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HIP (Historically Informed Performance)
Discussions - Part 18

Continue from Part 17

Historically Informed Performance. Not a synonym for authentic Bach

Continue of discussion from: Altos in Bach’s Vocal Works [General Topics]

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 10, 2010):
Sys-Ex John wrote:
< This has been a very interesting discussion and has caused me to come out of lurking and learning mode. >
Thanks, please do so more often.

JG:
< My wife is an operatic mezzo-soprano and so I have heard her sing this, and other Bach arias, on many occasions at home, rehearsing, and in church. My own take on this is that maybe our modern female singers offer too much emotion on some occasions.
My own preference is toward a performance by e.g. Michael Chance, a modern counter tenor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHbOOe8n2gY but it is that, just a personal preference. >
EM:
I trust (think, believe, have faith) you are confident that said spouse will not be reading your post?

An additional issue which comes to mind is the distinction between an operatic, emotional projection in live performance, intended to reach the last row, compared to a performance of Bach in an intimate venue or even recording studio, intended as much (or solely) for recording quality as for audience.

JG:
< Emotional? IMHO certainly, Beautifully sung? Again IMHO undoubtedly, and HIP? Once more IMHO probably. >
EM:
This seems like an opportune moment to review HIP: Historically Informed Performance. Not a synonym for authentic Bach. Not even an indication of striving for authentic Bach, that is, striving to exactly duplicate Bachs performing conditions. With those constraints, I agree that probably HIP is a fair description of all recent counter-tenor performances, but also a fair description of the female alto (as designated in CD data) performances in the Koopman and Kuijken series of recordings.

I inadvertently resurrected this topic (counters vs mezzos/altos) by referencing the description from BCW archives of a wobbly counter-tenor, which I at first thought was an unnecessarily harsh word. I subsequently noticed an independent(?) review from another source, using the same description (wobbly), comparing another recording (Purcell Quartet) with the first (American Bach Soloists), both with reference to BWV 106.

I made it a point to listen to a couple traditional performances (not HIP) as well, of classic altos in the same work. One of them was the most wobbly of all, not exactly satisfying, but also not exactly annoying in the same way as falsetto wobble. Perhaps someone can find a kinder, but still accurate, description and distinction. Specific recording references especially welcome.

Michael Cox wrote (November 10, 2010):
"Historically Informed Performance. Not a synonym for authentic Bach".

[To Ed Myskowski] Thank you all for a very interesting discussion.

Some points which have not been made, at least not with any clarity, are:

1) Boys and choirs in general often sing in a foreign language, and therefore may not fully understand what they are singing.

2) Different traditions have different voice training and voice production. An English cathedral choir does not sound like a German choir. The choirboys of King's College, Cambridge sing very well, but sound much too English when singing Bach in either English or German.

3) For native speakers of the various German dialects, I am convinced that their own dialect influences their pronunciation when singing. The Vienna Boys Choir in Harnoncourt's recordings does not sound German, but disticntly Austrian. I don't want to hear a Viennese accent in recordinsg of Bach that I'm going to listen to regularly. A live performance is a different matter.

And the Thomaner sound much sweeter (I don't mean "cuter") today than they do in 1950s or 1960s recordings, where they sound "rough".

It seems to me that the modern trend or norm is to pronounce Bach's texts as if they were modern Hochdeutsch rather than 16th-18th century Thüringisch-Obersächsisch. (I hope you can see the map). I would argue that in order to produce a Historically Informed Performance one would need not only "authentic" instruments and informed baroque performing style, but also a choir from the Thüringisch-Obersächsisch dialect area where Luther and Bach came from, singing in "historical" German.

I hope to write more about this matter later.

Here, by way of comparison, I'd like to mention that I have heard performances of Handel's oratorios, not just Messiah, sung by, for instance, high-class Finnish, Peruvian and Latvian choirs. There is always something that sounds un-English and "unauthentic". Not to mention the soloists.
Anne Sophie Von Otter's English pronunciation I cannot fault with in "Messiah" with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert, but Fischer-Fiskau's English pronuncation in Mendelssohn's "Elijah" sounds very German. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEkClendR3s (I am sure Mendelssohn himself would not have minded, since his own English was not perfect!)

