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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

Non-Bach cantatas
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Info needed re Ledroit's Cantata #53 recording

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

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

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

Some years earlier (before I was on the list) Steven Langley Guy wrote (October 27, 1999):
"The French Counter-tenor Henri Ledroit has made a very attractive recording of BWV 53 on the Ricercar label (53-9)".

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

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

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

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

 

Schlage doch

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

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

 

Schlage doch” again

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

File Name

Name

Size

Creator

Created

Forrester, Maureen - 01 - Track 1.mp3

Maureen Forrester 1964 Janigro

2205 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

Hoffmann-Carlos Mena -.mp3

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

1241 KB

erre_enne

05/15/2004

Hoffmann-Laurens.mp3

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

1744 KB

erre_enne

05/15/2004

Jacobs, René - 13 - Track 13.mp3

René Jacobs 1987 Ensemble 415

1900 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

Kowalski, Jochen - 11 - Track 11.mp3

Jochen Kowalski 1993 Sillito

1338 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

Ledroit, Henri - 11 - Track 11.mp3

Henri Ledroit 1983 Ricercar Consort

1417 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

Leisner, Emmi - 02 - Track 2.mp3

Emmi Leisner 1926

1112 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

Love, Shirley - 03 - Track 3.mp3

Shirley Love 1984-86 Somary

1824 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/11/2004

Lésne, Gerard - 07 - Track 7.mp3

Gérard Lesne

1369 KB

ascagne_ascanio

05/10/2004

Robin Blaze - 13 - Track 13.mp3

Blaze Parley of Instruments 1998

1384 KB

ascagne_ascanio

06/09/2004

Roessl-Majdan, Hilde - 09 - Track 9.mp3

Hilde Rössl

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

 

BWV 53

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The bells

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

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

 

BWV 53 bells

Continue of dicsussion from: Cantata BWV 54 - Discussions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melchior Hoffmann

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

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

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

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

WORKS

sacred vocal

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

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

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

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

operas

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

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

other secular vocal

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

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

instrumental

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

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mattheson GEP, 117-19

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

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

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

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

ANDREAS GLÖCKNER

© Oxford University Press 2004

Submitted by Thomas Braatz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway....

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

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

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

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

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

I haelectronic fake bells.

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

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

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

=====

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BWV 15, 141, 142 and 160

John Pike wrote (October 26, 2004):
A new recording by Wolfgang Helbich of more apocryphal Bach cantatas has been released on CPO 999 985-2. I see Aryeh has already got it on his website. Last year I was unable to get any complete recordings of BWV 15 or BWV 141. Although not by JS Bach, the music is, apparently, "not half bad" according to the review in BBC Music Magazine this month. George Pratt gives it 5* for sound and 4* for performance (out of 5 best). He comments "Not to be missed".

BWV 15 is copied from JS Bach's cousin Johann Ludwig Bach, BWV 141 (probably) and BWV 160 are by Telemann, and BWV 142 probably by Kuhnau.

Uri Golomb wrote (October 26, 2004):
John Pike wrote: < George Pratt gives it 5* for sound and 4* for performance (out of 5 best). He comments "Not to be missed". >
The only certainty is that BBC Music Magazine gave it 5* for sound and 4* for performance. As a Goldberg reviewer, I sometimes see the magazine changing my star ratings (always for the worse -- that is, publishing my review with one star less than what I gave). I'm not sure whether BBC MM's editors also find it appropriate to overrule their critics star-ratings. I would find it peculiar, at any rate, that a reviewer would give less than 5* to a recordings he finds "unmissable" -- though, in this case, the word might refer more to the repertoire than to the performance (and 4* is still pretty high).

Eric Bergerud wrote (October 27, 2004):
[To Uri Golomb] Years back before Newsday packed its New York baggage and retreated to Long Island I reviewed military history books for them. The book editor was a vet and I got to know him pretty well. As luck would have it I talked with him once about numerical rating systems whether the icons are numbers, little platters, rosettes or a little man sleeping-jumping up and down. He said such things, common among movie reviewers, weren't used by book reviews because, almost by definition, readers would read reviews. There was also an assumption that because so many more books are released than can possibly be reviewed that editors would try to review books worth reading as opposed finding books worth avoiding. (This wasn't true if something was controversial in the political or entertainment realm.) Anyway, although most reviewers considered themselves honor bound to find something wrong with anything renow matter how good, it was pretty much a "thumbs up" business. The numerical rating stuff, he told me, was influenced by a quota system. If there were too many rosettes, or 5's or little men jumping in the air, the readers would find it impossible to recognize works of special merit. If there were too few, readers were also dissatisfied. In any case, suffer the poor movie maker that debuts a good film on the same week as two or three other good films. Likewise, if an okay film appears at the same time that a turkey flock comes to town, it's good news. Something similar could work with record reviews.

That said, I'm sure not knocking the Simon Crouch star system. Actually, I wish we had more such things. I find the cantata reviews in the archives very interesting (hope some can be revised in light of new recordings). However, I really like some guidance in which among 200+ cantatas and choral works that wise heads consider particularly worthy. I don't always agree with Crouch (6 isn't a 1*?) but I appreciate the effort and it's led to some good listening.

 

Watts (was: BWV 083)

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 83 - Discussions Part 2

Yoël L. Arbeitrman wrote (March 2, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I am glad that I did, if only for Helen Watts in BWV 83/1 (alto sanity?). >
As far as I know Watts is only one of two altos whose recording of Pseudo-Bach cantata BWV 53 is not available on CD. The other is Herta Glaz.

The rest of them may be found at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/GMHof/
except for Claudio Hellmann in the Werner set which I have not gotten on CDs as I really only want no. 53.
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This occasional post to GMHof@yahoogroups.com will serve a good purpose at all events.

 

Continue on Part 3

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

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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