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Cantata BWV 180
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of October 8, 2006

Alain Bruguières wrote (October 8, 2006):
Introduction to BWV 180, "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele"

Week of October 8, 2006
---------------------------
Cantata BWV 180, Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele

Second Annual Cantata Cycle, 1723-24 (Jahrgang II)
20th Sunday after Trinity
1st performance: October 22, 1724 - Leipzig
---------------------------
Bach Cantatas resources
Previous Discussions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV180-D.htm
Main Cantata page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV180.htm
Text:
German http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/180.html
English http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV180.html
French http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV180-Fre4.htm
Score Vocal & Piano: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV180-V&P.pdf
Recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV180.htm#RC
Listen to Leusink recording [8] (free streaming download):
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Stream/BWV180-Leusink.ram
---------------------------
Librettist : unknown
Biblical sources:
EPISTLE Ephesians 5: 15-21: Walk circumspectly... be filled with the spirit.
GOSPEL Matthew 22: 1-14: The parable of the royal wedding feast.

This is a chorale cantata, based upon the chorale of the same name.
Nine-verse hymn by Johann Franck.
See http://bach-cantatas.com/CM/Schmucke-dich.htm
for details on this chorale melody.
--------------------------------------------------------
Structure
1. Chorale SATB rec I, II ob taille str bc
2. Aria T fl bc
3. Recit. [+ chorale] S vc picc bc
4. Recit. A rec I, II bc
5. Aria S rec I, II ob taille bc
6. Recit. B bc
7. Choral SATB bc (+ instrs)
--------------------------------------------------------

Comment (mostly based on Dürr).

In this Chorale cantata the unknown librettist uses the nine verses of the hymn in the following way:
no 1. (Chorale) = verse 1
no. 2 (Aria T) = free paraphrase of verse 2
no. 3 (Recit. S + chorale) = free paraphrase of verse 3 + verse 4
no. 4 (Recit. A) = free paraphrase of verses 5, 6
no. 5 (Aria S) = free paraphrase of verse 7
no. 6 (Recit. B) = free paraphrase of verse 8
no. 7 (Choral) = verse 9.

The 'royal wedding feast' of the parable is viewed as an image of the Holy communion. In a previous cantata for the same Sunday, BWV 162, Bach depicted the plight of the Bride (i. e. the soul) faced with the difficult choice of accepting or rejecting Christ's invitation, being torn between fear of rejection on account of her unworthiness, and mystical yearning for union with Christ.

In BVW 180, Bach adopts a completely different point of view. The choice has been made, all circumspection set aside, the Bride makes ready, the Saviour knocks at the door, and the entire cantata celebrates the joyful feast. In this sense BWV 180 prefigures the wonderful 'Dialogus' BWV 49, 'Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen' composed two years later.

The opening movement is a chorale fantasia with cantus firmus in the soprano, while the other vocal parts which provide a fugue-like accompaniment developped from a motive not related to the chorale melody (except in lines 5 and 6, 'For the Lord, full of Salvation and Grace, lets you be invited now as His guest', where the accompanying vocal parts are derived from the chorale melody, a special treatment which may be intended - suggests Dürr - to emphasize the significance and import of God's invitation).

This contrapunctic vocal construction is enshrined in a thematically independent orchestral structure, characterized by a definitely dance-like rythm resembling a gigue, and conveying [to me] a sense of expectancy both measured and jubilant.

The following tenor aria (not preceded by a recitative) also resembles a dance, in this case a bourrée. The rythmmic figures of the flute andthe vigorous calls of 'Ach öffne, öffne bald' convey a rousing character to this aria.

The very brief secco soprano recitative flows softly and suddenly into the fourth verse of the chorale, whose melody is gently ornamented andembraced by the arpeggiated line of the obbligato violoncello piccolo.

The subsequent alto recitative is accompanied by two recorders which gradually emancipate themselves as the movement rises towards the arioso.

The soprano aria resembles a polonaise, and sounds homophonic, conveying a sense of unmitigated joy.

The bass recitative evolves from secco to an arioso full of yearning.The concluding chorale is of the usual, 'plain' form.

--------------------------------------------------------
A more personal comment. Again a great cantata!

