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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 53
Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde
Discussions - Part 1

Cantata BWV 53 (Pseudo-Bach)

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (January 22, 2001):
The only cantata I have multiple recordings of is not by Bach "any more". Nevertheless, it is of much interest to all Bach lovers. I often listen to the seven recordings I have managed to find of "Pseudo-Bach" Cantata BWV 53 "Schlage doch gewünschte Stunde", a solo cantata for alto. I began with the first interpretation I ever heard of this and most likely still the most beautifully sung, as I perceive it, that of Hilde Rössl-Majdan with Scherchen conducting [5]. It is funny how, in general, our tastes don't change that much. I had much the same reaction today to all the recordings as last time I ran through them some few years ago.

[8] Next I listened to the Helen Watts recording with Thurston Dart conducting. I found her interpretation to be a child-like and naive reading of the text. By this I mean that it struck me as though she were singing one of those Mahler Symphony texts with those enigmatic and intentionally naive views of the heavenly life. This doesn't accord with my response to Bach. I listened to some of the other Bach items on this LP to check my response and this was the same response I had to her singing also of the aria "Erbarme dich, mein Gott" from the Matthäus Passion (BWV 248) as well as to the fragment from Cantata BWV 200 "Bekennen will ich seinen Namen". Dart was a renowned authentic interpreter of Bach style in his day. These are all, of course, about 40 year old recordings.

[9] Third I played the old MHS re-release of the Erato Fritz Werner series of Bach cantatas on which the alto was Claudia Hellmann whom (1) I don't know from Eve and (2) came to with no preconceptions as I don't recall the last time I listened to this. Her recording really seemed to have the requisite heft and right type of seriousness and was very successful for me. I often don't like the interpretations on this at one time prominent set of Bach cantatas.

[10] Fourth I put on the Maureen Forrester reading with Antonio Janigro who made Zagreb famous before the relatively recent tragic events. I find Forrester in Bach totally not to my taste. I simply don't respond to certain oddities of the voice and lack the terminology and musicological understanding to specify better. It is not appealing to me.

[6] Fifth is someone I never would have picked up, if not for the fact that it was yet another reading of the BWV 53. This is one Herta Glaz (Mezzo-Soprano of the Metropolitan Opera Company) on a MGM LP (with another Bach cantata and with the Pergelosi "Salve Regina", with the Guilet String Quartet). This was a totally appealing and lovely reading.

[15] For sixth I turned to a CD cheapo re-issue. This is Shirley Love with the Amor Artis Baroque under Johannes Somary. This was the most unsatisfactory performance. I have been to various Somary Oratorio performances and own many of his Händel oratorios and have replaced them all. He was a devoted conductor of this repertoire at a time when much better groups were coming on the scene. Ms. Love was really nothing to rejoice in.

[17] And, in a perverse, but knowing manner, I kept for last the one that I acquired last and which alone came out only on CD, the one that is musicologically and Bach-wise the most representative of the Bach style, that of Ensemble 415 with counter-tenor René Jacobs. Now here we have an interpretation that fits both needs. It is authentic in today's terms (not as the term was understood 30-40 years ago) and it was beautifully sung and very satisfactory in every possible way.

Alas, when I came to the only possible competition, the alto cantatas as done by Andreas Scholl with Philippe Herreweghe, BWV 53 is already excluded as not being by Bach. Too bad. It would have been very nice to compare and Bach indeed did copy and did appreciate this delicious cantata.

The speculation as to by whom it is ranges and is not that relevant here. Or maybe it is. So, to respond to myself: Is one to prefer the "authentic" to the great singers who did Bach? Well, obviously Bach is big enough for both and we probably want to have both.

For me Rössl-Majdan's [5] only competition is Jacobs [17].

Johan van Veen wrote (January 24, 2001):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] [14] There is another fine recording by the late Henri Ledroit with the Ricercar Consort (Ricercar RIC 20 002).

 

Cantata BWV 53

Ludwig wrote (January 1, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you and a happy New Year to you. I am wondering if anyone knows if there is a recording of the Cantata "Slage doch----" which uses real bells (these would weigh several tons) or a Carillon at the bass pitches which Bach asks for??? The places where such bells are available are few. If so: would appreciate knowing about these and the labels. There is no real substitute for these sounds as Wagner's Parsifal and Mahler's Symphonies have taught us.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 5, 2002):
[To Ludwig] Cantata BWV 53 'Schlage doch, gewunschte Stunde' was not composed by J.S. Bach but by M. Hoffmann.
A list of its recordings appears in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV53.htm
Although it was not composed by Bach, this is still a charming piece of music.
Since I do not have all the recordings of this cantata, I am not sure if there is a recording which uses real bells.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 6, 2002):
Regarding real bells and BWV 53: if my memory does not fail my completely here, I remember hearing real bells (a single, small bell such as a percussion section might have, with the single note being struck repeatedly) on an LP recording that I heard in the late fifties and never again after that time. This is the recording that Yoël L Arbeitman owns and discussed:

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (January 22, 2001):
< The only cantata I have multiple recordings of is not by Bach "any more". Nevertheless, it is of much interest to all Bach lovers. I often listen to the seven recordings I have managed to find of "Pseudo-Bach" Cantata BWV 53 "Schlage doch gewünschte Stunde", a solo cantata for alto. I began with the first interpretation I ever heard of this and most likely still the most beautifully sung, as I perceive it, that of Hilde Rössl-Majdan with Scherchen conducting [5]. It is funny how, in general, our tastes don't change that much. I had much the same reaction today to all the recordings as last time I ran through them some few years ago. >
Perhaps Yoël can tell us, if this is done in one of the mvts. of this recording of the cantata.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] There is a new recording of BWV 53/Melchior Hoffman's "Schlage doch, gewunschte Stunde":
[24] Carlos Mena, CT
Ricercar Consort
Philippe Pierlot, conductor
TT : 5'17"
Mirare records MIR9911
Recorded in november 2000.
http://www.abeillemusique.com/produit.php?cle=5760

Ludwig wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Riccardo Nuges] Thank you. Would you happen to know what proof there is that Bach did not write this and that Hoffman "borrowed" phrases from Bach--based on the excerpts I have heard. Would you also happen to know if this recording uses real church bells in it??

