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 35
Geist und Seele wird verwirret
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of December 2, 2007 (2nd round)

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 2, 2007):
Week of Dec 2, 2007: Cantata BWV 35, ³Geist und Seele wird verwirret²

Week of Dec 2, 2007: Cantata BWV 35, ³Geist und Seele wird verwirret²

12th Sunday after Trinity
1st performance: September 8, 1726 - Leipzig

Libretto: Georg Christian Lehms http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Lehms.htm

Texts & Translations: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV35.htm

Readings:
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 3: 4-11 (Ministers of a new Covenant}
Gospel: Mark 7: 31-37 (The deaf man cured)
Texts of readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity12.htm

Other Cantatas written for Trinity 12
BWV 69a Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele (Leipzig , 1723)
BWV 137 Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren (Leipzig, 1725)

Introduction to Lutheran Church Year: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm

Movements:

Mvt. 1: Sinfonia
Instruments: 2 Ob, Tle, 2 Vn, Va, Org, Bc

Mvt. 2: Aria - Alto
³³Geist und Seele wird verwirret²
Instruments: 2 Ob, Tle, 2 Vn, Va, Org, Bc

Mvt. 3: Recitative - alto
³Ich wundre mich²
Instruments: Bc

Mvt. 4: Alto - Aria
³Gott hat alles wohlgemacht²
Instruments: Org, Bc

Mvt. 5: Sinfonia
Instruments: 2 Ob, Tle, 2 Vn, Va, Org, Bc²

Mvt. 6: Recitative - Alto
³Ach, starker Gott, lass mich²
Intrumentents: Bc

Mvt. 7: Aria ­ Alto
³Ich wünsche nur bei Gott zu leben²
Instruments: 2 Ob, Tle, 2 Vn, Va, Org, Bc

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV35.htm

Recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV35.htm#RC

Music (free streaming download): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV35-Mus.htm

Commentaries:
Crouch: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/035.html
AMG: http://wc03.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:42074~T1

Previous Discussions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV35-D.htm

Neil Halliday wrote (December 6, 2007):
Bach Cantatas - BWV 102 recordings, and BWV 35

Ed Myskowski wrote:
> Kuijken gives special attention (in BWV 102) to continuo realization, which is outstanding in the B. recit. (Mvt 2), and IMO, greatly superior to the abrupt organ style used by Koopman.<
This is a point worth noticing, IMO.

Also, while listening to samples of BWV 35 this week, I noticed Koopman's alto [15] brings quite a lot of vibrato to the melisma on "fröliches" in BWV 35/7 (Mvt. 7); minimal vibrato on these runs, such as with Hamari/Rilling [5] or Groop/Kangas [11] is much better, IMO.

The "organ concerto" cantata BWV 35 is a charming work.

Organists will love figurations such as those found in bars 5-8, in BWV 35/2 (Mvt. 2), etc.

I found that the opening alto phrase in BWV 35/4 (Mvt. 4) (Gott hat alles wohl gemacht) reminded me of the opening phrase for soprano in BWV 51/1 (Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen). [Notice also the repeated pairs of 1/16th notes in BWV 35/1 (Mvt. 1) and BWV 51/1; as we have seen this "5th Brandenburg" figuration shows up now and again in various works].

As is usual with Bach, effective melismas, and word painting on words such as "martervolles" (full of torment), are evident in the arias.

Chris Kern wrote (December 6, 2007):
BWV 35

This is a rare "true" solo cantata -- that is, without even a four-part chorale. It seems like commentators always feel like they have to find some excuse for why Bach might have written this. Bach is a "choral composer", after all. Whittaker, while criticizing dismissive attitudes about Bach's aria writing, still seemed to accept the idea that Bach's later period at Leipzig was characterized by a marked decline in the quality of the choir, which "forced" Bach to write solo cantatas like these. Even in later writings you still see the idea that these solo cantatas were written because of some problem or special situation. No one seems willing to consider the idea that Bach simply felt like writing a solo cantata this week.

I like Harnoncourt's version [4]; the sinfonias are especially vibrant, and the organ accompaniment is interesting.

Evan Cortens wrote (December 6, 2007):
[To Chris Kern] Great point Chris! I agree, there doesn't necessarily need to be an external motivation for Bach to write a solo cantata.