Perhaps the movement I cherish least is the polonaise-like soprano aria (No. 5), a trifle too beatific for me. What touches me most is the paradox that, while the general climate of this cantata is definitely joyous, there is a sense of longing which I find poignant,and which is perhaps more present in the last arioso bars of the bass recitative than in the whole soprano aria. But of course the cantata has to be appreciated as a whole, with its rhetorical progression: the inital movements convey expectation, the soprano aria fulfillment, the last two movements remind us that this fulfillment is yet to come - so do we hope... a matter of faith rather than certainty.

-------------------------------------------------------
Possible topics of discussion.

In this cantata, 3 movements - in Dürr's very words'are dance-lie in character: though not real dances, the 1st mvt
resembles a gigue, the 2nd a bourrée, and the 5th a polonaise.' Since the only movements left are the recitatives and the final chorale, one may say that the whole cantata has a definite dance-like character. This has been discussed already on the list, but I believe that this week's cantata may be the right occasion to clarify the various points of view on the place of 'dance' in Bach's church music. Hopefully in the joyous spirit which pervades this cantata!

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 8, 2006):
BWV 180 Provenance & additional facts about and condition of manuscript

BWV 180 Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele

Provenance:

The Autograph Score

After Bach's death in 1750, this score was inherited by his eldest son, W. F. Bach. It is not known how the manuscript came into the possession of Franz Hauser (1794-1870), a well-known collector of Bach manuscripts. It was Hauser who later presented it as a gift to his friend Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who in turn bequeathed it to his friend, Julius Rietz. Rietz gave it, probably as a Christmas present in 1858, to a singer, Pauline Viardot-Garcia, who kept her possession of it secret until it appeared at the Paris World Fair of 1878. It was made available to Alfred Dörffel who prepared this cantata for the BGA, but it then remained with Viardot-Garcia until her death in 1910. After her death it came into possession of her youngest daughter Marianne, who in turn bequeathed it to her daughter S. Beaulieu-Duvernoy (date of this transfer unknown). In 1930, an antiquarian book store in Berlin run by Paul Gottschalk offered it for sale in their rare books and manuscripts catalogue "X". It was purchased by a medical doctor from Berlin, Hermann Vollmer who immigrated to the USA where he soon sold it in Philadelphia to Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist. It is not knoprecisely when this transaction took place, nor when it was given to the Curtis Institute of Music (also in Philadelphia). An authentic documentation of Mrs. Zimbalist's possession of this manuscript is given in a reference to it in Otto E. Albrecht's "A Census of Autograph Music Manuscripts of European Composers in American Libraries", Philadelphia, 1953. Gerhard Herz, "Bach-Quellen in Amerika. Bach Sources in America", Kassel, 1984, reports that in 1979 the pages of the manuscript had been placed in large plastic folders and that the Curtis Institute had planned a thorough restoration with a new binding for the manuscript but never got around to doing anything about it. For financial reasons the Curtis Institute was forced to liquidate its manuscript holdings, including this cantata, by offering the latter for sale at an auction in 1982. The score was placed up for auction by Christie, Manson & Woods International in New York on May 21, 1982 and was sold to the International Bachakademie in Stuttgart.

The manuscript, at this point, was in very poor condition and in dire need of restoration which had been postponed much too long. The manuscript consists of 11 pages and an additional title page/cover written by Christian Gottlob Meißner, one of Bach's primary copyists. There are 20 autograph pages which original consisted of 5 folio pages which had either fallen apart or had been separated from the others to create the pages (the title page would have been the 6th folio page and it too had been separated into to two separate parts). The original folio pages 2-4 are numbered in the upper right hand corner. The size of each page is approximately 36 x 21 cm. Several pages, because they have suffered diverse types of damage to their edges do not even come close to the size given here. After the Bachakademie purchased the manuscript it underwent an extensive restoration process. The report on this process reveals that the ink had 'eaten holes' ["Tintenfraß"] straight through the paper and thus had caused serious damage. There are places where letters and notes no longer exists because all that remains are the holes where they used to be. In order to save other individual letters and notes that also threatened to fall out, an extremely thin, acid-free foil was placed underneath each page of the manuscript with a Japanese paper ["Japanpapier"] on top and using both pressure and heat caused them to attach firmly to the manuscript. The manuscript is now enclosed in a custom-made, very large case/box within which there is another smaller jewel case having an inscription describing the contents. The individual pages lie between acid-free pieces of cardboard, the type used in museums, and which can be used for display purposes.

