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OVPP (One-Voice-Per-Part)

Part 16

 

 

Continue from Part 15

OVPP on Record / OVPP "Qui tollis"

Sw Anandgyan
wrote (December 17, 2004):
I'm having a B minor Mass bout.
I'm " no more " a beginner;
I'm a slow learner !

Anyway, my pleasant surprises this time around has been the Karajan studio version recorded in '52 and '53, the recognition of the Herreweghe mold in the Koopman version and the welcome opportunity of listening to a couple of modern instruments versions such as with Joshard Daus and Helmut Rilling IV.

So I put the Cantus Cölln's MBM once more in the CD player and though I readily admit of some superb sections such as the 'Cum Sancto Spiritu' and the 'Osanna in excelsis', I hate to admit that one of my favourite part, the 'Qui tollis peccata mundi' just don't do it for me; no rapture, just another day at the offfice. I like it when there is an exuding of suaveness and concerning Konrad Junghänel's touch, if I find a bit of a lack in this respect, I must grant him a lot of agility in the chorales of this BWV 232 recording.

I simply don't return to it often contrary to the Rifkin and the Parrott one.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 17, 2004):
[To Sw Anandgyan] Wait until a recording comes out with OVPP and with the continuo organ tuned correctly according to Bach's instructions. That "Qui tollis" is one of the movements where it especially makes a big difference to that effect, as to bringing sublime things into play. I've been playing through it here that way, tuned that way, in anticipation.

Uri Golomb wrote (December 17, 2004):
[To Sw Anandgyan] I have almost the opposite view... For me, the Qui tollis is one of the expressive highlights of the Cantus Cölln version -- a movement in which the singers' individual phrasing of their lines creates, overall, an intense, dramatic effect (another such movement being the Crucifixus). IN general, I find that this performance is at its best in pure OVPP moments -- it is the 2VPP bits that seem, sometimes, a bit bland, and I sometimes wish that Junghanel had scored the work OVPP all the way through. ON the whole, I still prefer this version to the Parrott and Rifkin versions, but I know that others have different views...

Sw Anandgyan wrote (December 17, 2004):
[To Uri Golomb] Thank you Uri for sharing your view, I respect tremendously your take on this oeuvre and hope one day to buy your published treatise on the Messe in h-Moll.

Just to verify once more, I listened to the aforementioned bit on the Junghänel version, followed by Fasolis and then Koopman and this exquisite tenderness happens more often than not ...

It's just a matter of preference to this body-mind configuration !

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 18, 2004):
[To Sw Anandgyan] Have you heard the recording with Biller and the Thomanerchor Leipzig? I have only heard samples, but am impressed by what I have heard. If you want details, it is on the Philips label, the Orchestra is (of course) the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (at least it is from what I remember of seing the recording details), and many of the online vendors sell it (Amazon.com, Amazon.de, jpc.de, Archivmusik.com, etc.). If you are into modern instrument performances, then I feel that this is a must-have, even more so since it features the Vocal ensemble that premiered most of Bach's Sacred Vocal works (namely the above-mentioned Thomanerchor Leipzig). In fact, I would go so far as to say that I feel that it is a shame that Peter Schreier (who often recorded with the Thomanerchor as well as the Kreuzechor Dresden) did not use the Thomanerchor Leipzig in his recordings of the h-Moll Messe, even though he did conduct a Leipzig-based Orchestral ensemble in the recordings (the oft-celebrated New Bach Collegium Musicum Leipzig). Instead, in some recordings I have seen of his, he used the Kreuzechor Dresden (which is forgiveable, since, after all, the first two movements were originally used by Bach to apply for the post of Court Composer at the Electoral Saxon Court at Dresden), but in others, he uses a radio Choir (the Rundfunkchor Leipzig).

Sw Anandgyan wrote (December 18, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] No I haven't the recording you mention and I'm more " into " period-instruments.

I have appreciated the opinions of Mr. Golomb who has acknowledged liking some sections of the Münchinger rendition of BWV 232. Me too !

Today I'm listening to theHarnoncourt I and I'm thinking what a shock this must have been in the late '60s.

