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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 68
Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of June 10, 2007 [Continue]

Santu de Silva wrote (June 12, 2007):
BWV 68

"Mein glaubiges Hertze" is an aria I became familiar with when my mother learned it in 1965, or thereabouts. With the accompaniment played on a piano, it didn't appeal to me, and it strained my mother's talents to the utmost. Then, I heard it on "Voices of Angles" (Leonhardt/Harnoncourt), a collection of arias and choruses, and I immediately fell in love with it, a feeling that was confirmed when I heard Julianne Baird sing it in her Baroque Christmas collection. [One wonders why it doesn't get used as a wedding aria! Surely more appropriate than Sheep may safely Graze?]

In English publications, I have often found the combination of the aria and the trio that follows it called "Aria and Concerto", for whatever reason. There is no doubt in my mind that the two parts were conceived of as an organic whole, but given that Bach can make anything sound like anything he wanted, this means absolutely nothing.

I'm somewhat bemused by all this ranting and raving concerning learned opinions about this item. If we know for certain what the antecedents of (the elements of) a piece of music are, by all means, let us talk about them. But it is a trial to witness this controversy over nothing! I read up what Alec Robertson wrote about the piece, and he seemed a little vague. He ended his discussion saying that it seemed that Bach simply liked that little 'concerto', and we know that Bach frequently did what he liked to do, even if it meant putting something out of proportion with the related elements.

Two instances come to mind:
the cadenza of the final version of the fifth Brandenburg.
the turba of the angels praising god, saying "glory to god in the highest..." in the Christmas Oratorio.
To an objective mind, both things might seem out of proportion.

Once one gets accustomed to these two items, they do not seem excessive; I daresay most members would come down on the side of saying that neither item is excessive in the least. Similarly, the Concerto of BWV 68(3) seems perfectly _right_ exactly where it is, and I suspect that no analysis we can bring to bear will enlighten us further!

As for me and my house, we thoroughly enjoy the little concerto. It is utterly endearing and innocent, a delightful surprise where it lies, serving as an extended coda for the aria, probably almost a proof for the existence of god!

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 12, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Ever notice that the former is never mentioned when Bach has to provide three cantatas on three consecutive days as on Pentecost Sunday, Monday and Tuesday?<<
Obviously he reused some cantatas from earlier years, but these would have been sight-read (perhaps with even greater facility because many of the performers would have participated in the first sight-reading performance a year earlier.

Even Rifkin, as first reported to the BCML by Alain, has offered this opinion about Bach's performances (little or no preparation/rehearsals before the actual 1st performance). What do you think of that?

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 12, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>> That's the closing sentence of a posting that purports to be factual and scholarly?<<
The word 'conjecture' was used repeatedly and yet you have overlooked this deliberately?

There are reasonable conjectures which can aid one's understanding, but there are also very unhelpful statements such as yours that state that "nothing is really knowable for certain and that anything is just as possible as any other conjecture that anyone 'can dream up'".

I prefer to live with those which are reasonable generally, are more reasonable than others and make sense to me personally. I discount those which leave anything open to all conjectures regarding any specific issue being equally possible or equally unknowable.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 12, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Obviously he reused some cantatas from earlier years, but these would have been sight-read (perhaps with even greater facility because many of the performers would have participated in the first sight-reading performance a year earlier. >
You can only sight-read once, dude.

And who made me the defender of everything Rifkin says? I've always expressed my reservations.

Casimir Vetter wrote (June 12, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Obviously he reused some cantatas from earlier years, but these would have been sight-read (perhaps with even greater facility because many of the performers would have participated in the first sight-reading performance a year earlier. >
I'm new but some of this is really surprising. All the high school and college musicians I knew, some were music MAJORS, had to work on their music for usually at least 3 or 4 weeks. More if it was something tricky. If they did something especially easy maybe 1 week, but that wasn't Bach's music, and they still got to see it way ahead of the show!

