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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 170
Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust
Discussions - Part 1

Bach in English

Jane Newble wrote (November 27, 1999):
Philip Peters wrote:
< Hi there! Groeten uit Den Haag. >
Oh dear, you make me feel homesick…!

[6] < I have these too and I agree but that is mainly because it's Ferrier. When Ferrier sings a tone scale she will have me already almost in tears, so this is an exception. >
I agree. But then Aafje Heynis has the same effect on me. Have you, or anyone else, heard the Philips CD's with the Brandenburgs and Aafje Heynis singing BWV 170?

I have a feeling that I will end up getting it anyway…!

Philip Peters wrote (November 28, 1999):
Jane Newble wrote:
[6] < But then Aafje Heynis has the same effect on me. Have you, or anyone, else heard the Philips CD's with the Brandenburgs and Aafje Heynis singing BWV 170? >
It's a pity that Heynis is so under-recorded, isn't it? I do have the BWV 170 recording and it's heartbreakingly beautiful. Highly recommended. This year she became 75. There was a TV-portrait of her in which students like Charlotte Margiono played a prominent part. She still regards Heynis as her teacher and friend. Heynis is a very sober, very Dutch person and the restrained mutual admiration, respect and love between her and Margiono were very moving. When I was eight years old or so my parents first took me to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw (we lived only a few blocks away) and I heard Heynis and Van Beinum doing Brahms' alto rhapsody. I couldn't sleep all night and I have her recording of it that may well have been made that very evening. Oops, far off topic here...

Jane Newble wrote (December 2, 1999):
Philip Peters wrote:
[6] < It's a pity that Heynis is so under-recorded, isn't it? I do have the BWV 170 recording and it's heartbreakingly beautiful. Highly recommended. -- >
Thanks a lot. I shall get it! I tend to collect anything by her anyway, even if it's not Bach.

But she introduced me to the "Schlafe mein Liebster" from the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), and it haunted me so much that I had to get the Oratorio! Has she recorded any other Bach than the short pieces on her two Philips CD's?

 

Maureen Forrester Reissue

Kevin Sutton wrote (May 19, 2000):
[7] With all the gab about labels and reissues and such, I would like to recommend to my list colleagues a wonderful CD just released on Seymor Solomon's "Amadeus" label. These discs are some of the favorites from Mr. Solomon's long career as owner of Vanguard and its affiliated labels.

The disc in question is catalogue number AMD 7010. Maureen Forrester sings Bach's Cantata number BWV 53 (Schlage doch) and BWV 170 (Vergnügte Ruh) and the Salve Regina of Domenico Scarlatti. It also includes a never before released rendition of the Agnus dei from the Mass in b minor (BWV 232). The Wiener Soloisten are conducted by Anton Heiller.

I will be the first to admit that I adore Maureen Forrester's singing (she rates with Eileen Farrell on my goddess list), but this is some of the most downright beautiful, heart-felt, gorgeous singing I have ever heard. This is especially true of cantata BWV 170. Although not for the HIP purists, any lover of Bach would have a hard time finding fault with this disc. Forrester pours her soul into this sublime music, bringing off a performance that has kept me spellbound since I brought it home on Tuesday. Since I have a big collection that gets added to almost daily, I rarely revisit any single disc often. I have played this one 9 times in the last three days.

Have I gushed enough? Go buy it! Turn off the lights, lie down on the floor, put on this CD and thank the creator that such voices exist to bring such sublime music to life.

Don't just sit there. Get to the record store before it closes!

 

Cantatas BWV 54 + BWV 170

Pascal Bédaton wrote (June 19, 2000):
My English is very poor but because I do not want to see this list stopped, I will try to participate to this good tool which has helped me for months in my quest to find the best (if possible) Bach recording for each work.

In particular, thank you to Aryeh for his good reviews.

[5] Today, I just would like to say something about the Deller's recording of the cantatas BWV 54 and BWV 170, which I found Saturday in a second hand shop.

I am not a musician, I am going to use my own words to try to say what I feel.

I like very much Deller's voice and Deller Purcell's recordings, but I did not enjoy this one. I am surprised because I read a lot of good papers on it.

First, the recording is not good. I do not know if it is the same for some of you, but I am not enough musician to appreciate a very old recording recorded very far with external noises.

Second, the recording of these cantatas sounds like an opera and not like a sacred work. Maybe because it was the beginning of this kind of recordings. I found it too dramatically, too much theatrical.

For these cantatas, I have only heard Herreweghe and Harnoncourt/Leonhardt before for BWV 54 and only Herreweghe for BWV 170 [21] and I like very much these recordings.

Is somebody could explain to me why this old recording is good, just to help me to go deeper in this work that I maybe did not appreciate at its own value.

Aryeh, I deleted by error the review you made about these cantatas, could you be kind enough to sent me a copy of it?

I am not an expert, so be kind with this opinion.

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 19, 2000):
(To Pascal Bédaton) Do not worry about the English. Some of the contributors to the list (myself included) are not expert in English. The idea of the group is to share ideas about the cantatas, and not examining your English level. A feedback in poor English is much better than no feedback at all.

< In particular, thank you to Aryeh for his good reviews. >
Thanks for your kind words.

[5] < Today, I just would like to say something about the Deller's recording of the cantatas BWV 54 and BWV 170, which I found Saturday in a second hand shop. I am not a musician, I am going to use my own words to try to say what I feel. I like very much Deller's voice and Deller Purcell's recordings, but I did not enjoy this one. I am surprised because I read a lot of good papers on it. First, the recording is not good. I do not know if it is the same for some of you, but I am not enough musician to appreciate a very old recording recorded very far with external noises. >
I am also not a musician and I am judging a performance from the past only regarding its musical content and level of performance. Maybe it is because I am used to hearing old Jazz recording, some of them were done about 80 years ago! I really do not mind about 'white external noises'.

< Second, the recording of these cantatas sounds like an opera and not like a sacred work. Maybe because it was the beginning of this kind of recordings. I found it too dramatically, too much theatrical. >
Interesting viewpoint, but I do not agree. IMHO, even today Deller's recording of BWV 54 is among the very best. You can read it my personal view (see below).

< For these cantatas, I have only heard Herreweghe and Harnoncourt/Leonhardt before for BWV 54 and only Herreweghe for BWV 170 [21] and I like very much these recordings. >
Herreweghe (with Scholl) is among the best recording of BWV 54. Leonhardt (with Esswood) is also very good, if on a little bit lower level. BWV 170 has not been discussed yet in our group. It is planned for the week of July 30, 2000 (according to Ryan Michero's suggestion).