I apologize for any bad grammar or spelling on my part. I have had a brain haemorrhage which has badly affected my language skills. Writing this is part of my therapy as recommended by my doctor!

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 11, 2010):
Michael Cox wrote:
< "Historically Informed Performance. Not a synonym for authentic Bach".
I would argue that in order to produce a Historically Informed Performance one would need not only "authentic" instruments and informed baroque performing style, but also a choir from the Thüringisch-Obersächsisch dialect area where Luther and Bach came from, singing in "historical" German. >
Thank you for making the effort to write, best wishes for the therapeutic value. For convenience, I will revert to the familiar acronym, HIP. I agree with your details, re dialect, for any attempt to duplicate precisely a Bach performance. Likewise, there are many other details, some of which are impossible to know, and others of which are a matter of ongoing research and healthy scholarly dispute. My point was that HIP is a rather broad category, and an evolving target, rather than a well-defined term. Specifically, in the case of how to perform the alto parts, a precisely authentic choice may be impossible in our age, but the compromises may be more or less HIP Not to overlook that less HIP may be equally enjoyable, or even preferable, to some of us, depending on listening experience, expectations, etc.

The point re what is enjoyable or acceptable in live performance versus recording (for repeated listening) is well-taken.

George Bromley wrote (November 11, 2010):
[To Michael Cox] Well Michael, your text and word construction is perfect you are well on your way to being more than well.

Pronunciation is a matter of training, I use to sing with the Johannesburg Bach Choir in South Africa and the members were all very mixed, heavy Afrikaans to refined English with a few 'mixed European nations and we got it right.

Stephen Benson wrote (November 11, 2010):
Michael Cox wrote:
< Different traditions have different voice training and voice production. An English cathedral choir does not sound like a German choir. >
This brings to mind a quote I like to trot out every so often from a David Mason Greene review in the March/April 1992 American Record Guide: "Boy sopranos seem to be admired for different qualities in different cultures. Italian trebles tend to sound like an elementary- school playground at noon recess. French trebles sound like killing- time in a poultry abattoir. British trebles have a pure, innocent, angelic quality, for which Americans seem also to strive-thereby suckering a large part of the gullible public as to the true nature of children."

Probably not much truth to it, but it makes me laugh every time I read it, probably because I spent thirty years teaching 12-year-olds.

Forest Chav wrote (November 11, 2010):
MichaeCox wrote:
< 1) Boys and choirs in general often sing in a foreign language, and therefore may not fully understand what they are singing.
2) Different traditions have different voice training and voice production. An English cathedral choir does not sound like a German choir. The choirboys of King's College, Cambridge sing very well, but sound much too English when singing Bach in either English or German. >
I disagree with most of this (enough so to make my first reply on this list, despite reading for months).

1) Look at the two New College recordings from this summer (Monteverdi 1610 and Bach Motets). Despite very few English schools learning any foreign language until eleven, and even fewer learning Latin, I seriously doubt from listening to either that the kids do not understand what they are singing about. Even them being shown an English translation or being told what it is about would be able to foster an interpretation.

2) Different traditions may well have different sounds but you can't generalise to this extent. You cite King's as an example, and I have never been satisfied by their sound - their Israel in Egypt is especially anaemic when the trebles split. In the same city, St John's have a more satisfying sound to my ears, as do New College but then my preference is for that kind of tone. To me, the New College Bach Motets (though I have never liked their St John Passion) does not sound like a recording from an English choir - although in my experience the English boys/men choirs tend to divide between the fuller tone of SJC/NCO or the more white (dull, in my opinion) KCC tone, which sounds more continental.

Though I don't really think it is possible to realise the sound Bach's chorus, if indeed it was any more than a single voice per part, would have made; simply because the voice types don't exist now. Bach's voice apparently broke at 15, early for his age; mine broke slightly before this, which is obviously late by modern standards. It is likely Bach's trebles were mid/late teens, now you're lucky to get cathedral choristers beyond about 13. Physically the sound might well be equivalent, but is their musical intuition?

