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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 62
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland [II]
Discussions - Part 1

BWV 62

Piotr Stanislawski wrote (June 7, 1999):
Piotr wrote:
[6]<< BTW, this week I bought two Herreweghe's recordings: "Cantatas for Bass, BWV 56, 82, 158" with peter Kooy and "Advent Cantatas" BWV 36, 61, 62. They are wonderful. >>
< Ehud Shiloni Wrote:
< Could you please provide us with your comment about the opening movement of cantata BWV62, as performed by Herreweghe and his group? I am always fascinated by this spell-casting music, and I wanted to compare my own reaction with another, more "schooled" and informed, pair of ears. BTW, Simon's formidable Cantata Rating Index gives BWV 62 only a 2+ rating. Do you concur? Also (a question for Simon, if you are reading this): Which movement is accorded with this "+"? >
The opening movement "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" is in my view the best piece of cantata BWV 62. When I heard it first time I thought "it must be a piece of one unfinished concerto" and "later adopted by Bach to this cantata." I like very much its joyful and sunny sound. In fact it stayed in my mind for some days. The tenor Aria "Bewundert, o Menschen, dies große Geheimnis" (sung by Christoph Prégardien in Herreweghe's recording) is also moving and worth high points. I am a bit disappointed of Peter Kooy singing - Aria for bass.

I heard a few his last recordings and have the same impressions - his voice is not as deep as before. Unfortunately I have not heard others recordings of this cantata - so I can't compare. And also it is difficult for me to say now if it should be given more points than 2+ because I just start collecting Bach's vocal recordings. Therefore my opinion will not be objective. I am very glad to have it.

 

Discussions in the Week of December 1, 2002 (1st round)

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 1, 2002):
BWV 62 - Introduction

The subject of discussion in the week of December 1, 2002, according to Thomas Shepherd’s suggested list, is the Chorale Cantata BWV 62 ‘Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland’ (Now come, saviour of the gentiles). Bach composed his first cantata, BWV 61 (discussed in the BCML about two years ago), on this Advent hymn by Martin Luther at Weimar in 1714. This second version, like its predecessor, also indirectly refers to the Gospel for this 1st Sunday in Advent, Matthew 21: 1-9 - Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – again out of season. The libretti of both cantatas are concerned with personal reflections on the meaning of approaching birth of the Saviour.

The librettist is unknown, but it might have been Picander. Stanzas one and eight are quoted for the opening and closing movements, and the intervening stanzas are paraphrased.

Recordings

The details of the recordings of this cantata can be found at the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: Cantata BWV 62 - Recordings

Three of the 7 complete recordings of this cantata come from recorded cantata cycles (Harnoncourt [3], Rilling [4], and Leusink [7]). Other two are from well-known contemporary authorities in this field, as Gardiner [5] and Herreweghe [6]. Both of last two were recordings – Göttsche [1] and Mauersberger [2] – were recorded during the 1960’s. It means that we have a variety of approaches and as we have learnt from many cantata discussions, each one of them contributes to our understanding of the cantata and each one of them has the potential of enriching our world.

You can listen to Harnoncourt’s recording [3] through David Zale Website: http://www.mymp3sonline.net/bach_cantatas/mp3.asp

Additional Information

In the page of recordings mentioned above you can also find links to:
The original German text (at Walter F. Bischof Website); three English translations by Francis Browne, Z. Philip Ambrose and Pamela Dellal (Emmanuel Music); Hebrew translation by Irit Schoenhorn;
Score (Vocal & Piano version);
Commentary: in English by Simon Crouch (Listener’s Guide), Brian Robins (All Music Guide), and Craig Smith (Emmanuel Music); in Spanish by Julio Sánchez Reyes.

I hope to see many of you participating in the discussion.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 4, 2002):
BWV 62 - Provenance:

See: Cantata BWV 62 - Provenance

Dick Wursten wrote (December 4, 2002):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< ‘1 Adventy’ = The 1st [Sunday] of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year, a moveable date that occurs 4 Sundays before the week of Christmas which is a fixed date’ always on the 25th of December. [The ‘y’ at the end of ‘Advent’ looks more like an upside=down ‘h’ = I do not know what this signifies. Is there anyone out there who does?] >
Adventu ?

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 4, 2002):
[To Dick Wursten] Dick's suggestion led me to check out the other 'Advent' cantatas BWV 36, 61, and 132 and, sure enough, in each instance the same abbreviation of Advent, but as a footnote to BWV 61, the NBA editors of this volume I/1 KB (Alfred Dürr and Werner Neumann) give the answer to this puzzle: it is a diglyph of the Latin suffix, -us, in the word, 'Adventus.' The upside-down 'h' is really the 'u' that Dick referred to with an extra down slash that derives from one of the 's's available in old German handwriting.

For comparison, this is how Bach wrote the title for BWV 61 on a separate page along with the order of service for a church in Leipzig:

Dominica. 1. Adventy Xsti. Nun komm der Heyden Heyland. a. (with horizontal line above) due Violini due Viole Violoncello è Fagotto. Sopr: Alto. Tenore è Baßo col'Organo. da Joh Sebast. Bach ao (with a tilde above the two vowels representing the missing 'nn' - anno (domini) 1714. (note the date!)

On the title page he wrote simply:

Concerto a (tilde above the 'a') 5 Strom. 4 Voci. Domin: 1 Adventy Xsti. JSBach.
(no J.J. or S.D.G. here)

For BWV 36 Bach wrote above the score:

J.J. Doica (Dominica) 1 Adventy Xsti. Concerto à 4 Voci. 1 Hautb. d'Amour 2 Violini, Viola e Cont. di Bach

For BWV 132 (an even earlier cantata - 1715) Bach wrote above the score:

Concerto. Dom. Adventy 4 ta.(abbreviation for 'tag' or 'Sonntag' for the 4th Sunday in Advent?) a (circumflex over the 'a') 1 Hautb. 2 Violini. Viola. 4 Voci.

Thanks, Dick, for setting me on the right track!

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 4, 2002):
BWV 62 - Commentaries: [Dürr, The Csibas (Gisela and Jozsef Csiba), Smend]

See: Cantata BWV 62 - Commentary

Neil Halliday wrote (December 6, 2002):
I have the 60's Göttsche recording of this cantata [1], with the Heidelberg Chamber Orchestra and Mannheim Bach Choir - a recording which you mentioned on the 'Discussions' page for December 1st.

The comparison with Harnoncourt [3] is interesting. (Unfortunately, the David Zale site is only recieved here as short sound bites at present, which makes a comparison difficult, but I can make some comments.)

