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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 195
Dem Gerechten muß das Licht immer wieder aufgehen
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of April 20, 2008

Francis Browne wrote (April 18, 2008):
BWV 195 Introduction

At Aryeh's request I shall be introducing the cantata discussion for the next six weeks.

Like many others on this list I feel greatly indebted to Aryeh for his generosity in providing such a wonderful resource and it would therefore be churlish to have refused. But, to borrow a phrase of Wallace Stevens, I cannot help feeling that I am

A most inappropriate man

In a most unpropitious place

Sandwiched between the excellent, well-informed and stimulating introductions that Jean has been giving us (as well as responses to every post !) and the knowledgeable and perceptive views that Uri always brings to the list I feel in a rather invidious position as an amateur without any claim to expertise . I can match neither what has passed nor what is to come. But since it is primarily the cantatas themselves and not the introductions that are the basis for discussions and there are many people who can supplement and correct inadequacies, I am happy to undertake this task.

Perhaps there may even be some positive value in having an introduction by someone who is neither musician nor scholar. Since I first joined the BCML has grown from 300 to more than 800 members - and yet the number of active contributors remains very small . I appreciate those who contribute so regularly, but I can't help thinking that many others might have something valuable to contribute. If someone without technical expertise can introduce the discussion, it is surely possible for anyone who shares our delight in Bach's music to make a contribution.

At Aryeh's suggestion I shall (re)introduce myself.I joined the BCML in January 2002.Since then I have contributed to the website the readings for the Lutheran church year in German and English, and I have been slowly providing English translations of the cantatas and also the texts of the chorales used by Bach. I am 55, married, with four sons. I teach Classics (Greek and Latin) in a comprehensive school in Liverpool - with increasing difficulty because of the inexorable progress of Parkinson's disease. This has also made it difficult for me in recent years to find the time and energy to contribute actively to the list. However, this may change if I have to take early retirement

[There is no way in which I can emulate Jean's level of activity, but I would like to add my appreciation to what others have already expressed for the care, thoroughness and insight Jean has shown over the past ten weeks. Particularly I value the courteous, positive tone she has brought to what has from time to time been a tetchy, touchy and turbulent list.]

The six cantatas that I shall introduce were not chosen by me, but for the purpose of making these introductions I have listened to them with greater attention than usual. Every one of them has given me great delight and I hope that many members of the list may come to share this enjoyment.

Links to basic information about the cantata, text and translations, commentaries etc and the previous discussion are provided as always by the indefatigable industry of Aryeh at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV195.htm.

BWV 195 is a wedding cantata, a genre that is underrepresented in the surviving sacred cantatas of Bach . Besides this cantata there are BWV 34a, BWV 120a and BWV 197, but according to Hans-Joachim Schulze the records of the Thomaskirche mention 30 occasions from 1723 to 1748 when weddings were celebrated with "gantzen Braut-Messe", that is with a wedding cantata ,and weddings were also celebrated with music at St. Nicolai. Of course Bach may not have been involved on every possible occasion but it seems likely that Bach wrote - or perhaps I should say compiled - more wedding cantatas than have survived. For Dürr's account of the complicated history of the cantata makes it clear that Bach recycled and adapted material to suit the particular occasion and circumstances of each performance. Dürr suggests a lost earlier version of BWV 195 may date from 1727-32. On 3 January 1736 a different version was performed at Ohrdruf by two nephews of Bach. Around 1742 Bach revived the work with further alterations , and finally in the late 1740s Bach undertook a radical revision of the work but is unclear whether he completed his plans, for the final version which we have dating from 1748 to 49 has a single plain four part chorale in Part 2 of the cantata instead of the three movements that Bach may have intended

..This complicated origin is discussed in some detail in the previous BCW discussion (which by a curious coincidence I also happened to begin with some pedantic details of the text.) and I refer those interested to what is said there and will concentrate on the cantata as it exists today.

In introducing the cantatas for the next few weeksI shall make extensive use of W.G.Whittaker The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, Sacred and Secular. (Oxford University Press, 1957).I am aware that many people on this list do not need his detailed accounts of the music, but his books are out of print and not easily available . I continue to find him a stimulating and perceptive guide, even when I cannot agree with some of his more forthright opinions.At his best he has the knowledge and insight of someone who loves this music passionately and has performed all the cantatas.

As a prelude to these six weeks with Whittaker I shall post separately an extract from his earlier book (1924) on the cantatas (and motets) .It is perhaps dated in style but still eloquently expresses his generous and appreciative approach to the cantatas.

Whittaker's discussion can be found in Vol. 1, 342-9. As often he does not discuss the movements in the order of performance and so I have rearranged his remarks.