< Is somebody could explain to me why this old recording is good, just to help me to go deeper in this work that I maybe did not appreciate at itsown value. Aryeh, I deleted by error the review you made about these cantatas, could you be kind enough to sent me a copy of it? >
You can read the original review, and all the following postings, plus some updates, in the following URL: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV54.htm

< I am not an expert, so be kind with this opinion. >
Please, continue to contribute wherever you can.

Jane Newble wrote (June 19, 2000):
[5] (To Pascal Bédaton) I have just listened to Alfred Deller again, and still feel the same as I did when I first heard it. But I realize that my listening is colored by personal associations, i.e. having read his biography, and having listened to and participated in the choir led by his son Mark Deller.

Trying to be as objective as possible, it is a bit of a shock to come to this recording after hearing for example 'perfect' recordings like Herreweghe. And I can totally understand your feelings about it. By our modern standards it probably is a bad recording.

The reason why I personally enjoy it so much is that his sincerity and integrity comes through so much in his singing, even though I feel he is happier (and perhaps better) singing something a bit more 'light-hearted' like Handel and Purcell.

Apart from that I value it as a historic document.

Many of these things are purely subjective. I always find it refreshing when someone does not like something I do, or the other way round. It makes me listen again, trying to see a different way of looking at it.

 

BWV 170 Live

Jane Newble wrote (June 19, 2000):
On Saturday evening I heard the most wonderful singing of this cantata by Sally Bruce-Payne. It was in a concert of the Stour Music Festival in Kent, England. She sang with the Bach Players (who first performed the original version of the 4th Orchestral Suite).

It is always difficult to find words when hearing Bach performed live. It is such a precious experience, that it almost seemed like spoiling it by talking about it.

Sally Bruce-Payne is a young mezzo-soprano, and her voice is wonderfully deep and mature. Very expressive too. I did not have to follow the words in the program, as I could hear every word clearly. She also sang BWV 35, and finished with a totally unexpected aria from BWV 169 "Stirb in mir".

An evening I shall never forget, especially as I had only ever heard these cantatas on CD sung by counter-tenors. She also was very beautiful, wore long hair and a dreamy black dress with dark-red transparent dress over the top of that. Is that important? Perhaps not, but it does add something extra special to a live performance.

What I would like to know is: Has she recorded any Bach on CD? From my notes it seemed not. She has recorded with John Eliot Gardiner, but as far as I could see, no Bach, although she sang in the cantata series with Gardiner. Of course it is possible that a recording would be disappointing, having heard the real thing. But I would like to know...

 

Discussions in the Week of July 30, 2000

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 30, 2000):
Background

This is the week of cantata BWV 170, according to Ryan Michero's suggestion. This solo cantata opens with one of the most lyrical, tender, sensuous and charming arias for alto ever written. After this aria, everything in the rest of the cantata (2 recitatives and 2 arias) seems to be on a lower emotional and musical level.

The reviewers' viewpoints

Philipp Spitta wrote in his book 'Johann Sebastian Bach':
"Bach must have been so greatly pleased with the effects of the organ concertante that his inventive genius found more and more ways of turning it into account. For the 6th Sunday after Trinity, probably of 1732 (July 20) he wrote a solo cantata for an alto voice 'Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust' - 'Contented rest, with sweet and heart-felt joy' - in which he introduced an obbligato organ subject for two manuals, as an accompaniment to the second aria. This however has to be performed on the great organ: all is subsidiary to the figured bass, and violins and violas in unison have the lowest part. This most original combination led to the production of a composition which is not only remarkably artistic, but also deeply emotional; and it stands among worth surroundings, for the whole cantata is one of the most beautiful of its kind".

W. Gilles Whittaker wrote in his book 'The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach - Sacred and Secular':
"'Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust' ('Pleasant rest, beloved soul-desire'), for the 6th Sunday after Trinity, contains more original matter than the others (BWV 35 & BWV 169); possibly the final aria only is derived. The title-page of the score, in the handwriting of Carl Philip, states the instrumentation, but absence of further indications leaves details in conjecture. The organ part is determined because it exists separately, transposed a tone lower. There are three arias and two recitatives (one secco, the other with strings) which come alternatively.
The opening aria (strings, with possibly oboe d'amore doubling VI.I) is a 12/8 slumber song of considerable charm, with the accustomed features, gently pulsating notes in the accompaniment, sinking bassi and placidly swinging figures… The 'rest' desired is that referred to in the Epistle, Romans vi.3-11, to be found in 'the newness of life'. The voice begins with a peaceful phrase of great beauty, against the opening bars from the introduction… Passages alternating continuo only with full orchestra accompany 'dich kann man nicht bei Höllen-Sünden, wohl aber Himmels-Eintracht finden, du stärkst allein die schwache Brust' ('Thee can one not in Hell's-sins, but (in) heaven's-concord find, Thou stregthenest alone the weak breast')> The remainder of the text - 'Drum sollen lauter Tugendgaben in meinem Herzen Wohnung haben' ('Therefore shall pure virtue-offerings in my heart dwelling have') - is almost all without the upper instruments."

Alec Robertson wrote in his book 'The Church Cantatas of J.S. Bach':
"1. Aria (As above)
Alto, oboe d'amore, 2 violins, viola, continuo
The text of this aria is based on the Epistle, in which the main idea is a death and a resurrection to a new life. Bach sees the text in the light of the first words and writes one of his most beautiful melodies, in the manner of a slumber song, to illustrate it. The exquisite final ritornello ascends with gentle ecstasy."

W. Murray Young wrote in his book 'The Cantatas of J.S. Bach - An Analytical Guide':
"The author of this solo alto text for Bach's cantata for the 6th Sunday after Trinity is unknown. Parts of the libretto are based on the Epistle, Romans 6: 3-11, and on the Gospel, Matthew 5: 22 for this Sunday: the first aria and the recitative respectively.
It is one of the series of solo alto cantatas with obbligato organ, which Bach composed about this time (cf. BWV 35 and BWV 169). The theme of the libretto would be very acceptable to Bach, because it derides the selfishness and the hatred, which he deplored in Leipzig society at this time. One can almost think that he wrote this libretto himself in his disgust.
The orchestra is simple: an oboe d'amore, two violins, a viola, an organ obbligato for some numbers and continuo.

Mvt. 1 Aria
Accompanied by all the above instruments, the alto sings an exquisite slumber song. A motif of deep longing for the bliss of eternal rest after death pervades the entire number. The idea of evasion from this sinful world is an obsession; meanwhile, she will try to be virtues until death comes."