Mr Braatz what level of school music do you teach, or instruments you play, where anybody sight reads their performance? Or remembers something they did a year ago, well enought to go right into it again? Did you perform some Bach yourself without any practice, or ever had any music teacher who expected it?

Thank you, hope this isn't a silly question everybody already thought about.

Casimir Vetter wrote (June 12, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>> That's the closing sentence of a posting that purports to be factual and scholarly?<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The word 'conjecture' was used repeatedly and yet you have overlooked this deliberately?
There are reasonable conjectures which can aid one's understanding, but there are also very unhelpful statements such as yours that state that "nothing is really knowable for certain and that anything is just as possible as any other conjecture that anyone 'can dream up'".
I prefer to live with those which are reasonable generally, are more reasonable than others and make sense to me personally. I discount those which leave anything open to all conjectures regarding any specific issue being equally possible or equally unknowable. >
I'm sorry, I don't get it. What are you talking about? Aren't some things reasonable to know by studying the music, and asking people who play it?

Also what was that book you were looking things up in? What if some other book says something different, how do you decide.

Thank you,

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 12, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>> That's the closing sentence of a posting that purports to be factual and scholarly?<<
The word 'conjecture' was used repeatedly and yet you have overlooked this deliberately?

There are reasonable conjectures which can aid one's understanding, but there are also very unhelpful statements such as yours that state that "nothing is really knowable for certain and that anything is just as possible as any other conjecture that anyone 'can dream up'".

I prefer to live with those which are reasonable generally, are more reasonable than others and make sense to me personally. I discount those which leave anything open to all conjectures regarding any specific issue being equally possible or equally unknowable.

One type of conjecture stimulates the mind to gain new insights, even if they need to be changed in the face of new evidence later on, the other deadens it with a gloomy aspect of futility that arises from despairing and losing hope that anything can ever be known.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 12, 2007):
Casimir Vetter wrote:
>>All the high school and college musicians I knew, some were music MAJORS, had to work on their music for usually at least 3 or 4 weeks. More if it was something tricky. If they did something especially easy maybe 1 week, but that wasn't Bach's music, and they still got to see it way ahead of the show!<<
Can you, for just a moment, imagine the possibility that the approach to musical performances in the 1720s in Leipzig might have been quite different from what we have come to expect t?

There is, as I see it, a grave problem connected with the empirical method you and other musicians today employ when they attempt to come to terms with Bach's performances: it is a very one-sided view, biased, for the most part, by our current standards and singing/playing abilities which can not easily be compared with Bach's.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 12, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] Actually, all the rest of us are arguing for a multi-dimensional perspective on Bach. You are the only one who unilaterally dismisses practical music-making as if we are all trying to play Bach on harmonicas. There isn't a music historian in the world who would posit that there is no continuum between performance practice in Bach's time and contemporary usage. Your animus against performers leads you into absurdities like your sight-singing fantasy. The reasonable approach is to place historical evidence side by side with practical techniques and see how they inform each other.

Casimir Vetter wrote (June 12, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] Wait sir, what makes you think I'm a musician? I asked what you teach, but instead of answering you're just being mean.

But the musicians I know say Bach is hard.

Casimir Vetter wrote (June 12, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Making this musical/thematic interconnection obvious, here's the piece in the "BWV1040" folder: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/ >
I looked up that music there, pretty cool. But where are the numbers for the figured bass, and wouldn't that be hard to read the parts where it's the weird clef, or where it's blank with just the letters instead of notes? How does the guy know what to make up for the other hand. Espeically if he is sight reading as somebody else said, and it looks like fast music?

Casimir Vetter wrote (June 12, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Can you say this simpler please? It makes sense to me we should ask people who do music, is that what you are saying. Like we could learn SOMETHING useful by taking lessons now, I hope!

He said current standards can not be compared with Bach, and I don't get why not. Practicing hard is practicing hard!

Did Mr Braatz read it in some book, or from a music class about performance? I wish he would tell where he got his idea from, because I want to learn how Bach's students could sight read that much without practicing. We could at least look it up.

Thank you

Julian Mincham wrote (June 12, 2007):
Oh God, here we go again.