He notes that there are many errors in the manuscript and thinks that this indicates the cantata was produced in a hurry. Why then he wonders did Bach take the trouble to begin with such a huge chorus (Mvt. 1)?:

"It is fitted so badly that haste to provide for a mortal marriage must have made the com­poser reckless concerning the marriage of words and music. Whether a secular or a sacred work was plundered to provide a wedding gift it is not possible to say, but the prize was worth the crime, even if it suffered in the violence of the raid."

It may be obtuse ignorance on my part, but as I listen I have no sense that the quotations from the Psalms are set inappropriately. Perhaps the magnificent total effect of this opening chorus blinds me to incongruous details, and it would be interesting to know if anyone can point to places where the text is fitted badly.Whittaker himself, after putting forward this view, does not provide any examples but gives a detailed description of the movement of which I reproduce the substance.

"There are three trumpets and timpani, a flauto traverso doubles oboe I, another doubles II, strings are normal, and the chorus is divided into solo and ripieno, the choral scheme treated with great elaboration. The form is that of a prelude and fugue. The prelude itself contains a kind of fugue, the elaborate theme being presented in turn by soloists, S.A.T.B., then tutti, B.T.A.S. The entries are not continuous; there are tutti out­bursts (not always with brass and percussion, however) between each pair of entries. The introduction is based on the elaborate theme. Oboes and flutes announce its last bar, ending differently, with repeated-note arpeggi in the upper strings, octave leaps in the bassi and a short fanfare for brass and percussion. The wood-wind play the complete subject in parallel motion, the bassi leaping and running, the upper strings punctuating in unison. The concluding bar is treated like the opening, but made more resplendenby an ascent of tromba I to high E. Violins and wood-wind change places in the dominant. In the last bar trumpets I and II begin a shining passage in thirds, later the upper strings reverse the direction of their arpeggi. The tutti outbursts in the preludial fugue are derived from the opening bar. The overwhelming final 6 1/2 bars are based on the opening bar, and the first part of the elaborate theme is fitted in the basses wholly to 'und Freude'. The score is wonderfully brilliant, Italian in its imposing external splendour.

The 6/8 fugue consists of a double exposition:solo voices and tromba I , the latter continuing also with the counter­subject,followed by ripieni, two episodes based on an idea from the 'freuet'of the subject, with an abundance of flaring vocal and instrumental trills ;three further vocal entries and one for tromba I. During the first ex­position the upper strings mark the half-bars with quaver chords; during the second they, together with the wood-wind, double the entries. During the episodes trumpet I participates in the theme and adds independent matter. Trumpets II and III and timpani do not enter till the trumpet tutti subject. Prior to the final tromba subject the voices excitedly cry:'und danket ihm'.

On the recitatives Whittaker comments that they are addressed to the happy pair in terms which would have made them feel uncomfortable if they were not endowed with the saving grace of humour. ii, bass (Mvt. 2), is probably original; it has continuo only, but an active one, revelling in many semiquaver triplet embellishmentsThe bassi triplets have been indicative of the light of joy; a new figure enters: The bridal pair would doubtless understand the billing and cooing in the bassi.

Whittaker has problems with the third movement (Mvt. 3), the bass aria: it is certain that the bass aria, which Spitta considers to be `in the Lom­bardic style', must have come from a secular composition, indeed possibly from a comic work. Its jerky rhythms and the jauntiness of its melody are more allied to the bass aria in No. 30 (which was adapted from a secular cantata) than to music befitting a solemn ceremony...... The indication in the Breitkopf edition, andante religioso, is a silly attempt to cloak the jester's motley with a monk's cowl, and the aria treated in this way is insufferably dull. Only when dealt with as Schlendrian's arias in the ' Coffee' cantata does the music sound attractive, and then it is false to the words. Through the disappear­ance of the original text we are denied one of Bach's best secular songs. One cannot see why he chose to add two oboes d'amore to the strings in this anything-but-tender aria, and one can only wonder how it could have come about that the master who wrote the finest of all sacred music could be guilty of such deplorable taste as to adapt such a number for performance in a church.

On this I can only comment that from the moment I first heard this aria (in Leusink's recording with Bas Ramselaar) it has seemed delightful and entirely appropriate.Who knows what life may have brought to those who heard this at their wedding, but their marriage at least began with something radiant with joy.

The second recitative for soprano (Mvt. 4) is accompanied by two flutes and two oboes d'amore. Whittaker comments :The former indulge in many chasing scale pas­sages in demisemiquavers, moderating their exuberance in the centre portion by more demure descending scales at half-speed. The oboes d'amore behave sedately. One fails to see the reason for this unwontedly elaborate accompaniment to a recitative, for the text affords no clue; one is driven to the conclusion that Bach liked the number in the secular cantata and adopted it for the new text.

