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General Discussions - Part 11

Continue from Part 10

Santu de Silva wrote (February 5, 2006):
Kirk McElhearn writes:
>>Well, in classical music - at least in live recordings - that's not exactly true. There's no mic that picks up just, say, the violins - it picks up the violins and the surrounding instruments. Actually, with classical recordings - again, at least for live ones - they generally just use two mics. Makes it a lot easier to get a balanced mix. <<
I was about to scream that this was not true in general, when I noticed that Kirk had inserted the disclaimer "- at least in live recordings -"

It is my understanding that in a large proportion of studio recordings, the miking of individual instruments and sections is verry common, particularly for early music ensembles.

This is something I read somewhere, and I did read it some years ago. Things may have changed somewhat since then, and perhaps some of the list members has a good idea of what is done generally, at the present time.

An idea can be gotten from photographs of recording sessions, showing the microphones; unfortunately, CD inserts of late are less and less likely to have photographs in them. What photographs there happen to be are rarely of recording sessions; they're more likely to be portraits of the stars.

Tom Hens wrote (February 6, 2006):
< It is my understanding that in a large proportion of studio recordings, the miking of individual instruments and sections is very common, particularly for early music ensembles. >
Why would it be particularly common for early music ensembles? The miking technique used is decided upon by the producer and the recording engineer, not the musicians. There is also a difference between recording individual instruments or voices separately, soundproofed from the rest of the ensemble, as is common practice in pop music ("pop music" in the widest possible sense of the word), and using spot mikes for some instruments or voices within an ensemble, as is common practice in recording classical music. Using just two microphones, or four at a pinch (two close up, two to capture the slightly wider sound within the room), is common practice for many labels recording early music, which are often the smaller independents. It's usually the "majors", DG and the like, who go for the approach with lots of spot mikes, allowing for much more manipulation at the mixing desk afterwards.

Robin Kinross wrote (February 7, 2006):
now see this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/story/0,,1703989,00.html

Thomas Jaenicke wrote (February 7, 2006):
[To Robin Knross] In Cologne, the Gürzenich Orchestra, famous for its recordings with Gunther Wandt, was even quicker, as you can see from an article in www.rondomagazin.de:
Noch nicht einmal die in Technik und Klassik gleichermaßen vernarrten Japaner sind auf diese Idee gekommen: Seit Oktober bietet das Kölner Gürzenich-Orchester weltweit zum ersten Mal die Möglichkeit, das sinfonische Live-Erlebnis sofort als fertige CD mit nach Hause zu nehmen. Kaum ist der letzte Ton verklungen, setzen sich in der Kölner Philharmonie acht Brenntürme in Bewegung und kopieren das Konzert in wenigen Minuten auf rund 300 Silberlinge. "Go Live!" nennt sich diese Serviceleistung. Umsonst ist das natürlich nicht: Die Doppel-CD mit dem gesamten Konzertabend kostet zehn Euro. Und wer einen iPod oder einen anderen MP3-Player besitzt, der kann sich einfach auch für fünf Euro an den Computern einstöpseln. In Köln hat man damit mitten ins Schwarze getroffen, denn die frisch bespielten CDs gehen weg wie Frei-Kölsch.

In short, at the exit you can get for 10 Euro a double CD of the live recording of the complete concert evening; you also can download the record onto your iPod. The service is taken on quite well. Nevertheless, I doubt it will be a serious competition for the traditional record producing business!

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 9, 2006):
Gardiner cantatas redux

So I just got my package with the first six volumes... I have to see that the packaging is very attractive, and these are much nicer "objects" than most of the other cantatas I have. The notes seem interesting at first glance.

One comment about the question that arose regarding the number of discs - many of the discs are over 70 minutes, so it is entirely possible that the difference in total number of discs is simply the result of these CDs having, in many cases, much more music than others which are in BWV order (such as the Leonhardt/Harnoncourt or the Rilling sets).

Looking forward to listening to some of them today... Many thanks for all the opinions.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 9, 2006):
Gardiner cantatas - first thoughts

Listening to vol 14 today, the only one-disc volume, I'm struck by the overall beauty and homogeneity of the recordings. I think I'll like this series. In fact, the overall sound - the energetic smoothness that Gardiner brings to the music - is something I like very much, more so than the "blandness", as one list-member said, of Suzuki. There are imperfections here; minor ones, but enough to make the music sound more human. The energy of the live performances does make a difference, I think.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 10, 2006):
live performances

Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< There are imperfections here; minor ones, but enough to make the music sound more human. The energy of the live performances does make a difference, I think. >
About 2 or 3 years ago I attended a two voices per part Johannes-Passion (BWV 245). The choir was two persons of each voice and at least for the alto role one aria was taken by one and another aria by the other. I no longer recall whether this was also so for and other soli. The whole was quite a worthy experience except that "Es ist vollbracht" was given to the wrong mezzo (there was no real alto and that was not the problem). So this was live and live cannot make a performance wonderful in and of itself. We often get told on many lists--- and I am not referring to anyone here (indeed the Bach lists are much more recording-centric than most music lists to which I subscribe; indeed the Handel list is primarily, it would seem, devoted to British performances which seem to occur frequently)--- that the only way to experience music is live irrespective of the quality of the performance.

This simply ain't so. The mezzo who sang that "Es ist vollbracht" was so much not a solo singer and was so awful that I was devastated. One expects to have a really high experience.

When Bach is not great, attending live is about the worst punishment one
can subject oneself to.

Many years before that I attended a large Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) conducted by Rilling and it was dreadful.

I have attended a few supreme experience ones and my only purpose here is basically to assert that either studio or live recorded can be wonderful if the performance by all involved is wonderful.

I know, I know, Kirk, you are comparing JEG live (if they are indeed totally unedited; many "live" are quite edited) vs. JEG studio but you have given me a hook on which to hang my own harangue on an issue which we all see so often discussed. May Ahura Mazda bless us all and send none to a bad place.