Review of the Recordings

During last week I have listened to 11 recordings of this cantata. 2 of tare by the same conductor (Leonhardt) and 2 others by the same orchestra (ASMF) with different conductors and singers. 6 of them have counter-tenor as the solo singer and the remaining 5 have female altos. 5 are HIP and 6 are non-HIP. For the comparison below, I have listened to each recording at least twice. This cantata is a sister to BWV 54, which is also a solo cantata for alto. Both of them need only the solo alto and humble accompaniment without choir to sing the chorales or the choruses. Therefore, in many of the CD's these two cantatas are coupled together. Many of the things that are valid for the recordings BWV 54 apply also to BWV 170. But during the comparative listening to BWV 170 I avoided reading what was written about the relevant recordings in the discussion of BWV 54. I wanted to keep my mind as open as possible and not having any prejudice during listening. The comparison below refers mostly to the opening aria. See: Cantata BWV 170 – Recordings.

[5] Gustav Leonhardt with Alfred Deller (counter-tenor) (1954)
General: For some background about this recording, you are advised to read the relevant part in the review of BWV 54.
Singer: The melancholic voice of Deller and his natural expression gives his rendering deep sadness, which is very rarely heard in any of the other recordings.
Accompaniment: HIP. Besides the early HIP playing, I hear in the accompaniment some sensitivity and emotive expression, which seems to be missing from some of Leonhardt's later recordings of Bach cantatas.

[8] Neville Marriner with Janet Baker (contralto) (1966)
Singer: Emotionally deep, warm, expressive in the right measure, intense, clear intonation. This is a model of its kind for good Bach singing by female alto, which refutes the modern assumption that the alto parts in Bach vocal works, should be sung only by counter-tenors.
Accompaniment: Non-HIP. Sensitive, detailed, and loving.

[12] Helmuth Rilling with Julia Hamari (contralto) (1982)
Singer: Hamari has a very impressive voice and prominent voice projection. She misses something in delicacy and tenderness.
Accompaniment: Non-HIP. The oboe d'amore playing (Günther Passin) is gorgeous. The whole accompaniment is pleasant and sensitive. It is somewhat inappropriate to the singing, but I believe that it is the singer's fault and not the accompaniment.

[13] Leo van Doeselaar with Jard van Nes (contralto) (1985)
Singer: Beautiful and clear voice, with minimal vibrato, which is technically faultless. The timbre of voice and the interpretation sounds very much Bach-oriented. There are also expression of feelings and sadness, which does not reach the warmness and depth of Janet Baker (but who can?).
Accompaniment: Non-HIP. Colorful and lively, but the oboe d'amore playing, beautiful as it is, does not have enough emotional depth.

[14] Gustav Leonhardt with Paul Esswood (counter-tenor) (1987)
Singer: Firm and authoritative voice, beautiful phrasing, expressive, if not very deep emotions.
Accompaniment: HIP. Subtle and insightful, but lacks some sensitivity.

[15] Robert King with James Bowman (counter-tenor) (1988)
Singer: Forceful and beautiful voice, but the emotions are somewhat held-back.
Accompaniment: HIP. The oboe d'amore playing is charming, but the overall feeling is a little bit uneven.

[18] Kenneth Sillito with Jochen Kowalski (counter-tenor) (1993)
Singer: The timbre of voice is not to my liking. It is a strong voice that lacks some tenderness. The interpretation is over expressive and superficial. He had to 'treat it gentle' (as Bechet said). This is a very strange phenomenon - a counter-tenor singing in the tradition of the operatic female altos from the past!
Accompaniment: Non-HIP. Good if indefinite playing that lacks depth. Marriner did it better with the same ensemble 27 years earlier.

[19] Roy Goodman with Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto) (1994)
Singer: Stutzmann was much criticized in this group last week, regarding her performance of BWV 185 and BWV 24 with Gardiner. I was not able to hear that radio broadcast, but based on this recording alone, I can conclude that the criticism was most probably justified. Too much vibrato, operatic approach, insensitive expression, and none of the virtues which we identify with good bach singing.
Accompaniment: HIP. Good playing, which is much better than the singing.

[21] Philippe Herreweghe with Andreas Scholl (counter-tenor) (1997)
Singer: Sensitive and emotionally deep singing. It is almost as moving as Deller's performance is. Scholl's voice is glorious and delicious, and is beautiful and consistent along the whole range.
Accompaniment: HIP. Transparent, detailed, sensitive and pleasant.

[22] Juha Kangas with Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano) (1998)
Singer: Groop reminds very much Janet Baker, but close examination shows that she is actually short in every dimension in relation to her elder source of inspiration - warmth, expression, beauty of tone, interpretation, etc. In short - less fascinating, touching and revealing.
Accompaniment: Non-HIP. Humble, sympathetic, sensitive and clean.
Remark: According to a sticker on the jacket of this record, it won the prize - 'Vuoden Levy 1998 - record of the year' chosen by music editors from the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Except for the issue of local patriotism by the Finish people, it raises up the issue of the value of yearly prizes of this kind by various institutes. When we have such a great variety of recordings of this cantata to choose from, what is the real meaning of this yearly prize? Indeed, this is a good recording of BWV 170, but not outstanding one, and it certainly should not be counted among the very best.

[23] Pieter Jan Leusink with Sytse Buwalda (counter-tenor) (1999)
Singer: Here Buwalda sounds insecure, as if he has not made up his mind how to interpret this material. The insecurity is sweeping into both to his unstable voice projection and the hesitant interpretation. Consequently, most of the emotional depth, the somberness and the grief of this aria are getting lost in the way.
Accompaniment: HIP. Light, sensitive and surprisingly clean (except the oboe d'amore playing which is somewhat sloppy), but it lacks some weight.

Additional Recordings

I know of at least two more recordings of BWV 170. However, I do not have them, neither have I heard them.

[4] Hermann Scherchen with Hilde Rössl-Majdan (contralto) (1952)
[2] Fritz Lehmann with Elisabeth Höngen (contralto) (Early 1950’s)

Conclusion

My order of priorities has been built quite naturally during listening to the various recordings of this cantata. With each recording I was asking myself, 'do I prefer this recording to the previous ones?' and the answer in anyone of the cases was simple and clear. I thought that because the female altos and the counter-tenors have very different timbre of voice, it would be more appropriate to rate them in separate scales.

