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Cantata BWV 198
Laß, Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of April 13, 2008

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 11, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 198 Laß, Fürstin, laß einen Strahl!

BWV 198 Laß, Fürstin, laß einen Strahl! (Let Princess, One more Ray)

BWV 198 page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198.htm

BWV 198 discussion page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198-D.htm

Written as a memorial to the Electoress Christiane Eberhandine who died April 5, 1727, an observance in her honor was held Friday October 15, 1727. According to scholars, Bach was commissioned to prepare this work, and it was only completed two days before the performance as evidenced by the autographed score. For a more detailed history of the issue of Bach's commission see Dürr, page 865.

The virtue of the queen is highly praised in this composition, with the goal that her subjects not forget the very special ways of this mother of theirs. Dürr mentions that the poetic design of this work demands a different musical treatment than one would find when madrigalian poetry is used. This is an ode, or strophic poem form. As some controversy prevailed over how the text might be set, Bach divided the nine strophes, each of eight lines into movements creating the following pattern:

Mvt. 1. Chorus SATB, fl I, II, oboe d'amore I, II, strings, viola da gamba I, II, lute I, II, Basso Continuo
Mvt. 2. Recitative – Soprano, Strings, BC
Mvt. 3. Aria – Soprano, Strings, BC
Mvt. 4. Recitative – Alto, woodwinds, strings, viola da gamba I and II, lute I and II
Mvt. 5. Aria – Alto, viola da gamba I and II, lute I and II (fn. Lutes might have played the bass line)
Mvt. 6. Recitative – Tenor, oboe d'amore I, II, BC
Mvt. 7. Chorus (scoring as in Mvt. 1)
Mvt. 8. Aria – Tenor, fl I, oboe d'amore I, violin I, II, viola da gamba I, II, lute I, II, BC
Mvt. 9. Recitative – Bass, fl I, II, oboe I, II, BC
Arioso – Bass
Recitative – Bass
Mvt. 10. Chorus (Scoring as in Mvt. 1)

Malcomb Boyd, Oxford Composer Companions, p. 482 states that Bach did not observe the librettist's (Gottsched's) original form when he put this work together, something Boyd thinks showed a lack of respect for the poet's work and reputation.

He also mentioned that Bach chose an unusual scoring in terms of instruments and that some parts are missing. The OCC article is interesting for someone seeking more detail on this work.

Due to the length and complexity of this work, I am going to take the liberty of quoting Dürr at length.

"Bach's setting requires an exceptionally abundant instrumental ensemble: the woodwind is represented by two each of travers flutes and oboes d'amore. The strings are supplemented by two violas da gamba, and the continuo by two lutes. In addition, if we are to believe the chronicler Sicul, the continuo part was realized not just by organ but also by harpsichord, from which Bach himself directed the performance. The beginning, middle and end of the work are each marked by a chorus in which the entire instrumental ensemble participates. Each of these choruses represents a different musical principle. The opening chorus is governed by the principle of the concerto, or more specifically the group-concerto, for each instrumental group—flutes, oboes, upper strings, gambas—come to the fore in alternation. The choral writing, broken up figuratively is woven into this concertante instrumental texture. The over-all form is bipartite, A, A-prime, in which the four-line text is delivered complete within each half. The second chorus, Mvt. 7, represents the principle of fugue. Again, it is designed in two halves, (divided by a thematic orchestral episode), each of which consists of a fugal exposition plus a looser choral postlude. Finally, the concluding chorus represents the principles of song and dance. It is a choral aria, whose partly obbligato instruments at times approach an antiphonal concertante style, though without concealing the overall dance-song effect. The structure is easily recognized as binary dance form with repeats, framed by ritornellos, and with gigue-like melodic writing. It is worth pointing out the repeated choral unison in the B section. Introduced by the words, "You poets, write! we could read it so that, it lays special emphasis on the following quotation from the imaginary poets' writings: She has been virtue's property, her subjects' delight and glory, and prize of queens."

For an exploration of the arias and remaining movements see Dürr, p. 867. I am going to leave this part to the research of the individual because I want to spend a little time isolating the textual elements.

At the outset the text tells of many tears surrounding her memorial. The numbness of grief is indescribable, and felt by persons throughout every class level in the community. Her death brought about the silencing of strings of inner joy, and I could not read these words without thinking about the inner loss many feel even today over Princess Diana, whose sons recently held a musical memorial in her honor. The love of a leader, and a woman of great virtue must have truly hit the community hard. Traditionally, I have heard, in European countries that when a dignitary dies bells of a cathedral and churches are rung, and in this poem the whole European world is said to be affected. Admiration for her bravery in death is expressed, and her willingness to meet her Creator is applauded. As the queen had chosen to retain her Lutheran faith, rather than become a Roman Catholic, she is also praised as a protector of the faith…an interesting element in this case.

Imagery of heaven as a place free of the lowly world of pain and as a jeweled haven is poetically portrayed to be an appropriate place for the queen now. A robe of pearl representing purity is said to be her new covering, while on earth in many regions survivors will wear (implied - black) mourning dress. Thus, poets are admonished to write of her and praise her virtue.

The score is massive, in both our online version and the BGA, but for those wishing to pursue the details using the above quoted material as a guideline might be helpful.

