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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 94
Was frag ich nach der Welt
Discussions - Part 1

Discussions in the Week of August 12, 2001 (1st round)

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 15, 2001):
Background

This is the week of Cantata BWV 94 according to Peter Bloemendaal, the second one in his proposed list of cantatas for discussion. The best thing that I can say about this cantata is that I am deeply sorry to separate from it after too short period of spending time together, although in this short while I have listened to it dozens of times. This relatively unfamiliar cantata is full of charm, splendid arias, and is highly delightful from beginning to end. The music is so strong that it grabs you in whatever performance you happen (or choose) to hear – HIP or non-HIP, full choir or OVPP, slow or fast, extrovert or intimate. There are at least 6 complete recordings of this cantata, four of which were recorded during the last two years! It means that it is easily available. Only one of the recordings misses the major points of the cantata and actually fails to delight. But I shall come to it later. I recommend hearing this cantata in its completeness in one sitting. Only due to lack of time I shall review only five movements out of eight. It does not mean whatsoever that the other movements are less satisfying. As a background to each movement I shall allow myself quoting again from Robertson's book.

The Recordings

See: Cantata BWV 94 - Recordings.

Review of the recordings – movement by movement

Mvt. 1 - Chorus
SATB. Transverse flute, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, organ, continuo
“As in all the cantatas for this Sunday the librettists do not come to terms with Christ’s commendation of the unjust steward, who is advised to make friends with Mammon. The movement is in the familiar style of an extended chorale, with the bright orchestral part filling in between the chorale entries.”

[1] Rilling is using, of course, big choir, but they do not sound heavy or inflated. On the contrary, their singing is delicate, rich, detailed and warm and even humble, which suits very well the situation.

[5] Firstly, I have to say that Kuijken’s OVPP approach to this cantata is legitimate in my opinion. The four soloists have at least one solo movement for each, and it is reasonable that the four original soloists were called by Bach to sing also the choral movements. But this rendition does not captivate me. The voices of the soloists are generally pleasant, even beautiful. But to have a successful OVPP approach rendition, there must be perfect match between the voices and good empathy (or chemistry) between the singers. I do hear none of these here. In some places they sound to me as competing with each other instead of supporting and complementing each other. Are they perhaps too individualistic? Furthermore, the main benefit of OVPP recording for me is the ability to hear the vocal lines and small details that are harder to hear in conventional (full choir) recordings. In this case the contrary is true. Because in the renditions of this movement by Rilling and Koopman there is more clarity, and I can hear things unrevealed by Kuijken.

[7] Gardiner sounds pressed and even somewhat superficial in the opening chorus. He is jumpy as could have been expected from him, but dancing quality is not the only dimension that this chorus has to offer.

[4] Koopman takes the opening chorus with too fast pace. It is a pity, since the singing of the choir and the playing of the instruments are transparent and charming and the balance between the components is also very good. Let us enjoy, Mr. Koopman, and do not finish it so quickly.

[6] Leusink is livelier than Koopman is, but less polished. It is only a little bit slower, but sounds much less rushed.

[2] Am I becoming less and less tolerable to Harnoncourt & Leonhardt’s recordings of the Bach cantatas? Have I read too much negative opinions about them in the BCML and BRML lately? I have to remind myself that these are the guys who produced the splendid recordings of BWV 4, BWV 7, BWV 106, BWV 131, and many others, which stand high in my favourite recordings of the oeuvre of the Bach cantatas recordings. But here all the typical drawbacks of this cycle come forth. The instrumental introduction might mislead us, but when the choir comes in the real failure strikes us in the face. So disintegrated choral singing, and lack of expression are almost unforgivable.

Rating: Rilling [1], Koopman [4], Leusink [6], Kuijken [5], Gardiner [7], Harnoncourt [2]

Mvt. 2 - Aria for Bass
Bass. Continuo
“Both voice and continuo depict a disintegrating universe, with long runs on ‘world’. The first line of the chorale is repeated at the close.”

(1) Hanns-Friedrich Kunz (with Rilling) succeeds in keeping the interest of the listener, along this challenging aria, although the heavy vibrato in his voice might disturb some listeners.

[5] I was not impressed by Jan van der Crabben (with Kuijken). He sings in low volume and fails to hold the listener’s attention. With his this aria sounded to me too long.