You can easily play period instruments, but you can't easily get the same voices Bach had. I don't agree with McCreesh's views on using boys, but I see his reasoning and logistically it is correct; you find a kid who's going to be about 12/13 to cope with singing it to begin with and rehearse, and then his voice breaks before you get the chance to record it, so you lose your opportunity, and a younger kid probably won't be good enough, but there is evidence (Jelosits, Iconomou, Immler) that kids are perfectly able to be better than the adults. As with the male/female alto argument (and personally I usually dislike mezzos) it is simply an argument where you assemble the best singers for the task, rather than discriminating on grounds of gender, etc. Bach may have only had boys on his upper two lines but a good female soprano is better than a bad boy, and a good female alto is better than a bad male one in my view.

Michael Cox wrote (November 11, 2010):
[To Forest Chav] You say you disagree with most of this.

Drawing on my own experience as a choirboy some 50 years ago:

We were not a cathedral choir but we sang cathedral-type repertoire, and we did occasionally sing in cathedrals. I don't remember ever being taught or shown what the Latin words meant. German repertoire we sang in English: Bach, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, etc. Only at university in England did I have the opportunity to sing in German - German being one of my subjects at university. Only in Finland have I been able to sing regularly in German.

Our model, both musically and linguistically, was the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, with which we had connections. Our choirmasters were eminent musicians. One of the phonetic features of Middlesex English is a very open u-vowel (as in the word "bus"). So we had to learn how to pronounce both English and Latin "correctly" without necessarily understanding every word: ägnus Dei, ugnus Dei.

So I wrote: "may not FULLY understand" except in general terms.

I think that Solti was wise to use a few native German singers in his recording of the St.Matthew Passion, especially in the demanding part of Evangelist (Blochwitz). But the choir, even though hand-picked by Solti, sounds American (with vibrato!) rather than German.

When I sing Finnish I have to be careful not to aspirate my plosives. Conversely, when my Finnish choir sings in German, they have difficulty in aspirating their plosives. E.g. in Bach's passions and cantatas the word "Tod" occurs very frequently, when non-aspirated it sounds like "dod".

When I lived in Peru in the 1980s I conducted an abridged performance of Handel's Judas Maccabaeus with organ, soloists Finnish (my wife), Australian, English and Swedish. In the choir we had English, American, Australian, Danish and other nationalities. How could we produce an agreed pronunciation of English?

I might suggest, somewhat facetiously, that a HIP recording of the original Dublin version of "Messiah" should have exclusively Irish choir and soloists, singing with a lovely Irish lilt. The Irish have difficulties in pronouncing "th" - I know dat my redeemer livet

More to follow.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Male Sopranos in Bach’s Vocal Works [General Topics]

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 11, 2010):
Michael Cox wrote:
< But the choir, even though hand-picked by Solti, sounds American (with vibrato!) rather than German.
That is a quite discriminating ear. Do you think they are American Boston, American Brooklyn, or other? Quite distinct, to Americans. Brooklyn accent emphasizes vibrato!
I might suggest, somewhat facetiously, that a HIP recording of the original Dublin version of "Messiah" should have exclusively Irish choir and soloists, singing with a lovely Irish lilt. >The Irish have difficulties in pronouncing "th" - I know dat my redeemer livet >
Dat would lead to doubting Domas?

Michael Cox wrote (November 12, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] I don't claim to have an exceptionally discriminating ear. I sang as a choirboy in an English choir, my first recording of the St. Matthew Passion was sung by Dutch soloists and choir. I now also have Hermann Max's version and the Biller Leipzig version, plus DVDs, plus a version in Finnish.

When accompanying American soloists on piano or organ, I have been struck by their greater amount of vibrato than I am used to.

Solti's choir is from Chicago, but I cannot distinguish between very many American accents. I have worked with someone from Boston, and have a penfriend in NY with whom I have discussed NYaccents, including Brooklyn.

All I can say is that when I first heard Solti's recording the sound of the choir was not what I was used to hearing in European versions.

As for Handel's works, I know that Handel imported some Italian singers for his Italian operas. Today I borrowed another unfamiliar version of "Messiah" from the library - William Christie's - to check whether Handel imported/exported English soloists to Dublin or whether he employed Irish or Anglo-Irish singers. Unfortunately, someone seems to have dismembered the booklet, so I'll look elsewhere!

