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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 197
Gott ist unsre Zuversicht
Cantata BWV 197a
Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of May 11, 2008

Francis Browne wrote (May 10, 2008):
BWV 197/197a introduction

Like BWV 195 discussed recently this week's cantata is a wedding cantata, a genre somewhat underrepresented in Bach's surviving works. Two of its movements, at least, were originally composed for a Christmas cantata, Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe, (BWV 197a) performed probably in 1728. The cantata that we are discussing this week dates from 1736 -7 . It bears the title in diebus nuptiarum which, according to Spitta (Vol.3, p77-8 Dover), indicates "a great and solemn ceremonious occasion, very likely the marriage of some exalted personages." But this is speculation and we have no definite information about the circumstances in which it was produced nor does the text give any indication. The music is magnificently varied and this is a cantata well worth getting to know.

As always Aryeh has provided a wealth of information for the study of this cantata:

Specifically for this introduction the musical examples quoted by Whittaker can be found at:

Dürr (p751-2) makes useful comments on the text . According to him:
"the anonymous librettist of the present cantata designed the arias so that the third movement should correspond with the aria Wieget euch, ihr satten Schafe' from the pastoral cantata BWV 249a and its parodies BWV 249b and BWV 249, and the sixth and eighth with Cantata BWV 197a, nos. 4 and 6 respectively. Only in the last two cases did Bach actually carry out the parody, however, either because he eventually found more time for composition than he had originally feared or because, for some reason, he considered it expedient to provide a new composition for the third movement.

[As often I find such information as this both fascinating and frustrating. It is fascinating to have a glimpse of Bach at work, but frustrating in that there is nothing comparable to some of the letters of Mozart, or Verdi's instructions to his librettists. If only someone had thought to record the exact circumstances of the production of a single cantata, or how Bach set about writing these works, or even how he would spend his time each week.]

Dürr says about the text:
"As far as we can tell, the text...makes no specific reference to the bridal couple. Proceeding from the opening line of Psalm 46, it urges trust in God (Part I), whose reward shall be God's unfailing kindness and His blessing (Part II). It is striking how often the text speaks of the path along which God will lead the bridal pair (Mvt. 1: Chorus is `He leads us on our way' Mvt. 2: `He directs our activities'; Mvt. 3: `our guiding star'; Mvt. 4: `that is the right path'; Mvt. 6: .. and lead you for evermore'; Mvt. 9: `this joyful course of life'; and Mvt. 10: `on God's ways'). Should we see herein an allusion to the calling of the bridegroom?

[Presumably as a leader of society rather than a coach driver]

In the second movement, the remark that God has `written on His hand' the good fortune of His children alludes to Isaiah 49.16. In the sixth movement, the words `God shall bless you out of Zion and lead you for evermore' are based on Psalm 128.5, one of the psalms sung during the marriage service. And in Mvt. 7, the words `He will never .... let you lack any good thing' may be understood as a reference to Psalm 84.11. Part I concludes with the third verse of Martin Luther's hymn Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist (1524). The chorale that ends Part II, no. 10, is transmitted without text in Bach's original score (the only surviving authentic source), yet there is no doubt that only the seventh and last verse of the hymn Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten by Georg Neumark (1641) can be intended. It seems very doubtful whether the re­wording `So wandelt froh ...' (Then journey gladly ....'), transmitted only in secondary sources from Zelter's circle and adopted in the standard modern editions, goes back to Bach. It should probably be regarded as a product of Zelter's editing and is consequently best replaced in performance by the original text, as used by Bach in, for example, Cantata BWV 93.

Here for comparison are the texts to which Dürr refers :

BWV 93 :
Sing, bet und geh auf Gottes Wegen,
Sing, pray and go on God's way,
Verricht das Deine nur getreu
Perform your part only faithfully
Und trau des Himmels reichem Segen,
and trust in the rich blessing of heaven,
So wird er bei dir werden neu;
then he will be with you anew;
Denn welcher seine Zuversicht
For who places his confidence
Auf Gott setzt, den verläßt er nicht.
in God, he does not abandon.

And the present cantata :
So wandelt froh auf Gottes Wegen,
So travel happily on God's way
Und was ihr tut, das tut getreu!
and what you do, do that faithfully!
Verdienet eures Gottes Segen,
Earn your God's blessing,
Denn der ist alle Morgen neu;
for it is new every morning
Denn welcher seine Zuversicht
For whoever places his confidence
Auf Gott setzt, den verläßt er nicht.
in God, he does not abandon.


