Systematic Discussions of Bachs Other Vocal WorksMissa Brevis in A major BWV 234
Discussions in the Week of April 25, 2004
John Pike wrote (April 28, 2004):
Another of my favourite Lutheran masses. I particularly enjoy the Quoniam tu solus sanctus and Cum Sancto Spiritu. Again, Rilling and the Purcell Quartet both give splendid accounts of the work.
In case of any doubt, I do not consider myself in a position to formally review a recording. I am expressing my own views only.
Discussions in the Week of October 9, 2011
Ed Myskowski wrote (October 10, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 234 -- Missa Brevis, A Major
For the week of Oct. 9, we have a brief interruption in the discussion of the cantatas of the Trinity season, which will resume next week. The BCW link for the current week is: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV233-242.htm
Douglas Cowling wrote (October 10, 2011):
BWV 234 -- Bach's Five Masses
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Introduction to BWV 234 -- Missa Brevis, A Major >
I have always been a keen devotee of Bach's Latin Masses as the crown of his vocal corpus.
At the risk of redundancy, I'll repost what I've said on other occasions:
* BACH'S FIVE LATIN MASSES
1) What genre does this mass belong to?
This mass is always called a "missa brevis", a "Lutheran mass" or even worse a "shorter mass." It is none of these: Bach called it a "missa." It is a representative work of what could be called the "collective" mass as opposed to the "cyclical" mass. Unlike the cyclical mass which had Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus & Benedictus and Agnus, Bach's "missa" contained Kyrie and Gloria and the other movements were drawn from other settings.
This collective mass (aka "pastiche" mass -- a term as inappropriate as "parody" cantata) can be seen as a strong parallel tradition as early as the 16th century, especially in the Venice-Munich-Vienna axis. At the turn of the 17th century, Gabrieli wrote a Kyrie-Gloria pair which is not part of a cyclical mass. The tradition of stand-alone Glorias that could be combined with other movements was especially strong in Venice: Monteverdi's "Gloria a 6" and Vivaldi's ubiquitous "Gloria" are spectacular examples.
The tradition was alive and well as late as Mozart. The Great Mass in C Minor is always described as "unfinished", yet Mozart treated it as a "collective" mass at its premiere in 1783, although we don't know which other mass sections he used. Two important points here:
a) Mozart went on to write other mass settings in the decade afterwards. He may well have considered the C Minor finished as a collective mass.
b) The Kyrie and Gloria are complete and it was to these sections as a unit that Mozart turned when he reused the music for an oratorio.
In his book on the Mass in B Minor, Stauffer demonstrates that the collective mass was an especially strong tradition at the Catholic Chapel Royal in Dresden and that Kyrie-Gloria pairings were described as "missae." When Bach referred to a "missa", both Catholic and Lutheran musicians would know what he was talking about.
The Lutheran Sunday service was always a collective mass which at its base was the Kyrie & Gloria and the Sanctus (all of Bach's Sanctus settings were independent movements). The Benedictus was omitted but the Credo could also be sung in Latin to Gregorian chant (in addition as a chorale "Wir Glauben'). The stand-alone "Credo" of the "Mass in B Minor" demonstrates that concerted Latin settings were occasionally used. The Agnus Dei could be sung in a Latin setting but more often than not the chorale setting was used.
There is nothing abbreviated or miniature about the four Missae They have a scale commensurate with the Mass in B Minor.
2) Why did Bach write these masses?
In his last decade, Bach suddenly turned to the composition and performance of concerted mass to complement the older motet-style contrapuntal settings which can be found in his standard Vopelius collection. The obvious answer is that Bach wanted to introduce more concerted, cantata-style settings of the mass to keep Leipzig au courant with modern church music. There isn't much support for the Sporck commission thesis anymore.
That he left this genre to the last decade of his life has left some to suggest that Bach may have been angling for more than an honorary appointment at the Dresden court: he may have considered applying to be the head of the Catholic chapel. The missae would be valuable works to have in hand. Bach had strong family and musical connections in Dresden. Stauffer comes close to suggesting a future Dresden career.
3) Why didn't Bach write original music for these Latin masses?
Bach was an accomplished setter of original music for Latin words. The Sanctus settings and above all the Magnificat demonstrate an extraordinary literary and musical affinity to the Latin texts. And yet Bach chose the infinitely more difficult task of adapting existing cantatas with German texts to the Latin texts. I would suggest that the four "missae" were in fact dry runs for the Mass in B Minor. Having chosen this tortuous (and unnecessary?) compositional path, Bach needed to experiment with the process of transforming German texts into Latin.