In past weeks I have requested the help and sharing of many on the list, and your responses have been informative and generous. It seems in my good intent to make sure everyone was adequately appreciated for his/her contributions I have been clogging the email boxes a bit by saying thank you so often. So in this final coming week of my hosting time, I will say thank you in advance to all who contribute to the discussions ahead. Hosting the discussions has been a challenge and a pleasure and an experience to grow from in the future. Special thanks to Aryeh for providing this grand opportunity.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 12, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
>In past weeks I have requested the help and sharing of many on the list, and your responses have been informative and generous. It seems in my good intent to make sure everyone was adequately appreciated for his/her contributions I have been clogging the email boxes a bit by saying thank you so often. So in this final coming week of my hosting time, I will say thank you in advance to all who contribute to the discussions ahead. Hosting the discussions has been a challenge and a pleasure and an experience to grow from in the future. Special thanks to Aryeh for providing this grand opportunity.<
Ten weeks have passed already? How time flies when I am having fun, and someone else is doing the heavy work.

I found the courtesy of acknowledgements quite a charming (acivilizing?) touch. Many of us, at one time or another, have sent posts and seen no mail at all for a day or two. We are left to wonder: broken web site, shocked readers, worst of all (and most likely), sheer indifference? The details of the <thank yous> can be worked out. In general, a nice idea.

Yoel has noted from time to time that there are many readers, but a much smaller group of active participants, on classical music lists. We are well advised to learn to tolerate each other. An estimate that 1% (one percent) of the general population might know what a Bach Cantata is, or even who Bach was, could be way too high.

I would guess that if we review the past ten weeks, the breadth of participation has been unusually high, perhaps a record. I would also guess that Jean will take that as an indication of a personal objective accomplished, and well she should.

There are many details which indicate how much effort Jean put into preparing her introductions. Others of us who take on the task (I speak mainly for myself) do not have the time, skills, or resources to do quite so much. I found her comments on the scores especially helpful. It is one of the benefits of BCW that the weekly introductions have lasting value in the archives, in addition to providing stimulus for the weekly discussion.

Thanks, Jean. Time to take a deep breath, relax, and recognize that your work was recognized and appreciated. And keep writing!

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 12, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thank you (here I go again saying thank you) Ed. You were an inspiration to me before I began with so many details on your cantatas and your diligence staying on task.

I agree with you and Yoel. With few who write, we need to get along, and even appreciate each other more. Who would I have to discuss these matters with if I didn't know people on the list? Only a few folks who are often so busy that a chat is possible only from time to time. So I view the list group as very special friends, indeed.

After I mailed my final introduction I asked my husband to take me out for a late lunch/early dinner to celebrate. It takes some endurance to do this work, but I also hope that some who have never written before will enter into the task, adding to our knowledge and allowing us to get to know each other even better.

I will continue to comment at a reduced rate now as I am now like Brad, practicing the Italian Concerto, but in my case to record it this summer to include on my website. Great music, and a wonderful way to work out positively the energy flow that comes from the celebration of Bach and the challenges of life.

With so much appreciation,

William Hoffman wrote (April 12, 2008):
The best historical view, including a contemporary account of the performance, is in the BachCantatas Title Page, Cantata BWV 198, References: B.M.C. (Baroque Music Club). The work is set in the "Italian Style," which Boyd in OCC says relates to the Italian cantata sequence of choruses, arias and recitatives as well as the idioms appropriate to that style: opening chorus, "concerted texture"; accompanied recitatives (ariosoi) Mvt. 2, Mvt. 4, Mvt. 6 and 9; simple recitative opening 9; motet-fugue chorus Mvt. 7; striking arias Mvt. 3, Mvt. 5 and Mvt. 8; and closing dance-like chorus (Mvt. 10).

Italianate also is the unusual combination of "antique" instruments, pairs of violas da gamba and lutes (as well as separate harpsichord) both in continuo and obliggato functions. The uses of these instruments are explored in detail in Joshua Rifkin's "Performance questions in Bach's Trauerode" (Bach Studies 2). In summary, Rifkin suggests Bach drew his vocal and instrumental forces from a "variety of sources" (p.124) in Leipzig. The use of gambas and lutes, he suggests relates to royalty and death, as well as the gentle gender of the deceased (p.131). He suggests that they may be used in dual function as "an idiosyncratically expanded ensemble" or as a "self-contained adjunct" (p.131). He also suggests that the selective use of the harpsichord offers a special sonority with the lutes and gambas (p.150), particularly in the alto aria Mvt. 5, "How died the heroine," which is the heart and soul of the work. Another striking use of the whole ensemble is the preceeding alto arioso, "The mournful Bells," descending in pitch from flutes to the lutes.

Bach's autograph score calls the work a "Tombeau," which is for "instruments douces" and for the occasion. Two movements have a dance feel. The alto aria (Mvt. 5) is a pastorale and the closing chorus is a gigue.