Mvt. 1: Chorus

Whittaker's account of this resplendent movement is as follows (Vol.2, p81ff):
"Three trumpets and timpani appear in i and are not indicated again, though doubtless they would take part in the two chorales, the instrumentation of which is not specified; two oboes and strings complete the score. In the opening bars of i the violins are heard in step-wise figure with repeated notes [Ex.1406] : an idea which, both direct and inverted, plays an important part in wood-wind and strings. It is evidently suggested by the clause which comes after the Fine pause: Wie Er uns're Wege führt' (`As He our ways guides'). (a) is accompanied by oboe semibreves [Ex. 1407] which are afterwards sung to wir vertrauen seinen Handen' (` we trust His hands'), a declaration of bold confidence. In the homo­phonous passage which opens Part II notes 1-3 of (b) are found diminished, and (a) joins up the phrases [Ex. 1408].

At the opening brass and percussion add short groups expressive of firm faith. At bar 13, after notes 1-3 of (c), tromba I anticipates the first theme of the chorus. A fugal exposition on a 6-bar theme: [Ex 1409] with the answer entering at bar 5 and with a long codetta between third and fourth entries, is accompanied by detached chords for upper strings. With the fifth entry the oboes enter and the orchestra doubles the voices. The fugal theme does not appear again. Bars 1-13 of the introduction are now repeated with voice parts added, bars 1-5 being massive chords for the choir, to (b). New thematic material is now heard in the chorus, the violins developing (a), brass, percus­sion, and oboes entering with short phrases. Later the oboes join hands with the vocal lines, trumpets and drums resume, and before the Fine pause a brilliant effect is produced by an independent, high- lying unison passage for violins and tromba I, oboes alternating detached chords with trumpets II and III and drums. The opening of Part II has been quoted supra. (a) is heard in a new form:[Ex 1410] while a canon between sopranos and altos, da ist Segen aller Enden' (' there is blessing everywhere'), reinforced by oboes, is supported by lower voices and bassi. An orchestral interlude brings part of (d) in oboe I, oboe Ifollowing the second phrase in canon, while tromba I hammers out a repeated note and the bassi are given (a) for the first time. The first part of the second section begins in the mediant minor, the canon is heard with reversed voices, the double bar is reached in the relative minor and Da Capo is indicated."

Dürr comments more succinctly :
"The principal section of the opening chorus, which is cast in da capo form and introduced by an instrumental sinfonia, is made up of a fugal exposition for the choir, plus a chordal or freely polyphonic continuation, which is largely dominated by the orchestra due to the technique of choral insertion. The middle section, in a plain choral texture, takes up motives from the intro­ductory sinfonia in its independent instrumental parts and employs the fugue subject in its instrumental episodes. The scoring (for trumpet choir, two oboes, strings, and continuo) is decidedly festive."

As so often in Bach this opening chorus makes an immediate and striking impact , but then also repays close study.

Mvt. 2: Bass recitative

Dürr comments on the recitatives :
"The four recitatives alternate between secco with arioso conclusion and instrumentally accompanied settings. The second movement contains only a hint of an arioso conclusion, but in the seventh it takes up a full half of the movement. Within the instrumentally accompanied recitatives, there is a pro­gressive increase in intensity: the fourth movement begins with short chordal chords; the ninth is enriched by the addition of two oboes, and against their held chords, supported by continuo, we hear brief chordal strokes in the strings

Whittaker says : "A bass soloist, with continuo, begins in recitative and ends in arioso: In the arioso section beginning with lieben' (` love') the continuo repeats a phrase akin to (a) in i, and continues it after the voice ceases."