[7] Peter Harvey (with Gardiner) is more varied than Crabben, but I have the impression that he had not made up his mind what he want to get from this aria.

[4] Mertens (with Koopman) brings to the aria every thing it calls for – some sorrow, some hope, some humanity. His voice is also in fine shape here.

[6] Ramselaar suffers from the comparison to Mertens. He is definitely not in the same league. But in terms of expression and variety he is still better than some of the other bass singers of this aria.

(2) Philippe Huttenlocher, who usually sings with Rilling, sings this cantata with Harnoncourt. Usually, he does not excel with Rilling, and he does not excel also here. His expression is somewhat dry and his voice somewhat stiff.

Rating: Mertens, Kunz, Ramselaar, Harvey, Crabben

Mvt. 4 - Aria for Alto
Alto. Transverse flute, continuo
“This aria puts the unjust steward in his place. The amazing part for the flute may well depict his ill-gained but attractive profits: but when the tempo changes to allegro, he is left to count his gains whereas the Christian holds to Jesus as his wealth.”

(1) As far as I can recall, I have not been familiar with Else Paaske (with Rilling) prior to hearing her in this cantata. She has a true contralto voice, which I almost always prefer in Bach’s vocal music to the usual mezzo-soprano. She is also very expressive here and attracts attention. Some might say that she is too expressive, because her vibrato is very much felt. Peter-Lukas Graf plays like the flutist from Hammelin. The wonderful blend between the alto and the flute in this rendering is simply irresistible.

[5] Magdalena Kožená (with Kuijken) has rich and attractive voice. Although it is in the mezzo range rather than contralto, there is a nice match between her and the oboe player. She is definitely delighted singing this aria, every syllable of it, and the listener is easily attracted to join her enjoyment. Some more tension would make this rendition even more tempting.

[7] Daniel Taylor (with Gardiner) has a natural counter-tenor voice, which is a pleasure to hear. To this he adds lot of sensitivity and slight melancholy, which suits the cloudy atmosphere of this aria. The flute player is on the same par with the singer, and the result is that this ariais the high point of Gardiner’s rendition of this cantata.

[4] Annette Markert (with Koopman) has also true contralto voice, like the great contralto singers from the 1950’s and the 1960’s. She is a singer of our time and therefore she uses her vibrato economically. But she also does not afraid to put expression into her singing. Together with the charming playing from the flutist we get very satisfying rendition.

[6] Buwalda (with Leusink) should be compared with the other counter-tenor singer of this aria (Daniel Taylor), and the comparison works against him. Although the aria suits his timbre of voice and general approach, the insecurities in his singing disturb, especially when he is heard back to back with Taylor.

(2) Esswood is as almost reliable, if not definitive. He does also enjoy from good playing of the flutist. This aria is the beam of light in generally disappointing recording of this cantata.

Rating: (contraltos, mezzo-sopranos): Markert, Paaske, Kožená
Rating (counter-tenors): Taylor, Esswood, Buwalda

Mvt. 6 - Aria for Tenor
Tenor. 2 violins, viola, organ, continuo
“Gold is alluded in this aria as ‘yellow filth’ and Bach’s delightful fugue like setting pictures these profiteers, in low-pitched phrases for the strings, mixing the gold.”

(1) Aldo Baldin's voice (with Rilling) here has the golden quality, and this adds to this rendition a unique aroma. His singing is full of delight and he handles effortlessly the complicated lines.

[5] Knut Schoch, who is familiar from the Leusink cycle, sings this cantata with Kuijken. I find his voice less beautiful than that of Baldin, and his singing is less interesting.

[7] James Gilchrist ((with Gardiner) is full of vigour and energy. He makes the outmost out of this aria, and I could nor hear any technical difficulties in passing the demanding parts.

[4] Prégardien (with Koopman) is a marvellous singer - his voice is delightful, his technique is impeccable, and his expression leaves nothing to be desired. He shows flexibility unrivalled by other singers, and possibilities unrevealed by other singers. In this aria he is in a class of his own.

[6] Nico van der Meel (with Leusink) has a kind of authority, which I like, but his expression leaves so much to be desired, especially when heard immediately after Prégardien. I was almost bored by his singing of this aria.

(2) Kurt Equiluz, usually a very fine singer, is untypically not at his best in this aria. The voice is a pleasure as usual, but the expression is not focused. It is as if he is doing the right things, relies on his enormous experience, but he is not inspired.