What started as a series of comments and conjectures about the two sections of the soprano aria (Mvt. 2) (and their interesting genesis) has degenerated into the usual, flogged-to-death stuff about sight reading and rehearsal with all the personal insult, diatribe and one upmanship thrown in.

Of course we MIGHT have had interesting discussions on such topics as the rather peculiar ornamentation of the chorale in the first movement, the lack of the final chorale, the subtle rewriting of the bass aria (Mvt. 4) or the symbolism suggested by the peculiar tonal structure of the last chorus (Mvt. 5).

But no, we go over the same old tired ground and miss most of the interesting points of this quite unique work.
<>
The web site continues to be a marvellous resource. <> there are many more interesting and stimulating matters that might be discussed.

Alain Bruguières wrote (June 12, 2007):
[To Casimir Vetter] We've beeen through all this before. These questions hae been discussed at length. There is nothing obvious about this. My personal opinion is that indeed, musical practice was totally different from what it is now. (Or different than, I you like that better). Please refer to the list archive. If you feel like discarding this opinion as obviously stupid (as has been the attitude of several list members) you might give it a chance out of fairplay by reading an interview of Rifkin's which I have posted previously on the list but has been carefully hushed up by those who usually profess great consideration for Rifkin's writings.

Here is the reference

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I submit to your attention the following quotation from Rifkin's interview by Bernard Sherman which I found here: http://www.bsherman.org/rifkin.html

------------------------------------------------------------------
Joshua Rifkin quoth:

It's pretty obvious and well known that "interpretation," as we have inherited this idea in the performance of standard repertory in the twentieth century, was foreign to most earlier music making [1]. <http://www.bsherman.org/rifkin.html#1> I think it was Nicholas Kenyon who said that, by all the evidence we have, music making in the eighteenth century was more like what we would call "readings" than what we would call "interpretations." Except for operas, we know that they were lucky to have two rehearsals of a piece, or even one, and a rehearsal basically meant a read-through. When I try to imagine how this all went, I think of the jingle session—a modern situation in which musicians come in to a performing space of some sort, are handed a newly written piece of music, read it once or twice through, play it more or less flawlessly with a sense of its basic stylistic assumptions, and then go home. Of course, this notion is quite distant from the way we think of performing the great masterpieces, which we imagine to require much more profound insight born out of years of reflection.

This much is easy and obvious enough, I think, but there are aspects that are less easy and obvious. To get at these I would refer to an experience I had a couple of months ago, when I recorded several of the "London" Symphonies of Haydn [2] <http://www.bsherman.org/rifkin.html#2>. I was dealing with an extremely good period-instrument orchestra, very experienced, technically very capable; yet we all found this music exceedingly difficult. I myself had underestimated its difficulty, not simply in terms of the individual parts (particularly the violin parts) but also in terms of the ensemble demands and even the directorial demands that they posed. In the course of the sessions the producer and I had a conversation which led to some further thought. He asked, "What must this have sounded like in London at its first performance? Given the lack of rehearsal, what kind of effect could it have made?" In fact, by all evidence, it made an absolutely stunning effect, and people just loved it. The reviews were enthusiastic beyond measure.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

My apologies to whoever may be shocked by this text.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 12, 2007):
Santu de Silva wrote:
>As for me and my house, we thoroughly enjoy the little concerto. It is utterly endearing and innocent, a delightful surprise where it lies, serving as an extended coda for the aria, probably almost a proof for the existence of god!<
Thanks for this post. It is a pleasure to read, expressing as it does a real appreciation of the music.

[I'm wondering if I can hear, in this delightful instrumental conclusion, traces of the equally captivating (reconstructed)concerto for oboe, violin, strings and continuo in D minor].

Nicholas Johnson wrote (June 12, 2007):
[To Santu de Silva] Adding bits and pieces like this concerto reminds me of a French friend who when playing the F minor concerto used the F minor fugue from book II as a cadenza.