The title page (by Christian Gottlob Meißner) reads:

CONCERTO | Dominica 20 post Trinit: | Schmücke dich o liebe Seele etc. | a 4 voci \ Traversiere | 2 Flauti | 2 Hautbois | 2 Violini | Viola | e | Continuo | di | Sign. Joh: Seb: Bach.

On top of the first page of music, J. S. Bach writes:

J. J. Doica 20 post Trinit. Schmücke Dich o liebe Seele. p.

[The ,i' of Doica has a strange mark above it, sometimes rendered as a tilde, but often appearing simply as a short horizontal line - it is an abbreviation mark which stands for "min".]

After Mvt. 1, Bach writes "Aria | sequ[i]t" and assigns to the obbligato part the designation:
"Travers:"
For the recitatives he writes simply: "Recit. "
For Mvt. 4 he designates: "Flauti"
For Mvt. 5 he designates: "Aria tutti li stromenti"
After Mvt. 6 he writes: "Choral | sequit"
At the very end he writes:
"SDG | Fine"

The autograph score shows evidence of having been written very quickly, but not actually carelessly. Several notes, key signatures and other music markings have been lost due to the severe paper damage that has occurred. In the drawing of the staves, some errors occurred due to lines merging with adjacent line above or below and giving the appearance of a single thick line rather than to separate lines with space between them. Before the restoration the paper, particularly the outer pages (title page covers) had turned brown. Some pages were slightly dirty. After the restoration the edges had turned very pale. The flow of ink on the page is quite strong/thick thus causing more than the usual amount of ink splotches to occur.

As is usual with Bach's autograph score, all special markings (articulation, embellishments, dynamics, etc.) are minimal and there is no figured bass with the continuo line.

Unfortunately two (!) sets of original parts (one for the first performance and another for a later performance) have been lost. A few copies of the score or even a score created from the original parts were made during Bach's lifetime or soon thereafter. In the latter case, however, the copyist neglected to included all the special markings from Bach's hand.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 8, 2006):
Following Alain's helpful introduction a few quick points about this most joyous of cantatas.

This is the sixth chorale fantasia to use a major key and the second to use F--the key of the opening fantasia BWV 20. But I don't feel this one as a gigue but more like a pastorale.It has wonderfully delicate orchestration right from the beginning but the most telling point is the incredibly subtle usages of major and minor in the construction of the movement.

(worth noting that part of the joyfulness of this cantata comes from the fact that every movement begins and ends in the major, a very unusual event).

But the constant touching on minor modes in the overall context of the fantasia is, in my view significant. I feel that this movement is a personal invitation for us to leave the caverns of sin and emerge, butterfly like, into the light of the Lord. We constantly feel this image of emerging into a gentle but radiant light. But the caverns of sin remain, and the constant touches of the minor act as a reminder of them.

Incidentally, students of composition might examine the opening phrase of the chorale and the first phrase of the ritornello and see how Bach dervies the latter from the former. This is a compositional device much used by later composers (e.g. Brahms) but once again Bach led the way.

Re suite structures they do occur a lot in the cantatas, often when Bach is depicting the (civilised?) movement from earth to heaven. We will come across some splendid gavotte movements later in this context.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 8, 2006):
Alain Bruguieres wrote:
< The 'royal wedding feast' of the parable is viewed as an image of the Holy communion. In >
In Paul McCreesh's reconstruction of the Epiphany Mass [6] as it may have been celebrated under Bach, he uses this cantata as a second cantata during communion, "sub communione". Dürr lists cantatas which have a strong eucharistic theme and seems to suggest that they might have been reused as generic communion cantatas --"Christ Lag in Todesbanden" is among them. The chorale "Schmücke Dich" is still sung as a communion humn today. Is there any scholarship on this question?

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 8, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>The chorale "Schmücke Dich" is still sung as a communion humn today. Is there any scholarship on this question?<<
Yes, I am also familiar with this chorale still being used as a communion hymn during German (Lutheran)
church services.

