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John Eliot Gardiner & Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions - Part 8

Continue from Part 7

Off topic: Bach cantatas (Gardiner launches his own label)

Peter Bright wrote (October 12, 2004):
I found this on the Gramophone site (17 September 04). Good news for Gardiner fans:

-----------
Sir John Eliot Gardiner launches own label.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is launching his own label, Monteverdi Productions, to release recordings by his ensembles the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

The label will begin by releasing the recordings made during Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000, which will appear on the imprint Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God Alone) – named after the dedicatory initials JS Bach appended to his Cantata scores. New recording projects will follow.

‘Creating our own record label seemed like a logical development for the Monteverdi organisation in response to the changes which have taken place in the record business over the past few years’ said Gardiner.

Gardiner used to record for the Universal Classics group of labels – Deutsche Grammophon and Philips – until they parted company four years ago, much to the surprise of many in the classical record world since Gardiner was consistently one of Universal’s best-selling classical artists (and had received more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist).

The 2000 pilgrimage, which marked the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, saw Gardiner conduct 198 works throughout Europe and the US in 93 concerts, on the days for which the music was written. The releases, issued in two-CD mid-price sets, will correspond to one of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage concerts. The first batch, out in January, will include the cantatas for the Feast of St John the Baptist and the cantatas for the First Sunday after Trinity.

Each disc will be illustrated by an image taken by Steve McCurry, whose photographs include a well-known iconic image of an Afghan girl, taken in 1984, which first appeared on the cover of National Geographic Magazine.

Martin Cullingford, Gramophone News and Online Editor
-----------

 

Gardiner question

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 13, 2004):
No doubt this has been covered here at one time or another. I recently got the boxed set of the JEG 4 major Bach vocal works. I played the Johannes-Passion and the Weihnachtsoratorium and found them both recorded at an abominably low sound level such that raising the volume on my receiver does not significantly help. The choral parts are adequate in volume, the solos are not. Anyone else have this experience?

John Pike wrote (December 13, 2004):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I have all these Gardiner recordings, purchased individually, and have not had this problem.

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 14, 2004):
[To Eric Bergerud] I have the original Gardiner St. John's. Archiv is a pretty class act and my version sounds very good. There's a little church-like "reverb" and the soloists are a bit muted, but I expect this was simply the best judgment of Gardiner and his engineers. I certainly have no complaints regarding sound: if I cranked up the old Advents, my neighbors would be yelling. Actually, aside from the absense of a boys choir (where have I heard that before?) I like the recording a lot. I like Parrott's better, but he let the boys in the door.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 14, 2004):
John Pike responded:
< I have all these Gardiner recordings, purchased individually, and have not had this problem.>
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< I have the original Gardiner St. John's. Archiv is a pretty class act and my version sounds very good. >
Thank you both for the information. I do not expect that there really could be a problem in the boxed set but my ears tell me otherwise and the CDs are being played on the selfsame equipment on which I play many hundreds of other CDs and CD-Rs. Will have to figure this out.

 

Interview w/ JEG

Sw Anandgyan wrote (January 21, 2005):
Here's a recent interview with John Eliot Gardiner.

You may learn only one thing but just for that one ...
http://tinyurl.com/5fo76

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (January 21, 2005):
< You may learn only one thing but just for that one ... >
Not sure if this is what you're talking about (my guess is that the beefy news is that he still might be doing more stuff with the Universal family...), but this educational/give CDs to Universities thing sounds interesting-I just might alert the powers that be at my school about this!

 

Gardiner Concerts in spring 2005

Martin Bendler wrote (January 30, 2005):
I would like to let you know that some very nice concerts of the Monteverdi Choir, The English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner will take place in spring 2005:

Sunday 6th March Köningslutter - Kaiserdom, Germany
Monday 7th March Frankfurt - Alte Oper, Germany
Wednesday 9th March London - Cadogan Hall, UK
Thursday 10th March London - Cadogan Hall, UK
Saturday 12th March Valencia, Spain
Sunday 13th March Madrid, Spain
Wednesday 4th May Leipzig, Germany
Soloists: Mark Padmore Evangelist, Dietrich Henschel Christus

The most interesting one will be the performance in Leipzig where the Thomanerchor (which was led by the great composer himself some time ago) will join the Monteverdi Choir as cantus firmus in the Thomaskirche.

I will be in Frankfurt and I´m very much looking forward to that!

Does anyone know when the next BCP-CDs will be released?

 

NEW GARDINER-RECORDINGS IN APRIL/SMP live

Martin Bendler wrote (March 14, 2005):
Good news for Gardiner fans: The next album will be available from mid-April under www.monteverproductions.co.uk.
The album will contain the performances in Schlosskirche, Altenburg (BWV 12, 103, 146) and St.Mary´s Church Warwick (BWV 166, 108, 117).

Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists just finished their European tour with the Matthäuspassion (BWV 244). I attended the concerts in Königslutter and Frankfurt (Germany).I will write a report on the performances in the next days. For now I can tell you that I never heard something beautiful like this. It was very different from the SMP-recording from 1986. After the concert in Frankfurt (where many people in the audience obviously had a cold and were coughing during the whole concert) the whole audience were absolutely quite for a long time before standing up and giving standing ovations. All performers were excellent! More on that in a view days..

 

Gardiner's insights

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 3, 2005):
Gabriel Jackson wrote:
< (...) John Eliot Gardiner simply because he used the quite innocent, and rather eloquent, word 'piacevole'. >
Gardiner has some terrific and numinous comments also, speaking about the nature of conducting itself, in the first half hour of the Teldec video/DVD "The Art of Conducting: Great Conductors of the Past" (1993/2002).
http://www.warnervision.com.au/bio.asp?id=1906
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005V30T

He remarked that "conducting" is well named, because it does have some portion of the job where one is transferring an energy current into the other musicians....

 

Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra News 16 August 2005

Gianni Ressa wrote (August 22, 2005):
[To Jill Gunsell] please let me know your website. I'am interested to the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage releases.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 22, 2005):
[To Gianni Ressa]
The newsletters of Monteverdi Productions are compiled in the page:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-News.htm

Details of released cantata recordings:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec2.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec3.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec4.htm

Monteverdi Productions Website:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-News.htm

 

Gardiner and Suzuki

John Pike wrote (August 26, 2005):
I have been listening to the latest album in Sir John Eliot Gardiner's cantata cycle, released last week. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as with all his previous releases. I thought there was some very deeply felt and beautifully shaped music-making. I thought the recording of the wonderful BWV 80 which ends CD2 was magnificent, probably the best recording I have heard so far. One really had a great sense of "Ein feste Burg" with the wonderful opening bars, and what follows lives up to expectations.

I have also listened to 5 of the first 6 Suzuki volumes. My initial impressions on hearing Suzuki's recordings are wonderful. I remarked on the qualities in an e mail a few days ago, and subsequent listening has not dented the splendid initial image. My main reservation was about the opening movment of BWV 54 "Widerstehe doch der Sünde". I found this too fast for my liking. I much prefer the slower tempo of other recordings I have heard and which I commented on a few months ago. Since that time I have heard Deller's recording with Harnoncourt, which I think is the best of all the recordings I have heard (indeed a desert island disc for me). I do not think the tempo chosen by Suzuki allows the musicians to do full justice to shaping the music or to enjoy all those glorious disharmonies we discussed during our week's discussion of the work, and I don't think it sits well with the words either. The "doch" in this context is emphasising the standing firm against sin, and I think the tempo chosen doesn't assist in creating that image. Bach may have parodied this music for the aria "Falsche Welt" in his St Mark Passion (BWV 247), the music of which is now lost, and the words for that aria, too, might assist one in chosing a speed for this music which Bach would have intended.

 

Gardiner new CDs

Thomas Shepherd wrote (October 5, 2005):
2 new CDs announced today - one definitely aimed at the Christmas market!
http://www.monteverdiproductions.co.uk/shop/index.cfm?CFID=185377&CFTOKEN=39851602

John Pike wrote (October 5, 2005):
[To Thomas Shepherd] A minor correction. This is one of 2 releases in the BCP cycle that will be of one CD only, hence the lower price.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 5, 2005):
[To John Pike] Anyone actively collecting this set? Comments?

John Pike wrote (October 5, 2005):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I am collecting them. They are sent to me automatically as soon as they are released. This quite a cheap and convenient way to receive them. You can subscribe on the monteverdiproductions website. I have been most impressed with all of the releases so far. Along with Suzuki and Herreweghe, they are my favourite recordings of the cantatas to date.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 5, 2005):
[To John Pike] Ooh... Very tempting. Almost too tempting. :-) At GBP 15 for two discs, that's a good price. I was looking for a birthday present (mine's at the end of the month), and this might be the right thing.

I can't find anything about the schedule; about how long it will be for all 60 CDs to be released. Do you know? It looks like it should take many years at the current rate, no?

Arjen van Gijssel wrote (October 6, 2005):
Gardiner new CDs; BWV 140

[To John Pike] The other day I was listening to BWV 80 in this new Gardiner series (there is a sample on the Monteverdi production site). Whereas I very much like BWV 140 and BWV 62 of Gardiner in the old series (the best there are to buy), BWV 80 did not appeal to me. Maybe it is the fact that it is a live recording. Normally, Gardiner is accentuating the continuo group; I like that very much, being the essence of Bach's music (contrapunkt). The choir is superb: potent, fluent, non-vibrato, flexible. Gardiner always brings out some details which I did not hear elsewhere. But not so much on BWV 80, as compared to BWV 140.

