Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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

Cantata BWV 31
Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret
Discussions - Part 1

Discussions in the Week of April 15, 2001

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 15, 2001):
Background

This is the week of Cantata BWV 31 according to Pablo Fagoaga's suggestion. Before reviewing the various recordings of this festive and glorious cantata, I would like to give some personal observations.

Personal Viewpoint - Associations

This week I have also some associations, like those that I had last week, when we discussed Cantata BWV 6. It is probably unavoidable at this stage, since we have done quite a substantial way since the weekly cantata discussions had started. BWV 31 is number 72 in the raw of our discussions, and if we take into account that we plan to discuss all the 209 real Bach Cantatas of the 215 in the BWV list, it means that we have just past the point, which marks one third of our Herculean task. What are the associations? I have some:

a. Other Cantatas with similar subject
This cantata is called ‘Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret’ (The heavens laugh! The earth rejoices). I was reminded of two cantatas, which have already been discussed in the BCML. The first is BWV 110 – ‘Unser Mund sei voll Lachens’ (Let our mouth be full of laughter). The second is BWV 76 - Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes (The heavens declare the glory of God). In BWV 76 the instrumental introduction and the chorus are connected to one movement. But the introduction is ‘triumphant with the trumpets prominent, which leads one to expect the chorus will enter in full cry’ (quoted freely from Robertson), exactly as in BWV 31. We do not have percussion here, but this is most probably due to forces that were at Bach’s disposal in the time he composed and performed this cantata. In BWV 110 Bach uses similar forces to BWV 31 with 3 trumpets, timpani, etc. In BWV 110 the opening orchestral part and the chorus are also united to one movement. Furthermore, the orchestra part is an adaptation of the first movement of the D major Overture BWV 1069, as most probably the Sonata of BWV 31 is an adaptation from a concerto. But although the situations in both cantatas are very similar, I find that the music of the opening Sinfonia of BWV 31 is more suitable to the occasions.

b. Händel
The glory and the splendour of the opening Sonata, with the big sound of the trumpets and the timpani, could easily led the inexperienced ear to think that it was probably composed by Händel, Bach’s contemporary. However, hearing the ensuing chorus, one would easily identify that it was composed by Bach. The contrapuntal building of the ecstatic enthusiasm, layer after layer, bears Bach’s signature. On a second thought, hearing the opening Sonata again and again, I came to conclusion that it also has that special Bach’s characteristic, and this is the ability to be heard dozens of times, without being fed up the listener. Bach is the only composer to whose music I can listen endless times. Believe me, I know what am I talking about. I heard this cantata last week as homework to this review about 30 times!

c. Gardiner
This cantata, especially its first two movements, has the special rhythmic quality that John Eliot Gardiner is talking about in the interview which is included in the TV program about his recording of Cantata BWV 63Christen, ätzet diesen Tag’ (Christians, engrave this (glad) day). I can only imagine how a recording of BWV 31 by JEG could have been sounded. He recorded, of course, also this cantata during his Gargantuan Pilgrimage, but this recording is still laying in the vaults, waiting for the sponsor who will finance its release in CD form together with all the 200 Bach Church Cantatas that JEG recorded in Year 2000. I know that JEG is a controversial conductor regarding his Bach Cantatas recordings. That is probably the reason why he is the most discussed performer in the Performers section of the Bach Cantatas Website. Start looking at the page in the following address http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Gen1.htm and continue from there. But he believes in what he is doing, he is sincere in his intentions, and he is always interesting. Until his recording of BWV 31 see the light of the day, we have 8 (actually 7) recordings of this cantata to enjoy from. Each one of them is unique and together they show the many faces of Bach’s music.

d. Exclamation marks and question marks
During the translation of the text of this cantata into Hebrew (you can see the results in the following address: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV31-Heb1.htm ), I have noticed that this cantata is full of exclamation marks (12!) and question marks. The aria for Bass (Mvt. 4) has three open questions. Does this phenomenon should be reflected in the interpretation of the performers? I do not know!

Links to the original German text and to a good English translation also appear above.

Complete Recordings

I am aware of 8 complete recordings of Cantata BWV 31, and during last week I have been listening to them all! Hereinafter are my interim conclusions.

[3] Fritz Werner (1964)
[5] Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1974)
[7] Helmuth Rilling (1976)
[6] Hans-Joachim Rotzsch (1976)
[4] Kurt Bauer (Early 1970’s?)
I have only one word to say - AVOID.
[8] Ton Koopman (1994)
[9] Masaaki Suzuki (1997)
[12] Pieter Jan Leusink (2000)

Recordings of Individual Movements

[M-1] Helmut Winschermann (1968; Sonata only)

Review of the recordings

Although this cantata has many splendid moments, I shall limit myself to four movements only. The introductory section of this review is already too long and there are 7 recordings to review! The background for the first two movements is taken from Alec Robertson’s book – ‘The Church Cantatas of J.S. Bach’, and for the last two from W. Murray Young’s book – ‘The Cantatas of J.S. Bach – An Analytical Guide’.

Mvt. 1 Sonata
Instrumentation: See Scoring above.
“Bach draws all the forces available at Weimar for this Sonata and the Chorus that follows. The Sonata begins and ends with a unison outburst to illustrate the laughter of the heavens and the rejoicing of the earth. The movement points continually heavenwards.”

[3] Impressive and convincing Sonata comes from Werner and his orchestra. The volume is right, so are the balance between the instruments, the tempo and the movement. Am I missing something? Less seriousness perhaps.
[5] I do not know what did Harnoncourt want to achieve in his rendition. This is a static, fragmented and unfocused performance, which misses the whole situation. Did he want us to hear every exclamation mark? Based on the good reviews that he has lately got for his third recording of SMP, it seems than Harnoncourt has learned from experience and improved along the years. I hope to see him also re-recording some of the problematic cantatas in his cycle, BWV 31 for example.
[7] I like very much the Sonata as Rilling performs it, where I can find a lot of jollity, colours and enjoyment. And all the instruments are clearly heard.
[6] As could have been expected Rotzsch delivers ‘middle-of-the-road’ performance, where everything is done right, but nothing really excels. Hearing his rendition head to head with Rilling, whose approach is very similar, we can ‘see’ the differences. The main factor that I feel missing is some enthusiasm.
[8] Light and transparency chaKoopman’s rendition. He is introvert rather than extrovert, whispering where the situation calls to shout up loudly, as I think that the heaven and earth should be sounded.
[9] Suzuki’s rendition is the most 'Gardinerian' of them all. It is jumpy, full of rhythm, enthusiasm and ecstasy. While listening to him I could not continue sitting. I simply jumped from my chair and danced with them!
[12] Leusink proceeds with light movements and a joyous atmosphere. But these are not the heaven and the earth rejoicing. It is more like a small rural celebration. Also, there is too much focus on the percussion’s’ part to my taste.
[M-1] Winschermann’s rendition is simply a crime. So well-balanced, so charmingly played, so skilfully interwoven, the tension is gradually built… and then we are left in the air. Instead of the ensuing chorus, we are sentenced to hear another overture. By coincidence this is the opening movement of Cantata BWV 146, which is planned to be discussed in the BCML three weeks from now.