Be you de dounting Domas?

Are you in Hawai?

Michael Cox wrote (November 12, 2010):
Historically Informed Performance. Not a synonym for authentic Bach or Handel

Susannah Maria Cibber (1714 – 30 January 1766), also known as Susannah Maria Arne, was a celebrated English singer and actress and the sister of the composer Thomas Arne. Although she began her career as a soprano, her voice lowered in the early part of her career to that of a true contralto. She was universally admired for her ability to move her audiences emotionally both as an actress and vocalist. Possessing a sweet, expressive, and agile singing voice with a wide vocal range, Cibber was an immensely popular singer, if at times her voice was criticized for a lack of polished technique. Charles Burney wrote of her singing that "by a natural pathos, and perfect conception of the words, she often penetrated the heart, when others, with infinitely greater voice and skill, could only reach the ear." Cibber was particularly admired by Handel, who wrote numerous parts especially for her including the contralto arias in his oratorio Messiah, the role of Micah in Samson, the role of Lichas in Hercules and the role of David in Saul among others. In the mid 1730s she began appearing in plays in addition to appearing in operas and oratorios. She became the greatest dramatic actress of the eighteenth century London stage and at the time of her death was the highest paid actress in England.

- the original contralto in the first Dublin performance of Messiah. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susannah_Maria_Cibber

The choristers came from St. Patrick's cathedral - including local Irish boys (?)

"Though he was living and working in London, Handel first publicly performed Messiah in Dublin, Ireland -- not in a sacred edifice like in a church but in a music hall on Fishamble Street. He nearly didn't have enough musicians to pull it off (how many choral directors today face the same problem?). The dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin - the famed author of Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift - at first refused to allow his choristers to perform music set to sacred text in a secular setting of a public music hall. Lucky for Handel - and for us today - he relented." http://mymerrychristmas.com/2005/messiah.shtml

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 12, 2010):
Michael Cox wrote:
< All I can say is that when I first heard Solti's recording the sound of the choir was not what I was used to hearing in European versions.
As for
Handel's works, I know that Handel imported some Italian singers for his Italian operas. Today I borrowed another unfamiliar version of "Messiah" from the library - William Christie's - to check whether Handel imported/exported English soloists to Dublin or whether he employed Irish or Anglo-Irish singers. >
Handel used the Anglo-Irish choirboys of Dublin Cathedral, but I'm sure they affected a posh English accent. It is interesting to speculate how finely Handel differentiated English accents: his remained spectacularly Teutonic. He used a mix of English and Italian soloists in his oratorios, and the latter group hardly had the will to perfect their English diction. Unlike today, the soloists sang the choruses with the choir, and the mix of accents must have been interesting.

I sing in a chamber choir and was vastly amused by the contradictory pronunciation advice for Bach given by two native German speakers, one from Berlin and one from southern Bavaria: the battle of "ick" and "ish".

But the same thing happened when I sang in the Ensemble Vocale de Aix-en-Provence. The directrice was constantly correcting the Provencal tendencies of the singers. After one series of admonitions to the sopranos, the bass behind me murmured, "un peu trop marseillaise cheris". We sang Handel's "Joshua" and I was very impressed with their sung English. However, "Hail, Joshua, Hail!" did come out a bit like a paen to garlic: "Ail, Joshua, ail!"

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 12, 2010):
Michael Cox wrote:
< Be you de dounting Domas? >
Not exactly, although I have been called (incorrectly) atheist, on list. More a theist, or perhaps gnostic (as opposed to agnostic). I am glad you noted dat I was being humorous! I enjoy your comments re accents, although the distinction do not really affect my own listening pleasure.

< Are you in Hawai? >
No, I am near Boston. I adopted the aloha spirit while doing museum work in Hawaii several years ago.

Michael Cox wrote (November 13, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thank you, Doug, for your reply.

I personally am very interested in accents. I have noted when listening to records made by my old church choir in the 1960s that our local Middlesex/N.London accent (and my own accent in my solo) is noticeable to some extent, but when we went to sing in St.Paul's Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral we had to sing "posh".