The opening movement with Harnoncourt is wonderfully vivacious, and this is indeed engaging music; Göttsche sounds laboured by comparison, and the 60's recording technology is not up to standard- the oboes sound thin, for example.

The tenor aria on both recordings is pleasant, but Harnoncourt is marred by the "now you hear it, now you don't articulation of the upper strings, as well as the 'sharp' timbre of the period strings themselves.

Harnoncourt wins with the Bass aria; this aria with its string accompaniment responds to his lively treatment (as in the 1st movement), while the Gottsche treatment borders on boring - unison strings are often problematic in a long aria.

The short 'recitative' for soprano and alto ('exquisite', according to Robertson) is engaging in both recordings; however, on one hand, I prefer the relative lack of vibrato employed by Harnoncourt's singers, and on the other, I prefer the timbre and articulation of modern strings (despite the poorer recording technology of the 60's , evident on the Oryx LP).

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 6, 2002):
[1] [To Neil Halliday] Would you be willing to share the timings of the individual mvts. of this recording? I know that this may mean following a (stop)watch while listening to each mvt. I think it would be interesting to make the comparison with the rest of the recordings on the list.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 7, 2002):
[1] For Thomas Braatz, timings of the Gottsche BWV 62:

1. Chorus. 5m.50s.
2. Aria. 7m.43s.
3. Rec. 56s.
4. Aria. 5m.58s.
5. Rec. 55s.
6. Chorale. 37s.

On the reverse side of the LP (same musicians):

Cantata BWV 142, for first day of the Christmas Festival (not a church cantata). Wonderful music; the first chorus (after a short concerto) is reminiscent of 'For unto us a child is born' (Händel), and the arias are more immediately appealing than those of BWV 62; the opening 'concerto'movement, and a middle chorus are also very engaging, and the closing chorale (Alleluja, gelobet sei Gott...) is a wonderful dance-like movement in triple time.

Thomas Braatz wrotew (December 7, 2002):
BWV 62 - The Recordings:

The recordings that I listened to this week were Mauersberger (1967) [2]; Harnoncourt [3] (1976); Rilling (1980) [4]; Gardiner (1992) [5]; Herreweghe (1996) [6]; Leusink (1999) [7]

There are 3 non-HIP versions in this group ([Göttsche [1],] Mauersberge [2], Rilling); the remainder are HIP.

Timings from slow to fast (I have included Neil Halliday’s timings and comments regarding the Göttsche recording):

Mvt. 1:
[2] Mauersberger 6:17
[1] Göttsche 5:50
[7] Leusink 5:27
[3] Harnoncourt 4:54
[4] Rilling 4:42
[6] Herreweghe 4:42
[5] Gardiner 4:27

Mvt. 2:
[2] Mauersberger 8:18
[1] Göttsche 7:43
[3] Harnoncourt 7:29
[4] Rilling 6:54
[6] Herreweghe 6:51
[7] Leusink 6:51
[5] Gardiner 6:20

Mvt. 3:
[2] Mauersberger 0:58
[1] Göttsche 0:56
[6] Herreweghe 0:50
[7] Leusink 0:50
[4] Rilling 0:43
[5] Gardiner 0:40
[3] Harnoncourt 0:36

Mvt. 4:
[2] Mauersberger 6:12
[1] Göttsche 5:58
[4] Rilling 5:40
[7] Leusink 5:31
[5] Gardiner 5:21
[3] Harnoncourt 5:09
[6] Herreweghe 4:48

Mvt. 5:
[2] Mauersberger 1:00
[3] Harnoncourt 0:58
[1] Göttsche 0:55
[4] Rilling 0:55
[6] Herreweghe 0:53
[5] Gardiner 0:49
[7] Leusink 0:47

Mvt. 6:
[2] Mauersberger 0:42
[4] Rilling 0:40
[5] Gardiner 0:40
[3] Harnoncourt 0:39
[7] Leusink 0:39
[1] Göttsche 0:37
[6] Herreweghe 0:35

Mvt. 1 Introductory Choral Mvt.

[2] Mauersberger:
This non-HIP recording is much too heavy in the bc with double-basses (string basses), entering in ms. 6, attracting more attention to themselves than is really necessary. The tempo that Mauersberger takes is the slowest in the group of recordings that I listened to. In addition, the over-emphasis on the low bass makes the slow tempo of this rendition sound more burdensome than it would normally have to [this is definitely one of the drawbacks of many non-HIP versions – some conductors, such as Karl Richter, recognized this problem early on and had the string basses play the bc pizzicato which is a definite improvement over the imbalance that is audible in this recording,] but, on the other hand, it is possible to hear certain things in the lower vocal parts (A,T,B) which are glossed over in the other recordings. The vocal lines are generally clear with the boy sopranos having almost no vibrato as they present a ‘clean’ version of the chorale melody. The altos, in contrast, are quite ‘wobbly’ at times, just as the oboes are as well. A heavy, somber attitude permeates the entire mvt. Whatever joy there might be is rather subdued. This is a contemplative version, not one that might be characterized by great enthusiasm.

[1] Göttsche:
Göttsche sounds laboured by comparison [to Harnoncourt], and the 60's recording technology is not up to standard- the oboes sound thin, for example. (Neil Halliday’s comment)