Looking at BWV 68 I enjoy reading off the names of people who bought a copy of the 1866 edition

Seine Majestät der König von Preussen 20 copies
Prinz Albert von Sachsen-Koburg-Gotha 1 copy
Frau Dr Schumann Clara (Baden-Baden) 1 copy
Herr Dr Spitta Oberlehrer (Sondershausen) 1 copy
Herr Abbé Dr Liszt Franz (Rom) 1 copy

John Garside wrote (June 12, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Oh Go, here we go again. >
Quite right, I thought I might learn something by joining this list.

Well, I have, but not mostly what I thought I would. I learnt that several of the participants, primarily from academic backgrounds it has to be said, who ought to know better, can't resist showing off, displaying their egos etc. etc. You put it quite succinctly Julian (if you'll forgive the familiarity) in your next paragraph. I discovered the cantatas only just over a year ago and rapidly found a wonderful musical world that had hitherto been unknown to me. I had hoped to learn a lot more by coming here. However, it differs not much from many of the other groups I've visited, except perhaps the level of the discussion. It tends to re-inforce a prejudice I have about academics and the real world. However it is a prejudice but I feel it rapidly growing into a discrimination. ;-]

prejudice = preconceived opinion, bias (against, in favour of, person or thing) etc.
discriminate = Be, set up, or observe, a difference between, distinguish from another, make a distinction, observe distinctions carefully. etc.
Source OCD; extracts from.
<>

Neil Halliday wrote (June 12, 2007):
BWV 68 : Analysis of final chorus

Those who can take some time to familiarise themselves with the subject and countersubject of the fine closing chorus will likely obtain greater listening pleasure.

First, we have successive entries of the subject in the order B,T,A, and S. Naturally enough, the latter three entries of the subject are accompanied by the countersubject, in the order B,T,A.

Straightaway, the sopranos (not the defunct TV program) burst forth immediately with their first exposition of the countersubject, beginning the process in the reverse direction - S are followed by entries of the countersubject in the order A,T, and B. The subject is not heard in this section. Note there is a half bar `bridge' between the entries, which facilitates key changes.

Next, the subject returns, in the order T,A,S, and B; interestingly, the first three entries are in major keys, while the last (B) entry changes back to the minor (A minor). Note this B entry begins a beat sooner than expected, on the penultimate note of the subject's S entry). If listeners are alert, and their recordings are good, they might be able to hear (amongst the counterpoint) the countersubject (in the order T,A,S) accompanying the above A,S,B entries of the subject, But the first step is to clearly hear the respective entries of the subject.

Finally, in a kind of coda, we have a beautiful homophonic section. The sopranos lead the other three voices, and the movement concludes, in a marvellously expressive `piano' section, with the subject taken up for the last time by the sopranos.

The setting of the text is complex; in places, up to all three phrases are sung simultaneously!

[The three phrases are (German word order):

1. "Who in him believes, he becomes not judged";
2. "who but not believes, he is already judged"; and
3. "for he believes not in the name of the only begotten Son Of God"].

Suffice it to say, it is sufficiently rewarding to be able to hear all the entries of the subject and countersubject within the rich counterpoint, with vocal lines reinforced by awesome-sounding brass, along with woodwinds and strings.

Julian, I notice the key of the first and last expositions of the subject, in the sopranos, is D minor; so might the reason for the D minor conclusion (with the final D major chord) be purely structural?

John Garside wrote (June 12, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< You can only sight-read once, dude. >
Really?
So a practising musician having read and played a piece once, a year or so before, can remember what was written and, even though it has been rewritten, using much of the same material, no longer has to sight read it? My dictionary includes "having had no opportunity to practise".

Q. If you have an opportunity to read a score before the 1st performance but have no opportunity to play/sing it, when you play/sing it for the first time are you still sight reading?

I think I'm looking for a definition of "sight reading" is it reading or simultaneously reading and playing/singing (for the 1st time)? Could it ever be for a subsequent time if you've completely forgotten that you had played it before and don't remember it when you see it again?

