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Cantata BWV 25
Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of September 25, 2005

Santu de Silva wrote (September 25, 2005):
BWV 25: Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe - 14th Sundayafter Trinity

BWV 25: Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe
14th Sunday after Trinity

Epistle: Galatians 5: 16-24 (Walk in the Spirit)
Gospel: Luke 17: 11-19 (The healing of the lepers)

Orchestra: Cornetto, Trombone i, ii, iii, Flute i, ii, iii unis, Oboe i, ii, Violin i, ii, Viola, Continuo

[Mvt. 1] Chorus -- Full orchestra, including the three trombones:
"Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe"
(There is nothing healthy in my body)

The text is taken from Psalm 38, v3.

This is an incredibly moving chorus. The texture is thick and heavy, reflecting the thought of sickness -- but here it is an abstract sickness that is even harder to bear than mere physical frailty. The three trombones intone the well-known passion-chorale melody in counterpoint to the fugal choral parts, but interestingly, the allusion here is supposedly to the hymn "Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder . . ." [Alec Robertson],
which is sung to the same tune.

Robertson writes about the orchestral introduction:

"The despairing groups of three quavers, off the beat, are maintained by the orchestra for forty bars."

He continues,

"The first phrases [of the chorale] are reflected in the chorus parts in which 'threatening' (through Thy anger) is extended over four bars, first by the soprano and alto, then by the tenors and basses. At 'there is no peace for my sins' the orchestra is silent until the next entry of the chorale melody, and again before the closing bars. This is one of [only] three instances known, in the cantatas, in which the trombones are used other than with the voices."

[I believe I can hear a bassoon in Harnoncourt's continuo [3], a very effective instrumentation.]

[Mvt. 2] Recitative -- Tenor+Continuo:
'Die ganze Welt ist nur ein Hospital, wo Menschen, von unzählbar grosser Zahl und auch die Kinder in der Wiege, an Krankheit hart darniederliegen'
(The whole world is but a hospital, where men in uncountably great number, and also children in cradles, lie low in illness.)

[Here's a slightly different translation a friend of mine came up with:
The whole world is but a hospital, where lie countless men, and also children-in-the-cradle, laid low in illness.]

This recitative seems to set out the main thrust of the argument.

[Mvt. 3] Aria -- Bass+continuo:
"Ach, wo hol' ich Armer Rat?
Meinen Aussatz, meine Beulen, kann kein Kraut noch
Pflaster heilen, als die Salb aus Gilead
'
(Ah, where can I, poor man, obtain advice? My leprosy, my boils can no herb or plaster heal, except the Balm of Gilead)

A somber aria, its severity moderated only by the beautiful writing for the cello, which functions rather like an obbligato instrument. I love the word 'Beulen' for boils!

[Mvt. 4] Recitative -- Soprano+continuo:
"O Jesu lieber Meister, zu dir flieh ich'
(Oh Jesu, dear Master, to Thee I fly')

"A prayer to be made clean of leprosy" - Robertson

[Mvt. 5] Aria -- Soprano+strings+woodwind+continuo:
"Öffne meinen schlechten Liedern, Jesu, dein Genaden-Ohr"
(Open to my poor songs, Jesu, Thy gracious ear)

["Genaden" is apparently a poetic form of "gnaden", which may have been used to create a more singable text, or an extra syllable as needed.]

"At last, A beautiful aria," says Robertson, and indeed it is a delicately beautiful aria, with the 3 recorders very effectively accompanying the solo treble (Harnoncourt [3]). A couple of years ago I had taped this aria, just to play on long road trips, and it was the only familiar piece in the work (except that the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) seemed vaguely familiar). This aria truly brings healing at the end of the cantata, and the final chorale simply brings the work to a close:

[Mvt. 6] Chorale:
Ich will alle meine Tage rühmen deine starke Hand"
(I shall all my days extol Thy strong hand)

The last verse of Johann Heermann's hymn 'Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen (1630) set to its associated melody Louis Bourgeois's 'Ainsi qu'on oit le cerf' (1582).