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 10, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I have attended a few supreme experience ones and my only purpose here is basically to assert that either studio or live recorded can be wonderful if the performance by all involved is wonderful.
I know, I know, Kirk, you are comparing JEG live (if they are indeed totally unedited; many "live" are quite edited) vs. JEG studio but you have given me a hook on which to hang my own harangue on an issue which we all see so often discussed. May Ahura Mazda bless us all and send none to a bad place. >
I'd certainly side 100% with Yoel if there was more live Bach arouhere. When it's a once or twice a year experience one is a little less demanding maybe. It's also true that I may have been lucky so far. I can't think of a Bach performance that I've heard that was butchered: quite the contrary, the American Bach Soloists, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Philarmonia Baroque and other ensembles seem to be very well received when I show up. With luck I'm going to hear Magdalena Kozena on Sunday and I hope the streak will continue. (When I was a kid, I went to a lot of Minnesota Twins games: I'd guess the Twinkies won 80% of the games I attended. I offered my services to the team. I would go to the game if they picked me up, gave me a free ticket and popcorn. I was turned down. That mistake might have cost them the series in 1965. Curse you Koufax.)

I do try to support the local community ensemble, simply because I like the idea. They sometimes even sound okay - for maybe three or four minutes. I remember one night when they absolutely demolished "Harold in Italy." That was a real laugh or cry moment. Had it happened with a real orchestra I would have walked out. (Come to think about it, maybe I'll get one of those ipods. The buds are so small that I could listen unobtrusively to good music while my well intentioned neighbors butcher the masters. Now if Apple starts downloading the old Sergeant Bilko TV series, I'll buy a pod in a second.)

It's odd that Glenn Gould has recently come up. I know it was considered close to blasphemy at the time, but his theoretical objections to live performance and his awareness of the potential of recordings were powerfully put. Unless I have misread Gardiner completely, he doesn't claim that live performance is inherently superior. Instead he claims, perhaps correctly, that his instant CDs will have special meaning to the people that heard the concert. What he does say is that there is something "artificial" about the studio and that he has always aimed the "live feel." That's not the same as saying live is better - although considering what Gardiner is attempting I think one can understand why he's stressing the virtues of the live performance. Gardiner and his associates have a lot riding on this experiment.

As for Gardiner, his studio recordings show the same kind of panache that the pilgrimage CDs display. For good or ill Gardiner has always displayed a surplus of spirit and I think many listeners respond to the approach. (It sure works with Berlioz and Beethoven in my opinion.) Whether he is truer to Bach than Suzuki, Koopman or others is an entirely different question. I think Suzuki fans should come to his defense a little. Describing him as "dry" reminds me of a tour to Europe made in the 70's by the Chicago under Solti. In general critics were most kind - many describing the Chicago as the finest orchestra of the postwar era. But a few (in England as I recall) knocked Solti's players as sounding "wooden" or "machine-like". Their mistake, according to those hostile, was that they didn't make mistakes. Hard to please everyone.

In any case, there are many things seriously amiss with our era of history. Painless dentistry and classical music recordings are not on the list.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 10, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< When Bach is not great, attending live is about the worst punishment one can subject oneself to. >
You've had bad luck. I've attended many truly exciting Bach performances... I don't think you can say that because some of the ones (or even most) that you attended were bad that all of them are bad...

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 10, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< Unless I have misread Gardiner completely, he doesn't claim that live performance is inherently superior. Instead he claims, perhaps correctly, that his instant CDs will have special meaning to the people that heard the concert. What he does say is that there is something "artificial" about the studio and that he has always aimed the "live feel." That's not the same as saying live is better - although considering what Gardiner is attempting I think one can understand why he's stressing the virtues of the live performance. Gardiner and his associates have a lot riding on this experiment. >
I don't think he ever suggested that it was superior. But the overall atmosphere of the pilgrimage project was something that the musicians felt very deeply. (Last night, I watched the documentary about the tour on the DVD of three of the cantatas.) That energy comes through in the performances. Sure, they are not perfect, but there is an energy and commitment in them that makes me think much more of how they might have sounded when they were sung as scripture, not just as music.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 10, 2006):
Another Gardiner question

Watching the documentary about the cantata pilgrimage, there were bits where Gardiner and his band of merry men and women were performing the Xmas Oratorio, one of the motets, and a secular cantata. It seemed as if these were part of the pilgrimage tour - does anyone know if all these works were performed and recorded as well?

John Pike wrote (February 10, 2006):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Correct. The XMO (BWV 248) was performed in Weimar at the very start of the BCP over 2 concerts (and is available on DVD....superb recording) and "Jesu, Meine Freude" has already appeared on the latest BCP CD release. The next release is tomorrow.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 10, 2006):
[To John Pike] Ah, that's the XMO (BWV 248) DVD I already have then... Thanks.

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 10, 2006):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< I don't think he ever suggested that it was superior. But the overall atmosphere of the pilgrimage project was something that the musicians felt very deeply. (Last night, I watched the documentary about the tour on the DVD of three of the cantatas.) That energy comes through in the performances. Sure, they are not perfect, but there is an energy and commitment in them that makes me think much more of how they might have sounded when they were sung as scripture, not just as music. >
I saw the Gardiner documentary too and I don't doubt JEG's sincerity. I'm sure getting swept up into a kind of monumental undertaking gave everyone involved a dose of adrenalin. (Bet there were moments when JEG and/or his musicians thought their project was about as sane as Ahab's chase of Moby Dick. And double bet that they were glad when it was done.) The question is whether the Pilgrimage recordings are superior to others, especially to JEG's own DG studio produced cantatas. Everyone can make their own choice on this, but I wouldn't make that judgment and I speak as a JEG fan. His studio efforts, I think, sometimes employ superior soloists. (Both Nancy Argenta and Ruth Holton made some wonderful music with JEG in the 90s.) I don't have any SDG volumes, and only the four genuine DG Pilgrimage CDs (seems they were labeling several any JEG cantata as from the Pilgrimage during 2000) so I can't judge the relative quality of SDG engineering, but DG did a fine job in that realm. As for energy, I think that's a hallmark of a JEG performance - indeed, his critics would say he has too much. I am not knocking Gardiner: of all ensembles performing without boys Gardiner's is my favorite in general. (Harnoncourt/Leonhardt remains my favorite by a country mile and will remain so until someone comes along with better boy soloists - not soon I bet.) That said, Gardiner's competitors are splendid artists and might well please more on a given work. Indeed, as long as price is more or less equal, which seems to be the case, I would much prefer a mixed cycle of JEG, Suzuki, Koopman and some OVPP groups (throw in a few "old masters" just for a real change of pace - literally a change of pace) than a complete JEG cycle standing alone despite the inevitable duplicates.

