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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 16
Herr Gott, dich loben wir
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of August 23, 2009

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 23, 2009):
1. An alien flame to make room for the proper exultation in BWV 16

Human or godly, a concluded composition has a significance that transcends its creative steps, and a clock never used to mark the time, being rather scrutinized again and again in search for the exact way it was manufactured, has not being subjectively treated as a clock. Analogously, a rose never admired by its fragrance or beauty, being rather smashed by a laboratorial curiosity, has not achieved, in the hands of scientific interest, its potentiality, and no matter how many of its cells have been studied. In fact, not a single affectionate girl, with a drop of femininity, would forget those aroma and beauty, sent to her as a reflex of her blooming youth, to give room for microscopic researches, and specially those that would spoil the blossoming. Similarly, during the days of Solomon, the craftsmen, masons and stonecutters, who built the temple in Jerusalem, were probably aware that, once ready, the way through which they blessedly edified it deserved not to be brought into focus in an uninterrupted scrutiny that would overshadow the essential purpose of the work. And the carpenters along with all those skilled in working gold, silver, bronze and iron, all of them, naturally, did not forget the reason why they had labored, not interested, none of them, to enthrone the architectonic service in God's place. Of course, scientific researches have their space, but they cannot surpass life's importance, as if life was designed to be a carcass to scientific dissection - and what a dead stuff life would be that way! In fact, talent and craft pave the road of artistic creation, and their paths are an important issue to all those artistic goals dreaming with their future deeds; but that significance shall be humble enough not to eclipse life, and even the work's meaning. For such a crush for manufacturing may confuse the work in such a way that we would rather listen to a lucid girl and a modest worshiper with no musicological background, all of them with authentic experience with flowers and sacred cantatas. Now, many will disagree with us inside the artistic atrium, but whoever is attracted to experience a sacred cantata from its panorama shall rein in the horses of critical adventures, and, not invariably attached to historical analysis, ride unequivocally to the meadows of praise. And praise is directly related with seeking the Lord, and never with banning and trying to hide him, never with prohibiting prayers. On the contrary, praise is a part of the commandment of loving him above all things, and never akin to suspicion, through which we would dare to require from him, as if it was reasonable, all explanations before trusting in him with all our heart. So, if, historically, an epoch differs from another, and if, as individuals, we are immensely particular, all singularity intermingling with our way of praising and appreciating him, it is precisely such a multifarious kinship with him that is celebrated in Cantata 16, that the same God of eternity is "honored by the world far and wide", and that all nations and peoples, no matter how different, are exhorted to praise him, and even so throughout generations, and since temporal is at most our particular praise, but God is eternal. In fact, we are generated through faith in him as his sons and daughters, being, for a while, his people in the present historical time; but he is God the Father IN ETERNITY - and we praise him! Yes, Lord God, we exultantly thank you, joining our hearts to the opening chorus, whose splendid nature is but a pale reflex of your majesty!

Russell Telfer wrote (August 23, 2009):
BWV 16

BWV 16, records suggest, is the cantata intended for use on New Year's Day 1726. It is the third of five being discussed in the present group of cantatas. For those interested, it was discussed previously in February 2003
and September 2007. I was involved in the latter discussion. I have taken the liberty of referring to some of what I wrote then:

Mvt. 1 contains a powerful short chorus: "We praise thee, Lord God." Sopranos lead, providing the cantus firmus with corno da caccia. Oboes and strings supplement the lower parts. Like many others, it's difficult to sing, but an experience (thinking of the cantatas generally) close to unique.

The theme of the short bass aria (Mvt. 2) is reverence for the Saviour, love and loyalty, blessing and redemption. This might be a moment to compare with Henri's observations, above.

There is then an aria and chorus (Mvt. 3) "Let us celebrate, let us rejoice!" with similar instrumentation. This time the horn runs free with a virtuoso part - magnificent music. The movement is short, powerful, wonderful, at least in Rilling's version [2]. I am much less taken with Leusink's horn [4].

Next the recitative for alto (Mvt. 4) start in E minor and brings us into C major.

The fifth verse is an aria for tenor (Mvt. 5) with oboe da caccia and violetta:
"Beloved Jesus, You alone shall be the kingdom of my soul."

A tuneful 16 bar Choral (Mvt. 6) concludes the cantata with corno da caccia colla parte with oboe and soprano. The theme of praise continues:

"We praise all manner of Your goodness,
Father on the throne of heaven."

I believe that New Year's Day and other cheerful celebrations bring out the best in Bach's choral writing. Enjoy it!

Vivat 205 wrote (August 23, 2009):
[To Henri N. Levinspuhl] The relevance of this garbage to a Bach cantata in order to preach is transparent and outrageous. This post needs to be removed and the poster banned in order to preserve this group as an outstanding forum for discussing Bach's cantatas.

