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Cantata BWV 17
Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of December 9, 2007

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 10, 2007):
Week of Dec 9, 2007: Cantata BWV 17, ³Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich²

Week of Dec 9, 2007: Cantata BWV 17, ³Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich²

14th Sunday after Trinity
1st performance: September 22, 1726 ­ Leipzig

Libretto:
Psalm 50: 23 (Mvt. 1);
Luke 17: 15-16 (Mvt. 4);
Johann Gramann (Mvt. 7);
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Gramann.htm
Anon (Mvt. 2, Mvt. 3, Mvt. 5, Mvt. 6)
[Walther Blankenburg suggested Christoph Helm]
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Helm.htm

Texts & Translations: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17.htm

Readings:
Epistle Galatians 5: 16-24;
Gospel: Luke 17: 11-19
Texts of readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity14.htm

Other Cantatas written for Trinity 14
BWV 25 Es ist nicht Gesundes an meinem Leibe (Leipzig, 1723)
BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele (Leipzig, 1724)

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

Movements:

Mvt. 1: Chorus
³Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich²
Instruments: 2 Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Mvt. 2: Recitative - Alto
³Es muss die ganze Welt ein stummer Zeuge werden²
Instruments: Bc

Mvt. 3: Aria - Soprano
³Herr, deine Güte reicht, so weit der Himmel ist
Instruments: 2 Vn, Bc

Mvt. 4: Recitative - Tenor
³Einer aber unter ihnen, da er sahe, dass er gesund worden war²
Instruments: Bc

Mvt. 5: Aria ­ Tenor
³Welch Übermaß der Güte²
Instruments: 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Mvt. 6: Recitative - Bass
³Sieh meinen Willen an, ich kenne, was ich bin²
Intrumentents: Bc

Mvt. 7: Chorale
³Wie sich ein Vatr erbarmet²
Instruments: 2 Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17.htm

Recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17.htm#RC

Music (free streaming download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV17-Mus.htm

Commentaries:
Crouch: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/017.html
AMG:http://wc10.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:4063~T1
Emmanuel: http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/notes_trans/notes_cantata/bwv017.htm

Previous Discussions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17-D.htm

Julian Mincham wrote (December 10, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Just as a personal view I find this one of the least interesting of Bach's cantatas and would be interested to hear what others think of it. It certainly does not come up to either of its predecessors for this day, BWV 25 and BWV 78--mind you, BWV 78 tends to stand out as one of the greatest of the canon anyway.

A rare event I find in Bach's music, but to me the relentless repitition of the semi-quaver figure first heard in bar 1 of the fantasia becomes quite tedious after a while. Still I guess even Bach was allowed the occasional off day--there weren't that many of them.

It's interesting that this same figure was used for the prelude in Eb of WTC book 1---and if that's not enough it crops up a few times in the sop aria of this cantata too! You can't say that Bach didn't get his full money's worth out of his ideas!

Peter Smaill wrote (December 10, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] BWV 17 , for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, is as different as can be imagined from the intensely mystical Passion meditation, BWV 78, for the same Sunday of the church year. However, there is one tiny detail that links them, possibly a pure coincidence and in the hotly disputed area of numerology.

Just as as the chorus of BWV 78/1 has 27 entries of the main subject, so the introductory sinfonia within BWV 17/1 has 27 bars. Before anyone scoffs at this observation, there is the matter of Ulrich Siegele's essay, "Some Observations on the Formal Design", in which his analysis of the B minor Mass identifies that the entire work can be deconstructed into building blocks of 27 bars, albeit with some marginal tinkering. 14 (BACH)+27=41 (J S BACH), but there may be other hermeneutic angles on this. I have no view but if others find 27 cropping up elsewhere.....?

Meanwhile the controversy over the authorship of the text per Blankenburg is taken up by Konrad Kuester, who suggests that the author of this (and the six others) may in fact be Duke Ernst Ludwig of Saxe-Meiningen.