[3] Harnoncourt:
Immediately the listener is confronted with a very staccato style of playing at a tempo 1 minute and 20 seconds faster than Mauersberger. The violins engage in too much staccato playing thereby creating a thin, scratchy sound. The oboes are just a bit shaky or wobbly in their playing and intonation. This becomes very apparent when they try to play the chorale melody in unison. These oboists are either unwilling or unable to control the sound production on their instruments, exhibiting a stubbornness that continued over a span of almost 20 years during which the Teldec series was made. A great disappointment awaits the listener at the very 1st entry of the voices which begin very tentatively (insecurely?) with detached, accented notes that destroy any semblance of a musical line or faith that the singers really know their parts and can sing them with a sense of conviction. Harnoncourt admires and tries to put into practice ‘das Sprechen in Tönen’ [‘Speaking in tones – using the tones of music.’] Here you can hear the result of the theory he attempts to put into practice: I can not recall any reasonably good speaker of the German language even considering to read the line, “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” with a break, be it ever so slight, after each syllable [only the comma after ‘komm’ could be an exception here]; but this is exactly what Harnoncourt has the choir sing. To read this line in this manner would be the equivalent of 1st grader in school in the process of struggling to learn how to read each word. The effect of listening to this type of reading is laborious at first, but a knows that eventually this type of reading will be overcome and replaced by a continuously flowing line of speech. Harnoncourt never advances to this 2nd stage in the Teldec cantata series. Singing in this manner becomes a travesty as Harnoncourt has the vocal parts just tap the first few quarter notes lightly and then land on the half notes (the syllable, “Hei-“) with a vengeance as these notes are strongly accented out of all proportion to the preceding quarter notes. These half notes and even dotted half notes are terminated prematurely so that, in reality, what the listener hears is not what Bach indicated in the score. Harnoncourt, in essence, is rewriting the score, or to put it another way, Harnoncourt disrespects Bach’s score. It is a commonly accepted fact among musicologists that Bach was much more meticulous than most 18th century composers in notating his intentions. He did not want to leave things to chance, so that the soloists and other performers could take liberties at will with the notes in the score. It is this aspect of Bach’s compositions that Harnoncourt has refused to acknowledge as he continued to pursue over decades his own misguided performance theories regarding Bach’s performance practices. Some listeners have claimed that Harnoncourt has provided Bach’s music with greater transparency than it has ever had before. Such listeners obviously have not listened carefully with Bach’s score in hand so as to notice that despite Harnoncourt’s rigorous efforts to play and sing with a staccato effect, the individual parts are not even necessarily enunciated/articulated more clearly; on the contrary, a muddiness or lack of distinctness for each note is still apparent. Just listen to the accompanying vocal parts (A,T,B) in ms. 43 – 46 on the words, “des sich wundert alle Welt!” Besides fracturing the musical lines with heavy accents, these accents are so strongly stressed that they actually sound musically ugly as the woodwinds overblow and the voices almost reach a breaking point as they begin to shout and strain their vocal cords. I fail to see hardly any redeeming qualities in this type of performance. Perhaps only the boy sopranos, supported by the horn, offer a glimmer of hope as they provide a steady, clear, legato line that the cantus firmus in any Bach cantata demands. This is one element that Harnoncourt was unable to destroy here, but he usually succeeds in doing so nevertheless in the final chorale (as he does in this recording) where he chops and hacks everything to pieces until not very much of the original Bach cantata is left over for a serious, uplifting listening experience.

[4] Rilling:
Rilling does a much better job of controlling the bc so that it does not become overly loud. Of course, here the listener is confronted with trained voices that have some difficulty merging into a coherent choir sound, but all the parts are in balance and can be distinctly heard. The vibratos of the individual voices do detract from attaining the solid sound that characterizes choirs where the restless wavering of these soloistic (non-choir) voices is not present. This is partly due to the fact that Rilling has a specific interpretation in mind here: the contrast between the joyful orchestral ritornelli and the singing of the chorale which here has a strong, serious tendency. Thus Rilling already fulfills in this 1st mvt. one of Dürr’s observations about the stark contrasts present throughout this cantata. The choir sings with an almost angry intensity as they demand the appearance of the Savior on earth. The horn serves to ‘smooth out’ the otherwise wobbly c. f. that Rilling usually provides with his selection of female soprano voices. This is, nevertheless, a very engaging interpretation of this mvt.

[5] Gardiner:
From the very start it is apparent that the tempo is too fast; it sounds very rushed. The true test comes in ms. 43 – 46 when the accompanying voices have to sing an extended coloratura on ‘alle’ with many 16th notes. Gardiner may pride himself in presenting tour- de-force performances with a group of voices that seem to be able to sing faster than most choirs, but here he does not completely succeed. He has overestimated the ability of his voices to keep up with the tempo that he has established. The result: the notes are no longer distinct and run together in a rather impressionistic presentation where details are no longer important. But was Bach an impressionistic composer? The singing style is reminiscent of Harnoncourt’s: Notice the separation between the notes as the accompanying voices enter for the 1st time! Does Gardiner respect the notes that Bach put down in his score? No! In ms. 25 & 36 on the final syllable of “Heiland” and “erkannt” Gardiner substracts two beats from the dotted half note that the soprano sings and the horn plays. All that is left is a heavily-accented final syllable that barely lasts for the duration of a quarter note. This is not an individual interpretation of Bach, but rather an idiosyncratic revision of his music by a conductor who thinks he can improve upon Bach’s original intentions. It simply makes no sense to terminate prematurely and abruptly the final note at the end of each line of the c. f. Bach even indicated this dotted half note twice, both in the soprano and the corno part. What more evidence does a conductor need than this to come to a proper conclusion about Bach’s intentions? With this fastest of all the tempi taken by other conductors who have recorded this cantata, Gardiner fails to provide the necessary intensity which is present in the Rilling version, although some of the contrast between the joyful spirit of the orchestral accompaniment and the serious nature of the chorale as presented by the choir is still preserved.

[6] Herreweghe:
Here the instruments are much clearer and in better balance than in the Harnoncourt recording. Herreweghe, with a sensitive ear, does not push his instruments and voices to produce ugly sounds. Yes, there still is still quite a bit of staccato playing in the strings and oboes, but the restrained sound is generally much more delicate than Harnoncourt’s and more listenable. The loss here, on the other hand, is that the intensity can not be as great as Rilling’s or Gardiner’s. Herreweghe, although having worked under Harnoncourt in the Teldec series, has tended to move more in the direction of the style that typifies Koopman’s cantata style: more on the ‘lite’ than on the ‘heavy, serious’ side. Listen to the initial entrances of the A, T, B and the origins of Herreweghe’s style become quite apparent: there is still some of the separation between notes as in Harnoncourt, but now it has become more subdued, more like an understatement. Herreweghe is acknowledging his heritage, but also allows his sense of beauty to prevail over abstract theory as propounded by Harnoncourt. Herreweghe displays a sensitivity to choral sound that is lacking in Harnoncourt’s cantata productions, but do not expect to get a listening experience that overwhelms through sheer intensity; rather prepare yourself for an ethereal, other-worldly impression that comes from Herreweghe’s attention to aesthetic details that other conductors have overlooked. Herreweghe pays much closer attention to the score than Harnoncourt and Gardiner. On this point alone, Herreweghe gains my respect for his interpretations, which are usually quite different and rather impressionistic without becoming too sloppy as he pays attention to all the details. In a word, they are different and well worth listening to because they can uncover possibilities not presented by other standard interpretations thus shedding new light on the meaning of the cantata texts.