I am sure local Irish boys would still have an Irish accent, just as even well-educated Scottish singers still roll their r's and pronounce all of them. E.g. "Where e'er you walk" would in southern England be something like "Weh eeh you walk" whereas a Scotsman would pronounce both the r's.

I read recently somewhere about Handel's reaction to a performance of his music. His German accent is imitated with "dis" and "dat" etc.

I have heard many performances, both live and on record, of the 'Allelujah chorus and have sung it dozens of times - treble, alto, tenor, bass. My favourite performance is that of the English Concert with Pinnock - I love the drumroll at the end!

I note that in Christie's version of "Messiah" the alto part is sung by counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, whereas it was originally written for a well-known English contralto.

Having studied German at university level (as a subsidiary subject) I always pay particular attention to German pronunciation.

Finnish choirs have been criticised for their pronunciation of German, including my own chamber choir. E.g. in the Finnish language double consonants are pronounced double as in Italian (tutti, not tuti), whereas in British English (not always in American spelling) and German a double consonant often indicates that the preceding vowel is short. But Finns who don't know German very well may sing "kommen" (ko-men) as kom-men. In the St. Matthew Passion, for instance, a Finnish soloist inevitably sings "bin ich's, rabbi?" as "rab-bi", whereas native Germans sing "ra-bi". In fact "rab-bi" is correct classical Hebrew, whereas "ra-bi" is normal in modern Israeli Hebrew.

A fascinating subject - I'm sure that all of us would be surprised if it were possible to go back in time and hear the works of Bach and Handel as they were first performed (well or badly?)

All the vest (sorry, best)

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (November 13, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I sing in a chamber choir and was vastly amused by the contradictory pronunciation advice for Bach given by two native German speakers, one from Berlin and one from southern Bavaria: the battle of "ick" and "ish". >
We had the same type of discussion during our last rehearsal of BWV 70 last week!

It was about the way to pronounce "be" in "Betet", it was very difficult to find an agreement between our German-speaking chorists (from Northern Germany, Sourthern Germany and Austria).

Another thing which I found difficult (as a native French speaker) is to sing in Latin in the "German way" (especially for words such as "suscepit", "coelis",... which sound completely different from what we are used to). I have observed that professional singers in the Magnificat do not always put a "t" before the second "s" of "Suscepit" (and ignore the "c"), as we were asked to do.

But Latin as it is now sung for French composers (e.g. in William Christie's recordings) sounds also strange to me, as I did not learn it at school in such way, and it is also different from what we heard in church when I was a kid (i.e. before Vatican II...).

I still wonder how we can know how Latin sounded in Baroque times!

Michael Cox wrote (November 13, 2010):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] In our Finnish chamber choir we have seemingly endless debates about different pronunciations of Latin: German, Italian, French, English, Swedish, Finnish, Estonian depending on the nationality of the composer whose works we are practising - and they all differ in one way oranother. But it's FUN!

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 13, 2010):
Michael Cox wrote:
< I note that in Christie's version of "Messiah" the alto part is sung by counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, whereas it was originally written for a well-known English contralto. >
Actually, Handel used both male and female altos, both in one performance, I think.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 13, 2010):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< But Latin as it is now sung for French composers (e.g. in William Christie's recordings) sounds also strange to me, as I did not learn it at school in such way, and it is also different from what we heard in church when I was a
kid (i.e. before Vatican II...).
I still wonder how we can know how Latin sounded in Baroque times! >
The best scholarly reference is Harold Copeman's "Singing in Latin: Or Pronunciation Explor'd". He describes the regional pronunciations of Latin before the Vatican tried to impose Italian pronunciation everywhere in 1901.

French choirs largely accepted the ruling, although vowels mostly remain French: ask a francophone to sing "tu solus altissimus" to see what I mean. German choirs largely ignored the ruling and retained the national pronunciation which equates "Kyrie" with "Walküre". Somewhere on YouTube is a clip of the Regensburg Choir singing a concert for the pope in the Sistine chapel using unrepentant German pronunciation for the Latin. The Italian maestri must have been horrified.