Mvt. 2 Chorus
SSATB; Instrumentation as No.1
“This is a rare instance of Bach’s use of five-part chorus. The laughter and the rejoicing are expressed in realistically florid phrases passing from part to part until all are engaged, vocal and instrumental, and the music shakes with mirth, spiritual and physical. The joyous onrush is then checked by an expressive adagio at the words ‘Who for Himself the grave for rest are chosen, the Holiest cannot decay’. Here, needless to say, brass and percussion are silent.”

[3] Werner curiously chooses half-OVPP approach (and this recording is from 1964!), by employing the solo soprano and alto singers to sing their appropriate parts. This approach is done with a lot of taste, because it gives extra clarity to the flow of the voices, while the jollity of this movement is not diminished.
[5] If we thought that Harnoncourt was bad in the first movement, comes the second one and it is even worse. Like Werner, he gives the soprano and alto parts to solo voices. But the boys’ voices are so unpleasant, that hearing them is simple misery.
[7] Rilling prefers to give all the parts to the choir. Through their singing you can hear the heaven and earth rejoicing, as the ‘florid phrases passing from part to part until all are engaged, vocal and instrumental’.
[6] The things that I wrote above about the opening Sonata in Rotzsch’s rendition could be applied also to the ensuing chorus. I have also to note, that the size of the Thomanerchor, splendid as they are, is too big to allow good separation between the lines. On the other hand, these are the heaven and earth the rejoicing, and it calls for big forces (I wrote this late at night, but then I got up in the morning, heard Rotzsch again with clear ears, and…). Hearing Rotzsch again alone on his own terms, nothing is missing. On the contrary, all the voices are clearly heard and the tension is wonderfully built.
[8] The lightness and transparency are continuing in the second movement of Koopman. In the liner notes it is written that he uses soprano and alto, but as far as I could hear, these are not solo voices but the choir. However, he employs small forces, which contribute to the clarity. I like this pleasant rendition very much, although I miss some volume and tension, which will reflect better the situation.
[9] A bold, energetic, enthusiastic and even spontaneous rendition from Suzuki grabs you at once and carries you away with it. You cannot stay indifferent; you must join them!
[12] Leusink continues the same direction he started in the first movement. This is very enjoyable rendition, but it is too humble in the expressions revealed and it does not gain momentum in the proceedings.

Mvt. 8 Aria for Soprano
Soprano; oboe, 2 violins (unison), 2 violas (unison), violoncello, continuo
“Spitta thought it strange that Bach should find delight in this text, which has changed in meaning from the happiness of Easter into the longing for death. This is indeed a reversal of the usual sequence (melancholy turning into joy) of the cantata librettos set by Bach heretofore. However, despite the constraint imposed by his libretto, Bach still manages to bring an optimistic, though not exactly joyful, conclusion out of this chorale aria and final chorale. The soprano begins her aria in an ecstatic mood of longing for death. Thereupon, she will see Jesus (immediately after her death, implied). She is accompanied by the tune of the final chorale, played only by the instruments. This resulting effect is like painting a scene of heavenly peace, superimposed on a spring landscape under the glow of the evening.”

[3] Agnes Giebel (with Werner) has a wonderful voice, which is not quite suitable for this aria, because it is too big, impressive and mature. She resembles more a mother comforting her little baby than a soul longing for Jesus. The playing of the instruments is slow and heavy, as in a cold and dark night. Nevertheless, this rendition still manages to be touching in its unique way.
[5] Things are getting better in Harnoncourt’s intermediate movements (No.3-6), performed by Nimsgern and Equiluz. The good part of Harnoncourt’s rendition of this aria is the playing of strings, which portray gently the ‘heavenly peace’. But the anonymous boy soprano is problematic, both in his quality of voice and his inability to convey the tender feelings, proposed by the text and the music. Yes, one can hear that he tries hard, but we are interested in results and not in trials. Aren’t we?
[7] As much as I am fond of Arleen Augér, here I was somewhat disappointed. She is over-expressive and somewhat mature for the task. The playing of the strings is also too earthy. Nevertheless, this approach could be valid, if we imagine the singer as an elderly woman in the twilight of her life, thinking of death as an earthy rather than heavenly occasion.
[6] Helga Termer (with Rotzsch), about whom I know nothing, has a slight vibrato in her voice, which is somewhat disturbing. Her interpretation does not go anywhere. The playing of the strings is vague and the picture they paint is not at all heavenly.
[8] The oboe that opens Koopman’s rendition of the aria is so tempting and the right atmosphere is created for the tender singing. In many of the previous weekly cantata discussions I found myself unpleased with Barbara Schlick singing, but here she excels. Her singing is full of nuances, feeling and gentle passion.
[9] Monica Frimmer (with Suzuki) performs her part smoothly and professionally, but with little involvement. I also find her timbre of voice somewhat unsuitable here.
[12] Ruth Holton (with Leusink) has the right voice for this aria and she gives it a delicate treatment. She starts with slight agony and pain, and changes into slight optimism and comfort. The strings here indeed are ‘painting a scene of heavenly peace’. This is a wonderful pure cradlesong for the final sleep.

Mvt. 9 Chorale
S.S. (unison) A.T.B.; trumpet, 3 oboes, taille, fagot, 2 violins, 2 violas, 2 violoncellos, continuo
“Bach’s treatment of this hymn is a work of art. The high trumpet parts, which embellish the lines, emphasize the journey to Heaven after death, where we will find eternal life. The image conveyed to the listener is that of soul floating upwards and stretching out its arms to the vision of Jesus, who waits to open Heaven’s gate.”

