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Cantata BWV 24
Ein ungefärbt Gemüte
Discussions - Part 32

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of June 19, 2011

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 19, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 24 -- Ein ungefärbt Gemüte

Weekly reminder:

This week we continue the Trinity season with BWV 24, the second of three works for the 4th Sunday after Trinity.

Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV24.htm

The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham] is especially recommended as an introduction to listening, and for the relation of BWV 24 and last weeks BWV 185.

The BWV 24 page also has convenient access to notes from the Gardiner and Koopman (notes by Christoph Wolff) CD issues, via links beneath the cover photos.

Chorale texts are accessible via the BWV 24 home page, and the chorale melody is accessible via the chorale text page.

The ongoing commentary by Will Hoffman and Doug Cowling regarding chorale references and related context for the Trinity season is especially illuminating.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 20, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham] is especially recommended as an introduction to listening, and for the relation of BWV 24 and last weeks BWV 185. >
Bravo to Julian for introducing various critical commentaries as "speculation." Usually a solo opening to a cantata often (not from Julian) elicts the Exhausted Choir or Overworked Bach hypotheses. Neither can be leveled at this cantata which is both innovative in its structure and extraordinarily elaborate in its detail.

I wonder about the Solo-Tutti markings in the chorus. Everyone seems to assume that there is a choral force which is reduced to soloists in the fugue and then returned to full choir after the exposition.

In 17th century music, especially in Italian composers such as Monteverdi, there is a custom of marking "Tutti" in a solo vocal part when the other solo voices or orchestra enter.

In this cantata, the "Solo" markings appear when the independent orchestral parts drop out, leaving the voices to sing "a capella" with the continuo. When the instruments return, "Tutti" is marked in the vocal parts. Is this perhaps not a signal for full and solo performance, but rather a signal (I'm not sure why it's needed) that the orchestra is returning.

This kind of marking is unnecessary in modern vocal scores where the singers can see the orchestral parts in the piano reduction. Another unnecessary marking is the "turn the page" which Bach writes into the vocal parts.

One could argue for both OVP or choral performance depending how these markings are interpreted. Any collateral evidence from Bach's contemporaries?

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 20, 2011):
BWV 24 -- Solo/Tutti Markings [WAS BWV 185]

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Bravo to Julian for introducing various critical commentaries as "speculation." Usually a solo opening to a cantata often (not from Julian) elicts the Exhausted Choir or Overworked Bach hypotheses. Neither can be leveled at this cantata which is both innovative in its structure and extraordinarily elaborate in its detail.
I wonder about the Solo-Tutti markings in the chorus. Everyone seems to assume that there is a choral force which is reduced to soloists in the fugue and then returned to full choir after the exposition. >
Here is a relevant extract from Julians essay re BWV 24:

<The chorus has two sections, each of which carries the same brief text. The first (bars 1-37) makes initial use of antiphonal gestures between choir and orchestra but they then merge to form a rich and commanding texture. The longest instrumental ‘interlude’ is only two bars (27-8). The second section is faster, and so the continuing activity is now maintained by streams of quavers. The concept is fugal with the singers now solo (i.e. without the ripieno support) entering in the order T, A, S, B. Each entry is accompanied by a countersubject marked by a fragmented rhythm first heard in the basses underpinning the tenors.> (end quote)

This was correctly linked in the body of my introduction, which was inadvertently headed BWV 185, carrried over in error from the previous week. I think Dougs comments are worth pursuing, especially since BWV 24 is likely the first work actually conceived and composed by Bach in Leipzig, the fourth week of his first cycle (Jahrgang I). I am posting the BWV number correction again, to be sure the reference is clear.

David McKay wrote (June 22, 2011):
The reference to BWV 24 prompted me to play it and I have had a wonderful time exploring this fascinating cantata.

I've found the opening solo very uplifting. i love the interplay between soloist and obbligato

And I enjoy the "in your face" expression of Jesus' words to Do Unto Others as We'd Have Them Do To Us [the golden rule] in the chorus.

Then I was interested to read the score of the choral and see the SATB written on soprano, alto, tenor and bass clefs. Never noticed that before.

Thanks for putting it on my radar.

I hope to use this cantata in a U3A music appreciation program in October and November.