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 10, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] I found the chorale (Mvt. 7) of this cantata quite appealing. For the first time (since I'd had dental work last week and was not moving quite as fast) I took time to listen to all of the music examples. I ended up liking Rilling's [4] best as to the opening number (Mvt. 1)...richer and smoother. I found the soprano aria (Mvt. 3) appealing, and it might be something I'd like to learn one of these days.

I also took time to read all of the past discussions and Dürr, and Schweitzer's comments (limited). During the last week, as previously mentioned in communication with Julian, I found all three volumes of Spitta at an amazing price...only twenty dollars for all three purchased separately from the Dover catalogue. http://www.fldstone.com/PQ_MUBBC.HTM A Christmas gift funded the purchase, along with a PD score of the Italian Concerto which I might now record for my web site. Dover, incidentally via my communication with their copyright department does not restrict uses of their fascimilie scores...the fascimilies are copyright free. I was glad to get a note from them on this matter and while they are not lawyers to learn that their position is that they believe all of their scores are clearly in the public domain in the US. It can be a real challenge to find the right copies, but with the information in writing from Dover (and they have gone unchallenged on this matter publicly) their scores offer a good opening for someone looking to record. The National Library of Australia also grants permission on PD materials and asks for a citation if you use their digitized materials on your own siteon the web, as do various other libraries and other web score sources. Again, these sources cannot replace legal representation in regard to PD material, but some Bach materials are available on the Werner Icking site: http://icking-music-archive.org/index.php In the case of my French music one of the arrangers on that site also places no restriction on what may be recorded. Thisis a little deviation from the topic of the week, but once I am writing I wanted to mention these sites for anyone who might also find them useful.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 10, 2007):
[To Peter Smaill] Peter had a quick look through the score but can't find anything further relevant.

However I do have a bit of a problem with this in that the opening instrumental section of 17 is actually 28 bars long--musically it finished at the 28th bar where it cadences over the bar line????

Peter Smaill wrote (December 11, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] BWV 17 sinfonia (Mvt. 1); is it of numerological significance? ! Well it is Dürr who says,there are 27 bars! I shall skip to the score and see if this normally punctilious writer has erred!

Peter Smaill wrote (December 11, 2007):
Both Julian Mincham and Alfred Dürr are sort of right: there are 27 full bars plus one note! Not a full 28 bars but strictly, not 27 either.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 11, 2007):
[To Peter Smaill] well I'm happy to be mentioned in such illustrious company. But musically i would maintain that the section has to be counted to its logical musical end--which is where the main cadence of the section is completed---that is the first beat of the 28th bar rather than the last beat of the 27th.

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 11, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] This is entertaining and a bit amusing, Julian, but what I want to know is if the cadence chord is part of the decontruction issue? Is it included in the significant material that constitutes the rest of the work? Just having a little fun here, and actually I believe that a section should include the cadence if one is to call it a section.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 11, 2007):
[To Jean Laaninen] I wouldn't think of it as a deconstruction issue but a matter of musicalcommon sense. Cadences complete sections with differing degrees of finality depending upon which cadence is used. I suggest an exercise. Play a CD of 17/1 and turn down the volume (very quickly!) just before the first chord of bar 28 sounds. What is the effect? Does it sound as if the section is musically complete? or does it sound like it's been rudely interrupted.

Now repeat the process and turn it down after the first chord of bar 28 just before the voice enters. What is the effect now?

QED--I trust!

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 11, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] Yes, of course I would agree without doing the exercise that the smusical entence is incomplete. And the reiteration of a key would be implicit, certainly. So perhaps you have one up on Deurr, here. But just for the fun of it, suppose this was a false cadence...then you'd have some kind of musical fiction or musical friction. In terms of the issue there are 27 complete meausres, and a partial measure, or the equivalent of 28 measures, and for formal writing saying twenty-eight measures would without a doubt be best. If I were editing and checking the score as I've done sometimes I'd go for the twenty-eight measures. But if you had a false cadence that didn't have anything to do with the rest of a deconstruction you might choose to say twenty-seven. So a little tongue in cheek, that's why I asked.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 11, 2007):
[To Jean Laaninen] What do you mean by a 'false cadence'? The bass line drives right up to the final two chords of the section V-1 and makes the whole musical statement most explicit it seems to me??---so what could be 'false' about it?