Mvt. 3: Alto aria

Whittaker comments :
"The alto aria, iii, is doubtless an adaptation. It is in three parts. The first is a slumber song - 'Schlafert aller Sorgen Kummer in den Schlummer kindlichen Vertrauens ein' ('Put to sleep all cares' sorrow in the slumber of childlike trust'). The strings move in repeated quavers throughout the introduction, an oboe d'amore doubles the violin I line for ten bars, but as a sustained melody:[Ex 1411] and then comes to rest on a long E while the violins play lulling figures. At the end of the twenty-four-bar introduction violin I and oboe d'amore sink gently down in semitones. The voice now sings a modified form of the opening sentence, doubled in repeated quavers by violin I, and the oboe d'amore plays imitative passages. On a long- sustained schlafert' the oboe d'amore, above detached and answer­ing two-note groups for upper strings and repeated quavers for the bassi, lets us hear the sinking phrase again. The middle section changes to 4/4 and is very animated. The first vocal idea :[Ex 1412] is used frequently in the upper instruments and later, in a modified form, in the continuo. The remainder of the text is: welche wachen, and die unser Leitstern sein, werden Alles selber machen' ('which watch, and which our guiding-star are, will all things themselves do'). There are long runs to wachen', `machen', Leitstern', and Alles'the first part introduces new chromatic word-painting on Sorgen', and ` schlafert' has also an expression of anguish, a curious and unfitting device to be heard so late in the aria. Was this number borrowed from some lost Christmas cantata? As the next two arias are from a similar source the supposition is reasonable."

Dürr is less speculative :
"The three arias are again notably full in texture and instrumentation. The first, no. 3 - essentially an alto aria with obbligato oboe d'amore* - is filled out by accompanying strings in the form of a continuo realization, as it were, with the first violin reinforcing either the oboe or the alto part. Bach strikingly emphasizes the textual contrast between slumber and watchfulness by a change of time, livelier rhythmic movement, and freer treatment of the strings in the middle section."

Mvt. 4: Bass recitative

It is scored for strings .They play detached chords for seven bars.

Mvt. 5: Chorale

Both Parts I and II of the cantata end with a simple chorale. 5 is stanza 3 of Luther's Whitsuntide hymn 'Nun bitten wir den heil'gen Geist'

Mvt. 6: Bass aria

Whittaker comments at length on this aria and reaches a debatable conclusion :
The aria which begins Part II, Nach der Trauung ('After the wed­ding'), is an interesting rearrangement. In the fragment of 'Ehre sei Gott in der line' for Christmas Day, 1728, which is preserved, are to be found the closing nineteen bars of an alto aria. The words, by Picander, are 'O du angenehmer Schatz, hebe dich aus denen (deiner) Krippen, nimm davor (dafür) auf meinen Lippen and in meinem Herzen Platz' ('Oh Thou pleasing Treasure, raise Thyself out of Thy manger, take therefore on my lips and in my heart place'). The scoring is probably for two flauti traversi, continuo, and a separate bass line, assigned in the BGS score to a possible 'cello, but more likely, to judge by the adaptation in No. 197, a bassoon. The closing ritornello begins with detached quavers for the continuo, a rocking figure for the bassoon, and high-pitched passages in thirds and sixths for the flutes: [Ex 1413] There is a strong resemblance to ideas found in the soprano aria 'Stein, der fiber alle Schatze' ('Stone, which beyond all treasures') in BWV 152, for the First Sunday after Christmas.... It will be noted that Schatz' occurs in both. Beginning at the third bar of the fragment, imitative figures for the flutes are accompanied by a passage for the fagotto, also gently - rocking in character, a demisemiquaver upward run, followed by arpeggi: [Ex 1414] occurring four times in a rising sequence. In the vocal part this picturesquely accompanies the voice as it sings `hebe dich aus denen Krippen'. This ritornello occupies a similar place in the opening aria of Part II of BWV 197; bar 1 is omitted, flutes are replaced by violins I and II, muted, with the first passage an octave lower; there is also a line for oboe, which sometimes has new matter and sometimes plays one of the later bassoon figures. There may have been an oboe in the original score; knowing the later version one feels the earlier to be incomplete. Except that the last two bars are different, and apart from the absence of the oboe and a slight re-scoring, the music of the vocal part of the fragment agrees with that in the wedding can­tata; and the rest of this lengthy aria, seventy-one bars of eight beats, contains nothing but development of this material and such ideas as:[Ex 1415] against short figures tossed between violin II and oboe:[Ex 1416] and above another form of the rocking fagotto theme. There are lovely answering passages between voice and oboe [Ex 1417] with repeated violin quavers and the rocking bassoon. At one place violin II plays the swaying theme in canon with the fagotto, but otherwise the upper instruments restrict themselves to the quoted motives and derivatives. The revised text addresses the bride and bridegroom - 'dir wird eitel Heil begegnen, Gott wird dich aus Zion segnen and dich leiten immerdar' ('you will only salvation meet, God will you from Zion bless and you lead evermore'), all of which fits not so badly. But Bach's sense of humour deserted him entirely when he changed O du angenehmer Schatz' to O du angenehmes Paar' ('Oh thou agreeable pair') ! What must have been the feelings of the uncomfortable celebrants on hearing themselves thus addressed no fewer than thirteen times? Breitkopf's vocal edition wisely substitutes other words, and so enables this truly lovely aria, in some ways unique, to be sung without inciting an audience to merriment."