Peter Smaill wrote (June 24, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] "One of the most sterile things Bach ever wrote. The craftsman is present, the composer is not, and for that Neumeister's deadly dull libretto must be blamed". Thus wrote Whittaker's friend and fellow Bach enthusiast Alec Robertson. Though prasing the chorus and finale famous chorale, the condemnation of this work has always struck me as odd, and perhaps to do with repudiation of nationalistic sentiments.

"The unpromising first line of this Cantata" begins Robertson. But in fact there I find linguistic interest, in the word "gemuete". It is perhaps the only word in German which if put in a search engine produces (by frequency of occurrence) nearly entirely Bach examples. Alberta shows that it occurs 40 times in 34 works.

"Gemuethe" appears to me to have a very specific and hard-to-translate meaning. It likely originates as a specific term in the mystic Johannes Tauler, and occupies territory between "soul" and "mind". "Spiritual disposition" is a prolix attempt to capture the quality of the word as it is used from the middle ages up to the Baroque. It seems subtly different from the modern derivative "gemut" even though they are etymologically related.

The scholar Bernard McGinn in his "Harvest of Mysticism in Medieval Germany" writes thus:

""Gemuete" was a term familiar to medieval German mystics, one with a broad range of meanings within which individual authors had considerable freedom to mould there own understandings." He later sees Tauler as following Augustine in meaning by "Gemuete" the Latin word, "mens". But Tauler goes further. "Now we ought to consider what the "gemuete" is. It is much higher and more inward than the faculties, because the faculties receive their power from it; they are within it and have flowed forth from it. It is all of them, but is much higher, it is totally simple, essential and formal....It has a divinely formed, ineffable, eternal inclination back to God."

Thus this term really cannot be translated as "soul" (in any case, "seele") or "sense " (Sinn usually.) It recalls Gunther Stiller's comment on the Bach Cantatas to the effect that most Protestants consider you can have either the Word or Mysticism; but in Bach you get both. The frequency of occurence of "Gemute" in the texts is an avenue for enquiry by linguists .............

Delighted if any German language specialists have a view on this word, which the electronic age ties to Bach above all others.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 25, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Delighted if any German language specialists have a view on this word, which the electronic age ties to Bach above all others. >
Not an opinion from a German specialist, but I did notice the cantata title translated as an open mind in one source (I will try to recover it). Not necessarily precise, butrather satisfying nonetheless.

Another unrelated comment re BWV 24: those interested in the Solo/Tutti markings in the chorus should reference Brad Lehmans post in the BCW archives, regarding Rifkins comments on the topic.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 25, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Not an opinion from a German specialist, but I did notice the cantata title translated as an open mind in one source (I will try to recover it). Not necessarily precise, but rather satisfying nonetheless.>
From BCW archives:

<Peter Bright wrote (July 19, 2005):
Introduction: BWV 24

The cantata for discussion this week (18 July to 24 July-) is:

Cantata BWV 24
Ein ungefärbt Gemüte
(“An open mind”)> (end quote)

Perhaps this was original with Peter? I do not see another source.

Peter Smaill wrote (June 26, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks Ed. This confirms that "Gemuete" is indeed one of those German words that do not readily translate. Here the two words "ungefaerbt gemuete" are being conflated in one idea, the "open mind", more literally " an unstained disposition" . But "open mind" suits the English idiom better, even if implying a rather modernist outlook!

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 27, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Thanks Ed. This confirms that "Gemuete" is indeed one of those German words that do not readily translate. Here the two words "ungefaerbt gemuete" are being conflated in one idea, the "open mind", more literally " an unstained disposition" . But "open mind" suits the English idiom better, even if implying a rather modernist outlook! >
Perhaps unprejudiced disposition would come closest to a compromise between the original German and the modernist open mind?

I enjoy these details, thanks for stimulating the discussion!

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 29, 2011):
David McKay wrote:
< The reference to BWV 24 prompted me to play it and I have had a wonderful time exploring this fascinating cantata.
I hope to use this cantata in a U3A music appreciation program in October and November. >
Apologies for the delay in responding.

I agree that BWV 24 is a fine work. Older commentary to the contrary by early Bach scholars did not have the advantage of an understanidng of the chronology of the cantata compositions.

Can you remind us of the U3A mission? Reports on the result of using BWV 24 as a music appreciation example would be informative, as well.

 

Cantata BWV 24: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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

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Last update: ýJanuary 17, 2013 ý13:27:57