Ludwig wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz] The score which is mentioned in a classic Orchestration text by Forsy and according to Forsyth calls for two deep toned bells. Irregarless of whether or not Bach wrote it; it is a very important work from the point of Orchestration. It is the only work along with one by Handel that calls for genuine bells with Orchestra and voices.

The bells called for would weigh in the neighborhood of 20,000 lbs or more. Now where such bells existed in Bach's neighborhood when he was living can not be determined be cause Napoleon and others after him requisitioned bells and made them into Cannon and guns. The Nazi's did the same thing during WWII and the Kaiser also did during WWI. Russia use to be a place of great bells that is until Napoleon and Hitler came there.

Ludwig wrote (January 6, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Among my many musical talents is that I am a Carillonneur.

You would be surprized how many fake bell sounds are out in the world trying to pass as real tuned bronze bells. It does not take a rocket scientist to know the difference because the sounds of real bells is not easily duplicated by tubular chimes,electronics or other cheap substitutes. Real musical bells are made of Bronze and thus tend to be expensive. When a real bell sounds it sounds more than one note---in fact a chorus of them. The tuner puts the newly cast bell on a lathe and voices the bell so that it's tuned fundamental note is the loudest while the other notes act like the Mixture Stop of an Organ. Thus when you hear a bell; you have the illusion of hearing only one note but if you listen carefully you will hear all the others also.

There are curently are few places in the world that have bells the size which Bach/Hoffman wrote for. Big Ben in London is just a few notes above and in fact one octave above the lowest note of what Bach/Hoffman asks for in this work. Some of the places that have bells this size and weight are Riverside Church in New York; Bloomfield Hills in Michigan, The Kremlin in Moscow; and possibly St. Paschal's in Spain (which has the worlds largest rollover bell (i.e. it can rotate 360 degrees).

 

BWV 53 and those who leave out doubtful mate

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 26, 2002):
Ludwig wrote:
< Now if Bach wrote this or not the case for it is that there is an autograph copy.
In the case of
BWV 53; there was an original autograph of JS Bach. If one listens carefully---if even sounds like Bach at least to a certain extent. Could it be that Bach wrote some of this music and added Hoffmans music to it or is it that Hoffman copied Bach's score and added something of his own. Or maybe Bach sketched things out roughly and then had Hoffman fill in the details for him? >
Alfred Dürr is mainly responsible for removing BWV 53 from the list of Bach's cantatas. The evidence is contained in books that I do not have access to: Dürr, Alfred "Studien über die frühen Kantaten J.S.Bachs, Leipzig, 1951, 1977, [Vol. 2, p. 58] and the Bach Jahrbuch 1955 [p. 15, note 9]. I have nothing to indicate that this work is in Bach's handwriting.

In all probability this work is by Georg Melchior Hoffmann. BWV 53 is not a genuine, original work by J.S. Bach.

Spitta, in the late 19th century, states that it is obvious that this work was not to be performed in a church since it is much too short for a church service and for a funeral the words are not suitable. And you can be assured that Bach "eine wirkliche Campanella in der Kirche doch nicht hätte mitwirken lassen" ["would not have allowed a real campanile to play along in the church."] He would not have had objections if this piece were played in a home situation.

Schweitzer, very early 20th century, says that "strictly speaking it is not a cantata, but a "mourning aria," as it is called on the title page of the old manuscript in which it has come down to us. As Bach employs two bells in this work, Forkel thinks that "it does not belong to the period of his [Bach's] purified taste."

Voigt, also very early 20th century, indicates that this piece was frequently performed in the 19th century. He thinks it must have been an extremely early work of Bach's. There was no way to date the manuscript. The manner in which the desire for death is expressed is not the way one usually finds it expressed in other works by the master. Voigt suggests numerous cuts that can be made to shorten the aria. A difficult problem for the conductor is how to perform the "Campanella" which has two notes, 'b' and 'c' that are notated in the bass clef. "Mir ist unbekannt, ob eine Hypothese darüber vorliegt, was für ein Instrument der Komponist sich dabei gedacht haben mag. (Sollten zufällig zwei kleinere Kirchenglocken in dieser Stimmung vorhanden gewesen und mit einem leichten Hammer angeschlagen sein? Oder besaß eine in Betracht kommende Orgel ein Campanella-Register?)" ["I have no idea whether a hypothesis has been given, as to what kind of instrument the composer might have had in mind. (Is it possible that there just happened to be two small church bells with these pitches, bells that could be struck with a light hammer? Or did the organ chosen for the performance have a campanella stop?"] Then Voigt suggests, for a modern performance, the cylindrical steel 'bells' used in orchestras, or glasses filled with water to different pitches. As a last resort a horn can be used as a replacement.

 

Cantata 53

Hiroluwian wrote (February 6, 2002):
Last year I posted here about the 7 recording of Pseudo-Bach cantata BWV 53 I have and was informed that there were 3 others that I did not have. It remains a sublime piece of music although usually excluded more recently. I was surprised tonight to run across a listing on the Bongiovanni70.com site listing it as by G.M. Hoffmann. Yes, I know that it is ascribed to various beings, but I have never seen it listed as by another.