In regard to its possible use this way by Bach as a cantata performed during communion, the rather unusual evidence regarding the survival of the score and parts seems to point toward more frequent use of this composition by Bach and others during his lifetime. It is unusual to find still in existence a number of separate copies of a Bach score made during Bach's lifetime and shortly after his death. It is just as unusual to find evidence for two complete sets of original parts (the second set molikely made for another performance - or other performances - under Bach's direction) after the first set simply 'wore out' or had been lent out and not returned. All of this information seems to point to the popularity of this cantata and/or its frequent use during the Communion part of church services in Bach's churches and most likely elsewhere. Here are the sources listed by the NBA in its KB I/25, pp. 32-48:

A. the autograph score now residing in the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart

B. a copy by Christoph Nichelmann (1st half of 18th century) Mus. ms. Bach P 46 (Staatsbibliothek Berlin)

C. a copy in an unknown hand (1st half of the 18th century) Mus. ms. Bach P 1051 (Staatsbibliothek
Berlin)

D. a partial, unfinished (only Mvt. 1 - but probably the remainder of the copy had been lost since the title points to the inclusion of the entire cantata) copy by Johann Friedrich Agricola (most likely completed when still performing under Bach or soon after Bach's death) Mus. ms. Bach P 480 (Staatsbibliothek Berlin)

E. a copy in an unknown hand (18th century) contained in a collection of 11 cantatas by J. S. Bach. It is the first one in the collection. AM. B. 43 (Staatsbibliothek Berlin)

F. a copy that was offered for sale (now lost) by the Breitkopf Publishing Firm in 1761 as follows:

"Communion=Cantate: Schmücke Dich, o liebe Seele, a 2 Flauti, 2 Oboi, 2 Violini, Viola, 4 Voci, Basso ed Organo."

There a 7 additional manuscript copies from the 19th century which are described in detail by the NBA KB.

It is comforting to know that even if the autograph score had not survived (the two original sets of parts had probably simply been worn out through frequent use), this composition would have been preserved in some form or other for posterity through its still extant copies, the number of which point to its frequent performances which were probably related to its usual association with Communion when such music would be performed.

Peter Smaill wrote (October 8, 2006):
"Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele", is of course best known as the title of one of the Eightenn Organ Chorales, BWV 654 which Schumann viewed as " ....priceless, deep and full of soul as any piece of music." The organ work is is in the form of a sarabande, and the inner parts derive from the melody just as in the Cantata the ritornello is related to the Chorale.

Both Julian Mincham and Thomas Braatz focus on the significance of this Chorale which in its own right has been one of the most influential Chorales in that it is still used at communion in Lutheranism and has found its way into Anglican and Presbyterian hymnals as well.

As often the musicologists skip over the last part of the Cantata - "the concluding chorale has the usual form of a plain, instrumentally reinforced four part choral setting"(Dürr).

Is it that plain? Is it likely that Bach would not produce a special harmonisation for Johann Franck's theologically charged communion hymn?

IMO Bach achieves this in a quite unusual way, avoiding chromaticism in favour of the mellifluous interval, between tenors and basses, of a tenth. This Chorale in fact can be used as an exercise for the left hand (if your stretch is wide) for that reason.

The sequence of tenths in the lower parts start around the words "recht ermessen" ("rightly measure"), in faith-illustrative stepwise movement across seven semiquavers; then the interval of the tenth reasserts in the final line, occuring nine times and including the final cadence, in the lower voices.

Perhaps Bach is illustrating the concurrence of faith in earth down below with heaven, or alluding to span/measurement in some way - thoughts of others on this possibility will be interesting. Even without a word-painting connection the special quality of the harmony gives this Chorale an approriate spiritual quality through the depth of the bass relative to the other voices; and is further evidence of Bach's innovation and skill even in details which are glossed over by most.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 8, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote::
< As often the musicologists skip over the last part of the Cantata - "the concluding chorale has the usual form of a plain, instrumentally reinforced four part choral setting"(Dürr).
Is it that plain? Is it likely that Bach would not produce a special harmonisation for Johann Franck's theologically charged communion hymn? >

A good point. What does 'plain' or 'simple' mean in this context? I have researched chorales where Bach has changed the harmony not (I think) because he has second thoughts or because he feels he can improve upon earlier verions (often by himself) but because the meanings and images of the new words demand a different musical approach.

Give me a couple of days to look at this chorale again--if I can find out anything of general interest I will get back on list.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 8, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< "Communion=Cantate: Schmücke Dich, o liebe Seele, a 2 Flauti, 2 Oboi, 2 Violini, Viola, 4 Voci, Basso ed Organo."
There a 7 additional manuscript copies from the 19th century which are described in detail by the NBA KB.
It is comforting to know that even if the autograph score had not survived (the two original sets of parts had probably simply been worn out through frequent use), this composition would have been preserved in some form or other for posterity through its still extant copies, the number of which point to its frequent performances which were probably related to its usual association with Communion when such music would be performed. >
Fascinating material which demonstrates the cantata's popularity not only because of its exceptional beauty but because of its utilitarian value as communion music. Perhaps we should assmeble a list of cantata with well-worn parts and see if they have a communion theme!