The commissioned text is by the noted Leipzig Enlightenment professor and poet, J.C. Gottsched, where, in the alto aria (Mvt. 5), the verses focus on the moment of the Queen's death and Bach silences all the instruments, save the gambas and lutes. Bach and Gottsched collaborated on two other cantatas (music lost, probably parodies), BC G42 (1725), a wedding serenade, and BWV Anh. 13 (1738), another university commission. Cantata BWV 198 has been adapted as a sacred work for all-Souls Day (November 1), altered text and added chorales by Wilhelm Rust, BGS editor, available as Kalmus Vocal Scores 6940 (our discussion music). Cantata BWV 198 will be performed at the Bethlehem Bach Festival, May 2 and 9, with the Ascension Oratorio (BWV 11).

Only Bach's original score survives. The parts undoubtedly were salvaged by Bach for the parodied Köthen Funeral Music, Cantata BWV 244a (Part 1 opening and closing choruses), and the parodied St. Mark Passion (BWV 247) (core lyrical music: both choruses and all three arias).

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (April 12, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] Thank you Jean for all your introductions.

The Chapelle des Minimes performed this beautiful cantata (together with BWV 106) in November 2006, with Jan Caals as conductor. And last March, we performed the Markus Passion (BWV 247) with Julius Stenzel as conductor, with the same music for the first and final choruses and for three arias.

The first chorus is a real challenge for the choir, rythmically and harmonically, at least I found the alto part much more difficult to learn than with other cantatas.

Additionnally, there is a question about dotted rythms. Some scores have dotted rythms (for example on measure 12) and others not. The Breitkopf score for BWV 198 and the Carus score (with additions of Koch) for the Markus Passion (BWV 247) have semiquavers, but in the Breitkopf score, there is a small line above with the same music with a dotted rythm. Here is what the Preface says: "It can be assumed with certainty that the vocal parts were intended to be performed as dotted notes in the same manner, as notated by Bach himself in bars 28, 30, 31, 35, 36, 60, 62, 67 and 68. It is possible that we are witnessing here a remarkable example of Bach's compositional process in which he became increasingly aware of the kind of dotting he wanted in this movement as the work progressed."I have not listened to any recordings yet, how do they deal with this question?

Another small remark: the online V&P score of this website
(http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV198-V&P.pdf) has a different text ("Lass, Höchster, lass der Hoffnung Strahl"). At the first choir rehearsal I came with it, and was very surprised to the others sing a completely different text! I asked Aryeh who suggested me to ask this question when BWV 198 would be discussed, so here we are! Can someone explain?

I have to add that I really love the final chorus, with the dancing pattern, and the homophonic parts in contrast with the others. I find that the words of Markus Passion (BWV 247) ("Bei deinem Grab...") flow very well with the music, but maybe the words of BWV 198 are more adapted in character ("Doch Königin! du stirbest nicht").

Uri Golomb wrote (April 12, 2008):
Here is a review I wrote of a recent recording of this work, which might interest readers ( [17] on http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198.htm ):

Johann Sebastian Bach: Tombeau de san Majesté la Reine de Pologne Katharine Fuge – soprano, Carlos Mena – alto, Jan Kobow – tenor, Stephan Macleod – bass, Francis Jacob – organ

Ricercar Consort/ Philip Pierlot

Mirare MIR 030; 78’19; recorded 2006

Rating: 4 stars

Bach composed the Trauer-Ode for a memorial service honouring the Electress of Saxony. On that occasion, the Trauer-Ode was performed together with other works. Consort Ricercar attempt to recreate the original sequence: the Ode is framed by the B-minor Prelude and Fugue, BWV 544, and its two parts are separated by a short chorale prelude. These organ works, effectively played by Francis Jacob, strengthen the sense of ceremonial solemnity – but not enough to counterbalance the oddly dry-eyed renditions of the Trauer-ode’s outer movements. Like many other performers (including – to varying degrees – Herreweghe [8], Leonhardt [9], Koopman [12] and Gardiner [10]), Pierlot’s group accentuate the lilting dance-like rhythms in these two choruses, undermining the intense grief and ceremonial solemnity of Bach’s music. The opening chorus, especially, sounds touchingly eloquent at one moment – and frustratingly cheerful at the next.

Elsewhere, Pierlot and Consort Ricercar (a one-per-part vocal consort supported by a small orchestra) subtly yet eloquently underline Bach’s expressive musical rhetoric; they also achieve a well-nigh perfect balance between crystalline textural clarity and alluring sensuous beauty. Similar qualities grace their persuasively lyrical rendition of the A-major Mass. In many respects, then, this is a moving and satisfying disc – but the frustrating clipping of the Trauer-Ode’s outer movements prevents me from giving it a wholehearted recommendation. Among the recordings of the Trauer-Ode known to me, Andrew Parrott’s (on Sony Classical [13]) is perhaps unique in striking the elusive balance between ceremonial restraint and heartfelt grief and in avoiding any hint of inappropriate cheerfulness; his version (also one-per-part) remains my primary recommendation for this work.

Terejia wrote (April 12, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] I wished to express thank you for valuable work of Jean but I cannot think of any better/more gracious message than Ed.

BWV 198 is one of my favorite cantata with profound beauty yet recently I seem to be at the bottom of sine-carve that I do not feel like doing even things I like the best and otherwise I do with so much zest, as is occasionally the case with me when I feel overwhelmed by something.

Adding my own gratitude and best wishes to Jean to Ed's beautiful post.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 12, 2008):
[To Thérèse Hanquet]
You've made some good observations below. I can offer some general comments, but I do not have any academic references that speak precisely to the issues you have brought up, even though I now have seven resources at home that speak to Bach issues.