I suspect that far from being uncomfortable the celebrants could hardly fail to bdelighted by this music. Like the comparable bass aria in BWV 195 this movement was designed to please and surely did so. Dürr observes : "In the sixth movement, its original character as a lullaby at the crib is clearly recognizable even in the parodied version." Whether as lullaby or wedding song it is music to be enjoyed.

Mvt. 7: Soprano recitative

Mvt. 8: Soprano aria

Whittaker compares this aria with the earlier version in BWV 197a :
"viii, a soprano aria with violin solo and two oboes (possibly d'amore), is also borrowed from 'Ehre sei Gott'. The earlier version is a charming 6/8 nmber for bass with oboe d'amore obbligato. The second clause suggests the nestling of the Saviour to the believer's bosom [Ex 1418]. Not too much injustice is done to the original by the substitution of 'Vergniigen and Lust, Gedeihen and Heil wird wachsen and starken and laben' ('Contentment and delight, prosperity and salvation will grow and strengthen and revive'). The close of one of the middle sections of the original introduces a long run on 'rauben' ('rob') but the new text makes this inappropriate: Das Auge, die Brust wird ewig sein Theil an siiBer Zufriedenheit haben' ('The eye, the breast will ever its share of sweet contentment have'). A few bars are there­fore altered; blissful violin melodies cross and recross the vocal line [Ex 1419-1421]. The key is changed from D to G, violin solo substituted for oboe d'amore. There are a few differences, mostly with regard to grace notes. There is, however, an extraordinary addition. The oboes d'amore play a tum-tum' accompaniment-in sixty-eight bars out of the total of seventy-four, quite in the style of the German Landler! One finds this sort of thing nowhere else in Bach's works, not even in the orchestral suites. If one takes the aria at a gently allegretto tempo the effect is not at all as odd as it looks on paper.

Dürr comments : ". The eighth movement, originally a bass aria with obbligato oboe d'amore, is rewrit­ten for soprano and obbligato violin and enriched by two oboes d'amore, which fill out the harmony. The joyous affect of this aria is so unspecific that the change of text proved unproblematic"

Mvt. 9: Bass recitative

Whittaker writes :
"Normally Bach would have marked the penultimate number, a bass recitative, Siebenstimmig, for all lines are independent. Oboes and continuo sustain throughout, at two places the upper strings sweep downward in arpeggi, otherwise they play detached chords."

Mvt. 10: Chorale

See earlier comment on the text'

There is plenty to enjoy and much to discuss in this cantata. I hope that members of the list, particularly those who have not contributed before, will share their understanding and enjoyment of this cantata.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 10, 2008):
Francis Browne wrote:
< It bears the title in diebus nuptiarum which, according to Spitta (Vol.3, p77-8 Dover), indicates "a great and solemn ceremonious occasion, very likely the marriage of some exalted personages." But this is speculation and we have no definite information about the circumstances in which it was produced nor does the text give any indication. >
I wonder if Bach had a sliding reembursement scale for the size of the orchestra and elaboration of the cantata. Even today, a wealthy family will pay for isntrumentalists at a wedding and the organist takes a cut as the contractor. The organist's fee will be adjusted according to the amount of arranging and composing required and the number of rehearsals needed.

This cantata is a Big Show and indicates that the bride's family was very wealthy and socially if not politically important. The music of this cantata is on the scale of Christmas and Easter and I would guess that Bach made a tidy fee for both the compositional and logistical aspects of the occasion.

Once again we encounter critics who assume that parody technique indicates lack of inspiration or haste on Bach's part in this cantata. If anything, this wedding was probably in the works for quite some time and Bach had plenty of time to come up with a wedding gift that has outlasted even the names of the newly-married couple!