(Wow! Who knew the French sing hymns, too! ;)

All in all an effective cantata, with three memorable numbers: the opening and closing choruses, and the lovely soprano aria (Mvt. 5). In spite of the gruesome subject-matter, it is treated in a way that makes sense. One can understand both the sensibilities of the times that made such a cantata work, as well as the sensibilities of the succeeding generation that must have found such themes unedifying.

P.S.

I have thoroughly enjoyed presenting these cantatas for you, and I look forward to the last one I shall be doing next Saturday/Sunday with a mixture of relief and regret!

I didn't realize how much the other presenters must have appreciated our responses to their introductory posts, until I found myself in the same position! The responses, especially from Neil Halliday and Tom Braatz who always came forward to answer a question, as well as several others, are herewith acknowleged with gratitude. (I do realize, however that, since we're discussing these works the second time around, many list members have already said all they have to say about most of them.)

Santu de Silva (Archimedes)
Math Sci
Lycoming College
Pennsylvania

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 25, 2005):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< BWV 25: Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe
Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity >
I downloaded the Leusink link [8], the recording starts with the second movement. Anyone else have that problem?

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 25, 2005):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< BWV 25: Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe
Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity
Epistle:
Galatians 5: 16-24 (Walk in the Spirit)
Gospel:
Luke 17: 11-19 (The healing of the lepers)
Orchestra: Cornetto, Trombone i, ii, iii, Flute i, ii, iii unis, Oboe i, ii, Violin i, ii, Viola, Continuo
[
Mvt. 1] Chorus -- Full orchestra, including the three trombones:
"Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe" >
The unusual scoring of the wind ensmble playing the chorale makes me wonder if this is not intended to be an allusion to city waits passing by playing chorales in a funeral procession. Is the chorale a funeral hymn?

Santu de Silva wrote (September 25, 2005):
Yes, I think (about the Menschen) we would probably use the phrase 'many people' or 'countless folk' (in English, to my mind 'folk' doesn't have quite the same connotation as Volk; it simply means 'people'); so how about this? (I'm cc-ing the list - - and list members: note that Len is not the one responsible for the earlier translations)

The whole world is but a hospital, wherein countless folk, and also children in the cradle, lie prostrate with illness.

I'm thinking that Prostration would convey the idea of 'laid very low with severe illness'.

Generally speaking, I suppose there never was any doubt as to the intention of the text; it was just a challenge to convey it accurately and idiomatically, allowing for the distance in time!

The translation in Alec Robertson was --as you saw--

"The whole world is but a hospital, where men in uncountably great number, and also children in cradles, lie low in illness."

Here the phrase about the children in cradles, rather than describing how young they are, seems to describe where they are lying in the hospital, and the phrase "lie low" couldbe construed to mean that they were hiding, which was not the intent at all! (I never noticed either fact until David Haley pointed it out to me, because somehow the meaning was clear.)

(Somebody should give us --you, David and me-- some credit for coming up with such a wonderful translation!)

Thanks,

>>> LEN CAGLE 9/25/2005 1:32:42 PM >>>
Hi Santu--"Menschen" is non-gendered; it means the same as the English "men," where one means "people" rather than just male persons. Also "hart" here modifies either "Krankheit," making it "severe illness," or "darniederliegen," meaning "laid very low." I would go with "severe illness."

2] Recitative -- Tenor+Continuo:
'Die ganze Welt ist nur ein Hospital, wo Menschen, von unzählbar grosser Zahl und auch die Kinder in der Wiege, an Krankheit hart darniederliegen'
(The whole world is but a hospital, where men in uncountably great number, and also children in cradles, lie low in illness.)

[Here's a slightly different translation a friend of mine came up with:
The whole world is but a hospital, where lie countless men, and also children-in-the-cradle, laid low in illness.]

Santu de Silva wrote (September 25, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling]
"Ah Lord, me a poor sinner
Blame not within thy wrath;
Thy solemn rage yet soften,
Else is my hope forlorn.
Ah Lord, may'st thou forgive me
My sin and mercy send,
That I have life eternal
And flee the pain of hell."

These are the words taken from BWV 135, and judging from the words, it very well could be a funeral hymn . . .