Score differences are something I think a lot of people treat with caution. It's kind of like walking on eggs.

I started to play the piano somewhere before age five, so at 64 I've seen a whole lot of printed music. And from the start I remember thinking that just when I knew a piece someone went and wrote it a different way. And with singing, once I began to read, the same problem occurred. That used to make me a little upset, and it still does at times.

I'm going to make a list of possible reasons for differences in scores.

1. Different scores may have been created from differing source material.
2. Errors in reproducing scores occur more often than one might imagine.
3. Correction to scores today in rehearsals often has to do with notes that do not fit in a harmonic framework that is found in the rest of the piece, or passing tones, for example that cannot be rationally explained, and don't seen to be what a composer would have chosen based on the rest of the work. Something just sounds wrong, that is. Occasionally there are word errors. 4. Music like language is historically always in flux. Sometimes the changes or corrections are made to accommodate current speaking patterns or to correct for lack of known historical usage.
5. As you mention, the evolution of the composer in technique can impact source material.
6. Although there are those who will disagree with me, I think it is possible that differences in sources may come from a choice of environment of performance. I have not heard this theory espoused on this list, but because of Bach's ability to create interlacing parts so eloquently, he obviously had a fine ear and may have fine tuned some compositions in some editions to suit a particular environment. Every person on this list has his or her special abilities. For those of us who work with recording and who have gradually developed a more highly trained ear than we possessed intitally, there is an awareness that Bach could create what we call auto-panning in his scores so incredibly therefore had great acoustic acumen.
7. Another reason for change in accentuation - sustains or more detachment can be based on the number of singers/instrumentalists with whom a composer/director like Bach might have had available. For example, if one is performing in a very live environment, without detachment in some places the texture may become excessively muddy if the ensemble is very large. In the case of todays work, the original audience was most likely very large and maybe the musical ensemble, too, and I believe a man as smart as Bach would have had such factors in mind in the composition of his work and its performance impact.
8. Later revisions of a work get different printings by different companies, and even using identical sources different results will appear. These could be transcription problems. These could be editorial choices, and I suppose with hand written scores sometimes dots could be faint or slightly smeared and their meaning obscured and thus perhaps disregarded.
9. Later versions also come under the scrutiny of musicologists who may argue for the use or lack of use of some markings on the basis of comparison with other scores Bach developed in a similar time period.
10. Some reference has been made to scores Bach's sons revised, perhaps to make them more marketable or usable in a later time.
11. Scores translated into other languages may have had adjustments made to facilitate a different language. Accentuating some words in a different tongue, for example, may have some problems due to accentuations in a language. If some source material came through translated scores, this could be a reason for differences.
12. Even the parts of Germany where scores were used and reproduced might have had variances by dialect, though of course since I am not deep in this kind of study I am not in a position to clarify such a matter on a particular score.
13. The use of a particular movement of any cantata at whatever risk to criticism might have allowed for a word change to something other than the original. If Bach altered the librettists text, someone else may have thought a correction to the original poetry was warranted. 14. Some material is missing from some works, and arrangements that fillthe gaps are a matter of guessing at times.

I am sure you get the idea that with these possible factors alone, that answering such a question as yours is an extremely complex matter, and that one would have to check multiple scores chronologically and in other ways to come up with what might be a satisfying answer. Having said that, if someone on this list knows an exact answer to your question, I hope they will share with us.

I hope someone with a depth of knowledge of this cantata and works that relate will be able to answer you final observations at the end of this post.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 12, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< Score differences are something I think a lot of people treat with caution. It's kind of like walking on eggs. (...)
8. Later revisions of a work get different printings by different companies, and even using identical sources different results will appear. These could be transcription problems. These could be editorial choices, and I suppose with hand written scores sometimes dots could be faint or slightly smeared and their meaning obscured and thus perhaps disregarded. (...)
9. Later versions also come under the scrutiny of musicologists who may argue for the use or lack of use of some markings on the basis of comparison with other scores Bach developed in a similar time period. (...)
13. The use of a particular movement of any cantata at whatever risk to criticism might have allowed for a word change to something other than the original. If Bach altered the librettists text, someone else may have thought a correction to the original poetry was warranted. (...) >
The version with "Lass, Fürstin" is the original by J.C. Gottsched. The one with "Lass, Höchster" is a version by W. Rust. Both texts are printed in full in volume 13.3 of the Bach-Gesellschaft, as part of the critical report about the music and its discrepancies. I'm sure many more details about all this are available in the Neue Bach-Ausgabe as well.

[Jean and Therese, I'll send you a copy of those BG preface pages off-list so you can see the whole thing.]

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 12, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] Since I do not have these details I'm glad you can fill in the blanks. One great thing I appreciate about musicologists is that they know where to find the details.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 13, 2008):
<< The version with "Lass, Füstin" is the original by J.C. Gottsched. The one with "Lass, Höhster" is a version by W. Rust. Both texts are printed in full in volume 13.3 of the Bach-Gesellschaft, as part of the critical report about the music and its discrepancies. I'm sure many more details about all this are available in the Neue Bach-Ausgabe as well.
Since I do not have these details I'm glad you can fill in the blanks. One great thing I appreciate about musicologists is that they know where to find the details. >
The NBA and BGA are both very good editions in their own historical contexts, and both were carefully ("cautiously"...) done in a positivistic style of musicology. Neither is exhaustive, of course, since choices always need to be made, and since research continues after their publication. But, for the type of positivistic questions they're able to answer, such as "why is there such a discrepancy of the two sung texts", these two editions are always worth consulting as part of the process of finding answers.