Rating: Prégardien, Gilchrist, Baldin, Equiluz, Schoch, van der Meel

Mvt. 7 - Aria for Soprano
Soprano. Oboe d’amore solo, continuo
“The charming melodies for the oboe solo and voice contradict the world-despairing text but are perfectly compatible with the words of the middle section, ‘I will only Jesus love since God, after all, made the world and all in it is not Mammon’.”

(1) Helen Donath was born to sing this aria. Her singing has the quite peace and joy this aria calls for, but also strong emotion, which some of the other renditions of this aria lack. The oboe layer is mediocre, but not up to the level of the singer in terms of expressiveness.

[5] Midori Suzuki, familiar to us from Suzuki cycle, sings this cantata with Kuijken. Her voice is pleasant and she let herself show some emotion, but not her wholeness.

[7] Katharine Fuge (with Gardiner) has a small voice, which I do not find very attractive. At least not in this aria, where his technical difficulties might prevent the listener from relaxed enjoyment.

[4] Although Sibylla Rubens (with Koopman) does not sing with full voice, hers is still much more pleasant voice than that of Fuge. Her expression and technique are also a major improvement over the previous singer.

[6] Marjon Strijk is not especially good here, neither in terms of beauty of voice, nor in terms of expression. She is better than Fuge, but this is not indeed a complement, not regarding this aria.

[2] The boy soprano, who sings this aria with Harnoncourt, does not cope with the demands of the aria in any term – stability of voice, expression, technical challenges, etc.

[M-2] Elly Ameling should not have been allowed to make the collection of arias for soprano and oboe, not at this stage of her career, well behind her glorious prime.

Rating: Donath, Rubens, Suzuki, Strijk, Fuge, Ameling, Boy Soprano

Conclusion

General rating: Rilling [1], Koopman [4], Kuijken [5], Gardiner [7], Leusink [6], Harnoncourt [2]

And as always, I would like to hear other opinions, regarding the above mentioned performances, or other recordings.

Jane Newble wrote (August 16, 2001):
After having spent several days sorting through my 'stuff' and throwing lots of it away to make my life less cluttered, this cantata came as a welcome confirmation that I am doing the right thing. :o) I agree with Aryeh - it is a lovely cantata to listen right through. I got the feeling that Bach must have liked it, too.

[6] I only have the Leusink performance, and I enjoy all of it. Straight away, looking briefly through the words, what strikes me is the the two opposing values, the world on the one side, and Jesus Christ on the other, a theme that is the basis of every movement.

1. The chorale sounds almost aggressively victorious, with a lovely sense of freedom and abandonment to the real value in life.
2. The instruments set the scene for the certainty of the words of the bass, and give a vivid portrayal of smoke and shadows appearing and disappearing. The world with its temporary values as opposed to 'Jesus meine Zuversicht'.
3. The tenor, Nico van der Meel is very well suited to show up the vanity and self-seeking of the world, against eternity. There is a lot of expression in his voice.
4. This is a beautiful aria, with quiet 'heavenly' instrumentation and the high flute showing up the world's riches as false, and the riches for the soul as the good choice. I personally think that Sytse Buwalda expresses this aria in a lovely way.
5. I like the recurring motif from the chorale, and the defiance in even suffering with Christ being better than the world's sadness.
6. The music in this aria is almost mocking the busy-ness of the world to choose vanity rather than heaven.
7. Marjon Strijk has a lovely voice, more mature than Ruth Holton, but not as overgrown as Barbara Schlick for example. There is a strong sense of personal choice in this aria, which leads to:
8. Another quietly triumphant chorale, played twice as if to reiterate and deepen the contents of the first one. This time I liked the singing of the choir much more than in some other cantatas.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 19, 2001):
Only 1st Mvt.

(1) Rilling: With this wonderful, and musically appropriate tempo, both the flute and choir have a chance to develop sounds that fall pleasantly and meaningfully on the ears. After being pressured by time all day (or all week for that matter, if I look forward to hearing a Bach cantata on Sunday,) I do not want to come to hear a Bach cantata opening choral mvt. reflecting what is out there in the world, but rather concentrate on the core of this text: "Du bist meine Ruh" ("You (Christ) are the peace acontentment that I seek.") Then I will be able to say, "What do I care about the world now?" This is what I perceive in this performance and not in all the others that are too rushed, too much like the world that I wish to escape from temporarily.