Bach was of course into recycling long before it became fashionable and it is perfectly possible that he used a recitative from a secular cantata.But again I have no sense that the setting is inappropriate to the occasion of a wedding. Dürr (in his notes to the Windsbacher Knabenchor recording) notes how ascending scales go along with the words of exhortation and descending-gliding scales along with such words as "Segen" and "Eid".

Whittaker assumes the second chorus (Mvt. 5) is also an adaption :It is unlikely that Bach, in his haste, would have had time to com­pose the second chorus, which closes Part I; we must assume that it also is an adaptation, though there are no injustices to the text, which would probably be a mere modification. The manner of the music is undoubtedly secular. Scoring and lay-out of choir and orchestra are the same as in i, but the music is more direct and less ornate, the chief elaboration being the often-broken runs to ` preisen'.

The frequent cross accents, two bars of ¾ sounding as three of 2/4, in the quaver stepwise passages, constitute a feature of rhythmical interest. The four chief motives are announced in the introduction

(a) an ascending scale idea, the upper strings, violin I and II doubled respectively by flauto I and oboe I, and flauto II and oboe II, entering successively, the rest of the orchestra punctuating the bars with crotchet chords:

(b) a florid theme in tromba I,accompanied by a version of (a) in the bassi and staccato crotchet chords for wood-wind and upper strings, trumpets II and III and timpani continuing as before;

(c) the joy-motive:

(b) is now developed for eight bars by wood-wind and strings, with fragments of (c) for trumpets I and II. Wood-wind and strings call a two-bar halt on sustained chords during which the bassi play a form of (b) and the trumpets give out (d):

With continuo only, the chorus sings Wir kommen, deine Heilig­keit, unendlich groBer Gott, zu preisen' (` We come, Thy holiness, everlastingly great God, to praise') beginning with (a) and continuing with the aforementioned cross-accents. (a), (b), and (c) are utilized in an interlude and twenty-two bars of chorus follow. The first eight reproduce the opening of the introduction; the lower voices shout `Wir' on the first beats of the bar before they take up (a), the basses expand (a) to eleven bars. The remainder is without brass and per­cussion. (b) and (c) are developed; for twelve bars sopranos and altos sing the single word `preisen', first to (b) and then to detached groups from (c). A version of (d) ascending an octave appropriately to `unendlich groBer Gott', is given to the voices, with the same accom­paniment as before. Dovetailing with an orchestral (a) in the domi­nant, a short double fugue is opened by the solo voices. Both sub­jects begin with (a) and the soprano theme adds (b):

The awkward textual lead-off in the soprano is a sure sign of adapta­tion. After the male solo voices enter the scheme is unusual. The soprano sings part of (f); so far the continuo only has been present ..When the soprano reaches the top note, flute II, oboe II and violin II play the whole of (f), the upper voices continuing till it finishes. This instrumental unison now plays (e), (f) is added by flute I, oboe I and violin I, during which the basses flourish on `preisen'. Except for two bars the continuo main­tains its time-pattern. The bass roulade dovetails into eight bars of the vocal-instrumental form of (a), exactly repeated. The ten bars which followed this are now expanded to eleven, with key changes, and the last five bars of the introduction are repeated with all forces. After the fine pause there are twelve bars for the solo quartet with continuo-' Der Anfang riihrt von deinen Hamden, durch Allmacht kannst du es vollenden and deinen Segen kriiftig weisen' (` The be­ginning springs from Thy hands, through omnipotence canst Thou it accomplish and Thy blessing mightily show'), an expansion of the concluding sentence of the soprano recitative. Several of the vocal and continuo passages are derived from (d), the bassi open with an inversion of (a) and a bar of (b). An interlude for strings and wood­wind (brass and percussion are silent in Part II) exploits (a) and then (d), though, except in the , the melodic outline is different. During the latter inner strings and bassi accompany with[a rhythm]which is used by wood-wind and upper strings through most of the twelve tutti choral bars which lead to the Da Capo. Here the (d) grouping is used, the continuo decorating the bass line with it."

In the cantata that we have today there is only a plain chorale setting (Mvt. 6) in Part II. The text of an aria, recitative and chorus exist, but without music. Whittaker suggests that perhaps Bach "had embarked on too immense a scheme, which time did not permit him to complete, and the chorale was made to serve. It shows some interesting points. The first two notes are un­accompanied, a rare occurrence. The two flauti traversi double the melody at the octave above, except in line 2, where they break away. Corno I (there are no horns elsewhere), oboe I and violin I double the tune, oboe II and violin II the alto, and viola the tenor, while the continuo has a slightly ornate version of the bass. Corno II and timpani are independent."

If anyone is not yet acquainted with this cantata, I am confident they will be delighted with the two choruses and the bass aria. The form in which this cantata has come down to us may be problematic, but what survives contains some magnificent music.

(I shall comment on the five available recordings in a separate posting in a few days time)

Julian Mincham wrote (April 19, 2008):
Just a couple of points of detail to add to Francis's comprehensive introduction.

