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Cantata BWV 33
Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of August 13, 2006

Peter Smaill wrote (August 12, 2006):
Introduction to BWV 33, "Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ"

Week of August 13, 2006

Cantata BWV 33, “ Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ

1st performance: 3 September, 1724 - Leipzig
Second Annual Cantata Cycle, 1723-24 (Jahrgang II)

Previous Discussion: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV33-D.htm
Cantata Main Page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV33.htm

In contemplating “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,” we skip to the 13th Sunday in Trinity; the Cantata for the twelfth Sunday is presumed lost. BWV 33 has in my experience been neglected save for the instantly appealing
Alto aria, Mvt. 3, “Wie furchtsam wankten meine schritten”, which was recorded, for example, separately by the distinguished Irish alto Bernadette Greevy in 1980. In the last discussions, only four recordings were extant of the whole; since then, Koopman [8] and Suzuki [9] have come to the piece. It is however a work of consistently high quality and the relative neglect suggest that BCW participants may have quite a number of angles to explore which have been untouched.

The literary structure consists of the assertion of faith in Jesus, a relapse from Mvt. 2 to Mvt. 5 into sinfulness, wavering, and entreaties for faith and love; concluding with a return to confidence in the doxology of the
final verse of the eponymous Chorale of Konrad Hubert of 1540. Not for the first time the Chorale has been utterly neglected (“simply harmonised, etc”) by nearly all commentators despite its pivotal message, honour to the triune God, here and in eternity. As often with Bach, the final word, “Ewigkeit” is emphasised, in this case with a tierce de Picardy and with a preceding rising tenor line in imitation of the ascending figure at the opening of the chorale, but a tone higher and the note values accentuating the approach to the cadence.

There is a delicious modulation in the penultimate line (F natural in the alto), a passing exposed octave in ST, two later incidents of octaves on E in the upper parts, and five successive fourths in the SA parts at one point. The resultant somewhat strange harmonies emphasise the archaic nature of the haunting melody. The whole is a rendering of a modal (Aeolian) chorale in which frequent use of contrary motion in the parts, also a feature of Mvt. 1, creates a particularly satisfying conclusion, a rapturous, even mystical, sense of finality. Suzuki [9] alone in his liner notes (by Klaus Hofmann) spots the quality of this chorale and the delicacy of the orchestration in the closing bars.

Of theological interest is the stark refutation of the Calvinist doctrine of predestination in Mvt. 1, a chorus of electrifying energy and invention (Suzuki's [9] reveals this texture as expected much more than Richter). The
Lutheran expression noted by Whittaker and Robertson is, anglice, “From the beginning is nothing ordained”.

Whittaker says that Bach emphasises the doctrinal point by hammering out repeated notes. But, if the Wolff thesis is correct - that it is conrector Andreas Stübel at work on nearly all the libretti of the second cycle- then we have an issue here. What about the pro-Calvinist doctrines of BWV 107, “Was willst du dich betrüben”:

“If it is to be, no man can stay this” (BWV 107/5)
“But what God would not have
No man can carry through”
Not to mention BWV 93 discussed earlier on this point:
“God, who knows the elect” (BWV 93/3)
“After rain, he gives sunshine
And appoints to each his goal” (BWV 93/5)

We can but speculate that (?) Stübel’s texts for the 5th and 7th Sundays in Trinity caused a row amongst the clergy and worshippers, almost certainly including members of the theological faculty of Leipzig University. The text in BWV 33 is so starkly at odds with the previous texts that it amounts to a recantation. “A man of solid theological background, if somewhat nonconformist views” is Wolff’s take on Stübel. Or inconsistent views?

Quotations from selected Commentaries

Robertson
(Mvt. 1) The chorale melody, sung by the sopranos and the lower parts [is] always treated quite simply. So it falls to the orchestra, therefore, to express the happiness that confidence in the Saviour brings, whatever troubles
befall, and this it does in the uprushing scales for the oboes, followed by the violins, in the introduction.

Whittaker
The alto aria (Mvt. 3) is not only one of the loveliest of the many beautiful numbers that Bach wrote for what was evidently his favourite voice, but it is another remarkable example of economy of material….the effect of the sorrowful sostenuto melodies against the pizzicato lower parts is one of matchless beauty.