RE the recent OT digital music thread I checked the Naxos website and found that their entire catalog is available for download via emusic among others. Foa negative view of this, coming from a recording engineer, you might want to check: http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2006/02/naxos-dumbs-down-production-standards.html
If you like the idea, the Naxos catalog is really impressive and you can stuff your ipod, your children's ipod and your grandchildren's ipod for a very reasonable price from the look of things. (http://www.naxos.com/mainsite/default.asp)

Chris Rowson wrote (February 11, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< ... a change of pace ... >
What is the modern tendency on pace?

I am still shocked by Quantz recommending 80 beats per second for an Allegro, although I was reassured recently by finding a quote attributed to C.P..E. Bach saying "they play the Allegro very fast in Potsdam"

 

Gardiner and Grammies

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 15, 2006):
Gardiner fans might enjoy the following piece from "On an Overgrown Path" a very sophisticated classical music blog done by a former EMI engineer (I think). I am not a blog person, but this guy obviously knows the business.
Anyway: http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2006/02/soli-deo-gloria-off-grammy-awards.html

 

BBC cd Review. Gardiner vol. 21

Thomas Shepherd wrote (February 16, 2006):
Some of you might care to vote for the latest Gardiner disk released last weekend. It will be a chance to hear BWV 1 next Saturday streamed via the internet or on wireless (FM or DAB).

The subscription copy of vol 21 arrived here this morning from Monteverdi Records ( http://www.monteverdiproductions.co.uk/ ) £15 sterling for two discs and p&p which I feel is not overly expensive. I'm pleased that the slender profits are going directly to the company rather than some behemoth like Amazon.

It's going to be an evening in with the scores and a bottle of wine!

John Pike wrote (February 17, 2006):
[To Thomas Shepherd] Yes, there are many gems on this latest release, including BWV 1, BWV 54 and BWV 182.

 

SDG & Archiv series (Was: Introduction BWV 59 - Gardiner recordings)

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 59 - Discussions

Aphilla the Hun (Phil) wrote (May 8, 2006):
Introduction BWV 59 - Gardiner recordings

[To Eric Bergerud] This is a nice summary, thanks, and thanks for your background which is also interesting.

I also arrived late to the Bach Cantatas, in fact discovering for myself their beauty only this year. (I posted a similar query to a classical recording newsgroup a week or so ago and got what seemed to me a strange variety of responses, but here goes again). So having found out about these treasures I subscribed to the Gardiner series
that he is releasing on the Soli Deo Gloria label. I contacted them via email but received limited response. I was wondering how regularly and then how frequently these are coming out? I also understand they are releasing works that they already released on DG/Archiv, but maybe not the same performances. Does anyone here have details about this?

I'm attaching it to the thread on BWV 59 because the latest package I received is 4 cantatas for Whitsun (BWV 172, BWV 59, BWV 74, and BWV 34) and one of the DG/Archiv discs has the same set.

Thanks,

Eric Bergerud wrote (May 8, 2006):
[To Aphilla the Hun] Archive produced about 12 cantata CDs under Gardiner. Except for a wonderful pairing of BWV 140/BWV 147 with Ruth Holton at her best, all appear to be Pilgrimage CDs. Only four or five actually are. Most were done in studio a few years earlier. The real deal are marked by a very small notation "live recording" on the back. Pretty ugly marketing in my view, but I doubt Gardiner and DG were thinking kindly of each other toward the end.

We all wish SDG the best I'm sure, but I have no plans of throwing my Archive CDs away. They're pure Gardiner - whether that's good or bad is up to the listener - and well recorded. And, if such mundane things matter, are widely available used and hence an economical alternative to the SDG CDs. As for the new SDG volumes, I'm not sure if there's a set schedule or not. The works are already recorded obviously, so I should think the SDG are putting them out in a pace not to fast to overwhelm the market but not too slow that buyers will forget about them. Others are subscribers to the series and should have more detail.

Sandy Vaughan wrote (May 8, 2006):
SDG & Archiv series

Phil wrote:
< So having found out about these treasures I subscribed to the Gardiner series that he is releasing on the Soli Deo Gloria label. I contacted them via email but received limited response. I was wondering how regularly and then how frequently these are coming out? I also understand they are releasing works that they already released on DG/Archiv, but maybe not the same performances. Does anyone here have details about this? >
As Eric has indicated, the Archiv releases are a bit of a tangled web!

There is a useful tool on the monteverdi productions site, which you can use to search by BWV number to pick up the Archiv and SDG series. (http://www.cantatafinder.com/en) So, for example, a search on BWV 66 brings up two results, the Archiv release from 2000 and the projected SDG volume 22. I've done a few searches on the Archiv semi-cycle, the results of which are below.

The logic to it seems to be that the genuine 'live' recordings of the pilgrimage issued by DG, of which there are three (see the last three on the second list below) won't be included, along with one which might be live (BWV 72, 73, etc) but was at any rate recorded during the tour. The two which don't seem that logical are the Actus Tragicus disc and the CD of Ascension cantatas, which don't appear part of the SDG series. Perhaps there is some contractual issue here which may end up resolved.