Number

Counter-tenor

Female Alto

1

Leonhardt/Deller [5]

Marriner/Baker [8]

2

Herreweghe/Scholl [21]

Leo van Doeselaar/Van Nes [13]

3

Leonhardt/Esswood [14]

Rilling/Hamari [12]

4

King/Bowman [15]

Kangas/Groop [22]

5

Leusink/Buwalda [23]

Goodman/Stutzmann [19]

6

Sillito/K[18]

IMHO, three of the recordings are 'must have' for every cantata lover - Leonhardt/Deller [5], Marriner/Baker [8], and Herreweghe/Scholl [21]. Two of the recordings must be included in the 'should not have' list - Sillito/Kowalski [18] and Goodman/Stutzmann [19]. Some of the rest are very good, although none of them is essential.

And as always, I would like to hear other opinions, regarding the above mentioned performances, or other recordings.

Marie Jensen wrote (July 30, 2000):
Every year we pass our date of death without knowing. So did JSB the 28th of July 1726, perhaps playing the organ obbligato to "Mir Ekelt mehr zu Leben", the last aria of "Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust" BWV 170.

This is a cantata for alto solo and like the other cantatas for solo alto BWV 35 and BWV 169 it includes lots of organ (not to forget BWV 149 - a dialogue). It seems that most of Bach's solo and dialogue cantatas are from the last half of 1726 or the beginning of 1727 (BWV 32, BWV 35, BWV 55, BWV 56, BWV 58, BWV 82, BWV 149, BWV 169, BWV 170). Were the Thomaners worse than normal in that period, was it an artistic experiment or had it religious reasons? Sacred solo cantatas are often prayers in the form of pietistic personal monologue with God. Also here. Just read again the line quoted above. The world is an awful place to be with its sinful rage and hatred. First after death real life begins, life in Heaven with Jesus.

The text (Lehms 1711) seems to be one long poem and has no chorale in the end. It doesn't quote Matthew 19:16-26 (the text for 6th Sunday after Trinity: The camel and the eye of a needle), but it tells the same: stick to God instead of to the world, and you will find peace and eternal life. All the way through music underlines the contrasts between the happy resting in God and the terrible conditions of the sinful world.

In the opening aria music flows calmly and happily at the same time, and when the sins are mentioned especially in the recitativos indignation and sorrow are expressed very clearly.

The second aria: "Wie jammern mich" deals with Gods sorrow over the sinful world, and this world has no safe continuo to walk on, nearly nothing at all. The long text seems to be a house built on sand.

The last aria "Mir ekelt mehr zu leben" reminds me of the opening of BWV 54 (Widerstehe doch der Suende), another solo alto cantata about sins, the same staccato passionate expression.

[19] The alto Nathalie Stutzmann has been discussed on the list while I was on vacation. I have a tape recording from the radio but unfortunately the last aria is missing. She sings under Roy Goodman (The Hanover Band). In the first aria she changes between much vibrato and non at all in a very controlled way, so that it makes a perfect match to the text. At the long "Ruh"s it is completely gone. Her voice is dark. I find it pleasant, and she identifies herself very much with the words.

[23] Sytse Buwalda sings on my only complete version. (The Leusink Cycle). There are a few places here and there, where his voice feels unpleasant and a little insufficient, but it is not that bad either. In the recitativos he also tries to identify himself with the text. In the first aria he does not have the same reserves as Stutzmann, but in the last aria he sings the opening words with true passion.

Stutzmann [19] wins, but I don't have it all, don't even know if my tape is live or recorded. The Leusink version [23] is OK for now, but I long hear opinions of the Scholl CD (BWV 35, BWV 54, BWV 170) [21].

Andrew Oliver wrote (July 31, 2000):
Marie has told us before that the Lutheran Church uses two sets of readings from the Epistles and Gospels, depending on whether the year is known by an even number or an odd one. If this is so, is it a modern (i.e. post Bach) innovation? The web sites of Simon Crouch and Z. Philip Ambrose both give the Epistle and Gospel for this cantata as Romans 6: 3-11 and Matthew 5: 20-26 (which are also the readings for the 6th Sunday after Trinity in the Church of England) and these readings must be correct as Lehms' text is based on them. The expression 'Racha' is taken from Matthew 5: 22. The Harmonia Mundi booklet mistakenly translates it as 'vengeance', apparently assuming that this is the German word 'Rache'. It is not. The English King James (A.V.) Bible uses 'Raca' (the original 1611 version spelled it as 'Racha') and this represents the word 'raka' in the original Greek text, though the word itself is apparently Aramaic, and here means something like 'You worthless person'. Z. Philip Ambrose wrongly translates it as 'Thou fool', which occurs later in the same verse. My 1956 edition Luther bible renders it as 'Du Nichtsnutz'. I don't know what Luther's early editions said. Anyway, Lehms quotes this word, but I am not sure whether he realized that it is not the German 'Rache'.

There are two or three musical themes, which recur throughout this cantata, but I don't know whether Bach derived them from a chorale tune or another work, or whether this cantata is entirely original. I do notice that the note sequence BACH occurs (raised by a tone) in the final aria at bars 14 & 15, where the words 'mir ekelt mehr zu leben' are repeated while the cello falls silent for two bars. Is it significant that Aryeh tells us in his admirable appraisal (quoting Whittaker's book) that the organ part, which exists separately, is written a tone lower? Perhaps the BACH motif I just mentioned was originally written at the 'right' pitch. As we now know that this cantata was first performed on 28th July 1726, isn't it strange that that was exactly 14 years before Bach's death? BACH numerically = 14.

At the moment, I only have the Herreweghe version [21] with Andreas Scholl. For anyone who hasn't got it, it is well worth buying, particularly for the beautiful slumber song with which it opens.

Andrew Oliver wrote (July 31, 2000):
(Correction to the previous message) Except that, of course, it was 24 years after writing that cantata when he died, not 14.

Marie Jensen wrote (July 31, 2000):
Andrew Oliver wrote:
< Marie has told us before that the Lutheran Church uses two sets of readings from the Epistles and Gospels, depending on whether the year is known by an even number or an odd one. If this is so, is it a modern (i.e. post Bach) innovation? The web sites of Simon Crouch and Z. Philip Ambrose both give the Epistle and Gospel for this cantata as Romans 6: 3-11 and Matthew 5: 20-26 (which are also the readings for the 6th Sunday after Trinity in the Church of England) and these readings must be correct as Lehms' text is based on them. The expression 'Racha' is taken from Matthew 5: 22. The Harmonia Mundi booklet mistakenly translates it as 'vengeance', apparently assuming tthis is the German word 'Rache'. It is not. The English King James (A.V.) Bible uses 'Raca' (the original 1611 version spelled it as 'Racha') and this represents the word 'raka' in the original Greek text, though the word itself is apparently Aramaic, and here means something like 'You worthless person'. Z. Philip Ambrose wrongly translates it as 'Thou fool', which occurs later in the same verse. My 1956 edition Luther Bible renders it as 'Du Nichtsnutz'. I don't know what Luther's early editions said. Anyway, Lehms quotes this word, but I am not sure whether he realized that it is not the German 'Rache'. >
Thank you for correcting my mistake. I must admit, that I thought the Danish Lutheran Church had the same text sets as the German, but looking back to other "even year cantatas" we have discussed, and comparing them with my psalm book I can see, you are right. By chance we have discussed the "odd year cantatas" most, where everything has fit so fine. But now I'm interested in, when the second set was introduced, and how it is in Germany to day. I cannot believe Church in my country has invented the two sets as the only Church on Earth. I have heard, though I'm not sure, that the Catholic Church has three sets of texts. More sets have of course been made to give variation and use more of the Bible.