Jean Laaninen wrote (May 12, 2008):
[To Francis Browne] As Francis has pointed out, there is much to enjoy in this work. After a first time listening just now it seems to me that the energies really pick up with the Soprano in Mvt. 7 and Mvt. 8, and culminate in the bass Mvt. 9 before the chorale (Mvt. 10). The ending chorale offers some profundity, but I think though I rarely react negatively to Bach's choices, that the ending chorale tune is not fully satisfying. I found myself for hoping for something that just went through the roof to end this selection, and instead there was a greater sobriety than I really wanted to hear at this point. I suppose that is real life intervening.

I loved the instrumentation in the soprano aria (Mvt. 8), especially at the point where the tempo picks up, until the end. I have to imagine singing the soprano recitative (Mvt. 7) and aria (Mvt. 8) as simply great joyful pleasure.

Julian Mincham wrote (May 13, 2008):
BWV 197 and the partially transmitted BWV 197a have been rather squeezed out by other topics this week--a pity as there are some fine movements here.

Francis bemoans the lack of contemporary information about how Bach worked and it is regrettable. However in works like this there are some clues. 197a/6 was a bass aria in D major utilising oboe d'amore? and continuo (perhaps the bassoon?) The reconstructed version for the wedding cantata (BWV 197/8) is a fourth higher to better suit the range of the soloist, now a soprano. Bach retains the obligato melody but gives to now to the violin and adds a simple but colourful accompaniment for two oboe d'amore almost always moving in parallel.

One guesses that the decision to change the soloist may have come first, the higher key now more suitable to the violin than the oboe. And perhaps Bach felt that the whole thing having been shoved up to G, the texture was a little on the thin side hence the addition of the oboes. Thus it would seem that several of the later compositional decisions may well have been for practical rather than for purely aesthetic reasons although Bach, being Bach, makes it work musically. Perhaps even the decision to change the soloist was essentially practical too, since the conception of the wedding version contains two recits and one aria for bass and Bach may have wished to even out the load.

The incomplete alto aria from the original work (BWV 197a/4) was for alto and in the wedding version Bach ascribes it to the bass---here a reasonable assumption can be made that the macrostructure is again left intact.. The key does not now need to be altered to accommodate the range? of the singer--it remains in G. However Bach gives the two flute lines to the violins and adds a fairly minimal oboe line. This becomes significant when reconstrucing the original alto aria (backwards, chronologically!) from the later one for bass---the oboe part should almost certainly be considered a later edition and ignored. There is precedent of course for Bach adding additional lines to what was originally a complete texture (e.g. BWV 169/5).

Also it would be a pity not to hear this aria in something as near to the original conception as possible; there are few enough containing a solo bassoon obligato line.

One point deriving from all this is Bach's great attention to detail when paraphrasing or re-arranging earlier movements; it is never a slap dash 'well that will have to do' approach. The fact that he did so carefully rethink his work for both practical and musical reasons probably gives rise to the myth (recently ) that the earlier versions were inferior.

Jean Laaninen wrote (May 13, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Francis bemoans the lack of contemporary information about how Bach worked and it is regrettable. However in works like this there are some clues. BWV 197a/6 was a bass aria in D major utilising oboe d'amore? And continuo (perhaps the bassoon?) The reconstructed version for the wedding cantata (BWV 197/8) is a fourth higher to better suit the range of the soloist, now a soprano. Bach retains the obligato melody but gives to now to the violin and adds a simple but colourful accompaniment for two oboe d'amore almost always moving in parallel. >
Perhaps this is a strange question, but would changes in instrumentation have been made on the basis of what might sound nicer at a wedding, or possibly on the basis of the size of the room where the performance was to be given?

Julian Mincham wrote (May 13, 2008):
[to Jean Laaninen] Jean Indeed there could have been a number of factors--including what may have been suggested by a different text (which personally I think was frequently a powerful factor) . I would only argue that it is possible in this particular case that pragmatic issues were at the foremost in his mind, but nothing's certain!