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Tilge, Höchster, Meine Sünden
G. M. HOFFMANN: Schlage Doch, Gewünschte Stunde
G. B. PERGOLESI: Salve Regina in la minore
Kathleen Cassello, Gloria Banditelli
Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana
FABIO MAESTRI
GB 2113-2

 

Info needed re Ledroit's Cantata #53 recording

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 15, 2004):
I have a very simple problem amidst a lot of joy. Cantata BWV 53 (no longer by Bach and mostly ascribed to G.M. Hoffmann currently) stills smells as sweet to me as ever.

Some many years ago Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (January 22, 2001): [various things about his = my collection of LP recordings of this work]
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NonBach.htm
scroll to bottom. The sum of the matter is that, although I still have these LPs, I no longer play LPs. I haven't for some years now.I am not capable at this point of transferring them either. Rössl-Majdan's has always been my reference point for any Bach singing and for any Mahler singing for that matter. That is the joyous part. I have just noticed the reprint of the Scherchen/R-M solo contralto cantatas on the Archipel label at one obscure USA dealer and at JPC.co.uk. I ordered this item and Scherchen's BWV 198 (a performance I really never liked, but that's another matter) [5]. Last night I went reading on Aryeh's site concerning this cantata and found the recommendations for the recording of Henri Ledroit [14] the lamented:

Johan van Veen wrote (January 24, 2001):
(To Yoël L. Arbeitman) (53-9) "There is another fine recording by the late Henri Ledroit with the Ricercar Consort (Ricercar RIC 20 002) [14]".

Some years earlier (before I was on the list) Steven Langley Guy wrote (October 27, 1999):
"The French Counter-tenor Henri Ledroit has made a very attractive recording of BWV 53 on the Ricercar label [14]".

Back then his name meant nothing to me. I have recently become very interested in this counter-tenor. It seems that the only place that has the 2-CD set with Henri Ledroit [14] and also with other cantatas by Van Egmont is JPC. The postage from there to the USA is almost the same as the cost of the set. The set sells for c. 20 Euros and the postage is c. 15 Euros. Simple question: Does anyone know of another source for this set? Finally, my current favorite recording is that of Gerard Lesne on that magnificent Astree CD of the Bachs including Hoffmann [26].

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 15, 2004):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Good to see you writing again to the BCML. Hope to see you writing more often.

This 2-CD was re-issued a short while ago [14]. The package of this reissue by Ricercar label is beautiful indeed. I am not sure that the content is identical with the original issue. You can see a picture of it at the pages of Cantatas BWV 53 & BWV 54. Nevertheless, it included moving performances of Henri Ledroit of both Cantatas BWV 53 (non-Bach) and BWV 54 (genuine J.S Bach). I prefer him to Lesne [26], whom you hold in high esteem. I purchased the album in Israel couple of months ago. We are lucky here to have many of the small labels, which are imported on more or less a regular basis. Back to Ledroit, IMO it is worth the price. I understand that it is quite expansive for you considering the shipment. But I am not sure how long it will stay in the catalogue. My recommendation is purchasing it as long as it is available. I believe that you will not regret it.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 15, 2004):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< I purchased the album in Israel couple of months ago. We are lucky here to have many of the small labels, which are imported on more or less a regular basis. >
Perhaps, Aryeh, it would be cheaper to order from a source in Israel:-). I shall order it bc. there are things one needs and that's that. Let food worry about itself and rent too.

 

Schlage doch

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (May 11, 2004):
Those interested in Cantata 53 will find interesting files at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/GMHof/
Unfortunately my recordings of Hellmann/Werner [9], Watts/Dart [8], and Glatz/Solomon are on LPs and I cannot digitize them.

The #53 Monster
Der Bach singt voller Wohllaut durch das Dunkel.

 

“Schlage doch” again

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 10, 2004):
Great collection of Cantata BWV 53 recordings at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/GMHof/

File Name

Name

Size

Creator

Created

[10] Forrester, Maureen - 01 - Track 1.mp3

Maureen Forrester 1964 Janigro

2205 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

[24] Hoffmann-Carlos Mena -.mp3

Carlos Mena, Ricercar Consort, P.Pierlot (2000)

1241 KB

erre_enne

05/15/2004

[25] Hoffmann-Laurens.mp3

G.Laurens, I Barocchisti, D.Fasolis, Schlage doch (2000)

1744 KB

erre_enne

05/15/2004

[17] Jacobs, René - 13 - Track 13.mp3

René Jacobs 1987 Ensemble 415

1900 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

[21] Kowalski, Jochen - 11 - Track 11.mp3

Jochen Kowalski 1993 Sillito

1338 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

[14] Ledroit, Henri - 11 - Track 11.mp3

Henri Ledroit 1983 Ricercar Consort

1417 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

[1] Leisner, Emmi - 02 - Track 2.mp3

Emmi Leisner 1926

1112 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

[15] Love, Shirley - 03 - Track 3.mp3

Shirley Love 1984-86 Somary

1824 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/11/2004

[26] Lésne, Gerard - 07 - Track 7.mp3

Gérard Lesne

1369 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

[22] Robin Blaze - 13 - Track 13.mp3

Blaze Parley of Instruments 1998

1384 KB

ascagne_ascanio

06/09/2004

[5] Roessl-Majdan, Hilde - 09 - Track 9.mp3

Hilde Rössl

As you see, most current ones are by counter-tenors. The three I have on LPs, but have not appeared on CDs are: Helen Watts [8], Herta Glaz [6] (that is a rarity), and Claudia Hellmann [9].

