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Cantata BWV 6
Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of April 1, 2007

Julian Mincham wrote (March 31, 2007):
Introduction BWV 6

BWV 6

CONTEXT

This work comes immediately after Bach brought back the BWV 4 (which is not discussed here for reasons given last week). Its significance comes from the fact that it is the first new cantata of the cycle to begin with a large chorus NOT built upon a chorale, a characteristic it shares with Cantatass BWV 103, BWV 74 and BWV 176.

But what an impressive chorus this proves to be. It is a highly expressive tone poem with its outer sections written in slowish triple time, giving it the feel of a gigantic sarabande. It is particularly reminiscent of the chorus Bach composed to end the St John Passion (BWV 245); even the descending shape of the opening phrase is similar. I envy those who are about to hear this serene and dignified movement for the first time.

The text of the work is not especially notable or poetic and contains few striking images except for the overturning of the lamp (at the end of the single recitative) and the pervading references to contrasts of darkness and night, with all their symbolic implications.

So what was Bach thinking of when composing this work? Had he, at this time, completely abandoned his scheme of composing chorale-fantasia cantatas? Did he feel that he needed a break from the highly constraining strictures of the chorale-based opening movements which he had been producing regularly for around ten months? Was he planning to return to his scheme in the near future? It is perfectly possible that, with forty chorale cantatas produced in as many weeks, he felt that, at least for the time being, he had exhausted its potential for creative development. He may well have relished the freedom of composing large-scale opening movements such as this one which allowed him opportunities of exploring the mood and themes of the texts, uninhibited by the structural constraints of the set chorale. It is certainly the case that he draws upon his chorale for musical ideas less here than in many earlier works.

Many will wish to hang on to Wolff's theory about Stubel, but let us note how little evidence there is for this apart from his (possibly coincidental) date of demise. Is there any evidence that Stubel wrote any of the chorale cantata texts let alone forty of them? Unfortunately the theory of crisis detracts attention from the final twelve works in the cycle (6-176) tending to view them almost as a rag-bag assemblage, a knee-jerk reaction to an emergency. Let us here concentrate upon their unique beauty, fine sense of structural balance and the high quality of musical inventiveness, innovation and imagination that they exhibit.

In weighing up the balance of probabilities people will draw their own different conclusions as to which theory is more credible and it doesn't really matter one way or the other. For myself I think there are slightly stronger purely musical observations to indicate that Bach planned his cycle in two complimentary parts rather than that he might have been presented with an unforeseen crisis. There is nothing in these works that implies any such sense. We shall never know for certain. But it is undeniable that, whatever the external circumstances that may have governed his actions, his powers of invention and eloquent expression were entirely undiminished. The chorus of BWV 6 is masterly as, indeed, is so much of the entire block of the final twelve cantatas.

THE CANTATA OF THE WEEK BWV 6 Bleib bei denn es Abend werden
Linger with us, as the evening approaches.
Chorus--aria (alto)--chorale (sop) --recitative (bass)--aria (tenor)--chorale
The forty-second cantata of the cycle for the second day of Easter.
Librettist unknown.

The theme of the work is the request for the light (enlightenment) of Christ to shine upon sinners in order to protect them from darkness (sin and ignorance). This Christian requirement is reflected in each of the movements in different ways.

The mood of the opening chorus is one of quietness and contemplation at the end of the day and the addition of three oboes to the strings creates the mood immediately. Schweitzer called this 'a masterpiece of poetry in music' and noted how the vocal phrases descend 'as if the gloom of night were weighing upon them' (vol 2 pp 338/9). 'Tarry with us' the voices plead; 'the evening will soon be upon us as the day is drawing to a close'.

This is a large-scale tripartite structure in which the opening sarabande idea gives way to a more fugal central texture before returning, in modified form. The minor key and the downward direction of the opening ideas combine to express a sense of apprehension about the shadows; and the metaphors of diminishing light (redemption and knowledge) and impending darkness (ignorance and sin) would surely not have been lost on the more attentive members of Bach's Leipzig congregations.

The choral writing is a mixture of homophonic (chordal) writing and imitative counterpoint, the latter predominating in the middle section. Two themes are treated fugally, the first in the order tenor, alto, soprano and bass. Against what would otherwise be a normal fugal exposition, the sopranos announce a different theme, (itself to be fugally treated in time) whilst the basses intone 'Bleib bei uns'---tarry a while--on the same pitch. A feature of this middle section is the almost drone-like articulation of this phrase as the different voices cut through the contrapuntal textures.

The expected recitative does not follow; in its place is an upbeat alto da capo aria with a flowing, and virtually continuous obligato from the oboe di caccia. Major key replaces the minor of the preceding movement and the opening figure (of both the oboe and voice entries) is formed from the notes of a rising major chord or arpeggio. This is an unambiguous piece of word painting; the opening words call upon the exalted or 'raised" Son of God and the musical figure represents the idea of 'upwardness'. The mood is essentially optimistic but not wholly so. Had Bach wished to convey a feeling of complete joy he could have chosen the higher, brighter sounds of the soprano with a flute or oboe proper. A sense of the potential darkness is not to be ignored and the softer, less brilliant sound qualities subtly modify our responses The third movement is another departure from Bach's usual procedures in this cycle; he makes use of a full chorale tune but it is not the one which concludes the work and which might have been expected to provide motivic ideas for the other movements. Rather, it is the opening phrase of this central chorale that Bach modifies for the main theme of the later tenor aria. Again, a major key is used and we have to make the most of it while it lasts; minor will dominate the final three movements. This is the centerpiece of the cantata and it radiates the joyousness that the never-fading light of the Saviour delivers.