[7] Leusink:
Leusink falls back into the problem of overdoing the bc with a double bass. His double bass always seems to stand out too much, as a result the bass line, particularly in a HIP recording becomes thick and muddy. There is no corno playing the c. f. here. It is simpomitted here and in the final chorale just as if it had never existed. The oboes are more pleasant and in tune than anything that Harnoncourt was ever able to provide. Also, the violins are not as scratchy either, but somehow I suspect that the audio engineers ‘fiddled with’ the sound removing all the normal overtones that would normally be heard. This entire series is plagued by this feature which makes the orchestra sound generally dull without the necessary sparkle that one would expect from these instruments, despite the fact that these recordings were made in a church. The effect of Harnoncourt’s choral singing style is still in evidence here as the notes sung by the accompanying vocal parts are still treated in a pseudo-staccato style with tiny separations caused by closing off the final consonants too soon before attacking the next note. At this tempo, slower than most of the other recordings, Leusink has difficulty ‘getting these voices off the ground,’ as the pauses between each note are exaggerated here. This has a deadening effect that leaves the listener wondering how this will continue without breaking down entirely. The insecure sound of the Buwalda-type voices in the altos is aggravating, and the strained, worn-out sound of the tenors does not help much either in providing a unified choral sound. The sopranos are acceptable in providing a clear, unwavering sound necessary for the c. f.; however, there are many unnecessary breaks in the chorale melody where it appears they need to take a breath after every 2nd or 3rd note. There should be no need for this creation of such gaps in the individual line of the chorale.

Order of Preference (top down):
Rilling [4], Herreweghe [6], Gardiner [5], Mauersberger [2], Harnoncourt [3], Göttsche? [1], Leusink [7]

Mvt. 2 Tenor Aria:

[2] Mauersberger:
With the slowest tempo of this mvt. in all of the recordings I listened to, one might expect this mvt. to become rather boring and dreary instead of inspiring the joy of astonishment. It takes someone the caliber of Peter Schreier to prove any doubters wrong. He simply has what it takes to expand his voice and his capability for expression to fill out this mvt. with moving significance. Despite the loud bc. Schreier saves this mvt. from becoming heavy or burdensome. A subdued joy (very appropriate for Advent) is just what this mvt. needs. Add to these excellent singing which other good tenors would have difficulty matching and you have and unbeatable combination of elements.

[1] Göttsche:
“Pleasant” (Neil Halliday’s comment)

[3] Harnoncourt:
Equiluz has an ineffable quality in his voice, a quality that is at the same time endearing as it is pleading. Equiluz pleads with his listeners: ‘Listen! What I am singing here is more important than anything else in the world at this moment.” Equiluz’ artistry is hidden, or to put it another way, it has become so much a part of him that the listener can not separate the two. Harnoncourt’s orchestral accompaniment is, as one might expect when moving from the non-HIP to the HIP category, lighter and just a bit more staccato-like. The organ bc. is just a bit obtrusive and dull/uninteresting.

[4] Rilling:
This is a very spirited version, one that imbued with great joy that is designed to cause a spirited joy in the listener. Compared to the earlier versions, there is much more of a driving force that impels this mvt. forward relentlessly. The coloraturas, excellently sung by Baldin, push the listener higher and higher until the ultimate is reached on the long notes on the words, “höchster,” and “Beherrscher.” This version is very ‘uplifting’ in this respect and well worth listening to again and again.

[5] Gardiner:
Here we go again – off to the races! Let’s keep it very light and subdued because Rolfe-Johnson with his half-voice will not be able to hold his own against the orchestral accompaniment that Bach stipulated in this aria. When the tenor does give a little more voice than just sotto voce, the strain becomes apparent. In the middle section, manneristic affectations that are typical of many English tenors and countertenors become very apparent. Lite entertainment a la Koopman is what Gardiner offers the listener here. After hearing the mastery of the three tenors above, this is a ‘let-down,’ particularly because this is the typical voice usually associated with HIP performances, a voice that can not provide the intense, moving experience that one should expect from solo voices in a Bach cantata.

[6] Herreweghe:
Although Prégardien does not have quite the full voice of a Schreier or a Baldin, he nevertheless has some of the qualities of Equiluz: a believable quality that puts the listener at ease and allows for the message to ‘sink in’ without being distracted by odd characteristics of the voice or a lack of expression. Herreweghe’s orchestral accompaniment is very sensitive without giving up substance as in the Gardiner version. Of the many HIP tenors singing today, Prégardien stands out above most of the others.

[7] Leusink:
Everything here is at half the level of intensity that can be found in some of the better recordings. There are times when van der Meel simply does not know what to do with a note that is held for a few measures. His voice quality becomes ‘dead’ and disinterested as if he is saying, “I hope this note will end soon. I do not know how long I can still hold this note. Why did Bach have to write long notes like this anyway?” This version lacks expression. There is no true sense of joy. Intonation problems on some of these long notes do not inspire confidence in the listener that this singer knows what he is doing. Yes, he is trying to read the notes, but is this really enough? The accompaniment is also dull and rather uninspired.

Order of Preference:

Mauersberger (Schreier) [2], Harnoncourt (Equiluz) [3], Rilling (Baldin) [4], Herreweghe (Prégardien) [6], Gardiner (Rolfe-Johnson) [5], Göttsche? (Melzer) [1], Leusink (van der Meel) [7]

Mvt. 3 (Recitative) & Mvt. 4 Bass Aria:

[2] Mauersberger:
Adam has a powerful, full voice which is not duplicated by the other basses in this group. It is amazing that he is able to convey a sense of “Streite, siege” at the slow tempo that Mauersberger has chosen. This demonstrates how a full voice is able to fill out entirely the space and time in which it is singing. His recitative is very expressive. There is a slight tendency for Adam to become too operatic. This becomes very noticeable in his later Bach recordings where this trait becomes unbearable.

[1] Göttsche:
The Göttsche treatment borders on boring - unison strings are often problematic in a long aria. (Neil Halliday’s comment)

[3] Harnoncourt:
The characteristic extremely fast vibrato of van der Meer (and Olaf Bär in the Gardiner recording) is quite distracting. It is a sign that these singers have pushed their voices beyond their limits. Some might interpret this as an aspect of expression, but it becomes quite apparent that these singers have no way ‘to turn off’ this disturbing aspect of their voices. There is no respite from this ‘grating’ sound in their voices. As a result, it is difficult not to be distracted by this quality in their voices.

[4] Rilling:
Huttenlocher’s overblown interpretation comes off as being entirely disingenuous. There is no way to keep this attitude of ‘hamming up’ of the interpretation from conflicting with the actual seriousness of the text. Here it becomes almost comical because of the manner in which Huttenlocher presents it. There is a dichotomy between the music itself and the manner in which Huttenlocher tries to sing it. This is just the opposite of Equiluz’ singing of an aria where everything (particularly artistic expression and the actual content of the text) is unified to become one and is thus very believable (the listener can genuinely believe that Equiluz really means what he is singing, whereas with Huttenlocher and a few other singers a split occurs – it is as if an audience watching a performance of a play begins to perceive that one of the actors is not fully identified with the part he is playing. Such an actor stands apart from the part and seems to ‘play with it’ rather than actually becoming the person in the part to make the part believable.)