I must reread Mr. Sherman article on performing the MBM ... http://tinyurl.com/4ku26

Happy Festive Season to all

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 19, 2004):
[To Sw Anandgyan] I heard it to, and was absolutely abhorred by it, just as I was of his interpretations of the Matthaeuspassion, the Johannespassion, and the Weinachtsoratorium.

However, I have yet to find a "period instrument" recording that does satisfy me. BTW, Muenchinger does not use "period instruments". That is one thing I could say about the Cleobury recording of the Johannespassion (on the Brilliant label)--they do use period instruments. Another one that I think is good is the Brembeck recording of the Bach Passionspasticcio (Weimarer Fassung) of Keiser/Bruhns Markuspassion (on the Christophorus label).

That's the thing, tough. So many ensembles and recordings tout themselves to be "period instruments". However, they rarely are. More likely they are modern instruments or facsimilies of period instruments, but are not the instruments themselves. One thing that tells them apart is the tuning. Since Bach's day, instruments had gone through many changes in tuning. The Violins, for example, are brighter and crisper in tone than their Baroque counterparts, and it is easier to get more precise sounds from them. The Keyboard instruments are all equal-tempered, instead of the meantone used in Bach's day. The Organs have Ab Pedal keys, keys that were non-existant in Bach's day. The list goes on and on. Another fact is that in period instruments, the tone is a half-step down from where it is written. In other words, the first movement of Bach's Johannespassion, although written in G Minor, on period instruments would sound like F-Sharp Minor.

Douglas wrote (December 19, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] I believe that most of the "facts" stated above are incorrect. Let's take them one by one.

"So many ensembles and recordings tout themselves to be "period instruments". However, they rarely are. More likely they are modern instruments or facsimilies of period instruments, but are not the instruments themselves."
David, I suggest that you read the liner notes more carefully. Generally, most of the string instruments are genuinely 17th or 18th century (though you can argue about how much they've been altered over the centuries) - these make up the bulk of any today's period instrument orchestra. Often the keyboard instruments on CDs are historic as well. Wind instruments, sadly, are generally copies.

"The Violins, for example, are brighter and crisper in tone than their Baroque counterparts, and it is easier to get more precise sounds from them."
I believe that this is wholly untrue, and even die-hard modern violinists are likely to admit that Baroque violins are brighter!

"The Keyboard instruments are all equal-tempered, instead of the meantone used in Bach's day."
Well, this is a contentious point, but what is certainly a fact is that almost no period instrument orchestra, ensemble or harpsichord soloist uses equal temperament these days. Meantone, modified meantone, and various well-tempered (but not equal tempered) tunings are what you will hear on period instrument CDs.

"The Organs have Ab Pedal keys, keys that were non-existant in Bach's day."
As a conservatory-trained organist, I haven't a clue what you are trying to claim here.

"Another fact is that in period instruments, the tone is a half-step down from where
it is written. In other words, the first moveof Bach's Johannespassion, although written in G Minor, on period instruments would sound like F-Sharp Minor."
Wrong again. This is a far more complicated subject than you suggest. David, for a start I think you should look up the meaning of the terms Kammerton and Chorton. But, in terms of indisputable facts, today's period instrument ensembles and soloists perform at a range of pitches, including A = 392, 415, 440 and 460.

David, I can't imagine what led you to make these sweeping claims about period instrument orchestras making such obvious mistakes and implying that they are incompetent or charlatans, but fortunately your claims can be easily refuted.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 19, 2004):
David Glenn Lebut Jr wrote: >> That's the thing, tough. So many ensembles and recordings tout themselves to be "period instruments". However, they rarely are. More likely they are modern instruments or facsimilies of period instruments, but are not the instruments themselves.<<
Douglas wrote: >>David, I suggest that you read the liner notes more carefully. Generally, most of the string instruments are genuinely 17th or 18th century (though you can argue about how much they've been altered over the centuries) - these make up the bulk of any today's period instrument orchestra.<<
Almost every genuinely 17th or 18th century string instrument (specifically violin, viola) has been substantially and irreversibly altered, the claims of various liner notes notwithstanding.