 

BWV 53

Charlie Richards wrote (July 28, 2004):
I know this list primarily discusses those works of Bach which are considered authentic, but I was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts on the apocryphal cantata formerly catalogued as BWV 53 ("Schlage Doch"), but now attributed to Melchior Hoffmann?

I fell in love with this cantata when I first heard the Maureen Forrester recording on LP [10] many years ago (recently re-issued on CD on the "Amadeus" label - still unsurpassed, in my opinion). At that time I had no reason to doubt that it was not an authentic Bach cantata. However, upon repeated hearings, and after listening to other Bach cantatas, it began to seem like an "odd man out" to me in many ways.

It is hard for me now to understand why this cantata was ever considered to be an authentic part of the Bach canon. Both structurally and harmonically it seems to belong in an entirely different sound world; not even BWV 4, which has a particularly antiquated structure (resembling, I think, in its construction, more a cantata by Schütz or Buxtehude than that of the later Bach) seems as different from what we normally think of as a "classic" Bach cantata than BWV 53.

So, some questions: when was the cantata's authenticity first questioned? And how was its attribution to Hoffmann determined?

Also, for those who are familiar with it, which recordings do you prefer? As stated above, I love the Forrester recording [10], but the recent recordings by Lesne [26] and Mena [24] (both of which use the Hoffmann attribution) are growing on me. I have a particular aversion to Jacobs' recording on Harmonia Mundi [17] (which attributes it to Bach, on a recital of "Bach Cantatas for Alto") which I find almost unbearable (although I have heard other recordings by Jacobs I HAVE liked, in general I prefer him in his role as conductor than as singer).

I'm looking forward to reading any comments others on this list may have on this cantata, especially those of musicians or music students (I fall into neither category) who may be able to analyze this cantata better than I can.

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 28, 2004):
[To Charlie Richards] The following page of the Bach Cantatas Website lists all the known recordings of Cantata BWV 53: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV53.htm

Yoel Arbeitman, a member of the BCML, created a special website 'Cantata Schlage doch' dedicated to recording of this charming work: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/GMHof/
If you want to listen to the music examples, you must subscribe to this group.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (July 29, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] Why am I not surprised?????? Three persons joined that group today and that has never happened before. We need members. Thanks, Aryeh, for the advertising. I have recently also become fascinated-- as a byproduct of the Schlage doch recordings I have been collecting-- withthe two great cantatas of Johann Christoph Bach "Wie bist du denn, o Gott, im Zorn auf mich entbrannt?" and "Ach, dass ich Wassers g'nug haette". These are amazing works.

 

The bells

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 28, 2004):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< Of course discussion is always welcome. >
Anybody have info about the possible use of regular church steeple bells around the original performances? Or, perhaps, a set of handbells (handbell-choir type)? Or a couple of specially-constructed bells, either for this particular piece or some occasion around its composition?

That seems more plausible than rolling in a rack of orchestral tubular bells....

 

BWV 53 bells

Continue of dicsussion from: Cantata BWV 54 - Discussions

Doug Cowling wrote (October 13, 2004):
Going back one BWV number, I have a couple of questions about BWV 53, "Schlage Doch" which alas is not by Bach but Hoffman ... still an exquisite one-movement cantata.

The work calls for a bell -- the text refers to death's hour striking -- and I am curious about the "campanella" which was probably a bell stop on a Baroque organ (there were all manner of exotic theatrical ranks on some organs). The superb old Helen Watts recording [8] uses an orchestral chime whereas Rene Jacobs lovely performance [17] use a tiny chime like a small clock. So is the "striking of the awaited hour" a tolling church bell or a chime on the mantelpiece?

I doubt Watts' contralto [8] or Jacobs' countertenor [17] is the sound that Hoffman wanted. Anyone know of a recording sung by a boy soloist? The old Harnoncourt recordings used these chesty teenagers quite a bit, but counter-tenors seem to be the norm these days.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 13, 2004):
[To Doug Cowling] There's (surprisingly!) a whole Yahoo group about that piece: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/GMHof/messages
...which is mostly a place to download other recordings of it....

I'd asked a similar question there in July about the bells, but nobody followed it up:
"Anybody have info about the possible use of regular church steeple bells around the original performances? Or, perhaps, a set of handbells (handbell-choir type)? Or a couple of specially-constructed bells, either for this particular piece or some occasion around its composition?

"That seems more plausible than rolling in a rack of orchestral tubular bells...."

The recording of that that I currently like best is Ledroit's, with the Ricercar Consort [14], including some medium-sized bells with a long ring time.

Doug Cowling wrote (October 13, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
"Anybody have info about the possible use of regular church steeple bells around the original performances? Or, perhaps, a set of handbells (handbell-choir type)? Or a couple of specially-constructed bells, either for this particular piece or some occasion around its composition?
"That seems more plausible than rolling in a rack of orchestral tubular bells...."
The organ probably had a set of bells which could be played from a keyboard. I'm not sure if the Leipzig organs had this bit of exotica. Is the copy of the cantata in Bach's handwriting?

Ludwig wrote (October 13, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] First of all I have researched this Cantata rather throughly as both a Conductor,Organist and Carillonneur.

First of all; this is not a Cantata by JS Bach but has long been attributed to him. Some scholars say that one of Bach's cousins or Uncles wrote this work.