Btw, does anybody have a suggestion on a good Ein feste Burg (BWV 80) performance?

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 80 - Discussion Part 2

Olle Hedström wrote (October 6, 2005):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
"I can't find anything about the schedule; about how long it will be for all 60 CDs to be released. Do you know? It looks like it should take many years at the current rate, no?"
I have made some investigations regarding this and hopefully the whole series will be released within 3-4 years. If the demand for the Gardiner Bach Cantata Pilgrimage CDs continue to be equally good in the future.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 6, 2005):
[To Olle Hedström] That sounds a lot better than the Suzuki rhythm - of course the difference is that all the Gardiner cantatas have been recorded already.

Thomas Shepherd wrote (October 6, 2005):
Gardiner new CDs/Mozart

[To John Pike] TWO CDs released today. http://www.monteverdiproductions.co.uk
A one disc set of Christmas Cantatas. The other disc of the realisation of the rediscovered aria fragment and other bits and pieces. The Christmas CD is part of the subscription series which is a very good deal at 25% off current prices. I think this is available across the world via the Monteverdi production web site. Vol 10 including 19 Sunday after Trinity - (this church week) has been on in the car since Sunday as I go about my business. It takes a while to get into the Gardiner way of thinking especially after a diet of Rilling, Leusink and Suzuki. Gardiner is thorougly polished and yet almost spontaneous. In a way I would quite like a few live performances rather than the last pre concert take. Coughs and splutters and a little applause would add to the sense of occasion.So far I have not regretted the expense - the next disc is due out in the Spring of 2006.

Incidentally has anyone seen the amazing bargain of the entire works of Mozart on 170 CDs released by Brilliant (Joan Records) this week. When the Bach works were sold last year they cost €99 - now they are over €300. The Mozart is at €99 from: http://classique.abeillemusique.com/produit.php?cle=13044

Balwantray Chauhan wrote (October 6, 2005):
Gardiner Pilgrimage Series

I would like to add my two-cents worth to this discussion. I have subscribed to the series and I have to say I do not regret it for one moment. All four volumes I have received to date are superb, but my favourite is vol. 24 (the third release - can someone explain logic of the bizzare numbering system?!) with Cantata no. 12. I have loved the Suzuki version and the recent Herreweghe recording on HM. At first I was taken aback by the snail-like tempo of the opening chorale of Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen. It takes some getting used to but it is among the most heart-wrenching pieces of music I have heard. The singers are absolutely top-notch. I love the way that
Gardiner has rotated his singers to give some homogeneity to the sound. I have collected many volumes in the Suzuki series but I have to say that while the performances and recordings are also top-notch, there is almost a formulaic approach which I think Gardiner is avoiding. We will have to see about the rest of the releases.

I would thoroughly recommend the Gardiner series. It is well priced, and as a subscriber you get the CDs at 25% discount, postage-free and promptly - takes less than a week to get to me in Canada. In the CD shops, each volume coalmost double the subscription price. They are beautifully packaged too with gorgeous photographs by Steve McCurry. The notes by Gardiner and sometimes musicians are
illuminating.

I would also recommend the DVD of the Pilgrimage which contains 3 cantatas (including Cantata no. 199 with Magdalena Kozena) recorded in St. David's Cathedral in Wales and a wonderful documentary on the Pilgrimage.

Eric Bergerud wrote (October 6, 2005):
[To Arjen van Gijssel] Herrwege's BWV 80 which is paired with the Magnificat is good if you like the modern HIP, no boys, full choir approach. Must say that to my ears Rifkin scores points with his OVPP version. The Rotzsch/Thomanerchor version is sweet if you like the "big battalion" style. I do like boys in Bach cantatas so I find both Leusink's and Harnoncourt's recordings very nice. If you want a different approach altogether of Feste Burg, look at Martin Luther und die Musik, Wiener Mottenchor, Bernhard Klebel.

Randy Lane wrote (October 6, 2005):
[To Thomas Shepherd] I bought the Brilliant Classics Mozart Edition in its new packaging last month over Ebay from a German seller. Cost me about $265 USD including shipping. This is truly one of the most incredible bargains ever, better than their Bach edition. Only caveat : no translations, not even on teh CD. Texts are only in the original language. Unlike the Bach set, the Mozart CDs come in paper sleaves, not cardboard. That would be my only beef.

Needless to say, I highly recommend it.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 6, 2005):
Balwantray Chauhan wrote:
< I would also recommend the DVD of the Pilgrimage which contains 3 cantatas (including Cantata no. 199 with Magdalena Kozena) recorded in St. David's Cathedral in Wales and a wonderful documentary on the Pilgrimage. >
I have that DVD, and find it very moving. In fact, that's part of what tempted me to get the Gardiner CDs...