'Genuine' string instruments from before c. 1800, if they had any good qualities at all, did not survive the c. 1800 watershed without serious modifications. Any unmodified instruments from that period which may have survived untouched (there are extremely few and exist only in museums,) were deemed not to have any particularly valuable qualities. The more famous or recognizable the violin maker's name of such an instrument was, the more likely that the alteration would have been performed.

[The specific details of these major modifications were covered on these lists (BCML, BRML) before and should be retrievable on Aryeh's Bach Cantatas Website.]

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 20, 2004):
Douglas wrote: < David, I suggest that you read the liner notes more carefully. Generally, most of the string instruments are genuinely 17th or 18th century (though you can argue about how much they've been altered over the centuries) - these make up the bulk of any today's period instrument orchestra. Often the keyboard instruments on CDs are historic as well. Wind instruments, sadly, are generally copies. >
Actually, they are not. More often, they are copies of 17th or 18th century instruments, but use modern tuning.

Also, one should question where they were made. I have seen some evidence that some Violins of the "Stradivarius" type in most cases were actually made in Germany and by people that were not at all related to Stradivari.

"The Violins, for example, are brighter and crisper in tone than their Baroque counterparts, and it is easier to get more precise sounds from them."
< I believe that this is wholly untrue, and even die-hard modern violinists are likely to admit that Baroque violins are brighter! >
Actually, they were not. They were duller in tone, and sounded a half-step lower than their modern counterparts.

The difference is in the strings. If you remember, back in Bach's day, they used genuine cat gut or horsehair or the like for the strings and bows. However, modern instruments use more metallic strings, thus producing a crisper, brighter, and more exact sound.

"The Keyboard instruments are all equal-tempered, instead of the meantone used in Bach's day."
< Well, this is a contentious point, but what is certainly a fact is that almost no period instrument orchestra, ensemble or harpsichord soloist uses equal temperament these days. Meantone, modified meantone, and various well-tempered (but not equal tempered) tunings are what you will hear on period instrument CDs. >
Absolutely wrong here. They do use equal temperament.

"The Organs have Ab Pedal keys, keys that were non-existant in Bach's day."
< As a conservatory-trained organist, I haven't a clue what you are trying to claim here. >
Simply that the Ab was non-existant in Baroque Organs. Werckmeister, Mattheson, and Walther could attest to that. That is also why many works that were written in F Minor are played in F Sharp Minor on historic Organs. Case in point: Felix Friedrich's performance of the F Minor Prelude and Fugue by Johann Ludwig Krebs (or any other performer's interpretation of the work, for that matter). Another example: Kay Johannsen's interpretation of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in F Minor BWV 534.

"Another fact is that in period instruments, the tone is a half-step down from where it is written. In other words, the first movement of Bach's Johannespassion, although written in G Minor, on period instruments would sound like F-Sharp Minor."
< Wrong again. This is a far more complicated subject than you suggest. David, for a start I think you should look up the meaning of the terms Kammerton and Chorton. But, in terms of indisputable facts, today's period instrument ensembles and soloists perform at a range of pitches, including A = 392, 415, 440 and 460.
David, I can't imagine what led you to make these sweeping claims about period instrument orchestras making such obvious mistakes and implying that they are incompetent or charlatans, but fortunately your claims can be easily refuted. >
Listen to Cleobury's recording of the Johannespassion (which uses a truly period instrument group--the Brandenburg Consort) and compare it to all the "period instrument" recordings out there. You will see what I am talking about.

Also the pitches are off. If the "Weimarer Kammerton" was A=325 hz., then those playing with the pitches you mention should not be playing these works at all. At best, they should stick to Mozart or Haydn, which do use those pitches. For more on this, look at s-line.de and their discussions of Bach's works. In many works, they show what frequency was used.

You see, Bach was writing for instruments that were fast becoming obsolete. In the decade after his death, the Violin as we know it today came into being. Brass and Woodwind instruments were being revolutionized. Trumpets and Horns were beginning to be fit with valves. The Flute was just starting to be made of metal instead of wood. The so-called "Hunting Oboe" (Oboe da caccia) was replaced by the so-called "English Horn". Keyboard instruments became equal tempered.