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 25, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Is the chorale a funeral hymn?<<
Here, rather explicitly, but no condescension implied, is a way to find out on Aryeh's marvelous site:

On the Bach Cantatas Website homepage, click "Cantatas"

Go down to 25 and click on 'Recordings'

Go to 'Text' and click on "Johann Heermann" (Mvt. 6) = the final chorale

At the bottom of the bio page, find 'Chorale texts used.' There are only 4 of these so begin clicking down the list:

click "O Gott, du frommer Gott"
Is BWV 25 included? No.

Go on and click the next one "Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen"

There it is: you have for the final chorale (Mvt. 6) in cantata BWV 25 the complete original chorale text in German and in an excellent English translation by Francis Browne. This will help to decide into which category the text belongs.

Now click on the melody used: "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" and you will see all the other places where Bach uses this melody. The history of the melody and associated melodies is very complex, but the examples from the scores will help anyone to obtain a better understanding of the various uses of the melody as well as finding out where else Bach uses the above chorale text "Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen."

Of course, for a short-cut, simply go to the ultimate destination directly:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale032-Eng3.htm

Alfred Dürr finds the use of the melody "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" at the end of the cantata a very conciliatory and enheartening gesture after the gloomy, brooding beginning to this cantata.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 25, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Alfred Dürr finds the use of the melody "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" at the end of the cantata a very conciliatory and enheartening gesture after the gloomy, brooding beginning to this cantata. >
I was referring the "Passion Chorale" played by the winds in the opening chorus (Mvt. 1). We "hear" it as a reference to the Passion because of its prominence in the SMP (BWV 244). I'm curious about what Bach's congregation "heard". If it was a traditional funeral chorale then the use of the archaic wind band might be a sympbolic funeral procession.

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 25, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>I was referring the "Passion Chorale" played by the winds in the opening chorus (Mvt. 1). We "hear" it as a reference to the Passion because of its prominence in the SMP BWV 244. I'm curious about what Bach's congregation "heard". If it was a traditional funeral chorale then the use of the archaic wind band might be a sympbolic funeral procession.<<
Sorry, I thought you were referring to the only specific chorale in the cantata and not to the implied, untexted reference in Mvt. 1.

Regarding the latter, since there is no text indicated and since the melody has a number of possible texts associated with it, it is worth listening to Alfred Dürr's opinion on this which is that he does not believe that it refers to the "Passion chorale" but rather to another alternate text "Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder" the first verse of which makes clear that it is a chorale text not associated with death, burial and funerals, and the like. It belongs to the category of chorales under the heading of "Von der Buße" ["On Penance"]: "Dear Lord, I am a sinner, do not punish me in your anger; lessen your anger, otherwise I will lose everything. O Lord, forgive my sins and be gracious and kind so that I might live eternally and flee from this hellish pain (that I am experiencing right now)" This fits the idea in Mvt. 1: sin has made mankind (and me included) sick because the Lord is punishing many who continue to sin. That is why my bones can not find peace and rest from all the torment you, Lord, have inflicted.

The recitative that follows defines the whole world as a hospital. The emphasis is upon illness that pervades everything and everyone. This is a call to do penance and for this Dürr's suggestion that the congregation is connecting the text of "Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder" with the untexted melody does make more sense than the emphasis upon illness as immediately related to dying,death, burials, and funerals.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 25, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Regarding the latter, since there is no text indicated and since the melody has a number of possible texts associated with it, it is worth listening to Alfred Dürr's opinion on this which is that he does not believe that it refers to the "Passion chorale" but rather to another alternate text "Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder" the first verse of which makes clear that it is a chorale text not associated with death, burial and funerals, and the like. >
Any speculation why Bach would use the very "antique" wind ensemble of flute (fife?), cornetto and three trombones in this movement? It's so unusual that I can't help but think it has a symbolic meaning. Did the city waits play outside Leipzig hospitals for the moral edification of the patients? Were there public processions during times of plague?