[3] The trumpet from above shows the way to the voices iWerner’s rendition, but the separation between the various lines is not enough clear to fully express the message of this chorale. They do not uplift, but stay on earth.
[5] The high voices are strongly heard in Harnoncourt’s rendition, as though they are carried along by the lower voices. But the warmth and feeling are missing altogether.
[7] Rilling has everything needed for good rendition of the chorale - good playing, warm singing, clarity of vocal and instrumental lines. And the most important thing is that we feel as if the soul ‘floating upwards and stretching out its arms to the vision of Jesus’.
[6] The disappointment from Rotzsch in the previous aria is compensated by the warm singing of the choir in the concluding movement, which gives you the feeling of coming home with your heart full of joy.
Suzuki gives clear and bold treatment also to the concluding chorale. But it is a little bit dry and lacks some warmth.
[8] The warmth, calmness and transparency of Koopman’s concluding chorale embrace you with pleasant feelings. But where in the second movement I found something missing, here it suits perfectly. In conclusion, I can say that although Koopman misses some of the possibilities of the cantata, his rendition is very unified, homogeneous, and complete within itself.
[12] The spontaneity and freshness of Leusink’s concluding chorale is captivating. However I would like it to have some more weight to be fully satisfactory.

Conclusion

Do I have to draw conclusions? I enjoyed most of the recordings of this cantata, because I found that each one of them contributed in its way to better understanding of the multi-faceted music of Bach. And still I was left with the feeling that there are more possibilities to this cantata not yet revealed!

And as always, I would like to hear other opinions, regarding the above mentioned performances, or other recordings.

Jane Newble wrote (April 16, 2001):
Aryeh Oron wrote (regarding John Eliot Gardiner):
< But he believes in what he is doing, he is sincere in his intentions, and he is always interesting. >
I absolutely agree. It is always so good to hear and read what he has to say about Bach and his music, as it always inspiring and full of enthusiasm, and, dare I say it... 'reverence'.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 17, 2001):
BWV 31 - Mvt. 1

If Aryeh can listen to this movement 30 times over a period of just a few days and not tire of this music, then the essence of Bach must certainly preserved in this piece, but what is it, where is it to be found, and how can it be described? I, too, could listen to this over and over again without getting tired of it, and that is why I thought I would try to investigate with musicological means, but also with much imagination, what really causes this reaction.

My assessment of the recordings will be added at the end, but first an aberration on my part:
This will be a discussion of only one short mvt. of BWV 31: the first mvt. entitled 'Sonata.'

Using the earliest, very likely the original conception that Bach had of this mvt., I will refer only to two contestants in this concerto grosso-like mvt.: the trumpets vs. the strings. This idea was prompted by a presentation I had heard many years ago of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, 1st mvt., as described by two sportscasters, who at first were not expecting much to come out of a musical contest involving a piece of classical music. But as the music continues, the excitement grows to the point where the oboe cadenza seems to stop all the action. In the soft part of the mvt., they almost think the game is over. The almost never-ending coda is the height of the greatest excitement. Purists abhor this type of treatment, considering it to be almost sacrilegious. As I found out in looking into the details of this mvt., there is much to be learned. Please forgive my aberration, in part caused by Harnoncourt's version of this mvt., but on the other hand, I would like to know if this type of description has helped anyone in coming to terms with this composition.

The trumpets are leading the pack since they have the volume and the type of musical figure, a fanfare, that suits them well. From the standpoint of volume and the fanfare nature of the music, they are absolutely in control of the entire body of musicians, and are very proud of it. Of course, the strings are a bit angry about having to follow the lead of the trumpets and feel like they have been put into a straight-jacket because they have to play exactly in unison with the trumpets, no exceptions allowed. After the final flourish at the end of the first section, the trumpets embark on a Bachian adventure: a canone all' unisuono (unison is what they do best, after all). The strings are only able to offer tiny three-note trills at this point as they are beginning to pick up steam. They are listening to the beautiful canon created by the trumpets who entered individually with the 1st, then 2nd, and finally 3rd trumpet (a hard act for them to follow, because they do not have the same power and volume that the trumpets do).

The strings follow their 'leaders', the trumpets, but not in the 'normal' way that was given to them as an example. No, insisting on their own individuality, it isn't the 1st violin copying the entry by the 1st trumpet, but rather the 2nd violin together with the continuo. After that the 1st violin has the theme. While this is going on the trumpets rest for a measure, then try to announce the original fanfare figure for just one measure, to see if the strings will get the hint, that it is time to return to the regimen of unison with the trumpets leading. The trumpets try a second time to announce the figure, but to no avail, because the 2nd violin has entered again with the theme but is leading it astray into another key, but this time the trumpets enter forcefully without any one-measure pauses in between, and they announce the beginning fanfare as if to say, "Ok, boys, that's enough for now, and since you can't get your act together, let's just round off this section, bring it to a solid conclusion with our fanfare that we did so well at the beginning, and call it quits." There's a rebellion brewing among the strings at being treated this way. What do they do? In the final cadence of the section, the trumpets end just as they did before, but the strings manage to modulate to a different key, now D-major, with the trumpets holding the interval of the seventh in that chord, a very weak position. The trumpets have been undermined at the very last moment, while thinking all the while that they had the situation under control. At the point when the key change is made, the string bass jumps up and down with sixteenth notes all the way, lording it over the trumpets. They are really enjoying their moments of glory that they have stolen from the trumpets. The trumpets are so completely flabbergasted by this audacious behaviour by the strings that they simply do not play at all for three whole measures. They are attempting to reconnoiter and probably thinking to themselves: "If you can't fight them, join them." During this pause by the trumpets, the strings are joyfully playing the canon theme first introduced by the trumpets. The strings have three separate entries, which are then followed by only two entries by the 1st and 2nd trumpets, out of which a meandering duet develops. Are the two trumpets losing themselves in this fanciful extension of their theme? The strings cautiously accompany this activity with the short anapaest (trill or turn) figure used earlier. At the end of their duet, the trumpets now lead the duet into another key (A-major), hoping perhaps to trip the strings up this time with a trick they had learned from them. But what happens? The string basses love this key too, and they jump all the way up and down the chordal structure to show their pleasure in this new development. Now it's the strings' turn to show what they can do withthe theme the trumpets had played for them. All the trumpets can do at this point, is to intersperse the conversation with the 3-note anapaest figure, this way they can still show that they are participating and haven't given up. However, the trumpets have added a new twist: the figure now consists of 5 instead of 3 notes, in other words, it is a lengthier embellishment than had been used before. It is an innovation. Will the strings 'pick up' on this change? Somewhere in this section, out of the blue, the bass announces the fanfare theme from the very beginning. What's he trying to do? The trumpets really frown on this sort of thing, a bass line trying to be a fanfare trumpet! This is unheard of! This is a preemptive strike! The trumpets want to end this with their own concluding fanfare, but the key is changed again by the strings. The trumpets once again have to 'go into a huddle,' to consider their options and try to lead the pack back to the main goal: the glorious, initial trumpet fanfare, so that they can again be established as the real winners in this contest. What ensues is the wildest chase that you can imagine. The trumpets apply more pressure on their opponents with their five-note theme, and when that doesn't seem to work, they even try the 6-note theme that usually finishes off any opponent. The strings succumb to this tactic as they play the canonic theme exactly as the trumpets want it to be. But wait, the basses don't want to go along with this either, instead they are trying to make the calls (the fanfare motif), a prerogative that belongs only to the trumpets. Any stupid fool knows that! The basses produce a real rumble before they are finally persuaded to come back and join the group for the final two sections that they had already rehearsed before. Order has been restored. A successful conclusion is in sight and everyone is happy again.