William Hoffman wrote (May 13, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] Increasingly, I think, Bach seemed more concerned about performing conditions, especially after his experience with the Dresden Orchestra, considered the best anywhere. At the same time, and the issues are interrelated, Bach was making major adjustments in his adaptations, both in terms of the abilities of the performers, and the adjustment to new curcumstances: performing space, purpose of the performance, performing resources, and collaborative conditions. The last is increasingly important after 1730, as Bach explores larger forms. Imagine the St. Mark parody (BWV 247) of 1731, which may have been Bach's first major wholesale parody, culminatng in the B Minor Mass (BWV 232). His residence was about to be remodeled and I believe that Bach called upon Picander to oversee the entire text (p.1732), perhaps Christian Weiss, Sr., the Passion sermon preacher to approve the chorales and the sermon emphasis on Psalm 22 (Mark contains all four OT prophecies), and lastly to CPEB and Meissner as his copyists.

For major weddings in churches, the same extensive and intenstive collaboration may have applied. Into this mix could be added the couple, their families and patrons (or their representatives) and the only limit could be costs. To the table could come favorite chorales, strophic songs, and devotional book passages. We now have many Thomas Church wedding librettos and service books for this period. As to Bach's musical interests, I believe that as he is planning the Gloria from his Mass in B Minor (BWV 232), he's looking for appropriate festive music. As we know, eventually, virtually all the numbers are parodies (the best of Bach) or models (Kyrie) from other music, perhaps Cavalli's Missa Concertata. Christoph Wolff told us last week that in Bach's adaptation of oratorios in 1734-35, the only limitation on parodies would be available supply of cantatas to be parodied though contrafaction, including for a possible lost Pentecost Oratorio ref, Alfred Dürr, Göttingen, 6/1961).

Jean Laaninen wrote (May 13, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Good point on the idea that the text might have been a reason for changes in instrumentation. This aspect is something I have not thought about too much yet.

Neil Halliday wrote (May 14, 2008):
Does Bach employ repeated note figures more than usual in this cantata?

Eg, in the opening chorus (Mvt. 1), in the animated violin parts and the fugue subject; in the alto aria (Mvt. 3), in the string accompaniment; and in the soprano aria (Mvt. 7), in the oboe d'amore accompaniment, the latter two being an unusual type of accompaniment in Bach.

The bass aria (Mvt. 6) is also rather distinctive, with its animated bassoon part which is however not an obbligato part - the parts for oboe and duo violins are equally significant.

Briefly, (judging by the BCW samples), I think Koopman [6] has the finest opening chorus, displaying the most finesse. Leonhardt [4] is a bit slow with the crude, splattering trumpets common in the H/L set. Leusink [5] has a rousing performance but with out of balance, booming timpani; however, I prefer these to the insipid, dead accoustic of Rilling's [3] timpani. Rilling [3], Leusink [5] and Koopman [6] all have a similar lively tempo. Leonhardt is noticeably slower.

Leonhardt [4] redeems himself in the alto aria (Mvt. 3), with a particularly engaging performance.

Rilling [3] and Leonhardt [4] are engaging in the bass aria (Mvt. 6); both have clearly articulated bassoon parts.

None of the sopranos really please, but Koopman [6] and Leonhardt [4] have very nice accompaniments.

I was pleasantly surprised by the first chorale from Leonhardt [4] (the only one sampled at the site), noting that Herreweghe was apparently responsible for the choral element.

Julian Mincham wrote (May 14, 2008):
[To Neil Halliday] Neil?? as to your opening question, a good point and ?I think the answer is no, not necessarily more than elsewhere.

I have found that it is very common for Bach to employ repeated note motives in choruses and arias when they are to be found in the chorales. In the case of BWV 197 both chorales employ repeated notes in groups of two (reasonably common but occuring 4 times in Mvt. 10) or groups of three (less common but occuring in Mvt. 5).

I think that there is plenty of evidence to indicate that Bach frequently trawled his chorales for musical shapes which he then adapted into motives used as the building blocks for arias and choruses.

Just one of many possible examples of this practice (again with the theme of repeated note motives) is BWV 10. The motive is particularly obvious in the chorale, coming in groups of 4 from the second bar. Bach's principal motive for the soprano aria (Mvt. 7) is built of three repeated notes (from bar 2 and dominating the movement). Again, the continuo line of the bass aria (Mvt. 6) is predominantly built from repeated note ideas. Even the alberti-like string figuration in the tenor recit is similarly constructed.

So I think that the conclusion is that if repeated note ideas are an important part of the chorale melody it is very likely that Bach will have used motives constructed around them in the other movements.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 16, 2008):
Interim report. I have the Harnoncourt LP [1], which is interesting for a number of reasons.