[5] Gardiner:
Compared to van der Meer in the Harnoncourt recording, Bär is much more of a baritone who is somewhat weak in the lower register. On a low A, which is not really low for a bass, he has almost no volume whatsoever. He indulges in more sotto voce than van der Meer does. This may allow for more expression at the expense of the power of projecting the message. This type of treatment fits well into Gardiner’s ideal of a ‘lite’ entertainment recording where certain elements are bound ‘to fall below the table.’ This makes for good background listening, but is certainly not very engaging if the listener really wants to come to terms with the music and the text.

[6] Herreweghe:
Kooy has a clean presentation with little vibrato, but his voice is definitely of the half-voice type. He does try, however, to use this type of voice to its best advantage, managing to include meaningful expression wherever possible without overdoing it. Again, Herreweghe gives a sensitive orchestral accompaniment, albeit on the ‘lite’ side.

[7] Leusink:
It is apparent that Ramselaar attempts too hard to make something of the recitative and aria. This approach is disingenuous as it displays too publicly the methods and tools that Ramselaar is using in order to create some expression in the vocal part. The singer and his vocal technique and expression are not truly unified. In general the Leusink approach does not give much of the sense of ‘Streite, siege.’ It all seems to remain very much on the same level. This is due in part to Ramselaar’s half voice which has definite limitations. The orchestral accompaniment is very light so as to compensate for these limitations. There is an incongruity between the text and the actual interpretation chosen by the conductor and the singer.

Order of Preference:
Mauersberger (Adam) [2], Herreweghe (Kooy) [6], Gardiner (Bär) [5], Harnoncourt (van der Meer) [3], Rilling (Huttenlocher) [4], Leusink (Ramselaar) [7], Göttsche? (Illerhaus) [1]

Mvt. 5 Recitative (Soprano, Alto):

[2] Mauersberger:
Stolte and Schriever have full voices, but the soprano sometimes has an unpleasantly penetrating quality that upsets the balance and blend between these two voices. For a non-HIP version, Rilling’s Nielsen and Watts give a much better performance.

[1] Göttsche:
The short 'recitative' for soprano and alto ('exquisite', according to Robertson) is engaging in both recordings; however, on one hand, I prefer the relative lack of vibrato employed by Harnoncourt's singers, and on the other, I prefer the timbre and articulation of modern strings (despite the poorer recording technology of the 60's , evident on the Oryx LP). (Neil Halliday’s comment)

[3] Harnoncourt:
This is absolutely the best rendition of this wonderful duet. These voices are perfect for this situation with an unbelievable perfect blending of the two voices. Too bad that they did not have any more to sing in this cantata! For those who might doubt that a boy soprano and a male alto could even outperform the usual female voices, let them listen to this unfortunately much too short mvt.

[4] Rilling:
With their fully trained voices, Nielsen and Watts are able to carry their message to every corner of the church without having the listeners wonder just what is going on up there in the balcony. Even with their vibratos (not excessive here,) this is a superlative rendition of this beautiful duet recitative.

[5] Gardiner:
Argenta and Lang are not voices that blend very well. Argenta produces some strident high notes that completely overwhelm the alto part. There are some sections where these two half-voices have reached the absolute, lowest level of sotto-voce singing – almost inaudible. Such things should never be allowed in Bach cantatas.

[6] Herreweghe:
Rubens and Connolly give a very sensitive and delicately balanced interpretation of this recitative text. This is moving and beautiful at the same time. Of course, Herreweghe’s accompaniment is very sensitive as well. This is one area in which Herreweghe truly excels.

[7] Leusink:
In this very plainly sung duet, these very soft half-voices singing softly with the simplicity of very young children (no detectable vibratos) might well fit into a staged Christmas scenario where shepherds approach the crib. These expressionless voices, almost overshadowed by the instruments at times, convey the atmosphere of a children’s Christmas play. Whether this is what Bach had in mind here is certainly open to debate, but somehow I believe that Bach’s cantatas were composed for a different, higher level of understanding and appreciation than what is heard here.

Order of Preference:
Harnoncourt (Jelosits/Esswood) [3], Rilling (Nielsen/Watts) [4], Herreweghe (Rubens/Connolly) [6], Leusink (Holton/Buwalda) [7], Gardiner (Argenta/Lang) [5], Göttsche? (Krause/Kirchner) [1], Mauersberger (Stolte/Schriever) [2]

Mvt. 6 Chorale

[2] Mauersberger:
Here is an excellent version with a boys’ choir (Thomanerchor of Leipzig) and male voices from the same choir in the tenors and basses. The musical lines are sustained at full voice (no cheating here) and the horn plays colla parte with the sopranos. The organ is somewhat obtrusive as well as the heavy bass, but otherwise there is much here for HIP conductors interested in performing with boys’ choirs to learn. Good examples such as this are absolutely necessary, lest we think that a choir such as Leusink’s is all that Bach could have hoped for – a sad situation indeed.

[1] Göttsche:
One of the fastest versions recorded! This is not necessarily a good thing, but many other factors would have to be considered as well.

[3] Harnoncourt:
Here is an example of how not to sing a simple Bach chorale. Despite the fact that a boys’ choir is singing here, Harnoncourt has managed to turn everything upside down to make this rendition (as most of his others in this series) “ein Unding” (“a preposterous or ridiculous thing.”) It does not matter much here that the boys and men sing each note in tune that the parts are in balance with each other, when the object here is to destroy the musical line, to fracture it, to disassemble it, to treat each syllable as if it were an entity unto itself with little or no connection with the context before or after it. After almost every quarter note that is sung, a tiny death occurs before a new life on the next note is begun. Each note receives a strong accent and some notes a doubly strong one. There are very strong accents on “Gott” and “Vater” but “Sohn” and “Heiligen Geist” are not accented heavily. From purely a textual standpoint and with little understanding of Lutheran theology on Harnoncourt’s part, this type of interpretation completely misses the mark of what is reasonable and sensible.

[4] Rilling:
With just a bit of wobbliness in the soprano line caused by their inability to control their vibratos, this version nevertheless serves as an example of the proper singing style for a 4-pt chorale: all voices are in balance with each other, all the parts, including the marvelous passing notes are clearly heard, each line of the chorale is treated as a unified phrase with legato singing connecting the notes – in this way one note leads to another and is not ‘chopped off’ prematurely as in Harnoncourt’s version. There is an intensity of conviction and purpose that is perceptible to the listener/congregation.

[5] Gardiner:
Gardiner fully understands what 4-pt. chorale singing is about. He stands apart from other HIP conductors who would treat a chorale with lightness and special effects such as diminuendi, etc. There is none of this here.