Neil Halliday wrote (December 11, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>the relentless repetition of the semi-quaver figure first heard in bar 1 of the fantasia becomes quite tedious after a while.<
I do not experience this, but I'm wondering if either picturing the orchestra in one's mind (or actually seeing it play) may help: notice that the 1st chair instruments (1st violins doubled by 1st oboe) take turns with the 2nd chair instruments (2nd violins doubled by 2nd oboe) in playing this figure in the ritornello - all in the context of the lively, syncopated rhythm.

In any case, this figure does not actually appear in either the subject or countersubject of the following vocal fugue; even in the subject the figure is inverted (and missing the 1st 1/16th note).

It's worth recognizing the subject and countersubject of the fugue.

Apart from the first entries in the two fugal expositions (naturally), the subject is always accompanied by the countersubject in the voice in which the subject was previously heard; and subject and counter- subject are always heard with the same text - subject with "Who thanks offers, he praises me" and counter-subject with "and
this is the way, that I show him the healing of God" - resulting in the simultaneous setting of different parts of the text.

Notice the long notes in the countersubject - minim plus a quaver for "show" ("zeige") and consecutive minims for "healing" ("Heil") and "of God" (Gottes"), resulting in an interesting rhythmic interplay with the subject. There is plenty of other material in the counterpoint to listen to as well.

[The order of the subject entries in the two fugal expositions is: TASB;BTAS, with some entries intersperesed with bridge passages of varying length].

The two arias are tuneful, bright and cheerful, and with the four main movements all being in major keys (A, E, D, A) the whole cantata creates a happy mood.

I notice Jean listened to all the samples available at the BCW, and like me chose Rilling's [4] BWV 17/1 (Mvt. 1) as one of the most appealing. Koopman [7] (short sample), released since the last discussions, also sounds fine in the opening movement. (I found Koopman's varying dynamics (HIP-style) on the two violins, in the soprano aria, rendered these instruments difficult to follow, at least in the internet sample on this computer).

Julian Mincham wrote (December 11, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< In any case, this figure does not actually appear in either the subject or countersubject of the following vocal fugue; even in the subject the figure is inverted (and missing the 1st 1/16th note). >
True enough. I didn't make clear that it's the constant repitition of this figure in the 28 (27??) bar ritornello that I find rather tedious. Once the voices enter it's a different story?

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 11, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< What do you mean by a 'false cadence'? The bass line drives right up to the final two chords of the section V-1 and makes the whole musical statement most explicit it seems to me??---so what could be 'false' about it? >
I wasn't specifically referring to this example when I said false cadence. A false cadence might be a case where there was no resolution...one is left hanging. I think I was trying to be funny, but what I really meant was that maybe Deurr said 27 measures because the chord in 28 was already in the measures he had mentioned and he didn't think he needed to incorporate it in his thought for the article, again. Because I have helped students I always kind of like to explore the varieties of ways a writer may think about something to in the end get the highest amount of clarity for the particular case.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 11, 2007):
[To Jean Laaninen] Is there a trans-Atlantic terminology confusion here? Do you use the term 'false cadence' to mean the same as what I would call an 'imperfect cadence?' As you say this doesn't apply in our example of Cantata BWV 17 where the cadence is clearly perfect.

I'm just trying to clarify in principle if you use the term 'false' to desribe a cadence pausing on chord 5?

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 11, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] Hummm, Julian. Well, incomplete or imperfect would work just as well. I was just speaking generally about what a writer might do 'if' a cadence was not relevant to the preceding material. However, if the cadence is perfect then it fits perfectlty with the preceding material and saying 28 measures probably makes more sense. The cold and damp weather here the last few days has me drifting a bit...when the weather front lifts the mental fog may also, and perhaps everything will become crystal clear. I was just trying to think of a reason why Dürr might not have miscounted...may he just wasn't concerned with measure 28. But then again, maybe he just made a mistake. Perhaps this instance is something you might want to email to his publisher. Maybe they will want to make a change in the next edition.