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 26, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Any speculation why Bach would use the very "antique" wind ensemble of flute (fife?), cornetto and three trombones in this movement? It's so unusual that I can't help but think it has a symbolic meaning. Did the city waits play outside Leipzig hospitals for the moral edification of the patients?Were there public processions during times of plague?<<
I did a search in the MGGI and the Grove Music Online, and this is what I came up with, for what this is worth:

Wind ensembles generally did not play at funerals. This might have been reserved only for very important and very wealthy individuals of which there were only a relatively small number. This means that the general populace would not necessarily associated wind music with funerals nor would they consider the sound 'antique' since it was a sound regularly heard playing chorales, in, etc. from church towers in Leipzig, for important occasions "Ratswechsel" (inauguration of new city council). The Stadtpfeifer were heard on grand celebratory occasions: anniversaries (foundation of the university, the Reformation, after peace pacts had been signed and the war declared over, etc.) Regarding the Leipzig Stadtpfeifer during Bach's tenure, their primary duty was 'abblasen vom Turm' (4 or 5 part wind music played from the various towers of churches in Leipzig on a regular basis, probably daily at certain times of the day.) In addition, their duties included: >>außerdem aber im Musizieren bei Universitäts-Feiern wie Promotionen, Magisterien, Lizentiaturen, ferner bei Wasserfahrten, Zunftschmäusen, Vogelschießen, Fischerstechen (seit 1714), ja sogar bei Galgenreparaturen bestanden<< from the article, 'Leipzig' in the MGGI (Bärenreiter, 1986) ["in addition their duties included playing for univeristy celebrations (promotions, the granting of the title of "Magister", the official granting of degrees (Master's, etc.) and privileges, also playing for 'Water Music' (festivals on the water), guild banquets, to accompany the hunting of birds (possibly to play for the hunters before they begin the hunt and when the quarry is displayed and the hunters are celebrated at the end of the day), to accompany or play similarly for fishermen who fish by stabbing or sticking the fish with a spear or other sharp object, and even on the occasion when the gallows have/has been successfully repaired"]

It is very difficult to imagine the Stadtpfeifer playing a funeral chorale at a public-square execution such as that which Bach is said to have witnessed in Leipzig.

No mention is made anywhere about playing before hospitals to entertain/uplift the spirits of patients who are suffering within its walls. (They could probably hear the "Abblasen vom Turm" since the churches were centrally located and the sound did carry well. There is no mention of processions in the time of plague (would this not only help spread the plague?).

Another chief source of income for the Stadtpfeifer was playing for weddings. For funerals (a subject already discussed on this list), a few Thomaner might accompany the body to the cemetary and sing a chorale at the door of the house and at the grave. But there is no report that the Stadtpfeifer would be involved in any way.

Generally, the associations that the people of Leipzig must have had in Bach's time with the Stadtpfeifer are of a positive nature and are grounded in actuality with a sound they could hear daily and on special, generally happy occasions. Remember also that they would be heard rather regularly in Bach's festive cantatas.

Michael Praetorius does not see anything at all 'sad' or 'somber' in the sound of trombones and fifes. The trombones are exquisite in creating wonderful harmony in consorts (instruments of similar or equal sound) because good players can immediately adjust the sound/pitch while flutes generally have trouble with intonation particularly in adjusting to organs that have to contend to various temperatures throughout the year. Fifes (Feldpfeiff) are even worse and should only be used together with soldier's drums. A trombone, according to Praetorius is to be preferred over the large, lower-sounding 'Zinck', again because of the intonation problems of the latter.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 26, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Generally, the associations that the people of Leipzig must have had in Bach's time with the Stadtpfeifer are of a positive nature and are grounded in actuality with a sound they could hear daily and on special, generally happy occasions. Remember also that they would be heard rather regularly in Bach's festive cantatas. >
This fascinating social context for civic music in Leipzig but doesn't seem to impact on the question of what that odd wind ensemble "means" to Bach. Any thoughts, Thomas?