John Pike wrote (December 20, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] There was an article in BBC Music magazine some months back about how most Stradivarius instruments, for example, have been modified over the years, some of them very badly in the nineteenth century.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 20, 2004):
This posting: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/15788
is just a mess. There are so many factual errors and misunderstood concepts in it that I won't bother going point by point. Doug Amrine's contribution to clarify the information was fine, but then his excellent remarks in that regard got overruled by random and vehement nonsense again by the guy who started the thread. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" because it encourages people who don't understand their material to try to teach it to others.

The issues are complex. Tuning, temperament, short octave layouts (on manuals and/or pedal in keyboard instruments), stringing materials and diameters, woodwind scaling, resonances of the stringed instrument's body, orchestral transpositions, solo transpositions, keyboard notations (including tablature), dimensions of organ pipes, and the basic diapason of the ensemble (whether A=440 or 460 or 430 or 415 or 392 or whatever). This is Newtonian physics, and the art/craft of instrument building, and music history, and musicianship, a complete package where all the parts have to fit. The experts of the 17th and 18th centuries (and especially Bach) knew exactly what were doing. It really doesn't help anybody's understanding today if half-baked misunderstandings of these issues are put out there, and if period-instrument specialists (both in building/reconstructing them and in playing them) are accused of being utter morons.

The assertion of a "more exact sound" doesn't even make any sense in the characterization of materials and playing practices. The best Baroque musicians knew exactly what they were doing, with all these little sub-fields that fit together; so do those who specialize in that same repertoire today. This is all much more exact and involved than casual consumers understand (from merely listening to a few recordings and noticing that the basic pitch is lower or whatever). A key such as G minor has character from the construction and tuning of the instruments, apart from a question of the "A" pitch anyone started from. There's far too much to try to explain it here. There are years of necessary background to it. I'm merely issuing a plea here that those of us who really do understand it stop getting "corrected" in public by people who don't...it's really frustrating (at least I find it so, both professionally and personally), and the material itself--Bach's music--isn't well served by sophomoric guesswork from anyone. It deserves better than that, and that's what serious research is for.

Juozas Rimas wrote (January 9, 2005):
"Qui tollis..." chorus OVPP?

What is the most balanced available recorded OVPP version of the "Qui tollis peccata mundi" choir from BWV 232?

I'm particularly interested in OVPP here because with more singers it appears to be almost impossible to discern the flute line.

Thanks for any pointers.


OVPP/OPPP

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 17, 2005):
This is in no way to be interpreted as an attempt to imply that the following information which is taken from a book treating the Leipzig cantatas should likewise be applicable to all pre-Leipzig cantatas. I simply want to get this on record for the BCW.

pp. 145-146 of Wolff/Koopman's "Die Welt der Bach Kantaten" [Kassel, Stuttgart, 1999] Vol. 3, Chapter 8 "Bachs Aufführungsapparat - Zusammensetzung und Organisation" by Hans-Joachim Schulze. [The original German text follows the English translation.]

["Despite Bach's clearly formulated conception {of his requirements regarding the number of instrumentalists and vocalists that he needed} and his unequivocal indication of the number {of musicians that he required}, more recently stubborn views persist which, according to some, would allow some of the exceptional circumstances {that confronted Bach as specifically indicated in his "Eingabe.." Leipzig, August 23, 1730, Bach-Dokumente I, no. 22} to be used as a methodical guideline, to make the most problematical case into what would be considered the
norm, and according to this method calculate an OVPP and OPPP ensemble as proper for Bach's own compositions. Using the methods of scientific research, this procedure might seem acceptable, but that it gives us a correct/appropriate picture of the situation as found in Bach's milieu remains doubtful. Nevertheless this fashionable guiding principle of 'one singer or player per part' threatens to expand more and more.