But Bach is fully aware of his responsibility to remind us of the gravity of the human situation and the final three movements underline this point. The recitative, with a strict moralizing tone, is sung by the bass, a voice of
depth and gravity which Bach often uses to depict the words of the Saviour. Is Christ lecturing us directly on the reasons why the darkness continues to come upon us?

The last line contains a strong image of the overturned lamp, which Bach suggests by a particularly powerful vocal phrase descending over almost two octaves.

The tenor aria that follows is both powerful and theatrical. It is a strong plea for Christians to keep their eyes upon Jesus so that his light might shield us from the paths of sin. There is a rhythmic relentlessness about this aria, which is totally infectious and impossible to ignore. One of the imagit depicts is that of treading the paths of sin

The rhythmic determination is somewhat mitigated by the flow of descending triplets in the violins which possibly represent the light of Christ's word shining over us. Alfred Durr (p 280) makes the interesting suggestion that the strong four note opening figure (firstly on the violins and later the voice) represents the cross. He doesn't explain why this should be so; it may be the actual shape of the layout of the notes upon the stave. Nevertheless it is the case that this motive sounds very similar to that which Bach uses to form the main material for the bass aria 'Come healing Cross' from the SMP. The final chorale's minor mode leaves us with a somber mood rather than one of unrestrained joy. This is entirely fitting.

Questions:

Why might Bach have departed from his established chorale-fantasia pattern in this work?
Why the use of two chorales rather than just the one, neither of which Is used as a basis for an opening fantasia?

Further information may be accessed via the link to the cantata page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV6.htm

APPENDIX

The final thirteen cantatas of the cycle (after BWV 1) are balanced thus:
· 2 begin with an instrumental sinfonia (BWV 4 and BWV 42)
· 2 begin with a recitative (BWV 183 and BWV 175)
· 2 begin with a chorale fantasia (BWV 128 and BWV 68)
· 3 begin with a bass aria (BWV 85, BWV 108 and BWV 87)
· 4 begin with a chorus not based upon a chorale (BWV 6, BWV 103, BWV 74 and BWV 176).

Peter Smaill wrote (March 31, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] A developing theme in BCW is a challenge to the Wolff (tentative) conclusion that Andreas Stuebel, Conrector Emeritus of the Thomaskirche, authored the texts of the second (chorale ) Cantata cycle. This is because his death on January 27, 1725 occurred when the final original chorale canatas texts had just been produced. Part of the doubt is in the possible chronology whereby the texts from Septuagesima to Annunciation (Jan 28 to March 25) are presumed to have been received by Bach from the printer before Stuebel's three-day illness (which must have been rapidly severe) .

On that aspect I offer no view, but Julian Mincham poses the interesting proposition that in fact no change of librettist occurs in Jahtgang II, albeit the focus on chorale-derivative Cantatas is dropped as the norm after Easter
1725.

One possible argument in favour is that Bach and his librettist deliberately wished to run the cycle from Trinity 1 to Easter. Here is Stephen Daw on the significance of the 41 Cantatas we have for that period:

"The preserved pieces number forty-one, a figure which would be wildly greeted by the number-searchers of our times had not two works evidently been lost"

41 is in gematric terms " J S BACH". However, Daw misses the equally frequent (if not more so) gematric 43, which is "CREDO".

If Daw is right (working from 41 +2 presumes I think that BWV 4 actually closes the cycle) and there are two missing cantatas ( I detect for 16 July 1724, 6th Sunday in Trinity; and 27 August 1724 , 12th Sunday in Trinity) then there is a case to be made that a deliberate plan existed to have precisely 43 chorale Cantatas in the period, expressing CREDO ; by comparison, the word "Credo" occurs in the selfsame Credo of the B minor Mass 43 times (per Tatlow et al.).

If accepted such an analysis tends away from the Stuebel theory.

As always in this most fragile area of Bach studies (the number alphabet) comments and observations are welcome!

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 31, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>>A developing theme in BCW is a challenge to the Wolff (tentative) conclusion that Andreas Stuebel, Conrector Emeritus of the Thomaskirche, authored the texts of the second (chorale ) Cantata cycle.<<
The fact that Hans-Joachim Schulze, the Bach-scholar who first advanced this Stuebel-as-Librettist theory, has withdrawn it from consideration by no longer considering him as a possible librettist for any of these cantatas (Bach's 2nd yearly chorale cantata cycle) and instead reverting to the "unknown librettist" in his 760-page book, "Die Bach-Kantaten", Leipzig/Stuttgart, 2006, is an indication that this theory has lost its currency, Christoph Wolff's now-outdated affirmation of this theory notwithstanding.