The reason I ask is because I do something that I call sight reading but perhaps isn't. When I see a score for the first time with little opportunity to rehearse, I browse it, pick out the most complex parts and make sure I can play those then sight read the simpler bits at the performance.

I await your verdict with trepidation.

Casimir Vetter wrote (June 12, 2007):
[To Alain Bruguières] I like to figure out who I'm talking to by looking them up on the internet, so i can see if I might believe them. Joshua Rifkin I already heard of from his CD of Scott Joplin! (very nice) and I see he also taught at universities, does research and makes Bach recordings. So he clearly knows what he's talking about in music.
<>
Anyway I thought about what you wrote below about sight reading Haydn's music. It says Rifkin says it was hard when they did it, even for pro specialists. They had to work on it. At least he tried out his idea with real musicians! OK maybe the 18th century people just didn't care as much about it being sloppy or having mistakes. But still, a Haydn symphony doesn't have singers and doesn't change speed as much as the Bach cantatas I heard. It doesn't prove to me that Bach at his school didn/'t have people practice. It's not the same kind of music. And those were just boys, not pros.

Didn't Bach want the music to go right, so he had them work on it? At least the students who wrote out the copies for the musicians, and the people doing solos! Music in church isn't a "jingle session," Rifkin's word here- even if the musicians were good.

They still have to figure out and practice where it goes around the other stuff in the program don't they? I would guess Bach and the preacher had to work it out ahead or time and make sure everybody was ready, not just throw it together. How long does Mr Cowling work on stuff with his people ahead, at his church job?

I guess I should find some samples of cantata BWV 68, what recordings do you people like?

Thank you

Neil Halliday wrote (June 12, 2007):
Casimir Vetter wrote:
>I guess I should find some samples of cantata BWV 68, what recordings do you people like?<
Do you have broadband?

Samples of some recordings are available at this web page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV68.htm
(click on the amazon link shown for each recording).

It would be great if more people could post some remarks on the recordings.

I'll be commenting on a lovely opening chorus (68/1) by Werner, among others, later in the week.

Stephen Benson wrote (June 12, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< It would be great if more people could post some remarks on the recordings. >
For what it's worth, of the three recordings I have -- Gardiner [12], Koopman [14], and Leusink [13] -- the Gardiner has the greatest appeal for me. Leusink strikes me as too flaccid and lethargic, although I am sure good arguments can be made for some of his interpretative decisions. I like the Koopman a lot and will return to it from time to time, but I get more overall satisfaction from Gardiner. His choral singing particularly impresses me with its crispness, balance, and clarity, all of which help to give greater definition to the fugal textures. In addition, in this cantata his opening chorus has a gentle swing -- dare I say "dance quality"? -- that I find particularly attractive.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 13, 2007):
This afternoon I took another opportunity to listen closely to this cantata. There is a symmetry to the poetry that occurs from time to time. In the choral opening we find the word 'geliebt', meaning loved (by God), and referring to the world. In the choral ending we have the word'gerichtet'. The words do not really rhyme, but one means loved and the other means judged (or directed). Singers are trained to notice most important words, or the ways words begin or end, and to add various kinds of strengths in performance. This is part of the process of conveying a text. We also have the word in the first choral section 'ergibt', or gives. These days I am looking at ways in which I might retain the cantatas better in my mind. I am more a concept thinker than someone who easily remembers BWV numbers. Such parallels as I have described will be found in other cantatas. In Cantata BWV 52 the concept of God holding onto the individual is expressed in the word 'blieben' in the initial recitative, and in the final aria using the word 'bleiben', also relating to the same idea. In the case of the second word I was puzzled, and then learned that one was a Germanic form, and the second more likely from Hebrew.

Many times in Bach a singer does not have the option due to tempo to bring special emphasis to these highly significant elements. However, as I continue to study the texts and the music I am impressed with the poetry and in what way the librettist chose words with some similarity to sometimes outline the message of a cantata. Sometimes, perhaps the choices were just related to the natural flow of the language, but as a singer I have discovered that clear diction is quite essential in Bach due to such similarities. In the context of worship in Bach's churches the soloist therefore had an important responsibility, and the choir, too.