* BACH'S PARODY TECHNIQUE FROM GERMAN TO LATIN IN THE MISSA In A MAJOR:
Bach adapts the chorus of BWV 67 as the Gloria in Excelsis for the Mass in A Major (and produces a movement probably without precedent in the history of the mass. Where many composers used the opening Gloria in Excelsis as a ritornello which returns to interrupt the movement (Beethovenıs Missa Solemnis is a late example), Bach uses the recurring Adagio to interrupt the rejoicing of the Gloria. A comparison reveals Bachıs brilliant rhetorical device of juxtaposing the extrovert Allegro/Vivace section (A) with the reflective Adagio (B):
CANTATA & MASS
A1 Introduction - Gloria in excelsis
B1 Friede - Et in terra (alto)
A2 Wohl Uns - Laudamus te
B2 Friede - Adoramus te (bass)
A3 Jesus - Glorificamus te
B3 Friede - Adoramus te (tenor)
A4 O Herr - Glorificamus te
B4 Friede - Gratias agimus (SATB solo?)
Bachıs manipulation of the mass text is astonishing: he links the peaceful worshipful Et in terra, Adoramus and Gratias with Friede sei, and the joyful Gloria, Laudamus and Glorificamus to the cantataıs Allegro section. I canıt think of another composer who looked at the mass text and thought of this musical and thematic dichotomy (is there anything similar in the Dresden repertoire?).
The finishing touches are exquisite: the adagio ³peace² theme passes successively through the alto, bass and tenor voices, concluding with all four ³soloists.² This movement shows the mature Bach at his finest and is merits comparison with anything in the Mass in B Minor. That the four masses are ignored by scholars and performers alike as poor cousins is a scandal.
Ed Myskowski wrote (October 10, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I have always been a keen devotee of Bach's Latin Masses as the crown of his vocal corpus. >
Thanks, Doug. I was hoping you would reitereate this point. You are not alone.
Warren Prestidge wrote (October 10, 2011):
I am excited to see the Missa Brevis in A come up for discussion. I have enjoyed it for years through the recording by Martin Flamig. I find the Qui Tollis aria to be as good as anything Bach or anyone else ever wrote, and the Cum Sancto Spiritu is marvellous. However the opening Kyrie doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The Christe Eleison isimpressive but I find both Kyries very undsatisfactory. I even wonder if Bach is adapting music by someone else in the opening piece. I would be very glad to be set right or further enlightened about these perplexing opening sections.
Douglas Cowling wrote (October 10, 2011):
Warren Prestidge wrote:
< I find both Kyries very undsatisfactory. I even wonder if Bach is adapting music by someone else in the opening piece. >
Almost all of the movements of the four Missae (and the Mass in B Minor as well) are based on pre-existing movements, so the Kyrie of the A Major Mass may be based on mofrom lost cantatas.
The opening Kyrie is quite extraordinary for its proto-galant style: counterpoint is all but supressed in favour of block chords in the chorus. I would think that it was probably originally an aria whose solo line was harmonized when transformed for the mass.
The Christe looks like an accompanied recitative with sustained strings. The fugal theme has a rhythmic freedom which would make a fascinating study of polyphonic performance rubato.
The final Kyrie has a galant feel as well, as the fugue is accompanied by light staccato string chords. Both the Christe and this Kyrie follow the traditional counterpoint for this part of the mass, but the setting is very "modern" in style.
Julian Mincham wrote (October 11, 2011):
[To Warren Prestidge] I've always found this piece rather puzzling although I have to confess i have not done a bar by bar analysis of it as I have done with the cantatas. My question (to myself!) is--can one really believe that the same man composed the Kyrie and the Domine Deus? The former is very much rococo in 'feel' and in many identifiable musical characteristics e.g. even phrase lengths, inbuilt dynamics and echo effects, harmonic language, orchestration etc. The aria is in F# minor a key Bach used a lot for arias and its scale and feel are much more 'Bachian--although even here I feel that sometimes the descending scale passages are a bit overdone and predictable in a way that you don't usually find in Bach. There is an aria from one of the cantatas which begins with the same descending idea and in the same key.
There are a number of movements attributed to Bach which bear the fingerprints of later composers, most probably one of his sons. The last movement of the keyboard concerto in A (possibly originally a concerto for oboe d'amore) falls into this category. The opening theme, with its concentration upon melody above an uninteresting bass line and the rhythmic 'fills' at the end of the rather tedious four bar phrases is pure rococo . But later in the movement are some muscular passages that are very 'Bachian'.