From the score only ---one would assume that this required a Bourdon Bell(the largest bell in a Carillon or a Bass sounding Bell) weighting some 20 to 40 tons and as far as is known such Bells were not in Germany during either Bach's lifetime and the technology in Bach's lifetime for casting them existed only in Japan, Burma and China Russia, (where the Worlds largest unrung Bell (the 200 ton Bourdon named the Tzar Kolokol I--cast in 1654) rests in the Kremlin where it fell when the timbers upon which it was hung burned). Please note the phrase <as far as known>:Bells before Napolean were regarded as sacred objects both Napoleon and Hitler developed the habit of robbing Church and Municipal Towers of their bells and melting them down to form guns and cannon). Often no detailed records were kept of bells removed.

Music for Bells was often written from the 12th century to the 19th century as for transposing instruments but today it is written as sounds in the key of C or transposed up or down in Octaves from the notation as written and this is the clue to what was intended in this Cantata as the Church where this Cantata was written did not have any Huge Bells of many tons hanging in it's tower.

When one examines the Organ and the Church Records --one finds that the Congregation requested that a number of Bells (read cymbelstern type of Bicycle bell) be installed when the Organ was being renovated. This was done and these bells were connected to the botton part of the Organ Keyboard so the sounds called for are at least 2 to 3 octaves higher. However, I have often wondered what the effect would be with real live Carillon Bells playing this just as Wagner imagined such Bells in Tannhauser but never realized until John D. Rockefellow built Riverside Church in New York with the Laura Spillman Carillon.

The so-call theatrical stops on Organs of Bach's day is an Southern German ideology and led to the developement of the Wurlitzer theatre Organ of the 1920s. North German Organs rarely had such stops. Bach's In duli jubilo organ piece is often played with great satifaction with the cymbelstern or similar bells.

Please let us not discuss Tubular bells which are at best a very poor imitation or real Carillon Bells and do not even sound like real bells to the educated ear.

BWV 53 has never been performed , as far as is known, with real bells (other than bicycle type) and most recordings either omit them or use the bicycle type. However, as this is a funeral Cantata they are essentail to the piece.

Now if there are real bells used in some recording out there that I may not know about please let me know so I can acquire a copy.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 14, 2004):
Doug Cowling wrote: >>The organ probably had a set of bells which could be played from a keyboard. I'm not sure if the Leipzig organs had this bit of exotica. Is the copy of the cantata in Bach's handwriting?<<
As far as I can tell, there were no bell (Glockenspiel) stops on the Leipzig organs in Bach's time.

I had written part of this before William Rowland's excellent summary on bells, but I am sending this mainly for the excellent biography of the supposed composer of BWV 53.

BWV 53 "Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde" is not by Bach, but possibly by M. Hoffmann (There is a Martin Hoffmann who lived from Aug. 28, 1654 to April 15, 1719 in Leipzig) In the extensive Hoffmann family beginning with Veit Hoffmann (died in May 1673 in Leipzig), a family that had friendly ties with or were even related to J. S. Bach's family, and members of which included musicians and were also well known as instrument makers (violins, lutes, etc.,) there is even mention of 'bell-makers' ('Glockengießer') among them.

The MGG [Bärenreiter, 1986] had listed BWV 53 this way:
>>Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde. Dichtung unbekannter Herkunft, möglicherweise S. Franck. Einzelne Arie (aus einer Kantate?). Um 1730? Autorschaft Bachs höchst unwahrscheinlich. Partitur in Abschrift.<<
[Librettist unknown, possibly by S. Franck, a single aria (from a cantata?) Around 1730? Extremely unlikely to be by J. S. Bach. The score is a copied manuscript.]

Then, since the 'M.' of 'M. Hoffmann' is not fully identified, there is also the following report by Andreas Glöckner ['Glöckner',BTW, means 'ringer' in German] in the Grove Music Online [Oxford University Press, 2004] on Melchior Hoffmann, who might be an even more likely prospect [Christoph Wolff, in the same GMO, still has BWV 53 as spurious with 'Franck?' for the text, the occasion of the 1st performance a funeral, and the music by '?M. Hoffmann']:

Melchior Hoffmann

(born in Bärenstein, near Dresden, c. 1679; died in Leipzig, 6 Oct 1715). German composer and organist. As a choirboy in the Dresden Hofkapelle, Hoffmann received his musical training from Johann Christoph Schmidt. He went to Leipzig in autumn 1702 and enrolled at the university to study law. He also joined the student collegium musicum founded by Telemann. When Telemann left Leipzig in June 1705, Hoffmann succeeded him as organist and music director of the Neukirche, and took over as director of Telemann's collegium musicum. He was also conductor of the Leipzig civic opera, which had been in existence since 1693 and for which he wrote a number of works. In 1709 he met the violin virtuoso Johann Georg Pisendel, who became leader of the orchestra of Hoffmann's collegium. At this time the ensemble consisted of 50 to 60 musicians and had won fame and recognition beyond the Leipzig area. [Note the size of this ensemble!!!]

Hoffmann seems to have visited England between 1709 and 1710, but no details are known. There is no definite evidence of a visit to Italy in 1714 either, and it is unlikely that he went there. In 1713 he applied, along with J.S. Bach and three other candidates, to succeed F.W. Zachow as organist at the Liebfrauenkirche in Halle. When Bach eventually declined the appointment on 19 March 1714 the Halle consistory offered it to Hoffmann, but although he officially accepted the post he never took up his duties in Halle, and in fact resigned on 23 July. On 9 September 1714 he married Margaretha Elisabeth Philipp and in the same month became one of the few Leipzig musicians of the time to be granted citizenship. He had been suffering from a serious illness since 1713 and died on the evening of 6 October 1715, aged only 36. He was buried in the Johannisfriedhof in Leipzig on 10 October; all the pupils of the Thomasschule attended the funeral.