In Bach's time as well as now, the problem as to how many musicians share a single part does not really rank among the central questions of music history. All the same, there are here and there some revealing examples, the number of which certainly could be expanded by using a systematic search. In his "Generalbaßschule" of 1728, Johann David Heinichen, for one, based upon his education under the predecessors of Bach's position in Leipzig, Johann Schelle and Johann Kuhnau (soon after 1700) writes about having occupied himself with composing canons. One of these canons he had composed for 6 violins was played from only two parts by observing the special
marks of entry indicated. What this means, assuming that only one player would play each separate entry of the canon, is that there would have to be 3 violins playing from each part. Johann Mattheson published in 1722 his translation {the first time this work was published in German} of a work by Raguenette regarding a comparison of Italian and French music that came out in 1702. It was followed by Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg's published translation of the same work almost three decades later. In this book the abilities of young Italians are praised, specifically their ability to sight-read and the skill they had in reading music correctly at quite some distance: "You will see there children who are 14 to 15 years old, who can play pieces perfectly on a string bass or descant violin. These are pieces that they have never seen befpre..and what is even more astounding is that you will see these little daredevils standing 4 or 5 paces away from the music stand, one looking over the shoulder of the other, often with only a view of half of the page, and all the same sight-read the most difficult music at first glance." By contrast Bach's Weimar cousin, Johann Gottfried Walther, who sometimes had to play along as a violinist at court, complained in October of 1729 about his weak eyesight and his difficulties in reading "particularly when several persons were reading from the same part." There is a report by Heinrich Stümer (1789-1856), who had been a member of the Berlin Singakademie {choral group under Zelter's direction} since May, 1804 and who later performed the part of the Evangelist in Mendelssohn's legendary 1st performance of the SMP (BWV 244) after Bach's death, that in his younger years he had "always sung from the same part as Ms. Adelheid Zelter." Only later on did each member of the choir receive his/her own part. And in the Joseph von Spaun's recollections about Schubert, he states in regard to the period around 1808-1809: "I sat at the principal position for the 2nd violin and Schubert, who was short in stature, played from the same part as he stood behind me.""]

>>Ungeachtet der von Bach deutlich formulierten Vorstellungen und der unmißverständlichen Zahlenangaben halten sich in neuerer Zeit hartnäckig Auffassungen, denen zufolge es angemessen sei, einige in Bachs Eingabe [Bach-Dokumente I, Nr. 22: "Eingabe." Leipzig, August 23, 1730] angedeutete Ausnahmefälle als methodische Leitlinie zu nutzen, den größten annehmbaren Problemfall zur Norm zu erheben und so für Bachs eigene Kompositionen eine solistische Besetzung im vokalen wie im instrumentalen Bereich zu errechnen. Wissenschaftsmethodisch mag dieses Verfahren zulässig sein: daß es ein zutreffendes Bild von den Gegebenheiten im Umfeld Johann Sebastian Bachs liefere, bleibt dagegen zweifelhaft. Dessenungeachtet droht die modische These "ein Sänger oder Spieler pro Stimmenexemplar" sich mehr und mehr auszubreiten.