Alain Bruguieres wrote (December 11, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
<< In any case, this figure does not actually appear in either the subject or countersubject of the following vocal fugue; even in the subject the figure is inverted (and missing the 1st 1/16th note). >>
Julian Mincham wrote:
< True enough. I didn't make clear that it's the constant repitition of this figure in the 28 (27??) bar ritornello that I find rather tedious. Once the voices enter it's a different story? >
I think I see what you mean. However I don't perceive things exactly that way.

To me the opening instrumental section of 17-1 is not exactly a 'ritornello'. What is a ritornello now? We had long discussions about that some time ago and I'm not trying to go into niceties of vocabulary... I just mean that usually, in opening chorales, the instrumental intro has certain characteristics which I don't find here. One of these usual characteristics it that it occurs as an intro, but also provides material for filling the gaps between the chorale blocks; it also often provides material for the accompanying stuff during the chorale blocks both in the instrumental parts and (as often as not) in the lower vocal parts, and last but not least, it occurs also as a conclusive instrumental section (hence, probably, the term 'ritornello').

We agreed that one could use the term ritornello for the instrumental intro even if it did not share those characteristics, so I don't mind using the term here - still most ritornelloes share another characteristic which is hard to describe for me... They are thematically rich; they introduce melodic lines which are highly characterized, rich in affect, dazzling... anything but neutral. They prepare us for what comes next. Maybe the gorgeousness of ritornellos is meant to compensate for the comparative sobriety of chorale melodies.

Here to me the instrumental intro sounds 'neutral', very much like certain preludes in the WTC which rely on one single rythmic pattern with a moderate amount of variation towards the end. This creates high expectations. Then comes the vocal fugue, with its very long and striking theme. To me the whole thing sounds very satisfactory. If the 'prelude' had been more eventful, the expectation would have been lower, and the impact of the exposition of the fugue theme, somewhat lessened.

That's just how I feel it...

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2007):
[To Alain Bruguières] Yes I agree the term 'ritornello' has become somewhat problematic in that, particularly in some of these 3rd cycle cantata choruses Bach tends to use them as the way of introducing all of the basic material without blocks of it being it being repeated between the vocal sections. He seem to be integrating his vocal and instrumental material much more in a number of these works.

So if the 'ritornello' doesn't return, should one call it a 'ritornello'? In fact the material usually does return but not in easily identifiable blocks (as in typical Italian concerto movements), but with the motives reformed and continuously developed and extended.

But if we don't call it 'ritornello' what do we call it? 'Prelude' and 'introduction' give out the wrong messages. I'm not happy with 'interlude' or 'episode' either because all these terms imply different meanings elsewhere. For myself 'ritornello' is as good a term in that it implies an intrumental tutti section introducing the key musical ideas--it is just that Bach uses it in a more integrated and less instrumentally wholistic manner in some of these works.

Re BWV 17 I agree about the sense of expectation and the WTC feel--probably because of the connections with the Eb prelude. But I still find it more tedious than I find most Bach. Perhaps we shall just have to agree to differ on this one! For me it's a cantata i could live without.

Stephen Benson wrote (December 12, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< So if the 'ritornello' doesn't return, should one call it a 'ritornello'? In fact the material usually does return but not in easily identifiable blocks (as in typical Italian concerto movements), but with the motives reformed and continuously developed and extended. >
A marvelous example of this occurs in the "Et in unum Dominum" of the B-minor Mass (BWV 232). The immediate presentation of the ritornello is perfectly proportioned — 4 bars antecedent; 4 bars consequent. Subsequent appearances of the ritornello begin exactly the same way, but each ventures into original territory. One of my favorite "touches" in all of Bach occurs when that ritornello material reappears for the first time, an incarnation which technically is not a ritornello at all. Six bars after the entry of the soprano and alto, reconstructed material from the ritornello makes an unexpected appearance marked piano as background to the duet. One of the things that continually impresses me about Bach is that he can continually see both the forest AND the trees!