I guess with works like these you pays your money and takes your chance.
Thérèse Hanquet wrote (October 11, 2011):
In BWV 234, I love the Quoniam, a treat for an alto singer!
Ed Myskowski wrote (October 11, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote (October 12, 2011):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] <>.
William Hoffman wrote (October 13, 2011):
Intro. to BWV 234: 'Missa' Traditions & Directions
Composed in the second half of the 1730s when Bach was perfecting various compositional techniques and compiling his "well-ordered church music to the glory of God," the collection of four <Missae Kyrie-Gloria>, BWV 233-36, reveal various traditions and directions:
*It fosters the German tradition of liturgical settings of the first two sections of the five-part Mass Ordinary, including tropes of Luther's setting of the chorale-based vernacular <Deutsche Messe> (German Mass).
*It uses the Renaissance tradition of contrafaction or new text underlay, usually involving Latin and the vernacular, as well as the Baroque (formerly common-practice period) pursuit of the collective dissemination of works.
*It exhibits a variety of German-based stylistic elements and it represents an engaging alternative to Luther's German Mass.
*In addition, the <Missa Kyrie-Gloria> in A Major, BWV 234> is the most representative and source-documented of the quartet of <Missa Kyrie-Gloria> settings, and was first performed in 1738 with two reperformances: 2nd performance: 1743-1746 - Leipzig; 3rd performance: 1748-1749 - Leipzig.
Some 20 recordings of the Bach <Missae Kyrie-Gloria>, BWV 233-236, in the Bach Cantata Website (BCW) in the past decade, of a total of 49, as well as extensive BCW discussion, suggest that this music is finally being recognized as important part of Bach's oeuvre. I would further suggest that it is an important part of Bach's development of "Latin Church Music," that is a cornerstone of Bach's calling of "well-regulated church music to the glory of God."
Bach Compositions, 1735-40
This music was composed at a crucial time, beginning in the mid 1730s, when Bach had virtually completed original vocal composition and turned his creative focus to transforming and consolidating his creations as part of his Christological Cycle of Church Music. At the beginning of 1735, Bach began systematically developing and perfecting his previous vocal works into an unparalleled collection of church year "pieces" involving major compositional categories, primarily using the long-established technique of contrafaction or parody, known as new-text underlay with accompanying alterations in the music to accommodate its new context.
In the previous 12 years as Leipzig cantor and director of music, Bach had created and performed three church-year cantata cycles of almost 60 pieces each, the first Latin Church Music sections of the Mass (the Sanctus), and extended oratorios for the major <de tempore> events involving Jesus Christ. These works began with the St. John Oratorio Passion, BWV 245 on the suffering and death of Christ, as well as his resurrection in the Easter Oratorio, BWV 249 (his first substantial parody) and the large-scale drama of the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244. Then Bach presented all four Gospel Passion accounts between 1728 and 1732, including his concise parody chorale St. Mark Passion, BWV 247 in 1731. Bach followed in 1733 with a large-scale Kyrie-Gloria petition to the Saxon Court for the title Court Composer, a work involving contrafaction of several sections of the Gloria from his cantata arias and choruses.
In 1735, Bach presented major oratorios focusing on the feasts of Jesus Christ: Christmas birth, BWV 248; Easter, BWV 249; Ascension, BWV 11; and possibly a now-lost work on the Pentecost descent of the Holy Spirit. Having composed many works for the <de tempore> time focusing on Jesus Christ, Bach turned his creativity to the <omnes tempore> half of the church year of Christian teachings and themes. From 1735 to 1740, three categories of compositions merited his involvement: vocal sacred songs (hymns), related instrumental organ chorale preludes on sacred melodies, and Latin Church Music.
The Schemelli Songbook published in Leipzig in 1735 contains 68 popular sacred songs on various <omnes tempore> devotional themes that Bach set with figured bass, BWV 439-507. Bach suggested in the introduction that he had another volume of sacred songs available (Were these his 180 free-standing chorales later published in a four-volume chorale collection by son Emmanuel (Breitfkopf, 1784-87), BWV 250-438?). This collection included the five extended four-part chorale settings of Luther's <Deutsche Messe> (vernacular German Mass": "Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit" (Mercy, God Father in eternity) in e-G, BWV 371; Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Her (Alone God in the highest be glory) in G Major, BWV 260); "Wir Glauben all an einem Gott" (We all believe in one God) in D Major, BWV 437; "Sanctus" (Holy) in F Major, BWV 325; and "O Lamm Gottes unschuldig" (O Lamb of God unstained) also in F Major, BWV 401.