John Pike wrote (October 6, 2005):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< I can't find anything about the schedule; about how long it will be for all 60 CDs to be released. Do you know? It looks like it should take many years at the current rate, no? >
I think I read that it will take about 5 years.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 6, 2005):
[To John Pike] OK, there's a good chance I'll live that long....

John Pike wrote (October 7, 2005):
[To Arjen van Gijssel] I have to disagree, I'm afraid. i thought BWV 80 was just stunning in every way in the Gardiner recording, especially the opening.

Eric Bergerud wrote (October 7, 2005):
[To Balwantray Chauhan] Yea, I've got the same DVD and agree it's at the top of an unfortunately short list of DVD cantatas. I have all of the Archive Gardiner cantatas and there is something special about them: panache maybe. It sure would have been sweet if a half decent video had been made of more of the pilgrimage performances. I just counted and I've got well over 500 cantatas and collecting and entire cycle of Gardiner's CDs just isn't feasible. But if there were DVDs for sale, I might to into hock. Yoel has commented that he doesn't find many worthy opera DVDs and I'd have to agree. (I once saw a Lucia that was so terrible that I was in danger of laughing myself into the grave.) But I like passions, oratorios and cantatas on DVD. I really think Gardiner is missing a marketing chance here with the proliferation of "home theater." But if I was smart, I'd have enough money to buy Gardiner's cycle just because it would be good for recorded classical music. And his stuff his good.

Some quick news on the acquisition front. Just picked up a wonderful Gluck "Paride ed Elena" sung by Magdalena Kozena and Susan Gritton. The production comes from Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort. For Gluckaholics like yours truly this is a great work. (And found it on yourmusic so it only cost $12.00) And Cecilia Bartoli's new CD "Opera Proibita" is probably her best. It includes works by composers that created oratorios in Rome in the early 18th Century (Handel, Scarlatti and Caldara) because the opera was verboten. Considering the librettos of the period, maybe the Pope was on to something. Anyway the arias are gorgeous and Ms Bartoli is at her peak. I will hear nothing bad about Cecilia Bartoli's singing. But I find it splendid that not only has she not done any "Cecilia sings Broadway" (we can exclude the charity CDs done at the request of the late Pope) she has marched steadily away from her mainstream origins (Mozart and Rossini) toward odd destinations like operas by Haydn and Paisiello in addition to selections from Vivaldi, Salieri and Gluck. She does Vivaldi and Handel (in Italian) so well that I'm sure she'd be great in Bach. But it does appear that she is simply not going to sing in English or German. Oh well.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 7, 2005):
Eric Begerud wrote:
< Yea, I've got the same DVD and agree it's at the top of an unfortunately short list of DVD cantatas. I have all of the Archive Gardiner cantatas and there is something special about them: panache maybe. It sure would have been sweet if a half decent video had been made of more of the pilgrimage performances. I just counted and I've got well over 500 cantatas and collecting and entire cycle of Gardiner's CDs just isn't feasible. But if there were DVDs for sale, I might to into hock. Yoel has commented that he doesn't find many worthy opera DVDs and I'd have to agree. (I once saw a Lucia that was so terrible that I was in danger of laughing myself into the grave.) But I like passions, oratorios and cantatas on DVD. I really think Gardiner is missing a marketing chance here with the proliferation of "home theater." But if I was smart, I'd have enough money to buy Gardiner's cycle just because it would be good for recorded classical music. And his stuff his good. >
There is also an excellent Gardiner Xmas Oratorio on DVD...

I wonder if more of the cantatas weren't filmed, and if we might see a few more DVDs in the future.

 

More DVDs of Gardiners BCP/ Book about Bach

Martin Bendler wrote (October 27, 2005):
< I wonder if more of the cantatas weren't filmed, and if we might see a few more DVDs in the future. >
In the year 2000 the NDR TV broadcastet the BCP-Performance in the St.Jacobi Kirche in Hamburg with the cantatas for the 10th Sunday after Trinity and the Brandenburg Concerto No 3. Vocal Soloists were Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Daniel Taylor (Countertenor), Christoph Genz (Tenor) and Gotthold Schwarz (Bass). The program was:

BWV 46, Schauet doch und sehet
BWV 101, Nimm von uns, Herr du treuer Gott
Brandenburgisches Konzert No 3
BWV 102, Herr, Deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben

Unfortunately I discovered this a bit late when BWV 101 was already at the aria "Warum willst Du so zornig sein". I immediately turned my Video-Recorder on and got a very fine interpretation of the Brandenburg concerto No3 and the cantata BWV 102 "Herr, Deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben".

I hope that more DVDs of the Cantata Tour will be released. It would be a fine addition to the CDs.

Does anyone know more about the book about Bach which Sir John Eliot Gardiner is currently working on? On the german version of amazon there is a release date in 2007. In an interview he told a magazine that it will be released in 2006.

John Pike wrote (October 27, 2005):
Most interesting. I didn't know about this book.