Dürr (pp753-7) is quite interesting on the history of the work which he deduces may have been for the wedding on a lawyer. He states that the recitatives were newly written for the revised cantata and therefore the notion that the flute runs were a 'leftover' from a previous text cannot be the case. In fact it is quite likely that Bach might have intended them to suggest the pouring or scattering of blessings upon the couple (the scales running in both directions might well suggest this)---or even the prospering of such blessings which the text specifically mentions.

There is another intriguing thought which can never be more than loose speculation but may be a possible explanations for imagic parts of the setting which seem to be unexplained by the text. Dürr (p 156) reminds us of the habit of baroque poets to make mention of particular attributes of the bridal couple in their texts. Might not composers do the same at times and suggest qualities of, say vivacity or steadfastness which the characters of bride and groom may exhibit? If nothing more this is a warning that, whilst I believe that Bach had a good reason for everything he did, the explanations may not always be readily available in the existing texts.

The use of a double chorus is rare and in itself marks the work out as not having been composed for the weekly services, where conventional wisdom has it that Bach never used such forces because they were not available. But here he does not use the two choirs antiphonally (as in SMP (BWV 244) and elsewhere). In fact the second choir mostly doubles the first---although there are moments of independence of detail which would suggest that two separate choral groups, perhaps placed antiphonally??---were part of Bach's scheme.

Finally the point Francis makes about the independence of horn 2 in the closing choral is interesting. Bach does, on occasion, give the second horn an independent line whilst the first doubles the chorale theme. A notable example is BWV 1 from the second cycle---the last of the group of 40 continuous chorale fantasia cantatas. But there the solo line is a proper solo which dominates the soundscape. Here the part is more in the centre of the harmony and one wonders why Bach felt the need to add it when it could just as well have simply doubled the alto line in much the same range?

So there are a number of rather odd details about this work; which incidentally is one of the lesser known cantatas fully deserving of a good airing.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 19, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< The use of a double chorus is rare and in itself marks the work out as not having been composed for the weekly services, where conventional wisdom has it that Bach never used such forces because they were not available. But here he does not use the two choirs antiphonally (as in SMP (BWV 244) and elsewhere). In fact the second choir mostly doubles the first---although there are moments of independence of detail which would suggest that two separate choral groups, perhaps placed antiphonally??---were part of Bach's scheme. >
The deployment of the chorus is interesting for it shows that Bach made a distinction between "solo" (favoriti) and "ripineno" (tutti) singers --what we would call the "soloists" and the "choir". The opening chorus integrates the two bodies very cleverly so that the solos really do emerge from the larger ensemble. The markings are unusual in Bach, but I would suspect that this is fairly good evidence that at least two singers per part were normative in performances of the cantatas in general.

Are there really only two trumpets? Two trumpets and two horns sounds like a Handel score. Do we find this pairing in any other Bach cantata which has both instruments? Given the "lordly association of the horn, I would have thought that the cantata was written for an aristocratic occasion.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 19, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] My understanding is that the existing score employs 3 trumpets in each of the two choruses and the horns only in the chorale i.e. they do not appear together.

I recall some correspondence on Bach's use of trumpets on list some time ago, the conclusion being that Bach very rarely used trumpet in pairs like horns.? Usually there is just one or a trio of three, generally supported by timps.

Peter Smaill wrote (April 19, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Indeed Bach rarely uses two trumpets. The other Cantatas where he does are BWV 59, the solo/duet version of "Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten"; and BWV 175, "Er rufet seinen Schafen mit namen", also a solo Cantata. I think the reason is orchestral balance, although of course , frequently a solo bass voice is considered strong enough to sing against the full trio of trumpets, as in BWV 130/3.

In BWV 71 we have the upper two trumpets producing an amazing exposed pair of consecutive seconds, in the tradition of Locke and Purcell, something Bach as far as I know never attempts again.

In BWV 63 and BWV 119 there are four.

There does not generally appear to be a hermeneutical, as distinct from musical, reason for varying the number. However, it has been suggested (liner notes to Harnoncourt) that in BWV 172, "Erschallet, ihr Lieder", a Pentecost Cantata and therefore celebrating the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, the choice of three trumpets is to create a representative number.

John Pike wrote (April 19, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] I am not sure how this suggests that at least 2VPP was the norm for the cantatas in general. If anything, because these markings are so unusual in Bach, I would think that they apply to this cantata only, and cannot be extrapolated to other cantatas. Please explain your reasoning, Doug.