Nicholas Anderson (in Boyd)
The work as a whole is best understood as both a contemplation of God’s love for mankind and an exhortation to the Christian believer to love his fellow human beings accordingly. Both the autograph score, once owned by Mendelssohn and the original parts have survived and parts.
The second aria (Mvt. 5) is a duet; partly canonic…its text is concerned with both divine love and neighbourly love, and thus converges with the parable of the good Samaritan. The dance-like rhythm and the serenity of a melody which initially recalls the first Trio in the last movement of Brandenburg Concerto No 1 introduces to the Cantata, for the first time, a spirit of sustained optimism.

Dürr
(Mvt. 5) In the duet we might believe that Bach had allowed himself to be inspired by the soprano aria from the previous year’s cantata, BWV 77/3. In both cases the subject is our love of God, the obbligato instruments are two oboes, and the theme is characterised by parallel sixths and thirds, which in the present case, since it is a duet, are present in the voice parts too. The impression of tender intimacy holds true in both cases.
Generally speaking, there are grounds for the assumption that the listener of Bach’s day was more inclined to associate oboe tone with inspired singing than we are today: the tendency nowadays is to assign the instrument a more coquettish, pert character. A distinctive feature of this movement is that the melody of the oboes is so similar to that of the voices that the movement might be rewritten without great difficulty as a vocal quartet [for SATB].

Suzuki (Hofmann) [9]
In the final chorale (Mvt. 6:) Bach has skilfully harmonised Paul Hofhaimer’s beautiful melody, and, in the process, lent particular emphasis to the words “dem Vater aller Güte….der uns allzeit behüte” (‘the father of all things…..who constantly preserves us’) – which had in any case been stressed by the melody .He also underlines the words “In der Ewigkeit” (‘through all eternity’) by means of especially songful writing in the accompaniment.

Outstanding Questions

Until coming across the Suzuki liner quote [9], it felt that an entirely subjective affection for the chorale had developed in the course of writing this introduction. Robertson, Whittaker, Dürr, Boyd, liner notes to Richter,
Harnoncourt – nothing to say about it. Perhaps it is not that after all; or maybe “blind spots” arise in the appreciation of Bach where the reviewers follow sheep-like in ignoring the subtleties of the final Chorales (BWV 10 was another case in point).

Perhaps also there is a theologian amongst us able to reconcile the Calvinist and Lutheran doctrines exposed in close proximity in the second cycle, or maybe a better thesis is possible as to what might have happened between the 5/6th Sundays in Trinity and the 13th.

Are there any ideas as to why the cantatas for the 6th and 12th Sundays after Trinity is missing (so is the 4th, but that coincided with the Visitation, hence BWV 10, ”Mein Seel erhebt den Herren”) ?

I look forward to the reactions of contributors to the exploration of this Cantata especially via the new recordings, and wish all who hear this work entire for the first time much enjoyment; for it is there to be had in the musical ingenuity, literary structure and, finally, the closing affekt.

=================================================================

Additional Resources

Libretto:

Andreas Stübel (per Wolff, “Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician”, p.278)

Chorale: “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
Text: Konrad Hubert, Nuremberg, 1540
Chorale Text: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale111-Eng3.htm
Melody: (?) Paul Hofhaimer
Chorale Melody: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Allein-zu-dir.htm

Text:
See: http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/33.html
English Translation: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV33.html
Other translations: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV33.htm

Scoring:

Choir: SATB
Instruments: 2 Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Org, Cont

Liturgical Comments:

For the 13th Sunday in Trinity
Other Cantatas written for this Sunday:
BWV 77Du sollst Gott, deinen Herren, liebenLeipzig, 1723
BWV 164Ihr, die ihr euch Christo nennet” Leipzig, 1725

Texts of Readings:
Epistle: Galatians III 15-22; Gospel: Luke X. 23-27
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity13.htm

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download)
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV33.htm

Recordings:
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV33.htm

Music (free streaming download):
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV33-Mus.htm

Commentaries:
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:4186~T1

Performances of Bach Cantatas:
See: http://www..bach-cantatas.com/Concert-2006.htm

Order of Discussion (2006)
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2006.htm

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 12, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Cantata BWV 33, "Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ"
(
Mvt. 1) The chorale melody, sung by the sopranos and the lower parts [is] always treated quite simply. So it falls to the orchestra, therefore, to express the happiness that confidence in the Saviour brings, whatever troubles befall, and this it does in the uprushing scales for the oboes, followed by the violins, in the introduction.
The alto aria (
Mvt. 3) is not only one of the loveliest of the many beautiful numbers that Bach wrote for what was evidently his favourite voice, but it is another remarkable example of economy of materialŠ.the effect of the sorrowful sostenuto melodies against the pizzicato lower parts is one of matchless beauty. >
Once again, it is a joy to hear a superb cantata which I have never encountered before.