Further more, to perhaps poke a hole in Whittaker's theory about the decline of the choir, there is very strong evidence to suggest that Bach kept performing his older "full choir" cantatas right up until the time of his death. A couple examples: BWV 40, a Christmas II cantata, may have been performed as late as 1749, but certainly after 1740; BWV 181, for Sexagesimae, may have been re-performed as late as 1746, but certainly after 1735; and BWV 186, for Trinity VII, was re-performed sometime after 1745.

Here's another angle in challenging Whittaker's hypothesis that a low quality choir forced Bach to write solo works. We know that throughout his time in Leipzig, Bach was still required to perform weekly cantatas in the same manner that he did in the 1720s, when he wrote the bulk of them. Since we don't have enough surviving solo cantatas the cover the entire (or even most!) of the liturgical year, we know that Bach must have kept performing his older cantatas. Perhaps an argument could be made that the occasional solo performance allowed the choir to have more rehearsal time, but I wouldn't be so sure about that...

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 6, 2007):
Chris Kern wrote:
< This is a rare "true" solo cantata -- that is, without even a four-part chorale. It seems like commentators always feel like they have to find some excuse for why Bach might have written this. Bach is a "choral composer", after all. Whittaker, while criticizing dismissive attitudes about Bach's aria writing, still seemed to accept the idea that Bach's later period at Leipzig was characterized by a marked decline in the quality of the choir, which "forced" Bach to write solo cantatas like these. Even in later writings you still see the idea that these solo cantatas were written because of some problem or special situation. No one seems willing to consider the idea that Bach simply felt like writing a solo cantata this week. >
Leaver and Wolff's work on the cantata as a liturgical form is pretty conclusive composers regarded it as essentially a solo form. The bulk of tutti singing in the Lutheran liturgy lay elsewhere in the chorales, motets and mass settings. The old myths about the decline or vocal exhaustion of Bach's choir just don't hold up under scrutiny. Part of the problem is that modern taste projects the choral monumentality of the Passions and the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) onto the cantatas.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 6, 2007):
[To Evan Cortens] One very good reason to reject the notion of the decline of Bach's choir at this time is the fact that some of the longest and most demanding of his opening choruses form part of the third cycle (as set out by C. Wolff and others). I suspect that the increase in the number of solo cantatas in the 3rd cycle may have been more akin to changes in public taste than for practical reasons. Bach increased greatly the number of solo cantatas he composed in this cycle--there are (I think from memory) eight of them, 3 alto, two each for bass and soprano and one for tenor. There were, by contrast, none written at all for the second cycle. Bearing in mind that there were also 4 dialogue cantatas for two voices only in the third cycle. that brings to a total 12 chamber cantatas---fully a third of the whole cycle!! . They were presumably acceptable and that may well indicate a change of taste, particularly as several of them are clearly operatic in style--not only the dialogue cantatas but look also at the only one for tenor--if the first aria of that was not influenced by Italian opera I would be most surprised.

I have often wondered, although it is obviously speculation, whether these cantatsa which do retain the closing chorales(some do, and some don't) have been used as an argument to advance the one voice per part brigade. If the soloist sang their part in the chorale (as seems likely )bach would only need to bring in three other singers--in the dialogue arias, only two. It seems pretty improbable that they would have 14/15 singers sitting around just to sing one verse of a four part chorale---unless they were taking part in other parts of the service? Is anything known about this?

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 6, 2007):
Choir vs. Solo
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I have often wondered, although it is obviously speculation, whether these cantatsa which do retain the closing chorales (some do, and some don't) have been used as an argument to advance the one voice per part brigade. If the soloist sang their part in the chorale (as seems likely )bach would only need to bring in three other singers--in the dialogue arias, only two. It seems pretty improbable that they would have 14/15 singers sitting around just to sing one verse of a four part chorale---unless they were taking part in other parts of the service? Is anything known about this? >
Wolff summarizes the role of the choir in Bach's Sunday morning service:

Chorale: Polyphonic setting on festal days
Introit: polyphonic motet
Kyrie: polyphonic motet,concerted setting on festal days
Gloria: concerted setting on festal days
Prayer reponses- polyphonic
Chorale of the Day
* First Cantata
Chorake before Sermon
Chorale after Sermon
Chorale before Sacrament
Sanctus: concerted setting on festal days
* Second Cantata or polyphonic motet during communion
Chorales during communion
Closing chorale

In fact, the real musical challenge for the choir lay outside the performance of the cantata. If, for instance, the Introit was Bach's motet "Lobet den Herrn" or Gabrieli's 8-part "Jubilate Deo", the choir had its work cut out for it. There's a tendency for us to talk about "just" motets as if they were easy little pieces. They are demanding works, often much more difficult than the opening chrous of a cantata.