For other types of questions that go beyond sorting out the extant written materials, such as questions of musical interpretation or performance practices, these fine editions don't have all the answers. They still have the limitation (but also the virtue) of their cautious focus on facts about pieces of paper that Bach and his colleagues touched. Music isn't paper. :) Composition was and is a dynamic process as music gets created, used, reused, and takes on a life of its own. All the style of musicological positivism can do there is to sort out and describe any clearly discernible layers, and present them. It doesn't tell anybody how to be musical, or how to pick a tempo or
balance an ensemble or deliver a phrase with appropriate accentuation, beyond the printed or handwritten scores/parts.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 13, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< All the style of musicological positivism can do there is to sort out and describe any clearly discernible layers, and present them. It doesn't tell anybody how to be musical, or how to pick a tempo or balance an ensemble or deliver a phrase with appropriate accentuation, beyond the printed or handwritten scores/parts. >
This is an important point. Structural points of view inform, in my opinion, only up to a point.

William Hoffman wrote (April 13, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< .... (")It is possible that we are witnessing here a remarkable example of Bach's compositional process in which he became increasingly aware of the kind of dotting he wanted in this movement as the work progressed." I have not listened to any recordings yet, how do they deal with this question? >
William Hoffman replies:
I think Uri Golomb in his review of the latest recording on the list, [17], (Pierlot/Ricercar Consort), helps to frame the discussion in a general sense. He calls it a "moving and satisfying disc" except for the "frustrating clipping of the Trauer-Ode's outer movements...." The crux of the dilemma, it seems to me, is that these framing, expansive choruses are influenced by the dance, especially the gigue, while the actual music (both Cantata 198 and the St. Mark Passion (BWV 247)) is for mourning and consolation. And in light of Thérèse Hanquet's quote, I think that Bach in 1727, as he is writing the music, is caught up in both the dance and mourning aspects.

As to the recordings of the choruses (in both works), my cursory examination and selective reflections suggest that they run the gamut, stylistically, from the dance to the mourning. I am struck, on the one hand, with some of the most recent performances of the BWV 247 choruses, in the Goodman and Webber accounts with the quickened dance emphasis; while in some of the older performances, in particular Robert Craft [2] (Cantata BWV 198) and Wolfgang Goeninwein (BWV 247), with the solemn, still stately approach, and, ironically, ditto with Koopman's Cantata BWV 198 effort [12] in 1996!

I must personally acknowledge, given the double-shot of both works, that I prefer the "older," more stately approach, although I'd like to have the best of both worlds, because I like both chocolate and vanilla equally!

Neil Mason wrote (April 13, 2008):
I wish to add my thanks for the work of Jean.

Unfortunately I do not have the time to listen to the cantatas on a weekly basis. However I know that when I have holidays and can listen I will find the introductions penned by Jean and the following comments illuminating.

I do hope that Jean will find the time and energy to do more of them in the future.

Chris Rowson wrote (April 13, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< BWV 198 Laß, Fürstin, laß einen Strahl! (Let Princess, One more Ray)
BWV 198 page:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198.htm
BWV 198 discussion page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198-D.htm
Written as a memorial to the Electoress Christiane Eberhandine ...
Malcomb Boyd, ... >

What is it about this cantata that has the typos flowing like tears? The intro sets the tone by omitting the "noch" from the first line and calls the Fürstin "Eberhandine", while www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV198.htm gives the extraordinary title "Treauerode"?

Of course the typos are not important, but I think it really does the Fuerstin a disservice to compare her with Princess Diana. Christiane Eberwas genuinely appreciated by a large proportion of the populace, and not least for standing up to the pressure from her extremely powerful husband ("the Strong") to turn Saxony Catholic in accordance with the then usually accepted principle that the religion of the people follows the religion of the ruler. This was a hard struggle, and she won and the people loved her for it.

Princess Diana was perhaps more loved by foreigners seeking an icon than by the British public, for many of whom she was an expensive irrelevance.

But how about taking the whole of the Soprano aria BWV 198/3 (Mvt. 3) in triplet rhythms?

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (April 13, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] I just bought yesterday the Ricercar Consort recording of BWV 198 [17] (and was pleasantly surprised to see it included the BWV 234 mass).

I have their recording of BWV 106 which I really love, but here I also was a little disappointed with the first chorus of BWV 198. Maybe it is because of the OVPP in this case... also it seems to me that the voice of Carlos Mena (who is an excellent and moving singer) comes out more than those of the three others.

They apparently do not do the dotted rythms where we did (and where they are indicated above the score). I think that these dotted rythms accentuate the message of the text. Also with more singers, the music conveys another character and allows for more contrast IMHO.

When we performed the Markus Passion (BWV 247), we also made the dotted rythms, but a little less accentuated (in between semiquavers and dotted rythms), and we had a significantly slower tempo than in BWV 198. This seemed indeed more appropriate to the more intimate and "personal" character of the text.