I looked for the DVD of BWV 199 etc at St David's Cathedral but it seems that it is only available in NTSC format/US region on Amazon in the UK. Why should this be?

 

Kubik/Gardiner edition? [BachMusicology ML]

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 48 - Discussions Part 2

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 10, 2005):
I had originally stated:
>>In any case, it appears that Gardiner does not use the NBA as a basis for his most recent recordings 2000) [6], but rather an outdated, if possibly somewhat revised, Brei& Härtel edition.<<

to which Brad Lehman responded:
>>it appears directly in Gardiner's program notes that he commissioned a new scholarly performance-oriented edition for the pilgrimage project!<<
Does this mean that Breitkopf & Härtel have issued a completely new Bach edition (Year 2000) of his cantatas, etc. edited by Reinhold Kubik? or that that the latter simply added some of the new findings of the NBA to the older Breitkopf & Härtel edition? This still does not sound like a truly scholarly edition, but rather one in which Gardiner may have wanted to circumvent using the NBA. The mistake regarding the chorale designation/assignation may have come from either Kubik or Gardiner, but which one?

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 10, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Why does this matter (whom to blame), one whit, except to someone who is trying to make Gardiner and/or Kubik look somehow inferior to oneself? Apparently it's relevant mostly to people who sit around reading through the NBA along with recordings, and then reacting with surprise/dismay/contempt at anything that doesn't agree absolutely with the written page there. So?

And why would anyone "want to circumvent" using the NBA? Intelligent performers come to all sorts of reasonable practical decisions without necessarily trying any cagey "circumventing" of anything! There are practical decisions that must be made, having nothing to do one way or another with anyone's ideological views about the NBA. "Circumvent" here implies that there's something dishonorable or even dishonest about not using the NBA to the extent that a consumer might wish.

And why would it have anything to do with Breitkopf & Härtel, one way or another, necessarily?

And what person, without seeing that Reinhold Kubik edition and preferably performing directly from it, is in any position to judge its merits? The suggestively contemptuous remarks against it ("This still does not sound like a truly scholarly edition") just sound like more NBA-idolatry, to me.

Recall also that the NBA is not the only game in town, as to good "truly scholarly" enterprise in creating new performing editions of Bach's vocal music. For example: Carus-Verlag is pretty far along with their exemplary series: http://www.carus-verlag.com/
And indeed Carus offers (currently) 126 items that are the work of Kubik! This is a case, apparently, where the Gardiner enterprise has resulted in a fine edition useful beyond his own pilgrimage.

Likewise Christoph Wolff has been editing some of the Bach vocal works for Peters. Would there be some moral stigma against using that instead of the NBA?

=====

That aside: what would happen if a musicologist or performer takes a copy of the NBA full score, cuts all the parts apart, and pastes them onto pages as the parts for the music stands? And then goes through and makes any additional markings or changes deemed prudent in light of scholarship from after the NBA? Would this be a "truly scholarly" enterprise to a consumer's satisfaction?

I've performed in Bach vocal works variously from the Br&H, NBA/Bärenreiter, Carus, Bach-Gesellschaft, Kalmus, Peters, and other editions. Does this promiscuity of edition usage make me a bad person?

John Pike wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To Bradley Lehman] I absolutely agree with all Brad's comments. Regarding the snippet below, in the same article that I quoted earlier, and which appears as an introduction to all Sir John's BCP recordings, he talks in some detail about all the difficult decisions that had to be made in the circumstances that they faced. It is a very interesting read in its own right.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 11, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>I've performed in Bach vocal works variously from the Br&H, NBA/Bärenreiter, Carus, Bach-Gesellschaft, Kalmus, Peters, and other editions. Does this promiscuity of edition usage make me a bad person?<<
Why overpersonalize this issue and call anyone a bad person who uses various editions of Bach's works (I do the same ) - but we have digressed, as usual from the main point which centers upon Gardiner's giving fallacious information about the chorale text and melody. Where would this erroneous attribution come from? Certainly not from the NBA or Dürr's commentary on the cantatas. It appears that Gardiner did not consult these sources and simply relied upon less reliable commentators or editors.

I am also waiting for any evidence from you as a professed Bach musicologist who has specialized in hymn tunes and texts. Unless you can come up with some substantial evidence to the contrary, you and others on this list who disagree with my findings in this regard, will need to stop this charade of outrage over my criticism which, if it continues, will lead to nothing from which anyone can learn anything about this cantata.

Indra Hughes wrote (November 11, 2005):
< Recall also that the NBA is not the only game in town, as to good "truly scholarly" enterprise in creating new performing editions of Bach's vocal music. For example: Carus-Verlag is pretty far along with their exemplary series. >
Hello - this is my first post to this interesting board. I agree with Brad's comments and this one in particular. I thought it might be worth mentioning that in Joseph Kerman's brand new book "The Art of Fugue: Bach Fugues for Keyboard 1715-1750" (Univ. of California Press 2005) he (Kerman) also does not rate the NBA very highly: on pp155-156 he calls one of the NBA readings 'feckless' !