Nun gehört - damals wie heute das Problem, wieviele Musiker sich ein Stimmenexemplar teilen, nicht gerade zu den zentralen Fragen der musikgeschichtlichen Überlieferung. Gleichwohl finden sich hier und da aufschlußreiche Beispiele, deren Zahl sich durch systematische Suche sicherlich vervielfachen ließe. So berichtet Johann David Heinichen in seiner Generalbaßschule von 1728, daß er in jungen Jahren aufgrund der Ausbildung durch die Thomaskantoren Johann Schelle und Johann Kuhnau - also bald nach 1700 - sich mit der Komposition von Kanons abgegeben und dabei einen Kanon für sechs Violinen geschrieben habe, der unter Beachtung entsprechender Einsatzmarken aus zwei Stimmen gespielt werden mußte - was (solistische Besetzung der Kanonstimmen vorausgesetzt) auf drei Spieler an jedem Stimmenexemplar hinausläuft. 1702 erschien die "Raguenettische Vergleichung der italiänischen und französischen Musik," von der Johann Mattheson 1722 eine erste deutsche Übersetzung vorlegte, Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg knapp drei Jahrzehnte später eine zweite. Gerühmt wird dort die
Fähigkeit junger Italiener im Primavistaspiel und ihre Kunst, Noten auch aus einiger Entfernung richtig zu lesen: "Man siehet dort Kinder vovierzehn bis fünfzehn Jahren, die auf einer Baß- oder Diskantgeige Stücke aufs fertigste wegspielen, welche sie niemals gesehen haben; ... Ja was noch mehr ist, so siehet man diese kleinen Waghälse, vier oder fünf Schritte vom Notenpulte ab, einer über des andern Schulter weg, öfters nur mit halbem Blick aufs Papier schielen, und gleichwohl die allerschwersten Sachen vom Blatte weg auf den ersten Anblick treffen." Dagegen klagt Bachs Weimarer Vetter Johann Gottfried Walther, der zuweilen als Geiger bei Hofe mitzuwirken hatte, im Oktober 1729 über seine Augenschwäche und über Leseschwierigkeiten, "zumahl wenn etliche Personen an einer Stimme sich befunden". Von Heinrich Stümer (1789-1856), seit Mai 1804 Mitglied der Berliner Singakademie und nachmals Evangelist in Mendelssohns legendärer Wiederaufführung der Matthäus-Passion, wird berichtet, daß er in seinen jungen Jahren "immer mit Fräulein Adelheid Zelter aus einer Stimme gesungen habe. Erst in späterer Zeit habe jedes Chormitglied ein eigenes Stimmenexemplar erhalten. Und in den Schubert-Erinnerungen des Joseph von Spaun heißt es mit Bezug auf die Zeit um 1808-09: "Ich saß der erste bei der zweiten Violine und der kleine Schubert spielte hinter mir stehend aus demselben Notenblatte.
"<<


OVPP and numbers of parts

John Pike wrote (January 31, 2005):
Last night, I at long last got round to finishing Christoph Wolff's book "JS Bach: The Learned Musician", and an excellent read it was. I like the way he gives the last word to Mozart!

The last chapter deals with Bach's estate and the disposal of Bach's music library, including manuscripts. Wolff thinks that the distribution of the music was probably decided upon before Bach's death by Bach himself, since the matter is not discussed in the documentation about the rest of his estate and there is no will. it seems that the manuscripts were distributed between the 4 musical sons and Anna Magdalena. Anna Magdalena sold her parts from the chorale cantatas to St Thomas' and they have been preserved. The estate relating to CPE is almost intact, as well as bits that other brothers sold to him. Much of the rest was lost. Wolff states that the music from the Cantata Jahrgaenge was split in an unusual way. ie Scores and copies of parts were left to one person whereas the main set of parts was left to someone else. Since the inheritance of some people was lost, this could explain why only one set of parts for most pieces survive. There may well have been other copies of the parts at one time, but, because of the way they were inherited and differentially lost, only set of parts has survived. A major piece of evidence for the Parrott/Rifkin view of OVPP is that only one set of parts exists in most cases.

MY QUESTIONS:
Does this method of distribution account for the survival of only one set of parts in most cases and, if so, does it seriously undermine the Rifkin/Parrott view? Or is Wolff's view of what happened based purely on the survival of only one set of parts or does he have other evidence to support his statement of how the music was distributed?

Comments eagerly awaited.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 31, 2005):
John Pike wrote: <"Does this method of distribution account for the survival of only one set of parts in most cases and, if so, does it seriously undermine the Rifkin/Parrott view?">
Very interesting!

Some more questions: how many cantatas do in fact have more than one surviving set of parts?

Are there some cantatas in full manuscript score for which there are no surviving sets of parts?

In the light of Wolff's distribution of parts statement/theory, the answer to these questions could, on the balance of probabilities, blow the Rifkin/Parrott OVPP thesis out of the water.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2005):
< Some more questions: how many cantatas do in fact have more than one surviving set of parts? >
Read Dreyfus.

< Are there some cantatas in full manuscript score for which there are no surviving sets of parts? >
Of course.