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 9, 2006):
BWV 180 Score samples - chorale references

For some score samples illustrating mainly Mvt. 1 of BWV 180 see: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV180-M1.htm

Whittaker believes he can hear a quotation of the chorale melody by the oboe in m 2 of BWV 180/1. I do have trouble trying to discern what he is talking about. The notes sounded to me more like a chant from a liturgy. I simply opened the German hymnal to the Communion liturgy and there it was. It is the opening chant sung by the pastor: "Der Herr sei mit euch" ("The Lord be with you") after which the congregation sings the response. I assume that this is Luther's liturgy or something close to that since no author/composer is indicated.

How fitting this would be for Bach to embed this chant directly into the opening measures of Mvt. 1!

The second example is based on the conclusion of the Stollen of the featured chorale melody where the words are rather significant: "laß die dunkle Sündenhöhle" ("leave behind [you] the dark cavern of sin"). Here Bach seems to transform the chorale melody into a chromatic descent to illustrate the location of the sinful state of human beings. The question always arises in my mind why Bach would illustrate through word painting a concept which seems to lead us away from the light into the darkness filled with sin while the main emphasis appears to be focused on light in this cantata. Schweitzer commented on this phenomenon and gave some examples where the libretto states: not this, but Bach still insists upon creating a musical picture with the "this" simply because there is an opportunity to do something interesting with the musical expression of a certain concept. Also, this may be Bach's way of achieving a balance between opposing forces of light and darkness, good and evil, etc. The descending chromatic scale passage is something that most listeners in Bach's time must have been able to perceive and understand. It is interesting to see it appear here in the context of the 'cavern of sin' from which believers will emerge and through Communion.

Other examples given here are self-explanatory.

Finally there are some illustrations of Friedrich Smend's discoveries of where the chorale melody is also hidden in this cantata.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 9, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Whittaker believes he can hear a quotation of the chorale melody by the oboe in m 2 of BWV 180/1. I do have trouble trying to discern what he is talking about. The notes sounded to me more like a chant from a liturgy. I simply opened the German hymnal to the Communion liturgy and there it was. It is the opening chant sung by the pastor: "Der Herr sei mit euch" ("The Lord be with you") after which the congregation sings the response. I assume that this is Luther¹s liturgy or something close to that since no author/composer is indicated.
How fitting this would be for Bach to embed this chant directly into the opening measures of
Mvt. 1! >
The similarity is quite striking and there are certainly examples of Bach using plainsong themes: the "Credo" and "Confiteor" of the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), and the Litany quotaion in the Kyrie of the F Major Mass. If the cantata was used as a communion cantata,the quotation would be very appropriate.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 10, 2006):
BWV 180 Additional Score Samples

Some additional score samples have been added to the BCW by Aryeh Oron at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV180-M1.htm

Friedrich Smend's indication of the 3-note motif as being sufficient to be an allusion to the chorale melody incipit has led me to pursue this matter further. It appears, although some may consider this as stretching a point too far, as if the descending 3-note scale pattern (the very beginning of "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele") is a motif that Bach uses to unify all the mvts. in the cantata. These 3 notes appear in various forms that are modifications/variations of the motif and it [the motif] is always near the beginning of the movement as the measure numbers will indicate.

My own discovery of another link between mvts. 1 & 2 centers upon a word-painting device which issues directly from the text in mvt. 2, beginning in m 19 and later 28, where the tenor sings "Ach, öffne, öffne bald" ["O, open soon the gate/portal to your heart" = "öffnen" is also a 'widening of the opening' = 'increasing the gap'] and the flute presents a musical figure with widening intervals. The musical picture is one where the process of opening is depicted by increasing the intervals between certain key notes which are printed in red for easier reference. Very interesting beyond locating and describing this rather evident example of word-painting, of which there are many in Bach's works, is that Bach also uses this device in the opening mvt. as well. The process of opening up one's heart to the Savior begins in the very first measure of the entire cantata and continues directly into the 2nd mvt. where the command "to open up" is issued directly for the first time while the listener simultaneously perceives the 'widening' of musical intervals which helps to reinforce taking the action encouraged by the singer.