Bach, also, felt there was something worthwhile in this composition (the entire cantata), otherwise he would not have returned to it so many times during his lifetime. The KB of the NBA has a very lengthy and complicated report that demonstrates the changes Bach undertook with this cantata. Concentrating on just the first mvt., this is what we have: There is no physical evidence to indicate that this mvt. may have already originated in Bach's courtly period in Cöthen, but anything is possible as some sources have guessed (your guess is as good as anyone's in this case) that it might have been an instrumental piece of the type we know in the Brandenburg Concerti.

The first physical record is from the Weimar period just prior to 1715. The original form was the introductory movement to the cantata consisting of only two 'choirs' or groupings of instruments: 1) the trumpet choir (3 separate parts) + timpani and 2) the string choir (5 voices) including the continuo. These choirs contended with each other as the name 'concerto' would imply. The sound based on today's pitch would have been close to our D-major pitch, instead of C-major. Everything would have sounded brighter because it is essentially a tone higher than the version we hear today. Alfred Dürr even goes so far as to suggest that this movement ought to be transposed to D-major today, so that we can experience that more brilliant sound.

For a performance in 1715, Bach, possibly dissatisfied with the disparity of volume between the strings on the one hand and the trumpets on the other, decided to add an entire 5-voiced double-reed choir. Was he trying to achieve a better balance, or was he simply trying to increase the volume for a more spectacular display? In the score, very few notes of what had already been written down were changed in order to accommodate the range limits of the double reeds. All he essentially did was to double the string parts, so we are still left with two major groupings of instruments.

In Leipzig in 1724 for a performance of this mvt. (and the cantata), Bach was faced with considerable pitch and notational problems as he converted from the previous 'Chorton', that he had composed for previously, to the pitch level prevalent in Leipzig, but following his own statement: "es muß alles möglich zu machen seyn" = 'anything is possible, and you should be able to figure it out so that it will work,' he was forced to reduce his forces to only trumpet and string choirs. In 1724, he added a single 1st oboe part (to duplicate the 1st violin), and in 1731, the 2nd oboe was added similarly with a bassoon now reading from the continuo part, and in 1735, he completed the oboe choir (again!), perhaps as he remembered the earlier Weimar version, or as the instrumentalists became available to him in Leipzig. (Remember the student instrumentalists that he had to work with in Leipzig!) The 1st mvt. is entitled 'Sonata' with the tempo designation "Allegro" and consists of only 68 measures in 6/8 in the key of C-major. From a very simplistic standpoint, one could say that we have a basic ABA pattern with the first unison passage of 6 measures once again repeated in measures 62 to 68 at the very end, but closer examination will reveal that the breakdown is more involved, and that much more is actually repeated using a mirror-type frame enclosure:

A = 1-6=(Measures) Fanfare
B = 7-61 Development
A = 62-68 Fanfare

Becomes:

A1 = 1-6 Fanfare
A2 = 7-17 Canonic (fugal)
B = 18-50 Development
A2 = 51-61 Canonic (fugal)
A1 = 62-68 Fanfare

where the A2 sections are exact copies of each other. This leaves us with 50 unique measures in the entire piece! A wonderful economy of means while simultaneously providing a structural framework that 'looks inward' from both ends of the piece.

What is in between might be termed the 'development' section where Bach moves away from the basic C-major foundation upon which everything rests. On closer examination even more details become apparent. The key figure and rhythmic pattern is anapaest in nature. The music begins on the second beat of the measure with two detached eighth notes of the same pitch followed by another eighth note that has the main beat on the same note, but then the change occurs with two sixteenth notes that jump to other parts of the C-major chord ending on a higher note before returning to the basic C note that began this figure. This jumping upward in sixteenths is the 'jumping for joy' motif. Let me try to rephrase this without actually showing you the key figure in the score, a figure that is extremely easy to recognize by ear alone: The key figure begins on the off-beat with an anapaest-type of rhythm (the two unaccented eighth notes are frequently performed staccato on the recordings, although Bach gave no special indications to that effect) which is followed by an accented eighth note, then two sixteenth notes, and finally two eighth notes with the last receiving a strong accent. With this figure Bach goes up and down the C-major chord. When he returns to the point where he had started, there is a final flourish of 14 sixteenth notes to end this fanfare section.

Now let's define the features and activities that Bach included in the various sections of this very compact mvt. I found 7 sections as follows:

Section 1 1-6 (measures) The trumpet fanfare with all the instruments in unison. The key figure already described moves up and down the C-major chord and ends with the faster moving 14-note flourish at the end.

What does this germinal key figure contain that influences and unites it with the sections that follow it? 1) The rhythmic pattern (two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth that resemble an embellishment such as a trill or turn. 2) The upward and downward movement on a specific chord. 3) The upward moving barrage of sixteenth notes in quick succession. 4) The C-major chord is firmly established as home base.

Section 2 7-17 The trumpets introduce a new theme that is treated can, after which the strings attempt to repeat the same theme but lead away from the firm C-major base in the last half measure.