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 12, 2007):
Ritornello

[To Stephen Benson] Perhaps I:m just stuck in the 17th century, but I would prefer to keep the term "ritornello" with its original meaning of "the little guy who returns." There are plenty examples in Bach's works of a more conventional "ritornello". The recurring interlude in the opening chorus of BWV 78, "Jesu der du meine Seele" is probably the best example of a strict use of the term.

One of the problems that we face is that there really isn't a consistent vocablary of structural terms for Baroque music, the way there is for 18th-19th century symphonic sonata forms.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 12, 2007):
BWV 17

I could not help but notice, in Peter Smaill's connection to BMM (BWV 232), that:

(1) the cells of 27 bars are Trinity cubed (third power).

(2) some marginal tinkering is required to make the fit.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] I agree about the limitations of the vocabulary. But if one uses the term 'ritornello' in the limited C17 sense that's fine for describing what Monteverdi did at the beginning of Orfeo, it even describes pretty accurately the principles of a lot of Italian concerti by Vivaldi etc. The problem is that Bach took the principle and extended and adapted it so widely (even fusing it with other forms such as fugue, binary and ternary )as almost to invent new formal strucures. The complexity begins to bely description--and yet the genesis is so often still that of the ritornello principle. Look for example at Brandenburg 2/1--where the rit is designed to be split up into 2 bar segments and used accordingly, or Brandenburg 4/3 a combination with fugue. Or the double concerto 1st movement where the rit theme is 'returned' with complete integrity after its use as the basis for a fugato exposition. Bach redesigned the principle almost as often as he used it---but the ancestry still exits within the various permutations. It just creates endless problems for the teachers and commentators.

Peter Smaill wrote (December 12, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks Ed. Also of interest is the Clavieruebung III, the German Organ mass, which is deeply infused with Trinitarian significance (per Yo Tomita). It has long been a puzzle why four duets were added , some seeing the evangelists represented. This does raise the number of pieces to...27.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 12, 2007):
Ritornello of BWV 17/1 (Mvt. 1)

[Let's use Robertson's definition of ritornello, for the purposes of discussing Bach's cantatas - "The recurrence of an instrumental introduction to choral or (vocal) solo numbers, coming between lines (of text) or complete verses. The teis sometimes applied to the introductory (instrumetal) matter itself"]. [I have added the words in brackets for emphasis].

Bach has employed a method for composing the 'coda' of 17/1 (Mvt. 1), by taking part of the introductory ritornello and simply superimposing the four vocal lines over it. [We have seen this recently in other opening movements].

It can be seen that bars 1-7 and 20-27 (plus the first beat in bar 28) of the introductory ritornello of 17/1 (Mvt. 1) are reproduced in the the 'coda' (ie, the last 15 bars of the movement, namely those that immediately follow the final statement of the fugue subject in the sopranos) with new vocal material superimposed. (The first beat in bar 7 of the introductory ritornello is neatly joined into the 2nd beat of bar 20 of the introductory ritornello, in the composition of the 15 bars of the 'coda'). In fact the voices virtually simply double the instrumental parts in the final 8 bars. It's an effective device for rounding off the movement while relating it to the beginning.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2007):
[To Neil Halliday] Thanks Neil.? One point is that Bach often (not always) reprises the initial instrumental section by having a few (sometimes very few) bars of it between choral sections and again at the end where part or most of it is combined with the continuing choral writing. Thus, although the section does not conform to the 'ritornello of Doug's description, it does return and as I said before has its roots in the Cantata BWV 17 models but goes far beyond them. In that sense, in my teaching and writing i still tend to use the term 'ritornello' albeit with a modified meaning.??