I don't think we should regard Chr. Wolff's editions as gospel either, just because they come from him. His edition of The Art of Fugue (Peters) is riddled with misprints.

Cheers & greetings from NZ

John Pike wrote (November 11, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It appears that Gardiner did not consult these sources and simply relied upon less reliable commentators or editors. [To Thomas Braatz] Who determines who the reliable and less reliable sources are? >
One of the points I have picked up on, reading some of your excellent contributions to the CM/CT section on the BCW, is just how confusing some of the sources of the CM/CTs are and how difficult it is to be certain about a lot of this stuff.

All of us, yourself included, Thomas, make mistakes from time to time. Why launch such a tirade of criticism at Sir JEG for what is, in fact, a very minor mistake, if at all?

I am quite sure that Sir John would be able to give very good reasons for his comments.

John Pike wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To Indra Hughes] Thanks for this very interesting debut posting. I'm not going to start attacking the NBA. I have only a few things from in it, and none of the KB. I am impressed with the little experience I have of it, but I strongly suspect you will find mistakes in the work of anyone, whether it be the NBA, Carus verlag, Breitkopf, Christoff Wolff, Joshua Rifkin, Thomas Braatz or Brad Lehman. We are all only human. We all strive for the truth but, particularly with Bach research, people have to sruggle with inadequate source materials. Folk therefore just have to get on with what is available.

Juan Carlos Herrera wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To John Pike] Does the "Sir" particle increases or affect in any way the musicianship or scholar quality of Mr. JEG?

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 11, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
< Who determines who the reliable and less reliable sources are? One of the points I have picked up on, reading some of your excellent contributions to the CM/CT section on the BCW, is just how confusing some of the sources of the CM/CTs are and how difficult it is to be certain about a lot of this stuff. All of us, yourself included, Thomas, make mistakes from time to time. Why launch such a tirade of criticism at Sir JEG for what is, in fact, a very minor mistake, if at all? I am quite sure that Sir John would be able to give very good reasons for his comments. >
Sir John already has. He wroon the first-page essay of his CD booklets for this Bach Cantatas Pilgrimage: "The recordings which make up this series were a corollary of the concerts, not their raison d'etre. They are a faithful document of the pilgrimage, though never intended to be a definitive stylistic or musicological statement."

And yet, here in this discussion forum (BachCantatas/BachMusicology), blame and ridicule are being assigned--at least by one member--to anyone (whether Gardiner or his staff or his fans) who haven't kowtowed to every little micro-detail of the NBA. Apparently any perceived "mistakes" in his published packaging, which might be merely differences of opinion or conflicting source materials, are more important for attention than the sweep of Gardiner's and Kubik's overall achievement?

I refer to this posting from 11/9, on BachCantatas:
"In any case, it appears that Gardiner does not use the NBA as a basis for his most recent recordings (2000), but rather an outdated, if possibly somewhat revised, Breitkopf & Härtel edition. It is very likely that he may have picked up facts from that edition which does not conform with the most recent complete NBA edition with its scholarly apparatus in the form of critical reports which examine such matters as which hymnals agree or disagree with the wording in the libretti of Bach's sacred choral works."
Is there a mistaken attribution in one movement of BWV 48, in this Gardiner package, as to the crediting of a long-dead hymn writer? Maybe so. So what? It makes NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER in the performance of the music! Why should an ordinary record-collector care very much, one way or another, what edition was used or what obscure hymn writer was credited--as long as the musical results are beautiful and appropriate to the composition? Especially to the point of assigning blame to somebody else's work, in public. (And we've already discussed the fact that Gardiner commissioned a new edition for this project...and that the recent offerings published by Carus-Verlag are an excellent fruit of this process.)

Whatever is inaudible, and doesn't affect the performers' approach to a piece, is not the music. That little stuff matters only to consumers who have set their own priorities and expectations in an odd way.

I think we should focus on positive appreciation for the committed musicianship of Gardiner and his staff in this huge project.

And if we want up-to-the-moment scholarship on hymnology, here's a good book by Wasson that I consulted recently at a library: Scarecrowpress
Yes, 2800 pages! It's a complementary resource to the classic Johannes Zahn encyclopedia of chorales (1890s/1963), and indeed it stands right next to it on the shelf in the library I visited. There's apparently a CD-ROM edition of that Wasson book also: Scarecrowpress
But I didn't go look up every little detail of the chorale material from BWV 48 and I don't intend to. I have more important things to do with my life: listening to music, making music, and appreciating the work of people who make music.

