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 48
Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of November 6, 2005

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 5, 2005):
BWV 48 - Intro to Weekly Discussion

Identification:

The cantata which has been selected, based upon the chronological sequence of Bach's performances, for this week's discussion is BWV 48 "Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen" which had its first performance in Leipzig on October 3, 1723.

Provenance:

Almost everything that you may want to know about the historical facts concerning the transmission of this cantata (actually, the autograph score and the original parts) from the time that it left Bach's possession to where it is located today and what
condition it is in can be found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV48-Ref.htm

Determining the provenance of the original materials is part of the process necessary in ascertaining their authenticity very much in the same way that a painting's provenance yields very important information about its previous history for a prospective buyer. Naturally, the pedigree alone will not prevent counterfeits from being paraded as originals. For this, in the case of Bach's scores and parts, the analysis of the watermark is extremely important in yielding a timeframe which narrows the date of composition down to only a few years in many instances. Handwriting analysis, likewise, gives clues about the date of composition and also reveals which musical notes, corrections, additional performance directions are Bach's and not those of his wife's (AMB), his sons', his copyists, or later corrections/additions by Carl Friedrich Zelter and others, for instance.

Due to the rather complete and reliable transmission of this cantata, we can rely fully on Bach's corrections, phrasings, dynamics, and ornamentation, etc.

Texts:

Liturgical Readings:

It is advisable for the reader to check out, in advance of the following discussion, the prescribed readings (the liturgical connection) for the 19th Sunday after Trinity: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity19.htm

Here it is possible to see a list of all the cantatas that are related to these liturgical readings. Usually this includes only the other cantatas which were composed for the same Sunday or holiday/feast day. Here they can be viewed at a glance and a link will
take you directly to one of these cantatas, if you so desire.

Libretto:

This libretto was prepared by an unknown poet.

For those who have no original German text and translation available, these can be found as follows:

German Text available at Bischof's site at: http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/48.html

English Translation available at Ambrose's site at: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV48.html

English Interlinear Translation by Browne available at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV48-Eng3.htm

French Translation by Bischof at his site at: http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/fcantatas/48.html

French Translation Note for Note by Grivois at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV48-Fre4.htm

Hebrew Translation by Oron at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV48-Heb1.htm

Indonesian Translation Word for Word by Pardede at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV48-Ind.htm

Spanish Translation Side by Side by Coronado at: http://www.geocities.com/ubeda2002/bach/bachbwv48.htm

The Chorale Texts:

Bach sets only the 4th verse of Rutilius's or Major's chorale text (mvt. 3 in the cantata.) To see the entire German chorale text with side-by-side English translation by Francis Browne, go to: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale043-Eng3.htm

The complete German chorale text and an English translation for "Herr Jesu Christ, ich schei zu dir" (author unknown) of which Bach uses only the 12th verse, is still to be added in the future.

The Chorale Melodies (texted and untexted):

In this cantata Bach makes use of two chorale melodies, "Ach Gott und Herr" and "Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut." The latter appears in both the 1st and last mvts. of the cantata, but in the final mvt., Bach uses the last verse of a different chorale text "Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir." Alfred Dürr thinks that the 1st verse of either "Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut" or "Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir" may have been intended by Bach as the message being sent to the congregation by the canonic, untexted duet between the tromba and oboes 1 & 2. The message of either chorale text can be linked to the 'Spruch' (short biblical quotation as chorus text): "Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen vom Leibe dieses Todes?" [Romans 7:24 (New Living Testament) "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?"]

To obtain a detailed background on the chorale melody used in mvt. 3 "Ach Gott und Herr" go to: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Ach-Gott-und-Herr.htm

To obtain a detailed background on the other chorale melody used in this cantata in mvt. 7 "Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut," see: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Herr-Jesu-Christ-du-hochstes.htm

Scoring:

Under 'Scoring' on Aryeh's main Recordings page for this cantata, you will find the scoring for each mvt. The mvts. containing chorale melodies even have a small musical illustration of the melody as it appears in the cantata. Click on any mvt. to find out the details.

Available Score:

A vocal & piano score of the entire cantata is available for download in PDF format at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV048-V&P.pdf

Commentaries (Short and Long):

Simon Crouch's short commentary zeroes in on Bach's failed tenor aria. Read about it at: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/048.html

James Leonard also has a short commentary on this cantata: http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=42:4214~T1

Julio Sánchez Reyes has a Spanish commentary at: http://www.cantatasdebach.com/48.html

For more commentary on Bach's use of untexted chorale melodies and a quotation from Eric Chafe's book on Bach cantatas, see: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV48-Guide.htm

Chafe states, for instance, that "Mattheson acknowledged an association of sharp key signatures with the qualities of hardness, freshness, and gaiety but took pains to deny that such ideas could be used to explain the affect of any key. Nevertheless, he believed in the reality of key characteristics, at least in his earlier writings."

At the bottom of the discussion page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV48-D.htm

Aryeh Oron shares some quotations from the commentaries by Alec Robertson and W. Murray Young.

I suggest that you also visit the following page with commentaries by W. Gillies Whittaker, Stephen A. Christ, and Albert Schweitzer. I havincluded the musical examples that go along with these commentaries. Be aware that if you have a slow internet connection as I have, you will need to wait quite some time for everything to load properly. I even had to use the 'refresh' button because all of the musical examples did not load completely the first time. On the good side, however, is the fact that you can read the text while the examples are loading and then go back to those musical illustrations later.

Here is the link to this commentary page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV48-Guide2.htm

Here are some comments by Alfred Dürr, an eminent Bach scholar, who has published, among other things, an important book on the cantatas: "Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Kantaten" [Bärenreiter, 1971 - 1995 (last revised edition)]:

This cantata has in common with several other cantatas from this first yearly cycle in Leipzig the use of an untexted chorale melody played by instruments which is tied to an introductory choral mvt. having a related text. Structurally, this first mvt. has three levels/planes: 1. An instrumental introduction is thematically independent from the other two levels. It provides at the same time the contrapuntal underpinning for the choral section to follow beginning in m 12. 2. The chorus singing the 'Spruch.' An imitative vocal theme which begins with a remarkable interval jump upwards of a 6th and dominates the entire mvt. with its many switches in the entrances of the subject: SA, then BTSA, then TB, then ASTB, then SATB, then STBTBSA. 3. An untexted chorale in canon. On top of all of this, the tromba and unison oboes (1&2) present the untexted chorale melody line by line as a canon in which the tromba announces the chorale-melody line and the oboes enter two measure later with the same melody a fourth lower [one word in German: "Unterquartkanon."]

The alto recitative (mvt. 2) is also characterized by large-interval jumps/leaps which are all the more effective when contrasted with the long, held chords played by the strings in the background.

Unexpectedly a simple 4-pt. chorale follows, which continues, using the methods available to this form (very artistic harmonization,) the same powerful expressivity of the preceding mvts. Particularly noteworthy is the final phrase: "und laß mich hie wohl büßen" ["let me repent (pay or suffer) for my sins here on earth."]