Douglas Cowling [Director of Music - St. Philip's Church, Etobicoke, Toronto] wrote:
Vivat 205 wrote:
< The relevance of this garbage to a Bach cantata in order to preach is transparent and outrageous. This post needs to be removed and the poster banned in order to preserve this group as an outstanding forum for discussing Bach's cantatas. >
Perhaps it's a libretto for a lost cantata ...

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 23, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Perhaps it's a libretto for a lost cantata ... >
Politely said and endorsed by the Director of Church Music!

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 23, 2009):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< The first movement contains a powerful short chorus: "We praise thee, Lord God." Sopranos lead, providing the cantus firmus with corno da caccia. Oboes and strings supplement the lower parts. Like many others, it's difficult to sing, but an experience (thinking of the cantatas generally) close to unique. >
Once again we have a very odd, albeit glorious, opening chorus (Mvt. 1) in a New Year's cantata which makes musical allusion to the German Te Deum.

In BWV 190, we had a big free festive chorus into which Bach inserts two unexpected and formally illogical quotations of the Te Deum for unison choir.

In this cantata, the two opening lines of the Te Deum are treated as a chorale fantasy which Bach brings to quite a surprising short close. After a recitative, the choir begins what to all intents and purpose is the "real" opening chorus with brilliant passagework for the instruments.

The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) has extremely unusual scoring. It opens with a continuo as if an aria is beginning. And even stranger when the chorus enters, the instruments do not immediately double the voices, but trickle in playing largely independent countermelodies, -- I can't think of another cantata with such an ope.

I'm wondering if both BWV 190 and BWV 16 are paying homage to the Te Deum which was traditionally sung on New Year's Day through musical surprises as new and unexpected as the coming year. Or is that too Schweitzerian an interpretation?

Can someone give details of the original "solo"and "tutti" markings in the third movement?

P.S. Leusink's choir really [4] sucks in that movement.

Glen Armstrong wrote (August 23, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Perhaps it's a libretto for a lost cantata ... >
Thanks, Doug, for the wry one-liner; priceless. I admire your handling of the exasperating turn-of-events. Have you heard Marius van Altena with Leonhardt in BWV 16? He sounds rather comical to me when trying to project energy, but in #16 he is more touching than Schreier, or any of the others, IMHO. Kobow comes close.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 23, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Perhaps it's a libretto for a lost cantata ... >
Or a cantata as yet unwritten, music in the waiting? I suggest Sun Ra (aka Sonny Blount, le Sun y Ra, etc.).

What? He has already left Planet Earth, permanently? All the more appropriate.

I am listening to the live broadcast of BSO Tanglewood series, Beethoven Symphony #9, including the text <All men shall be brothers>. The music and text are convincing. I can feel it! Until I open my eyes and look around. Few years to go yet, eh Brethren?

Peter Smaill wrote (August 23, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] Douglas Cowling raises the question of the parallel quotation of the Te Deum in BWV 190 and BWV 16.

What underscores the theological purpose of these New Year works is the numerology.

Using the natural order alphabet, Alfred Hirsch identified in 1986 that BWV 190/7's expression , "Herr Gott , dich loben wir" has a count of 222. (A=1, B=2 etc.)

The movement splits into total part-notes in each section of 111 and 222, totalling 333; a Trinitarian suggestion. in BWV 16 the evidence is the use of the "Dreiklang", the triad? or "trias perfecta", again suggesting the Trinity.This occurs also in the movement "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" (Mvt. 1).

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 23, 2009):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Using the natural order alphabet, Alfred Hirsch identified in 1986 that BWV 190/7's expression , "Herr Gott , dich loben wir" has a count of 222. (A=1, B=2 etc.)
The movement splits into total part-notes in each section of 111 and 222, totalling 333; a Trinitarian suggestion. in BWV 16 the evidence is the use of the "Dreiklang", the triad? or "trias perfecta", again suggesting the Trinity.This occurs also in the movement "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" (
Mvt. 1). >
I think that numerological readings this precise is just utter silliness and explained better by pure random luck, it reminds me of "Theomatics" and "The Bible Code." I honestly doubt Bach who was juggling a large family, a wife, teaching unruly students, writing cantatas and conducting a musical ensemble twice a week, was sitting down doing arcane things like counting notes and forcing them into obscure references for people to guess at
100s of years later.

The simpler explanation is usually the better one.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 24, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I honestly doubt Bach who was juggling a large family, a wife, >
In those days (early 18th C. Leipzig), the wife was both producing (not quite single-handedly!) and juggling the large family, no?

Bach's interest in numerology and/or gemiatrics is clear from a number of primary sources. I agree that some of the interpretations go over the top, but best not to <throw the babies out with the bath water>?

There. I hope that humor in bad taste will take the heat off some of the other recent bad writing on BCML (never in short supply).