I also enjoyed listening more to the bass aria (Mvt. 4), with its wonderful smooth flowing character reflecting 'confidence'. The focus on small words, or on terms that outline a work is a source of checking for text painting, and for pin-pointing connections to Biblical texts used for a particular Sunday or event. Someone had mentioned earlier the connection between the pastor and the choir master, and key words could play a role in such preparations.

Most likely many on the list have seen these connections before, but now I will be looking at the poetry in-depth for these highlights as I continue to grasp a little more of the over-all picture.

Paul T. McCain wrote (June 13, 2007):
[To Jean Laaninen] Thanks for a post that is a beacon of light and a ray of hope in what have become recently here an incessant squabbling over absolute irrelevancies and ultimately entirely unanswerable questions when it comes to issues of choir practices and so forth. <>

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 13, 2007):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thanks, Paul. I can't speak for anyone else, but although I have not yet posted a musicology question to the BMML, I have decided to move my questions of that nature there when they arise. I wrote one note today to the BMML mentioning that I would be making this change when a question or topic of the other nature comes up. I understand that list is not very active, and that Brad has tried to move his questions to this other list, but they keep coming up again in this forum. Guess we will see what happens, and thanks again for your comments.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 14, 2007):
<< (...) He seemed to compose his best music when under extreme pressure of time and, at the 1st performance, the musicians probably had to sight-read the parts since they had no opportunity to study them beforehand. >>
< That's the closing sentence of a posting that purports to be factual and scholarly? >
Careful readers may enjoy pondering (unless long since over-tired) the key words 'seemed' and 'probably', as well as the flaw in logic: if the musicians had no opportunity to study the parts beforehand, they certainly (not probably) had to sight-read.

Casimir Vetter wrote (June 14, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] From what I heard, Bach wrote his BEST music working on it for many years, and kept changing his mind exactly how it should go. Things like B minor mass, Art of fugue, Saint John passion (BWV 245). (Maybe Matthew passion too?) I saw somewhere, Bach wrote some music for keyboard he didn't publish till after he was 40, but started on those way earlier.

So I don't get that "extreme pressure of time" sentence, wouldn't we have to decide what his best music is? Or know exactly when he started and finished working on it before practice time, how long it really took--what it he kept changing his mind DURING practice time, or after hearing how it went? It seems like a better way of writing music to try things out, and maybe rewrite. I didn't like rewriting my papers in school but they made me, and I sometimes learned better that way the second time or third time!

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 14, 2007):
[To Casimir Vetter] I've never actually heard anyone say something to the effect of Bach's BEST works, but maybe you are distinguishing his smaller works from his larger works. The Cantatas were written over a much shorter period. Albert Schweitzer wrote a very good book (in two volumes) about Bach called 'J. S. Bach by Albert Schweitzer'. If you get a chance to get ahold of these volumes you will have a very good reference for the works and the time and place of writing, plus many clues into lots of musical distinctions in his writings.

Others on this forum are more accomplished to speak to the historical timing than I am, but I think you would appreciate what you could find in these books.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 14, 2007):
BWV 68: setting of text in the final chorus

In my analysis of the closing chorus, I said that the setting of the text is complex; but those who have access to the score will (if interested) observe the following features:

The first phrase of the text "Who in him believes, he is not judged" is always set to the fugue subject (with one exception noted below).

After the first section of the chorus [where the first phrase of the text is set to both the subject (in B,T,A,S) and countersubject (in B,T,A)], the second phrase of the text "who but not believes, he is already judged" is thereafter always set to the countersubject.

[In the second section of the chorus, with the S,A,T,B entries of the countersubject, the fugue subject does not occur].

The exception noted above occurs in the third section of the chorus (where we have the T,A,S,B entries of the subject); this exception occurs in the last entry (basses), where the second phrase of the text is set to the subject for the first time. This means we have now come full circle in regard to the setting of the first two phrases of the text; in the initial exposition of the fugue, the first phrase of the text is set to subject and countersubject, and now finally we have the second phrase of the text set to both subject (in the basses) and countersubject (in the sopranos).