The opening chorus is fascinating because the orchestra is assertively in A minor while much of the chorale appears in the relative major of C Major.

The pizzicato bass depicting faltering footsteps is wonderful. We should start a list of symbolic pizzicato effects in the cantatas: e.g. The knocking at the door in BWV 61, "Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland"

I don't have a full score: are the strings playing "con sordini" in the alto aria or is that the usual engineering false balances for Baroque music?

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 12, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>I don't have a full score: are the strings playing "con sordini" in the alto aria or is that the usual engineering false balances for Baroque music?<<
Bach personally wrote "col surdino" after the word "Aria" at the beginning of this mvt. on the Violino Primo part only.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 14, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Cantata BWV 33, <Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ>
In the last discussions, only four recordings were extant of the whole; since then, Koopman
[8] and Suzuki [9] have come to the piece. >
Thanks to Peter for this especially stimulating introduction! I believe there was some confusion in the first round of discussion, and there were actually five recordings at that time (I have four, without Rilling [5]), and now seven.

< It is however a work of consistently high quality and the relative neglect suggest that BCW participants may have quite a number of angles to explore which have been untouched. >
I hope to use a good part of the coming week trying to do exactly that, but a brief early post to be responsive. Impressions from a quick listen:

(1) Leonhardt [3] is exquisite. No better example of why he should not be conflated with Hrnoncourt, and why the entire H&L set should be deconstructed to evaluation of each individual cantata performance, and enjoyed (or not) that way.

(2) Heintze [2] is not to be missed, if you have any way to access it. Even from my monaural LP, it is the A+ performance, in a superb group. This was recorded in September, 1962. The subtlety suggests that the entire history of Bach cantata interpretation and historically informed performance is due for a thorough review. The guys who made their reputations at it (see NYTimes Period Performance article, recently referenced) did not necessarily do the first work, from out of nowhere? Sheer speculation on my part.

(3) Leusink [6] and Richter [4] suffer only by comparison with outstanding alternatives. What an abundance of riches. The final touch, the pocket score with Leonhardt [3] (Brown Box LP) is NBA, which appears to have started with BWV 32. No wonder the later boxes are never seen.

< Are there any ideas as to why the cantatas for the 6th and 12th Sundays after Trinity is missing >
We had some recent discussion re Trinity 6, which text was available in 1724, but not set. It ultimately became BWV 9. Discussion was probably while you were in the South of France (see what you missed!) I expect you are on to something with the radical theology issues, as well. Later.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 14, 2006):
Sunday NY Times article

Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< with pianists emulating the sound of the harpsichord in Bach,
At which point I thought of what Brad Lehman might have to say, gave the rest a scan, and said good-night. >>

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< Sorry, I don't think about Brad Lehmann when I read such articles. >
Neither do I, but the ideof a pianist trying to emulate a harpsichord struck me as the kind of statement that Brad might jump on. Since he didn't, I will. Exactly how does a pianist emulate the sound of a harpsichord?

The article was a worthwhile summary, without once mentioning HIP, or even historically informed, thanks for the link (and original reference from Doug Cowling?).

With reference to BWV 33, I would suggest that Hans Heintze [2] deserves mention as a pioneer of historically correct performance principles, however informed (or not).

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 14, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>>The final touch, the pocket score with Leonhardt [3] (Brown Box LP) is NBA, which appears to have started
with
BWV 32.<<
As your sentence seems to imply: "The NBA started with BWV 32" [the fact is that the NBA began with the
Advent cantatas BWV 61, BWV 36, BWV 62 and BWV 132]. Perhaps you meant that the Leonhardt Brown Box LP 'appears to have started with BWV 32'?

Not many of the cantatas had been issued by the NBA when the Leonhardt cantatas were recorded and issued.
Did Leonhardt choose only from among those cantatas for which an NBA score existed?