[6] Herreweghe:
Herreweghe’s choir is very clear (no wobbly sopranos as with Rilling) and is excellently balanced between all the voices. The choir is small, yet still sounds like a choir and not individual voices. Listen carefully and you will detect the tutelage of Harnoncourt under whom Herreweghe served for many years. It was impossible for Herreweghe to overcome completely this handicap. Although the description that I gave for Harnoncourt’s rendition applies here, it has been made somewhat less angular, somewhat less apparent, but the elements are still there if you listen carefully: the strong accents are now only slight accents, but the separations between words and syllables are still perceptible. Sometimes it is difficult to overcome bad habits, but at least Herreweghe made an attempt to modify them to a certain degree.

[7] Leusink:
Here both the sopranos with their obvious falsettos and the altos with Buwalda-type voices are trying to sing the parts. This insecure method of singing is utterly distracting and detracts from the seriousness that should be accorded this music. The musical lines are not as smooth as they ought to be. The horn that Bach calls for in this mvt. is once again missing as it was in the 1st mvt. The unpleasant raspy sound of a tenor voice only adds to the discomfort that the listener will feel when listening to this beautiful chorale. All in all, not a very satisfactory rendition of a simple 4-pt. chorale.

Summary:
Mauersberger [2], Rilling [4], and Gardiner [5] know how to present a simple 4-pt. chorale in a satisfactory manner. Göttsche [1] would probably end up here in the middle. Herreweghe [6] is still tends to slip into the abyss that engulfs Harnoncourt [3] and Leusink [7].

Mvt. 3 The secco recitative:

It is interesting to observe how the secco recitatives are treated by various conductors:

[2] Mauersberger:
The long notes in the bc are held out for their full values. An organ and string bass are used here.

[3] Harnoncourt:
An organ and violoncello are used here in the bc. The long notes are extremely abbreviated (so-called shortened bc accompaniment in secco recitatives.) The 1st note, which Bach notated to be held for 6 beats, is barely held for two beats. Harnoncourt, on the cello gives it only one beat, the organist extends it for another beat. It seems that they could not decide what the length of the note should be. Sometimes half-notes are given the full two beats, but otherwise only a single beat. There are times when Bach (who usually added the figured bass after the bc part had been copied) indicates a further change of chord above a note that is being held, but Harnoncourt shortens the held note and forgets about the chord change leaving the soloist ‘hanging in the air.’ Much of this problem with the shortened accompaniment stems from certain musicologists (and Harnoncourt is among these) who refer to a book written about accompanying recitatives, a book that was written a quarter century or more after Bach’s death. This is a book that represents the type of thing that was happening in Mozart’s operas, but the conventions and customs applied in the recitatives of Mozart’s operas were then applied back to an earlier time (a half century earlier!) when the term ‘secco’ still had not been used. In any case, there is a world of difference between Bach’s sacred cantatas and Mozart’s operas that has been overlooked here.

[4] Rilling:
Rilling uses a harpsichord, a violoncello and string bass. The bc note values are held out for their full value. The harpsichord is unable to sustain the low notes, hence the violoncello and string bass take over this task.

[5] Gardiner:
Gardiner uses an organ and a string bass. The first note in the bc is held for only one beat, it should be held for 6 beats. Some half notes are abbreviated to one beat, but others are not.

[6] Herreweghe:
Herreweghe uses an organ and a string bass. Of all the conductors, Herreweghe reduces the values of almost all the notes more than any others. There is a lot of ‘empty space’ here which Bach had not intended to be this way. This is the extreme to which the ‘shortened’ accompaniment can go.

[7] Leusink:
Leusink generally has the organ and violoncello hold the long notes for their full value, but some of the half notes are abbreviated to one beat only. Leusink has reached a kind of compromise which is also heard in recordings by Suzuki. These are contemporary conductors who feel that there is something not quite right about not following Bach’s scores more carefully, and yet they wish to show that they are ‘with it’ as far as the ‘tradition’ established by Harnoncourt is concerned. Actually this tradition was established by a few musicologists based on very shaky evidence, but it was Harnoncourt’s recordings that put this tenuous theory into practice so that now some listeners expect to hear secco recitatives performed in this manner because a pseudo-tradition has been established among many HIP conductors.

Summary:

This performance ‘problem’ has not yet been completely resolved, but further research and investigation will reveal that a revision of this theory will be necessary. Musicians will once again return to Bach’s scores and believe that he really meant what he put down in the scores. There is no hocus-pocus about ‘unwritten traditions’ that Bach would write his music one way, but expect it to be played differently, that he would actually put many non-sounding notes on his scores for decoration or just for the fun of it. Bach knew all about abbreviations. Had he wanted to use abbreviations (he was very economical in this regard, as we have seen) he would have done so unabashedly.

Jane Newble wrote (December 7, 2002):
After reading the interesting observations of Thomas Braatz, I don't feel I want to add much.

Just a few points I noticed.

In the opening chorale I felt that the staccato treatment had theeffect of someone knocking to come in. I don't have the score, so I don't know how Bach intended this.

The bass aria reminded me very much of the triumphant 'Großer Herr und starker König' aria in the Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248), and I thought of the apparent contrast between the weakness of the helpless infant and the strength of the King of kings.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 8, 2002):
Jane Newble commented:
< In the opening chorale I felt that the staccato treatment had the effect of someone knocking to come in. I don't have the score, so I don't know how Bach intended this. >
Yes, there are many instances of a musical figure where the same note is repeated 5 or 6 times, but Bach did not mark these staccato (he uses staccato markings elsewhere in this mvt. but never on these repeated notes.) Staccato is sparingly indicated in this mvt. By treating great portions of the mvt. in staccato fashion, many modern HIP conductors have exaggerated an effect which is simply not to be found in the score. Also by exaggerating to this extent, the instances which Bach did mark staccato do not stand out at all. These instances become the same as everything before and after them. Also, when staccato is applied to the vocal parts, this does not necessarily make them become clearer or more transparent. On the contrary, they often relapse into episodes of muddy, impressionistic singing, as I have pointed out. Such an attempt to make this sound like 'knocking' is then lost anyway. So what then is the purpose for all this special effort in chopping and separating the majority of notes in a musical line from all the others? Certainly not clarity which can be achieved through means other than a strict staccato!

In another Advent cantata, BWV 61/4 (bass recitative), Bach has the strings play repeated 8th notes with 8th-note rests in between the notes 'senza l'arco' (without the bow, hence plucked - a truly staccato treatment.) The bass (vox Christi) sings "Look, I am standing before the (your) door and am knocking on it." When Bach wants this effect, he certainly knows just how to notate it clearly.

Dick Wursten wrote (December 8, 2002):
SOME REMARKS on NUN KOMM DER HEIDEN HEILAND.