Neil Halliday wrote (December 13, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>It can be seen that bars 1-7 and 20-27 (plus the first beat in bar 28) of the introductory ritornello of 17/1 (Mvt. 1) are reproduced in the the 'coda' (ie, the last 15 bars of the movement,<
and also, of course, at the end of the 1st fugal exposition, bars 57-71, in the dominant (E major). In both cases the voices merely double the instruments in the last 7 of the 15 bars under consideration, while the first 7 bars have a variation in the continuo.

So, the 1st and last quarters of the opening ritornello (Bars 1-7 and 20-27) are used as the basis for the concluding sections of each of the fugal expostions.

[I'm wondering if Bach would have pleased Julian, if the opening ritornello itself was shortened to the 15 bars subsequently employed as the basis of the two choral sections noted above :-)].

Neil Halliday wrote (December 13, 2007):
The opening ritornello of BWV 17: Is it too long?

It's structure is as follows: bars 1-10 in A major, with the modulation to E major confirmed in the 10th bar; the E major repeat of this material in bars 11-20, with a modulation to D major confirmed in bar 20; then back to A major over the course of bars 21-28. (BTW, this is the order of the keys of the non-recitative movements of the cantata).

Is it the E major repeat (in bars 11-20) of the material in the first 10 bars that results in "tedium" for at least one list member? Does recognising that bars 11-20 are merely a repeat of bars 1-10 (in a different key) aid in overcoming any perceived tedium?

Julian Mincham wrote (December 13, 2007):
Cantata BWV 17

Neil Halliday wrote:
< I'm wondering if Bach would have pleased Julian, if the opening ritornello itself was shortened to the 15 bars subsequently employed as the basis of the two choral sections noted above :-)]. >
Hi?? Your message appropriately clipped! I like your understatement--as I said it's very rarely that I find Bach tedious--I can only think of a couple of examples off hand, another being the overlong fugue from the Cm toccata--it seems to go on for ever.? But, as also said, everyone's allowed an occasional off day.

As for C 17 I just find the constant repetition of the semiquaver figure becomes predictable after a while--I think he used this identical idea more effectively?in the Bk 1 Eb prelude.

But I don't have to listen to this particular cantata--there's plenty of others to choose from. I'm looking in detail at the remains of the 4th cycle at the moment?(according to Wolff)--some interesting stuff there.??

Terejia wrote (December 13, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< It's structure is as follows: bars 1-10 in A major, with the modulation to E major confirmed in the 10th bar; the E major repeat of this material in bars 11-20, with a modulation to D major confirmed in bar 20; then back to A major over the course of bars 21-28. >
I just took a look at scores section of this, as I have no recordings of the piece to my hand. My own speculation is that it may be 3 1/16 ascending followed by 4 1/16 descending notes as one phrase(sorry for my poor English expression...) that may give repetitious impression.

I find it very interesting that bass continuo part doesn't seem to have this phrase of 7 1/16th notes.(I hope I can get my point accross???)

Again, since I'm writing this only by looking at piano score on the web in files section of this group, I'm not sure if my perception is correct at all.

(snipped)

On another subject relating to this, I suppose this chorale is used in one of the mass-brevis as "cum sanctus spiritu", if my memory is correct.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 14, 2007):
Terejia wrote:
> I just took a look at scores section of this, as I have no recordings of the piece to my hand.<
You can listen to most of the ritornello with Harnoncourt's [2] amazon sample: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17.htm

<My own speculation is that it may be 3 1/16 ascending followed by 4 1/16 descending notes as one phrase(sorry for my poor English expression...) that may give repetitious impression.>
Yes, this "WTC 1 Eb fugue figure" ("3 1/16 ascending followed by 4 1/16 descending notes") occurs in every one of the 1st 20 bars - obviously repetitious, whether as one phrase or otherwise.

<I find it very interesting that bass continuo part doesn't seem to havethis phrase of 7 1/16th notes.(I hope I can get my point accross???)>
That's Bach's choice; often a figure such as this will occur in the continuo, but here he confines the figure to the upper instruments.