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 14, 2006):
[To Thomas Braatz] Perhaps you can help with the answer. I have the first nine volumes of Brown Box LPs, through BWV 34. In vol. 9, I noticed that the score indicates NBA I/21, c. 1958, for BWV 33. I checked BWV 32, NBA I/5, c. 1974. These are the two conducted by Leonhardt. BWV 31 and BWV 34 are conducted by Harnoncourt, no source for the score indicated for BWV 31, but BWV 34 indicates NBA I/13, c. 1959. From this bit of evidence, it does not appear a choice by Leonhardt.

Incidentally, I am not at all familiar with NBA, I rely on you. The dates and volume numbers look a bit suspect, but that is what is printed on the pocket score.

I recall reading a note in recent months (I can recover the reference, if it is important), that there was a change to NBA scores about this time in the recording of the H&L series. Perhaps I misread it, or it was misstated, and what was meant was that NBA scores were used, and included with the LP's, when available. From what I have, it looks like this began with BWV 32, in the midst of vol. 9.

To tell the truth, I had forgotten the reference, until I got the recording and score out to listen to BWV 33. Now that we are discussing it, I am interested in the details. What were the scores used by H&L, and included with the LPs? I'll bet there are people on list who have the whole set! Speak up.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 14, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>>I have the first nine volumes of Brown Box LPs,through BWV 34. In vol. 9, I noticed that the score indicates NBA I/21, c. 1958, for BWV 33. I checked BWV 32, NBA I/5, c.1974. These are the two conducted by Leonhardt. BWV 31 and BWV 34 are conducted by Harnoncourt, no source for the score indicated for BWV 31, but BWV 34 indicates NBA I/13, c. 1959. From this bit of evidence, it does not appear a choice by Leonhardt.<<
The NBA published BWV 21 in 1981, BWV 31 in 1985, BWV 32 in 1975, BWV 33 in 1958 and BWV 34 in 1959.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 15, 2006):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks for the help. I am continuing on-list in the hope that someone who has more of the LP set with scores may be able to help out. I have checked the scores for H&L vols. 1 to 8 (BWV 1 to BWV 30), none are indicated as NBA. This is consistent with my recollection of a reference that said H&L started using NBA scores about vol. 9 (specifically BWV 32, it appears). The reference is not what I hoped it might be, the 1985 Penguin Record Guide, which says only that H&L began using NBA scores as they were published, without further detail.

BWV 1 to BWV 30 were recorded from 1971 to 1974. Is it possible that no NBA scores were available for this sequence, in that time period? I apologize for the imposition. I can see NBA volume references (but not dates) in the BWV thematic index, and I am unable to discern any chronologic relation in the NBA volume numbers.

I realize this is a picky detail. But, perhaps a bit of useful discographic information not otherwise available. And certainly not the most picky post ever on BCML. Not by a longshot.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 15, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>>I can see NBA volume references (but not dates) in the BWV thematic index, and I am unable to discern any chronologic relation in the NBA volume numbers.<<
See: http://www.baerenreiter.com/html/completeedi/gabach.htm#serie1
[Make certain to get the entire URL on one line]

Raymond Joly wrote (August 15, 2006):
[To Ed Myskowski] I would suggest inquiring whether the copyright situation was the same for the old and the new Bach-Ausgaben.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 15, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
"I realize this is a picky detail. But, perhaps a bit of useful discographic information not otherwise available. And certainly not the most picky post ever on BCML. Not by a longshot."
The info of the publication years of the NBA volumes (vocal works only) is available at the BCW.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/IndexRef-NBA.htm

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Scores of Bach's Vocal Works - Part 3 [General Topics]

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 17, 2006):
BWV 33, Tempos and HiP [was: Danger]

Chris Kern wrote:
< HiP conductors >
Your points re tempos are well stated, and I will return to them in just a few words. Still a bit of a problem with the lower case i in HIP taking emphasis away from informed. On the other hand, it does look quieter (and less War Dept.) than HIP. hOW about if you be HiP and I'll be hIP, hENCEFORTH?