SDG equivalent -

Archiv 463 582-2 (BWV 6 & 66 - recorded London April 1999): SDG 22
Archiv 463 584-2 (Whitsun - recorded London April 1999): SDG 26
Archiv 463 586-2 (BWV 98, 139, 16 - recorded 1998): SDG 11 (BWV 98); SDG 17 (BWV 16); SDG 12 (BWV 139)
Archiv 463 587-2 (BWV 140 & BWV 147 - recorded 1990): SDG 12 (BWV 140); SDG 13 (BWV 147)
Archiv 473 588-2 (Advent - recorded 1992): SDG 13
Archiv 463 589-2 (Christmas - recorded 1998 (BWV 63, 64, 121) & 'live' London
1998 (BWV 133)): SDG 18 (BWV 63); SDG 15 (BWV 64, 133); SDG 14 (BWV 121)

No SDG equivalent (yet?!) -

Archiv 463 581-2 (BWV 106, etc - recorded 1989)
Archiv 463 582-2 (BWV 72, 73, etc - recorded Milan Jan 2000)
Archiv 463 583-2 (Ascension - recorded 1993 (11, 37, 43) & April 1999 (128)
Archiv 463 585-2 (BWV 82, etc - recorded 'live' Dorset Feb 2000)
Archiv 463 590-2 (BWV 94, 168, 105 - recorded 'live' Merano August 2000)
Archiv 463 591-2 (BWV 179, 199, 113 - recorded 'live' St David's Sept 200)

Volume 13 looks to be one to look forward to! Maybe they'll release it this Advent. The pattern so far seems to be to release between 4 and 6 each year. I think the next release is due September-time and then it would make sense for them to let one free for the Christmas market too.

Going through all the DG Archiv releases, which were the first recordings of cantatas I purchased, I can see just what a cobbled-together exercise it was on the part of the record company. I've still got a great deal of fondness for these CDs as they were my introduction to Bach, but marketing them all as 'Pilgrimage' releases was misleading to say the . Also, I must say I find the sound of the SDG discs preferable. Re your 'limited response', I think their admin. is a bit stretched given their success - I had a friendly email exchange with a stressed-sounding administrator around the release of the last but one disc. I think they're doing a pretty good job on a shoestring.

Anyway, I hope this is of some help

Kirk McElhearn wrote (May 8, 2006):
Sandy Vaughan wrote:
< I think the next release is due September-time and then it would make sense for them to let one free for the Christmas market too. >
Certainly sooner than that - the last one just got here last week. I think they're releasing every three months or so.

Sandy Vaughan wrote (May 8, 2006):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Sorry, I shouldn't have assumed that everyone knew about the May release (vol. 26)! What do you think of it? I continue to be astonished at the clarity of these live recordings. And in particular I'm impressed by the way in which contrasts are expressed: I think that the change from the flourishes at the end of the Coro to BWV 74 to the tender opening of the soprano aria is particularly effective.

Aphilla the Hun wrote (May 8, 2006):
[To Sandy Vaughan] Yes, Sandy, this is very helpful. I'll have to spend some time with this tool. I just received SDG 26 and see that it (6/00) isn't the same performance as the Archiv release (4/99). More nice things to want!

Thanks very much,

Kirk McElhearn wrote (May 8, 2006):
[To Sandy Vaughan] Actually, I've only listened once, but I thought the soloists are weaker than in most of the other recordings. There were some bits that underwhelmed me. However, the choir is excellent, as is the orchestra. I need to give it another listen...

Aphilla the Hun wrote (May 8, 2006):
[To Sandy Vaughan] I'm looking forward to my sit down listen to it. I popped it in and played it through while doing other things to make sure there were no scratches, etc. Am looking forward to spending a couple of quiet hours with it.

But yes, I'm pretty amazed at the recordings in addition to being really happy to finally realize that there is this great music out there. I loved the notes about trying to find a local sackbut player to fill out the orchestra in one of the locations in Germany.

 

Interview with JEG

Kirk McElhearn wrote (May 26, 2006):
http://www.monteverdiproductions.co.uk/podcast1.asp

"The first in an exclusive series of podcasts illustrating SDG's new releases.

James Jolly, editor in chief of Gramophone interviews Sir John Eliot Gardiner about the latest release in the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage Series, Volume 26, SDG121."

 

Cantata Concert John Eliot Gardiner

Alexander Vassiliadis wrote (December 18, 2006):
On last Friday (15.12.) I had the opportunity to attend a concert of Bach Cantatas for Advent performed by the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and Sir John Eliot Gardiner. It took place in the beautiful St. Martini Church in Braunschweig. The 4 soloists were Julia Doyle, William Towers, Nicholas Mulroy and Matthew Brook. They performed the cantatas "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" BWV 61, "Wachet, betet" BWV 70, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" BWV 147 and "Wachet auf!" BWV 140.

The evening began with the famous Weimar Cantata BWV 61. The opening overture-like chorus became somewhat majestic in the way it was performed. Gardiner took it much slower than on the CD recording but it fitted perfectly in the occasion. The sound of the Choir and Orchestra was as full and rich as always.

The first breathtaking piece came with the opening chorus of BWV 70. The first bars are almost a fight between the trumpet and the oboe. Neil Brough on the trumpet and Michael Niesemannn playing the Oboe did this with so much virtuosity. It was incredible. I think, everybody who heard the piece in 2000 in Lüneburg will remeber the great Gabriele Cassone, although Neil Brough almost reached the same level here. The first Recitative followed the chorus attacca and with this Gardiner created a feeling of "the last judgement". The following aria "Wenn kömmt der Tag" was beautifuly sung by William Towers who went through a huge development since 2000.

Julia Doyle sang the Aria "Lass der Spötter Zungen schmähen" with so much lightness and joy. It was a pleasure to observe her and to listen to her.

After a Recitative came the Choral "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" I have in all Bach Concerts I ever attended never heard something so immensely touching and moving. I don't know how Gardiner does it but every Choral this evening became a highlight.