The sweetness/charm of the next aria (mvt. 4) is utterly surprising for now there is no more feeling that the "Day of Last Judgment" is imminent. Instead of deep remorse and contrition, there is a childlike humility in the simple request to at least save/protect the soul from the worst things that could happen. The almost dancelike, swinging melody played by the obbligato oboe is relinquished to the vocalist so that a homogeneous duet between both can be formed over an unthematic continuo part.

The 2nd aria (mvt. 6) is separated from the 1st only by a short secco recitative and resembles the earlier aria in its swinging rhythms which now become even more obvious to the listener by means of a continual changing back and forth between a hemiola-like, disguised 3/2 meter and the usual ¾ meter. The very compactly composed mvt. for strings (+ Oboes 1&2 in unison with Violino 1) lends to this aria (this is reflected in the text as well) a confident, optimistic air which contrasts with the delicate tenderness of the foregoing aria.
(End of Dürr Commentary)

The Recordings:

Downloads of the complete cantata recordings of BWV 48 by Harnoncourt [2] and Leusink and RAM format [5] as well as MIDI files of the individual mvts. available at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV48-Mus.htm

A list of all recordings of this cantata (complete or simply an extracted mvt.) can be found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV48.htm

This is a chronological list which includes complete recordings by Rilling (1973) [1], Harnoncourt (1975) [2], Koopman (1998) [3], Suzuki (2000) [4], Leusink (2000) [5], Gardiner (2000) [6] and a recording by Matt (1999) of one of the chorales [M-1] (which one?)

Previous discussions on the merits of available recordings can be found at the bottom of the same page, but before reading them, I would suggest first listening to whichever recording(s) you may have access to. With this approach you will not be unduly influenced to form a preconception regarding the quality of the various recordings. You are cordially invited to share your views and comments on the
recordings and the music itself.

Roar Myrheim wrote (November 6, 2005):
I enjoyed very much reading about BWV 48 in Sir John Eliot Gardiner's diary from the year 2000 pilgrimage [6], so I've pasted it in below. (I hope there isn't any legal restriction against this, since everybody can find it at the "www.Monteverdi.co.uk" - site)

Sir Johan Eliot Gardiner writes:
"... BWV 48 Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen, from Bach's first Leipzig cycle. It opens with a lament in G minor, a chorus constructed as a slow minuet with the flavour of a proto-Romantic tone poem. The 12-bar opening orchestral prelude gives wordless expression to Paul's cry of anguish 'who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' (Romans 7: 24) through a sequence of ascending two-bar phrases in the first violins. More than this, it gives structure to the entire movement by linking the various choral interjections, not via a predictable or systematised pattern but by frequently anticipating and overlapping the successive voice entries, their order constantly reshuffled. The sopranos begin in strict canon with the altos, a fourth apart and at a distance of two bars. Simultaneously Bach superimposes a second canon for trumpet and two oboes, distinct yet woven into the vocal texture and bearing with it a wordless 'answer'. To the imploring questions of the pauline text Bach offers his listeners the solace of Johann Heermann's hymn 'Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir', specified for this Sunday in the Dresdner Gesangbuch of 1725/36 and rich in associations of comfort. The scheme sounds simple, but its working out over the course of 138 bars entails the layering of chorale tune (in canon) over the constantly changing fabric of choral voices (also in canon) and, further, the inexorable restatements of the string ritornello, now discrete, now synchronising with the other instruments and voices. I found it poignant and deeply affecting.

Bach then clarifies the association of the suffering believer with Matthew's palsied man. A sombre, string-accompanied recitative (No.2) for alto with unstable chromatic harmonies modulates through a sequence of flat keys from E flat to B flat minor, then via an enharmonic swing to sharp keys before returning to B flat (major). This sudden presence of sharps, which in Lutheran symbolism represent the Cross (Kreuz = sharp), in a cantata in which all seven movements have key signatures of two or three flats, is arresting, particularly the appearance of E major at the moment when 'the soul perceives the most lethal poison with which it is infected'. E major is usually a key associated with serenity and salvation in Bach's church music, but here it seems closer to Johann Mattheson's characterisation - engendering 'a quite deathly sadness, full of doubt... a fatal separation of body and soul'. The four-part chorale setting which follows is the perfect sequel, expressing that 'brünstig Seufzen' (fervent sigh) with which the alto concluded the previous number.

With the palsied man healed and the errant bel'renewed in the spirit of his mind', the second half of the cantata is much easier on the ear. An aria for alto in close dialogue with obbligato oboe gives the impression of an intimate conversation between the believer and God. Any passing reference to the earlier sickness is dispelled through the healing power of the Saviour in the aria for tenor and strings (No.6) - in modified da capo form, one of those beguiling and ticklish triple-time arias which Bach relishes. Here, after setting up an apparently regular pattern of alternating 3/4 and 3/2 bars, he suddenly adds a whole chain of additional hemiolas - perhaps a sign of health restored, a celebration of soundness in body and soul? - the inflections of speech seeming to determine, or at least strongly influence, the unusual rhythmic patterns. After this the straightforward but richly harmonised version of the chorale melody announced first in the opening movement is pure balm."

Peter Smaill wrote (November 6, 2005):
The appreciation by John Eliot Gardiner just posted for BWV 48, "Ich Elender Mensch" [6], adds to the perceptions of Robertson, Whittaker and Dürr - here is a Cantata breaking new ground in several ways. The complex progressive structure of the opening chorus, which commences almost as the prelude to a simple aria, but unfolds as the anguished interplay between a halting orchestral line, a rising and falling mournful figure for varying voice entries, and the poignant strength of the consoling chorale per trumpet and oboe, is unparalled in Bach's previous experiments with choral structure.

Dürr points out that the Cantata itself is indeed a new form within the brilliant sequence of 1723. For the first time, the structure ("1b") is;

biblical citation
recitative
chorale
aria
recitative
aria
chorale

BWV 48 is thus progenitor of the general pattern in BWV 48, BWV 40, BWV 64, BWV 153, BWV 65 and BWV 67. But there is so much more to it than a change of order; Bach brilliantly construes the tension between sin and faith, with the complex use of keys and chromaticism; the marching bass figure of the tenor aria succeeding the funereal pace of the highly-wrought chorus. The final chorale, with its powerful conclusion on a tierce de picardie, brings the believer (entirely via texts based on New Testament sources) from grief (the exposed bass call on "todes" is a marvel) to comfort and faith.

The step-motion of the orchestral support to the choral and thematic activity of the opening chorus brings to mind the imagery of BWV 23/4: that of a funeral procession in which Bach interposes the salvific affekt of a choral and emphasises this unspoken answer to prayer by the soaring lines of the trumpet parts which increasingly interweave with the voices in BWV 48.

Why is this superb work so rarely heard? The answer is I think the low-key opening bars which are key to the sombre quality and the marvel of the development of the tension of BWV 48. But it is all too difficult, too gloomy for most listeners.