< We have no idea what Bach's tempos were like -- the obituary says he took them briskly. That doesn't necessarily mean a Koopman or Gardiner level of speed, but it can't be ruled out either. >
I am struggling to find a concise, and not merely subjective, way to state my disappointment with Suzuki's quick tempo for the opening chorus, Mvt. 1. My first disappointment with Suzuki. I am trying to find if I am wrong? Suzuki [9] brings this in at 4:19, compared to an average of about five minutes for everyone else, except Heintze [2] at 6:30.

The Heintze [2] time is not published on the Cantate LP, I first thought I must have read my watch incorrectly, so I checked again. I am confident I got it right. Interestingly, it does not sound at all dragging or slow compared to the five minute average. Just very nice articulation of the individual notes in the instrumental ritornello sections setting off the chorale vocal lines, which also do not sound too slow.

The approximate five minute average does not sound bad, in comparison, I listened to Leonhardt [3] first and loved it. I preferred the Heintze performance [2], but for overall balance and vocal quality rather than any specific impression of difference in tempo. I listened to these, as well as well as Richter [4] and Leusink [6] a few times, before I had the opportunity to hear Suzuki [9]. I immediately reacted with <this is too fast>, and began comparing timings and tempos.

I am one of those loving listeners occasionally mentioned, so I am willing, anxious even, to be educated as to what subtleties I am missing. In the interim, I respond to the Aryeh mantra: if nothing else, post <I like this recording, because . . .> Or even simply, <I like this recording.>

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 17, 2006):
I previously wrote:
< these, as well as well as Richter [4] >
The astute (and hIP) will notice the chiastic structure.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 17, 2006):
BWV 33, NBA

Thanks to everyone who provided information re NBA chronology. BCML is rather like a Christmas (or Feast of your choice) dinner: if you ask a question, you are very likely to get the answer. You are also very likely to have Aunt Milieu tell you . . . I will spare you the details. Family is family.

As it turns out, I had the necessary information in hand re H&L scores, but it was hard to recognize it without the on-line references. There is a message there, I am sure:
(1) Geezerhood approaches
(2) The internet is a wonderful resource.
(3) Some combination

The original reference I was remembering (and garbling a bit) is Daw, p. 173:

the Telefunken record series started by enclosing this edition [BG] within its packages but by volume 9 had begun to include NBA scores--some in unique reduction--in answer to critical protest: where the NBA has not yet covered subsequent music in the Telefunken project, various editions have been substituted.

Thanks to Peter Smaill for first mentioning this reference (Daw), popular, but with scholarly accuracy. Scholarly accuracy? Scholarly detail, at least. Peter or I will add Daw to the BCW bibliography.

Daw also acknowledges assistance from Telefunken as a general note, and indicates the score used for each H&L recording, but with a question mark (following a not so user friendly code, but it is all there). Bottom line, he suggests that NBA scores were used for performance, where available, for BWV 1 to BWV 30, even though BG pocket scores were included in the package. I won't bore you with all the numbers (unless you ask) but one bit of interesting trivia: the copyright date for the Telefunken production of BWV 32 (1974) is earlier than the publication date for the relevant NBA I.5 (1975). Possibly, the Telefunken pocket score was the first in print.

Read between the lines, this was the reason for protest. It is also consistent with the Penguin Record Guide comment I previously mentioned, that H&L used the NBA scores when available. After sorting all that out, I saw the note at the end of the Telefunken score, fine print, German only. No source indicated in the pocket scores for Vols. 1 to 8. The source for BWV 32 to BWV 34 is NBA. The source for BWV 34 is a published pocket score (Taschenpartitur). By implication, the Telefunken pocket scores for BWV 32 and BWV 33 were unique reductions, at the time.

As I have often said, they don't make them like that anymore. Geezer expression.

For anyone interested in H&L discographic details, Daw looks like the best reference, worth using for this reason alone. OOP, but the odd used copy may turn up (I found mine recently), or ask on-list. Peter or I will be happy to answer, If it is me, I will also tell you that you are talking with food in your mouth and slurping your beverage. Marx Bros. got nothing on us.

Chris Rowson wrote (August 18, 2006):
BWV 33, Tempos and HiP [was Danger]

Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I am struggling to find a concise, and not merely subjective, way to state my disappointment with Suzuki's [9] quick tempo for the opening chorus, Mvt. 1. My first disappointment with Suzuki. I am trying to find if I am wrong? >
I think subjectivity is fine -- you can't be "wrong" in your impression of a movement. If it's too fast for your taste, then I don't think you have anything to apologize for. Just to make what I'm saying clear, I'm definitely not saying that people shouldn't post their opinions or that only objective comments are good. But there's a big difference between someone posting his impression of a particular performance, and actually insulting the performers involved.