Most important to me, if to no one else:

(1) It is a relatively recent acquisition, in response to my offer from 2006 to provide respectful burial services for expired LPs. Respectful burial includes extending life for maximum additional listening. Thanks again, Old Dude! Offer hereby renewed to anyone else with unused LPs. My turntable is spinning in anticipation.

Other details:

(2) This performance has not yet been reviewed on BCML, despite its early date, September 1967. I will makan attempt to do it justice, as soon as possible.

(3) The line up is classic early HIP, including Alice Harnoncourt (solo violin), and Max van Egmond (bass).

(4) Record jacket has a photo of the recording venue and performers, perhaps the actual session for a complete take? What a concept (but note the <perhaps>)! Jackets and ties (except Alice, the only female), or uniforms for the boys. Wonderful stuff, and I believe we have accumulated a bit of genuine evidence (hearsay, actually, Max via Brad) that the dress code was specific for Harnoncourt, not just for the camera. Other photos with other conductors suggest it was not a tradition of the time on <The Continent>.

(5) A couple minor discographic corrections which I will take up off-list with Aryeh, but one is of more general interest. Kurt Equiluz is listed as tenor. He performs elsewhere on the recording (BWV 83), but not on BWV 197, which includes boy soprano as indicated, but also unnamed alto from the Vienna Boys Choir.

>)! came up in the flow of writing. Rearranged to !>) could it be a face equivalent for HIP? Never mind.

Thanks for the introductions, Francis. I am making an effort to pull my share of the load.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 18, 2008):
Francis Browne wrote:
>Two weeks ago I included what I thought was a gentle admonition for more discussion of the week's cantata. Those whom I had not the remotest intention of reproaching sprung quite unnecessarily to their own defence but no new contributors appeared, and last week's excellent cantata received so little discussion that I cancelled a review of recordings for lack of interest.<
Great minds think alike. Or similar minds think the same. Either conclusion (as well many others) is possible from the evidence. I have decided to defer (but not cancel) detailed comments on the Harnoncourt LP [1] of last weeks cantata (BWV 197), which is an excellent performance of an excellent cantata. For the picky (I am one, for sure), there is a bit of exaggeration in that statement, since I know the cantata from the performance.

The anonymous boy alto is superb, for those who appreciate that rarity (unless one of the jacket-and-tie guys hanging out with Max van Egmond in the jacket photo is a ringer counter-tenor). As it turns out, the LP is not such a rarity, other than for the jacket art. It has been reissued on CD, although apparently not currently available. Whatever, I am grateful to have it, and it may ease the mind of the donor. Like I am worried, Old Dude.

A comparison with the Leonhardt issue [4] (from the H&L set) is a small detail, but exactly the sort of detail which belongs in the BCW archives. I will get to it, if no else does so sooner based on the CD reissue. That may turn out to be important, because the published timings are absurdly different: 28:20 printed on the LP jacket, but about 30:20 (by my analogue wristwatch with sweep second hand, for those who remember), and 31:39 (approx., from memory) in the BCW discography, presumably from the CD reissue.

In the meantime, an unreviewed recording from 1967 (according to my copy), subsequently reissued on CD, is an example of how much room for improvement we (BCML) have, even though we are already quite wonderful. Google Bach for info, and you find us first. That, like the reputation of the BBC, creates an obligation to strive for accuracy.

From the bench, resting, I appreciate how much energy goes into creating the weekly introductions. For the lurkers, you could simply say:

<I read your introduction. I listened to a recording. Thanks.>

Cut and paste acceptable. Identifying which recording, and a thumbs up or down opinion (I like it, I dont like it), is welcome, but not necessary.

Special hello to Terejia, thank you for writing often with unique ideas, for introducing new concepts of courtesy to BCML, for expressing yourself with confidence in English, and for too much more to list.

I have just now given an extra listen to the alto aria (Mvt. 3), in order to rethink my use of the word <superb>. Unusually good breath control, light vibrato, pleasing tone. Distinct from any counter-tenor I have heard. I stand by superb, without a comparative frame of reference.

The counter-tenor ringer possibility was mainly intended to be jocular, withdrawn. Not without a shred of possibility, however, as long as those boys remain anonymous. Thats another thread entirely.


Continue on Part 3

Cantatas BWV 197 & BWV 197a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 197 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 197 | Details & Recordings of BWV 197a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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Last update: ęSeptember 25, 2011 ę21:57:12