(2) Harnoncourt: To understand this performance I have written the following summary:

The Harnoncourt Doctrine (based not on his books, essays, articles, interviews, or musicological research, but rather upon listening to his Teldec Bach Cantata Series (now also in the Bach 2000 edition) with a critical, but musical ear, and comparing the results with the original scores as published by the NBA.

1) Find an interpretation that selects from the text the possibility for presenting a more operatic affect/effect that will make this interpretation stand out as being very different from all the Bach cantata recordings that preceded it. Example: In the 1st mvt. of this cantata there seems to be a choice between depicting "the world and all its treasures" as fast-moving, jumpy, full of loud shouts in the choir and raucous playing by the instruments on the one hand, and the 'uninteresting' steadfast confidence in Christ to whom to turn for peace and rest on the other. Always choose the faster, more lively conception over the boring, religiously tainted one. Who knows how many will follow this genuinely unique and purportedly HIP interpretation in the future? Answer: Koopman, Leusink, and Gardiner. Just listen to their versions of this mvt.

2) Examine the text and music for all possible heavy accents that can be applied. One strong accent is worth at least a dozen or so notes that all sound alike. Remember to accent all these selected notes more heavily than you would normally accented notes and separate each note from the other with a microrest as you do so. If properly accented, the unaccented notes will automatically become almost inaudible or disappear completely.

3) Remember that the congregation or the CD listeners have the printed text of the cantata so that they can read all the words and do not have to strain to hear every word being sung. For this reason it is important to emphasize the affect and not to worry about the congregation/listener because the listener did not hear everything in Bach's church with Bach directing either. Emotion is more important than substance, precision, and respect for the religious content of the text. The latter are less important to modern listeners because they will more likely believe that this is how Bach would have performed and heard his own cantatas.

4) Singing is more like speaking and a cantata is more like an opera. Excessive vibrato and less attention to intonation used by the boys' voices help to create the singing/speaking effect desired. Intonation and tone quality are secondary in the expression of words that sound better when shouted or screamed.

5) If anything sounds too easy, polished, or smooth, it is also likely to be boring to listen to. This is why it is important to make it sound like the choir and instrumentalists are working extremely hard to created the desired sound. In order to create the 'primitive' sound that listeners will learn to enjoy and expect from a HIP performance, do not be overly concerned with the difficulties that you may be having with your old instruments (or copies thereof) for this is very likely the same way these instruments and voices sounded in Bach's day. Also, to create the HIP effect that I want, I will try to choose tempi that sound rushed or difficult to sing,

6) Disregard anything that you see in the original score (dynamics, phrasing, full note values not being played) that differs from what I tell you to do. Do not be surprised if I add crescendi and staccato wherever I feel they are justified. That is my prerogative based on my expertise.

If anyone out there thinks that the sounds Harnoncourt creates are musically acceptable for this 1st mvt., then I would invite them to listen to the beginning mvt. of BWV 95 (the next cantata on the same CD) for an even more obvious example of what I am talking about. Even Equiluz has difficulty trying to pull this performance 'out of the fire.' I am quite certain (just as certain as Harnoncourt was about these recordings) that Bach would have restated his words (although in the quote he had directed his statement against a music critic, it fits for those who follow the Harnoncourt Doctrine without relying on their own musical instincts and an ear for that which sounds good): "...so zweifle nicht, es werde des Auctoris Dreckohr gereiniget, und zur Anhörung der Musik geschickter gemacht werden." 10.12.1749 {"don't ever doubt that he will get his dirty ears cleaned out so that he, in time, can then apply his ears to hear music properly.}