< Andrew also wrote: As we now know that this cantata was first performed on 28th July 1726, isn't it strange that that was exactly 14 years before Bach's death? BACH numerically = 14. >
Which you later corrected to 24.

I have thought of the 14 in another way, though I cannot make myself to believe that Bach like certain Indian gurus could decide the time of his own death:
28 is two times 14.
7 is the half
1750 is 125 times14.

But why not die the 14th? Perhaps he was not ready. So a death the 28th close to sunset would be nearly as perfect.... Don't ever quote me for that...just played a little with figures...

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 31, 2000):
Andrew Oliver wrote:
< The expression 'Racha' is taken from Matthew 5: 22. The Harmonia Mundi booklet mistakenly translates it as 'vengeance', apparently assuming that this is the German word 'Rache'. It is not. The English King James (A.V.) Bible uses 'Raca' (the original 1611 version spelled it as 'Racha') and this represents the word 'raka' in the original Greek text, though the word itself is apparently Aramaic, and here means something like 'You worthless person'. Z. Philip Ambrose wrongly translates it as 'Thou fool', which occurs later in the same verse. My 1956 edition Luther Bible renders it as 'Du Nichtsnutz'. I don't know what Luther's early editions said. Anyway, Lehms quotes this word, but I am not sure whether he realized that it is not the German 'Rache'. >
I think that I can contribute something here. In the Hebrew translation of the New Testament (the Old Testament was written originally in Hebrew, of course), I found that the text of Matthew 5: 22 uses the word 'reik' (in Hebrew), which means fool or good-for-nothing person. The equivalent word in Aramaic is 'reika'. Therefore the translation into English as 'You worthless person' or 'Thou fool' is right. This is also right in the context of the verse Matthew 5: 22. But there is really no way it could be translated into 'vengeance'. It is also interesting to note that in the two Hebrew translations of BWV 170 that I have (both of them appeared in the liners notes to performances of this cantata in Israel many years ago) the German word 'Racha' is also translated wrongly into Hebrew with the meaning of 'vengeance' (assuming also that this is the German word 'Rache'). If only the translators had read the Hebrew text before they wrote down their translations of the cantata German libretto, they could get to the true meaning of the word. I was also looking in the English translation of this cantata by Richard Stokes (in his book - 'J.S. Bach - The Complete Cantatas – in German-English translation'), and he simply uses the word 'Raca'. He at least took a look at the English translation of the Bible by King James!

Jane Newble wrote (August 1, 2000):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< I know of at least two more recordings of BWV 170. However, I do not have them, neither have I heard them. >
Thank you again for your comparisons. When you said you listened to 11 versions, I hoped that the following one would be among them.

[6] The one that I would absolutely love to hear is by my favorite Dutch alto Aafje Heynis. Apparently she sings Cantatas BWV 169 and BWV 170 on one CD. So far I haven't managed to get it, but it is on Philips 438 772-2. There is also the three CD one of Philips, with BWV 170 and some Brandenburgs and violin concertos. Perhaps you will get it sooner than me! I shall keep trying.

Philip Peters wrote (August 1, 2000):
[6] (To Jane Newble, regarding Aafje Heynis) And it is very highly recommended. Heynis never made much of an international career, as she didn't travel much. She was greatly appreciated at home though and last year, when she got to be 75 years old, most of her recorded material was reissued on CD. I remember seeing (and hearing!) her in Brahms's "Alto Rhapsody" way back in the fifties in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw (I grew up roughly around the corner) and being very much moved. Still am when listening to the recording. Heynis's voice is uncannily like Ferrier's, maybe a tad lighter and somewhat more introverted, and very well suited for Bach. I rate Heynis's performance higher even than Scholl's. But then I would love to hear Deller [5]. Is this one reissued on CD, does anybody know?

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 1, 2000):
Philip Peters wrote:
[5] < But then I would love to hear Deller. Is this one reissued on CD, does anybody know? >
The Deller's recording was re-issued on CD in 1997. Here are the details:

The Art of Alfred Deller
Gustav Leonhardt - Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Bach
Cantata No.170 - Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust
Cantata No.54 - Widerstehe doch der Sunde
Handel
Airs from Jeptha, Theodora and Orlando
Alfred Deller Edition - Vol.7
Vanguard Classics OVC-8106

I believe that it is available from most Web Stores (Amazon, CDNow, etc.). I bought it from Tower about half a year ago.

Philip Peters wrote (August 1, 2000):
[5] [To Aryeh Oron] Thank you very much. I'm going after it ASAP.

Philip (Deller fan, early Deller, that is, mainly).

Jane Newble wrote (August 1, 2000):
[To Philip Peters, regarding Heynis [6] and Deller [5] recordings of BWV 170]
In the late fifties/early sixties I started going to the Matthäus Passion (BWV 244) every year in Zwolle. I have a feeling that Aafje Heynis sang the alto part there once. But perhaps it is just wishful memorizing...? I have no problem believing that you rate her higher than Scholl. I am going to phone Kuyper Klassiek this morning to try and get it. The Deller recording [5] is on Vanguard Classics 08 5069 71. It is worth getting, although I think Deller is more at home with Handel.

Roy Reed wrote (August 3, 2000):
Hello All: I have a CD of BWV 170, which I believe has not yet been mentioned. René Jacobs with Linde Consort, conducted by Hans-Martin Linde (Virgin Veritas, 1980) [11]. He is very good. One strange anomaly, at least for this hearer, in the last movement a recorder takes the part of the organ obbligato. At least it sounds to me like a recorder. There is a footnote in the Neue Ausgabe, which indicates that in later performanBach used here a traverse flute. So the reading is kosher, I still prefer the organ, probably because I am an organist and as a Bach cantata organist you want to take all the shots you can. Also it seems appropriate given the organ role in the third movement. I have only 3 CD's of BWV 170. Maybe using the flute in the last aria is more common than I suppose.