I concur with Uri Golomb's review for the quality of the rest of the Ricercar Consort's recording [17], but I do not feel the final chorus dissatisfying at all. For me the dance-like music expresses the idea that the dead princess will always be there in the memory of her people and be their joy and proudness.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 13, 2008):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< Princess Diana was perhaps more loved by foreigners seeking an icon than by the British public, for many of whom she was an expensive irrelevance. >
On another music list, the music at Diana's funeral was the subject of a recent lively discussion.

And she looked so good in that short black cocktail dress ...

Chris Rowson wrote (April 13, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] That's what I mean, Diana looked good in a short cocktail dess, Christiane Eberhardine helped get the marshes drained so people could live there.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 13, 2008):
[To Chris Rowson] A bit unfair. I am no royalist, but she did a lot to combat the prejudices against aids victims and she was working on the strategies to get rid of the landmines which disfigure so many people around the world when she died.

In my view she did rather more constructively than the rest of the royal family put together---although indeed, that might not be saying very much.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 13, 2008):
[To Neil Mason] I'm glad you found my work worthy, Neil. Yes, after a longer break of maybe a year, if Aryeh wishes me to return I will schedule some weeks for the list. Meanwhile, I need to get back to recording as my family and friends were a bit disappointed I did not give them a recorded Christmas gift this year--never mind they'd had two cantatas and a flute concerto mid-year. But that's good quality support, and I love to make music. I am also doing a bit more video filming of some wonderful recitals here, and while I have streamlined my methods, I take time to get the program details before, and to follow through quickly with a DVD and snapshots taken from the performance for these great young people. So my life in retirement is a celebration of music, and an opportunity to help nurture the future of music. To see one's own performance allows one to realize the small details that are good and those that need correction or improvement.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 13, 2008):
[To Chris Rowson] I work from the resources I have, and I'm sorry if my errors were an offense. In ten weeks there have not been so many, but Aryeh is willing to correct these details, as he does at times. The fact that there are many resources and not all presented in material in the same manner is a good reason for discussion and asking for the participation of people like you.

A musical memorial certainly does not equate the personalities of the royal members involved. However, I would like to point out that both women were known and loved for their giving ways, even though their lives were dramatically different. That's someone history has documented even if Diana became a pop figure in a manner which was not possible in early Germany.

This may not be of any importance to you, but at the end of ten weeks I am tired, and perhaps for that reason the quality of my work has contained a few imperfections.

Have you ever written the introductions? Would you honor us by doing so?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 13, 2008):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< That's what I mean, Diana looked good in a short cocktail dess, Christiane Eberhardine helped get the marshes drained so people could live there >
Well you're being a bit catty without justification: Princess Diana did plenty of social justice work, especially in regards to AIDS and her work for an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines.

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 13, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 198 - The Princess and the Prince (somewhat OT)

Julian Mincham wrote:
< A bit unfair. I am no royalist, but she did a lot to combat the prejudices against aids victims and she was working on the strategies to get rid of the landmines which disfigure so many people around the world when she died.
In my view she did rather more constructively than the rest of the royal family put together---although indeed, that might not be saying very much. >
On the other hand, the Prince of Wales is the Patron of Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage series.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 13, 2008):
[To Aryeh Oron] Great point, Aryeh.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 13, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] One of the ironies of life is that seeing the worst in others is very easy, but in terms of quality social interaction and the building of society, I have always found it is wise to accept faults along with virtues and to focus on what is good in others most of all.

Peter Smaill wrote (April 13, 2008):
A few discursive thoughts about this fascinating and complex work.

It is not really a Church cantata at all; there are as it happens 11 which do not have any hymn reference at all, and this work, devoid of all chorales, would make a twelfth. According to Dreyfus, who analyses its setting copiously in his "Patterns of invention", there were no clergy officiating at the memorial service. Christ, so often in Bach the image of comfort for the departed is absent, not mentioned ; unless the word "Schopfer" is taken to refer not just to God the Father as creator. And yet Bach then derives the St Mark Passion (BWV 247) setting from the music here composed for a scarcely religious event.

The contemporary account talks of Bach moving round the orchestra, playing several of the instruments as reported in C E Sicul's "Das thraenende Leipzig" (in Boyd) and Dreyfus is certain that critic-to-be Scheide was in the audience. The chopping about of Gottsched's poem by Bach may be thus a significant point of tension with the Enlightenment forces in Leipzig.

Whittaker is strongly repelled by the incursion of the unison passages in the final chorus, which he considers an unparalleled blunder. For me they are a masterstroke, underpinning the solemnity in contrast to the dance rhythms of the section, and illustratithe idea of writing or rather engraving the queen's tribute, "She was virtue's possession/Her subjects delight and glory". The epitaph thus achieves a dramatic separation from the rest of the text.