Neil Halliday wrote (October 11, 2006):
BWV 180: some aspects of recordings

Ed mentioned HIP secco accompaniment. It's interesting to listen to Coin's [5] sensitive treatment of the first part (before the introduction of the `cello piccolo) of BWV 180's third movement. The notes on organ and continuo strings are mostly held for their notated length, with some pleasing flexibility being brought to the sound of some notes (chords) by means of diminishing the volume of the note on the strings, while the organ of course maintains a constant sound level. If this is well done, as appears to be the case in the web sample of Coin's performance, this will probably be considered, by most listeners, an improvement over either (a) the unvarying sound of the unbroken legato that we have, for example,in Rilling [3], and other non-HIP performers, that some listeners do not like; and (b) on the other hand, the inconsequential accompaniment heard via the radically shortened chords of most period performers, where the often interesting accompanying figured-bass harmony is barely, if at all, heard, leaving the singer of the recitative `high and dry'. Coin also achieves a nice blend between the organ and continuo strings, not all that common in my experience of cantata listening. (Unfortunately, he reverts to the shortened chord method in the bass recitative (IIRC).

[Another method that organists might explore is to cease sounding one or more of the `voices' near the (notated) end of the note (chord). Now, if we had a modern piano, this problem of inflexibility, which apparently has upset listeners of `seccos' as far back as Niedt, would easily be dealt with, without dispensing with the accompaniment as with Harnoncourt's method, but I digress].

--------

Last year I compared Richter's BWV 147 chorale ("Jesu, joy.") with Gardiner's approach. The same comparison can be made, of Richter [2] and McCreesh [6], in the opening chorus of BWV 180, where Richter's slow tempo works amazingly well, and McCreesh's fast tempo (fastest of all the recordings) paradoxically begins to plod, as the detached continuo notes seem to come to the fore, seemingly emphasised over the intricacies of the rest of the score, intricacies which Richter lovingly explores in a flowing yet incisive performance (mercifully without the 'squealing' organ that often accompanies the choir in Richter's recordings). Werner, at about the same speed as Richter (Werner is a bit slower) lacks Richter's incisiveness, and consequently lacks the impact of Richter's performance. There are other pleasing performances available. Interestingly, Koopman has adopted a slow tempo, for a beautiful `pastoral' performance of this movement, judging by the web sample.

Richter [2] is superb in the 2nd movement also, with lovely continuo, well articulated modern flute, and expressive, easy on the ear singing from Schreier.

The pick of the Rilling recording [3] is the soprano aria (Mvt. 5), with Rilling's bright instrumentation, and Auger's lovely voice making a delightful sound. It's easy see why jazz musicians respect Bach, with this aria as an example - the relentless, driving continuo, in combination with the syncopation in the vocal and upper instrumental parts, is rhythmically exuberant. (BTW, the music launches itself on the third beat of the bar - which might not be grasped on the first hearing). Rilling well captures the contrasting timbres of the little three-note figure accompanying the singer, as it moves from flutes to oboes to strings etc., and his lively (`jazzy') sempre semi-staccato continuo, not too intrusive, completes the picture for a most pleasing performance.

I'll have to go with the period performances of the accompanied alto recitative, because of the excessive (to my ears) vibrato of the altos on the earlier recordings.

Coin [5] is also worth mentioning for a beautiful performance of the final chorale. Notice there are no disjointed, strangely emphasised notes (eg, <> articulation) that mar some period performances, and the final notes of each line (under the fermatas) are also held out for a sensible length of time, creating the more substantial, flowing effect that we are used to, in older recordings of this type of movement. (Thanks, Peter S., for pointing to those interesting consecutive tenths in the tenors and basses, part of Bach's superb 4-part harmonisation).

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 13, 2006):
BWV 180 Additional Score Samples

Some additional score samples have been added to the BCW by Aryeh Oron at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV180-M1.htm

If you want to see an enlarged version of any sample, simply click once again on the sample you wish to view.