The gematric analysis suggested by Daw only serves to support what has already taken place as other Bach scholars will most likely understand that the death knell for the Stuebel theory has been sounded loud and clear.

Chris Kern wrote (March 31, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< If Daw is right (working from 41 +2 presumes I think that BWV 4 actually closes the cycle) and there are two missing cantatas ( I detect for 16 July 1724, 6th Sunday in Trinity; and 27 August 1724 , 12th Sunday in Trinity) >
According to Wolff, Bach was out of town on 16/7/1724, and the missing 6th Sunday of Trinity chorale cantata (BWV 9) was later composed. There is no explanation for the 12th Sunday absence, though. The fact that BWV 9 is similar in construction to the rest of the chorale cantata proper I think provides good circumstantial support for Wolff's conjecture that the libretto had already been written at the same time as the other chorale cantatas.

Chris Kern wrote (March 31, 2007):
After the long chorale cantata cycle "proper" we are back to something like the 1st jahrgang, with an opening chorus taken from the Bible and containing a fugue. At first I wondered why this particular verse was chosen, but the later movements make it clear that the "darkness" of the evening when the disciples invited Jesus in is being compared with spiritual darkness.

I listened to Rilling [6], Harnoncourt [4], and Leusink [10] as usual. Rather than spend a lot of time comparing these recordings I want to focus on a specific aspect -- just to give a few quick notes, I liked Leusink's overall the best; the opening chorus has a better mood (although the choral singing is average), and Buwalda, Holton, and Van Der Meel do very well at their arias. I did like the solo violin in Rilling's tenor aria, though.

One interesting thing about this cantata is that Bach gives two tempo indiciations; a relatively rare thing. The fugue in the opening movement is marked "andante", and the third movement (the chorale) is marked Allegro. I find the Allegro marking somewhat confusing, since the difficult cello obbligato and the white-note chorale tune does not seem to lend itself readily to an Allegro treatment. Rather than trying to determine what Bach meant by these indications I thought it would be more interesting to see what the three conductors made of them.

[6] Rilling:
The whole of the first movement is somewhat fast and driving, but it sounds like when he hits the Andante fugue, he makes the notes more accentuated and staccato, and speeds up the tempo slightly. In the third movement, I do not see anything about it that is "allegro" -- the continuo is soft, the cello legato, and the tempo relaxed.

[4] Harnoncourt:
H's treatment of the first movement is similar to Rilling's, although somewhat more legato. The fugue is similar, although I think there's less change than Rilling -- Harnoncourt seems to be letting the music create its own "andante" feel rather than explicitly punching things up or making a huge tempo change. H's third movement is the fastest of the three. His continuo isn't really doing anything, but the cello sounds moallegro due to the tempo.

[10] Leusink (I remember someone saying Leusink didn't use the NBA volumes so I don't know if these tempo indications were in the BGS): Leusink's opening movement is the longest and slowest of the three. He does not seem to do anything special when the Andante section is reached; it's the same slow, legato playing as the rest of the cantata. In the third movement, he lightens the BC with some disconnected phrasing, and the organist improvises some turns, and the cello is also disconnected. The speed is between H and R.

Overall I do not get the feeling of "allegro" from any of these third movements, and I'm puzzled as to what Bach meant by it. My best guess would just be something like "don't let the movement get too slow; take it at the fastest speed you can in which the cello player can still do his part", but I really have no idea.

Peter Smaill wrote (March 31, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you for setting out the retraction by Schulze of the Stuebel theorem, which leaves us as I understand it with the search open for another figure, likley a Leipzig based collaborator with a theological background - my thesis being that this person was not entirely a strict Lutheran, judging from some of the audacious theological speculations in the texts.

It is also interesting that, in discussing the complex theological impulses in the University of Leipzig, the recently published book edited by Carol Baron, "Bach's Changing World", does not mention Stuebel at all.

On the subject of the gematric 43 = Credo, the previous discussion of the religious significance of four sharps as a " chiastic" key and the WTC leads to the most ecclesiastically sounding of them all, the Fugue in E Major Book 2 number 9.

It has exactly 43 bars and a subject in the same range, and complementary to, the intonation of the Credo. At the climax in bars 38-39 the alto voice sings a figure not dissimilar to the intonation itself. This observation comes
with the usual caveat as to the tentative nature of number alphabet possibilities.

Chris Kern wrote (March 31, 2007):
I mentioned in passing that the Leusink was my favorite version [10] of this cantata. Interestingly enough, I found the following in the interview with him on this site:
"When you listen to one of my favourite cantatas, BWV 6 "Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden", you will hear that all ingredients have amalgamated perfectly into a glorious piece of music."

So I guess it worked out for me, at least.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 31, 2007):
Cantata 6 and St. John Passion

Julian Mincham wrote:
< The mood of the opening chorus is one of quietness and contemplation at the end of the day and the addition of three oboes to the strings creates the mood immediately. >
The exquisite sarabande which opens this cantata has remarkable similarities to the concluding chorus of the St. John Passion, "Ruht wohl". We may well ask what this Passion-like lament is doing in the middle of the Easter celebration.