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 24, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< In those days (early 18th C. Leipzig), the wife was both producing (not quite single-handedly!) and juggling the large family, no? >
I'm sure he had his hands full just teaching his own children harmony, and keyboard and singing. Never mind the time it actually took you know, to make babies? It's certainly obvious the Bach's were doing a lot of that ;)

It ate up a lot of time just being a family in the 18th century.
< Bach's interest in numerology and/or gemiatrics is clear from a number of primary sources. I agree that some of the interpretations go over the top, but best not to <throw the babies out with the bath water>? >
I never said he didn't have interest in those sort of things, but counting notes and then coming up with melodic arcs based on specific numbers, and other fanciful theories is pretty over the top for me. But more power to you if that enchances your Bach experiences Humor is greatly appreciated on the list though, so thank you kindly for
providing that ;)

Me? I'm off to count out some glasses of sangria, and have a delicious chicken marsala.

Enjoy a nice Sunday everyone!

Peter Smaill wrote (August 24, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Statistically the frequency of significant numerical correlations is I am afraid not random luck and even sceptics who come to this area and study the pre-existing scholarship end up converted to varying degrees. For example, in Jahrgang 2 c. 40% of the Cantata titles numerologically calculated correspond to the bar numbers. That cannot be an accident (and in view of the diversity of incipit line lengths this observation is not invalidated by the 60% that don't).

I think the point that is perhaps more important, is that to the modern mind these connections add little or nothing to the pleasure of the music, which point I readily accept. They are a reflection of a general doctrine that pre-planned composition produces a satisfying result (per Mattheson and Werckmeister, from memory). This is a subconscious matter but the principle was accepted in Baroque times. There is also the religious aspect, assuming that divine music , "the music of the spheres" reflects ideal proportions and has inner as well as outer meaning.

Often the hidden code is self-referential for Bach. No-one surely disputes that the final theme in the Art of Fugue (BWV 1080) is BACH in German notation and we have written confirmation that this sequence was known to the Bach family. In BWV 150 the words of the final line, as we have often discussed here , is the acrostic BACH. The fifth movement ("Zedern muessen..." ) has precisely 41 bars, numerological J S Bach , and the scribe Penzel (Hirsch missed this) actually writes "41" in the title line of the movement. All this is evident from perusing a copy of the original in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. There are many more instances but these two works are at the beginning and end of Bach's career and both display hermeneutical underpins to the music. Some, indeed most of these, are numerological.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 24, 2009):
A general continuation of the thread, including posts by Kim and Peter:

Bachs interest in numbers is a topic I find very interesting, and certainly relevant. I wonder if it is possible to establish some agreeable language which is both accurate and not too obscure. I used numerology/gemiatry, without a lot of thought. I think numerology is simply incorrect. Perhaps Peter can explain his understanidng of Bachs gemiatric formula, and whether this is the most appropriate word?

I was surprised to pull out my copy of the early Gardiner BWV 16 [3], with notes by Ruth Tatlow, only to find no number commentary. It is my recollection that she inserted quite a bit of such material in the notes to the DG Gardiner releases, but I did not review further at the moment.

IMO, there is no better, less emotional, topic with which to grasp the changes between Bachs 18th C. world, at the infancy of Rand Science, and our own 21st C. culture, only recently returned from planting footprints on the Moon. Relevant to Bach, there is more proof of his interest in the significance of numbers, in his marginalia to the Calov Bible commentary, than there is proof of his specifically Lutheran beliefs.

Either premise, Bach the numerologist or Bach the dedicated Lutheran, suffers when the evidence is pushed beyond the breaking point. I accept them both as credible, though not essential to enjoying or understanding his music, as music.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 24, 2009):
BWV 16 recordings

The DG recording which includes BWV 16 [3], notes by Ruth Tatlow, which I referenced in a previous post, is clearly, if discreetly, labeled Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, with a (P) 2000 indication on the back cover. In the booklet notes, the recording date is given as London, St. Giles Cripplegate, 12/1998, almost exactly two years before what is now stated as the beginning of the Bach Pilgrimage year: 2000 (neg 1 EC, dang those zeroes).

There is also a release including BWV 16 in the Gardiner Pilgrimage series on SDG [5]; both are clearly listed and distinguished on the BCW recordings page. Before long, the releases will be complete and we can sort out any remaining details for the discography.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 24, 2009):
2. Just to remind what church music really is

Church music is not a representation to apart us objectively from the horrors of existence, as Schopenhauer portrayed art; it is not an experiment of spectators, not an euphonious combination of notes artistically conceived, not merely designed to please the ears - for, if so, what would be good but music? Far from it, the psalmist said: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for HE is good"! So, ecclesiastically, a well ordained music is not enough, being essential to add: to the glory of God, as Bach called his sacred cantatas - yea, not dramas, and let us repeat it clearly, a sacred cantata is not a "dramma per musica". And so, if inside the church hearers are only committed to music, music alone is their pleasure, but they do not act genuinely as a church, and since, devotedly, the pleasure is not merely to sing a remarkable da capo aria, and since, "to sing praises to our God, it is pleasant". So, if there is a dialogue between a cantor and a people, or between a solo bass and a chorus, nothing is genuinely church music if God is not addressed, and if, like the patriarch of faith, we are not walking before the Almighty, who probes our hearts. For then, no matters if a whole congregation is shouting with joy and rejoicing, for they are not joyful because God's goodness and faithfulness remain new every morning, but merely because the melodies are pleasing to the ear and a trumpet entertains the ritornello.