Jacobs is a fine singer, but I prefer my other 2 CD's: Janet Baker with Marriner [8] and Andreas Scholl with Herreweghe [21]. Baker was in her prime when this was recorded, and what a prime it was. I first heard her recordings back at this time (c. 1966), Elgar and Mahler songs. Thrilling! Both Marriner and Herreweghe take the first aria at the same tempo, about metronome 43 per dotted quarter. Just right, I think. I prefer the Herreweghe, in part for the sound of the HIP instruments, but also for the sense of the music: the accenting of beats one and three in the first ms. and the forward compelling movement produced by the eighth note rest and the following sixteenth notes...a rhythmic/melodic motif that continues throughout. Actually this is often not an eighth note rest but rather a dotted quarter tied to the next beat. (The piece is four dotted quarters per measure.) The slow 4 beats, each divided into three, compelled forward gently by the little halts and moving sixteenth notes, with this tune and these harmonies...what a benediction of peaceful, happy rest. You just lean back, relax and let this carry you along. Scholl takes one on this happy journey with just the right approach. The top note for alto in this cantata is E natural, and I have to say that I don't care for his E throughout. Wonderful performance but the top seems to me to be forced and out of context. Jacobs seems better here. Of course, so does Baker.

I am tempted to too much commentary here. Everything is so expressive. The middle aria is really unusual. Usually in a Bach aria there is a leitmotif he finds in the text, which is spun out in the music, e.g. the theme of "rest" in the first movement. The second aria one might say is interpretively through-composed. He interprets the text musically as he goes along. With pretty much any other composer of this period usually a disastrous and at least laughable enterprise. Not Bach. What Bach does is obvious, but so very musical. By the way, the word Racha, discussed previously and helpfully here, can sensibly be translated, "fool" As it is in most modern translations (Mt. 5:22). It is true that this a word from Greek for which we do not have an exact translation. But it is clear that it is a term of abuse, like numbskull or some such. I don't have any Greek letters on my keyboard, but the Greek looks a lot like "paka." The "p" letter is the "r" sound. The Greek lettering is different, but you get the idea. There is a wonderful sort of "break" in this aria where melissmas on vengeance and hate are followed by some organ jumble for 2 measures and a cadence in ms. 27, Then the singer intones, "Gerechter Gott." Great moment. I love the way Scholl does this: tenderly. Baker does it boldly. Both legit ideas. I prefer Scholl's. I do think, however that Herreweghe takes this aria too slowly. One can pity people's perverted hearts a bit faster. Not as fast a Jacobs does it. Marriner and Baker get this just right I think: 64 per eighth note. I can't give enough praise for this wonderfully interpretive piece, and what great counterpoint in the bargain.

BWV 170 relates to both the Gospel and Epistle texts of Trinity 6: Matthew 5: 20-26 and Romans 6: 3-11. I wish I could say that the poet comes off with a great exegesis of these texts. He doesn't. It is a lousy exegesis. We get the usual Reformation evaluation of human nature: total depravity. Well, who can gainsay it, if not total, it is sure pretty pervasive. But these texts are not about our capacity for evil, they are about our capacity for love. They are about reconciliation. When Luther deals with these kinds of texts in his commentaries, he is rather uncomfortable. Pretty hard to let up on the polemic. He makes a distinction between matters of doctrine and pastoral practice. You don't reconcile with the wrong thinkers; they are beyond your caring. You reconcile with your fellow Christians of your own kind. That is, you don't reconcile with enemies, but with friends. Sorry, Jesus! So our pilgrim of BWV 170 gives up on life and love, loathes life and pleads Jesus to take him out of here. Stuff like this can get someone to call religion "the opiate of the masses."

There is a lovely contrast in the closing aria between the approach of the Jacob's performance and that of Scholl. The Jacobs reading is very slow: 58 per quarter. Scholl/Herreweghe [21] moves right along: 70 per quarter. The one approach favors a sense of world-weariness, the loathing of life. Scholl/Herreweghe is a straight-out "take me, Jesus." "Take me out of here to a better life Jenseits." I guess that the latter reading, for me, is what I think Bach is doing in this aria. For all of its world-denial it is looking forward, eager, affirmative. But hey, keep the organ in.

Jane Newble wrote (August 3, 2000):
Recently I have been reading the wonderful book by Maarten 't Hart with the title "Johann Sebastian Bach". I bought it in Holland, but I don't know if it has been translated into English.

He writes quite a few pages on his passionate love of the cantatas, and how he wanted to get to know them all before he died, but of course in the 1960's 1970's there were not many recordings, so he tried playing them on the keyboard. He writes the following on BWV 170:

"My third (recorded) cantata was BWV 170. In the window of a record-shop I saw a low-priced Archiv record. I had no money with me, but even so, I went inside and asked if I could hear a little bit of it. In one of those claustrophobic small cells I heard the opening bars from cantata BWV 170, through little loudspeakers that were fixed in the ceiling. I shall never forget it. As if that music came straight from heaven. Heavily moved I stepped out off the cell. Hardly able to speak and swallowing hard I murmured:" I'd love to take this record, but unfortunately I have no money". The shopkeeper looked at me searchingly and said: "Take it home"."

I thought you'd all like to read this. I love it.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 3, 2000):
(To Jane Newble) Thanks for the nice quote you brought to us. I believe that many of us had similar feelings when we heard our first cantata. For me it was BWV 4 - 'Christ lag in Todesbanden' in the recording of Wilhelm Ehmann (Vanguard).

Jane Newble wrote:
< "My third (recorded) cantata was BWV 170. In the window of a record-shop I saw a low-priced Archiv record…" >
I wonder if this recording is available today. In my lists I could not find a recording of BWV 170 under Archiv label. But AFAIK Archiv re-issued in the late 1950's and early 1960's recordings, which originally had appeared under Decca label. Therefore this recording might be [2] (Lehmann/Höngen).

Now, this is one of the few recordings of BWV 170 that I have never heard. I wonder if anybody from our group knows this recording. I would like to hear his or her opinion.

Jane Newble wrote (August 3, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) Thank you Aryeh! I had meant to ask if anyone knew which recording this could be, and forgot. After your e-mail I wrote to Maarten 't Hart, and asked him if he can remember. If or when (hopefully) I hear from him, I'll let you know.

Jill Gunsell wrote (August 5, 2000):
Marie Jensen wrote:
< I have heard, though I'm not sure, that the Catholic Church has three sets of texts. More sets have of course been made to give variation and use more of the Bible. >
True. Since the Vatican Council of the 1960's the Catholic Church has had a three-year cycle of Bibles readings.