Meanwhile, in this third section of the chorus, the third phrase of the text "for he believes not in the name of the only begotten Son of God" has already been introduced into some of the vocal lines; it's in this section that all three phrases of the text are sung at the same time.

In the fourth (final) homophonic section of the chorus, the third phrase of text is set in all the voices, including the sopranos who are heard with the last exposition of the subject, in the expressive `piano' setting at the end.

OK, assuming the `tunes' of both the subject and countersubject are known, and assuming the manner in which the syllables of the words are set to the notes is also known (the score is available online - note the long melismas on "-rich-" of "gerichtet" in both the subject and countersubject), one can sing along with this chorus, with text in hand, despite its complexity!

---------

This powerful chorus (BWV 68/5) seems to work in a wide range of tempi.

Rilling is the slowest (3.32) [8], yet this is a grand performance with colourful trombones, and clarity of vocal line. Harnoncourt's version (3.20) [7], which is a bit faster than Rilling's, sounds disjointed at the start of the sample. Werner [3] gives a vigorous performance (2.52) that is most engaging. Like the other modern instrument versions, Werner uses a trumpet instead of a cornet to double the soprano line. The trumpeter sounds like Maurice Andre; in any case the prominent trumpet is an attractive feature of this recording. Richter's tempo is in the faster range (2.43) [6], but this performance is not entirely pleasing owing to its rigid staccato articulation, with the brass eventually becoming tiresome. Koopman [14] has an allegro version - my estimate is about 2.15 - which is a lot faster than any of the recordings of this chorus that were noted in the first round. Koopman's ensemble has great precision, the brass is colourful, and the performance exhilarating, provided one can `get into' the fast tempo. I presume Gardiner [12] (no sample available) has a similar tempo to Koopman.

Stephen Benson wrote (June 14, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Koopman [14] has an allegro version – my estimate is about 2.15 – which is a lot faster than any of the recordings of this chorus that were noted in the first round. Koopman's ensemble has great precision, the brass is colourful, and the performance exhilarating, provided one can `get into' the fast tempo. I presume Gardiner [12] (no sample available) has a similar tempo to Koopman. >
Koopman's [14] actually comes in at 2:12 while Gardiner's [12] is even quicker at 2:02. That's almost twice as fast as the Rilling [8], yet the textural lines remain clear and distinct.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 14, 2007):
I wrote:
>assuming the `tunes' of both the subject and countersubject are known<
Actually, it's quite a bit of fun to learn these two 'tunes' (between three and four bars in length), because both have syncopated sections that combine marvellously well, in the setting of the powerful rhythm of the music. You can play them together (as in the score) on a keyboard to clearly see how the subject and countersubject fit together.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (June 14, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<<< (...) He seemed to compose his best music when under extreme pressure of time and, at the 1st performance, the musicians probably had to sight-read the parts since they had no opportunity to study them beforehand. >>>
<< That's the closing sentence of a posting that purports to be factual and scholarly? >>
< Careful readers may enjoy pondering (unless long since over-tired) the key words 'seemed' and 'probably', as well as the flaw in logic: if the musicians had no opportunity to study the parts beforehand, they certainly (not probably) had to sight-read. >
Ed, dear heart, why take that sort of irrefutable logic into that dedicatedly psychedelic corner of our forum? You might as well try to tell Valley Girls how to parse sentences. Everyone who goes down there might as well accept the prevailing philosophy, "I filter all the light that penetrates this gloom and I give off all the light that radiates from within. And naysayers, by the way, are obstructionist aggravations. Come to share the received Truth or peddle your errors elsewhere or not at all."

But don't forget, the hall is a big place; others are speaking and being heard, why don't we all respond to that instead of going down to that corner over and over to watch the Don Quixotes among us tilt at that windmill?