Unfortunately, human devotion suffers from instability, and no matter how kindled in a candid youth, and even if then compared as a bride in love, it may easily be led astray from Christ by a philosophical book, a distinguished scoff, a sudden passion, a sparkling temptation, a captivating hobby, or even by a lentil stew. If not so, neophytes would not need support from spiritual maturity. But reality and ideal are sometimes too far from dwelling together, and where was expected a wise assistance often reigns something quite different. In such a regrettable state of affairs, it is a miracle that, in spite of scorn, contempt and ideological militia constantly trying to censor faith, yea, it is a miracle that devotion still germinates in manifold expressions, and even not finding adequate care, even not regularly matured, it is nevertheless alive, and "a living dog is better than a dead lion".

One may say concernedly, and not without discernment, that a circumstance like we face may result in a great apostasy, such as that prophesied to come before the Parousia. Be that as it may, in a world of increasing cultural and political militancy, where lies cover the facts in search for sagacious purposes; that, in such an age, and among immense confusions, when recurrent acrimonious altercations scream, and sensibilities are being embittered not to stand sound doctrine anymore, it is a miracle, and to celebrate, that devotion is still kindled by God throughout the earth, a devotion present also among those who, in this remarkable society, and no matter how singular and different, share with me this presently slandered faith. So, in return for what Christ, from eternity, has done to save us to him, and in this new time of grace, here also figured by the celebration of a new year, we commit our hearts to the ardent love of godly devotion, with which we are to please him, while singing the bass aria (Mvt. 3).

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 24, 2009):
BWV 16 Doug Cowling's Query

In the recent discussion of BWV 16, Doug Cowling asked the following question:
>>Can someone give details of the original "solo"and "tutti" markings in the third movement?<<
Answer as given in the printed score (NBA I/4) and the critical report (NBA KB I/4):

The autograph score which begins with the title: J.N.J.A. Festo Cirumcisionis J.C. Concerto and ends with: Fine SDG has no markings for "solo" or "tutti".

The original part for "Baßo" (vocal bass) was prepared by Andreas Kuhnau and contains in Bach's handwriting corrections as well as the following indications:
After Mvt. 2: Volti and Aria | tutti
At the top of Mvt. 3: Aria tutti
Over m 24: solo

The Corno da Caccia part was prepared completely by Bach. It has the title for the Mvt. 3. as: Aria

For the 1st Oboe part (copied by 3 different copyists) Bach added the title for Mvt. 3: Aria tutti
The 2nd Oboe part has only: Aria

The Violetta has only Aria added by Bach (part prepared by copyist #7).

To the only existing continuo part (prepared by copyist #3) Bach added Aria Tutti

These are the only such markings for mvt. 3 indicated by Bach personally.

Summary:

The word solo appears only once in the bass part in m 24 of Mvt. 3.


The NBA printed score indicates for all parts: The title of the mvt. is: 3. Aria tutti
There are no "tutti" markings for the vocal parts beginning with m 1.
The marking "solo' appears only in the bass part for m 24 as a solid, non-italicized word.
The editors have added as conjectures the following italicized directions:
m 32 vocal bass part only: "tutti" over the word "Laßt"
m 34 ditto "solo" over the word "Krönt"
m 47 ditto "tutti" over the word "Laßt"

Summary:

The word solo appears only once in the bass part in m 24 of Mvt. 3. as a genuine indication given by Bach and is rendered by the editors of the NBA at this position in the composition only as a non-italicized word.

As the NBA editors put it:

Mit Ausnahme der Werktitel sind sämtliche Zusätze des Bearbeiters innerhalb des Notenbandes gekennzeichnet, und zwar Buchstaben durch Kursivdruck.... Daher werden alle der Quelle entnommenen Buchstaben...in geradem Druck wiedergegeben.

[Excluding the titles of compositions, all editorial additions in this printed music edition are identified by the use of italics where letters {and words} are concerned....That is why all letters {and words} taken directly from the original sources are given in 'upright' (non-cursive, non-italic) type.]

Julian Mincham wrote (August 24, 2009):
BWV 16

I find it rather odd that there was no discussion of last week's cantata of the week BWV 41 but this week's lesser work, BWV 16, attracts a lot of comment. For me it is a much less interesting and commanding piece, with one exception, a technical point ?noted below.