The answer lies in the Gospel reading (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Easter-Monday.htm) in which the sorrowing disciples are on a journey from Jerusalem when they are joined by a stranger who asks them what they are talking about. They sadly recount the story of the Crucfixiion. Reaching their destination, they ask the stranger to stay with them, (Bleib bei uns). When their guest breaks bread dinner, they suddenly realize that the strnager is the risen Jesus.

Bach's opening Passion chorus is the disciples' account of Good Friday
This then pivots into the theological allegory of faith in Christ as the Light in the darkening world.

I find the similarity to the end of the SJP so compelling that I'd be tempted to think that Bach intended a link between this cantata and the Passion which was performed four days earlier.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 31, 2007):
BWV 6--structural theories

I had intended not to get involved in any subsequent discussions which might follow my introductions: but the flesh is weak and Peter's pertinant comments deserve a response.

Also I was interested to read Thomas's comments on the diminishing general credence placed in the Stubel theory. ( I need to declare that my conclusions about this have been based principally upon a close study of the musical scores and what they suggest. I have not any new external historical evidence to offer).

I had come to the conlusion that the cycle was probably planned in two parts rather that created through some form of disruption. But the key to this is where does the first part conclude? An obvious place would be after BWV 1, the last of the 40 newly composed chorale-fantasia cantatas:- making a group of BWV 40+BWV 13----and BWV 42 chorale fantasias. But Peter's ideas strongly suggest that we should think of the first part as BWV 20-4 and the second BWV 6-BWV 176----BWV 41 and BWV 12 =43 CFs.

The key to this is where one places BWV 4.

Now this cantata, possibly written as early as two decades previously is, in all respects except for the short opening sinfonia, a chorale-fantasia cantata, almost certainly the first that Bach had written (the first chorus is a fantasia based upon the final chorale--which, unusually forms the basis of all of the intervening movements as well). Furthermore he had already re-used it for the Easter celebrations in the first cycle thus suggesting that this important event in the church history was marked (possibly every year) by a chosen fixed cantata. Additionally, is there a possibility that Bach, in re-using BWV 4 in 1725 might have dropped the short sinfonia thus making it clear that BWV 4 was a part of, and the concluding work of the uninterrupted group of chorale fantasias?

Thus the bi-partite theory would assume that the first part of the cycle concluded after BWV 4 and we end up, as Peter suggests with 43 of these works---BWV 20-4 followed by BWV 128 and BWV 68---neither of these two latter works fully following the format of the first 40/41, however.

Re the librettist I think that he/she did change at some point. It is highly unlikely that von Ziegler wrote the texts of the earlier cantatas since her rather personalised style contrasts with that of many of the earlier texts. However I think it quite possible that she wrote slightly more that the 9 attributed to her (I'll be commenting upon some allied issues in some of the later introductions) and I think there is every reason to suppose that more than one writer was involved in the texts for BWV 20-1.

All of this speculation is of great interest (to me at least) because this is the only cycle of his own cantatas which Bach seemed to have planned ahead in considerable detail. The first cycle had to be put together at great haste and involved a considerable re-hashing of earlier works (which the second does not) The third establishes the principle of introducing a relatively large number cantatas by other composers (especially J Ludwig Bach).

So the particular scrutiny given to this current cycle is not, in my view, misplaced.

Chris Kern wrote (March 31, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I had come to the conlusion that the cycle was probably planned in two parts rather that created through some form of disruption. But the key to this is where does the first part conclude? An obvious place would be after BWV 1, the last of the 40 newly composed chorale-fantasia cantatas:- making a group of BWV 40+BWV 13----and BWV 42 chorale fantasias. But Peter's ideas strongly suggest that we should think of the first part as BWV 20-4 and the second BWV 6-BWV 176----BWV 41 and BWV 12 =43 CFs. >
Lest I to be harping, I just want to point out (once again) that I think that the omission of BWV 9 from the cycle proper was unplanned, and thus I doubt the number 40 has any significance (given that 43 libretti were apparently prepared for the cycle, including BWV 9, BWV 140, and BWV 14.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 1, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< All of this speculation is of great interest (to me at least) because this is the only cycle of his own cantatas which Bach seemed to have planned ahead in considerable detail. The first cycle had to be put together at great haste and involved a considerable re-hashing of earlier works (which the second does not) The third establishes the principle of introducing a relatively large number cantatas by other composers (especially J Ludwig Bach).>
Much of this speculation appeals to me because it suggests that Bach had an overarching compositional plan for the cantatas which was not the breathless race that is often presented as part of the Bach Myth. This was the man who set up the manuscript of the Orgelbüchlein in an encyclopedic collection which has a monumental unity even though it was never completed. I'm not convinced that the first year was a scramble just because Bach used previous works, ot that the third year shows waning interest because he used other composers' works.

I think that Michael Marrissen's notion that Bach spent the year or so before Leipzig preparing for the cantorate has a lot of merit. And not just in terms of theological preparation. Why not musically as well? The five-year cantata project may in fact be a unified encyclopedic collection which includes not only new works but earlier works by Bach and his family. Did Bach use the first year as a preparation for the astounding achievement
of the second year of fully original works? When he stopped composing cantatas after five years, he may have reached the end of his plan.