Let it flap its wings in the breezes of Manchego solitude, a majestic- in-its-own-mind, solitary beacon of severely limited wave lengths. Let its emissions be as enigmatic as those of the tree that falls in the uninhabited forest. Who knew? Who cared?

And if all this seems misplaced, give my corner the same treatment I'm recommending for that other: Get back to basics, gang, don't be the day-after-day audience in Hyde Park!

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 16, 2007):
Casimir Vetter wrote:
>From what I heard, Bach wrote his BEST music working on it for many years,<
We are just bginning to scratch the surface of this idea, going through the cantatas in chronologic order. I agree with your basic point. Clearly (to me), in 1725, he was not taking the time to Polish (pardon the pun) and perfect what he wanted to preserve.

> and kept changing his mind exactly how it should go. <
Not so much changing his mind, as refining the details? But I see your point, and I agree.

> Things like B minor mass, Art of fugue, Saint John passion.( BWV 245) (Maybe Matthew passion too?) I saw somewhere, Bach wrote some music for keyboard he didn't publish till after he was 40, but started on those way earlier. <
Ooh, that is sounding like WTC I? If they asked me, I could write a book?. Others have already done so.

> So I don't get that "extreme pressure of time" sentence, wouldn't we have to decide what his best music is? Or know exactly when he started and finished working on it before practice time, how long it really took--what it he kept changing his mind DURING practice time, or after hearing how it went? It seems like a better way of writing music to try things out, and maybe rewrite. <
One could argue that Bach didn't need to bother with this, because he wrote (and his boys played) to perfection. Divine inspiration? Something in the water, in 1723-25?

There is a long, long time, coming up for discussion, from 1725 to 1750, to consider the changes in Bach's creative methods, at least as regards the cantatas.

Perhaps Bach was the ultimate procrastinator (working to deadline) for a couple of years? Followed by the realization that he was overworked, underpaid (hello? anybody home?) and he might just slack off a bit.

If you like the Doug Cowling theory (speculation?), he was finishing off the planned set of five annual cantata cycles, while rounding off the rough edges of the SJP and SMP (Sts. John and Matthew Passions, for the unHIP), much of the output lost.

I am seduced, of course, but one also has to love the sense of humor of a guy who proposes a hypothesis on the 'lost' evidence. We have seen worse.

> I didn't like rewriting my papers in school but they made me, and I sometimes learned better that way the second time or third time!

I dunno Dude. I always thought my first version was OK, no matter what they said. By now, my first versions already have lots of rewrite, by the time anyone sees them. Other than the occasional lapse, and casual communications among friends.

You never know who might be saving this stuff!

I learn better the second or third time, as well. You are absolutely right, as were your teachers. Thanks for your posts, and for joining in the fun.

Neil Halliday wrote (June 16, 2007):
Recordings of BWV 68/1

From the samples, I would say those who have Leusink [13] would be reasonably happy with his recording. The tempo is identical to that of Koopman [14]; both have a sober, serious affect.

I began the week liking Werner [3], but I currently find his tempo too slow.

Richter's choir [6] sounds foggy, but the tempo is reasonable (between Werner [3] and Leusink [13]), and he does have a crystal clear cantus firmus, doubled by prominent horn and possibly even a trumpet as well (I'm sure I can hear a trumpet with the horn, in a couple of places).

Harnoncourt [7], with similar tempo to Richter [6], has his usual hiatuses and stresses.

Rilling [8] is faster than any of these, and thereby loses some of the gravitas, IMO, but of my modern instrument recordings this is the recording to which I most often listen, especially since I also prefer Auger and Huttenlocher, with Rilling, in the arias (of my non-HIP recordings), even if that baria (Mvt. 4) is a bit slow.

One detail: In the opening fantasia, I like Rilling's rendition [8] of the choral trills, in the soprano line, as four clear 1/16th notes.

------------

The continuo line of the opening fantasia is powerful and impressive at the start, with its octave swings (see the score). The other features of this chorus have been ably commented on, in previous discussions. As always, it's well worth acquainting one self with the cantus firmus, for `aware' listening.

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 68: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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