The Lutherhymn 'Nun komm der Heiden Heiland' is based on the old Amrosian hymn 'Veni redemptor gentium', both in text as in melody. This is well known of course. But in both cases Luther (with the assistance of Walter ?) not as a slave followed the original (Vorlage), but freely created something original based on it. BTW: 'creative imitation' and 'creative translation' was a favorite activity of renaissance poets (AFAIK: Catullus, Ovidius c.s. were re-created and re-invented' quite in the same manner in the beginning of the 16th century).

The text is based on Ambrosius hymn (8 verses), which we know as 'Veni redemptor gentium' , but which originally began with another verse: 'Intende qui regis Israel', which contained a very precise paraphrase of psalm 79 (latin) 80 (modern count). This psalm BTW is the psalm of the 2nd sunday of Advent (today).

Many hymns are attributed to Ambrosius, but this one is probably really written by this bisshop of Milan, since already in 430 Caelestinus, bisshop of Rome, testifies that 'Ambrosius, blessed be his memory, on the day of our Lords nativity made all the people sing together with one voice: Veni Redemptor Gentium... A little later Faustus (bisshop of Riez, died 492) testifies that this hymn is sung nog only in Italia, but also in Gallia. The first verse in most cases didnot survive the process of tradition.

When you compare the original Abrosian text with Luther's 're-creation', you can easily notice that Luther's cuts short the Ambrosian fascination with the virgin-birth. Luther reduces these 3 verses to 1. The imagery of the 'royal chambers and the hero, that goes his way triumphantly, Luther borrows from Abrosius. He derived it from psalm 19:6-7, where the rise of the sun is compared to the glorius exit of the bridegroom from the brides chamber and where the rest of this parcours is completed glorious as a hero... wie ein Held zum Siegen...

[In BWV 62 this imagery is still - though transformed- present in mvts 3 and 4].
Luther also leaves out the one but last verse of Ambrosius and adds a trinitarian gloria (which is BTW typically Ambrosian). The 8 verses are reduced to 5.

The melody: Musicologists (hymnologists) often consider a Cistercian melody totally different from Luthers melody as the original, which might even date back to Ambrosius' time. BTW: I read that the melody of the Genevan psalm 129 is very similar to this original ambrosian chant. (in use with the cistercians and in Italy) [Stäblein14]

In Germany the hymn (without the first verse) was sung with a different melody, mostly connected with St. Gallen and dated back to around 900. [Stäblein 503]. This melody was often used in the 'Completes' during Christmas-time in the Antiphonale Monasticum. The relation of the Luther-melody with this melody is obvious. (melody and text first published 1524 in Erfurter Enchiridion).

Though the relation and dependency is obvious the differences are also important. F.i. Ambrosius has verses of 4 lines of 8 syllables. Luther of 7 syllables.

The re-invention of the melody makes the gregorian chant to a 'fixed Song', with a clear beginning and end. Yes: even the first and last line are the same now (not so in the ambrosian). The middle lines are also very similar, i.e. when you see them as eachothers inversion. Together the 'greogrian hymn' has become a solemn church-song with an austere melodic architecture.

In Lutheran tradition this hymn (though the text is sometimes quite obscure) is always nr. 1 So the royal treatment of Bach in bwv 61 and 62 is OK.

[source of information: Jan van Biezen/ JW Schulte Nordholt: Hymnen, 1967]

BTW: The melody of 'Verleih uns Frieden gnadiglich' (da pacem domine) also can be traced back to this melody of 'veni redemptor gentium'.

Santu de Silva wrote (December 8, 2002):
I found Dick Wursten's post quite interesting. Unfortunately there were some obscure points on which I would some clarification.

< . . . Luther also leaves out the one but last verse of Ambrosius and adds a trinitarian gloria (which is BTW typically Ambrosian). >
Exactly what is typically Ambrosian: the verse that was omitted, or the gloria that was substituted? This is not clear.

< The melody: Musicologists (hymnologists) often consider a Cistercian melody totally different from Luther's melody as the original, which might even date back to Ambrosius' time. >
This sentence is a little obscure. I can't decide whether you mean that the Ambrosian hymn was sung to a Cistercian melody quite different from Luther's, or that Luther's melody was an adaptation of a Cistercian melody, or something between.

< In Germany the hymn (without the first verse) was sung with a different melody, mostly connected with St. Gallen and dated back to around 900. [Stäblein 503]. >
Was the melody used with this hymn from around 900, or was the hymn sung to this melody starting much later, though the melody itself was identified as having been around since 900? Is the tune called "St Gallen" by any chance? What is the relationship between this tune and Luther's? (I presume there is none.)

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 9, 2002):
Dick Wursten wrote regarding Luther's version of the chorale melody:
< Yes: even the first and last line are the same now (not so in the ambrosian). The middle lines are also very similar, i.e. when you see them as each other's inversion. >
This is a remarkable insight! I had never known oseen this before, but now it becomes quite clear what a marvelously balanced structure this chorale melody has: The 1st and last lines provide the framework for the two middle lines, of which the second is the inversion of the 1st of the middle lines. Such balance certainly would not have gone unnoticed by Bach's discerning eyes.

Dick Wursten wrote (December 9, 2002):
[To Santu de Silva] Sorry that there were so much inclarities. Difficulty of writing in a non-native tongue. Hopefully this mail is clear enough. Read between the lines:

Dick Wursten wrote:
<< . . .
Luther also leaves out the one but last verse of Ambrosius and adds a trinitarian gloria (which is BTW typically Ambrosian). >>
Santu de Siva wrote:
< Exactly what is typically Ambrosian: the verse that was omitted, or the gloria that was substituted? This is not clear. >
ANSWER: The praise of the trinity (gloria) in the last verse is typical for an ambrosian hymn

<< The melody: Musicologists (hymnologists) often consider a Cistercian melody totally different from Luther's melody as the original, which might even date back to Ambrosius' time. >>
< This sentence is a little obscure. I can't decide whether you mean that the Ambrosian hymn was sung to a Cistercian melody quite different from
Luther's, or that Luther's melody was an adaptation of a Cistercian melody, or something between. >
ANSWER: My sources say that the Ambrosian hymn 'Intende qui regis Israel' has a melody of which we have examples in early cistercian manuscripts. They say that it is really possible that that particular melody (they give as code: Stäblein 14) dates back as far as the 5th century. This melody is completely different from the Lutheran hymn and from the 'veni redemptor gentium' melody discussed in the next paragraph... I would like to show you the notes, but this mailinglist doesnot support any images...