Was there ever a written document which outlined the Kantatenwerk Project? Probably not. Strangely, Bach was not a cataloguer: we have no list of works such as became common a generation later with Mozart.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 1, 2007):
BWV 6 The Copy Session

BWV 6 "Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden"

Original Documents Extant:

A. The Autograph Score

A smaller title page written and inserted later by CPE Bach reads:

Feria 1 Paschatos | Bleib bey uns, denn es will Abend werden | a | 4 Voci | 2 Hautb. e Hautb. da Caccia | 2 Viol. | Viola | Violonc. piccolo | e | Continuo | di | J. S. Bach.

The autograph title at the top of the 1st page of the score reads:

J. J. Feria 2 Paschatos Xsti. Concerto

B. The Original Set of Parts

Six copyists were involved in creating the parts based upon the autograph score.

In this early edition of the NBA KBs, the 6 copyists used are still listed anonymously. Copyist 1 was later definitely identified as Johann Andreas Kuhnau, Bach's main Leipzig copyist, who in other sources was also referred to as Anonymous III.

Here are the parts:

1. Soprano: Anon 1
2. Alto: Anon 1
3. Tenore: Anon 1
4. Basso: Anon 1
5. Hautbois 1.: Anon 1
6. Hautbois 2.: Anon 1
7. Hautbois da Caccia: Anon 1
8. Violino 1mo: Anon 1
9. Violino 1mo (Doublet): Anon 2 (Mvt. 1 to m 112); Anon 3
10. Violino 2do: Anon 1
11. Violino 2do (Doublet): Anon 2 (Mvt. 1 to m 125); Anon 3
12. Viola: Anon 1
12a. Violoncello piccolo: Mvt. 3 (on reverse side: Mvt. 2 for Viola): Anon 4
13. Cembalo: Anon 1
14: Continuo (not figured): Anon 5
15: Continuo (transposed down 1 whole tone/step, figured): Anon 6

The Sequence of the Copy Procedure:

The autograph score had been completed entirely before the copy process was begun. See note to BWV 1 regarding the tempus clausum which released Bach from composing and performing a new cantata every week during the period when this cantata was presumably composed.

JAK (Anon 1) copies from the score the main set of parts, but not the violin doublets and the additional continuo parts. Anon 2 begins each of the violin doublets and Anon 3 completes these parts. Using the already completed Primary Continuo part (Cembalo) which had been corrected by J. S. Bach, Anon 5 copies the untransposed, unfigured Continuo part after which Anon 6 creates the transposed Continuo part. The figures in this part are not autograph.

The inserted Violoncello piccolo part was added later; however, it is not possible to ascertain whether it was still created during Bach's lifetime or inserted after his death.

All the parts give evidence of Bach's careful revision with corrections and additions. The insert (12a) is an exception with only the Viola (Mvt. 2) part having autograph corrections and additions.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 1, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I think that Michael Marrissen's notion that Bach spent the year or so before Leipzig preparing for the cantorate has a lot of merit. And not just in terms of theological preparation. Why not musically as well? The five-year cantata project may in fact be a unified encyclopedic collection which includes not only new works but earlier works by Bach and his family. Did Bach use the first year as a preparation for the astounding achievement of the second year of fully original works? >
One of the benefits of the chronologic discussion has been the emphasis we can place on the relations among adjacent works. This was clear in the group of four at the beginning of Jahrgang II, starting with BWV 20 for Trinity 1. The general architecture of this group must have been in mind before composition was begun, that is, they were prepared to some extent during the first year. Although it is impossible to prove, I find this organization extends throughout the group of cantatas, extending all the way to BWV 62 for Advent 1, which stands as a hinge or bridge between the two parts of the liturgical year.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 1, 2007):
Chris Kern wrote:
< Lest I seem to be harping, I just want to point out (once again) that I think that the omission of BWV 9 from the cycle proper was unplanned, and thus I doubt the number 40 has any significance (given that 43 libretti were apparently prepared for the cycle, including 9, 140, and 14.) >
I don't really understand the point you are making------ despite the 'harping' (Your word, not mine---I have read your previous postings on this issue).

Certainly it is generally accepted that that Bach did not compose a cantata for the 26th Sunday after Trinity 1724 because he and his wife were out of Leipzig.. They were in Cothen fulfilling a paid engagement. Presumably they would have had reasonable notice of this engagement; certainly enough to prepare for it and to gain permission of absence from his employers. One would assume that this would have given him plently of time to to have prepared a cantata for performance at Leipzig on this day.

It remains something of a mystery why he did not do this particularly when one considers the important position of this Sunday at the end of the ecclesiastical year. He had presented an impressive 2 part cantata for this day BWV 70 for the first cycle .And as I have mentioned before, if he intended BWV 9 to fill this particular gap (as historians generally assume) he was in no hurry to do so--it is generally accepted that this cantata was composed in the first half of the 1730s decade, possibly a full decade after the event.

Whether Bach did leave a cantata to be performed in his absence under a prefect and whether it was subsequently lost is something we can only speculate about. But the numbers issue is largely unaffected for the reasons I gave in a recent posting, the key to it being whether BWV 4 was considered by Bach to be one of the set of uminterrupted chorale fantasias or not. This can be argued both ways and leasome degree of latitude on the numbers issues.