Here are the features of this section: 1) The three canonic entrances of the individual trumpet parts, each time beginning on the note G. 2) A very short three-note pattern (referred to above as a turn or trill) is played by the strings as an accompaniment to the trumpets' canon. 3) When the trumpets have finished their canonic entrances, they immediately follow with one measure of the initial trumpet fanfare (the key figure). After a measure pause, they repeat it once more, and finally they repeat the last 4 measures of section A1. 4) While the trumpets are beginning to repeat the fanfare theme, the strings imitate the trumpets' canonic theme, but not always on the same note, but once, in the 2nd violins, it is a sixth higher, then it eventually lands in the bass where it becomes a very powerful statement. 5) At the very last moment (the second half of measure 17), in the final cadence of this section, the strings modulate to D-major while the trumpets are still on the final C of their fanfare. This is the crucial turning point leading into the 'development' section.

Section 3 18-26 The trumpets have a long three-measure rest (this only occurs once more in measures 48-50, during which the strings continue to develop the canon theme. The trumpets enter once more with the canon and extend it into a duet, which is brought to a halt on another strange cadence. 1) The trumpets have three measures rest. 2) The strings pick up the canon theme entering three times, each time with a darker string colouring until it finally comes to rest in the bass. 3) The trumpets try to present their canonic theme, but only two trumpets succeed in carrying this off. They extend their effort longer than they should in a duet mode. 4) A cadence causes another unusual twist to occur.

Section 4 27-32 The strings once again state the canon theme, while the trumpets are in an accompanying mode. 1) The strings have just modulated to A-major, while the two trumpets, whose long duet has been terminated, are left holding on to what sounds almost like a dissonance. 2) The strings present two entrances of the 'trumpet' canon. 3) The trumpets accompany with short 3-note answers that sound like a turn (derived from the key figure mentioned above).

Section 5 33-50 This is the section containing the greatest amount of chaos in the entire piece. Except for those two sudden key changes by the strings, everything had been relatively calm and organized until now. Now we have a real conversation between the 'choirs.' 1) The strings, in the bass, announce the fanfare theme in E-major. 2) The trumpets extend their accompanying 3-note theme to 5 notes, which the strings then quickly answer. 3) The trumpets have another major 3-measure rest before attempting a new 6-note figure, which the strings do not imitate. 4) The strings now enter with the canon strictly on the same note (the basses an octave lower), 5) The bass in the strings (measure 39) begins the initial trumpet fanfare on A-minor instead of C-major and attempts to repeat it at different times with short breaks in between, 6) What follows in the bass (strings) is the longest expansion of the 14-note barrage at the end of section A. (These barrages of jumping sixteenth notes are very reminiscent of Bach's organ works, in places where the pedal takes over completely.) Eventually this modulates back to C-major while the trumpets rest.

Section 6 51-61 This is the exact repeat of section A2 above.

Section 7 62-68 This is the exact repeat of the unison fanfare section at the beginning (Section A1).

Oh yes, the recordings, I almost forgot this most important aspect for listeners and potential purchasers of the cantatas.

Here is a listing according to actual pitch levels. Remember that the higher pitch is supposed to be more brilliant:
[12] Leusink comes in at the lowest pitch: B
[7] Rilling has a standard pitch: C
[9] Suzuki and [8] Koopman: C#
[5] Harnoncourt: D ***the winner for being the most authentic in pitch level, as recommended by Alfred Dürr.

Tempo:
[12] Leusink - much too fast, sounds rushed
[7] Rilling - moderate speed, energetic ***enjoyable tempo, not rushed
[9] Suzuki and [8] Koopman - very deliberate, slightly slower than Rilling ***also enjoyable, with 'room to breathe'
[5] Harnoncourt - very slow with definite tempo problems

[7] Rilling - a very massive, direct sound, but well worth hearing. Single criticism - could not hear the trumpets clearly all the time (did the audio engineers work overtime on this one?

[8] Koopman - all the instruments are well-balanced (no squeaky violins here)

[9] Suzuki - same as Koopman, but with the addition of those wonderful acoustics that add the final touch of realism.

[5] Harnoncourt - has the loudest timpani, the squeakiest violins (that sound like a grade school orchestra playing for their parents) with the held notes dying out prematurely because the bow was 'running out', and, well, the trumpets simply have to be heard in order to believe them (IMHO the worst I have ever heard on a recording - too much attention is drawn to them, wondering whether they will simply survive this very short mvt.) Obvious ritardandi. What is HIP about this performance? What's good about this performance (besides the high pitch)? I could hear everything in the score and imagine the type of contest or struggle that I wrote about above including the blustery basses, the screeching violins and raucous, uncontrolled trumpets. It is a real battle or contest between the instrumental groups, the conductor and his musicians, the recording and the listener.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 19, 2001):
My discussion of BWV 31 Recordings Mvts. 2-9

The order within each group of recordings does not imply any sort of rating. The name of the conductor identifies the recording.

Mvt. 2

[12] Leusink: So far I have only heard about three or four of the cantatas from this set. I must admit that I am having great difficulty coming to terms with the choral sections whenever I hear them. From the very beginning, I noticed an element that disturbed me sufficiently, in order to 'get under my skin.' For that reason I have listened to this recording at least six or seven times for over a week now. (I know that that does not compare favourably with Aryeh's thirty times, but at least it is a good beginning.) I had hoped that I might become accustomed to a 'new' sound that I might eventually, over a period of time, begin to like, but to no avail. In my frustration, as I noticed that my negative feelings about this recording were increasing, rather than subsiding, I decided to investigate the cause of my problem: the Buwalda-type singing that simply did not blend well with the other voices. Compared to the other voices in the choir, this type of voice overshadowed the others in volume and with a somewhat unpleasant characteristic that I can only specify as forced or very constricted. There was something in this type of voice that sounded more like the yelping of American Western cowboys. I then read about falsetto singing in Sweden ('kulning') where the muscular apparatus of the larynx is very much constricted. "Gesänge dieser Art verbinden häufig Viehlockrufe mit freischweifend melismatischer oder auch liedhafter Melodik und stehen dem alpinen Kühreigen nahe." MGG 12,363 ="Songs of this type frequently combine the sounds used to call animals with freely moving melismatic passages or with song melodies that closely resemble an Alpine cow-herd's melody." Yodellingalso makes use of this type of falsetto singing. Then I also read about the castrati (preferred by Caccini) and the falsettists (preferred by Viadana) at the beginning of the 17th century. But I also remembered the wonderful recordings I have of the group called Chanticleer with 14 male voices. The highest voices, which do sound like a soprano, are listed as 'contertenor.' Another group called 'Singphoniker' has only 6 male voices, the highest voice is listed as 'tenor,' but does sound rather high to me. Then there is the group called 'The Sixteen" (Christophers) of which I have recordings of major works by Bach. They never gave me the problem that I have with Leusink's choir. Who sings the high parts there? Soprano: 6 Females and Alto: 3 Males and 1 Female. My problem, for now, has been solved by a quote from 'The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians,' 6,375: "Only in England has falsetto singing enjoyed an uninterrupted tradition, particularly in cathedral and collegiate choirs." This, for me, seems to imply that the problems we hear in the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt series and, as far as I can determine from only hearing a few Leusink cantatas, is with the singers and not with the listeners. Also, I have not forgotten the sound of the Thomanerchor as a reference, even though their performances are not always what I would consider 'inspired' with enthusiasm. The trumpets sound too distant in Leusink's recording to inspire sufficient Easter morning jubilation.

