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Cantata BWV 202
Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of November 17, 2013 (3rd round)

William Hoffman wrote (November 20 2013):
Cantata 202: Bach Family and Wedding Quodlibit

Bach’s “Hochzeits Quodlibet,” BWV 524, entitled “Der Back Trog” (The Baker’s Tub) may be for a wedding in the Bach family or circle of friends.The poet is unknown and only a fragmentary score survives in Bach’s hand. The first performance may have been in Erfurt for the wedding of Daniel Friedrich Fuchs and Salome Römer (or ?Sedel) between 18 September and 17 October 1707.1 “The Baker’s Tub” “alludes to a small vessel which the bridegroom wishes to use for amatory adventures” says Wolfgang Marx.2 “The 272 extant bars also depict in veiled form the career of the bride and groom and allude to the wedding guests.”

Scored for SATB and continuo, the Bach early work lasts about nine-and-a-half minutes. Its original publication in 1931 as well as its description, provenance, quodlibet history and other topics are described in Thomas Braatz’ 2004 extensive BCW article, with illustrations, “BWV 524 Quodlibet (Fragment).”3Other topics include the quodlibet genre, commentary sources, translation, musical elements, and recordings. Asks Braatz: “What are the characteristics of BWV 524? It depends fully upon the principle of sequence and enumeration using a homophonic, rarely contrapuntal style. Fragments of folksong melodies are occasionally quoted and only in a few instances do all the voices sing together. The text generally has end rhyme.”

Both the music and text are quite varied. Here is a musical description in Braatz’ article with his English translation from German: “Bach’s composition is scored for 4 voices and continuo and reveals multifarious aspects of musical structure: solo voice presentations alternate with homophonic 4-pt. sections; there are frequent changes of time signatures and tempi; polyphonic treatments are kept simple and at a minimum (one exception is where Bach uses the chaconne form for the section “Große Hochzeit, große Freuden…”); and the recitative-like are interspersed among the other sections, but they bear little or no resemblance to the Italian-type recitative that Bach normally used in his cantatas. The latter feature is probably due to the fact the Bach is dealing with a caricature here. Stylistically this composition is so unique among Bach’s oeuvre that it becomes difficult to relate it to any other compositions by Bach.”4

Here is Klaus Hofmann’s summary of the genre and text: “As with [Cantata 202] ‘Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten,’ this is a piece of wedding music, albeit of an entirely different kind and on a wholly different stylistic level. As for the genre, this is not a cantata as such but rather a so-called ‘catalogue quodlibet’, a folk form of humorous character, close to impro visation, that derives much of its effect from juxtaposing unrelated fragments, together with topical allusions. Traditionally such works combine quotations from songs, toasts, market traders’ and night-watchmen’s calls, proverbs, puns and soon with witty, often boisterous and coarse references to the reason for and participants in a social gathering. Such quodlibets were especially popular at weddings, where they frequently got out of hand. In 1730 the literary scholar Johann Christoph Gottsched wrote in his Critische Dicht kunst with obvious reservations: ‘At weddings this sort of witty poem has its uses, if it does not become merely offensive’.”5

Hoffmann (Ibid.FN5) makes references in the “Wedding Quodlibet” to the wedding, the name “Salome” and to the work’s title, “Der Back Trog” (The Baker’s Tub).: “The type of occasion for which the piece was written is clear. The text mentions ‘Große Hochzeit, große Freuden’ (‘Great wedding, great joy’) and there are various intimations that leave no possibility for doubt. We do not know, how ever, whose wedding it was; nor can we be certain of the sort of people who were the guests, despite a whole series of indirect references, including one to ‘Salome’, possibly Bach’s sister Maria Salome, whose married name was Wiegand (1677−1727). Also unclear is the nature of a certain event to which ironic allusions are constantly being made, and which is associated with sea journeys to the Dutch East Indies. Apparently it concerned a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt − maybe by the bridegroom himself – to use a baker’s trough as a boat. “

The “Production Notes,” of Masaaki Suzuki (Ibid., FN5), © 2013 observe: “Here I would like give a few brief comments in connection with the Quodlibet, BWV 524. As Klaus Hofmann mentions in his commentary, this work has been handed down in the form of J. S. Bach’s own manuscript of the full score, but at least one of the sheets of this score in folio is missing. The extant score consists of three sheets, each containing four pages of notation, and it would appear thus that the first two pages and the final section of approximately two pages has been lost. The composer’s name, which should of course appear at the head of the work, is missing, and the current situation is that only the central part of the work has been handed down for performance purposes. But the section that has survived is of considerable musical interest, and I decided therefore to include it in the programme. The fragment opens with a four-part chord on the word Steiß, meaning ‘backside’ and often referring to the tail of a bird or animal, but it is unclear what it could mean in this context. At the very end of the manuscript, the final line of text reads ‘What a nice fugue this is!’ in a passage on the dominant key, implying that this section was originally followed by a fugue. Unfortunately this fugue is now lost, meaning that all we can do is imagine it.”

The BCW Details of the “Wedding Quodlibet” are found : http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV524.htm .