Was noone tempted to comment upon the magnitude of the opening chorus of BWV 41, comparing it, perhaps, with equally large scale cantata choruses from the contemporary composers we hear about from time to time on list? Did Telemann, Graupner and others write cantata movements on this scale? (the question is not loaded--I just don't know). Or the wealth of writing for the choral lines and their relationships to the text? Or the odd imposition of an additional layer of structural sections upon the already established chorale fantasia? Or the selection of particular verses to be set as recits, arias or choruses and what this might tell us about Bach's approach to his setting and structural thinking?? Stangely enough, there was more correspondence last week lamenting Henri's not discussing the cantata than there was constructive comment upon the work itself.

The most interesting musical point (to me) about BWV 16 is the tonal scheme. The first chorus begins in C major but, most oddly, it ends on a chord of G. So does the following recitative. We only find an ending in the established key at the end of the third movement--C major.

This interesting tonal scheme leads me to speculate as to whether all three movements were actually considered by Bach to be three parts of the one movement. He did something similar in the opening chorus of BWV 103 where the chorale is set aside for a chilling solo (again for bass) returning to complete the movement in the established key of the beginning. Bach does experiement with extended tonalities like this from time to time---here he would enclose two bass solos not just the one as in BWV 103.

Viewing the first 3 movements of 16 as a cognate musical unit would make sense and explain the otherwise very unusual device of not properly completing the opening chorus.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 24, 2009):
BWV 16 [Just to remind what church music really is]

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote
< we commit our hearts to the ardent love of godly devotion, with which we are to please him, while singing the bass aria [Mvt. 3]. >
Gardiner describes the continuation thusly:
<Sobriety and order return with a solo for alto (Mvt. 4) who calls for the protection of church and school (Bach's twin spheres of activity in Leipzig), the destruction of Satans wicked guile [complete with snake-like riff], and then a whole wish-list of agricultural improvements: better irrigation, land reclamation, and (divine) help with tillage.> (end quote)

I find the 2000 Pilgrimage recording on SDG [5] from which these notes are quoted to be slightly prefereable in overall effect to the 1998 recording on DG [3], although the latter would not be disappointing on its own. I will try to provide a few more detailed comparisons, along with other recordings before the week is out.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 24, 2009):
BWV 16 Solo and tutti markings

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The NBA printed score indicates for all parts: The title of the mvt. is: 3. Aria tutti
There are no "tutti" markings for the vocal parts beginning with m 1.
The marking "solo' appears only in the bass part for m 24 as a solid, non-italicized word.
The editors have added as conjectures the following italicized directions:
m 32 vocal bass part only: "tutti" over the word "Laßt"
m 34 ditto "solo" over the word "Krönt"
m 47 ditto "tutti" over the word "Laßt" >
How interesting that the editors have assumed that there is a larger "tutti" choir with a "solo" bass and add cautionary tutti markings to preserve the distinction. Perhaps the one "solo" marking is there to alert performers that the main body of instruments is dropping out for this central section: that's a tradition that goes back to Monteverdi. If indeed Bach's cantata "choir" was OVPP, then the opening "Lasst uns jauchzen" makes much more sense as a kind of call-and-response between the bass and the other singers.

Does Bach use the term "Aria tutti" in any other cantatas?

By the way, did anyone else think the horn trill at the tutti return was a depiction of laughter? Sounds like the Meistersinger Prelude to me.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 25, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>How interesting that the editors have assumed that there is a larger "tutti" choir with a "solo" bass and add cautionary tutti markings to preserve the distinction.<
The editors, a century later, obviously did not conceive of the possibility of an OVPP choir as the norm for performances of such complex, large-scale music; nor do most performers in our own time, as evidenced by recordings from most of the present day big-name performers. The question is: what changed between 1750 and 1850? (assuming an OVPP choir was ever the norm).

[Did Mendelssohn, even as early as 1829, conceive an OVPP performance of the SMP?].

BTW, Rilling [2] presents contrasting solo and tutti instrumental as well as vocal lines in a most effective manner in BWV 16/3.

>did anyone else think the horn trill at the tutti return was a depiction of laughter?<
The long trill on the horn certainly creates an ebullient, joyous effect.

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 25, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< So, ecclesiastically, a well ordained music is not enough, being essential to add: to the glory of God, as Bach called his sacred cantatas - yea, not dramas, and let us repeat it clearly, a sacred cantata is not a "dramma per musica". And so, if inside the church hearers are only committed to music, music alone is their pleasure, but they do not act genuinely as a church, and since, devotedly, the pleasure is not merely to sing a remarkable da capo aria, and since, "to sing praises to our God, it is pleasant". >
With a good feeling and respect, Henri, I want to address one of your comments here. First, I have really enjoyed your postings because they point out the connection to the infinite that defines Bach for some of us, and also defines church music. And in my early years when I played for services, and played Bach with some regularity, even the choral works without words brought forth this kind of excitement about existence.