Thanks

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 20, 2008):
John Pike wrote:
< I am not sure how this suggests that at least 2VPP was the norm for the cantatas in general. If anything, because these markings are so unusual in Bach, I would think that they apply to this cantata only, and cannot be extrapolated to other cantatas. Please explain your reasoning, Doug. >
Yes, I'm curious about that too. In Parrott's book, both he and Rifkin (in the reprinted original paper from c1980) each spent good sections explaining this pieceas a special case, and not coming to a 2VPP+ conclusion in general.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 20, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] Sigh, I'm afraid I have a love-hate relationship with the OVPP hypothesis.I'm a total convert for cantatas such as "Christ Lag" (BWV 4) and "Gottes Zeit" (BWV 106) but I just can't accept what for me is the imbalance of single voices singing with brass and timpani. Yes, you've caught me out in a rejigging of the evidence to support my own personal prejudices. I think there is nothing sillier-sounding than the solo voices pitted against the orchestra in Rifkin's B Minor Mass (BWV 232) "Sanctus .. But then I quite liked his "Et Resurrexit".

Go figure ...

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 20, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I recall some correspondence on Bach's use of trumpets on list some time ago, the conclusion being that Bach very rarely used trumpet in pairs like horns.? Usually there is just one or a trio of three, generally supported by timps. >
During the baroque, a third trumpet player was considered usually to be a duplication of the timpani part (timpani players were considered to be trumpet players; and entitled to all the rights and perks trumpet players enjoyed by Royal decree. If you ever get a chance, read the King of Saxony's edict on the abuses of trumpet
players, this included Leipzig during Bach's period.

I would assume there were only two brass players; and alternated between horns and trumpets during the performance of this cantata, since both instruments do not play together in the same movement?

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The markings are unusual in Bach, but I would suspect that this is fairly good evidence that at least two singers per part were normative in performances of the cantatas in general. >
Really? I'd say if anything, it's more proof for exactly the opposite.

Francis Browne wrote (April 20, 2008):
BWV 195 recordings

There are five recordings of BWV 195, of which only that by Ton Koopman [6] has appeared since the previous round of discussions. In their different ways Aryeh and Thomas Braatz have given good accounts of the recordings in the previous discussion.

It was through the Leusink recording [5] that I came to know this cantata and I retain my affection for the performance. It has many of the virtues of this cantata cycle at its best and few of the drawbacks. There is a spontaneity and liveliness about the choruses, despite a certain lack of discipline and tidiness in the singing. Bas Ramselaar gives what I find an enchanting performance of the bass aria, judging its tone sensitively and singing in a way that exudes good nature and good humour.

..Dürr speculates -in the notes to the Windsbacher Knabenchor CD [3] - that "this aria may have undergone various changes, and was possibly once a tenor aria with an accompaniment limited to strings. Even its succinct Lombardic rhythm(short-long instead of regular movement) may be a concession to midcentury fashion. Bach may have been trying to defend himself against the charge that he was outmoded and too erudite." It was surely Bach's intention to charm those gathered to celebrate a wedding, and when it is performed well as here he succeeds.

In contrast, the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt performance [4] seems curiously leaden, heavy footed. If it is the only performance you can hear you may still enjoy the music, but here the performance never seems to ignite into joy nor to relax into charm.

There is much to enjoy in the most recent performance by Koopman [6]. His musicians and singers are most competent but as on other occasions the generally rapid tempi seem to skate over somehow the substance of the music. The choruses still achieve their effect in this performance, but the bass aria is too brisk and businesslike to please.

I used having to do introductions as an excuse for buying the Windsbacher Knabenchor recording directed by Karl Friedrich Beringer [3]. It is a most enjoyable performance, from an impressive choir, soloists and orchestra. Stephen Varcoe sings the bass aria competently, but I must confess to some disappointment since I've enjoyed his singing more in other performances of Bach (and Schubert).

The performance which has given me the greatest delight is that by Rilling [2]. The choruses explode into joy - they have a verve and momentum that sweep the listener along. The choir are better disciplined than that of Leusink, but that does not prevent them also from bringing a spontaneity and energy to the splendid music in both choruses.Andreas Schmidt, as Aryeh noted, is excellent in the bass aria.

The form in which we have this cantata may differ from what was performed on a number of occasions. But in conclusion I cannot help wondering what those people whose weddings were graced with various forms of this music may have thought about what they received from Herr Bach -was the excellence of the music as apparent to them as it is to members of this list? Whatever would they have made of their wedding music being the subject of intense study after 250 years and discussed by people around the world in such list as this?

Julian Mincham wrote (April 20, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Kim? Re the point you make about the third trumpet, it's certainly an interesting one but I would argue against it.

If we look at the choruses in BWV 195 it is certainly the case that the third trumpet is the least demanding and it has (particularly in the first chorus) rhythmic similarities to the timp parts. But then very often the top parts do as well aspecially when reinforcing cadential points. In fact in the (repeated) opening bar the upper two trumpets mirror the rhythm of the timps more than tr 3.