HOWEVER (as I have also said on list) my conclusions about the cycle probably being a planned bi-partite structure are not soley based upon the numbers issues. They may form a part of the overall evidence but the more compelling arguments come from the music itself (in my opinion).

Julian Mincham wrote (April 1, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The inserted Violoncello piccolo part was added later; however, it is not possible to ascertain whether it was still created during Bach’s lifetime or inserted after his death. >
Thomas, the copy line is interesting and fits well with what we know of the amounts of time Bach may have had for the composition of these works i.e more for some (BWV 1 and BWV 6) and less for others (BWV 107-BWV 176)

But I wanted to put a question about the above paragraph. Are you suggesting that the cello/pic part may have been written by someone other than Bach after his death? (If we are not careful Ed may be popping up here again with his Salieri theory!)

This led me to wonder what composers other than Bach used this instrument in the way that he did as an energetic obligato instrument??--off hand, not much springs to mind.

From this I would consider it somewhat unlikely that someone else would have added an obligato part for this particular instrument?? Ideas?

Neil Halliday wrote (April 1, 2007):
Chris Kern wrote:
<...the third movement (the chorale) is marked Allegro. I find the Allegro marking somewhat confusing, since the difficult cello obbligato and the white-note chorale tune does not seem to lend itself readily to an Allegro treatment.>
Yes, the BGA is marked `allegro'. I have Werner [3], Richter [5] and Rilling [6], and there is no doubt that Werner, with the quickest tempo, also has the most scintillating cello/piccolo part. If you listen to the 1/16th note passages, you might consider the tempo to be `allegro' in the Werner performance. Reichelt is certainly satisfactory, and the continuo adds the right background, adding up to an attractive and lively performance. Times are: Werner 3.52 [3], Richter 4.15 [5] (same as Leusink [10]), Rilling 4.25 [6]. Richter has his rock-steady soprano choir, giving an impressive rendition of the soprano line. If indeed Werner is quicker than Harnoncourt [4] (I haven't heard it), then the reason for any confusion over the `allegro' marking perhaps becomes clear - you simply haven't heard the music played `allegro'.

(BTW, I am intrigued by the somewhat disconcerting suggestion that the obbligato part was added by someone other than Bach. It's certainly the most impressive part of the movement.)

----------

I enjoy Rilling's alert performance [6] of the opening chorus (5.37). The middle section turns into a contrapuntal `tour de force' (more allegro than andante?), with impressive clarity and `bite' in the vocal entries, and impressive violin sforzando on those string entries that imitate the long notes on "Bleib bei uns" in this section (I miss this aspect in Leusink's more restrained performance [10]).

In the opening chorus, Werner's performance [3] (8.08!) sounds oppressively mournful, IMO. Sometimes Werner's slow choruses work very well, but not in this case. Richter [5] (6.12) has a grand sweep in the ritornello, but the large choir sounds oppressively forceful to my ears.

I hope to comment on other movements and other recordings later in the week.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 1, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Reichelt is certainly satisfactory, and the continuo adds the right background, adding up to an attractive and lively performance. Times are: Werner 3.52 [3], Richter 4.15 [5] (same as Leusink [10]), Rilling 4.25 [6]. >
Neil Koopman [13] seems to be the fastest of all by a tad at----3'45''

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 1, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>Are you suggesting that the cello/pic part may have been written by someone other than Bach after his death?<<
Yes, more detailed information about this will follow.

>>This led me to wonder what composers other than Bach used this instrument in the way that he did as an energetic obligato instrument??--off hand, not much springs to mind.<<

I will try to summarize and give specific information on this from Ulrich Prinz's "Bach's Instrumentarium".

>>From this I would consider it somewhat unlikely that someone else would have added an obligato part for this particular instrument?? Ideas?<<

Dürr believes it to be quite likely that this change was initiated by Bach, but Dürr cannot entirely rule out this possibility.

I will try to report back to this list on these separate issues:

1. Who was Copyist 4 who created this violoncello piccolo part on the back of this special insert part labeled "Viola, zur Aria so nach dem Chor folget", a part written entirely in Bach's own handwriting? [Dürr does not have a name for this copyist, but offers greater details and conjectures regarding this part for BWV 6.]

2. How did Bach use the violoncello piccolo? What is the historical use of this instrument and did it continue to be used after Bach's death?

For starters, here is Prinz's complete list of Bach's compositions using the violoncello piccolo:

1708: BWV 71

c. 1720: BWV 1012

1713, 1714?: BWV 199

1724: BWV 5 (repeat 1732-1735), BWV 180, BWV 115, BWV 139

1725: BWV 41 (repeat 1732-1735), BWV 6 (Repeat Performance 1735-1740?), BWV 85, BWV 183, BWV 68 (repeat 1735-1740), BWV 175

1726: BWV 49

1728: BWV 197a (w/o v.pic 1736/1737)

c. 1738: BWV 234 (also 1743/1746 and 1748/1749)

Chris Kern wrote (April 1, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>Are you suggesting that the cello/pic part may have been written by someone other than Bach after his death?<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Yes, more detailed information about this will follow. >
This seems very surprising to me. If that is true, surely it must have replaced some other obbligato instrument that was originally there (since the continuo can hardly stand on its own with the singing in this movement); perhaps that's the meaning behind the "Allegro" direction -- if the original instrument line was less difficult and note-dense than the cello part, it would have been easier to play it with a livelier feel (or speed).