But I want to disagree on the point of dramma per musica, respectfully. I am as I have mentioned over the years a text first person musically, because I sang before I could play. And because it is necessary to understand text to give a decent interpretation. When one sings a work, perhaps one is preaching, and in that context also telling a story. And the stories that are told in the church often have drama, and considerable meaning. They are not simplistic, even if the content seems simplistic, as evidenced by the multitude of books which have been writien over time to illustrate the possible meanings of many stories. It is not offensive to me, and probably not to many others to think about the dramatic form, and then if we are believers in God to find the form worthy and exhilarating.

I want to defend here, the efforts of people who can write academically as well as to praise you for bringing your interpretation. Bach understood form exceedingly well, and his efforts toward a well regulated music were indeed I believe geared to praising God. We never really escape story, text, and form in unraveling the mysteries of Bach in my opinion.

I believe what Bach did was a marriage between form and text, and ever so inspired. I think Julian does a very nice job of including in his writings the elements of the story, as well as providing an excellently trained study in the form of works.

But I am very pleased that Aryeh asked you to share your views because they have helped me to feel a great excitement listening to Cantata BWV 16. I loved the Aria with Chorus and the Tenor aria. These pieces will carry me along with a boost through the coming week.

Thank you for your efforts. We don't all need to write in the same vein when there is so much that can be said about Bach's work, and it is through the understanding of form, I think, that so many fine recordings are available. I marvel every time I listen to Rilling [2], and I know he really has a fine understanding of althe elements.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (August 25, 2009):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< [...]
I think Julian does a very nice job of including in his writings the elements of the story, as well as providing an excellently trained study in the form of works. >
I agree with you, and I would like to say that I also appreciate the regular contributions about the historical context by Will Hoffman. These contributions complement very well Henri's introductions, which to my (non Anglo-Saxon) ears seem more like some sort of poetry (a bit too complicated for me, I must admit).

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 25, 2009):
[To Jean Laaninen] You gave me an opportunity to clarify, and say both to you and Thérèse that I am far from undermining the academic efforts of Julian Mincham and William Hoffman. I do believe that a sacred cantata may be appreciated solely musically, but thus, at most, as a godly drama, a staged episode on Christianity, eminently emotive as drama is generally defined. And even Christianity as a whole may be viewed objectively, although not lived that way. Similarly, a sacred cantata can be listened with a sole affinity to form, but not thus ecclesiastically, and although other readers were welcomed, my remarks addressed those interested in reconstructing praise as an essential element in church music. But I understood what you meant by telling a story, and, please, know for sure that, not demanding agreement, I am very courteous with respect, as you have showed me, so that, yea, even your disagreement is thus welcomed, not merely your compliments.

Thank you for your kind words,

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 26, 2009):
Therese Hanquet wrote:
>Henri's introductions, which to my (non Anglo-Saxon) ears seem more like some sort of poetry (a bit too complicated for me, I must admit). <
Perhaps more stream-of-consciousness, than poetry? <Well you know or dont you kennet or havent I told you, every telling has a taling and thats the he and the she of it.>

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
>that devotion is still kindled by God throughout the earth, a devotion present also among those who, in this remarkable society, and no matter how singular and different, share with me this presently slandered faith. <
If you break off a little piece, almost any little piece, it is not quite so poetic. The complication only comes because the end (slandered faith) does not follow from the beginning (devotion still kindled).

If I were mean-spirited, I might almost wonder if this is not the language of the snake-like Satan, writhing in confusing coils to confound us on our quest for the steadfast path? See you there!

Neil Halliday wrote (August 27, 2009):
BWV 16

Russell Telfer wrote:
>The fifth verse is an aria for tenor with oboe da caccia and violetta: "Beloved Jesus, You alone shall be the kingdom of my soul."
Obbligato oboe or violetta (presumably viola?), not both.

The ritornello melody is unusually long; and the largely independent vocal line is accompanied by sections of the ritornello theme throughout the movement.

I prefer the more reflective, slower tempo versions, eg, Koopman [7] with his over 9 min. version (with viola), cf. the more extrovert, faster (over 6 min.) versions of Suzuki [9] (oboe d'amore) and Rilling [2] (viola).

Doug mentioned the "laughing" horn trill in BWV 16/3. I also hear similarities between the joyous articulation of the "laughing" melismas in BWV 110/1, with the 1/16th note figures on "freuen" in BWV 16/3. Rilling [2] and Suzuki [9] are essential hearing in this chorus.

The Kuijken OVPP recording [8] is very fine indeed. Interestingly, the OVPP concept seems to work well in the opening chorus (and the prominent horn doubling the chorale melody brings sufficient strength to that line), but the vocal texture does seems light in comparison with the expansive, exhilarating joyousness in BWV 16/3 that Rilling [2] and Suzuki [9], for example, conjure up with their multi-voice choirs.

One area where Kuijken [8] excels c.f. most modern recordings is his treatment of the recitatives: his more sympathetic realisation of the accompaniment with longer-held, audible harmonies - aided by a very live, resonant acoustic - comes close to making music out of these seccos.