Recently at one of my concerts, one of my favorite retired professors approached me afterward and enthused about the concert. She also privately noted to me that one of the historical details in my program notes was wrong, and we discussed it a bit, and I appreciated the private correction/instruction where I can go study the point further. She did not stand up in the concert to announce, or blast all over the internet, that this tiny detail was in any way important to her or anyone else's enjoyment of the music.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 11, 2005):
NBA edition

John Pike wrote:
< Thanks for this very interesting debut posting. I'm not going to start attacking the NBA. I have only a few things from in it, and none of the KB. I am impressed with the little experience I have of it, but I strongly suspect you will find mistakes in the work of anyone, whether it be the NBA, Carus verlag, Breitkopf, Christoff Wolff, Joshua Rifkin, Thomas Braatz or Brad Lehman. We are all only human. We all strive for the truth but, particularly with Bach research, people have to sruggle with inadequate source materials. Folk therefore just have to get on with what is available. >
Case in point, my article from last year points out that the NBA has been mistaken on a certain very important musicological point in three different places, from 1963 to 1989. This is not intended as disrespect or contempt for the NBA; merely pointing out that it too has errors of interpretation in the source materials, and that reasonable differences of opinion are possible. And almost all of its Kritische Bericht volumes that I've requested from interlibrary loan have arrived with extra pages tipped into them, correcting their own errors of the present or earlier volumes, after the initial printing. Such work is never really "done". They've been working at this edition for over 50 years already and not all the volumes are yet published...and some of the earlier ones have already been corrected in later offprints. Overall, the NBA is terrific. So are some other things.

The NBA is a conflationary edition. It draws together competing sources, and fabricates from them a hypothetically clean reading that usually never existed in real life (and all the decisions are carefully documented). That process has strengths and weaknesses. It also changes the performer's experience reading the score--sometimes considerably--not only in the reading of clefs and the transpositions of some of the parts, but also (in the case of the organ music) putting the music onto three staves where it was originally on two. This inserts several biases: not only against the suitability of playing such pieces on instruments that don't have pedals (and even some non-organs!), but also influencing a performer's rightful practical decision of how much of the music to play on the pedals. The classification of organ vs non-organ music is a sticky problem to begin with, and the NBA has made very conservative (19th century!) decisions in that regard, carrying forward old questionable categorizations.

And sometimes, for example in the Well-Tempered Clavier, the source materials are so varied that the NBA went ahead and fabricated two separate hypothetical readings of the music, both usually interesting. I chose to play some from each of those, and from some other editions as well, in my recording: choosing my path for musical and practical reasons, including the whim that I feel it sounds really good THIS way among others. Only an extreme pedant would chastise me, or any other serious musicians, for such a procedure using our musical intuitions and reasonable convictions.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 11, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
>>Why launch such a tirade of criticism at Sir JEG...<<
"A tirade of criticism" is certainly an overexaggeration on your part which serves no other purpose than to foment another useless flame war that leads away from the topics being specifically addressed in regard to BWV 48 and performances thereof.

As an amateur musician (according to your own description of yourself,) many of your 'knee-jerk' reactions to any criticisms of certain heroes (Gardiner and other HIP performers, Brad Lehman included) and their performance styles and/or pet theories betray the fact that you wish to squelch any or all criticism that might in any way detract from whatever you consider to be "their good names." Blinded by such zealotry, you desire that all other readers of these lists should receive only the favorable impression which you hope to uphold by attempting to 'marginalize' and thus exclude even the mentioning of anything that might possibly be construed as negative.

Within the limits established by the guidelines fothese mailing lists/discussion groups, any attempt on the part of one member to 'muzzle,' as it were, any reasonable criticism offered by another member, appears to be part of an effort to establish an oligarchy which fears that public opinion could be swayed by even the smallest criticisms regarding such things as "Is it a minuet or not?" or "Who wrote and composed a certain chorale?"

What is needed is a return to common sense, the rule of reason, and a need for documentation of musical behaviors and performance styles, not someone instructing another member who desires to find out more about the Kubik/Gardiner edition to stop asking uncomfortable questions which would reveal more about nature of such edition -- what was it based upon, how thorough and reliable is it, and why did it not give Gardiner the correct information about the chorale being used in this cantata.

John Pike wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To Bradley Lehman] Very well said, Brad.

At a time when thousands of people are dying around the world from hurricanes and earthquakes, does any of this really matter?

Does it matter if Sir John got one of his Chorale melodies muddled up?

Would it matter if Prof Christoff Wolff got a BWV number wrong in one of his papers?

Would it matter if Angela Hewitt actually played a B instead of a C in bar 324 in a concert tomorrow night?

Does it matter that Thomas Braatz forgot to mention a usage of a chorale melody on the BCW one day in November 2005?

Would it matter that much if suddenly some document came to light that showed that Bach actually played pieces much faster or slower than X's recording, or that he used a completely different temperament from Brad's proposition or that he routinely used 4 singers to a part or that we have been using inappropriate instrumentation for years?

Of course not.