As Stephen Daw wrote, "There is also the expressive, rather mournfully inclined Cantata 48, "Ich elender mensch, wer wird mich erlösen), which is the earliest preserved example of type 1B. The second and third movements of this work - the alto recitative and the following chorale- employ such unpredictable and soul-stirring chromaticisms that we must surely wonder what effect they had on contemporary hearers and the performers themselves. Robertson aptly compares the chorale's anguished harmonies to those of the famous setting of "Ich hab genug" from BWV 60. the other particularly striking movement of the work is the rhythmically and harmonically restless aria "Vergibt mir Jesus meine Sünden", a depiction of the constant life-giving powers of the Saviour: we find elements in it from the slightly dogmatic motet style, from the dance, from french keyboard rhetoric, and elsewhere this movement also compares in an interesting way with the Minuet of Mozart's 40th Symphony, in that its phrases are built on three-bar groupings which result from a syncopation of what would usually be two-bar units."

I hope other visitors to the website who like me did not know this work well if at all, are able to listen to all the subtleties of this complex masterwork. They will be greatly rewarded by seeking out this relatively hidden gem, which must nevertheless have intended by Bach himself to be a new step in Cantata form and compositional method.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 60 - Discussions Part 3

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 6, 2005):
Thanks to Roar Myrheim and Peter Smaill for sharing their own thoughts and excerpts from Gardiner's [6] and Daw's commentaries.

Here are some of my thoughts and observations regarding the latter:

Mvt. 1 "a chorus constructed as a slow minuet" [Gardiner] [6]

and

[Robertson]: "from the dance, from French keyboard rhetoric, and elsewhere this movement also compares in an interesting way with the Minuet of Mozart's 40th Symphony, in that its phrases are built on three-bar groupings which result from a syncopation of what would usually be two-bar units."

I do not understand how any responsible musician who has read Mattheson's statements about the performance style of sacred cantatas as performed in churches in various parts of Germany can even contemplate equating a dainty minuet described by Johann Gottfried Walther as a "behende" ["nimble, agile"] and by French sources as a "gay" [which I assume did not mean 'homosexual' in the first half of the 18th century, but rather 'happy' or 'light.'] Even Little and Jenne in their rather exhaustive treatment of "Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach" [Indiana University Press, 2001] know better than to think that if a composition by Bach is in 3/4 time, this does not allow one to automatically think that there is a viable association with the minuet dance form; at the most, these authors think that they see a relationship to the sarabande form when they designate BWV 48/1 as being 'sarabande-like' in its nature.

The inherent problem when searching for and considering dance forms in Bach's music is that it automatically seems to give license to the type of performances which do not conform with the description of such church music performances as described by Mattheson, Heinichen, and even later, Quantz. There is a tendency among many conductors and performance groups associated with HIP (historically informed performance practices) to assume faster tempi and a lighter, if not very virtuosic, approach which runs counter to the seriousness not only of church music performances in Bach's time, but even to the texts which dictate a very different style of performance. What an incongruity to hear Bach's explication of the text: "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?" now being associated with and treated as a light, courtly dance!

Mvt. 1 "Johann Heermann's hymn 'Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir'" [Gardiner] [6]

Here Gardiner has confused two different chorale texts and melodies. To sort this out properly, you will have to study very carefully the following pages on Aryeh's site: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Wo-soll-ich-fliehen-hin.htm

Here Heermann is mentioned as the poet who wrote only the text (not the melody) for "Wo soll ich fliehen hin" which is not used in this cantata; however, "Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir" is a text by an unknown author which is associated with a different chorale melody which Bach uses in the last mvt. of this cantata, but also as untexted in the 1st mvt.: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Herr-Jesu-Christ-du-hochstes.htm

Unfortunately, I have not taken this untexted chorale melody use into account on this page, but this will be remedied in the next day or so with Aryeh's help. Anyone examining this material will see how complicated such information about Bach's use of chorale texts and melodies can become.

[BTW, Mvt. 3, the simple 4-pt. chorale setting in the middle of the cantata (was this a break before the sermon with the cantata continuing during communion with mvt. 4?) has an entirely different source (both chorale text and melody) from the above: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Ach-Gott-und-Herr.htm

Mvt. 2 "This sudden presence of sharps, which in Lutheran symbolism represent the Cross (Kreuz = sharp), in a cantata in which all seven movements have key signatures of two or three flats, is arresting."

For more information about this type of "Augenmusik" ["Music for the Eyes" - the listener will be oblivious to this without seeing the score,] see an earlier reference to this symbolism mentioned by Friedrich Blume in the MGG1 in an article which is found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Esoteric.htm

Mvt. 7 "After this the straightforward but richly harmonised version of the chorale melody announced first in the opening movement is pure balm." [Gardiner] [6]

As we know now, the melody is not the one which was specified earlier by Gardiner, and as Dürr pointed out, it is likely that the congregation was being asked to 'think' or 'sing along mentally' the words for the first verse of either "Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir" (the last verse of which was used in the final mvt. and the author and composer of which are both unknown) or "Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut" (Ringwaldt is the author of the text, but probably not of the melody.)

Neil Halliday wrote (November 6, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<"Mvt. 1 "a chorus constructed as a slow minuet" [Gardiner] [6]
and
[Robertson]: "from the dance, from French keyboard rhetoric, and elsewhere this movement also compares in an interesting way with the Minuet of Mozart's 40th Symphony, in that its phrases are built on three-bar groupings which result from a syncopation of what would usually be two-bar units." >
Thomas, I think you may have read too much into the use of the term "minuet" in these quotes; possibly partly as a result of the missing capital after the full stop in the sentence quoted by Peter:

<"Robertson aptly compares the chorale's anguished harmonies to those of the famous setting of "Ich hab genug" from BWV 60. the other particularly striking movement of the work is the rhythmically and harmonically restless aria" Vergibt mir Jesus meine Suenden",>".
In fact, Robertson curiously does not comment on the very fine, and rhythmically unusual, tenor aria (48/6) at all - his comments here relate to 48/3; the words you have ascribed to Robertson are by Stephen Daw, and this writer in commenting about the tenor aria 48/6, not 48/1. Gardiner [6] does speak of 48/1 as slow minuet; "slow" being the significant word. (BTW, can any one post a timing for Gardiner's 48/1?)

Interestingly, when I first heard the recording I have, of 48/1 - Rilling [1] - I intuitively felt the tempo (4.09) was too fast and the music to be too much like a dance (minuet?) movement; and it does turn out to be the fastest of all the recordings. Suzuki [4] is the slowest at 5.55! - and is far and away my pick of the recordings of 48/1. Here we have an exceptionally moving adagio that fully captures all the elements of this chorus, including the fascinating echo-like effect between the trumpet, and unison oboes following in canon, as these instruments play the chorale tune. (The Rilling booklet notes that the Leipzig congregation would have brought to mind one, or two - or both - of the hymns "Lord Jesus Christ, I cry to you" and "Lord Jesus Christ, you greatest Good", on hearing this melody).

In Rilling's defence [1] it might be noted that his was the earliest recording of this cantata, in 1973; Harnoncourt [2] followed in 1975 with a more appropriate (slower) tempo, but the effect is spoilt with his ubiquitous and marked separation of notes. Koopman [3] has a distracting organ in the continuo in this cantata, and lack of clarity in the instrumental chorale quotes in the first movement; Leusink [5], like Harnoncourt, is excessive in the avoidance of legato, in 48/1, and the canon oboes are weak - but in this instance the HIP conductors all manage to avoid the dance-like tempo adopted by Rilling [1] in 48/1.