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV16.htm
(Kuijken is [8] on the list)

 

William Hoffman wrote (August 27, 2009):
Cantata BWV 16

Bach's New Year's celebrations for the period of the third cycle, 1726-28, show that, as with the remainder of the church year, his production of music diminished greatly as time progressed.

The cycle has another extensive, general, celebratory work for New Year's Day, Cantata BWV 16, "Herr Gott, dich loben wir," on Jan. 1, 1726. It has two distinguishing features: the use of hunting horns instead of trumpets and drums, and an old text (1711) by Georg Lehms in a cycle of librettos from varied sources. Bach's production of original cantatas flagged by the middle of the extended Epiphany season when he serendipitously substituted cantatas by his cousin, Johann Ludwig Bach, through the Eighth Sunday of Epiphany.

Sebastian did not resume original composition until Trinity Sunday when he composed weekly cantatas for most of the omnes tempore season. Then, with the new church year beginning on Advent Sunday, Dec. 1, 1726, Bach ceased periodic cantata composition. No new works are dated subsequently, with one possible exception. On Jan. 1, 1727, Bach may have presented the celebratory motet BWV 225, "Sing to the Lord a New Song," with its psalmic and chorale clear associations to New Year's. The manuscript watermark dates to between June 1726 and April 1727. The motet also could have been composed for Reformation Day or a birthday. While Bach composed his other motets for funeral services, he did on occasion after 1727 present motets of various other composers for Christmas or Reformation Day.

NEW YEAR: 16, Herr Gott, dich loben wir [Chorus]
1/1/26 (Cycle 3), 1728-31, 1/1/49; hymn text and original material.
Sources: (1) score (DS P.45, CPEB, Forekel-Pölchau); (2) parts set (DS St.44, ?CPEB); (3) score copy (SPK AmB 102); (3) score copy (SPK P.100).
Literature: BG II (Hauptmann 1852); NBA KB I/4 (Neumann 1964); Whittaker I:514-8, Robertson 36 f, Young 46, Dürr
Text: Lehms (1711); #1, Luther cle. Te Deum; #6, Eber cle. "Helft mir Gott's Gute preisen" ("Help Me Praise God's Goodness") (S.6).
Forces: ATB, 4 vv, hn, 2 ob, ob d'c or violetta, str, bc.
Movements: 2 choruses, 2 recits (B,A), aria (T), chorale.
1. Chs.(tutti): Lord God Thee praise we.
2. Rec.(B): So sing we in this glad time.
3, Chs. w/B solo (tutti): Let us exhalt, let us rejoice.
4. Rec.(A), Ah faithful, refuge, protect...thy worthy word.
5. Aria(T,ob d'c): Beloved Jesus,Thou alone shalt my soul's kingdom be.
6. Cle.(tutti): All such of thy goodness we praise.

NEW YEAR: 225, Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied [Motet]
1/1/27 (BWV 1990, Dürr), ?5/12/27, August I birthday.
Sources: (1) score (SPK P.36, ?, Pölchau); (2) parts set (SPK St.122, ?, Pölchau); (3) score, parts copies (Berlin Hochschule für Musik); (3) 2 score copies (DS AmB 25, 27); (3) score copy SPK P.570).
Literature: Breit. 1761; BG XXXIX (Wüllner 1892); NBA KB III/1 (Ameln,1965).
Text: #1, Psalm 149:1-3; #2 Graumann chorale "Nun lob mein Seel" ("Now Praise My Soul") (S.3, Ps. 103); #3, Ps. 150:1-2, 6.
Forces: SSAATTBB, ?bc.
Movements: 2 choruses, chorale chorus.
1. Chs.(tutti): Sing to the Lord a new song.
2. Cle. chs. (tutti): As a father takes pity on his children.
3. Chs.(tutti): Praise ye the Lord; Let everything that hath breath (cf. fugue, BWV 232/20, Plsunt coeli, c.1743-48), from Sanctus 12/25/23

There is no record of any Bach music presented on January 1, 1728, although Bach did occasionally present reperformances of earlier Leipzig church cantatas, beginning on Purification Day, Feb. 2, 1727, with BWV 83.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 27, 2009):
Liturgical calendar [was: BWV 16]

William Hoffman wrote:
>Bach's production of original cantatas flagged by the middle of the extended Epiphany season when he serendipitously substituted cantatas by his cousin, Johann Ludwig Bach, through the Eighth Sunday of Epiphany. <
This seems like an opportune moment to review this detail, which has caused confusion in past discussions. The variable date for Easter is accommodated by the length of both Trinity and Epiphany seasons, although we seem to grant more attention to those ephemeral late Sundays (23-27) after Trinity. In fact, an extended Epihpany season caused by late Easter requires an exactly equal shortening of the Trinity season.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 27, 2009):
BWV 16 recordings

Neil Halliday wrote:
< The Kuijken OVPP recording [8] is very fine indeed. Interestingly, the OVPP concept seems to work well in the opening chorus (and the prominent horn doubling the chorale melody brings sufficient strength to that line), but the vocal texture does seems light in comparison with the expansive, exhilarating joyousness in BWV 16/3 that Rilling [2] and Suzuki [9], for example, conjure up with their multi-voice choirs. >
>One area where Kuijken excels c.f. most modern recordings is his treatment of the recitatives: >his more sympathetic realisation of the accompaniment with longer-held, audible harmonies - >aided by a very live, resonant acoustic - comes close to making music out of these seccos.