Looking at that list above, it doesn't surprise me that the cantata was viewed as primarily a solo enterprise.

Evan Cortens wrote (December 6, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] In fact yes, solo cantatas have been used as evidence in the one-voice-per-part debate. For instance, the title page of BWV 56 ("Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen", a cantata for solo bass with a closing four-part chorale) lists the voice parts as "S. A. T. et Basso Conc:" (Parrott 2000, p. 39), clearly saying that there's just one bass singing the piece (unless one wants to make the argument that the arias and recits were sung by more than one singer...). It certainly would be strange to have one bass sing the chorale and have multiple (3-4?) singers per part on the soprano, alto and tenor parts.

To summarize, I would say that BWV 56 makes it clear that, at the very least, only one bass sang in the closing chorale.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 6, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Yes thanks for reminding me about this--I had forgotten what Wolff had written on it.

So it seems that Bach's choir, however big or small?it might have been would have been present for the entire service. But it still begs the interesting questions?? how big was the choir which sang the chorale at the end of the solo cantatas?? if it was a choir of 16, would that have not disrupted, to a degree, the balance of what were essentially chamber works? If only 4 singers sang these closing chorales, would the soloist have been responsible for his own part in the chorale?

I guess it just leads us back to the many things we still don't know about these performances.?

Evan Cortens wrote (December 6, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] To respond to just one point that you mention there ("If only 4 singers sang these closing chorales, would the soloist have been responsible for his own part in the chorale?"), I'd have to say that one thing we can all agree on, whether or not one believes there was doubling, is that the same singer who performed the solo movements also sang in the closing chorale. This can be demonstrated very easily by the fact that the written out bass part for BWV 56 contains all of the music: arias, recits, and the final chorale.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 6, 2007):
[To Evan Cortens] Thanks for this reference Evan?

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 6, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< So it seems that Bach's choir, however big or small?it might have been would have been present for the entire service. But it still begs the interesting questions?? how big was the choir which sang the chorale at the end of the solo cantatas?? if it was a choir of 16, would that have not disrupted, to a degree, the balance of what were essentially chamber works? If only 4 singers sang these closing chorales, would the soloist have been responsible for his own part in the chorale?
I guess it just leads us back to the many things we still don't know about these performances.? >
I suspect that the OVPP vs. choral performance of Bach's works will remain controverted for ever because there just ain't enough evidence. Howver, we can be pretty certain that even a choral performance performance by Bach would sound to modern audiences like a "chamber" performance with under 20 voices and not many more instruments.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 6, 2007):
[To Evan Cortens] Yes I think that was clearly the case. The remaining question, I guess ,is with how many others in these specific works? I feel that the chamber music proportions of these 12?solo and duo cantatas?probably demanded that only 4 singers sang in the closing chorales for reasons of overall balance. (Personally I'm still not fully convinced of the one singer per part for the larger cantatas, Bm Mass etc --but I don't wish to open up that one again on list!!)?

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 6, 2007):
< Yes I think that was clearly the case. The remaining question, I guess ,is with how many others in these specific works? I feel that the chamber music proportions of these 12 solo and duo cantatas?probably demanded that only 4 singers sang in the closing chorales for reasons of overall balance. (Personally I'm still not fully convof the one singer per part for the larger cantatas, Bm Mass etc --but I don't wish to open up that one again on list!!)? >
A couple of months ago I borrowed a friend's CD of the Bach Magnificat sung by the Windsbach Boys' Choir. There were at least 40 singers in the choir for that performance, and despite the fine musicianship it just sounded ludicrous to me. And right there in that same CD's booklet there's a facsimile of the title page of the Magnificat (BWV 243). Bach listed all the necessary forces. Five singers, grand total. The only lines with numerals next to them were for the 2 flutes and 3 oboes. Presumably for Bach that's one of everything (in the string department too) unless it states otherwise, i.e. two flutes and three oboes because there are some separate parts written out.