Bach's earliest well-ordered church music, composed in the first decade of the 18th century, -- the organ chorale preludes in the Neumeister (31), Miscellaneous & Kirnberger (76) and Orgelbüchlein (45) collections -- primarily focused on the <de tempore> pieces involving Jesus Christ. Not long after the publication of the <Clavier-Übung II> (Keyboard Studies in 1735), Bach began composing the organ chorale collection, sometimes called "The German Organ Mass and Catechism Chorales," of 21 Lutheran chorale preludes found in the <omnes tempore> section of the hymnbooks and published in 1739 as <Clavier-Übung III>, BWV 669-689, with the "St. Anne Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major," BWV 552.
The Catechism section involves chorales on the Ten Commandments, Confession, Penitence, and Justification. In 1740, Bach began assembling his so-called "Great 18 Leipzig Organ Chorales," BWV 651-668, composed in Weimar (1708-16), with twelve devoted to the "omnes tempore> time. Both collections, particularly the Organ Mass, were written in both old and new styles of music, <stile antico> amd <stile moderno>.
After composing the five German Mass chorales (BWV 371, 260, 437, 325, 401), as well as other choral settings of this liturgy, Bach again took up Latin Church Music, primarily settings of the Mass Ordinary sections of the initial <Kyrie> and <Gloria>. The <Missa Kyrie-Gloria> of 1733 was composed on a grand scale for the Saxon Court and not intended for the regular service, although it may have been performed in 1733 in Leipzig and/or Dresden for special memorial, thanksgiving or services of allegiance.
While scant source-critical evidence exists that Bach composed his four <Missae Kyrie Gloria>, circumstantial and collateral evidence abounds and this history is described in detail in BCW: Systematic Discussion, BWV 233-236: Thomas Braatz wrote (May 7, 2004): "Lutheran Masses BWV 233-236: The NBA KB II/2 (Lutheran Masses - mainly BWV 233-236) has on pp. 14 ff. the following introduction to the Lutheran Masses in general: [I am providing a fairly close translation of this section]"
Genesis of the Kyrie-Gloria
Here are my notes drawn from the most recent <Mass in B Minor>, BWV 232, General Discussions Part 17, October 14, 2009: BCW, http://bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV232-Gen17.htm
1. Kyrie, BWV 233a, assumed to have been composed in Mühlhausen or Weimar, 1707-1718, interpolates the German chorale "Christe du Lamm Gottes" (Christ, thou Lamb of God) in motet style with the traditional four voices singing the "Kyrie" in Latin. In the extant version, BWV 233/1, the setting is for four voices with continuo while horns and oboes play the hymn melody, presumed to have been sung by the soprano in German in the "original" bi-lingual trope or interpolation setting.
2. Missa "Kyrie" and "Gloria," BWV 232I and II, composed in 1733. The original score "was reworked by Bach during the adaptation of the Missa for the Mass in B Minor, in 1748-49," says the new Baerenreiter edition from the NBA I/2a, "Early Versions of the B Minor Mass" (2006).
3. Between 1735 and 1738, Bach parodied movements from at least 10 church-year cantatas to create four Missae, BWV 233-236, "using the same basic plan as the earlier Missa but on a reduced scale," says Joshua Rifkin, Notes to BWV 233-236 Rilling Nonesuch recording.
Bach `Missa' Motive, Method, Opportunity
In transforming the various church cantata movements into the four six-movement <Missae: Kyrie-Gloria>, three factors seems to have driven Bach: motive, method and opportunity. Bach's motive(s) could have been the desire to fill out a well-regulated church music, to create acceptable and appropriate liturgical music in Latin, and to use <Gloria text> emphasizing the <omnes tempore> Trinity or Triune God of the Christian faith. Bach's method was contrafaction of the highest order, not simply new text underlay, with extensive changes in the musical passages. Even so, there is still legitimate criticism regarding both "faulty text declamation adaptation" and "incongruous stylistic usages." Bach's opportunity came from a wealth of existing cantata choruses and arias, as shown previously in the expansive <Missae: Kyrie-Gloria> of 1733, adapting music of similar "affection" or feeling, often with comparable words. As with the earlier model or template, Bach used choruses for the Kyrie section and the Gloria section opening and closing <Cum sancto spiritu>. The middle portion of the Gloria involves three aria movements.