For instance, if you say "Suzuki's tempo in this movement is so fast that it's hard to hear everything, and it loses the reverent quality that other recordings have", I don't have any problem with that. But some posters prefer to say things like "Suzuki's attempt to cater to people with short attention spans leads him to speed through this movement" or "Suzuki has no concept of reverence at all, as evidenced by the ridiculous speed of this first movement" -- those are not just criticisms of the performance, they are insulting speculations as to the motives of the performers (and in the case of the first one, insulting not only the performers but the listeners who like the
performances).

Obviously I'm not a moderator or administrator so I can't tell people what to post and what not to post; I just wish people would exercise some restraint.

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 18, 2006):
BWV 33, NBA

< the copyright date for the Telefunken production of BWV 32 (1974) is earlier than the publication date for the relevant NBA I.5 (1975). Possibly, the Telefunken pocket score was the first in print. >
Possibly; but, one would also have to know when the Baerenreiter offprint or preprint of any given composition was in print, with score and/or parts, for purchase or rent. These (currently light-blue) paperback editions use the same musical text as the NBA's reading in the enshrined clothbound brown volumes.

Case in point: I've had the Baerenreiter/NBA score of BWV 1127 for almost a year already, in its blue paperback edition, but their web site doesn't have any advertised date when this composition might hit the streets in the hard brown edition: http://www.baerenreiter.com/html/completeedi/nbainhalt.htm

Perhaps an even better illustration of this time lag: I bought their blue edition #5181 of the "Neumeister" chorales when it was new, in 1985; and its brown edition didn't show up in print until 2003! Its Kritischer Bericht is still not yet available: http://www.baerenreiter.com/html/completeedi/gabach.htm

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 18, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Perhaps an even better illustration of this time lag: I bought their blue edition #5181 of the "Neumeister" chorales when it was new, in 1985; and its brown edition didn't show up in print until 2003! Its Kritischer Bericht is still not yet available.<<
The NBA KB IV/9 was published in 2003 (Editor: Christoph Wolff)

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 19, 2006):
BWV 33 [was tempos...]

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< If Bach’s autograph score or original parts show
1 a note of a given value prescribed by Bach
does the performer have a right to change this note so that
a) its value changes drastically (a whole note becomes a quarter note or even less)?
b) it becomes inaudible to the audience but still appears in the ‘outline’ given by Bach? >

I have made a point to listen specifically to the five recordings I have (unusual for me), for the B rec, Mvt. 2:

Both Leonhardt [3] and Leusink [6] plunk an organ tone, and go silent. Certainly secco.

Heintze [2] and Richter [4] play what I would have to call figured bass (from recent discussions) on organ, with minimal embellishment of the written, extended, whole notes in score. Hientze is particularly wonderful, this recording is a must for reissue.

Suzuki [9] adds harpsichord, for the figuration. A lovely sound,but no noticeable improvement (perhaps not quite equal) to what Heintze [2] achieved 44 years ago with careful use of the available instruments, recording technology, and most important, information. What I mean by hIP.

Any reports on Koopman [8]?

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 21, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Week of August 13, 2006 - Cantata BWV 33
It is however a work of consistently high quality and the relative neglect suggests that BCW participants may have quite a number of angles to explore which have been untouched. >
I find these challenging comments very useful and stimulating. I immediately started to look for an angle.

Many commentators have emphasized the alternation of ritornello sections with nine lines of chorale in Mvt. 1, but I did not see that anyone noted the extreme variation in duration of the ritornello sections.

A long aside: I had not seen Whittaker before, and decided I should look before reinventing the wheel. I had previously done a local library search for Whitaker (from an older BCW reference typo error. There are 14 returns for Whitaker, worth correcting?), with negative results. I did not pursue it intently, because the best nearby music library has open shelving, from where I use Robertson. Next time there, I looked adjacent, no Whitaker or Whittaker.