[4] Koopman: The fast tempo is simply ridiculous. Koopman even becomes inconsistent in the tempo that he chooses, as there are periods of rushing, slowing down when the choir enters, etc. And at the very end he is slower than when he started. Go back to the beginning, after you have just heard the conclusion, and you will see what I mean. The first time I listened I thought there were moments where I did not know where all the notes were. On rehearing the mvt. it becomes apparent that much more went wrong than would appear upon an initial hearing. Take a piece faster than anyone else, and you will be able to cover up some difficulties and problems while having the listener think that this is a virtuoso performance. Having heard Frans Brüggen play a wooden transverse flute beautifully in a Bach cantata that was discussed here recently, I now wonder about the significant problems that these current lightweight virtuosi are faced with when they are asked to perform at the tempi required by musically inconsiderate conductors: The flute gets softer and softer as almost no breath is applied. As a result the flute is covered up and not heard in measure 31 and 37 when it goes into a somewhat lower, less brilliant range. At this speed the sound of the flute can not be developed properly. Koopman ought to know better. Even more amazing is to hear both oboes and strings disappear musically from the scene in measure 38. Even Leusink did better here. Otherwise I enjoy the sound of the oboes in Koopman's cantatas better than Harnoncourt's, but here they were hardly audible. Perhaps the triplets were too difficult to play at the Koopman's tempo? Suddenly on the long, held notes, there they were in their full glory. Perhaps they were playing hide and seek. To play games like this is truly amateurish and unworthy of this series. Listen to the instrumental interlude right after the first phrase sung by the choir! My first reaction to that is, "What was that?" This thought unfortunately is true for the entire mvt.

[6] Leusink: His tempo is slightly slower, but nevertheless too fast for this music. The flute sound is even less than in Koopman's recording, if that is possible, but the choir is more enthusiastic and the oboes can be heard. The flute gets covered up in this otherwise more transparent version (measures 21, 31, 33.) The choir succeeds because the general lower range is suitable for these voices (no sudden outbursts of the yodelers to contend with.) Too bad that Leusink had to emulate the faster tempi of Harnoncourt and Koopman!

Summary: Only Rilling for Mvt. 1, forget the rest.

Roy Reed wrote (August 21, 2001):
I just hate it when Bach and his collaborators just miss the point of the gospel text they are trying to illumine. Hello, anybody home? Welthass (Is that a word?) is just not the idea here!! How I would love to read the sermon preached that day, or other contemporary sermons preached on that text. There must be some around, but I am not likely to get to that. I also wonder, often when listening to a cantata....just what were the working relations like between preachers and musicians in Bach's scene; what role did clergy play in shaping, or creating the texts. We know authors of some of the cantatas....far from all. The importance and use of these texts as spiritual contemplations was popular, even apart from musical settings. Would be nice to know these things.

Of course, it would be hard for those Lutherans to avoid yammering about the rotten world, even when Jesus says it has some uses for faith. Admittedly, this is one of the texts that Christians find tough to interpret, and a long line of preachers have wished that somehow it could have been omitted from the lectionary. I don't want to labor this...by now bored Bach fans...except to say that I think that Jesus' point here relates back to what Luke records in 12:32-34. At any rate, the point is not world disgust and world denial.


I have four readings of BWV 94: Rilling (1), Koopman [4], Leusink [6], Harnoncourt (2). For openers, everyone except Rilling takes the wonderful opening movement too danged fast. Overall I prefer the Koopman, but shame on him for the opening chorus. He needed some gutsy flute player to stand up and say: "Hey...What the hell. I'm supposed to be something wonderful and crucial in this piece, and you are making a real dog's breakfast of it." Didn't happen. Pity! Were it not that I very much like the HIP sound that Koopman gets I would prefer Rilling. I want the Koopman sound at Rilling perfect tempo. And don't you just wonder about all this world denying text set to this fabulous, rich worldly art. And I wonder how the good burghers of Leipzig read that? Just how did the dancing baroque of the music come through with this lugubrious text? Sure confuses me.

In these four performances there is one moment that really "sends" me. That is the aria for alto (Mvt. 4) with Koopman [4]. Annette Markert, alto; Wilbert Hazelzet, flute; Jonathan Manson, cello, with Koopman on continuo. The use of harpsichord here is a great idea and Koopman is superb. The whole ensemble really gets together. A great exhibit of musicality. Following the score I am just transported by the talent, the taste and the sensitive interpretation. The first performance I followed was Rilling [1]. Couldn't get into this movement at all. Just goes to show. But what a strange "deluded and inflated little piece. A sort of "Beckmesser's aria" which in Bach's hands just couldn't turn out awkward.

Koopman [4] rushes his very good tenor in Mvt. 6. Another artist who needed to speak up.


The structure of BWV 94 would be the classic chiasmus Bach uses....except for one too many arias at the end. So much for theory.