[5] Harnoncourt: If anyone really studied and performed the music well with great enthusiasm, it was the Vienna Choir Boys, only the sopranos and altos. Nothing else in this recording measured up to their performance here in intonation and energetic, exciting delivery, despite a few mistakes here and there, poor entrances, sliding to the note, etc. Unfortunately no one else was able to compete with these 'prima donnas.' The tenors and basses were weak and unclear and simply could not offer sufficient support. Their sound was muffled. Such a disparity between voices! The intensity, concentrated on the choir boys, is lost somewhere in the middle section, after which a recovery is very difficult. The final touch to this movement is given by the instruments. Had the trumpets in the final section played this for Gottfried Reiche to hear his opinion on whether they were good enough for playing any music by Bach, he probably would have answered using words that could not be repeated here.

[8] Koopman: The tempo is very fast, thus forcing everything to be sung lightly at half voice and, in doing so, depriving the movement of an essential dignity. Try saying to yourself quickly and softly, "the Creator lives," then you will have the essence of this interpretation. It does not matter how well the vocalists and instrumentalists sing and play, which they do, without a doubt, the effect is not of a truly momentous occasion, but rather of a lighter entertainment, a lighter feeling of joy, with a certain lack of conviction. The bass line is very light throughout.

[9] Suzuki: This performance resembles Koopman's with the exception that the vocalists sing with a fuller voice. This is at least an improvement over Koopman.

[7] Rilling: After the wonderful, 1st mvt. performance, I was hoping to hear something similar here. Yes, the trumpets were jubilant, the instrumentalists generally were fine, and the tempo was not rushed, but the choir was a disappointment. It is at this point, that I usually have to consult the accompanying booklets for information. The choir is Indiana University Chamber Singers (I assume this means Bloomington, Indiana, which has an excellent music school). Although this group may consist of trained singers, being prepared for, or already involved in a professional career in music, it is obvious that even the respected, experienced Rilling is unable to overcome with a few rehearsals the strong individual vibratos, particularly in the sopranos and replace the typical opera house chorus sound with a sound more befitting a sacred cantata by Bach.

Mvt. 3 and Mvt. 4 Bass

[9] Suzuki: Kooy is excellent here. Diction and expression leave little to be desired.

[7] Rilling: Schöne, although somewhat more operatic than Kooy, gives a sense of real power as he uses his full voice. Also very expressive.

[12] Leusink: Ramselaar is also very good, but less energetic. He seems to be holding his voice back as he sings.

[5] Harnoncourt: Nimsgern - a power-house performance by a veteran opera singer. He is in command of everything.

[8] Koopman: Mertens shows his usual excellence to remain near the top. The tempo of the aria is slower than the others.

Mvt. 5 and Mvt. 6 Tenor

[12] Leusink: van der Meel treats the aria with a lighter touch, perhaps due to the nimble, dance-like treatment that Leusink gives this piece. As a result the aria becomes jumpy and the words he sings lack conviction. The lower part of his range is very weak.

[5] Harnoncourt: Equiluz sounds brighter and sings with more conviction. The tempo is slower than Leusink's. Harnoncourt's treatment of the bass is heavy, not even bothering to hold back when the sections marked 'piano' occur, as a result this excellent vocal rendition is undermined by the lack of sensitivity on the part of the conductor. My favourite part here is the final downward octave scale on the words, "Christi Gliedmaß" where each note is a 'pearl on the string', not a fast embellishment 'to run through as quickly as possible.' This means a full voice on each note and not cheating the listener from experiencing the importance of this phrase!

[8] Koopman: de Mey sings everything at half-voice. The accompaniment is sensitive to accommodate the voice, which also has problems producing the lower notes, which are not loud enough.

[9] Suzuki: Türk is also weak in the lower part of the range. The tempo is faster than Koopman's. The voice sounds higher than the part shows (this is a quality of the voice).

[7] Rilling: Kraus is my least favourite recitative singer (I would never want to hear him do the evangelist in one of the passions). Just listen to how he attacks the word, "Auf!" Kraus never fails to surprise me when he sings an aria after a recitative. Suddenly he becomes one the best tenors that I have heard sing the aria. He has the ability to 'nail' every note without cheating (cutting back on the volume of the voice, that many singers do not even have to begin with) no matter how fast the melisma is (there is no time for Kraus to inflict his vibrato on these notes.) The tempo is slower, more deliberate, but nevertheless a strong affirmative feeling is exuded. The strings play much more legato. He also sings 'each pearl' on "Christi Gliedmaß" with a full voice.

Mvt. 7 and Mvt. 8 Soprano

[7] Rilling: Augér treats the recitative the same way that some other famous sopranos (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf) would: the higher she has to sing, the angrier the voice becomes. The recitative is mainly about an individual's resurrection. There is no reason for this tone of voice here. The accompaniment to the aria has a very heavy bass. When Augér reaches for the higher notes (which really are not that high for a soprano), it tends to sound strained, and as she strains, the voice becomes louder, and unfortunately often angrier in its expression.

[9] Suzuki: Frimmeprobably has a small voice, as do many current Bach sopranos, and it does not help when the bass line is strongly emphasized. The tempo is rather fast, which helps a small voice to 'trip over' or 'lightly touch' certain notes, but when it is time to produce a high note properly, the voice becomes very narrow and the notes sound forced.

[8] Koopman: Schlick sings even less with a full voice than Frimmer does. At certain points in the aria, Schlick becomes almost inaudible. I can see the notes in the score, but can hardly hear them. She has a sotto voce style of singing. She does strange things with her voice that I find uncomfortable to listen to. This is a voice that I have difficulty becoming accustomed to. The instrumental accompaniment is excellent.