In the final Bass-Aria "Seligster Erquickungstag" Neil Brough and Matthew Brook came back to the Jericho like sound from the beginning. In the second part of the aria Brook passed the devilish coloraturas with much virtuosity.

Following was the famous cantata BWV 147. It opened with the joyous Chorus "Herz und Mund". Here Gardiner showed again his ability to follow the text in his interpretations. The first Recitative "gebenedeiter Mund", pieceful and quiet, gave really the Christmas feeling. When I hear this, I always think of the first Recitative of Cantata BWV 63 ("O sel'ger Tag").

The Aria "Bereite dir Jesu" was performed in a way to make the eyes water. Julia Doyle became really the star of the evening. What a splendid voice!! She is definitely a name to remember. Her voice had nothing artificial; it
was only natural and beautiful!

The concluding chorales "Wohl mir, daß ich Jesum habe" and "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" were played very quiet and pieceful. Touching and heartfelt they were.

The idea to put the cantata BWV 140 as the final was a very good one. The opening overture representing the festive entrance was marvellously performed. When the dotted rhythms started I think everybody was electrified!

The two duettos for Soprano and Bass were although both very different in style each a jewel. The last one "Mein Freund ist mein" was performed in a charming and heartfelt way.

The concert ended with the enormous choral "Gloria sei dir gesungen". It was triumphant, glorious and Gardiner managed it to transfer everybody into another world for more than 2 hours which ended by far too quickly.

Mercedes Storch de Gracia wrote (December 19, 2006):
Alexander Vassiliadis wrote:
< On last Friday (15.12.) I had the opportunity to attend a concert of Bach Cantatas for Advent performed by the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and Sir John Eliot Gardiner. It took place in the beautiful St. Martini Church in Braunschweig. The 4 soloists were Julia Doyle, William Towers, Nicholas Mulroy and Matthew Brook. They performed the cantatas "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" BWV 61, "Wachet, betet" BWV 70, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" BWV 147 and "Wachet auf!" BWV 140. >
I read this enthusiastic comment; we will able to listen this concert on BBC 3 on Friday 22 December 2006 19:30-21:30. (A performance recorded in London's Cadogan Hall.).
It will also available on internet: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/performanceon3/pip/r3a5d/

I hope it will be as wonderful as in Braunschweig.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 19, 2006):
Alexander Vassiliadis wrote:
< Cantatas for Advent performed by the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and Sir John Eliot Gardiner. It took place in the beautiful St. Martini Church in Braunschweig. The 4 soloists were Julia Doyle, William Towers, Nicholas Mulroy and Matthew Brook. They performed the cantatas "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" BWV 61, "Wachet, betet" BWV 70, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" BWV 147 and "Wachet auf!" BWV 140. >
Interesting how popular mistakes persist. Of the four cantatas, only "Nun Komm" was written for Advent. Bach wrote BWV 70 and BWV 140 for Sundays after Trinity and BWV 147 for the Visitation. It's like "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" being performed on Good Friday because it's vaguely sad. Gardiner should know better than promote misinformation.

Alexander Vassiliadis wrote (December 18, 2006):
As far as I know, there exist at least from BWV 70 and BWV 147 early versions for the time of Advent. BWV 140 was indeed written for another occasion but fitted perfectly on Friday. The Advent versions of BWV 70 and BWV 147 are somewhat shorter than the ones we know today.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 19, 2006):
Alex Vassiliadis wrote:
< As far as I know, there exist at least from BWV 70 and BWV 147 early versions for the time of Advent. >
Could you be more specific about these earlier versions?

Peter Bright wrote (December 19, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling]
BWV 70:

According to the Oxford Composer Companion to Bach, most of the music came from a Weimar cantata (words by Franck) which was probably performed on the second Sunday in Advent 1716. For the surviving version, four recitatives and a further chorale strophe were added (and the work divided into two parts). The subject remains the same (coming of Christ and last judgement).

BWV 147:

In its earlier form, Bach intended it to be performed on the 4th Sunday in Advent 1716. There were no recitatives but it did include the opening chorus and four arias. The famous chorale which rounds off each part was added later, in Leipzig.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 19, 2006):
[To Peter Bright] My public apologies to John Gardiner! They ARE Advent cantatas!

Alexander Vassiliadis wrote (December 19, 2006):
JEG will be happy I suppose:-)
Yahoo

Alexander Vassiliadis wrote (December 19, 2006):
Of course I can ;)

Bach wrote the first version of BWV 70 in 1716 in his Weimar Time. The cantata consists of the movements 1, 3, 5, 8, 10 and 11 of the

today known cantata and is known as BWV 70a.

Also BWV 147 was first composed in 1716 in Weimar. It may be, that it was never finished there. It consisted of movements 1, 3, 7, 5, 9

and an unknown concluding choral. Also here the number is BWV 147a.

Chris Stanley wrote (December 22, 2006):
Things to do this Christmas for those suffering withdrawal symptoms from last years BBC A Bach Christmas.

Listen in tonight as Mercedes has reminded us:

< I read this enthusiastic comment; we will able to listen this concert on BBC 3 on Friday 22 >December 2006 19:30-21:30. (A performance recorded in London's Cadogan Hall.). It will also available on internet:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/performanceon3/pip/r3a5d/ >
I understand there is a video stream as well and it will be available on listen again:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/classical/bachcantatas/

On Saturday night Handel Messiah recorded at the Barbican conducted by Colin Davis is broadcast on BBC digital TV channel 4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/listings/index.shtml?day=saturday&service_id=4544

Also worth hearing on listen again is the recording of this weeks live Choral Evensong from my alma mater Southwell Minster. No Bach, but................a traditional English Cathedral Choir with boy sopranos (trebles): http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/choralevensong/

A happy Christmas and prosperous New Year to all on BCML

 

Gardiner's Advent Cantatas Concert -- Streaming Video at BBC Radio 3

Drew wrote (December 23, 2006):
To reiterate a previous posting, videos of these concerts, recorded on Dec. 18, are available at BBC Radio 3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/classical/bachcantatas/

Heart-warming holiday (fan)fare!