 

BWV 170 - Supple(Heynis/Goldberg)

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 2, 2000):
[6] In the beginning of August 2000 we had a discussion about the solo cantata for alto BWV 170 - Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust. Both Jane Newble and Philip Peters had high praises for the recording of this cantata by the Dutch contralto Aafje Heynis. My curiosity was raised and consequently I started to look all over the Web, trying to find this recording. After intensive search, I found it in Kuijper Klassiek from Netherlands, ordered it, and two days ago I got it, I have listened to it, and now I am ready to write something about it. Firstly, here are the details:

[6] Szymon Goldberg/Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Contralto - Aafje Heynis
(Philips, recorded 1960). TT: 23:36

It is included in a 3-CD box set, which contains Bach's music conducted by Szymon Goldberg. The other works in the box are Brandenburg Concertos No.1-6 BWV 1046-1051 and Violin Concertos BWV 1041-1043. It belongs to a series called Dutch Masters, in which this set is Vol.52.

And what is my impression from this recording of the cantata? Aafje Heynis, with whom I was not familiar before, has a real classical contralto voice - dark, profound, rich, warm and flexible. It is a kind of voice you want to continue hearing more and more. She has self-assured voice production, immaculate articulation (coming from the nearness of Dutch and German, I presume), and refined expressiveness. She conveys a kind of humility, which makes her singing even more irresistible. All the poignancy, the longing, the desire and the love of the first aria, comes forth in her rendering. Goldberg is skilled and alert Bach conductor. Although this is relatively early recording, his interpretation sounds quite modern. Indeed it is non-HIP, but it has chamber quality, Bach oriented punctuation, internal rhythm and liveliness. The textures are clear and all the instrumental voices can be heard. The sensitivity, in which Goldberg accompanies Heynis, supplies her with the comfortable bedding for her singing. It is easily felt that both have been working together on their joint interpretation, until they reached the same view of this cantata.

I compared the Heynis/Goldberg recording with that of Baker/Marriner. I found both recordings astonishingly similar. The second has more classical detachment, where the first has more warmth. But both interpretations are moving and should belong to the highest level of Bach cantata recordings. Lucky me that I have both, and I am so grateful to Jane and Philip for tempting me to purchase this Dutch recording. Thanks to both of you!

Jane Newble wrote (September 2, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) Well, I'm so glad you have found the beauty of Aafje Heynis' voice. I meant to write to you about Kuyper Klassiek last week, and forgot! I did not yet order the three CD set, but instead I got the one where she sings both BWV 170 and BWV 169, also from Kuyper Klassiek. It is Philips 438 772-2.

I had not yet heard BWV 169, although I think it is on one of the Leusink volumes. It was quite a shock hearing it for the first time. The aria "Stirb in mir, Welt und alle deine Liebe" (No.5) sends shivers up my spine and tears in my eyes. I can't imagine any alto anywhere singing this better. The throbbing instrumental continuo reminds me of the 'Et Crucifixus' in the B minor mass (BWV 232), here nailing the world to the cross, for "Gott soll allein mein Herze haben" (No.1). Absolutely beautiful. And the closing chorale... The orchestra and choir are different from the BWV 170 too. This is the Nederlands Kamerorkest with Anthon van der Horst. Perhaps I ought to tempt you into getting this one as well. It means having a double version of BWV 170, but it would be worth getting it for the BWV 169 alone. That's my personal opinion of course. I have been glued to my CD player listening to this cantata for days now. I find her voice here even better than in BWV 170. Actually, as a little extra, it has also got the Arias "Schlafe, mein Liebster" and "Agnus Dei". A real treat! Happy listening.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 2, 2000):
Jane Newble wrote:
< …Instead I got the one where she sings both BWV 170 and BWV 169, also from Kuyper Klassiek. It is Philips 438 772-2. >
I have already ordered that CD too, however from another source.

(Regarding the performance of BWV 169 by Aafje Heynis) Cantata BWV 169, for the 18th Sunday after Trinity, is not planned for discussion in our group this year. Personally, of the 4 solo cantatas for alto, I prefer BWV 54 & BWV 170 to BWV 35 & BWV 169. The last two have the problem that most of their music was adapted from other (instrumental) sources. I intend to write about the issue in the discussion about BWV 35, which is planned for the week of September 10, 2000. In the meantime I shall listen to BWV 169 in one of the recordings I already have, especially to the aria "Stirb in mir, Welt und alle deine Liebe", which you mentioned.

 

Cantata BWV 170 in Kfar Blum

Eitan Lowe wrote (July 30, 2001):
<< Eitan Loew wrote (To Aryeh Oron): I write directly to you rather than to the BachCantatas group, first because I don't know how many Israelis are on the list who would be interested (do you have an idea?), and second because this cantata has already been discussed in your site exactly a year ago. >>
< Aryeh Oron wrote: I think that there are about 5-6 Israelis in the BCML (including the two of us). Every cantata, which has already been discussed in the BCML, is open for future additions. So you can definitely write to the BCML about your own experience and share your views with the group. >
OK, I'll try. Hi group, as you may have understood, I have joined the group about a couple of weeks ago.

For the non-Israelis, who are the most majority of the group, let me explain: Kfar Blum is a Kibbutz in the north of the country. Once a year there is a classical music festival, organized by "Kol HaMusica", the Israeli classical music radio station.

<< Anyway, last Saturday I have been to Kfar Blum (have you?). It so happened that I had received the 2 Scherchen discs from Japan (thank you again!) just a couple of days earlier. Moreover, I was happy that 5 of the cantatas enriched my collection (32, 35, 42, 53 and 54) [4], but the 6th one was the BWV 170 that I already have had (Neville Marriner/Janet Baker [8]). So, I did some "homework": read your site about the BWV 170 and listened to both discs on the way from Herzliya to Kfar Blum. >>
Herzliya is my home town, and it happens to be Aryeh's too.

< I was not there. Who was the alto singer? Was it Bracha Kol? >
Yes, indeed. A good shot!

< What are your conclusions from the comparative listening? Which recording do you prefer? >
Well, I'm not objective: as I've previously mentioned in a personal mail to Aryeh, I have been introduced to the magnificent world of Bach cantatas back in the late 1950's, listening to LP records conducted by Scherchen. We were students, and a fellow brought over a portable gramophone (a rare item at that time; compared to our time, one was not exposed to a lot of music those days, not to mention that at previous centuries the probability to listen twice the same piece was practically zero - but I guess that these thoughts extend beyond the scope of this discussion group). Anyway, we would study while listening to Bach, and for years I was convinced that Scherchen's interpretation is the ultimate one. I purchased a lot of LPs conducted by Scherchen, but failed to find reproductions on CDs. It was only in Aryeh's site that I found out that they are available!