[5] Harnoncourt: Unnamed Boy Soprano has a clear, trumpet-like voice that I enjoy hearing on an Easter morning, as long as it is in tune, which this boy certainly is. The aria's fast tempo does not fit the text, but then Harnoncourt was probably worrying about having the boy breath too frequently after the longer notes. There are beautiful effects created by the interplay and the timbres of the oboe and voice.

[12] Leusink: Holton does not sing 'at full voice' or perhaps does not have a full voice, since her voice sounds more like that of a sensitive, timid boy's voice. The loud bass accompaniment overshadows what little volume she has when she is in her lower range. Otherwise a very enjoyable performance, although not as positive as that of Harnoncourt's soprano.

Mvt. 9 Chorale

The problem here is making that difficult descant provided by the 1st violin and 1st trumpet sound grand and magnificent and not feeble with intonation problems. An example of the latter is provided by Harnoncourt [5]. Suzuki's [9] and Koopman's [8] versions are too thin to reflect the magnificence of the chorale. Leusink's [12] trumpets throughout seem very distant, so they are not much help here either. That leaves Rilling [7] with the trumpets, but without a choir that can measure up to any of the others.

Conclusion

This must be a very difficult cantata to perform. We know that Bach had a high opinion of this composition, but thus far, during the 'recording' age in which we live, there still is no completely satisfactory performance available to us. Will Herreweghe or Gardiner (or any other highly regarded conductors of Bach's cantatas give us such a performance without repeating all the mistakes that the others have made? Will Gardiner give us the fastest-ever version of "the Creator lives?" How will Herreweghe approach this cantata? With his usual insight and sensitivity? Meanwhile we can still pick and choose selections from those recordings that exist and imagine what this cantata could really sound like.

Andrew Oliver wrote (April 22, 2001):
The two recordings of this cantata which I have are those by Harnoncourt [5] and Leusink [12]. I also have the Winschermann [M-1] recording of the sinfonia. As regards the opening movement, there is a wide difference both in style and tempo between the recordings. Leusink's lasts 2.16, Winschermann's is 2.43, and Harnoncourt takes 3.12. Personally, of these three, I like the Winschermann best. Everything about seems right - tempo, relative volumes of different instruments, expressive interpretation and dynamics, but most of all, I like the sense of interplay and reaction which exists between the different instrumental groups. With some recordings (speaking generally, not only about this sinfonia), all the parts may be heard at the right times, all the notes may be right, nothing specifically wrong, and yet there doesn't seem to be any cohesion about the performance. That is not the case with Winschermann's recording of this number; there is a definite feeling of interaction, of one voice speaking and being answered by the next. I am not saying that this not exist at all in the other two recordings. It certainly does, but Winschermann's is so well balanced and has such energy and life that it stands in a class of its own.

It is difficult to say which numbers of this cantata I like best, because it is all so good, but I do in particular like the tenor aria, the soprano aria, and the closing chorale. I like both renditions of the first of these. The diction of both Equiluz (Harnoncourt) [5] and van der Meel (Leusink) [12] is clear, and both interpret the part well, though I think I prefer van der Meel's less dramatic approach. On the other hand, I like Harnoncourt's more weighty instrumentation; Leusink's, though very pleasant, seems a little too lightweight. The one feature I like most, in both recordings, is the sound of the violin dancing up and down the scales.

I don't dislike the sound of Harnoncourt's [5] boy soloist at all, except that his words do not sound very clear to me. As I have said numerous times before, I think that Ruth Holton [12] is ideally suited for the soprano arias in Bach's sacred cantatas, and this one is no exception. Leusink made a very fortunate choice with her in this role.

The chorale melody is quite plain, but Bach transforms it by adding the independent obbligato violin part, to bring a delightful cantata to an interesting close.

 

BWV 31… a question

Boyd Pehrson wrote (November 8, 2002):
Toño Kolias Wrote:
< Unfortunately during my trip I was not able to do what I like most.. listening to "my" music, so to welcome myself home I had to choose one CD between so many! Difficult? No, not at all... I took straight away cantata BWV 31: Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret, I guess that Bach had to drink something else than coffee to create that "explosive" coro :-). By the way I did read sometime somewhere (my memory fail even more than my pc) that Harnoncourt´s version [5] is not too good..any opinion? >

I'm happy that you like Cantata BWV 31 so much. I would like to reply to your question, but I would need more specific information. Who is the critic and where can their comments be found? Was the issue with one or more of the specific and unique "problems" inherent in that cantata and Herr Harnoncourt's treatment of those issues [5]? If you can provide more specific information it will help to focus on a proper reply. I would not like to assume you want an opinion on a general or vaguely defined issue.

Toño Kolias [Tenerife - Canary Islands] wrote (November 20, 2002):
[To Boyd Pehrson] First of all I'd like to apologize for such a slow reply, but my pc crashed again just after I sent my last mail...many shooting stars have fallen since then! Now I'll try to answer your question regarding the critics I did read about cantata BWV 31. Finaly after a long search I found the sources of such "remarks" about that particular cantata. The book is called J.S Bach - Discografia recomendada. Obra completa comentada. by Enríquez Martínez Miura. He says as follow:... Los muchachos del coro, principalmente los solistas se encuentran con problemas insolubles de tesitura: (The choir boys, mainly the soloists faced themselves with insoluble problems of tesittura). In my own opinion the wienner sangerknaben were in those days (1974) very "fit", were not they?. So, as I said in my previous mail that particular cantata is another of my "love one" (to be frank I have many) so, I would like very much to know your opinion in both Harnoncourt version [5] and other recordings in order to purchase it/them. Have this cantata been recorded by any other boy choir?. Now, I would like to thank Aryeh for that wonderful interview whI did enjoy very much indeed. Bravo! I cannot understand why Panito having such a unique voice was used to record ONLY: 9 "songs" as a soloist in his whole career (recit. BWV 163- aria BWV 163 - recit. BWV 167 - duetto BWV 167 - recit. BWV 171 - aria BWV 177 - recit. BWV 178 - Aria Missa Si menor : Qui sedes ad dextram Patris - Aria Missa en Si menor: Agnus Dei) plus his " Es is vollbracht" (a sample that has to be send to space as a proof of "perfection"...or was he send out of space to us ? :-) ). Am I missing any other of his recordings?. Before I go to bed I´d like to apologize again for my delay and wish you all a g´day!