More controversially, Dreyfus observes that Bach put his pen down on the completion of the score only two days before the performance, necessitating rapid work by the copyists for the large band and choir parts. So this work tends to support the theory that the Cantatas could be executed rapidly by copyists because we have more evidence of the precise timing of its commission and execution than is usual the case.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 13, 2008):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Whittaker is strongly repelled by the incursion of the unison passages in the final chorus, which he considers an unparalleled blunder. For me they are a masterstroke, underpinning the solemnity in contrast to the dance rhythms of the section, and illustrating the idea of writing or rather engraving the queen's tribute, "She was virtue's possession/Her subjects delight and glory". The epitaph thus achieves a dramatic separation from the rest of the text. >
I agree that the unison passage is one of Bach's greatest choral moments. It is even more affecting in the St. Mark Passion (BWV 247) where the final chorus is set at the grave of Christ and the choir reads his epitaph:

Schau, diese Grabschrifft solt du haben:
Mein Leben kömmt aus deinem Tod,
Hier hab ich meine Sünden=Noth
Und Jesum selbst in mich begraben.

See, you shall have this epitaph:
"My life will come out of your death ..."

I remember hearing the old Gönnewein recording (which I think was the first reconstruction) as a teenager and finding the passage so unique and affecting in the works of Bach.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 13, 2008):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< More controversially, Dreyfus observes that Bach put his pen down on the completion of the score only two days before the performance, necessitating rapid work by the copyists for the large band and choir parts. So this work tends to support the theory that the Cantatas could be executed rapidly by copyists because we have more evidence of the precise timing of its commission and execution than is usual the case. >
I noticed this fact of close completion in Deurr, but did not think about the expanded meaning you have brought up here. Could university students (perhaps even some performing, been recruited to help with the monumental task?

Skip Jennings wrote (April 13, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Well you're being a bit catty without justification: Princess Diana did plenty of social justice work, especially in regards to AIDS and her work for an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. >
I'm not sure how we got on to this subject, but here is my $0.02:

Diana would have been forgotten within a month of her death if she had looked like Camilla.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 13, 2008):
Ach! If only the music stimulated so much discussion.
>I'm not sure how we got on to this subject, but here is my $0.02:<

The subject came up because in her introduction, Jean raised the analogy between Diana and Christiane, to provide current social context for Bachs composition, a commission (fee contested!) for a memorial service.

>Diana would have been forgotten within a month of her death if she had looked like Camilla.<
Ach! If only ugliness were so easily forgetten. Or forgiven.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 13, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Ed, you do put perspective to these matters, and give me great opportunity
for a good chuckle.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 14, 2008):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>More controversially, Dreyfus observes that Bach put his pen down on the completion of the score only two days before the performance, necessitating rapid work by the copyists for the large band and choir parts. So this work tends to support the theory that the Cantatas could be executed rapidly by copyists because we have more evidence of the precise timing of its commission and execution than is usually the case.<
Thanks for several stimulating thoughts in this post, which require a bit of time with the references.

Until then, from the above citation, there are some considerations of logic, before any conclusions, however preliminary:

(1) Even if the report of the timing of the last pen stroke (Bach put his pen down) is reliable, this does not necessarily precede the beginning of copying of parts.

(2) BWV 198 may be the example which is least typical of Bach's characteristic composition circumstances. It may well be a better case for unusual, rather than characteristic methods. I believe the condition of the autograph score supports this idea (reference to follow).

(3) Much of the discussion on this topic has centered on the suggestion that the Leipzig cantatas for the first few years were typically completed and copied in the evening before performance, then sight read not very long after dawn the following morning. Completion of the score, even if only two days in advance, is significantly different.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 14, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< (3) Much of the discussion on this topic has centered on the suggestion that the Leipzig cantatas for the first few years were typically completed and copied in the evening before performance, then sight read not very long after dawn the following morning. Completion of the score, even if only two days in advance, is significantly different. >
I am inclined to agree with Ed's analysis here. Having said that, the work process seems interesting to me.

Chris Rowson wrote (April 14, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote, regarding Diana:
< Well you're being a bit catty without justification: Princess Diana did plenty of social justice work, especially in regards to AIDS and her work for an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. >
Yes, I admit, I was being a bit unfair, her last few years Diana made some useful contributions. But still she is remembered principally for looking good on camera, and I think it does Christiane Eberhardine a disservice to be likened to her. The people called her "The Pillar of Saxony".

Chris Rowson wrote (April 14, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Ach! If only the music stimulated so much discussion. >
So what do you think about taking the whole of the Soprano aria 198/3 in triplet rhythms, Ed?

William Hoffman wrote (April 14, 2008):
Intro. to BWV 198: Genesis

William Hoffman offers this note:

Cantata BWV 198: Genesis (Motives, Methods, Opportunities). While much has been written about Bach's conflict with University church music director J.G. Görner, which threatened Bach's involvement, the actual genesis of the Funeral Ode shows Bach, the calculating composer, to be a most calculating impresario.

Here is the composition timeline (cited in Rifkin, "Performance questions in Bach's Trauerode," Bach Studies 2, CUP, 1995, p/120ff): Her Majesty's death, Sept. 5, 1727; Royal Mourning period begins, September 7 (ban on all musical performances); Leipzig University student Kirchbach requests memorial service with music at Paulinerkirchke, September 12; while awaiting August the Strong's approval (October 3), Gottshed text and Bach's music solicited; Görner protest, October 7; compromise (one-time event) with Görner compensation, October 11; performance October 17.