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 26, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>This fascinating social context for civic music in Leipzig but doesn't seem to impact on the question of what that odd wind ensemble "means" to Bach. Any thoughts, Thomas?<<
Ulrich Prinz in his comprehensive work on Bach's instruments ("J. S. Bachs Instrumentarium" Stuttgart/Kassel, 2005) indicates that the following compositions require 3 trombones: BWV 4; BWV 23; BWV 25; BWV 28; BWV 64; BWV 68; BWV 101; BWV 118; BWV 121; Anh II, 26 and 4 trombones for BWV 2; BWV 21; BWV 38 and Bach's arrangement of "Missa sine nomine"

Kuhnau, Bach's predecessor, complained to the city officials about needing more instrumentalists to play the existing brass instruments (Kuhnau had sets of brass instruments in both St. Nicholas and St. Thomas Church. The Stadtpfeiffer had another set supplied for their own purposes stored in a municipal building (I forget which one). There was a plethora of brass instruments available and they were used so much that one report from Jan. 10, 1705 (Leipzig) has the city ordering 4 new trombones for the old ones which were given back to the instrument makers. Trombones which give the primary sound quality in BWV 25/1 are noted for their use in ceremonious situations (as Mattheson describes the use of this instrument.) These ceremonies rarely involved funerals as far as I can determine. Anything having to do with tradition and rites (celebration of anniversaries, etc.) could be 'underlined' by the use of brass, which included a good set of trombones.

Personally, I have difficulty coming to terms with the opinions of some commentators that recorders (Blockflöten) connote primarily an association with death and funerals. While such commentators concede the pastoral(e) quality of recorders, their emphasis appears to be particularly morose in regard to recorders. I am still looking in vain for some comment by Praetorius or Mattheson that might point out the 'death-related,' funereal quality inherent in recorders.

Perhaps, by having the trombones (and other instruments in the same group) playing the chorale, it was very much like hearing the "Turmmusik" ["tower music"] that could be heard in most of the central parts of Leipzig on a daily basis. The chorales played from church towers were also untexted, but they reminded the listeners of the words (usually the first verse) associated with certain chorale melodies. Bach may here be imitating this effect.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 26, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Perhaps, by having the trombones (and other instruments in the same group) playing the chorale, it was very much like hearing the "Turmmusik" ["tower music"] that could be heard in most of the central parts of Leipzig on a daily basis. The chorales played from church towers were also untexted, but they reminded the listeners of the words (usually the first verse) associated with certain chorale melodies. Bach may here be imitating this effect. >
I think you're right: the tower chorales were an admonition/warning/encouragement to Leipzigers to remember their faith in midst of daily mortality.

I think the effect is one of the finest moments on all of Bach's cantatas with the solid arching phrases of the brass in contrast to the tormented, fragmented phrases in the the rest of the orchestra.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (September 26, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The unusual scoring of thwind ensmble playing the chorale makes me wonder if this is not intended to be an allusion to city waits passing by playing chorales in a funeral procession. Is the chorale a funeral hymn? >
The scoring is exceptionally unusual for Bach as he could not often get trombonists let alone having even one----are your sure three and not two trombones and one Horn??. This suggest that someone must have been visiting. He also rarely used 3 Blockflutes. As far as the Oboes are concernedl Bach had occaisions to use up to 4 and they would often double on the d'amour and the da caccia. Incidentally, Bach was the inventor of the da caccia which has a large bore and rather coarse tone. It has been only within the past 4 years that musicologists have discovered just what an oboe da caccia is.

Neil Halliday wrote (September 26, 2005):
BWV 25: opening chorus (Mvt. 1)

The opening chorus (Mvt. 1) can be considered to consist of four sections, with each section ending with a superimposition of an instrumental line of the chorale melody (to which belongs the text "Ah, Lord, me poor sinner") from the wind-band. The first two sections have the first half of the text ("There is nothing sound to my body before your threatening"), with section 2 basically being a repeat of the first.

The third section has the second half of the text ("And is no peace in my bones before my sins"), and this is at first accompanied by a writhing continuo line alone, later joined by the violins and oboes just before the 3rd entry of the wind-band. Note that the choral fugal subject of this section differs from the choral subject of the first (two) sections, in that its incipit consists of repeated notes.

The 4th section (you guessed it) combines both the texts and (musical) subjects of the previous sections, in a kind of choral double fugue, ending with the superimposition of the last line of the chorale given by the wind-band.