(Of course, I agree with your general comments about a tendency to inappropriately fast dance-like movements in HIP).

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 8, 2005):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>(BTW, can any one post a timing for Gardiner's 48/1? [6])
6:09

Neil Halliday wrote (November 8, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you, Thomas. (Gardiner 6.09 [6])

So Gardiner [6] might be very similar in effect, to Suzuki [4], in the first movement.

Neil Halliday wrote (November 8, 2005):
I wrote:
"So Gardiner [6] might be very similar in effect, to Suzuki [4], in the first movement".
Although I wouldn't mind betting Gardiner's violins [6] are lighter and 'fussier' than Suzuki's [4], thereby reducing, to my ears at least, the strength and emotional impact of the music.

Neil Halliday wrote (November 9, 2005):
BWV 48; tenor aria

The rhythm of the tenor aria is most easily grasped by first concentrating on the ¾ time in the continuo (the piece begins on the 3rd beat of the 1st bar), and then enjoying the syncopation in the vocal and upper instrumental parts. (Gardiner [6] mentions the hemiolas, or two beats to three, that are set up in this piece).

Rilling/Baldin [1] pleasingly capture the strong confidence of this aria, with their expansive approach; better, IMO, than Suzuki's brisk, light approach [4] (thereby turning the tables on Suzuki, and showing that if one is to design the `ideal' cantata set from the available recordings, one will choose even successive movements of the same cantata from different recordings).

[BTW, noticed when listening to the Rilling CD (with BWV's 46 to 48), the marvellous opening chorus of BWV 47 has strong similarities with the opening chorus of BWV 187; it turns out both were written in 1726, and both are expansive choral fugues in 4/4 time with extended melismas of continuous 1/16th notes as part of the fugal subject. Rilling [1] adopts a leisurely tempo for both, setting up music of vast proportions that suggests, with the successive choral fugal entries, the motion of Jupiter around the sun (!). No doubt livelier tempos would also be successful.]

Roar Myrheim wrote (November 9, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] I have to say that your reactions to Gardiner?s comments on Cantata BWV 48 [6] confuse me! I'm far from in the same league as you regarding knowledge about Bach-cantatas and related topics, and I?m sure you can arrest me on a number of my statements below, but I dare to explain you my reactions, and hope you won?t behead me for it!

You start with a quote out of its context:
<Mvt. 1 ?a chorus constructed as a slow minuet? [Gardiner [6]]>
In your comments, you focus exclusively on the word ?minuet?

In context, Gardiner says:
<It opens with a lament in G minor, a chorus constructed as a slow minuet with the flavour of a proto-Romantic tone poem. The 12-bar opening orchestral prelude gives wordless expression to Paul?s cry of anguish ?who shall deliver me from the body of this death?? (Romans 7:24)>
If you take into consideration the words ?lament?, ?slow? and ?cry of anguish?, focusing so entirely on ?minuet? hardly seems appropriate to me.

Your second quote,
<[Robertson]: ?from the dance, from French keyboard ? ,>
isn?t about 48/1 at all, but about 48/6. Then you write:

<I do not understand how any responsible musician ?>
Is the point here to show that Gardiner isn't a responsible musician?

<a ?gay? [which I assume did not mean ?homosexual? in the first half of the 18th century, but rather ?happy? or ?light.?]>
Is this meant to be a joke? If not, I can?t quite see the relevance.

You conclude your 'minuet'-explanation with:
<There is a tendency among many conductors and performance groups associated with HIP (historically informed performance practices) to assume faster tempi and a lighter, if not very virtuosic, approach which runs counter to the seriousness not only of church music performances in Bach?s time, but even to the texts which dictate a very different style of performance. What an incongruity to hear Bach?s explication of the text: ?Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?? now being associated with and treated as a light, courtly dance!>
This is hardly an appropriate comment in this specific instance, since it?s the only non-HIP conductor, Rilling [1], which really takes the fast tempo among the recordings of this cantata! So you see, I?m confused!

<Mvt. 1 Johann Heermann's hymn "Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir" [Gardiner [6]] Here Gardiner has confused two different chorale texts and melodies>
Maybe Gardiner [6] has confused the poet, or maybe it could be an idea to ask him where he found Heeremann mentioned as author? Could it be that the Dresdner Gesangbuch of 1725/36, possibly erroneous, ascribes Heeremann as author? Isn?t it a bit bold to declare that 'Gardiner has confused'??

Do you think Gardiner has confused the melody? Don't you think he's able to read sheet-music?

<Mvt. 7 "After this the straightforward but richly harmonised version of the chorale melody announced first in the opening movement is pure balm." [Gardiner [6]]
As we know now, the melody is not the one which was specified earlier by Gardiner,>
Isn't it??? Don' you think Gardiner [6] is able to recognize a chorale melody from one movement to another?

<As we know now, the melody is not the one which was specified earlier by Gardiner [6],>
Why do you say this? When Gardiner [6] says that it's the chorale melody that can be used with the text "Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir" that is announced in the first movement, why do you say that this is another melody in the last movement? You really have managed to get me confused!

I don't like to admit that I have been provoked, but in this case, that?s the situation.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 9, 2005):
Roar Myrheim wrote:
<<There is a tendency among many conductors and performance groups associated with HIP (historically informed performance practices) to assume faster tempi and a lighter, if not very virtuosic, approach which runs counter to the seriousness not only of church music performances in Bach?s time, but even to the texts which dictate a very different style of performance. What an incongruity to hear Bach?s explication of the text: ?Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?? Now being associated with and treated as a light, courtly dance!>>
< This is hardly an appropriate comment in this specific instance, since it?s the only non-HIP conductor, Rilling
[1], which really takes the fast tempo among the recordings of this cantata! So you see, I?m confused! >
I'm still convinced that in "Jesu Bleibet Meine Freude" ("Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring) Bach harmonizes the chorale in 3/4 as a minuet (look at the running bass figure) while the orchestra has a gigue in 9/8. Look's like Baroque Dance Fever to me!

John Pike wrote (November 9, 2005):
[To Roar Myrheim] A very polite and diplomatically-worded reply, Roar. You have demonstrated very well all the weaknesses in Thomas' unfounded statements.
<>

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 9, 2005):
Roar Myrheim wrote:
>>I have to say that your reactions to Gardiner's comments on Cantata BWV 48 [6] confuse me! ... and I'm sure you can arrest me on a number of my statements below, but I dare to explain you my reactions, and hope you won't behead me for it!<<
Statements of this type with words such as 'arrest', 'dare' and 'behead' whether used figuratively or facetiously are, as I see it, very feeble attempts to provoke a flame-war, rather than a serious search for the truth in any given matter. It only encourages another small faction to jump in and add fuel to the fire which you have attempted to set.

There are much better ways to state your opinion that Gardiner [6] must be right in all the questions that I have raised or that my explanation of the key word used in describing the nature of the minuet in Bach's day was "gay" [not spelled 'gai' in the original sources from the period] for which I deemed an explanation was necessary because of a considerable shift in the meaning of this word to homosexual (documented as slang as early as 1935.)