This last batch of samples at the bottom of the page was inspired by remarks earlier this week on Bach's use of parallel 10ths ('Dezime' in German) in the final chorale. It appeared to me that Bach held onto the notion of "Öffne" ("open up") as presented in the tenor aria. I had already pointed out the widening of intervals in mvt. 1, but soon the other mvts. seemed to fall in place. I have to admit that the examples I give from mvts. 4 & 6 may seem somewhat forced to make them fit the mold. Nevertheless, I believe that Bach did have large intervals like 10ths (both varieties: major and minor) generally in mind to express the opening up of one's heart throughout the entire cantata. Mattheson does not say much about 10ths except that they can be just like thirds (minor and major). In BWV 180/5, Bach seems to play with both intervals almost simultaneously, moving rather quickly by widening the interval from the minor to the major. Any thoughts about this? Do 10ths carry any symbolic meaning for Bach?

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 17, 2006):
Alain Bruguieres wrote:
< This has been discussed already on the list, but I believe that this week's cantata may be the right occasion to clarify the various points of view on the place of 'dance' in Bach's church music. Hopefully in the joyous spirit which pervades this cantata! >
Reply:

I see that discussion is moving apace, and I am more or less a week behind. I did want to respond to Alain's comment, especially since the two recordings I have, Richter [2] and Leusink [8], provide maximum contrast regarding dance tempos and dynamics.

I have already suggested that the Richter set is essential listening, and adding the Leusink (Brilliant Classics complete Bach) enables anyone to participate in BCML discussions at modest expense. I was moved by earlier discussions to order the Coin [5] as well, comments to follow as appropriate when it arrives.

The bright, dancing character of Leusink's performance [8] is immediately attractive. With repeated listening, Richter's tempos [2] become more rich, expansive, words like that. I do not have fixed opinions as to one style better than the other. Richter's performance does seem to have an enduring gravity which wears well on repeated listening, and which might seem more church style on first thought.

On the other hand, the sprightly sounds of Leusink [8] suit the written music (I presume), and make a very nice, bright, first impression. Again, I presume, a first impression was the only impression Bach had to make on almost every listener. So one has to wonder about the balance between solemnity and the triple time dance meters.

The comparison in the S rec/arioso is especially contrasting, but both enjoyable: Ruth Holton with vc piccolo [8] is as light and delicate as can be; Edith Mathis with vc (non piccolo) [2] is rich and warm. Listening to them side by side, I am hard pressed to compare and choose, they are so different. Is one correct, and the other not so? In the context of the respective performances, both sound appropriate to me.

I need to close, brief remarks on the B rec and final Chorale, both with interesting comments in the discussions, and lingering questions. Wonderful performances by both DFDieskau [2], a legend, but no need to slight Ramselaar [8]. Appropriate to the HIP performance style.

As Peter Smaill pointed out, and Tom Braatz followed with musical examples, the final Chorales deserve much more comment than they get in the standard reference literature. I am enjoying following along as much as possible, but the BCW archives create a rich resource for future reference, not only for weekly listening.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 17, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I see that discussion is moving apace, and I am more or less a week behind. I did want to respond to Alain's comment, especially since the two recordings I have, Richter [2] and Leusink [8], provide maximum contrast regarding dance tempos and dynamics. >
Evidently, the Toronto International Bach Festival with Helmut Rilling has had the master class conductors do a practical dance workshop in Baroque choreography with Jeannette Zing, the choreographer for Opera Atelier, the company which stages period performances of Baroque opera.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 17, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Evidently, the Toronto International Bach Festival with Helmut Rilling has had the master class conductors do a practical dance workshop in Baroque choreography with Jeannette Zing, the choreographer for Opera Atelier, the company which stages period performances of Baroque opera. >
Reply:

Did you have the opportunity to attend? Even if not, it would be interesting to hear second-hand reports, if any available.

My impression of Rilling, from a listener's perspective, is that he has great respect for the music, and he has the interest and ability to absorb new thinking. Not much more you can ask of a man. Beyond that, I can only judge by the recordings I have: all enjoyable, sometimes sublime, occasionally danceable.

My impression of conductors? The workshop is probably a good idea: too little or too much dance does not work so well. Just enough is perfect!

Sorry I did not keep up with the calendar to realize the Toronto event, but not possible this year in any case. Not so far away from Salem MA, maybe we will see you one of these years.