Note that the continuo, at the start of the first two sections, has the incipit of the instrumental chorale, given in long notes. In the wind-band sections, the melody of the chorale is allotted to the cornetto and block-flutes an octave above, while the trombones have a 3-part harmonisation (the 3rd trombone doubles the continuo).

The text is a German translation of psalm 38, verse 3, meaning we are here dealing with the judgemental God of the Old Testament ("vor deinem Drauen") and this is reflected in the sombre magnificence of the music. The wind band definitely brings an apocalyptic, `day of Judgement' element to the music, undoubtedly Bach's purpose in employing this unique wind-band, in this chorus (Mvt. 1).

Robertson notes that this is one of three instances in the cantatas where the trombones don't double the voices, but I have not been able to find any other example. (Various people offered examples during a previous discussion but none met Robertson's criteria).

In Rilling's recording, the chorale tune itself, on the cornetto (or trumpet in his recording) and recorders, is rather weak, otherwise it's a fine recording. The earlier recording of Graulich sounds even better (from the first bit I have heard of it, at the BCW). Harnoncourt [3] (on the Zale site) seems to be unobtainable at present, and yes, Leusink's [8] opening chorus (Mvt. 1) also seems to be missing at present.

Santu de Silva wrote (September 26, 2005):
Tom Braatz replies, to Doug Cowling's persistent inquiries about the possible evocative features of the wind instrumentation of BWV 25:
"Perhaps, by having the trombones (and other instruments in the same group) playing the chorale, it was very much like hearing the "Turmmusik" ["tower music"] that could be heard in most of the central parts of Leipzig on a daily basis. The chorales played from church towers were also untexted, but they reminded the listeners of the words (usually the first verse) associated with certain chorale melodies. Bach may here be imitating this effect."
This sounds like a winner; perhaps the power of allusion was not as absolute as we imagine, and needed helping along.

In addition, I wonder whether the availability of musicians varied from week to week, and Bach capitalized on a windfall of brass players. This idea has been brought up before.

Santu de Silva wrote (September 26, 2005):
Ludwig wrote:
"Incidentally, Bach was the inventor of the da caccia which has a large bore and rather coarse tone. It has been only within the past 4 years that musicologists have discovered just what an oboe da caccia is."
This is amazing; I've seen this designation on dozens of recordings! But I am willing to believe that some other kind of oboe might have been used mistakenly.

John Pike wrote (September 26, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I downloaded the Leusink link [8], the recording starts with the second movement. Anyone else have that problem? >
TNo, because I have Leusink "complete" on CD [8], but cantata BWV 69 which I listened to last week had only 4 movements, and it started with the first recitative. Anyone know anything about this?

John Pike wrote (September 26, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It is very difficult to imagine the Stadtpfeifer playing a funeral chorale at a public-square execution such as that which Bach is said to have witnessed in Leipzig. >
There is an interesting article about Public Executions in Leipzig and Bach's Passions by Peter Williams in "Bach Notes", the newsletter of the ABS: http://www.americanbachsociety.org/Newsletters/BachNotes02.pdf

I think I know where Doug is coming from with his idea of the wind ensemble and funeral music. Take the wind ensemble in the funeral motet, BWV 118, for example. The wind scoring for this is most interesting, especially in the version which it is assumed was played in a funeral procession.

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 26, 2005):
Ludwig wrote:
>>Incidentally, Bach was the inventor of the da caccia which has a large bore and rather coarse tone. It has been only within the past 4 years that musicologists have discovered just what an oboe da caccia is.<<
This is certainly not what Ulrich Prinz ("J. S. Bachs Instrumentarium" [Stuttgart/Kassel, 2005] has determined from his research into this matter. The oboe da caccia which Bach used was an instrument that paralleled the "taille" (tenor oboe) with the the taille tending more toward colla parte playing and the oboe da caccia toward an obbligato used of the instrument (but this is only generally true.) Compared to and in contrast to the taille, the oboe da caccia was curved downward and had a flared bell (more like a trumpet) and sometimes made of brass, while the taille was straight and had only a small 'pear' ['Liebesfuß' = 'love-foot'] or slightly-flared bell.