As far as Gardiner's erroneous statement regarding the clear ascription of Johann Heermann as the author (and it even sounds like Gardiner includes the chorale melody in this as well), I stand firmly behind my statement. I feel no obligation on my part to contact Gardiner privately to question or inform him about the results of my research.

In any case, it appears that Gardiner [6] does not use the NBA as a basis for his most recent recordings (2000), but rather an outdated, if possibly somewhat revised, Breitkopf & Härtel edition. It is very likely that he may have picked up facts from that edition which does not conform with the most recent complete NBA edition with its scholarly apparatus in the form of critical reports which examine such matters as which hymnals agree or disagree with the wording in the libretti of Bach's sacred choral works.

>>I don't like to admit that I have been provoked, but in this case, that's the situation.<<
There is no need to get provoked or become an instigator in setting the flame to produce a flame-war between individuals who hold differing opinions than those to which you obviously ascribe. It is certainly your right to express within the guidelines for this list your opinion on who might be right in certain matters concerning what we hear in Bach's music and about that which has been written concerning his music using original source materials and also commentaries by Bach experts.

John Pike wrote (November 9, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< In any case, it appears that Gardiner [6] does not use the NBA as a basis for his most recent recordings (2000), but rather an outdated, if possibly somewhat revised, Breitkopf & Härtel edition. It is very likely that he may have picked up facts from that edition which does not conform with the most recent complete NBA edition with its scholarly apparatus in the form of critical reports which examine such matters as which hymnals agree or disagree with the wording in the libretti of Bach's sacred choral works. >
I think I read somewhere that Gardiner [6] commissioned an edition especially for the BCP, perhaps in the linnotes to one of the recordings. I will check this out sometime.

In any case, you have not given a robust answer to any of Roar's original points. <>

Peter Smaill wrote (November 9, 2005):
An interesting debate is opening up here on the John Eliot Gardiner "take" on BWV 48, "Ich elender Mensch" [6], namely , that the rythmic pattern is a slow triple time minuet. Such an analysis is compatible with the overall emphasis by JEG on dance rhythms. In many instances JEG invests in the more joyous passages of the Cantatas a new vitality by attending to the need for lightness of rhythm and even variable speed. In such cases his approach works well in enlivening the zeugma, the point at which thoughts of salvation overpower the despondency of the sinner or the impact of OT law.

I have considerable sympathy, however, with Thomas Braatz' reservations regarding BWV 48/1, where as he says, allusions to dance are entirely out of place even though the triple time does not exclude the detection of a sort of minuet - a very odd, slow mournful one. Either you think there is an ironic suggestion here, as with the minor key waltz in Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, or something entirely different is being implied by the insistent two-pulse rhythm within triple time which is the orchestral underpinning of the movement.

I fall back to the suggestion that it is a funeral march, of the military sort where a slow half step is adopted and the band is marking the pause by the silent beat. While it is hard to detect the history of this type of march to the grave as it is really a matter for a military historian, there was certainly a history of oboes (including the "schamei" (shawm?) forming a marching band, and with a trumpet often included in the ensemble.

For details on this, an interesting article "The oboe ensemble in German military and City music up to 1720" can be found on: http://www.idrs.org/Publications/Journal/JNL9/oboe.html .

I wonder whether the Fleming referred to is in fact Count General von Flemming who was Governor of Leipzig from 1724 to 1740, a great supporter of Bach and for whom several congratulatory pieces were composed. The General would certainly have noticed the intrusion of military motifs, funereal or otherwise, in the Cantatas.

So the thesis is that military marching as well as dance rhythms influence the variety of allusions in the Cantatas. I welcome any antithesis to the notion but particularly any insight into the halting funeral half-step which can be detected in BWV 48/1 and even in BWV 23/4. The latter is the most poignant in view of the Christus Victor theology of the St John Passion for which this movement , a setting of the Agnus Dei, was an alternative ending. In the pulsating lower parts , is Bach suggesting a military funeral for the seemingly fallen Christ.......?

Roar Myrheim wrote (November 9, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] I used words like "arrest", "dare" and "behead" because I feared an answer like the one I got below. I understand that there are only certain members of the list who are permitted to ask critical questions, be ironic, and get an answer to ones questions. Therefore I shall be very careful in the future, since I have no intention to start a "flame-war"!

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 9, 2005):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>>I fall back to the suggestion that it is a funeral march, of the military sort where a slow half step is adopted and the band is marking the pause by the silent beat. While it is hard to detect the history of this type of march to the grave as it is really a matter for a military historian, there was certainly a history of oboes (including the "schalmei" (shawm?)forming a marching band, and with a trumpet often included in the ensemble.
For details on this, an interesting article "The oboe ensemble in German military and City music up to 1720" can be found on:
http://www.idrs.org/Publications/Journal/JNL9/oboe.html <<
Thanks for sharing this link!

>>I wonder whether the Fleming referred to is in fact Count General von Flemming who was Governor of Leipzig from 1724 to 1740, a great supporter of Bach and for whom several congratulatory pieces were composed. The General would certainly have noticed the intrusion of military motifs, funereal or otherwise, in the Cantatas.<<
Count General Joachim Friedrich Flemming is referred to as 'Graf Joachim Friedrich von Flemming' in the dedication to BWV 249b (1725 - music lost) and Anhang I 10 (music lost and authenticity very doubtful: NBA KB I/39 p. 42.) There are two reasons why the H. von Fleming may not be the same individual known as the Count General: the only first name abbreviation does not agree and the spelling of a well-known individual's last name, whose signature appears on all official documents, printed or signed, is less likely to change. At this point I would not consider the author H. von Fleming as being the same individual as Joachim Friedrich Flemming despite the fact that such variant spellings are documented in Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries (and even into the early 19th century). Did Bach during his entire lifetime ever write his name as "Pach"? and yet there is the name "Pachelbel" which has a common variant "Bachelbel."

>>So the thesis is that military marching as well as dance rhythms influence the variety of allusions in the Cantatas. I welcome any antithesis to the notion but particularly any insight into the halting funeral half-step which can be detected in BWV 48/1 and even in BWV 23/4. The latter is the most poignant in view of the Christus Victor theology of the St John Passion for which this movement , a setting of the Agnus Dei, was an alternative ending. In the pulsating lower parts , is Bach suggesting a military funeral for the seemingly fallen Christ.......?<<

This is certainly an interesting thesis to keep investigating. I have checked the MGG1 for any more information about the early forms of the "Trauermarsch" but have found very little indeed. Edmund Nick writing on 'marches' in general devotes a section to the "Trauermarsch" but does not branch out into military music, but rather constrains himself to stating that it was prepared by the 'Tombeaux' of the French clavicinists and found its own real expression in Beethoven where it almost became a mania: for a planned requiem he wrote on the page he had sketched: "im requiem läßt sich der Todten-Marsch anbringen«!" ["...in the requiem there is a good opportunity to include a funeral march!"]