It is Murphy's Law, what can go wrong, will. Robertson is classified with Bach (LC ML), Whittaker, spelled correctly, of course, is classified with choral music (LC MT). Thanks to Peter for including the reference, and encouraging me to do another search.

With the material in hand: Whittaker, the NBA score (courtesy of H&L brown box), four additional recordings, numerous other commentary and liner notes, I would feel prepared to undertake an MA thesis, let alone an untouched angle. Whittaker includes detailed motivic examples and analysis of the ritornello elements in Mvt. 1, especially useful with the score in other hand. He notes how all the ritornello sections, and instrumental elements accompanying the chorale lines, are derived from motifs in the very first ritornello statement, with this
comment:

This introduction has has been analyzed at length because of the fascinating way in which one idea emerges from another, continuity being maintained yet with some fresh points in all sections after the first, and abundant material provided for the pages to follow. It is astonishing how powerful these small orchestral sound; texture is more vital than sheer weight.

In fact the opening, first ritornello section is 20 bars, the subsequent nine range from 5 to 24 bars. It is this variety which provides the architecture and forward momentum of the movement, in relation to the chorale text. As I said at the outset, I have not seen this mentioned. I presume that it is somewhere, and I would appreciate any references available. I initially intended to write a few paragraphs on this architecture, and on what a powerful movement it creates, perhaps the best so far (in Jahrgang II). But time dwindles, and Peter has already weighed in with the intensity of next weeks BWV 78/1. So I will defer, with intent to make comparitive comments on the two in the coming week.

Continue of discussion from: General Guide to approaching musical ideas [General Topics]

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 22, 2006):
BWV 33 [was general guide to approaching musical ideas]

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Lest anyone might think that the long list of revisions (corrections and additions) in BWV 78 is due to some unusual circumstances, a look at a closely linked cantata BWV 33, just recently discussed on this list, reveals that it is in this regard very similar to BWV 78 in Bach's careful treatment of the parts: Bach changed or added things in 460 measures/bars spread out over all the parts. Some measures have two or three corrections in them which are not counted separately. >
A few thoughts in response to the post (above):

(1) Very refreshing to see the reference to current discussions, BWV 33 and BWV 78. These are already seeming like a pair for a number of reasons, more to come.

(2) The question of tempo seems to remain the ultimate, subjective decision which the performer must make, without specific guidance from Bach's scores. I have just looked at Durr for the first time today, and realized that he includes approximate duration of performance. For BWV 33, he suggests 27 mins. None of the currently available recordings come close to this, only the OOP Hientze. Does Durr take his figure from this recording, from some more generalized criteria, or other reasons? It would be nice to know.

I have already indicated that I prefer this timing as my first preference, so I am not being disagreeable (on this point, anyway). I believe it was Chris Benson who suggested that a bit of support for tempo preferences would be appropriate in almost all instances. I agree, and will try comply in the future, even if it is no more than to say I like this better than that. In the specific instance of BWV 33, I am afraid that is the case. The details of the opening chorus, BWV 33/1 are clearest to me with Hientze, but I cannot say that they are obscured, even at Suzukis pace. It gets a bit hard to tell. With repeated listening, the more you hear it, the faster it can go. Maybe that is part of the issue?

(3) I have also looked at Whittaker for the first time recently. I was struck by an anecdote in an Interlude, what amounts to a preface, to Vol. II (p. 2):

An amateur singer of my acquaintance, who knew her Bach well, sang to two German ladies with whom she was staying 'Mein glaubiges Herze' (My heart ever faithful) at the proper tempo -- Presto. There was a pause
of awkward silence at the end and then one of the ladies said reprovingly: 'We Germans always sing church music solemnly.'

There are a number of things here to think about, not least, how does Whittaker know the proper tempo is Presto? Actually, he does provide some relevant and worthwhile discussion, not necessarily conclusive.