The historic pronunciation of vernacular languages is a thorny question. I once switched on the French TV network here in Canada to watch a performance of a Lully opera. I was puzzled that French subtitles were popping up until I realized that the production was using 17th century French pronunciation. They all sounded like fishermen from Marseilles!

We had a flame war here a while back about the historic pronunciation of Bach's German. Scholars agree that there was only the beginning of a "Hochdeutsch" tradition in Germany in the 18th century. Clergy and choirs in
Bach's circle probably led church services in their natural Saxon accents.

The thought of the Evangelist singing the Bach Passions with a Saxon accent horrifies modern German-speakers. I suspect that it's the equivalent of singing with an Alabama accent in the States, a Newfoundland accent in Canada, and a Liverpool accent in the UK.

As an example of the historic recreation of English pronunciation, here's the opening of the Te Deum from the late 16th century:

Text:
We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.

Pronunciation:
Way prayse they, O Good, way ak-no-lidge they toe bay thi Lawrd.

Even the most rigorist HIP ensemble would never restore historic pronunciation!

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 13, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< We had a flame war here a while back about the historic pronunciation of Bach's German. Scholars agree that there was only the beginning of a "Hochdeutsch" tradition in Germany in the 18th century. Clergy and choirs in Bach's circle probably led church services in their natural Saxon accents.
The thought of the Evangelist singing the Bach Passions with a Saxon accent horrifies modern German-speakers. I suspect that it's the equivalent of singing with an Alabama accent in the States, a Newfoundland accent in Canada, and a Liverpool accent in the UK. >
I know with the Graupner cantatas, that the German used in some of the texts is not modern. I have an extremely difficult time reading the old style cursive German from the period, and have to rely upon a specialist who is extremely gracious in helping me. Several special fonts were created for this type of work and you can see a sample of his efforts here: http://oi53.tinypic.com/5plt95.jpg

It's for Graupner's setting of the chorale "Ich hab mein Sach’ Gott heimgestellt" by Johannes Leon.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 13, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I know with the Graupner cantatas, that the German used in some of the texts is not modern. >
As a generalization, when is German orthography and punctuation standardized? In English, it is almost the end of the 18th century. Are the texts which Bach used ever changed in the pursuit of modernization?

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 13, 2010):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< I still wonder how we can know how Latin sounded in Baroque times! >
Ask the folks who were there? Look on the bright side -- these are the arguments which provide employment for scholars.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 13, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Text:
We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
Pronunciation:
Way prayse they, O Good, way ak-no-lidge they toe bay thi Lawrd.
Even the most rigorist HIP ensemble would never restore historic pronunciation! >
Careful, never is a large word. BTW, nice transliteration.

Michael Cox wrote (November 15, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Actually, Handel used both male and female altos, both in one performance, I think. >
I was referring in particular to the contralto arias, especially "He was despised and rejected". Why subsitute a counter-tenor, when we know for a fact that Handel intended a contralto?

Susannah Maria Cibber (1714 - 30 January 1766), also known as Susannah Maria Arne, was a celebrated English singer and actress and the sister of the composer Thomas Arne. Although she began her career as a soprano, her voice lowered in the early part of her career to that of a true contralto. She was universally admired for her ability to move her audiences emotionally both as an actress and vocalist. Possessing a sweet, expressive, and agile singing voice with a wide vocal range, Cibber was an immensely popular singer, even if at times her voice was criticized for a lack of polished technique. Charles Burney wrote of her singing that "by a natural pathos, and perfect conception of the words, she often penetrated the heart, when others, with infinitely greater voice and skill, could only reach the ear." Cibber was particularly admired by Handel, who wrote numerous parts especially for her including the contralto arias in his oratorio Messiah, the role of Micah in Samson, the role of Lichas in Hercules and the role of David in Saul among others. In the mid 1730s she began appearing in plays in addition to appearing in operas and oratorios. She became the greatest dramatic actress of the eighteenth century London stage and at the time of her death was the highest paid actress in England.

Michael Cox wrote (November 15, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote [to Kim Patrick Clow]:
< As a generalization, when is German orthography and punctuation standardized? In English, it is almost the end of the 18th century. Are the texts which Bach used ever changed in the pursuit of modernization? >
The 16th-century Saxon dialect of Luther's Bible became standard in Protestant worship, even though regional dialects and the language of the various princely courts continued to differ widely. By Bach's time the orthography had been substantially changed. See examples below.