 

BWV 94 and BWV 1018

Lex Schelvis wrote (January 30, 2005):
Some time ago I listened to BWV 94 and during movement 7 I felt I knew the music from another piece. Some days ago I had BWV 1018 on my CD-player and there I heard it in the first movement. To me the theme of the opening in the aria by the oboe and later the voice on one part and the one in the sonata by the harpsichord on the other are very similar. I looked in the few books about Bach I own and couldn't find anything about it. Even Dürr says nothing about it, though he gives this aria a lot of attention in his book on the cantatas. And the study of Schering that Dürr mentions here, I couldn't find.

My question: am I totally wrong in my observation, doesn't the similarity exist, or is it so obvious that scientists don't care to mention it? Or will my observation shock the world?

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 30, 2005):
[To Lex Schelvis] I don't think that the similarity of 5 notes being essential the same in sequence and rhythm will shock the world, nor is it the type of thing that would be noted by Dürr, et al, but I think it still is something worth noting. What is important, however, is that instrumentalists who play BWV 1018/1 should examine this similarity closely to determine if any of the words might give a clue to how Bach uses this motif. Does it symbolize anything at all more specifically? There is also a resemblance here to the chorale incipit which governs the cantata which consists of even fewer notes (only 3 or 4), but this could be significant for unlocking the connection between the two mvts. from BWV 94/7,8 and BWV 1018/1.

Thanks for pointing this out and let the list members know if you make any other interesting discoveries of this type.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 30, 2005):
Some other connections/similarities between motifs in the cantatas and other instrumental works were discussed at the top of page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV154-Guide.htm

Here, for instance, is a connection between BWV 882/2 and BWV 154/7 and BWV 32/5. Essentially only 4 notes are involved in distinguishing this motif, but it is nevertheless quite obvious.

This is not the result of sheer coincidence!

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2005):
< Some time ago I listened to BWV 94 and during movement 7 I felt I knew the music from another piece. Some days ago I had BWV 1018 on my CD-player and there I heard it in the first movement. To me the >theme of the opening in the aria by the oboe and later the voice on one >part and the one in the sonata by the harpsichord on the other are very similar. >
Yes, an interesting similarity there between the vocalist's second phrase and the first phrase of the violin/hpsi sonata. Thanks for pointing it out. But also, keep in mind that it's a different key, different tempo, and (most importantly) a different meter: duple, where the sonata had been triple. It's hard to press a coincidence such as this too far, as to asserting deliberate connections, especially as the theme is just a scarcely-decorated arpeggio of a minor chord.

< What is important, however, is that instrumentalists who play BWV 1018/1 should examine this similarity closely to determine if any of the words might give a clue to how Bach uses this motif. Does it symbolize anything at all more specifically? >
The coincidence is interesting, but how does it have anything firm or binding (one way or another) on performance of the violin/harpsichord piece, which was written some years before this cantata?

I'm fond of 1018. My first date with my wife was that she came out to hear me play 1018 and 1017 in a concert. Then, a few days later, I wrote a four-part vocal piece for her, deliberately based on the opening theme of 1018 (this same one) and dedicated to her. But, I don't see how the use of such a theme later (whether such later usage is by Bach or some other composer) has any influence back on the way the original violin/hpsi piece should be played, as to the mood of the words or whatever. Later use is either a coincidence or later thoughts, if one respects the forward-dimensional nature of time.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 31, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Yes, an interesting similarity there between the vocalist's second phrase and the first phrase of the violin/hpsi sonata.<<
It does not make any difference if a motif is a 'second' or 'first' phrase, it is the similarity that counts.

BL: >>But also, keep in mind that it's a different key, different tempo, and (most importantly) a different meter: duple, where the sonata had been triple.<<
It does not make any difference whether the same motif appears in different keys, at different tempi or meter. There are examples when Bach took a sketch of a single musical line for an aria and changed the meter when he began composing the entire mvt. It was still the same motif being refined and he certainly had the text in mind before he even recorded the sketch.