Hoffmann died a prosperous citizen, regarded by his contemporaries as an important composer and a sensitive musician. The Leipzig chronicler Christoph Ernst Sicul described him in an obituary as 'a famous composer', whose collegium musicum had produced many fine musicians holding prominent positions as organists or in the Kapellen of major German courts. Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, a member of Hoffmann's collegium from 1707 to 1710, and the Darmstadt court poet Georg Christian Lehms also paid tribute to Hoffmann's great importance in their writings, and Charles Burney regarded him as one of the finest composers of the first half of the 18th century. In spite of his early death Hoffmann left a quite extensive body of work, although only a fraction of it has survived. Very little from his secular output, and in particular from his operas, is extant, and his music only began to attract attention from musicologists when three works previously attributed to Bach (BWV 53, BWV 189 and Anh.21) were recognized as being by Hoffmann (or, in the case of BWV 53, probably by him). In older studies Hoffmann has often been confused with the Breslau composer Johann Georg Hoffmann.

Melchior Hoffmann's music shows a feeling for unusual and effective orchestration. His cantata and opera arias are notable for their pleasant, attractive and accessible melodies, sometimes with a strong emotional emphasis, as in the cantata Meine Seele rühmt und preist. His later compositions show Italian influence.

WORKS

sacred vocal

Missa (e), B, vn/fl, bc, D-Bsb (partly autograph), later version (a), S/T, va, bc, Bsb; Sanctus (a), SATB, str, bc, 1708, Bsb*; Sanctus (C), SATB, 3 tpt, timp, str, bc, Bsb*; Sanctus (D), SATB, 3 tpt, timp, 2 ob, str, bc, Bsb; Mag (d), SATB, 2 vn, 2 va, bc, 1700, Bsb*

Cantatas: Entfernet euch, ihr schmeichlenden Gedanken, S/T, 2 hn, 2 ob, str, bc, Dl; Lob sei dem allerhöchsten Gott, SATB, 2 tpt, str, bc, B-Bc; Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn, S, fl, str, bc, D-Bsb (partly autograph), RUS-SPsc*; Meine Seele rühmt und preist, T, fl, ob, vn, bc, D-Bsb; Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, SATB, 2 tpt, timp, str, bc, 1708, Bsb, DK-Kk*

Doubtful: 3 missa brevis (C, C, G), D-Bsb; 4 cantatas, MÜG; Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde (cantata), A, bells, str, bc, Bsb

Lost: 32 cantatas, listed in Breitkopf catalogues, 1761 and 1764

operas

performed in Leipzig; music lost except for some arias in D-SHs and S-L

Acontius und Cydippe, 1709; Banise, oder Die dritte Abteilung dieser asiatischen Prinzessin, 1710; Balacin, oder Die erste Abteilung der asiatischen Banise, 1712; Chaumigrem, oder Die andere Abteilung der asiatischen Banise, 1712; Die amazonische Königin Orithya, 1713; Rhea Sylvia, 1714

other secular vocal

Cantatas.: Auf, muntre Sinnen zum Jagen, T, str, bc; Ich lebe als im Schlafe, S, str, bc; Schönste Lippen, eure Liebe, S, ob, bc; Treue Liebe edler Seelen, S, str, bc; Verdopple, Tyranne, verdopple dein Rasen, S, ob, str, bc; Verfolge mich immer mit rasenden Stürmen, S, str, bc: all D-SHs

Lost: 8 cants., listed in Breitkopf catalogue, 1761

instrumental

Sinfonie (f), str, D-Dl, GB-Lbl; Conc. (E ), hn, 2 ob, str, D-Dl; Sonata (g), ob, vn, bc, Dl

Lost: 5 sinfonie (D, D, F, A, B ), str, bc, listed in Breitkopf catalogue, 1762

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mattheson GEP, 117-19

A. Schering: Musikgeschichte Leipzigs, ii: Von 1650 bis 1723 (Leipzig, 1926), 341-4, 462-3

A. Dürr: 'Zur Echtheit der Kantate "Meine Seele rühmt und preist"', BJb 1956, 155 only

A. Glöckner: 'Die Leipziger Neukirchenmusik und das "Kleine Magnificat" bwv Anh.21', BJb 1982, 97-102

A. Glöckner: 'Neukirchenmusik unter der Direktion von Melchior Hoffmann (1705-1715)', Die Musikpflege an der Leipziger Neukirche zur Zeit Johann Sebastian Bachs (Leipzig, 1990), 39-76

ANDREAS GLÖCKNER

© Oxford University Press 2004

Submitted by Thomas Braatz

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (October 14, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< There's (surprisingly!) a whole Yahoo group about that piece:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/GMHof/messages ...which is mostly a place to download other recordings of it.... >
Not surprising at all in that even with a 56K connection I uploaded all the recordings I have on CD (I am not sophisticated enough to upload the few I have on LP only). Then Riccardo (erre_enne) uploaded two others of which I was not aware. Today a similar question was raised on the list devoted to this cantata.

< The recording of that that I currently like best is Ledroit's, with the Ricercar Consort [14], including some medium-sized bells with a long ring time. >
The reason you prefer this recording is the bells rather then the voice? I am a great admirer of the late Henri Ledroit [14] but I still prefer Gérard Lesne in this cantata [26] amongst the counter-tenors. In response to another post, I know of no boy singing this on records. Whether there is a private recording with a boy is always possible.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (October 14, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< I had written part of this before William Rowland's excellent summary on bells, but I am sending this mainly for the excellent biography of the supposed composer of BWV 53. >
And deeply appreciated it is. Are anof the mentioned works recorded?