< In the light of Wolff's distribution of parts statement/theory, the answer to these questions could, on the balance of probabilities, blow the Rifkin/Parrott OVPP thesis out of the water. >
Read Rifkin.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 31, 2005):
John Pike had asked: >>"Does this method of distribution account for the survival of only one set of parts in most cases and, if so, does it seriously undermine the Rifkin/Parrott view?"<<
Neil Halliday asked: >>Some more questions: how many cantatas do in fact have more than one surviving set of parts?
We need to be careful here when speaking of surviving sets of parts. It is very important to distinguish between 'original parts' and others which might have been copied out by one of Bach's sons from the original score (that is, they would have found a professional copyist to accomplish this task for them.) Such sets might have been almost contemporaneous (very shortly after Bach's death.) However, they were not used together with the original parts which were elsewhere (perhaps this was a kind of insurance policy so that the cantata would not be entirely lost - unless the autograph score and original set of parts were in J.S. Bach's possession, he might lend just the original score or just the original set of parts, but not both.

So to sum this up: there are cantatas with sets of parts that are nearly contemporaneous with the time of Bach's death, but only one set is an 'original set' and the other(s) were, for the most part, copied from the autograph score where the original set of parts was not available at the time.

>>Are there some cantatas in full manuscript score for which there are no surviving sets of parts?<<
Yes, quite a number and there are even some cantatas for which we have neither the autograph score and nor original parts.

>>In the light of Wolff's distribution of parts statement/theory, the answer to these questions could, on the balance of probabilities, blow the Rifkin/Parrott OVPP thesis out of the water.<<
I don't see how it could because different sets of parts were probably not used together during Bach's lifetime and probably remained separated until some library, archive or manuscript collector brought them together for the first time much later in the 19th century.

It is much more important to understand how more than one musician could sing or play from a single part. These are points that are conveniently overlooked by proponents of the OVPP theory. It was feasible, economical, time-saving, etc., and it was done.

John Pike wrote (January 31, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks. very helpful. I am eagerly awaiting a copy of Rifkin's paper "Bach's choral ideal", which I was able to order direct from the publisher in Germany. This should help to clear up some of the doubts I have about OVPP, particularly interpretation of the Entwurff.

One of my questions related to what the evidence was for Wolff's statement about how the music library was split up. In part, he answers this by mentioning 2 names written on the cover for a set of parts for a few of the cantatas, eg "Carl and Christel" I think, on the cover of one cantata. But there must be more evidence than that to be so sure about how things were divided up. Do you know what evidence there is?

Thanks in anticipation.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (January 31, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote: "It is much more important to understand how more than one musician could sing or play from a single part. These are points that are conveniently overlooked by proponents of the OVPP theory. It was feasible, economical, time-saving, etc., and it was done."
Was it? Oh yes, two adults (who had to be tall enough) stood behind two children (who had to be small enough) and all four of them sang from the same treble part. Or was it the same tenor or bass part?

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 31, 2005):
[To Gabriel Jackson] You may have missed my recent message about this on January 17, 2005 to be found at the bottom of the page at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/OVPP-16.htm

Gabriel Jackson wrote (January 31, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] says what, exactly, about the notion (as previously claimed) that four singers sang/could sing from a single part?

Dale Gedcke wrote (January 31, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] RE: The appended altercation on one versus multi players per part:

I can appreciate that more than one musician sharing a single part must have been a more frequent circumstance in the 1700s than it is today. Copying an additional part was a lot of work. They couldn't just say, "Hmmm, we need two more parts. I'll just pop over to the Xerox machine, and have two more copies instantaneously."

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 31, 2005):
John Pike wrote: >>One of my questions related to what the evidence was for Wolff's statement about how the music library was split up. In part, he answers this by mentioning 2 names written on the cover for a set of parts for a few of the cantatas, eg "Carl and Christel" I think, on the cover of one cantata. But there must be more evidence than that to be so sure about how things were divided up. Do you know what evidence there is?<<
For more information on "Carl and Christel" see: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV39-Ref.htm

