from key to key. In my estimation, you have relied far too much on secondary evidence offered by your favorite experts and have not thoroughly personally immersed yourself in the documentation provided in the original (non-translated) works of very outstanding musicians/composers who have important things to say about this topic. These are documents with which Bach very likely was acquainted. How can you expect me to respect this type of scholarship which lacks a firm foundation in the original works (many of which have as yet not been published in English) which have important things to say on the topic being discussed here?

Neil Halliday wrote (October 29, 2005):
BWV 148: movements 2 to 4

Both the arias in BWV 148 are delightfully tuneful. The tenor aria (2nd movement) sometimes has the violin imitating the tenor's melismas; and the alto aria has the unique colour of 2 oboes d'amore with 1 oboe da ccaccia.

Suzuki [7] has the fastest overall time for the cantata. The fast tempo, and exaggerated articulation of the violin part in the tenor aria make this the least satisfying rendition of this movement, IMO.

Koopman [6] is light, with `dainty' organ chords in the continuo. [I see the critic Huss refers to "ugly little organs" in Bach's continuo; and I agree this is a problem with some contemporary performances (and in Rilling), although it's the inane daintiness, rather than ugliness, which is the problem here - although the cello/violone combination does sound coarse and `dead' at times].

Richter's [2] repeated, semi-staccato organ chords are problematic, but the violin and Schreier's voice combine in a most satisfying manner.

Harnoncourt/Equiluz [5], and Leusink [8] have the better, stronger HIP renditions (although Leusink also has those dainty organ chords), while Rilling/Equiluz [3] give a fine performance (harpsichord in continuo).

Richter [2] has by far the most outstanding accompanied alto recitative (movement #3). At a slow tempo, the hushed, large string orchestra and Hamari's expressive singing combine to produce music of exceptional beauty.

Richter/Hamari [2] also give a splendid performance of the alto aria (movement #4). Koopman [6] is light and brisk, while Suzuki [6] is more substantial, despite having an even faster tempo. Watts with Rilling [3] is only tolerable. Harnoncourt [5] and Leusink [8] capture the charms of this unusual movement, with its unusual scoring of 2 oboes d'amore and 1 oboe accaccia, with continuo. (I seem to have more tolerance of the male altos in these recordings - Esswood and Buwalda - compared to the vibrato in Watts' voice).

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 148: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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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Last update: żAugust 21, 2012 ż00:14:33