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 2, 2007):
BWV 6 Dürr's Parts Presentation

BWV 6 Discussion of Duplicate Parts and Dating the Score and Parts

[What follows is a detailed description. If any of this contradicts what I had formerly stated, consider the following as a correction and disregard the former.]

From the NBA KB I/10 pp. 33-67 Alfred Dürr

The main set of parts (w/o doublets) went to WFB, then to Count von Voß-Buch, and finally to the Staatsbibliothek Berlin. (The autograph score with the doublets were accounted for in CPE Bach's estate at the time of the latter's death, then these went to Georg Pölchau, and finally to the Staatsbibliothek Berlin.)

A title page was created for the parts later on by CPE Bach. (This includes mention of the Violoncello Piccolo in the orchestration). This inserted page has smaller dimensions than the rest of the parts and the watermark is different as well. The words "Hautb. Da Caccia" were originally enclosed with parentheses, but this marks were later removed.

Part B 12a (Insert)

Recto: the obbligato part for Mvt. 3 copied by Copyist 4 in ink; however, the indication "Violoncello piccolo" is written in pencil. The title designation in ink is "Aria:" (Copyist 4) followed by "allegro assai" written by some other unknown person (possibly by WF Bach or by JSB near the end of his life).

Verso: the obbligato part for Mvt. 2 written entirely by J.S. Bach has the following title: "Viola, zur Aria so nach dem Chor folget. ["This is the viola part for the aria which follows the choral mvt."].

from p. 41: "Whether the copy of the violoncello piccolo part, B 12a (it uses a treble clef) was made by Copyist 4 while Bach was still alive or possibly made even later, cannot be determined with any certainty from the evidence."

from p. 42: Summary: It is clear that the doublets, as usual, were copied from the other existing parts and not from the autograph score.

"It remains unclear what served as the source for the repeatedly copied obbligato part for the Violoncello piccolo which is also represented in the 1st violin part (B8 as well as B12a), and also the Oboe da caccia or Viola parts (B5, B7, and B12a)."

Summary: In contrast to the usual violin doublets which were created at the same time as the other parts, these parts with their differing orchestrations for obbligato solo instruments should be considered as having been created for various repeat performances as they were copied into parts where some blank space was still available on the existing parts.

pp. 44ff Dating and Sequence of Composition

Dating of the autograph composing score of BWV 6 was difficult since paper with this watermark was used by Bach as late as 1735-1744. However, a much more limited time span is given for the paper used for the original parts of BWV 6. This fact places BWV 6 among a very limited number of cantatas and other sacred works performed in short succession around Easter of 1725:

BWV 1 "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (The Annunciation to Mary) (All the original parts)

BWV 245 SJP (Good Friday) (a portion of the existing parts)

BWV 249 Easter Oratorio (Easter Sunday) (the oldest set of parts)

BWV 6: "Bleib bei uns" (Easter Monday) (the original set of parts)

BWV 4: "Christ lag in Todesbanden" (For an Easter Feast Day, probably Easter Tuesday) (1 part)

BWV 42: "Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats" (Quasimodogeniti) (autograph score)

BWV 85: "Ich bin ein guter Hirte" (Misericordias Domini) (autograph score)

BWV 103: "Ihr werdet weinen und heulen" (Jubilate) (autograph score)

There is a very close connection between BWV 6 and BWV 249 in that the last page of the transposed continuo part for the oldest version of BWV 249 since it contains JAK's copy of the beginning of the 2nd oboe part: It begins with "Bleib by uns Hautbois 2" and follows with the clef and key signature and the first two notes. It is quite clear that the parts for both works were being copied simultaneously.

Problems which were considered:

1. If BWV 249 was performed on Easter Sunday, and BWV 6 on Easter Monday, then all that remains is that BWV 4 was performed on Easter Tuesday despite its designation for Easter Sunday; however, the connection of BWV 4 with Easter Sunday is not so strong as to preclude its performance on Easter Tuesday.

2. For BWV 42 there is an existing libretto from a performance in 1731. It is improbable that the score would have been composed at this time or later. One possibility would be that a major revision of the score had been undertaken. On the other hand BWV 6 could not have been composed in 1731 because there would be a collision with BWV 66.

BWV 6 must have had several performances under Bach's direction, at least 3. This can be surmised from the existence of various obbligato parts for Aria (Mvt. 2) and Chorale (Mvt. 3), since, in no way, would these
solo parts have been used simultaneously. Quite obviously the Oboe da caccia part, at the time of the 1st performance, would have been played by the 1st oboist. JAK wrote this part directly into the 1st oboe part using "Griffnotation" (notating according to the fingering used) so that the oboist, when changing instruments would not have to adjust his thinking about which instrument he was playing as he switched instruments.