Thanks for enjoyable communications.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 17, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Did you have the opportunity to attend? Even if not, it would be interesting to hear second-hand reports, if any available.
My impression of Rilling, from a listener's perspective, is that he has great respect for the music, and he has the interest and ability to absorb new thinking. Not much more you can ask of a man. Beyond that, I can only judge by the recordings I have: all enjoyable, sometimes sublime, occasionally danceable. >
I'm going to the public lectures (which are first rate scholarly presentations) and a couple of Rilling's master classes. I've never been a fan of his Bach, but he gives wonderful practical advice to musicians who will probably perform the works with modern instruments and choirs. He's really a popularizer of the old school of Richter [2], but I think there's still a place for his style. His philosophy of Bach is very secular and universalist -- he really ignores all scholarly work -- but his love for the music is infectious.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 30, 2006):
The radio broadcast on WGBH (Boston USA, www.wgbh.org) this morning was BWV 180, which we discussed a couple weeks ago. The performance chosen was that by Kuijken [13], which is listed in the BCW recordings, but has not yet been discussed. This is OVPP, following the ideas of Rifkin and Parrott, documented in the BCW archives, and in recommended references for those wishing more detail. Also argued extensively, for and against

I am a bit hesitant to go into a rave based on a single listen, but the performance sounded exquisite! The individual singers are superb, host Brian McCreath noted S Sophie Karthäuser for specific highlight, but it almost seems unfair to single anyone out. Beyond the vocals, the details are flawless: traverso and vc piccolo (?) (sounds like it to me) in perfect balance, continuous continuo in recits (as opposed to the isolated plunk), bright lively tempos without extremes. I thought the OVPP especially effective in the Chorale finale.

This is a performance to be reckoned with, a compelling soun, regardless of one's opinion of the musicologic and historic theory. The OVPP concept was new to me within the year, after joining BCML. I have enjoyed the Rifkin performances which I listened to as an introduction, but I did not find them as convincing as Kuijken [13]. I will go back for more of Rifkin, perhaps just the texture settling in for me.

According to Brian McCreath, the Kuijken is a new release [13], the first in a projected series to be completed over five years. This seems to be a minor discrepancy with BCW data, but maybe it is recently released publicity, and good news? The price looks a bit high, but not out of line with Suzuki/Bis [12]. The technology is Hybrid SACD. Any opinions/experience on compatibility of this technology with older (1990) CD players? Despite the age, I am very (very!) happy with the digital/analog conversion of my player, and reluctant to mess with new, improved gizmos, Made in China. Through my thirty year old, four speaker, stereo surround sound system, a CD sounds almost as good as an LP. Better, if the particular LP has seen better days, surface wear etc. I age, I digress.

I have already posted a few comments on the S aria in BWV 115, but that was an unplanned bonus after I ordered Coin [5] as the preferred performance for BWV 180, based on previous reports, not including Kuijken [13]. I am listening again to Coin as I write, and I certainly agree with the evaluation. Kuijken deserves a detailed review, both for the specific performance in BWV 180, and more generally as the standard setter for OVPP discussions.

Someone said it first, but I have lost track of exactly who: if it sounds good, it is good!

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 30, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< The radio broadcast on WGBH (Boston USA, www.wgbh.org) this morning was BWV 180, which we discussed a couple weeks ago. The performance chosen was that by Kuijken [13], which is listed in the BCW recordings, but has not yet been discussed. This is OVPP, following the ideas of Rifkin and Parrott, documented in the BCW archives, and in recommended references for those wishing more detail. Also argued extensively, for and against
I am a bit hesitant to go into a rave based on a single listen, but the performance sounded exquisite! >

I concur. I have this recording [13], and think it's terrific. Also I note that one of the members of BachRecordings and BachMusicology lists (Ewald Demeyere) is the continuo organist for this CD, and most of this Kuijken series so far. Hats off to the excellent musicianship here.

The booklet notes also do a good job establishing the ensemble's goals for this series of cantata recordings.

 

BWV 180, Trinity 20 (Oct. 25, 2009)

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 28, 2009):
The liturgically appropriate cantata chosen for radio and webcast (www.wgbh.org) this past Sunday was BWV 180 in the fine OVPP performance by Kuijken and La Petite Bande [13]. I did not hear the broadcast, I presume Brian McCreath provided his customary insightful commnets. Kuijken in his booklet notes states: <The basic theme of this chorale cantata for Oct. 24, 1724 is the mystical union between the soul and God as exemplified by the Eucharist>, a rather more cheerful emphasis than some of the other late Trinity season texts.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 180: 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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