I would suggest that when Bach asked for three trumpets he needed three trumpets and the principal arguments are on harmonic rather than rhythmic grounds. Three instruments can fill out the triads fully and produce a really regal commanding sound which two cannot (see again the opening bar BWV 195/1 (Mvt. 1) and elsewhere where the full majesty of the triad of D is fully spelt out on every note----again in the opening of movement 5).? But look now at BWV 195/5 (Mvt. 5) bars 17 onwards. If you remove tr 3 ,the top two move in consecutive 4ths--very much not a typically Bachian procedure especially with instruments as outstanding as the trumpets. 4ths are ok when a third part mitigates their effect by providing the missing notes of each triad (very much a feature of the string writing in Brandenburg 3/1). But without that third part the lines become unstylistic and crude.

Ergo, my conclusion that the 3rd trumpet was an essential part of the harmonic thinking and could not have been omitted.

I think all this also may go to provide an explanation as to why Bach so seldom used 2 trumpets. One trumpet can be used as a solo melodic instrument just like a single flute or oboe. Two lack the ability to play complete triads and remove the?essential quality?of the trumpet trio to fulfill its function of resplendent granduer, pomp and ceremony.

On a somewhat less technical point (!) and harking back to the two princesses discussion, it occurred to me to wonder? if you could only take the music for the funeral of Princess Diana (including Elton John's candle in the wind) or Bach's music for the Electress of Saxony, which would you choose??

Bit of a poser that one!? I may lie awake at night agonising over it!?????

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 20, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Kim? Re the point you make about the third trumpet, it's certainly an interesting one but i would argue against it. >
Which point? The one that third trupmpet typically doubled the timpani part? I said usually during the baroque and classical period,because the timpani player was considered to be a trumpet performer as well, not just as a percussion instrument (Edward Tarr wrote about this, with a lot of citations). I didn't mean to demean
the importance of the third trumpet part because it typically doubles, or that somehow it's not important. It's needed and definitely adds spice to the mixture.

Three trumpets worked well for the harmonic reasons you pointed out, so it's pretty consistent throughout the literature of the period, although Christoph Graupner in Darmstadt NEVER writes for three trumpets, only two, but he consistently uses horns along with the trumpets, and also would include multiple drums (from usually four to up to six-- but mostly four tuned to D-A-G-B). Telemann definitely favored three trumpets over just two, but there are several Frankfurt cantatas where he uses four trumpets, no just three.

Thanks

Julian Mincham wrote (April 20, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I would assume there were only two brass players; and alternated between horns and trumpets during the performance of this cantata, since both instruments do not play together in the same movement? >
You say 'which point'? I quote from your email I was responding to which seems to say pretty clearly that you considered there were only two brass players i.e. two trumpet players doubling on horns. If there were only two brass players there could not?be a third playing third trumpet--or did he play trumpet and timps at the same time? That (above) was the specific point which i responded to. Maybe you meant something different? But this is what you wrote.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 20, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< You say 'which point'?? I quote from your email I was responding to which seems to say pretty clearly that you considered there were only two brass players i.e. two trumpet players doubling on horns. >
Oh, I was replying to a previous message where someone said they thought there was only two trumpet players and that it was unusual for a Bach cantata to only use two, since he typically used three. I offered the suggestion that if there were only two horns and two trumpet players, then maybe it was the same performers who alternated between the instruments.

I haven't even looked at the score to this particular cantata, so if there are three trumpet players, my apologies :-)

Thanks

Julian Mincham wrote (April 20, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Fair enough--it seemed you were referring to BWV 195. Peter's posting clarifies the issue about the very rare use of two trumpets by Bach.

Tom Dent wrote (April 20, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Sigh, I'm afraid I have a love-hate relationship with the OVPP hypothesis. I'm a total convert for cantatas such as "Christ Lag" (BWV 4) and "Gottes Zeit" (BWV 106) but I just can't accept what for me is the imbalance of single voices singing with brass and timpani. Yes, you've caught me out in a rejigging of the evidence to support my own personal prejudices. (...) >
Well you're in quite good company - musicologists and performers do that all the time. They're just more careful about admitting it. Seems like you can't buy a CD of Baroque music nowadays without the booklet explaining carefully why this performance is more historically informed than any other. (Sometimes, for a change, why the whole idea of historical performance practice is worthless.) Now by some miraculous coincidence, it always happens that the musicological argument presented lines up exactly with what the performer wanted to do. It can get a bit confusing if you buy different CDs and the booklets start contradicting each other.

It is always worth keeping an eye out for the possibility that writers are 'making a musicological case' for whatever sort of performance they personally want to hear or take part in. By which I mean, using any and all means known to learned authors to boost their chosen view and denigrate others. Unfortunately that doesn't make for good history or good musicology, though it may give the performers, and the buyers of their CDs, a warm feeling of justification.