The other evidence shows, among other things, that the set of original doublets (perhaps many of these have been lost) frequently went along with the autograph score, thus separating these additional parts from the original set of parts, which made losing them or misplacing them much easier and increased the probability that only the main set would survive. (The thinking on the part of the autograph score holder would be: "If I wanted to perform the cantata, I at least have the beginning of a set of parts and the rest I can copy out from the score" while the possessor of only the complete set of original parts (St. Thomas School in many instances) may not even have needed an additional score, although often a copy of the score was made from the parts themselves. These additional parts, doublets, as it were, which, based only on what has come down to us and not upon what the actual situation might have been, sometimes included vocal ripieno parts [for evidence that an extra set of vocal, often ripieno parts did exist, see BWV 29 and BWV 31 (an extra soprano part - were the others lost? Probably. BWV 63 2 extra alto and tenor parts; BWV 110 extra soprano, alto, tenor parts; BWV 134 extra soprano part; BWV 201 complete extra set of vocal parts; BWV 215 complete extra set of vocal parts; BWV 226 doublets of soprano and bass parts; BWV 249 complete double set of parts.]

Why were so many of the doublets lost? This is probably tied into the distribution system used after Bach's death and the fact that W. F. Bach was so careless with his inherited portion. What did Johann Christian Bach do with his? Did he give his back to his brother CPE or were some of his also lost because he did not particularly value or see any opportunity for performing them.

These are, however, intriguing clues that point away from a strict OVPP approach for most Leipzig cantatas and some of the larger, earlier cantatas.

Another aspect of the OVPP theory that needs serious consideration is the flawed use of iconographical records. The use of engravings from the period to attempt to prove OVPP are anything but reliable. They are not photographic evidence, but attempts to select and emphasize important, unusual people or instruments over the actual numbers of singers and players participating in performing a cantata. The space relationships do not reflect proper perspective. Engravings which show an extremely tall singer with what appears to be a 3- or 4-year-old boy peeping up from below can not seriously be used to prove anything regarding OVPP and how many singers sang from one part.

Dale Gedcke wrote (January 31, 2005):
[To Gabriel Jackson] RE: the combat appended below:

Gabriel, based on your retort, it sounds like you didn't read the posting at the link Thomas provided.

But, that point aside, the main issue is this: The number of surviving extant parts for the various cantatas does not give us conclusive proof for or against the OVPP theory. Some more conclusive information is necessary to substantiate the argument one way or another.

Can 3 people read from one part? Yes, I have done it reading an oboe part and playing on a muted trumpet, while 2 clarinet players played from the same part. It was difficult for me, because the eyesight of a 65-year-old is not as good as a 20-year-old. Naturally, I elbowed in closer to the music stand, ... to the detriment of the youngsters.

Last Sunday, I played a concert where I had to share a part with another player. He is 55 years old, so I couldn't squeeze in closer.

What does this prove? It is possible for 3 players to share a part if they have good eyesight and good lighting. It is even easier for 2 players to share a part.

But this anecdotal evidence does not prove that Bach customarily used 3 players per part. It merely indicates that it was potentially possible.

From everything I have heard so far, it sounds like incontrovertibly conclusive evidence, for or against OVPP, did not survive the ravages of time from the 18th to the 21st century. Of course, this is just my perception. I have not studied all the scholarly documents.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (January 31, 2005):
Dale Gedcke wrote: "Gabriel, based on your retort, it sounds like you didn't read the posting at the link Thomas provided."
I don't know why...

"Can 3 people read from one part? Yes, I have done it reading an oboe part and playing on a muted trumpet, while 2 clarinet players played from the same part. It was difficult for me, because the eyesight of a 65-year-old is not as good as a 20-year-old. Naturally, I elbowed in closer to the music stand, ... to the detriment of the youngsters.
Last Sunday, I played a concert where I had to share a part with another player. He is 55 years old, so I couldn't squeeze in closer.
What does this prove? It is possible for 3 players to share a part if they have good eyesight and good lighting. It is even easier for 2 players to share a part."
Indeed. But it is not feasible, in my experience, for four singers to sing from the same part, which was recently claimed, and the 'evidence' produced to support that claim showed nothing of the sort.



Continue on Part 17


Choir Form: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
One-Voice-Per-Part (OVPP):
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 | Part 19
Books about OVPP:
The Essential Bach Choir [by Andrew Parrott] | Bach's Choral Ideal [by Joshua Rifkin]: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýMay 30, 2005 ý21:59:12