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Cantata BWV 1
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Examples from the Score

Mvt. 1

Ex. 1 illustrates the twinkling motif in the violins that Marie Jensen referred to.

Ex. 2 shows an unusual breaking up of continuity in the instruments while descending from higher to lower notes. To me it appears like the light from the star is being broken up as it descends to earth.

Ex. 3 a wonderful series of entrances that press upward to the word "hoch" in the chorale (soprano part)-this is very reminiscent of similar passage in BWV 140.

Ex. 4 where the same word "hoch" appears in the phrase, 'the watchman HIGH on the ramparts' where all the lower voices strive upwards.

Ex. 5 Here we can see (and hear) in embryonic form Harnoncourt's attempt to create an over-emphasis in his phrasing by strongly accenting the first note in a two-note phrase, letting the second note become so soft in volume that it essentially is a rest that Bach would have put there if he had wanted it. The isolated single note that follows is played as a staccato (also not marked that way by Bach). It is very instructive to see how the horns still have a sense of legato playing, the oboes are half way toward achieving Harnoncourt's goal, and, of course, with Alice Harnoncourt leading the violins, you hear the 'ideal' sound that Harnoncourt was trying to achieve. Because the group is still a newly-formed one, there are these discrepancies that you can hear as you listen to the individual instrumental groups.

 

Mvt. 2

Ex. 6 Nothing unusual here in Bach's musical picture language as the listener is led from heaven to grave and death as the voice sinks to its lowest point after being on a higher level just before.

 

Mvt. 3

Ex. 7 Again the voice reaches its lowest point on the word, "Erde" = 'earth'.

 

Mvt. 4

Ex. 8 A musical figure that literally hops with "Freude" = 'joy.'

 

Mvt. 6

Ex. 9 I chose this example at the end of the chorale in order to show that the continuo/bass line has an existence of its own and does not simply duplicate the bass vocal line. Only the top horn part doubles the soprano because this is the main melody that needs to be brought out. Yes, as you can see here, once again, the symbolic number 7!

Ex. 10 Harnoncourt literally destroys any legato vocal line, particularly the second time through on the words, "des klopf ich in die Hände" = 'for that reason I clap my hands.' So perhaps he is trying to interpret the words, but I think he goes too far with this. There is no indication of a comma or rest between the notes in this phrase. If you look at other Bach arias, you will see that Bach is not afraid to put in short rests in the middle of a word, if he wants to illustrate a word musically. Unfortunately, as the series continues, Harnoncourt insists more and more on applying this heavily-accented style to the singers as well as the instruments, thus destroying the longer musical line by fracturing it with breathless stops and unnotated rests. After a while, even Leonhardt catches this 'disease' and tries to emulate his cohort.

 

Sources for these snippets - NBA I/28.2 for BWV 1 and I/27 for BWV 140.
Contributed by Thomas Braatz (March 29, 2001)

Cantata BWV 1: Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions

Scores: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Other Vocal BWV 1081-1127, BWV Anh | Instrumental | Chorale Melodies | Sources
Discussions: Scores of Bach Cantatas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Bach’s Manuscripts: | Part 1 | Part 2 | Scoring of Bach's Vocal Works
Scoring Tables of Bach Cantatas: Sorted by BWV Number | Sorted by Voice | Abbreviations | Search Works/Movements

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Last update: ýFebruary 19, 2008 ý13:24:55