At the "Suscepit Israel" movement I was reminded of some remarks by Doug Cowling from last year, about how silly it is to have those parts sung by choral sections of Soprano I and Soprano II, and a section of altos. Indeed, the Windsbach performance brought out every boy in the building, all singing together on those three simple solo parts. All because they hadn't bothered to hire two soprano "soloists" for the performance/album? That plus the questionable tradition of treating that movement as choral?

Near the end of the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244), the penultimate movement, there's no reason in the score for treating any of that batch of recitative as multi-singer, either...but it gets done that way frequently, a chorus of too many people all trying to sing a recitative line together.

A couple of days ago I saw a recent interview by Leonhardt where the question of OVPP came up, and he again scorned it. http://tinyurl.com/2cwepw (in French, but there's a good on-the-fly translation to English there via a button at the top). And his answer makes it look as if he just doesn't care to read the books by Parrott, Rifkin, and now most recently Martin Geck (several articles) presenting the evidence, at least with any seriousness. Rifkin in his book made it perfectly clear that the theory is not only (or even mainly) about totaling up the extant pieces of paper for the voice parts of cantatas; it's rather about the normalcy of using soloists in figural music at that time/place. And even if all the boys from one of the years are named (Leonhardt's point), Rifkin's book knocks that out of the water by pointing out that they didn't all sing at the same time; rather that it was more like a roster listing everybody who's available for the whole season of work, to be deployed individually on various pieces.

I guess I should go look up the newest "Bach-Jahrbuch" article that Leonhardt says "closed definitively this ridiculous quarrel." Presumably it's "Alumnen und Externe in den Kantoreien der Thomasschule zur Zeit Bachs" by Andreas Glöckner, from the 2006 volume since the 2007 isn't out yet?

Well, as Julian has already pointed out, this has already been gone over again and again on this list over the past several years......

A few weeks ago I went out to Amazon's "new and used" Marketplace and picked up a good deal on volume 1 of the Montreal Baroque / Eric Milnes cycle, done OVPP. Cantatas BWV 30, BWV 7, and BWV 167, performed very well. My other recent purchase of a cantatas disc, in the summer, was the newest one by the Purcell Quartet doing BWV 12, BWV 18, BWV 61, and BWV 161...also OVPP and gorgeous.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 6, 2007):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad Yes I go along with all that--if you do get hold of the argument that 'closes this ridiculous quarrel, do please share it.

I guess my only point was a musing as to whether the 'chamber' cantata chorales were treated in performance any differently from those in the much larger works.

Chris Kern wrote (December 6, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< One very good reason to reject the notion of the decline of Bach's choir at this time is the fact that some of the longest and most demanding of his opening choruses form part of the third cycle (as set out by C. Wolff and others). >
Yes; one thing to keep in mind when evaluating Whittaker's argument is that he was writing before the "New Chronology" bombshell that changed the foundations of Bach studies. Whittaker was still working under the hypothesis that Bach's cantatas were more or less evenly spread out throughout his entire tenure at Leipzig.

Also, despite his attempts to reject some of the prevailing misconceptions of Bach, Whittaker was a definite believer in the idea of Bach writing these completely unperformable pieces that the choir couldn't handle even at its peak. He seems to buy into the notion of Bach as a titanic figure struggling against the hostile church people that couldn't understand the genius of his music. He is constantly attributing elements of Bach's writing to pressure from the church authorities, for instance:

- BWV 75 and BWV 76 are very long and later cantatas are shorter because of complaints from the church authorities about cantata length

- The chorale cantatas were written under pressure from the church authorities to conform to established church music (or at least lyrics)

- Parody indicates that Bach was short on time, or was forced to do some task he did not relish (the Lutheran masses, for instance)

Having said this, I love Whittaker's book -- there has never been such a detailed analysis of all the cantatas from someone with intimate experience in conducting performances of them. It's too bad the books are out of print.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 6, 2007):
Chgris Kern wrote:
< BWV 75 and BWV 76 are very long and later cantatas are shorter because of complaints from the church authorities about cantata length >
Although didn't Wolff, or Peter Williams or some other contemporary put the view that Bach may have overestimated the abilities of the Leipzig musicians and have to modify his writing along the line? I seem to recall reading this quite recently.? Not sure i agree with it though--some of the second cycle cantatas are extremly demanding---and?Bach would have had time to assess the capabilities of the musos very well by then.?

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 35: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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: żNovember 5, 2014 ż20:10:25