Some of the examples that I found of the reiterated motif consisting of the chorale incipit in BWV 127/1 are transposed to different keys, and from major to minor and vice versa as they relate to meaning and emotion presentin the immediate (con)text, yet they all point to a common source: the chorale incipit. Likewise, a instrumentalist must consider the motif in its given context (mood/coloring created by choice of key, major vs. minor, etc.), but a very important link to the kernel idea embodied in the motif establishes an important connection which would otherwise be lost entirely. In BWV 127/1, mm 55-56 etc. contain the most drastic modification of the chorale incipit and the feeling evoked is extremely strong (on the words "durchs bittre Leiden dein") with the emphasis on "Leiden" ["suffering"], but since the motif is still linked to the chorale incipit ["Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott" = "Lord Jesus Christ, true human being and God"], the motif connection makes clear to the listener whose suffering we are talking about. Thus it becomes important to maintain wherever possible the linkage/connections between a motif used in a vocal setting with words and the instrumental use where words no longer appear. Taking into account key, tempo, major/minor, meter, etc. etc., are secondary issues that must be considered only after the key motif similarity has been established, if this is possible.

BL: >>It's hard to press a coincidence such as this too far, as to asserting deliberate connections, especially as the theme is just a scarcely-decorated arpeggio of a minor chord.<<
I just love it when Bach can make something truly great out of what seems to some simply to be "a scarcely-decorated arpeggio of a minor chord." That's genius!

BL:>>The coincidence is interesting, but how does it have anything firm or binding (one way or another) on performance of the violin/harpsichord piece, which was written some years before this cantata?<<
It is very possible that Bach decided to employ in BWV 1018 this motif that he had previously used in one of the mvts. of some of the lost cantatas from his pre-Leipzig period. He even then have used it again in a Leipzig cantata BWV 94 because it expressed a specific emotion or idea very well. It had become part of Bach's musical language. For this reason alone, it is important for performers to realize that some (and perhaps more than we can properly estimate at this time) of these motifs did not suddenly and coincidentally occur to Bach much like a computer endlessly grinding out permutations/melodic patterns some of which he might just simply/coincidentally choose again because he had forgotten that he had used them once before. There was forethought involved on Bach's part which included drawing upon previously successful conceits which could easily have come from the early cantatas where text and music are combined. For instrumentalists to haughtily dismiss such similarities, means that they will possibly overlook clues/indications as to how these motifs should be played. In this case, by examining carefully BWV 94 and knowing full well that Bach frequently recycled his good ideas, the performer will perhaps find useful performance clues by examining the later cantata (BWV 94) which is perhaps only one in a series of similar cantata mvts. some of which stretch back to the time before BWV 1018 was composed.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (January 31, 2005):
Thomas Braatz writes:
"He even then have used it again in a Leipzig cantata BWV 94 because it expressed a specific emotion or idea very well. It had become part of Bach's musical language. For this reason alone, it is important for performers to realize that some (and perhaps more than we can properly estimate at this time) of these motifs did not suddenly and coincidentally occur to Bach much like a computer endlessly grinding out permutations/melodic patterns some of which he might just simply/coincidentally choose again because he had forgotten that he had used them once before. There was forethought involved on Bach's part which included drawing upon previously successful conceits which could easily have come from the early cantatas where text and music are combined."
So Bach remembered every note of every piece he ever wrote? He remembered every word of every text he ever set and to which notes? (I can't remember exactly the text of a piece I wrote only a few months ago and Bach was far more productive than I am. And yes, I'm not Bach, etc. etc....) There are little melodic figures, harmonic progressions, voicings of chords etc. that do recur over and over again in the work of all sorts of composers, because they have become part of their musical personality, they are mannerisms if you like, and, yes, often they HAVE forgotten they used them before - the reason these things become part of a composer's musical personality and crop up frequently is simply BECAUSE THEY LIKE THEM!

"For instrumentalists to haughtily dismiss such similarities, means that they will possibly overlook clues/indications as to how these motifs should be played. In this case, by examining carefully BWV 94 and knowing full well that Bach frequently recycled his good ideas, the performer will perhaps find useful performance clues by examining the later cantata (BWV 94) which is perhaps only one in a series of similar cantata mvts. some of which stretch back to the time before BWV 1018 was composed."
And how exactly should a motif be played in accordance with the knowledge that it reappears in a later piece and might - MIGHT! - have appeared in an earlier lost piece? How exactly is the haughty performer to play this motif, having pondered carefully the text to which the motif is set in an earlier Cantata movement - now non-existent! - which might or might not ever have existed?

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2005):
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Continue on Part 1

Cantata BWV 94: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
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