Anyway, without wishing to attribute such conduct to Rifkin or Parrott, surely it is true that if BWV 195 is a special case (and Bach wedding cantatas are rare birds) then BWV 232 is a yet more special one? - a vocal work composed apparently without any specific performers or performance occasion in mind?

Bach's technique in BWV 195 of alternating 4-part ripieno sections with (sometimes) less fully-textured solos is strongly reminiscent of what happens in many other choruses that don't have 'solo' and 'ripieno' markings. BWV 23 comes easily to mind. It is however difficult to see any firm conclusion that could be drawn...

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 20, 2008):
Tom Dent wrote:
< They're just more careful about admitting it. Seems like you can't buy a CD of Baroque music nowadays without the booklet explaining carefully why this performance is more historically informed than any other. (Sometimes, for a change, why the whole idea of historical performance practice is worthless.) Now by some miraculous coincidence, it always happens that the musicological argument presented lines up exactly with what the performer wanted to do. It can get a bit confusing if you buy different CDs and the booklets start contradicting each other. >
That's because the historical record is contradictory. The person making the case for their reading of the music just weighs the surviving evidence differently, and offers an justification for it in the liner notes.

< It is always worth keeping an eye out for the possibility that writers are 'making a musicological case' for whatever sort of performance they personally want to hear or take part in. By which I mean, using any and all means known to learned authors to boost their chosen view and denigrate others. Unfortunately that doesn't make for good history or good musicology, though it may give the performers, and the buyers of their CDs, a warm feeling of justification. >
And that's fine if they have some historical justification to back up their claims, with some citations for what they're claiming (although in the context of a CD recording, liner notes aren't exactly the place to do a complete pro apologia for their understanding, such as a research paper or article in Early Music or other scholarly
magazines.

< Anyway, without wishing to attribute such conduct to Rifkin or Parrott, surely it is true that if BWV 195 is a special case (and Bach wedding cantatas are rare birds) then BWV 232 is a yet more special one? - a vocal work composed apparently without any specific performers or performance occasion in mind? >
Good point about the very contradictory nature of the surviving evidence. Here you have two very different notions how to perform Bach-- Rifkin, Parrott, and Andrew McCreesh constrasted with Christoph Wolff and Ton Koopman: all of whom are gifted scholars, very bright, highly educated and motivated to bring out the best in their performances of Bach-- yet they approach the same body evidence with very different ideas.

Thanks

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 20, 2008):
Tom Dent wrote:
< Bach's technique in 195 of alternating 4-part ripieno sections with (sometimes) less fully-textured solos is strongly reminiscent of what happens in many other choruses that don't have 'solo' and 'ripieno' markings. BWV 23 comes easily to mind. It is however difficult to see any firm conclusion that could be drawn... >
I'll grasp at that straw ...

Neil Halliday wrote (April 21, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>I'll grasp at that straw ...<
Thanks forthe chuckle, Doug.

----

Back to Whittaker, I wonder if Koopman's [6] sprightly performamce of the bass aria (Mvt. 3) would meet his approval. [I am recalling Whittaker's remark about "insufferably dull" performances of the piece, as quoted in Francis Brownes' informative introduction.]

In Koopman [6] the little duplets (notice these are the opposite of BWV 198/1's dotted note followed by the halved note; here we have the halved note followed by the dotted note) sound cheeky and humorous, as desired by Whittaker. I also find this appealing in this obviously secular sounding work - which Robertson does not include in his book of "Church Cantatas" because he does not consider it as such.

Add to this the fact that the vibratos of the singers in the Beringer [3] and Rilling [2] recordings seem to me at times to mask the actual pitch of the notes being sung, Koopman's version [6] will probably get my vote for preferred recording of the aria.

On the question of awkward setting of text, I have not studied the situation with the opening chorus yet, but I'm wondering if the setting of the pronoun "we" to the repeated massive punctuating chords in the attractive and imposing second chorus is entirely appropriate?

William Hoffman wrote (April 21, 2008):
BWV 195 Introduction -- & Connections to 198

I'm impressed with the fine level of discussion on Cantata BWV 195, especially noting the commentaries of those amazing "antiquarian" English Bach enthusiasts: Terry, Tovey & Whittaker, to which I would add today John Butt and, Malcolm Boyd. They all show very probing minds, great hearts, and a generosity of spirit. And, I'm no raging Anglofile.

I have put Butt's forthcoming book on my Wish List, Bach's Dialogue with Modernity: Perspectives on the Passions, p.2009, Cambridge University Press. I suspect the title speaks volumes and could raise some controversy.