Neil Halliday wrote (December 23, 2006):
[To Drew] Thanks for the link. These four cantatas make wonderful TV!

Sir John seems able to `let the band rip' ("forte") a little more these days. Only did I feel the opening of BWV 147 lacked a little zest, with the trumpet lacking brilliance, and the strings a bit quiet. Also, the famous tenor chorale in BWV 140 was a bit light, fast and clipped for my taste - this music can be more spacious and impressive than Sir John's rendition allowed - but most of the music making was sheer delight.

I liked the choir, the continuo team, and the keyboard realisations when these were featured. I especially liked the vocal soloists - I would have fallen in love with the soprano without seeing her; and the violin solo in the 140 duet was most expressive.

The camera work was mostly sensible, and relatively free of the current visual clichés.

This BBC program is a wonderful Xmas `gift' for all broadband users.

Alexander Vassiliadis wrote (December 23, 2006):
I also watches this marvellous programme, but had one problem: the quality of the video was very poor. Does anyone of you know, where to get them in higher quality or what has to be changed in the settings?

All best and a merry christmas to all of you,

Martin Bendler wrote (December 24, 2006):
[To Alexander Vassiliadis] And has anybody an idea how to save this video?

In the following days there will be broadcasted a lot of interesting concert such as the last years performance of the Magnificat 243a and also the final performance of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in New York where BWV 190 was performed. Any idea how to save it?

Merry christmas to you all and enjoy Bach´s music!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 24, 2006):
Martin Bendler wrote:
< Merry christmas to you all and enjoy Bach´s music! >
(1) We are not all Christians; If you are, happy Holy Day to you.
(2) I suggest asking on Operasharetechnical which list I have copied.

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 24, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Well, as Yoel doesn't know the answer to the question, he must be informing the list again that he isn't a good Lutheran. I would have never guessed. Gee, that's too bad, dear Yoel, and I hope the Lord forgives you all your sins regardless.

As to the question what you need is software that will record streaming audio. Go on Google and type in "record streaming audio" and about 100 sites will show up. Most software is shareware, although some is free. Some will be commercial. Most record what your sound card hears. (In practice, this means you'd best not do a lot of computing while recording. My software would pick up a mouse click.) Quality is acceptable but not CD level. Ease of use varies somewhat. (I use something called Download Studio.) Anyway, with software like this you can record any online broadcast if you're not a sound purist. The native format of many freeware recorders is WMA, although I think MP3 is available on many recorders. WMA works fine is you're going to keep the files on your hard drive. And you can always get a piece of conversion software. I don't have the latest version of Media Player because I'm too cheap to buy a new computer and Windows 98 works just fine for what I do. For all I know, Media Player may have record fun, although there may be copywrite issues there.

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 24, 2006):
Whoops: you want video. Try typing in "record streaming video." Or check the following site for several programs that will record what you see: http://all-streaming-media.com/record-video-stream/all-streaming-video-recording-software.htm

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 24, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< As to the question what you need is software that will record streaming audio. Go on Google and type in "record streaming audio" and about 100 >
You missed both of the points.
The one about Not Everyone Being a Christian does not refer to me alone.
It means that Christmas wishes should be extended, if at all, not to ALL and EVERYONE
but only to those who are of that Faith and Belief.

On the main point, Martin asked about Video and not Audio. Let's get real.

Alexander Vassiliadis wrote (December 24, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] You can just check in the net. there is a programm called phonostar. with this you can save the radio programmes. for the videos I strongly recommend wmr windows media recorder version 8 or something like that. it's definitely possible.

all best and merry christmas,

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 24, 2006):
Alexander Vassiliadis wrote:
< all best and merry christmas, >

Sorry, it ain't Greek Christmas, as you well know. I guess Armenian Christmas may be another day yet and of course nothing even in the Gospels suggests this time of year.

Happy music to all.

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 25, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Silly Eric indeed. Here's your original post:
< Dear Martin,
(1) We are not all Christians; If you are, happy Holy Day to you.
(2) I suggest asking on Operasharetechnical which list I have copied. >
As you made no effort to answer the question, silly me figured that you had an entirely different motive in replying. You don't reply often to posts without forwarding any information or opinion of some value. And, silly me, I even think you once chided someone for not supplying a URL. (Of course you once did decide that Paul McCreesh made the most boring Bach recording in history and remarked "I do not analyze this. It is my reaction." which is very close to answering a post without forwarding any information or opinion of value.) As it is self-evident that not everyone in the world is a Christian, silly me concluded that you had posted to remind the list - again - that you were not a Christian. I should have realized it was simply random rambling with no meaning other than, perhaps, to remind us all what we already know. Although I must say that it takes some oratorical skill of a variety most civilized humans lack to make "happy Holy Day" into an insult particularly at this time of year.

As for the video streaming question, I believe the Windows Media Recorder Version 11 is probably the program referenced by Alexander - you know, the gent that can't recall the date of Christmas? The program is listed on the URL listed on my last post. Here is the home page: http://www.wmrecorder.com/?src=GOOGLE_WINMEDIA6

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 25, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< For all I know, Media Player may have record functions, although there may be copywrite issues there. >
Not to be overly picky here on the Cusp of Crispness (not to offend any spiritual factions), but *copyright* would appear to be the proper word. *Copywriter* is one who writes copy. Lord (any) knows we have plenty of that.

Otherwise, this post is remarkably clear, concise, and by my meager technical standards, accurate.

Careful, next thing you know, folks will expect it all the time.

Merry X-mas, one and all, with a special thought for the X and O seekers.