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 14, 2004):
<< The recording of that that I currently like best is Ledroit's, with the Ricercar Consort [14], including some medium-sized bells with a long ring time. >>
< The reason you prefer this recording is the bells rather then the voice? I am a great admirer of the late
Henri Ledroit [14] but I still prefer Gérard Lesne in this cantata [26] amongst the counter-tenors. In response to another post, I know of no boy singing this on records. Whether there is a private recording with a boy is always possible. >
In general, I listen more closely to the orchestra (and especially the phrasing of the bass line, and its impact on the whole) than to solo singers, unless the singer is either outstandingly riveting or outstandingly awful. The Ricercar Consort plays in a very involved and graceful way here--and in the 54 on the same disc, too: I like that sense of a struggle against heaviness of sin in the 54 first movement (right along with the meaning of the text).

Yeah, Ledroit's German has some problems, notably the missing of final consonants on words...but I like his sound anyway. And he's not too distracting away from the great stuff happening in the orchestra.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 14, 2004):
Ludwig wrote:
<
BWV 53 has never been performed , as far as is known, with real bells (other than bicycle type) and most recordings either omit them or use the bicycle type. However, as this is a funeral Cantata they are essentail to the piece.
Now if there are real bells used in some recording out there that I may not know about please let me know so I can acquire a copy. >
Well, go listen to the 11 recordings at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/GMHof/files/
and see what you think about the different types of bells represented there.

I was listening tonight to the recent "Wolcom Yole" Christmas album by Anonymous 4 and Andrew Lawrence-King: and in light of today's discussion of bells, and listening to ALK there, it seemed to me that a harp would make a nice substitution if bells aren't available.

Ludwig wrote (October 14, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] The harp's upper range does have suggestive bell like tones but it is not the same and the same is true of the guitar.

I know that you are at the University of Michigan so there is no reason for you and other people there not to know what real bells sound like as the University has a Carillon. I do not mean this in a rude or impolite way but it is surprizing how many people confuse fake bell sounds or something approaching it with real bell sounds. If you will listen to these bells carefully, as I have(one of the better Carillons in the area), you will hear sounds that say "hey substitutes you just do not make the grade for real bells". Dr.Halstead, who use to be the University Carillonneur, is now at UC-Berkeley.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (October 14, 2004):
JS Bach and Bells

We have no evidence that Bach ever used Bells other than perhaps what was traditional use at Christmas time of the Cymbelstern.

However, in the Mühlhausen Organ, the congregation had requested that a set of bells be included in the revision of the Organ. Bach complied and in the documents about this Organ he specifies a set of bells of 4 foot pitch. In the past it has been inferred that what the congregation ordered was despised by the Organist. However this inference is not entirely logical. While in some instances this may be true we have such evidence that suggests that Bach would have made full use of the resources of this instrument. Again there is no evidence that Bach ever used these stops nor is there any evidence that he used others except in the rare cases where he prescribed registration (vide the Peters edition of the Complete Works for Organ) for some pieces.

In the choral prelude--In dir ist Freude (In thee is gladness) BWV 615; we have a bass ostinato which is 17 times repeated ushering in the New Year with bell like motives. When this piece is registered with bright flue stops; a choral bass or other reed in the pedal to give a strong bass line and we add a quiet cymbel III rank along with 4 foot pitched bells (or cymbelstern) this work takes on a new meaning that is exciting that when played without the bells, mixture and choralbass or reed stop.

Doug Cowling wrote (October 14, 2004):
Ludwig wrote:
< We have no evidence that Bach ever used Bells other than perhaps what was traditional use at Christmas time of the Cymbelstern. >
Is the manuscript of "Schlage Doch" in Bach's hand and is there any evidence that he performed it? On the Handel side of things, G.F. Used a keyboard carillon 'Acis & Galatea". He also had a hybrid keyboard instrument built which was both harpsichord and organ and engineered so that we could either or both when conducted oratorios -- and I assume operas.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 14, 2004):
Ludwig wrote:
< I know that you are at the University of Michigan so there is no reason for you and other people there not to know what real bells sound like as the University has a Carillon. >
I'm not there now, but for five years I lived in an apartment only a block and a half away from that carillon. I heard it almost every day (how could one not?), and I attended many of Dr Halstead's announced concerts (she'd tell me about them personally when she came into the library where I was working). A fan! And, the modern carillon repertoire is pretty interesting. She tried several times to get me to go sign up for carillon lessons myself, but I never got around to it: I figured I wouldn't use it later, and my schedule was already packed. Additionally, one of my harpsichord students was there at U-M primarily as a carillon student.

Anyway....

< I do not mean this in a rude or impolite way but it is surprizing how many people confuse fake bell sounds or something approaching it with real bell sounds. If you will listen to these bells carefully, as I have(one of the better Carillons in the area), you will hear sounds that say "hey substitutes you just do not make the grade for real bells". Dr.Halstead, who use to be the University Carillonneur, is now at UC-Berkeley. >
Yes, well, there are lots of types of "real bells" and they don't have to be as big or loud as carillon bells. I think fondly of a shop I know in central Ohio where they have a whole room full of imported Swiss bells, a big variety of pitches. I like to go in there and try them all; they're all slightly different, as you'd expect, even if they're the same size. These: http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=349&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1

For more direct intentions of musical use, there are of course plenty of fine handbell manufacturers today....

I like singing bowls, too; my wife and I had one played during our wedding. This kind: http://www.bodhisattva.com/tibetan.htm
Play around the rim for that eerie sustained effect, or strike them with a soft mallet....