While researching BWV 198 parody prospects, I came across an article, "The first Kyrie of Bach's B minor Mass," by another amazing Mad Dog Englishman, (Sir) Basil Lam in The Music Review, pp. 45ff. He observes that the first choral bars of Cantata 198 have "long been recognized" as an adaptation of the exordium of the Missa, "Kyrie eleison," with the source of these four bars from a lost orchestral suite opening French overture passage, followed by an allegro section using the beginning music of the motet chorus, "An dir, du Fürbild" (which he displays as Ex. 1.). This theme, he also suggests, Bach uses in Cantata BWV 215, later adapted as the Osanna of the B minor Mass (BWV 232).Then, Lam says, the centerpiece alto aria, "Wie starb die Helden" provides a theme for the wedding cantata BWV 210. These notes were part of a book on the Mass which Lam left unfinished at his death in 1984.

So, I went to Butt's book on the Mass, and there on p. 44, he cites Christoph Wolff's acknowledgement of the earlier observation of Arnold Schering re. the BWV 198 "Kyrie." All I can say at this point is that yesterday's stile moderno is today's stile antico.Then I go to George Stauffer's book on "The Great Catholic Mass" and
find some interesting connections to Cantata 195 (thru the index)!

In summary, Butt shows the influences on and interconnections in Bach in the 1740s. And, as Dürr has pointedly noted, Cantata BWV 195 shows much interest in "newer" music, and I would add, Bach's transformative genius. Butt cites the "progressive type of aria instrumentation" "rather sparingly (shown) and then chiefly in late pieces" like bass aria No. 3, Rühmet Gottes Güt" (p.112). Stauffer also comments on the late use of ripieno/concerto effects and specificty (p.215f), the late violone use throughout with Bach's "same grand scoring" (p.221), and Bach's general vitaliy and involvement, not retreat from the world (p.257).

Italians are best at making music, French making love, Germans making oldiering, and the English having a way with words (and thoughts)!.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 22, 2008):
OT: To Francis...you're off to a great start on BWV 195

Thanks for your kind words about my efforts, and I think you are off to a great start. I don't own Whittaker, and I find from your posting, Ed's and a few other contributors that he has a lot to say. There are so many ways to approach the cantatas--your method works well. And, as Ed says, it's more fun when someone else is doing the hard work.

I took a brief look at the score and listened to the Rilling version [2] on the web, and then ordered a copy since this is one I don't have in the house. When I got married we had a half hour recital of mostly Bach compositions on the organ prior to the ceremony. Had I known of the cantatas and not just some arias in those days I think this would have also worked well for the celebration. I'm not sure where we'd have found adequate singers at the time, however.

In the case of this cantata I found that I really liked all the movements. Somehow or other I especially enjoyed the chorus work, whereas I'm often more drawn to the solo parts. The ending chorale (Mvt. 6) worked well for me, as it is quite familiar.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 22, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
>In the case of this cantata I found that I really liked all the movements. Somehow or other I especially enjoyed the chorus work, whereas I'm often more drawn to the solo parts. The ending chorale worked well for me, as it is quite familiar.<
In the spirit of discussion, I respond exactly as Jean does: the first impression is that the chorus movements are spectacular. I had not heard this work before. I find the Leusink recording very enjoyable for a first listen.

Like Jean, I have been drawn to the solo expressions in so many of the cantatas of the third cycle (Jahrgang III) in recent discussions. Despite the chorus work in BWV 195, Whittaker begins his discussion with Mvt. 3, aria for bass. I will be following that lead shortly, for a more careful listen.

For those who may have access to a library copy of Whittaker to supplement the quotes Francis has provided, the text includes brief but very helpful music examples. It is a reference work, not an easy read, but well worth any efforts made in accessing (and deciphering) it.

Tom Dent wrote (April 24, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< That's because the historical record is contradictory. The person making the case for their reading of the music just weighs the surviving evidence differently, and offers an justification for it in the liner notes.
<< It is always worth keeping an eye out for the possibility that writers are 'making a musicological case' for whatever sort of performance they personally want to hear or take part in. By which I mean, using any and all means known to learned authors to boost their chosen view and denigrate others. (...) >>
< And that's fine if they have some historical justification to back up their claims, with some citations for what they're claiming (...) >
... But is it fine if, although the historical record is contradictory and/or very incomplete, writers try (more or less successfully) to give readers and listeners the impression that it is coherent and conclusive? If they make it sound like they know with more certainty than it is possible to have?

And what is the point of having 'historical justification' if it turns out that almost anything can be 'historically justified' by clever argumentation or careful selection of sources? Is it just 'go-faster' stripes for the CD packaging?

Surely, given the dearth of information on actual historical performances, almost nothing can honestly be said to have sufficient historical justification. The best you can usually do is try tmake sure there is no direct contradiction between what is known of historical practice and what you are musically up to. Even that sweeps hundreds of things under the carpet, like the fact that you may be sitting in a recording studio with some technically superb microphones and a digital editing suite...

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 195: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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