 

Gardiner's Videos I downloaded

Carlos Quirogag wrote (December 25, 2006):
It's easy downloading this videos. first you need the real location of them which is mms://wm.bbc.co.uk/radio3/videos/nb/bachcantata147_16x9_nb.wmv and you just have to change the BWVnumber. if you see, it's a mms no a http, so you need CoCsoft streamDown to download them. it's pretty easy.

Martin Bendler wrote (December 26, 2006):
JEGs Videos and performances in Leipzig

Thank you all very much for all your help!

I will try it later today.

Will some of you go to the Gardiner performances in Leipzig in June?

I will go to the following concerts:

14th June
8.00 pm | Thomaskirche, Altarraum
J. Bach: Unser Leben ist ein Schatten; G. C. Bach: Siehe, wie fein und lieblich;
J.C. Bach: Meine Freundin, du bist schön, Ach, daß ich Wassers g'nug hätte;
J.M. Bach: Ach, wie sehnlich wart' ich der Zeit; J. S. Bach: Laß Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl (BWV 198)
Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Ticket prices: EUR 60 | 50 | 35 | 20
reduced: EUR 55 | 45 | 30 | 15

and

15th June
8.00 pm | Nikolaikirche
J. S. Bach: Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft (BWV 50), Herr Gott, dich loben wir (BWV 130), Es erhub sich ein Streit (BWV 19), Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg (BWV 149); J.M. Bach: Der Herr ist König (First performance of this piece); J.C. Bach: Es erhub sich ein Streit, Lieber Herr Gott, wecke uns auf Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Presented by Commerzbank-Stiftung

Ticket prices: EUR 75 | 55 | 35 | 20
reduced: EUR 65 | 45 | 30 | 15

For more details go to www.bach-leipzig.de

I think it would be a good place to meet some of the group.

And what I meant with "Happy Christmas to all" is of course "Happy Christmas to all who are celebrating christmas and nice days for them who are not celebrating christmas".

Happy day for all who would like to have a happy day:-)

Julian Mincham wrote (December 26, 2006):
[To Martin Bendler] I am hoping to get there as well. I sent out the web site address on the list some while back but it met with total silence so I assumed noone was able to attend.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 26, 2006):
Martin Bendler wrote:
< And what I meant with "Happy Christmas to all" is of course "Happy Christmas to all who are celebrating christmas and nice days for them who are not celebrating christmas". >
You are too kind. The proper words for those not celebrating Christmas are "Bah! Humbug!" A Solstice Festival by any other name is still a Solstice Festival (Winter or Summer, depending on your hemisphere of residence. Thanks to Julian for that reminder.)

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 26, 2006):
Posting Holidays and Holy Days

Martin Bendler wrote:
< And what I meant with "Happy Christmas to all" is of course "Happy Christmas to all who are celebrating christmas and nice days for them who are not celebrating christmas".
Happy day for all who would like to have a happy day:-) >
I have full respect for anyone's beliefs and practices. Indeed it is not this list that has been a terrible offender.On this list the wishes were extended for one day. On another list the Western Christmas wishes went on for three weeks and were insistently addressed to ALL and EVERYONE. I found two forms of the same document on the internet the other day:
http://www.sain.org/Armenian.Church/xmas.txt
http://www.parev.net/armenian-story-christmas.shtml

The first gives Jan 6 and Jan 18 as resp. Orthodox Christmas and "Armenian Christmas in the Holy Land"

The second gives the 7th and the 19th.
And some of the phasing confuses me.

At all events shouldn't Western Christmas greetings go on for the next however many days until what the West deems as Epiphany?

The problem is that the Jews have about 20 holidays in Sepand Oct., all following Rosh Hash-Shanah. We have another major Holiday at Passover.

The Muslims also have many holidays. The Feast of the Sacrifice is coming up.

I am sure that Hindus have endless feasts.

No other group outside of the Christians posts on music lists about their private feasts. Nor do Classical Radio Stations turn into inane and awful music for the whole holiday except for Western Christmas. I had to shut the radio and listen again and again to two sets of the Brandenburgs.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 26, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< At all events shouldn't Western Christmas greetings go on for the next however many days until what the West deems as Epiphany? >
That would be the Twelve Days of X-mas, famed in song, of which today, Dec. 26 is Numero Uno (1), and Epiphany, Jan. 6, Numero Doce (12). Very big in Latin countries. Many Cuban expatriates, including those in NJ (and also including my spouse), still practice the tradition.

< The problem is that the Jews have about 20 holidays in Sept and Oct., all following Rosh Hash-Shanah. We have another major Holiday at Passover.
The Muslims also have many holidays. The Feast of the Sacrifice is coming up.
I am sure that Hindus have endless feasts. >
What about Wiccans? Hawaiians? How about just a bit of inclusiveness here. Mele Kalikimaka!

< No other group outside of the Christians posts on music lists about their private feasts. >
< Nor do Classical Radio Stations turn into inane and awful music for the whole holiday except for Western Christmas. >
Hello? Personally, I am fed up to my ears with all those Dreidl songs and such on NPR, paid for by public (the P in NPR) funds. Do you hear me complaining? I suppose you do, now.

< I had to shut the radio and listen again and again to two sets of the Brandenburgs. >
Is there a technical glitch with all the uploads and downloads? Why such a limited repertoire? I could loan you a copy of the <Must Be Santa Polka>.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 26, 2006):
Martin Bendler wrote:
< Will some of you go to the Gardiner performances in Leipzig in June?
I will go to the following concerts:
14th June 8.00 pm | Thomaskirche, Altarraum >
It's unfortunate that the musicians will be in the chancel at the front of the church and not in the rear gallery where the music was originally performed. The sound will be completely unlike what Bach heard.

Martin Bendler wrote (December 26, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] You´re so right. I also would like to have them in the organ gallery where they already performed the SMP last year.

But isn´t that anyway a complete different sound than in Bach´s time? The Thomaskirche has been refurbished since then.