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 9, 2005):
BWV 48 - Requiem marches

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< I have checked the MGG1 for any more information about the early forms of the "Trauermarsch" but have found very little indeed. Edmund Nick writing on 'marches' in general devotes a section to the "Trauermarsch" but does not branch out into military music, but rather constrains himself to stating that it was prepared by the 'Tombeaux' of the French clavicinists and found its own real expression in Beethoven where it almost became a mania: for a planned requiem he wrote on the page he had sketched: "im requiem läßt sich der Todten-Marsch anbringen«!" ["...in the requiem there is a good opportunity to >
Perhaps the most famous Baroque requiem is the Gilles "Requiem" which was originally written for strings and Provencal tambour. It was rearranged for full orchestra with timpani by Lully and became THE requiem of the 18th century. If Bach knew any French choral music it was this work. The opening drum march is alluded to in works as late as the "Libera Me" of the Fauré Requiem.

Neil Halliday wrote (November 10, 2005):
Peter Smaill wrote:
<<"I have considerable sympathy, however, with Thomas Braatz' reservations regarding BWV48/1, where as he says, allusions to dance are entirely out of place even though the triple time does not exclude the detection of a sort of minuet - a very o, slow mournful one. Either you think there is an ironic suggestion here, as with the minor key waltz in Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, or something entirely different is being implied by the insistent two-pulse rhythm within triple time, which is the orchestral underpinning of the movement.
I fall back to the suggestion that it is a funeral march, of the military sort where a slow half step is adopted and the band is marking the pause by the silent beat.>>"
Excellent points; though it may be said that Thomas weakened his case (and also confused several readers, including myself) by conflating Daw's remarks about 48/6 with Gardiner's remarks about 48/1 [6]).

Seen in the light of Peter's above remarks, Thomas' objection to Gardiner's use of the word "minuet" in relation to 48/1 [6] becomes entirely reasonable. Any suggestion of a `dance macabre' or any other kind of dance is out of place here.

Concerning Gardiner's approach to, for example, the chorales in BWV 147 ("Jesu, joy of man's desiring"), introduced into the debate by Douglas Cowling, where a case might more reasonably be made for an interpretation based on dance-forms such as minuet or gigue, I have listened to Gardiner and Richter and observed: Gardiner's approach is gay, with a brisk, lilting dance rhythm and, even though the gaiety is tempered by the wistfulness of some of the chorale harmonies, this interpretation may be difficult for some listeners to associate with the deeper feelings of reverential joy that might be expected to be experienced in a church setting.

Richter's `modern' (non-HIP) interpretation - a flowing, `symphonic' andante - seems both beautiful and reverential ("church-like") at the same time; but are we merely dealing with listeners' different mental temperaments? (I note that I personally am more open to Gardiner's interpretation of this famous music than I once was; if I want to dance around the room I will listen to Gardiner, if I want to experience a deeper joy, I will listen to Richter).

Footnote: in trying to find an answer for a list member, concerning the BWV number for a "Fanfare Fugue" possibly by Bach, I have come across a wondeful site for people with broadband connections: <organlive.com> playing continuous add-free organ music. Great for people wishing to get away from "horrible little baroque organs".... Michael Murray has just finished playing BWV 542 (Liverpool Cathedral?); before that Frederick Swann on a five manual instrument, and so on.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 10, 2005):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Richter's `modern' (non-HIP) interpretation - a flowing, `symphonic' andante - seems both beautiful and reverential ("church-like") at the same time; but are we merely dealing with listeners' different mental temperaments? >
The endless legato which is usually used in "Jesu Joy" isn't a church style, it's a Romantic interpretation of what "sacred" and "devotional" meant to the 19th century. What is wonderful in Wagner's "Parsifal" is just plain wrong in Bach.

Neil Halliday wrote (November 10, 2005):
minuet BWV 147 chorale (was: BWV 48 - Intro to Weekly Discussion)

Douglas Cowling wrote:
<"The endless legato which is usually used in "Jesu Joy"... >
Actually, Richter does observe the phrasing of the triplets in the 1st violins - you can hear a slight break between each group of three notes. Gardiner obviously brings more phrasing and bounce to the continuo, with some of the crotchets actually being played staccato; but as there are no continuo phrasing or articulation marks in the score, this must remain a matter of historical speculation.

So the question is: does the gay gigue that results from Gardiner's interpretation [6], charming though it may be, sound like it might be more appropriate in Zimmerman's coffee house rather than in St. Thomas's, in 1723. In other words, can you be sure Gardiner's dance-like tempo is the correct one for a liturgical setting? St Thomas's church must have had a very lively, secular ambience, if this is the case.

(Not that I particularly want to differentiate between the sacred and the secular, neither am I all that hung up on what may have been happening in 1723. In the meantime, the sheer ability of Bach's music to withstand both approaches is amazing; even if Richter's approach is "wrong", it is beautiful music to be treasured (this BWV 147 is Richter on one of his good days).

Neil Mason wrote (November 10, 2005):
[To John Pike] Hear, hear! I agree with every word.

Uri Golomb wrote (November 10, 2005):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Concerning Gardiner's approach to, for example, the chorales in BWV 147 ("Jesu, joy of man's desiring"), introduced into the debate by Douglas Cowling, where a case might more reasonably be made for an interpretation based on dance-forms such as minuet or gigue, I have listened to Gardiner and Richter and observed: Gardiner's approach is gay, with a brisk, lilting dance rhythm and, even though the gaiety is tempered by the wistfulness of some of the chorale harmonies, this interpretation may be difficult for some listeners to associate with the deeper feelings of reverential joy that might be expected to be experienced in a church setting.
Richter's `modern' (non-HIP) interpretation - a flowing, `symphonic' andante - seems both beautiful and reverential ("church-like") at the same time; but are we merely dealing with listeners' different mental temperaments? (I note that I personally am more open to Gardiner's interpretation of this famous music than I once was; if I want to dance around the room I will listen to Gardiner, if I want to experience a deeper joy, I will listen to Richter). >
MY REPLY

Curiously, I find Gardiner not lilting enough in this particular case; his recording of this chorale sounds to me a bit bland and featureless, and consequently the tempo doesn't quite work for me. The problem, however, is not the tempo as such: Harry Christophers, in his recording, takes exactly the same tempo as Gardiner, but his phrasing and dynamics are much more purposeful and detailed (with some attention to the words, leading to subtle differences between the two repeats of the chorale); to my ears, it sounds both more dance-like and more spiritually uplifting than Gardiner's interpretation; Christophers' performance indeed has a dance-like lilt, but also a sense of yearning.

I emphasise that this is not a general criticism of Gardiner, but only a reservation on this particular recording. Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if Gardiner's Pilgrimage version is superior to his own studio recording -- I look forward to its release in due course.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 10, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< In any case, it appears that Gardiner does not use the NBA as a basis for his most recent recordings (2000) [6], but rather an outdated, if possibly somewhat revised, Breitkopf & Härtel edition. >
No, it appears directly in Gardiner's program notes [6] that he commissioned a new scholarly performance-oriented edition for the pilgrimage project! What's the gratuitous point of making him look not as smart as people who use the NBA?