For a later performance, it appears that an Oboe da caccia was not available. It was for this performance that Bach personally wrote out the same part for a viola (on B12a).

Then there is yet another later performance for which there is evidence: in this performance the obbligato part in the Aria (Mvt. 2) was once again played on an Oboe da caccia, but this time it was not the 1st oboist who played this part, but the regular/normal Oboe da caccia player who played it. Strangely enough, however, Bach personally copied this according to "Griffnotation", while the remaining mvts. were all given either in the viola clef or in "Klangnotation" (notated the way it sounds).

It is conceivable that there may have been a different sequence involved for these 3 performances since in the case of both B5 and B7, the part for the aria was added after the parts had been completed and for B12a no precise date of origin can be determined. It is very probable that JAK's entry into B5 was the first (the reason for this subsequent entry in B5 is easily determined: JAK thought he should have copied it into B7 first), while Bach's addition to B7 was, in all probability, undertaken at a later date.

Similar conclusions can be drawn from the double entry of the obbligato parts for Mvt. 3 (B8 as related to B12a), but this time only two separate performance are distinguishable. In the first the part for the Violoncello piccolo was played by the 1st violinist. In the latter's part, JAK used a different clef (alto clef) to warn the player that a different instrument was required. For a later performance, whether for the 2nd or 3rd performance or even later (this cannot be determined with any certainty), the part was copied once again, but this time using a treble clef (B12a). This manner of notation was not unusual for a violoncello piccolo, and even if this designation was penciled in and added much later, there is no reason to think that this part was meant for a different instrument. This time this part very likely was not played by the 1st violinist, but rather by the same musician who played the viola part in Mvt. 2.

Finally, it could also be possible that the continuo parts (B13, B14, B15) come from two different performances of this cantata. There is nothing here to force us to believe that the organ and harpsichord both played at the time. A more reasonable assumption is that B13, entitled "Cembalo" ("harpsichord") was originally created for use by a continuo string instrument and that the figured bass and the title "Cembalo" were added for a later performance, perhaps when the organ could not be used for some reason. This is made clear by a "pizzicato" indication (Bach's own marking) in Mvt. 2, which could not apply to the harpsichord. Of course, this assumption is not the only one to apply in this instance, but one thing is quite clear: the existence of the "Cembalo" part along with the other continuo parts does not allow anyone to use this as proof that both an organ and a harpsichord must be used in performing this cantata.

Summary:

1. The obbligato instrumental part for Mvt. 2 exists in 3 separate copies: in B5 and B7 for Oboe da caccia and in B12a for Viola. The music is exactly the same in each. The notation in the score ain B12a is in modern notation, but B5 and B7 have been transposed by a fifth by using a treble clef and two flats. There are slight differences in articulation between both instruments. These are listed in detail in the NBA KB, but the NBA printed score does not account for these differences.

2. There are two versions of the Violoncello piccolo part, one (B8) (alto clef - same as in the autograph score) and B12a (treble clef). The faded indication indication "Violoncello piccolo" may or may not have been original. The autograph score has "Violoncello piccolo" indicated for Mvt. 3.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 3, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I think there is every reason to suppose that more than one writer was involved in the texts for BWV 20-1. >
Can you elaborate on this opinion?

< All of this speculation is of great interest (to me at least) because this is the only cycle of his own cantatas which Bach seemed to have planned ahead in considerable detail. The first cycle had to be put together at great haste and involved a considerable re-hashing of earlier works (which the second does not) The third establishes the principle of introducing a relatively large number cantatas by other composers (especially J Ludwig Bach). So the particular scrutiny given to this current cycle is not, in my view, misplaced. >
I agree 100%. All the more reason to keep an open mind regarding all possibilities, including Wolff's opinion of authorship by Stübel. Despite attempts to discredit/dismiss this, I do not see any change in evidence available (admittedly circumstantial) to force a change in this opinion.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 3, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<< I think there is every reason to suppose that more than one writer was involved in the texts for BWV 20-1. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Can you elaborate on this opinion? >
Ed haven't time to go into this in detail but circumstantial evidence would be the quite different uses of the chorale verses for the structures of some of the cantatas of the first 40 (could be experiments by the same writer of course, but is certainly indicative of different approaches. This was touched upon in some of the discussions last year.

< So the particular scrutiny given to this current cycle is not, in my view, misplaced. >
I agree 100%. All the more reason to keep an open mind regarding all possibilities, including Wolff's opinion of authorship by Stübel. Despite attempts to discredit/dismiss this, I do not see any change in evidence available (admittedly circumstantial) to force a change in this opinion.

Let's get this one clear.
1) there is virtually no evidence for the Stubel theory but for the date of his death. If you want to hang on to this theory, present some evidence otherwise its little more than an act of faith.
2) I am not attempting to discredit it--I specifically said there is another possible theory. I am certainly not attempting to 'force 'a change of opinion.

All I am doing is presenting a fair amount of indicative musical evidence which suggests a more planned approach to the second part of the cycle---and furthermore I am suggesting that people consider it with open minds. I am as indifferent to what they ultimately want to believe about it as I am indifferent to whether they believe in a God or not.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 6: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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