Arguments about these two instruments (as to how they were used by Bach) have led to varying opinions which usually tend to over-generalize certain points. This is what Prinz has observed in Bach's works:

1. The taille is never required to play in pairs

2. The taille never appears as an individual instrument, but rather as part of an oboe 'choir' of which it assumes the oboe III part (along with the 1st and 2nd oboes.)

3. If both taille and oboe da caccia play in the same mvt. then the oboe da caccia appears as an oboe above the taille.

4. Most taille parts are colla parte and, for that reason, they do not appear with a separate line/staff in the score

5. The demands made upon the player of the taille are less than those for the oboe da caccia player

6. The taille is always notated in an alto clef, but in certain parts, the oboe da caccia appears in the G-clef (the usual soprano clef.)

7. In regarto range, there is no difference between both instruments (however, as noted, differences in notation do occur.)

There is an existing oboe da caccias made by Johann Heinrich Eichentopf [Leipzig, 1724.] It has a wide, brass bell at the end of it. There is no indication that Bach was involved in 'inventing' this instrument.

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 26, 2005):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>Robertson notes that this is one of three instances in the cantatas where the trombones don't double the voices, but I have not been able to find any other example. (Various people offered examples during a previous discussion but none met Robertson's criteria).<<
Ulrich Prinz ("J.S. Bachs Instrumentarium" [Stuttgart/Kassel, 2005]) has found only one other example and in this example, the brass players, in certain sections play colla parte with the voices. This other example is BWV 118. This late work was composed 'in great haste' for an open-air performance and later modified. The appearance of "Lituii" for the first time in Bach's life (1736/1737) is a musicological problem that has yet to be resolved with anything definitive. There is no agreement whether a horn or trumpet or even a clarinet is what Bach had it mind.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 27, 2005):
BWV 25 - Leusink [8]

The problem with BWV 25/1 was fixed. You can listen now to the complete recording of this cantata (including the marvellous opening chorus (Mvt. 1)) under the baton of Leusink at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV25-Mus.htm

Neil Halliday wrote (September 28, 2005):
BWV 25 bass aria (Mvt. 3)

The continuo of this aria is based on an attractive phrase that is four bars long, and which is repeated in an ostinato manner, with variation in the middle of the movement. The combination of the voice part with this continuo line is quite fascinating. The voice has a lovely melisma on "Arzt" (doctor, ie, Jesus) expressing wistful longing.

Harnoncourt [3] brings pleasing clarity to the cello part, but overall, this performance with Egmont is a little quiet or restrained, IMO.

Rilling's continuo [4] is thick and coarse-sounding, not helped by the 'raspy' timbre of the organ, while Huttenlocher's vibrato makes comprehension of the interplay between the vocal and continuo line more difficult than it should be.

Leusink [8] loses some of the syncopation in the cello line by seeming to ignore the ties on the 1/8 notes (cello line).

Ranking: Harnoncourt [3], Koopman [6], Leusink [8], Rilling [4].

John Pike wrote (September 30, 2005):
BWV 25

I have listened to Leusink [8], Rilling [4] and Harnoncourt [3]. I enjoyed them all. For me, the soprano aria (Mvt. 5) is the highlight in this cantata. I largely concur with Neil's remarks on recordings of this movement but I enjoyed Rilling's recording more than Neil's ranking would suggest he did. I found it full of joy and rhythm and some very nice instrumental playing and I warmed to it very much, notwithstanding the obtrusive soprano vibrato.

Neil Halliday wrote (September 308, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
< I enjoyed Rilling's recording [4] more than Neil's ranking would suggest he did >
John, my ranking (for what it's worth, following Aryeh's tradition of ranking several recordings) referred to the bass aria (Mvt. 3) only. I rate Rilling's opening chorus [4], joyful soprano aria (Mvt. 5), and final chorale (Mvt. 6) highly, with minor reservations.

John Pike wrote (September 30, 2005):
[To Neil Halliday] Sorry, once again, Neil, for misrepresenting your views. That's what comes of doing things quickly and trying to memorise (inaccurately as it happens) what someone else had written.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 25: Details & Complete Recordings | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýMarch 12, 2012 ý08:01:59