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 10, 2005):
marches/funerals, and ABS

< So the thesis is that military marching as well as dance rhythms influence the variety of allusions in the Cantatas. >
Another possibly related activity: public executions. Peter Williams's interesting article about that, from last year, is now on the web: http://www.americanbachsociety.org/bachnotes.html
It was part of Bach's duty to provide or select music for these executions....

The current issue of that newsletter (Fall 2005, just arrived last week, not yet on web) also has a special offer for ABS members to get several recent Oxford University Press boat 20% discount. Among these are the Durr/Jones cantatas book ($260 instead of $325), the Chafe paperback ($28 instead of $35), the Oxford Composer Companion paperback ($28 instead of $35), Melamed's "Hearing Bach's Passions" ($20 instead of $25), and a new book by Melamed and Marissen for January 2006.

This newest issue also has an article by Sara Botwinick about the "Zippel Fagottist" incident.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 10, 2005):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Either you think there is an ironic suggestion here, as with the minor key waltz in Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, or something entirely different is being implied by the insistent two-pulse rhythm within triple time which is the orchestral underpinning of the movement. >
What minor-key waltz in Tchaikovsky 6? That movement is a 5/4-meter oddity and it's in major.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 10, 2005):
< Perhaps the most famous Baroque requiem is the Gilles "Requiem" which was originally written for strings and Provencal tambour. It was rearranged for full orchestra with timpani by Lully and became THE requiem of the 18th century. If Bach knew any French choral music it was this work. The opening drum march is alluded to in works as late as the "Libera Me" of the Fauré Requiem. >
Righto on the primacy of that wonderful Gilles piece.

But, careful on that assumption that there was *any* drum originally in Gilles's original scoring. I have John Hajdu's critical edition of it here, and he remarks in the preface: "Those who have heard Gilles's Requiem live or on record may question the absence of the timpani in this critical edition. The direction 'it is necessary to let the drum sound for two measures before beginning' found in the 1764 edition is not present in either of the Toulouse manuscripts or in any of the manuscripts dated before 1750. Several later manuscripts do include a timpani part and the manuscript for Rameau's memorial service even specifies 'muted timpani'. Probably the practice developed in the eighteenth century, but it is possible that early Toulouse performances included improvised timpani and perhaps other instruments as well."

In the 1993 production by "A Sei Voci" where they tried to reconstruct hypothetical funeral services for Charles III (1608) and Henri II (1624), using Charles d'Helfer's requiem mass setting from the 1650s (yeah, it's a stretch)--they used a drum processional in and out. I'm curious how old that practice of drum processionals really was.

The openings of both of Biber's requiems are sort of march-like, too. The F minor one is readily available in DTOe.

Not about drums: also check out Campra's requiem, from a couple of years ahead of Gilles's, and the several funerary masses and motets by Charpentier. Yum. Lully's own "Dies irae" is pretty good, too.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 10, 2005):
I had originally stated:
>>In any case, it appears that Gardiner does not use the NBA as a basis for his most recent recordings 2000) [6], but rather an outdated, if possibly somewhat revised, Breitkopf & Härtel edition.<<

to which Brad Lehman responded:
>>it appears directly in Gardiner's program notes that he commissioned a new scholarly performance-oriented edition for the pilgrimage project!<<
Does this mean that Breitkopf & Härtel have issued a completely new Bach edition (Year 2000) of his cantatas, etc. edited by Reinhold Kubik? or that that the latter simply added some of the new findings of the NBA to the older Breitkopf & Härtel edition? This still does not sound like a truly scholarly edition, but rather one in which Gardiner may have wanted to circumvent using the NBA. The mistake regarding the chorale designation/assignation may have come from either Kubik or Gardiner, but which one?

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: J.E. Gardiner - General Discussions Part 8

Santu de Silva wrote (November 10, 2005):
Doug Cowling:
< I'm still convinced that in "Jesu Bleibet Meine Freude" ("Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring) Bach harmonizes the chorale in 3/4 as a minuet (look at the running bass figure) while the orchestra has a gigue in 9/8. Look's likeBaroque Dance Fever to me! >
I'm confused. To me a jig (gigue) is exemplified by "Pop goes the weasel", which is in compound quadruple time. Are you using a more flexible definition of what a gigue is, i.e. anything in a sprightly compound tempo? (I don't necessarily disagree, but perhaps we ought to invent a different terms for such dance-like rhythms of meters, just so we don't get into a kind of meaningless musico-babble.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 10, 2005):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< To me a jig (gigue) is exemplified by "Pop goes the weasel", which is in compound quadruple time. Are you using a more flexible definition of what a gigue is, i.e. anything in a sprightly compound tempo? >
Gigues can be found in 3/8, 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8. The motifs of a rising fourth and rising and falling thirds are the real identifiers of the gigue genre.

John Pike wrote (November 10, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< No, it appears directly in Gardiner's program notes that he commissioned a new scholarly performance-oriented edition for the pilgrimage project [6]! What's the gratuitous point of making him look not as smart as people who use the NBA? >
Yes. It says ".....we had commissioned a new edition of the cantatas by Reinhold Kubik, incorporating the latest source findings....".

John Pike wrote (November 11, 2005):
BWV 48

I absolutely agree with Peter Smaill that this is a very fine cantata that deserves to be better known. The opening chorus and both arias are absolute gems.

I have listened to Gardiner [6], Leusink [5], Rilling [1] and Harnoncourt [2].

I think Gardiner [6] gives a splendid account. The opening chorus/orchestral chorale is very deeply felt and moving. He takes an appropriately slow tempo and there is something very weighty about the performance. The phrasing is very beautiful and the singing superb, as one would expect from this choir. Both arias are very beautifully sung by the soloists and the soloists bring out many nuances in the music and emphasise certain telling words to great effect.

I thought Harnoncourt's performance [2] was one of the finest I have heard of his (and I have heard them all). His opening chorus is also very slow and weighty and beautifully phrased and his soloists are very fine in their arias.

Leusink's account [5] is also enjoyable but not, I feel, in the same league as Harnoncourt and, especially, Gardiner [6].

As Neil has remarked, Rilling [1] takes a faster tempo with the opening movement (unusual I feel for him) and although I would not go so far as to say it was "too" fast, it nevertheless lacks much of the emotional impact of the Gardiner [6] and Harnoncourt performances [2]. I found the alto soloist's vibrato a bit off-putting and, more seriously for me, I found her style too operatic, compared to the more intimate and deeply affecting performances by William Towers (for Gardiner) and Paul Esswood (for Harnoncourt).

Rank order for these 4 recordings (for what it is worth): Gardiner [6], Harnoncourt [2], Leusink [5], Rilling [1]. I look forward to hearing Suzuki [4] when it arrives.

John Reese wrote (November 11, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< What minor-key waltz in Tchaikovsky 6? That movement is a 5/4-meter oddity and it's in major. >
The fourth movement is in 3/4 time ana minor key -- definitely not a waltz, though. He might have been thinking of a different symphony.