In my first job as an organist, elsewhere before U of M, the organ I played had two octaves of keyboard-activated bells. Mediocre-sounding ones, to be sure, but real ones. (A single strike with a clapper activated by a solenoid.) I made up some pieces for church services where I'd solo out a chorale melody on the bells against accomp on the other manual and pedal; that's what such bells on such organs are designed to do. The congregation said they enjoyed it. They especially wanted to hear them around Christmastime. We didn't have a Cymbelstern, although I've played some other organs that did.

Somewhere I have an LP of somebody playing Bach's C minor French Suite on a carillon....

I hate electronic fake bells.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 14, 2004):
JS Bach and Bells, and BWV 53

<<We have no evidence that Bach ever used Bells other than perhaps what was traditional use at Christmas time of the Cymbelstern. >>

How far back does the Glockenspiel go before Mozart's "Magic Flute"? (In that score it's merely instrumento d'acciacio, i.e. "steel instrument".) By "Glockenspiel" here I mean the one that has metal bars laid out like a xylophone's, and struck with mallets.

=====

The current BWV (1998) puts BWV 53 into the purgatory appendix of works of doubtful authenticity, and (as has already been discussed here) cites the most likely composer as Melchior Hoffmann. The research they give as reference is Glöckner's Die Musikpflege an der Leipziger Neukirche zur Zeit Johann Sebastian Bachs, Beiträge zur Bachforschung 8, Leipzig 1990, p55.

Philipp Spitta, who didn't question Bach's authorship of the piece, gave us this: "I believe the style of Franck is to be detected in the text. It is self-evident that this aria cannot have been intended for church use, for there is no part of the service where it could have been introduced; it is too short for the regular church music, which had to last from twenty-five to thirty minutes, and the text is not suited for any extraordinary occasion of mourning. It may be regarded as certain that Bach, though as much inclined as ever to introduce a musical imitation of the sound of bells, would never have brought a real bell into the church to produce the effect, while in the family circle no one would have objected. [He then refers to the Bach-Gesellschaft's listing, and continues...] It is singular that this composition, which is so undoubtedly Bach's, has no original warranty for his name; in Breitkopf's list even there is no author's name. Forkel's opinion that the mention of the Campanella of itself proves it to belong to a period when Bach's taste was still imperfect is thus justified. Still, it is very certain that in its full and mature state it is not a youthful work." (p476 of the Bell and Fuller-Maitland translation)

[I merely present Spitta's text here for information purposes and curiosity; no attempt to support its assertions.]

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 14, 2004):
Doug Cowling wrote:
>>Is the manuscript of "Schlage Doch" in Bach's hand and is there any evidence that he performed it?<<
It is not in Bach's hand nor is there any evidence that he performed it.

This is probably very similar to the history of the "Magnificat A-Moll" by Melchior Hoffmann (BWV Anh. 21.) This had been ascribed to Bach as a Bach autograph (the BG published it as such.) W. G. Whittaker rediscovered the missing score in 1940 and once again reaffirmed Bach's authorship, but a careful handwriting analysis by Alfred Dürr and Frederik Hudson in 1954 revealed that the score was in an unknown hand. Hans-Joachim Schulze, in 1968, declared on the basis of handwriting comparison that it was a Telemann autograph. Andreas Glöckner, in 1982, determined through comparison with other documents that this score was actually a Melchior Hoffmann autograph. Since BWV 53 has long been declared not to be by Bach, the NBA does not feel obligated to reveal details about the score as such, except that it is quite evident, that BWV 53, very likely by Melchior Hoffmann, was not in Bach's handwriting as all such scores by other composers copied by Bach are included in the NBA. If Bach had performed this cantata, he would most likely have made some corrections and additions that would have been evident and worthy of inclusion in the NBA.

Charles Francis wrote (October 15, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Yes, well, there are lots of types of "real bells" and they don't have to be as big or loud as carillon bells. I think fondly of a shop I know in central Ohio where they have a whole room full of imported Swiss bells, a big variety of pitches. I like to go in there and try them all; they're all slightly different, as you'd expect, even if they're the same size. >
One of the charms of strolling through the Swiss alps in spring, summer or autumn, is encountering a herd cows, each wearing one of these bells. One can hear the jangling from a considerable distance - the presumed purpose being to allow the Milchmädchen to locate their animals. Church bells, are a different story, however. Grossly inferior to their English counterparts, several bells of indistinct pitch, having no particular harmonic relation to each other, are struck in a random manner. Worse, in my area, they do this in the early morning each Sunday, when God-fearing people are trying to sleep. Austrian and German church bells make a similar cacophony - the ancient art of Change Ringing having passed these countries by.

Ludwig wrote (October 15, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Mahler captured these sounds in his Symphonies and did it so well that before I knew anything about Mahler or where these symphonies were written---I got the full picture of a pastoral scene in Switzerland with Cows ringing their bells and Sheperds playing their alpine horns.

You hit it right when you said that they were all not the same and neither the sounds are the same and that my friends is the one big difference between real bells and fake ones ---especially of the electronic variety with their sickening cloying tones.

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 53: Details & Complete Recordings | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Non-Bach Cantatas - Recordings:
BWV 15 | BWV 53 | BWV 141 | BWV 142 | BWV 160 | BWV 189 | BWV 217 | BWV 218 | BWV 219 | BWV 220 | BWV 221 | BWV 222 | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Georg Melchior Hoffmann: Short Biography | Cantata BWV 53 | Cantata BWV 189 | Little Magnificat BWV Anh 21

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

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