<< In Germany the hymn (without the first verse) was sung with a different melody, mostly connected with St. Gallen and dated back to around 900. [Stäblein 503]. >>
< Was the melody used with this hymn from around 900, or was the hymn sung to this melody starting much later, though the melody itself was identified as having been around since 900? Is the tune called "St Gallen" by any chance? What is the relationship between this tune and
Luther's? (I presume there is none.) >
ANSWER: Sankt Gallen (Suisse) is the place where Notker Balbulus (monk, died 912) was active (famous poet, creator of many new hymns, esp. famous for a new kind of hymns, not ambrosian, but free poetry based on sequentia. Skt Gallen was one of those medieval centres of culture in which the inheritance of antiquity was kept and revived. The melody that was popular in Germany with the hymn 'Veni Redemptor Gentium' was popular in the German world, found in manuscirpts in Suisse and thus often supposed to date back till the period of Notker Balbulus > 900.

Indeed: it is this German-Suisse melody which was very popular in the late Middle-Ages which delivers the basic melody-notes for Luther’s Nun komm der Heiden Heiland.

Francis Browne wrote (December 11, 2002):
BWV 61/62: Latin humn

Dick Wursten recently discussed the hymn of St Ambrose on which BWV 61/62 are based. The Latin is not always easy, and so I have made a literal, line by line translation in the hope it may be of interest to some members of the list.

in nocte natalis domini
On the night of our Lord's birth

intende, qui regis Israel,
Listen , you who rule Israel
super Cherubim qui sedes,
who are enththroned above the Cherubim
appare Ephrem coram, excita
appear in the presence of Ephraim, stir up
potentiam tuam et veni.
your power and come.

veni, redemptor gentium,
Come, redeemer of peoples,
ostende partum virginis;
show that a virgin has given birth;
miretur omne saeculum,
let all the world be amazed,
talis decet partus Deum.
such a birth is fitting for God.

non ex virili semine,
Not from human seed
sed mystico spiramine
but from the Holy Spirit
verbum Dei factum est caro
the Word of God has become flesh
fructusque ventris floruit.
and the fruit of [Mary's womb] has flourished.

alvus tumescit virginis,
The virgin's belly swells,
claustrum pudoris permanet,
the lock of her chastity endures
vexilla virtutum micant,
standards displaying her virtues shine brightly,
versatur in templo Deus.
God is present in his temple.

procedat e thalamo suo
Let him come forth from his chamber
pudoris aula regia
of chastity, from his royal palace,
geminae gigas substantiae,
the giant of double substance,
alacris ut currat viam.
to run his race eagerly.

egressus eius a patre,
He goes forth from the Father,
regressus eius ad patrem,
he returns to the Father,
excursus usque ad inferos,
he journeys as far as hell,
recursus ad sedem Dei.
he journeys back to the throne of God

aequalis aeterno patri,
You who are equal with the everlasting Father,
carnis tropaeo cingere,
be clothed in the trophy of flesh,
infirma nostri corporis
the weaknesses of our body
virtute firmans perpeti.
with your courage strengthening to bear steadfastly

praesepe iam fulget tuum
Now your crib shines bright
lumenque nox spirat suum,
and the night breathes/reveals its light,
quod nulla nox interpolet
a light which no night shall obscure
fideque iugi luceat.
and which shall shine with constant faith.

Jane Newble wrote (December 12, 2002):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Yes, there are many instances of a musical figure where the same note is repeated 5 or 6 times, but Bach did not mark these staccato (he uses staccato markings elsewhere in this mvt. but never on these repeated notes.) Staccato is sparingly indicated in this mvt. By treating great portions of the mvt. in staccato fashion, many modern HIP conductors have exaggerated an effect which is simply not to be found in the score. Also by exaggerating to this extent, the instances which Bach did mark staccato do not stand out at all. These instances become the same as everything before and after them. Also, when staccato is applied to the vocal parts, this does not necessarily make them become clearer or more transparent. On the contrary, they often relapse into episodes of muddy, impressionistic singing, as I have pointed out. Such an attempt to make this sound like 'knocking' is then lost anyway. So what then is the purpose for all this special effort in chopping and separating the majority of notes in a musical line from all the others? Certainly not clarity which can be achieved through means other than a strict staccato!

In another Advent cantata,
BWV 61/4 (bass recitative), Bach has the strings play repeated 8th notes with 8th-note rests in between the notes 'senza l'arco' (without the bow, hence plucked - a truly staccato treatment.) The bass (vox Christi) sings "Look, I am standing before the (your) door and am knocking on it." When Bach wants this effect, he certainly knows just how to notate it clearly. >
Thank you so much for this information. I found it very interesting and helpful.

 

BWV 62 OVPP Chorus - MP3 File

Charles Francis wrote (July 30, 2003):
You can download an MP3 of a live One Voice Per Part performance of the chorus from BWV 62 (Bach Players): http://www.earlymusic.org.uk/musicwww/bachwww/client1.html

 

Cantata Nun Komm Der Heiden Heilend BWV 62 [Choral Talk]

Alexander V. Hendrickson [Organist, St. Paul's RC Church, Johnston City, Illinois / Organist and Director of Music, St. Joseph's RC Church, Benton, Illinois] wrote (April 16, 2005):
Can anybody offer any performing advice for this cantata?? I am looking to introduce it to our choir for Advent '06, and am interested in everybody's opinions on it, and it's performance particulars.

By whom is it published by??, What editions are the best??, and are there arrangements of it for less than the original 2 Oboes, Continuo, and String section??

Anybody that hasnever heard it before (it is a beautiful piece) may listen to it from my website: www.geocities.com/r37c04x35/mp3s/bwv62.mp3

Many Thanks,

Nicholas Petersen [Vocal/General Music Teacher - Robert Goddard Montessori School - Prince George's County Public Schools] wrote (April 17, 2005):
[To Alexander V. Hendrickson]
Visit the following web-site: http://www.bach-cantatas.com

There are sound recordings of the cantatas, as well as score examples and discussion forums. I'm sure that the web-site will answer many of your questions. Much success to you!!

SDG,

Stephen A. Stomps [Director of Choirs - Auburn High School Choirs, Auburn New York, USA] wrote (April 27, 2005):
Yes, the cantata is for Advent. I have performed this several times in the distant past, always in the the Drinker edition and in English. Being young and dumb and very, very snooty, I just couldn't be happy not performing in German UNTIL the director whom I vastly respected and would do anything to please told us all that 1) the German text was not particularly noble in the first place 2) when using the cantata in a liturgy, the text should be most understandable, fulfilling Bach's original intentions.

All of the Drinker editions of the Bach Cantata's are available for rental from the Drinker Library of the Philadelphia Free Library for very meager cost. I don't remember if they are available generally.

 

Continue on Part 2

Cantata BWV 62: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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