In 1722 Hieronymus Freyer published a book called "Anweisung zur teutschen Orthographie" (Instruction for German Orthography) which set out rules for "Hallesche Rechtsschreibung" (Hallean Orthography). Leipzig and its university was considered one of the main sources of "good German" since the 16th century.

Luther's German Bible (1545)

Matthew 26:26ff
DA SIE ABER ASSEN / NAM JHESUS DAS BROT / DANCKET / VND BRACHS VND GABS DEN JÜNGERN / VND SPRACH / NEMET / ESSET / DAS IST MEIN LEIB. VND ER NAHM DEN KELCH / VND DANCKET / GAB JNEN DEN / VND SPRACH / TRINCKET ALLE DRAUS/ DAS IST MEIN BLUT DES NEWEN TESTAMENTS / WELCHS VERGOSSEN WIRD FÜR VIEL / ZUR VERGEBUNG DER SÜNDEN.

Luther's spelling modernised:
26Da sie aber aßen, nahm Jesus das Brot, dankte und brach's und gab's den Jüngern und sprach: Nehmet, esset; das ist mein .

27Und er nahm den Kelch und dankte, gab ihnen den und sprach: Trinket alle daraus;

28das ist mein Blut des neuen Testaments, welches vergossen wird für viele zur Vergebung der Sünden.


BACH: ST. MATTHEW PASSION
Da sie aber aßen, nahm Jesus das Brot, dankete und brach's und gab's den Jüngern und sprach:
Jesus
Nehmet, esset, das ist mein Leib.
Evangelist
Und er nahm den Kelch und dankte, gab ihnen den und sprach:
Jesus
Trinket alle daraus; das ist mein Blut des neuen Testaments, welches vergossen wird für viele zur Vergebung der Sünden.

Not only are has the orthography been modernised, indicating perhaps some changes in pronunciation, but there are grammatical changes too.
Dancket becomes dankete and dankte ('gave thanks'), draus becomes daraus ('out of it'), welchs becomes welches (which), viel becomes viele (many).

1984 revision of Luther's Bible:

26 Als sie aber aßen, nahm Jesus das Brot, dankte und brach's und gab's den Jüngern und sprach: Nehmet, esset; das ist mein Leib. 27 Und er nahm den Kelch und dankte, gab ihnen den und sprach: Trinket alle daraus; 28 das ist mein Blut des Bundes, das vergossen wird für viele zur Vergebung der Sünden.

The eucharistic words of consecration have been retained even in modern translations because of their familiarity to German Lutherans, even though they are not modern German. Something similar would apply to Lutheran theologians and librettists in Bach's day. Much of Luther's religious terminology was preserved in the Lutheran liturgy and the cantata texts that Bach and others used.

A modern Catholic German version reads: Nehmt und esst; das ist mein Leib. .. Trinkt alle daraus.

Sys-Ex John wrote (November 16, 2010):
Michael Cox wrote [to Douglas Cowling]:
< I was referring in particular to the contralto arias, especially "He was despised and rejected". Why subsitute a counter-tenor, when we know for a fact that Handel intended a contralto?
SNIP >
If I may add my 2 cents here too, I think composers and conductors in those days and in modern days, when working with lesser resources, use what they have available.

If you have the luxury of a contralto and a counter tenor you may use whatever you consider "better" for the performance. If you only have one or the other you have little choice.

We were most privileged to have the delightful Dame Emma Kirkby in the little church in Cologne on the 23rd singing concerti sacri by Schütz and others. The male alto wasn't on form that night though.

If I may pose a question here too?

The use of the Italianate rolled R as opposed to the German more guteral (spelling?) one has always had me wondering. Was the Italian way of pronouncing these prevalent in Bach's time or would his singers have pronounced them in the German way?

Personally I find heavily rolled Rs, in Bach Cantatas, very intrusive. In the Rilling (my only) set we can find examples of both types. The buzzing away of the Italian school I often find annoying. Opinions please, especially informed ones.