Of course, a "repetitious impression", or worse, tedium (caused by the figure's occurence in every bar up to bar 20) will largely result from personal taste, subjective factors including mood, and performance, etc.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 14, 2007):
I concur with those who have suggested that cantata BWV 17 is sub-par. Bach set such a high par, and some of his work (by definition of the word "average") has to be below average. This cantata 17 is just, to me, pretty dull compared with so many of his others that I like better.

Terejia wrote (December 15, 2007):
Belated thanks for the comment

Neil Halliday wrote:
< You can listen to most of the ritornello with Harnoncourt's amazon sample: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV17.htm >
Oh, thank you for the link!!! I didn't know such a link and I enjoyed listening to the intro part.

< Yes, this "WTC 1 Eb fugue figure" ("3 1/16 ascending followed by 4 1/16 descending notes") occurs in every one of the 1st 20 bars - obviously repetitious, whether as one phrase or otherwise. >
It's strange...when I listend to that WTC piece, I don't find it to be repetitious. Maybe in cantata BWV 17 other parts than that particular figure are actively moving whereas in WTC Eb other parts are rather quiet and that particular figure stands out? conspicuously?

< That's Bach's choice; often a figure such as this will occur in the continuo, but here he confines the figure to the upper instruments. >
Indeed here in this particular chorale continuo seems to have special role.

< Of course, a "repetitious impression", or worse, tedium (caused by the figure's occurence in every bar up to bar 20) will largely result from personal taste, subjective factors inmood, and performance, etc. >
Yes, I concur with this. It's upon many personal factors both on the side of performers and audience.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 15, 2007):
Terejia wrote:
>Oh, thank you for the link!!! I didn't know such a link and I enjoyed listening to the intro part<
A pleasure. (I'm sorry some people aren't aware of the sound samples).

>It's strange...when I listened to that WTC piece, I don't find it to be repetitious.<
Undoubtably we are all agreed the WTC piece is a masterpiece and endlessly fascinating, definitely not tedious despite the repetition of that figure (BTW, I mistakenly referred to it as a fugue but I just remembered it's actually the prelude - that rich 4-voice polyphony threw me off).

As for the rest of BWV 17/1 ((Mvt. 1)) (which was later, as you say, parodied by Bach in one of the short Lutheran Masses BWV 236), among other things I love the combination of the subject with the countersubject, regarding both the melodic and rhythmic interaction.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 20, 2007):
BWV 17 recordings

I enjoyed the spirited discussion as to whether BWV 17 represents Bach the mature craftsman, or Bach anticipating minimalism (late 20th C.) Or both.

The Gardiner [6] and Kuijken recordings are new since the first round of discussions. Both add subtleties to the already extensive variety in earlier recordings.

Gardiner [6] chooses to emphasize the extended final chorale by doing it softly and a cappella, the music spreading like a delicate scent through the vaulted abbey. The contrast with the the preceding sections could not be more extreme. Where does this fall, or stand, on the scale of authentic performance? The continuo line from the score is treated as optional.

The choir does make a heavenly (presumably?) sound, a fine distinction to the earthly witness to God's creativity expressed earlier, especially in the A rec. of Mvt. 2. But if it is all God's realm, why the distinction?

Which leads to the difference in Kuijken's approach [9], as I hear it - a seamless entirety, emphasized by the OVPP texture. I called the recorded sound edgy on first impression. After additional listening and thought, I would choose well-defined as a better description, without any unnecessary negative implication. Probably not to everyone's taste, but certainly worth sampling if you have that option, and perhaps supporting by purchase if you find that in your heart and pocketbook.

Incidentally, Kuijken [9] in his notes points out the possible significance of 27 bars (3x3x3!), at the opening of BWV 17/1 (Mvt. 1). This is prior to my independent observation of the same point. I relinquish all rights.

The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) of BWV 17, and the following week's BWV 19, make it difficult for me to embrace the idea that so many of the adjacent works without chorus were mainly a practical, rather than esthetic, consideration for Bach. That is, that the practical consideration was that the boys simply could not handle the work.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 17: 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: ıMarch 12, 2012 ı12:41:08