P.D I did try to used others pc to send my mails to the groups with no results :-( .....now you know why my pc broke so often! :-)

Boys Pehrson wrote (November 20, 2002):
[To Toño Kolias] Your critic is very right if he indeed says "se encuentran con problemas insolubles de tesitura" or insoluble (unsolveable) problems of the tessitura. He is not necessarily pointing out inadequacies among the singers, for the key here is that any singer will have problems with this tessitura. This problem is inherent in this Cantata due to the way pitches were assigned in Bach's day. Harnoncourt is justified in his approach of his recording of Cantata BWV 31 [5]. The unsolveable problem of pitch is left 'unsolved' by Harnoncourt here, who tunes violins to original (Chorton) pitch- up a minor third, taking sopranos up along with it. Some critics decided this approach was too "doctrinaire" for modern tastes. Those that attempt to reslove the problem for us (Rilling [7]) merely force "the problem not to exist" somehow as my good friend once said it.

The Harnoncourt approach expresses two things - Harnoncourt's genius in applying the best solution that maintains the interesting features of this situation, and Bach's genius in exposing the difficulty in what it takes to create his Cantatas- under what conditions. The Harnoncourt recording is of great value, and is not "doctrinaire" by any means.

The critics of that Vol. 9 of the Teldec series which contains the Harnoncourt recording of BWV 31 all originally expressed excellent praise for it. These, according to the old (complete) Maleady Index to Record Reviews of 1975, include: High Fidelity, Gramophone, American Recorder, Music Journal, Records and Recording, and New Records, who all gave the Vol. 9 a rating of excellent. The Sunday Times of London is shown in Maleady as giving it only a rating of "good", but I read that STL article and author Felix Aprahamian calls it a musical treasury. He notes the organ obbilgato in BWV 31, and calls it sparkling. This too is what I would call an excellent review. Thus, the critics at the time this Teldec Vol. 9 came out fairly enjoyed the work. I think you have a real treasure there in Harnoncourt's version (to borrow the London Times reviewer's words). But it is your decision to know what your ears tell you is right for you. Yes the Vienna Boys were in top form in their singing of that BWV 31!

Regarding "Panito's" lack of being used... his comments show, as far as I can see, that once we give boys the chance to sing (especially boy altos) they will provide some of the most endearing performances for our recordings and stages. His performances are a great demonstration of what we missed in that Teldec series with Harnoncourt and Leonhardt using counter-tenors instead of the unique sound of boy altos...a sound that is not replicated by girls, women or men. I hope that someone will record the cantatas again using more boy altos along the way.

Juozas Rimas wrote (November 20, 2002):
Toño Kolias wrote:
< wonderful interview which I did enjoy very much indeed. Bravo! I cannot understand why Panito having such a unique voice was used to record ONLY: 9 "songs" as a soloist in his whole career >
I think the answer is given in the interview and the answer is simple – Paul Esswod :) [5]

To my mind, Harnoncourt's cantatas cycle would be MUCH better with another alto than Esswood. He had an exceptional tenor (Equiluz) and quite good basses but Esswood's ubiquity is tiring... :(

Boyd Pehrson wrote (November 20, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] I cannot say why I never tire of hearing tenor Equiluz sing Bach, his voice embodies "Bach" for me. Esswood (as "alto") lacked depth in his tone, and on high end seemed shrill at moments, and a bit boring on the low end of the scale. With flauto traverso and its richness, this was not the best mix of instruments. Boys singing alto from chest to head would have generated a richer tone quality to match the baroque instruments. One can compare the Esswood/Panito & Christian Immler differences on Teldec Vol. 39, where both Esswood and the boy singers appear variously in Cantatas BWV 164-169.

Johan van Veen wrote (November 20, 2002):
[To Boyd Pehrson] What matters is which singer is best suited for the job. Sometimes that could be a male alto, sometimes a boy alto. I think generally speaking Paul Esswood's interpretation was quite good, but the problem is his voice as such, in particular the constant tremolo. I much preferred René Jacobs to him.

As far as boy altos are concerned, my preferred alto is still Andreas Stein, who sang the solos in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) which Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden recorded with the Collegium aureum. Although I think the Concentus musicus Wien was a much better orchestra, I prefer the Tölzer recording because of the choir and especially because of Andreas Stein, who does a far better job than Esswood in Harnoncourt's recording.

Boyd Pehrson wrote (November 20, 2002):
[To Johan van Veen] My comments regarding Esswood were centered on his BWV 164 in the context of what Panajotis was speaking about which I see I didn't note in my last post, and somone may have been lost as to why I brought up the flauto traverso.

To be sure Esswood has demonstrated great musicianship in the Teldec series, with super fluidity in his vocal range at times. I think the problems I mentioned are ones of style and not of ability. The best suited singers were not always available when Harnoncourt recorded, and unlike Rilling who sometimes waited ten years to get the right combinations of people and pre-recorded tracks together in studio, Harnoncourt moved forward with recordings under the best conditions of the recording date. Thus, using Esswood consistently must have provided some sort of constancy in the recording process. Harnoncourt said in his Jacobson interview that he never intentionally eschewed either women, boys or counter-tenors for any parts. Quite possibly in the business of such a vast undertaking the best suited singers were overlooked from time to time.

René Jacobs to me seems to have a greater depth to his tone. There is a richer texture there that is missing in Mr. Esswood's performances. But we are spoiled with these fine musicians- to pick over them looking for flaws is a bit overbearing of me. I admire them all- and having tried counter-tenor in the morning shower and finding the medical rescue team knocking at my door to see if I am all right, is a little embarrassing... (just joking). Thus I do appreciate the haunting counter-tenor sound, but am not above picking at the performances.

Toño Kolias wrote (November 21, 2002):
[To Boyd Pehrson] Thanks very much for your fast reply and educative explanation!. I totally agree with you, after trying to imitate to any of the singer (I do not dare to do it in the shower but in the car, windows well close and watching the driving mirror) in Harnoncourt recording, one realize how good are every one of them. I also very happy to know that Harnoncourt recording of BWV 31 is such a treasure! Trust my ears? No, I don´t trust them very much...a week ago I went to bed and played the Mass in SiMenor (BWV 232) and I could not close my mouth listening with "the same ears" such an immense creation! It was night of complete happiness! Next morning I jumped up out of bed, open the window and listened cantata 1 (How brightly shines the morning star)...what a day! :-)))

P.D Johan, I'm looking forward to purchase that Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) CD to listen Andreas Stein voice.

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 31: 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

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýOctober 2, 2011 ý00:02:59