Now, the comparative listening:
It seems that Marriner [8] uses a bigger orchestra, which makes a "richer" sound; however, I believe that the spirit of this cantata calls for an intimate performance, rather than a full orchestra. As per the singer, with all the respect to Janet Baker, one of the biggest alto voices ever, I find Hilde Rössel-Majdan [4] having a warmer voice; but this is just a personal matter of taste.

<< I also printed out the Hebrew translations that you have on the site, and here is the news: at the concert they handed out a different translation, by Galia Regev. In case that you haven't been there yourself, do you want me to type it and mail it to you?
< Oh Yes! Please send me the Hebrew translation that you have (in the body of the message and not as an attachemnt), and I shall add it to the relevant page in the Bach Cantatas Website. >

<< I see that a year ago you didn't know the Hermann Scherchen/Hilde Rössel-Majdan performance. If you are interested, I'll be more than happy to lend it to you. >>
< As I have written to you earlier, I do have now all of Sherchen's Bach recordings (on Japanese CD's) , including BWV 170. But thanks for your offer. >

<< Now, I have a question, if I may: you say "organ obbligato". Is it Bach's specific instruction? on Marriner's performance the organ has an important role in the last movement, but Scherchen surprised me by using the cemballo! Did he deviate from a Bach instruction? >>
< AFAIK, the instructions Bach left are for organ obbligato. >
Sorry about my ignorance, who can elaborate what is AFAIK?

< But he is not the first, nor the last conductor who took some freedom with the Bach's score according to the means he had at his disposal, or to a personal taste. BTW, Rilling [12] used hapsichord instead of organ as a continuo instrument in some of his cantata recordings, and this is not to everybody's taste. >

<< By the way, Michael Melzer transformed it to a flute role (leaving the organ to play just continuo). I wonder if it was due to musical reasons only, or did he take advantage from his position... >>
Again, for the non-Israelis: Michael Melzer is the musical director of the festival, a very talented flute player and maybe one of the best recorder players in the country. I attended also a lecture he gave in Kfar Blum: I like the way he did is, in a manner of a conversation with the audience, yet informative and interesting.

 

Tragicomedia AMB / Schulmmert ein

Pete Blue wrote (November 6, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Matthew's admission that most Bach arias "knock me out" reminded me of an especially appropriate choice for Bach To Listen To When Half Awake: BWV 170, "Vergnugte ruh, beliebte Seelenlust" ("Contented rest, beloved heart's desire"). Some of the ensuing verses are harsher and less appropriate, but this cantata provides the loveliest continuous 20 minutes of music imaginable, at least in my favorite version, the Herreweghe disc [21] of solo alto cantatas with Andreas Scholl, Harmonia Mundi HMC 901644.

As with all of Herreweghe's Bach [21], my first impression is of an unruffled -- and maybe unrivaled -- surface beauty, though I hasten to add I don't think Herreweghe is superficial; rather, I think that for the sake of a beautiful sound he tends to underplay the dramatic (in contrast to Gardiner, who I feel OVERplays it). Moreover, unless you find even the greatest countertenor voices unlistenable, Scholl is unsurpassable.

The only objection to this performance might be that the dissonances of the second aria ("Wir jammem mich doch die verkehrten Herzen") are glossed over here compared to some other recordings. But that just reinforces my suggestion that this recording is the ideal unboring Bach lullaby.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 7, 2002):
[To Pete Blue] Agreed, that Scholl/Herreweghe performance [21] is all you say! But I also wouldn't want to be without Alfred Deller's 1954 recording (Vanguard 8106) [5]: with young Leonhardt, Harnoncourt, and Michel Piguet on oboe. That performance moves me more.

Pete Blue wrote (November 8, 2002):
[To Bradley Lehman] Yes, and that is precisely what makes the Deller [5] a poor candidate for the Half Awake Sweepstakes. Ditto the Janet Baker and the in-a-class-by-itself Maureen Forrester.

 

BBC radio3 listing - 6th-13 September

Thomas Shepherd wrote (September 5, 2003):
On 25/7/03 11:55 pm, "Thomas Shepherd wrote:

From the BBC schedules, this BBC Radio 3 programme is to be broadcast next week 6th-13 September. (and streamed via the internet and possibley available after the concert as a "listen again" item) More details from the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/.

All times are for British Summer Time

Wednesday 10th September 2003
22:00hrs
BBC Proms 2003
http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whatson/eventsbyday/10september.shtml

Live from the Royal Albert Hall, London

Celebrated mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter joins one of the foremost French period ensembles in a lavishly scored Bach cantata and two arias from Handel's grand opera Ariodante. The selected instrumental movements from operas by Rameau draw much from Greek Myth. Presented by Verity Sharp.

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)
Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble/Marc Minkowski
Bach: Cantata No 170 'Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust'
Rameau: Instrumental music from the operas
Händel: Ariodante - 'Scherza infida'; 'Dopo notte'

There has been a real dearth of Cantatas broadcast by the BBC of late, but it looks like a treat with von Otter and the Grenoble Orchestra. As far as I can see, she has not recorded BWV 170 commercially, and I can't say I've seen much on the Bach Cantata web site about Les Musiciens du Louvre (is there a biographical note about the group and conductor?). It looks from the brief blurb as if they are HIP, and the occasion in the Albert Hall will I'm sure bring a magic to the performance.

It will be interesting to see whether it will have the same effect as a live performance Jane Newble attended at Stour Music Festival in 2000. Her observations and others at that time drew a really pleasant and easy-going series of comments from a number of members of the Group upon this really beautiful cantata.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV170-D.htm

 

Solo cantatas for alto

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 26, 2004):
Sw Anandgyan wrote:
< I was reading about the Solo Cantatas for Alto... >
[5] Well, don't miss the recording of cantatas BWV 54 and BWV 170 on Vanguard, sung by Alfred Deller, 1954. He's accompanied by a small ensemble that includes both the Leonhardts and both the Harnoncourts (Mrs H = Alice Hoffelner). Michel Piguet plays oboe. The fillers are the "Agnus Dei" from BMM (BWV 232), and a few Handel selections recorded later.

This CD is worth grabbing for the musicianship, which is extraordinary (notwithstanding some not-quite-German pronunciation from Deller [5]). And, historically, it's also important: it's the first album of anything that Leonhardt and Harnoncourt ever did using period instruments. 50 years ago this May!

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 170: Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2

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