I agree with the high marks for Kuijken [8], in fact I had similar ideas in mind to post. To me, some of the outstanding and unique values of the Kuijken series are:

(1) Clarity of texture with the four-voice chorus. Kuijken [8] is careful to point out in his notes that he does not consider OVPP an approach which somehow supersedes larger choruses. It is simply a valid performance choice consistent with what we have been able to learn about Bachs intended forces, and what he (Kuijken) has personally come to prefer after a lifetime of researching and performing early music on authentic instruments. For a middle ground, mid-size chorus, also with exhilarating performance energy, try the Gardiner Pilgrimage version [5] for additional comparison.

(2) Very thoughtful continuo realization, as detailed by Neil. I do not share the <damning with faint praise> of the secco recitatives, I find these to be among Bachs most imaginative creations, all the more reason to have them performed as Kuijken [8] does, with every bit as much attention as the choruses and arias get.

(3) Some combination of performance, ambience, and engineering result in perfectly balanced (including resonance) recordings which I find very convincing, unsurpassed for enjoyable (recorded) listening. As always, get out to hear it live, if you have that option!

Include Neil in the litany of regular BCW contributors deserving of thanks. Indeed, I beleive he also earns special notice as among earliest and longest continuing members.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 28, 2009):
>>recording review on "Bach Cantatas"
>>co-authored by the one and only Brad Lehman (Brad, can you tell us more?)
>The full article is linked here, free:
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/essays.html
I found this link functional, even with my antique (2001) Apple iBook and same-age software. In fact, I find nearly everything on Brads site functional, except the ability to accept funds. For that I need to mail Brad a check, he mails me a CD. The myth of the starving artist?

I think almost all recent BCML discussions re recordings are consistent with the Early Music article. I am prompted to write, because Gardiner's forces [5] are described as full choir, which I had just the other day described as mid-size, in relation to Rilling [2] and Suzuki [9], BWV 16. In fact the Monteverdi Choir is detailed in the Gardiner booklet notes: 18 total (6 S, 4 A, 4 T, 4 B), all very kindly individually credited. More important, to my ears, the Gardiner sound is more reminiscent of (for example) Emmanuel Music, typically in the 12-14 range, than of either Rilling or Suzuki. Open for dicussion, but I think it is fair to distinguish among the ongoing release series as I suggested: Kuijken [8], OVPP; Gardiner middle ground; Suzuki, full size choir.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 30, 2009):
Inspirational text of cantata 16/1

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
>in Cantata 16, that the same God of eternity is "honored by the world far and wide", and that all nations and peoples, no matter how different, are exhorted to praise him<
Line 3: "You, God Father in eternity"
Line 4: "Honours the world far and wide".

Musically speaking, the 1st violins doubled by 1st oboe ecstatically leap above the treble stave during the extended, powerful acclamation by the lower voices on the words "in eternity"; and the altos soar joyfully above the sopranos while the latter hold the long-held note on "breit' (in "far and wide").

It's a pity Henri feels compelled to leave the list. ("Humans are strange creatures" as Kim has suggested).

The text involves the ultimate existential challenge for all of us: who are we, where did we come from, and where are we going. Anyone who contemplates infinity/eternity must wonder and be amazed.

I suspect Henri's mistake is to insist (or so it appears) that Christianity has exclusive command of 'truth' and 'reality', a position that is hardly tenable in light of the scientific and cultural discoveries (especially since Bach's time) in the 1700 years since the formulation of the Nicene Creed, not to mention the apparent success of a newer religion, Islam, (also with doubtful grasp on reality), in gaining the allegiance of about a quarter of the the world's population.

Meanwhile, the music's ability to connect us to the 'Infinite' ("God"), as Jean has suggested, remains as strong as when it was written.

 

BWV 26, Trinity 24 (Nov. 22, 2009)

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 22, 2009):
Todays broadcast and webcast (WGBH, 89.7 FM; www.wgbh.org) was BWV 26 in the Suzuki version [9], concluding the Lutheran liturgical year. Brian McCreath also announced BWV 62 for next week, Avent 1, and specifically mentioned that it represents the New Year for Bach. It will also represent the final cantata broadcast at 89.7 FM, I believe. More next week re continuation (or not) at 99.5 FM and a corresponding website.

 

Cantata BWV 16: 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: ýMarch 26, 2010 ý10:07:51