In a fallen world with so much joy and despair, all that matters is that what is being done by X, Y and Z is beautiful and is bringing pleasure to someone and giving glory to God, much as JSB himself is once reported to have said. No doubt the results will not please everyone, but they will probably give pleasure to some and, in so doing, give pleasure to God. And no-one on this list is in a position to say that this or that is wrong or that X, Y and Z is no good at their job.

As it is, some of the stuff on this list is just devilish hubbub, again much as JSB is reported to have said.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 11, 2005):
was Kubik/Gardiner edition?

[To Thomas Braatz] Dr Pike an alleged zealot? I've never met the man, but he seems quite reasonable to me according to his internet activities. And, not the sort of person who would be opposed to any serious research, or "blinded by" preconceptions. It's a medical doctor's job to be observant, perceptive, well-grounded, open-minded, and careful with detail. Furthermore, he as a musical enthusiast claims to have read (and has discussed intelligently) an important book about Bach performance practice that Thomas Braatz has repeatedly refused to read: Joshua Rifkin's excellent book about personnel numbers in Bach's vocal music.

Where did Dr Pike, or anyone else, ever say anything about establishing any oligarchy? And where does Dr Pike "marginalize" any unfavorable opinions he has about anything, where it's perceived or alleged that somebody else has perhaps made an error? From what I've seen (and let's be empirical here with the evidence!), Dr Pike states his opinions forthrightly and he appreciates the positive value of well-done work, within the broader perspective of what's really important in life.

As for this on-list personal accusation against him, "you desire that all other readers of these lists should receive only the favorable impression which you hope to uphold...": how is it that Dr Pike's desires in this matter are known to you? They're not known to me. All I have to go on is that he seems to be a fair, reasonable, thoughtful person in his actions. Just yesterday, on BachCantatas, Dr Pike discussed four recordings of BWV 48 that he has listened to and enjoyed this week, and he mentioned a few disappointments along with his appreciations. What is this accusation against Dr Pike's personal character supposed to accomplish?

John Pike wrote (November 11, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< What is needed is a return to common sense, the rule of reason >
I entirely agree with the snippet above from your e mail, Thomas. Let us stop, therefore, focussing on minutiae and attacking top professionals for minor errors and get back to appreciating the wonderful work that many of them do, flawed as it may be.

John Pike wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To Juan Carlos Herreara] I am giving him the title he has earned through very hard work and skilled musicianship and showing my great respect for the man. In my opinion, he thoroughly deserves it. You may think differently, but whatever, it is a trivial point.

Juan Carlos Herrera wrote (November 11, 2005):
[To John Pike] I respect your opinion on Sir JEG. The point is that the world is full of hard working and skilled people, in all arts, sciences and professions, and the oustanding quality of them is not always, and I would say, rarely, associated with titles or honors. What about poor JSB, that never earned any recognition or pear title from princes and kings. I respect more a person that is good at what he/she does and is simply called Mr./Miss. I feel a bit dissapointed when in a, let say, professional discussion, such as the one that is taken place in the list, some external and probably allegorical quality of someone, is so potently called upon.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 11, 2005):
Bach's titles

<
I respect your opinion on Sir JEG. The point is that the world is full of hard working and skilled people, in all arts, sciences and professions, and the oustanding quality of them is not always, and I would say, rarely, associated with titles or honors. What about poor JSB, that never earned any recognition or pear title from princes and kings. I respect more a person that is good at what he/she does and is simply called Mr./Miss. I feel a bit dissapointed when in a, let say, professional discussion, such as the one that is taken place in the list, some external and probably allegorical quality of someone, is so potently called upon. >
Fair enough. But Bach himself used his full stack of earned titles with his signature, whenever he needed to make a splash. And, his defender Birnbaum consistently referred to him as "The Honorable Court Composer".

Whenever I approach somebody new in writing, if there's never been any contact of any kind before, I like to start off addressing them with the highest title I know they've earned in a field where the topic is relevant. Then in response they can tell me what they'd prefer to be called, which usually turns out to be a first-name basis, but that's not for a total stranger to decide before contact.

Flipping open the Bach Reader at random, #138: Bach writes a protest letter to the council. He addresses them as "Your Magnificences, Most Noble, Most Distinguished, Steadfast, Honored and Most Learned, also Most Wise, Most Highly Esteemed Gentlemen and Patroni!" And he refers to the "Most Worshipful Consistory" through the letter. Maybe that's all overdoing it, but it's better than something like "To Whom it May Concern" or "Hey Yo, Dudes!"

Sir JEG has got his honorary title through a lifetime of his enterprising service to music, and it's nice to recognize him for that.... It somehow sounds more respectful than "Mr Gardiner, the farmer" which he also is.
http://www.solideogloria.co.uk/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2002/09/04/bmgard04.xml
http://www.google.com/search?q=john+eliot+gardiner+farmer

 

Continue on Part 9

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