My inadvertent use of "HIP" (#34078) certainly opened a huge barrel. I thought of apologising for it but decided not to.

In an earlier post (#34086):

EM
I trust (think, believe, have faith) you are confident that said spouse will not be reading your post?

JG
No, we never read each other's mail, E or otherwise unless invited, or posts for that matter. But even if she had it would pose no problems as we discuss performance matters quite openly. So often, when singing Bach, I remind her "less vibrato" IMHO.

EM
An additional issue which comes to mind is the distinction between an operatic, emotional projection in live performance, intended to reach the last row, compared to a performance of Bach in an intimate venue or even recording studio, intended as much (or solely) for recording quality as for audience.

JG
And herein lies the rub. In order to project the voice to the last row of a concert hall, vibrato is essential. Without it the vocal chords come under a huge strain and sustained periods of singing are challenging if not impossible.

Many singers trained for this kind of performance are taught to switch the vibrato on automatically. The technique has to be unlearned to some degree for non-operatic performances.

Not to mention microphone positioning! At least a metre away when my wife is singing at full power. The final bar or two of Rusalka "Song to the Moon" come to mind. Any closer risks damage to the sensitive membrane and severe overload in the pre-amp! Ear plugs please.

And also the reference to Emma Kirkby who, in a much more intimate venue, was able to use or not use vibrato as she felt necessary, to great effect.

A most stimulating discussion.

Michael Cox wrote (November 18, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Thank you for making the effort to write, best wishes for the therapeutic value. For convenience, I will revert to the familiar acronym, HIP. I agree with your details, re dialect, for any attempt to duplicate precisely a Bach performance. Likewise, there are many other details, some of which are impossible to know, and others of which are a matter of ongoing research and healthy scholarly dispute. My point was that HIP is a rather broad category, and an evolving target, rather than a well-defined term. Specifically, in the case of how to perform the alto parts, a precisely authentic choice may be impossible in our age, but the compromises may be more or less HIP Not to overlook that less HIP may be equally enjoyable, or even preferable, to some of us, depending on listening experience, expectations, etc.
The point re what is enjoyable or acceptable in live performance versus recording (for repeated listening) is well-taken. >
Thank you for your well wishes. I an finding this debate very rewarding - it makes me search for words I have forgotten or thought I had frogitten.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 19, 2010):
Michael Cox wrote:
< I an finding this debate very rewarding - it makes me search for words I have forgotten or >thought I had frogitten. >
I hope everyone noticed my nudge in the direction of the Leusink Vol. 1 and 2 reviews, easily accessible via the BWV 87 page. A reminder:

<Do HIP preformers have Buddha-nature?>

 

A new acronym for HIP: OC

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 8, 2013):
An interesting piece on the recreation of Shakespearean English on the stage of the modern Globe Theatre: Performing Shakespeare’s plays with their original English accent (22 Words)

Who knows, O.P. (Original Pronunciation) may become an instrinsic part of IP.

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (September 8, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< .... the modern Globe Theatre: Performing Shakespeare’s plays with their original English accent (22 Words)>
Sorry for the off-topic, Doug: by sheer coincidence, just last night I entered the world of URL shorteners: not of much use in online communications (where you can just copy and paste the full web address), they are much useful when inserted in non-hyperlink text, such as printed text: printed books, magazines, business cards. Here are my first ones:

Bray Baroque books in Lulu.com: bit.ly/LuluBB
My paper on Taskin harpsichord stringing: bit.ly/taskin

I have also taken the liberty of entering one for our forum, which any of us can add to our business cards!: bit.ly/BachCant

Linda Gingrich wrote (September 8, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Who knows, O.P. (Original Pronunciation) may become an instrinsic prt of IP.>
Very interesting demonstration! And actually OP is a part of IP in some choral circles. I have done a bit of this with my chorus, but actually hearing it from an expert was great.

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 8, 2013):
[To Linda Gingrich] Just a reminder for anyone who may be wondering: IP is the acronym for *informed performance*. If only ...

 

Will be continued…

HIP (Historically Informed Performance) - Discussi: 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 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18

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Last update: ýOctober 13, 2013 ý21:31:38