But the music will be fine! I´m sure. The soprano Julia Doyle told me after Gardiners performance in Frankfurt last week that she will be involved.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 26, 2006):
Martin Bendler wrote:
< You´re so right. I also would like to have them in the organ gallery where they already performed the SMP last year.
But isn´t that anyway a complete different sound than in Bach´s time? The Thomaskirche has been refurbished since then. >
The removal of galleries in the 19th century certainly made the church more reverberent. However, it is a well-known acoustic phenomenon that vocal and instrumental music has a clarity and immediacy to the listener when it is performed from a gallery above the church floor (it is said that the proximity to the ceiling creates the effect). That is why in large churches (most notabley St. Mark's, Venice) the polyphony was sung from above and small ensembles could be heard perfectly.

When a choir and orchestra perform on floor level at the front of the church, the sound is often muddied and unclear. In a large church, a choir of 40 voices can be almost inaudible while a quartet in the gallery can fill the entire space. I have been to many concerts where the performers were positioned at the front and more often than not there were problems with the sound -- not to mention ensemble problems with the performers becasuse they can't hear each other. The latter problem disappears in a gallery which is essentially like performing in a small room.

There's is no gain in historical authenticity to perform Bach's music in his own churches if the positioning of the performers distorts the effect of the music.

Alexander Vassiliadis wrote (December 26, 2006):
Oh that sounds perfect indeed. The news that Julia Doyle will take part again is really good. I really like this voice. To hear it again on bbc was more than a pleasure. I think I will be there!

Hope to meet some of you then.

Neil Mason wrote (December 26, 2006):
Thanks a lot to those who advised us of this.

I listened to the audio rather than watch the video.

I like brisk tempos but JEG's were so brisk that he managed to make "Jesu Joy" in BWV 147 sound perfunctory. A pity.

OTOH the opening of BWV 140 was marvellous. Brisk without being hurried, with a lovely transparency of texture. The modulation just before the "Alleluia's" is one of the truly wonderful moments in all of JSB's output. The choir sings the semiquavers with great clarity of articulation.

So, on the whole, extremely satisfying, thank you.

Continue your Merry Xmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever. I'm off to Muslim climes in SE Asia for a holiday!

Martin Bendler wrote (December 26, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thank you for that explanation. But why are most of the ensembles performing at the front? Normally one goes to a concert to listen to music and not only to watch the performers. So the priority should be the sound. And then they should perform in the gallery.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 26, 2006):
[To Martin Bendler] The protocol of the 19th century concert still hangs heavy over the performance of Baroque music -- we should discuss the discontinuity between soloists and choirs sometime -- and modern audiences would not tolerate invisible performers.

The Tallis Choir of Toronto, of which I am a member, specializes in music of the late Renaisssance and early Baroque. We will often compromise and perform one half of a concert from a rear gallery. The back position is much easier on the performers and everyone agrees that the sound is better below. However, audiences like to be able to see the performers.

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 26, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] I don't quibble with Doug's point at all. On the other hand, I doubt even the citizens of Leipzig get to seen JEG's band on a regular basis and my guess is that there are a lot of people that would enjoy watching proceedings. Gardiner puts on a pretty good show, after all, commanding his forces like a mother stork. That adds a lot to the overall experience.

It does sound neat and I'll work on the best possible explanation to use with wife and Dean explaining what national emergency requires that I go to Germany for ten days. I could plausibly argue national security (with the Dean anyway - he thinks anyone affiliated in any way with the US military-industrial complex talks to George Bush daily) but my wife might know why I have to pay expenses. This will be a tough one, especially as the ABS has two cantata concerts upcoming a mile from where I live.

Canyon Rick wrote (December 26, 2006):
Martin Bendler wrote:
< But isn´t that anyway a complete different sound than in Bach´s time? The Thomaskirche has been refurbished since then. >
According to Harnoncourt's SMP #1, the interior was paneled with wood during Bach's time. (and no stained glass, apparently--not that I'm sugggesting this affects sound)

How badly damaged was the TK during WW2? Are there any immediate postwar pictures? Or of Leipzig, in general?

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 27, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It's unfortunate that the musicians will be in the chancel at the front of the church and not in the rear gallery where the music was originally performed. The sound will be completely unlike what Bach heard. >
This is an point, worth emphasis from time to time, as you do. Especially with all the chat about the nitty-gritty (ACE) details of authentic performance practice (APP, as opposed to HIP).

On the other hand, getting out and about to hear music live under any circumstances is to be encouraged.

Happy Second Day of X-mas night.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 27, 2006):
Neil Mason wrote:
< I like brisk tempos but JEG's were so brisk that he managed to make "Jesu Joy" in BWV 147 sound perfunctory. A pity.
OTOH the opening of
BWV 140 was marvellous. Brisk without being hurried, with a lovely transparency of texture. >
OTOOH (On the Other Other Hand), perhaps *perfunctory* is just the proper *Joy* for a guy predestined to drag his own cross up the hill for his crucifixion?

 

Continue on Part 12

John Eliot Gardiner: Short Biography | Monteverdi Choir | English Baroque Soloists
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Videos | Recordings of Instrumental Works
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Newsletters
Cantatas:
Cantatas BWV 106, 118b, 198 | Cantatas BWV 140, 147 | Cantatas BWV 11, 37, 43, 128 | Cantatas BWV 6, 66 | Cantatas BWV 72, 73, 111, 156 | Cantatas BWV 82, 83, 125, 200
Bach Cantata Pilgrimage:
BCP - Vols 1&8 | BCP - Vol. 6 | BCP - Vol. 9 | BCP - Vol. 13 | BCP - Vol. 14 | BCP - Vol. 15 | BCP - Vol. 21 | BCP - Vol. 22 | BCP - Vol. 23 | BCP - Vol. 24 | BCP - Vol. 26 | Bach Cantata Pilgrimage DVD | DVD John Eliot Gardiner in Rehearsal
Other Vocal Works:
BWV 232 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 244 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 245 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 248 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 1127 - J.E. Gardiner
Table of recordings by BWV Number

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