Process: Bach loves commissions and is free to produce only this work. Having presented his demanding St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) on the previous Good Friday, he has vast performing resources available (including gambas and lutes). Also, on August 3, he had presented Cantata BWV 193a for August's Name Day, his first for the Saxon Court. No longer writing weekly cantatas, he's broadened his horizons; he's got his foot in the royal door. He composes music for this ode "in the Italian style," strongly favored by the Court at Dresden (see Carol Baron, "Tumultuous Philosophers," Bach's CWorld, p.54). The service is an "august" event (pun intended!).

Ulterior motive? With his lyric parodist Picander at hand, fresh from the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) successful collaboration, Bach does "double-duty," killing two birds with one stone. Bach lays out the mourning music with another Passion in mind, probably Mark (see "Classical notes: Bach Redux," flanderstoday.eu; interview with Julius Stenzel re. St. Mark Passion (BWV 247) performance, 3/16/2007). Picander may even have suggested to Bach how to restructure the Gottsched texts so they could be parodied. It's the beginning of Bach's final push for a "well-regulated church music" (through extensive parodies): the oratorios of 1734-35, the four Lutheran Masses of the late 1730s, and of course the great contrafaction, the Mass in b Minor (BWV 232), 1749 (for the Dresden Court).

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 14, 2008):
[To Chris Rowson, regarding Diana] Though it may seem a bit weak to you, I really think all I had in mind was that musically events develop out of a need for people to memorialize those in the public eye who are greatly loved. Even on this side of the ocean we can distinguish between a woman who was so committed to her beliefs that she lived an exemplary life, and to one who suffered some great misfortune in the course of hers. You are being unfair as you say, Chris. Ease up a little, please--to be reminded of a recent event in history does not equate with the past of a very special individual and I knew that when I made a general comparison.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 14, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Here is the composition timeline (cited in Rifkin, "Performance questions in Bach's Trauerode," Bach Studies 2, CUP, 1995, p/120ff): Her Majesty's death, Sept. 5, 1727; Royal Mourning period begins, September 7 (ban on all musical performances); Leipzig University student Kirchbach requests memorial service with music at Paulinerkirchke, September 12; while awaiting August the Strong's approval (October 3), Gottshed text and Bach's music solicited; Görner protest, October 7; compromise (one-time event) with Görner compensation, October 11; performance October 17.
Process: Bach loves commissions and is free to produce only this work. >
Although there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate my supposition, I believe that a musician in Bach's position would never be caught unprepared by the death of a royal or civic worthy. He would have known that a member of the royal family or a leader in the city or church could die suddenly and that a suitable musical offering would have to be performed. I'm sure that Bach could have written any of the memorial cantatas on short notice, but I suspect that he had mental or real sketches for texts and music ready for these eventualities. If there was a "conspiracy" between Bach and Picander, it was probably part of a long-standing conversation about a memorial work for the queen. As I've mentioned before, the service and music for the recent funeral of the Queen Mother had been finalized for ten years. That's the work that courtiers and would-be courtiers are paid to do.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 14, 2008):
Chris Rowson wrote:
>Yes, I admit, I was being a bit unfair, her last few years Diana made some useful contributions. But still she is remembered principally for looking good on camera, and I think it does Christiane Eberhardine a disservice to be likened to her. The people called her "The Pillar of Saxony".<
Without entering the Diana controversy, I think you raise a good point re Christiane Eberhardine, and her status as inspiration for Bachs memorial music. Or at least inspiration for the source of the commission fee, before it came under dispute, if I have that bit of history correctly.

Which raises a number of subsidiary points of interest:

(1) Does her status as a female politcal hero make new social advances for women, at the time?

(2) Is her religious affiliation specifically Lutheran, or more generally anti-Catholic.

(3) Was her spiritual affiliation the inspiration for the music, for the fee, or a little of each?

An aside to Chris: good to see you back on-list, with a spirit of give and take in the discussions. I think Diana is principally remembered for her spectacular death, rather than for either her looks or accomplishments (potential or actual). What she shares with Christiane is the willingness to confront and question male hierarchy. Were I a lady, I might admire them both equally, for that quality alone.

Chris Rowson wrote (April 14, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 198 - noch

The thing is, I lived in England through most of Diana's life, and I later spent several years in Saxony. Christiane Eberhardine was 270 years gone, but still a major presence. I think there is a big mismatch between the two, and I think it is important for the comprehension of this cantata to have a grasp of the depth of feelings for her of the Saxon people.

She stood up for them against August The Strong, and won - and there were not many who did that.

This depth of feeling is what Bach has expressed so powerfully in the cantata that makes it so particularly impressive - an amazing achievement given the shortage of time. "O Königin, Du stirbest nicht ."

Chris Rowson wrote (April 14, 2008):
Doug Cowling wrote:
"Although there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate my supposition, I believe that a musician in Bach's position would never be caught unprepared by the death of a royal or civic worthy. He would have known that a member of the royal family or a leader in the city or church could die suddenly and that a suitable musical offering would have to be performed. As I've mentioned before, the service and music for the recent funeral of the Queen Mother had been finalized for ten years. That's the work that courtiers and would-be courtiers are paid to do."
Yes I'd been speculating along similar lines, too. And while the death of August The Strong or his heir was sure to be memorialised in Dresden, there was good reason to think that the Queen's memorial would be in Leipzig .

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 198: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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