Peter Smaill wrote (November 11, 2005):
danses macabres

Brad Lehman rightly pulls me up on referring to the waltz-like second movement of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony as being in a minor key - it modulates there in the central trio (I believe a B minor over a mediant pedal, relative to D major). But even the main theme in the major tonality is strangely sombre as befits the Pathetique Symphony.

BWV 48/1 is not in my view an attempt to produce a danse macabre, (which in that case would be a strange minuet). However, the description of "danse macabre" can certianly be associated with Tchaikovsky's unorthodox (and undanceable)! waltz-like piece. I think the rhythm and the avoidance of returning to the dominant are the factors behind the strangeness of the Tchaikovsky's movement, whereas Bach is creating a funeral march, unusually in triple time, with an aspirant third note in the orchestral underpinning creating the halting effect.

Purcell's Funeral Music for Queen Anne also misses a beat as an expedient to control the marching pace, music most recently heard in Britain as intended for a State funeral, namely the obsequies for the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Brad draws attention to the unusual time signature of the Tchaikovsky movement, 5/4. Bach is not, of course, a stranger to innovative rhythms - in the Cantatas, there is the 9/8 of BWV 69/3, "Meine Seele, auf!" (a late work, c. 1743); in the Orchestral Suites, the Venetian Forlane in I think 6/8 metre, the parts for which were copied out in 1724/5 but may well be earlier in origin.

A propos my elementary mistake on one of the best known symphonies, the words
of a French WW1 General come to mind:

"It was worse than a crime. It was an error!"

Neil Halliday wrote (November 11, 2005):
John Reese wrote:
<"He might have been thinking of a different symphony">
Actually, I think that second movement (of Tchaikovsky's 6th) well illustrates the point Peter was making, ie, an association of 'dance' with 48/1 is either ironic as in the symphony, or there is no association with dance at all.

[The symphony's graceful 5/4 meter might loosely be termed a 'waltz', and as early as bar six the main motive in the cellos has already returned to B minor (briefly); and in any case there is a long section in B minor in the second section of the movement].

John Reese wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To Neil Halliday] Well, that movement is now firmly ensconced in my brain. Thanks loads. ;-)

John Pike wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To Neil Halliday] I agree with this. It's a charming movement. It is also, however, most definitely NOT in a minor key!

Tom Dent wrote (November 11, 2005):
BWV 48 - Brahms ?

[To Peter Smaill] Perhaps it was Brahms Requiem rather than Tchaikovsky. 'Denn alles Fleisch' is usually referred back to a chorale melody (not the one used in this cantata) - but listening to it just for the texture and rhythm, it is quite similar to this opening movement.

The Brahms movement has frequently been called a funeral march in 3 time.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 12, 2005):
gigues

< Gigues can be found in 3/8, 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8. >
True; and 4/4, C, cut-C, 2/2, 4/2, and various meters with denominator 16. Among others. Example: the last movement of Bach's keyboard partita #6, and lots of duple-meter gigues by Froberger and Bohm. There are several gigues in 3/4 or 6/4 by Buxtehude and Reincken.

Now here's a slippery question: if the alternate version of "Rejoice greatly" from Handel's "Messiah" is classed somehow as a gigue (which seems easily plausible to me), is its more standard duple version also a gigue?

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 12, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Now here's a slippery question: if the alternate version of "Rejoice greatly" from Handel's "Messiah" is classed somehow as a gigue (which seems easily plausible to me), is its more standard duple version also a gigue? >
Well it's not unlike "Happy, Happy We" in "Acis and Galatea" which is a definite gigue and has an uncanny resemblance to "Three Blind Mice" (it's a 17th century tune!)

Neil Halliday wrote (November 12, 2005):
BWV 48: alto aria

I find the Harnoncourt/Esswood version [2] of the alto aria to be the most appealing, capturing as it does the essential tunefulness of this aria, and the attractive interweaving between the oboe and voice. The piece flows nicely (and this is Harnoncourt!), and has a relaxed triple-time tempo, actually the same speed as Rilling [1], but with more shape to the phrasing (especially continuo); and like many listeners, I find Esswood's voice to be more satisfactory in this type of aria than Hoeffgen's. Suzuki's version [4] seems unnecessarily rushed, by comparison.
---------

Without having heard all the recordings, I think a most satisfying BWV 48 might therefore consist of: 1st movement (chorus): Suzuki [4]; 2nd movement (alto acc. recit): Suzuki [4]; 3rd movement (chorale) Rilling [1]; 4th movement (alto aria): Harnoncourt [2]; 5th movement (tenor recit): Rilling [1]; 6th movement (tenor aria): Rilling [1]; 7th movement (chorale): Rilling [1].

Rianto Pardede wrote (November 13, 2005):
[To John Pike] Within the first days of the week, I have to admit that I was not quite impressed with the first movement of this particular cantata. However, enlightened by the recent discussion -- especially regarding the military march, by now the whole cantata sounds just right. I've been listening to recordings directed by Harnoncourt [2], Leusink [5] and Rilling [1], respectively. As for preference, I'm drawn and moved more by sound in the first two, somehow.

Tom Dent wrote (November 14, 2005):
[To Bradley Lehman] The Handel movement in its well-known form includes acres of 16th-note figurations in groups of 4. I could believe that a gigue can handle (p.n.i.) occasional 2-against-3 or 4-against-3, but what could become of these sets of 16th-notes in compound time?

As far as I know the gigue version was the first to be composed. One would like to know why Handel made the change, involving rewriting the whole piece, which considerably alters the its expression to be (IMO) more strait-laced and more of a technical showpiece. A rare example of Handel's revision not being a substantial improvement?

(To see what I mean by that, look up the 3/4 chorus Handel first wrote on the text 'Break forth into joy', or the first version of 'Their sound is gone out'... which is a tenor solo!)

To get back to the point, 'what is (classed somehow as) a gigue' depends on what one wants to achieve by the classing. The original Rejoice greatly has the rhythm of some kind of gigue, or rather Jig, but not the form.

Perhaps the country-dance Jig was felt by some simply too impious for the sacred story. I once played a piece with similar melodic figuration, with the title 'Bump her Belly, or the Maiden's Blush'...

 

BWV 48, Trinity 19 (Oct. 18, 2009)

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 20, 2009):
Although I did not get to hear it broadcast, the playlist (www.wgbh.org) indicates that Brian McCreath chose BWV 48 in the Gardiner Pilgrimage version [6] this past Sunday. This cantata from the first Leipzig cycle (Jahrgang I) happens to use an opening chorale-based chorus, and two four-part chorale movements (Nos. 3 and 7).

Although I did not heaBrians introductory commentary, I think he has generally been original, bur consistent with some of Gardiners own thoughts on these later post-Trinity works. This from Gardiner re Trinity 19, to whet your appetite (or not!):
<Now that we are approaching the end of the Trinity season, the thematic emphasis is on the thorny and intractable issues of belief and doubt. With autumn giving way to winter the character of the appointed texts for each Sunday becomes steadily grimmer, underlining the rejection of the world by the faithful and the prospect of eventual union with God -- or the horror of exclusion. From week to week this dichotomy appears to grow harsher.> (end quote)

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 48: 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: ıAugust 22, 2012 ı00:43:21