German text of unknown author, http://webdocs.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/524.html , Z.Philip Ambrose English translation and notes on the text are found at , http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV524.html. Ambrose cites Günther Kraft’s references (FN1) as well as the original “Wedding Quodlibet” publication, by Max Schneider in 1931, “Veröffentlichungen der Neuen Bachgesellschaft” (NBG, Jg. XXXII, Heft 2) Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig. Other scores available through:
http://imslp.org/wiki/Quodlibet,_BWV_524_%28Bach,_Johann_Sebastian%29 (scroll down to “Scores”) are:

1. Faksimile-Reihe Bachscher Werke und Schriftstucke Hochzeitsquodlibet 1707, Ein Fragment BWV 524, Bd. 12 (score); Faksimile-Reihe Bachscher Werke und Schriftstucke Hochzeitsquodlibet, Ein Fragment BWV 524, Bd. 12 (score), Bach-Archiv Leipzig; VEB Deutscher Verlag fur Musik (1973).6
2. Quodlibit BWV 524; GCH, Breitkopf und Härtel, Leipzig (1999).
3. Bach: Hochzeitsquodlibet (BWV 524). Postkarte; Carus-Verlag (1999).
4. Arrangement, Fantasie und Fuge G-Dur BWV524 : für Violine Solo; Ries & Erler Musikverlag (2010).

Two recordings are available on-line.

+1. YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQMeJ7iVOWc (Ensemble Sacrum&Profanum München), Recording Details, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/S&P-Munich.htm#V1
+2. Real Player (Music Examples, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV524-Mus.htm (Leonhardt Consort (Recording Details:, Ibid., BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/H&L-Rec4.htm#V-18 ).

A music download (MP3 fee track) with additions by Leonardo García-Alarcón [12:01] is found at ClassicOnline, http://www.classicsonline.com/catalogue/product.aspx?pid=1537476&affid=62 . Details of the recording are found at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Garcia-Alarcon.htm#C3 .

A description of the quodlibet by Nikolaus Forkel, Bach’s first biographer, is found in Braatz’ article (FN3):

Nikolaus Forkel's biographical account pp. 424-425 “The New Bach Reader” [Norton, 1998]:

>>…the first thing they did, when they were assembled, was to sing a chorale. From this pious commencement they proceeded to drolleries which often made a very great contrast with i. For now they sang popular songs, the contents of which were partly comic and partly naughty, all together and extempore, but in such a manner that the several parts thus extemporized made a kind of harmony together, the words, however, in every part being different. They called this kind of extemporary harmony a ‘Quodlibet,’ and not only laughted heartily at it themselves, but excited an equally hearty and irresistible laughter in everybody that heard them. Some persons are inclinded to consider these facetiae as the beginning of comic operettas in Germany; but such ‘quodlibets’ were usual in Germany at a much earlier period – I possess, myself, a printed collection of them which was published at Vienna in 1542.

|Since its first publication in 1931, Bach “Wedding Quodlibet” has been subject to all manner of research and speculation, including the possibility that he composed it for his own wedding to Maria Barbara in 1707. Neumann in his forward to the 1973 GDR publication (Ibid., FN6) cites “circumstances that weight against this”: the couple would have been the main target of jokes and references” while “a dozen people appear in it who may have belonged at least to the wider Bach family circle.” Bach’s “careful notation” probably was set down after the festivities as a recollection of the original improvised composition (an ex tempore musical play) and probably sent to the wedded couple later on.” Neumann suggests that the worked-out libretto of reminiscences may have been the work of Johann Friedrich Treiber, headmaster of the Arnstadt Lyceum.

Kraft in the Afterward to the 1973 edition (Ibid., FN6), provides extensive source-critical factual evidence of the background of the “Wedding Quodlibit.” He lists a catalog various communities associated with the work: Arnstadt and neighboring Dornheim sources, Erfurt people, Mühlhausen manuscript paper, and Eisenach (Bach’s birthplace) names and places. Kraft also points out the musical-textual elements such as echoes of folklore, Thuringian catch-singing and peasant spoonerisms, carousing, food traditions, irregular counterpoint, special and colloquial speech, and suggests a “chorale parody followed the [closing] ‘schöne Fugue’.”

FOOTNOTES

1 Günther Kraft, “Zur Entstehunggeschichte des ‘Hochzeit’s Quodlibet’ (BWV 524)” (The Origin History of the “Wedding Quodlibet”), Bach Jahrbuch 1956: 140-154).
2 Liner notes, (trans. Alfred Clayton, Leonhardt Consort, Teldec Bach 2000, vol. 7; recording details, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/H&L-Rec4.htm#V-18 ).
3 “Was seind das vor grosse Schlösser" (What are those big castles swimming on the sea?) is the first line of surviving text by which the work is often identified, see http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/BWV524Quodlibet[Braatz].htm .
4 “Konrad Küster, Bach Handbuch (Bärenreiter, 1999: 529-530).
5 Liner notes (Suzuki, BIS), http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Suzuki-S03c[BIS-2041-SACD_booklet].pdf , BCW recording details http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Suzuki-Rec5.htm#S3 .
6 This includes Werner Neumann’s Forward and a Günther Kraft Afterward (both translated into English), as well as the original German text and Charles Sanford Terry.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 20, 2013):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Such quodlibets were especially popular at weddings, where they frequently got out of hand. In 1730 the literary scholar Johann Christoph Gottsched wrote in his Critische Dicht kunst with obvious reservations: ‘At weddings this sort of witty poem has its uses, if it does not become merely offensive’.”5 >
Nothing has changed at modern weddings except that people don't sing their tasteless speeches.

 

Cantata BWV 202: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | 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
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings



 

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