(4) Not to take away from proper respect for the best edition of the scores, which I have supported at every opportunity. But it remains that the most critical issue after the note values themselves, tempo, is effectively undefined.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 22, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>>I have also looked at Whittaker for the first time recently. I was struck by an anecdote in an Interlude, what amounts to a preface, to Vol. II (p. 2): An amateur singer of my acquaintance, who knew her Bach well, sang to two German ladies with whom she was staying 'Mein glaubiges Herze' (My heart ever faithful) at the proper tempo -- Presto. There was a pause of awkward silence at the end and then one of the ladies said reprovingly: 'We Germans always sing church music solemnly.' There are a number of things here to think about, not least, how does Whittaker know the proper tempo is Presto? Actually, he does provide some relevant and worthwhile discussion, not necessarily conclusive.<<
The tempo problem with this aria, first as BWV 208/13 from 1712-3 with repeat performance in 1716, and its later revision, a rather thorough one in 1725 in BWV 68/2, is due to a change from an original 'C' (4/4) to a 'C' with vertical line (2/2) alla breve time signature. The "pia/piu Presto" designation is synonymous with the 2/2 (cut-time) tempo designation. When the copyists created the new parts for BWV 68/2 reading from the older existing parts, the 'C' (4/4) was changed to the cut-time, 2/2 time signature in all the parts, but only one part A 15 Violoncello piccolo has both the cut-time signature and the 'piu presto. Having both of these present is obviously redundant so the 'presto' is essentially meaningless even if it reflected in the score. The NBA score has a footnote explaining what is behind this odd tempo designation. Remember, if the soprano soloistwere singing this from the original part, this tempo designation would be lacking - also true for the oboe, violin and continuo parts as well. All of this was probably due to a copyist's error, but it simply was not worth the effort to attempt to erase or cross out this error in BWV 68/2 ("Mein gläubiges Herze"). Of course, this does not mean that this aria should be sung like a dirge, nor should it be sung as fast as possible. A proper interpretation of the text should prevent both of these extremes from occurring during a performance.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 23, 2006):
BWV 33 tempos [was War Department]

Chris Rowson wrote:
< When in a pub sitting next to someone with verbal diarrhoea one tends to filter out the boring bits. Alternatively I finish my beer, go and get the next round and hope that my seat is taken when I get back. >
And the beauty is, when you are socializing on line, you don't even need to leave your seat!

Thanks for responding to the timings, and converting to bpm. In this case (BWV 33) I happened to have the score and could have done it, I had forgotten your earlier post re timings vs bpm, and counting the measures..

I find the comments re Dresden and pace of life very relevant to tempo interpretations, hadn't thought about it before. I didn't check your arithmetic, but somehow you inspire confidence. Heintze [2] at 71 bpm is a natural heartbeat tempo. That is not the only reason he sounds so good, but perhaps one of them.

Chris Rowson wrote (August 22, 2006):

Ed Myskowski wrote:
< ... [Heintze] [2] at 71 bpm is a natural heartbeat tempo. That is not the only reason he sounds so good, but perhaps one of them. >
Another thing that occurs to me in the specific context of BWV 33/1 is that Quantz, if I understand correctly, would want the sixteenth-notes of the opening figure played ”inegal”. If you give them a good strong lilt at a tempo such as 71 bpm you get an amazing swing effect that I take great delight in :-)

I agree that 72 bpm or thereabouts is a reasonable heartbeat. Quantz actually says 80, which seems a bit fast to me, both for heart-rate and for music. In this connection, I always think of a CPE Bach quote I once read saying “they play the Allegro very fast in Potsdam”, although I can´t find the source to check my memory of this.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 23, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote [Cantata BWV 78 - Discussions Part 3]:
< Bach's music is hard, even when neatly printed. <> there are still some figures missing from the figured bass, as to where naturals or flats should be carried through the bar or not. Context doesn't make it absolutely clear. >
A quick response to the two citations following. I would do this as an interlinear post, in an ideal world. In our less than ideal world (incompatible software, ornery hardware, various combinations, and worse):

(1) I spent the better part of 5 hours or so over a couple days, with Whittaker in one hand and NBA pocket score in the other (both neatly printed, very!) sorting out the wonderfully complex architecture of BWV 33/1. Time well spent, I expect to say more, but I could not resist the relevant opportunity.

(2) One luscious detail is the way Bach drapes the chorale entries across the bar line, at beginning and end of phrase in almost every instance (I don't have my notes in front of me, I believe he varies once or twice, just to keep us on our toes). I didn't notice at the level of detail of naturals and flats, but my beginner mind mind impression is that Bach is either surprising us, challenging his students, or just showing off some innovation (or all three). The phrase transcends the bar line.

If this is routine stuff, and I just happened to catch it for the first time, excuse my exuberance.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 33: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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