As to the actual utilization of this music appropriate for the Leipzig Lutheran Service, especially on feast days, the <Missa Kyrie-Gloria in A Major>, BWV 234, was performed three times by Bach, based on an original set of parts, and possible all four during the 50 years following his death in 1750, when various copies were made. "This collection was copied by Bach's student and later son-in-law, Johann Christoph Altnickol" (Braatz, Ibid.). Bach's second son, Emmanuel, listed all four scores bound together ("Vier Messen in Partitur" "eingebunden") in his Estate Catalog of 1790 (P. 70), with separate performing score copies of BWV 233 and 235 from his Hamburg copyist "H. Michel." The Fall 1761 Bretifkopf publisher's catalog showed listings of the original scores of BWV 234 and 236, available for copying from the manuscripts. At that time, Christian Friedrich Penzel, former Bach student and St. Thomas Choir Perfect, made a copy of the score of BWV 236, dated Oct. 29, 1761, possibly for performance at a service for his probe test to succeed (unsuccessfully) his father as sexton at Oelsnitz.
`Missa' and `Missa Brevis' Compositions
Douglas Cowling's recent Discussion information on the <Missa Kyrie-Gloria in A Major>, BWV 234, explains and clarifies the <Missa> forms and singles out the Gloria of BWV 234 (Bach's Five Masses, BCW, 10/11/11, http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/35538 ). The <Missa Brevis> (Short Mass) term was (mis)used for 17th and 18th century settings for the first two sections (Kyrie and Gloria) of the Mass Ordinary.
Bach performed with minor changes (in Leipzig) three <Missa Brevis> from the Breitkopf archives that originally were attributed to him, then cousin Johann Ludwig and now to Bach colleagues and/or family members. They are: Johann Ludwig Bach, Missa Brevis in C Major, BWV Anh. 25 (1740-42); Francesco Durante (1684-1755) or Johann Ludwig Bach <Missa Brevis in C Minor>, BWV Anh. 26 (late 1720s) [http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWVAnh25.htm; and Johann Nikolaus Bach (1669-1753) or Johann Ludwig Bach "Missa Brevis in E Minor: "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Her," BWV Anh. 166 (1727/29), Hänssler 30.701) http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWVAnh166.htm. There also is a J.F. Fasch (1688-1758) "Missa Brevis in D" (BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Fasch-Vocal.htm).
The "Missa Brevis in E Minor," BWV Anh. 166, includes the chorale "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Her," "sung by the second sopranos above a four-part chorale fugue with the Latin text, "Gloria in excelsis Deo," notes Robin A. Leaver in the "Missa" article in the <OCC Composer Companions JSB> (OUP, 1999: 299). The work with the troped chorale originally was composed in 1716, says Klaus Hofmann in his "Preface" to the Hänssler edition 30.701 (1976). Bach in Mühlhausen or Weimar, 1707-1718, interpolated the German chorale "Christe du Lamm Gottes" into the "Kyrie in F Major, BWV 233a," as cited above.
In addition, "amongst `the most famous composers' in this genre" (<"Missa Brevis">), alongside Sebastian Bach, are the Vienna/Dresden Catholic Court composers whom Bach held in high regard: Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741) and his students, Antonio Caldara (1670-1736) and Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745). This is according to Johann Adam Hiller (1728-1804), the third Thomas Cantor (1797-1804) after Bach, then Johann Gottlob Harrer (1750-55) and Johann Friedrich Doles (1756-1797), in his <Weekly Reports on Music> (1768), cited in liner notes, "Bach's Lutheran Masses," by Emil Platen in the Linde Consort 2-LP Recording, EMI 270027 (1984).
A-Major Mass, BWV 234
The best accessible source for <Missa Kyrie-Gloria in A Major>, BWV 234, is the Breitkopf & Härtel "Facsimile of the Autograph Score, JSB Mass A Major BWV 234 (Wiesbaden 1985) with an Introduction containing two articles: "The Manuscript," by Oswald Bill (pp. 7-14) and "The Work," by Klaus Häfner (pp. 15-19). Bill's article suggests of the source: "Perhaps it had belonged to the Estif Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, from whom Breitkopf apparently acquired a part of his Bach collection."
The manuscript is described in detail in the edition Thomas Braatz cites above, "Lutheran Masses BWV 233-236: The NBA KB II/2 (Lutheran Masses - mainly BWV 233-236), by Emil Platen and Mariane Helms in 1985." Bill describes the manuscript score in Bach's hand as a "unique situation" "between a draft and a fair copy," showing Bach making corrections while "partly copying the work and partly revising it." "It almost seems as if the manuscript was in a constant process of revision" with most of the changes in the vocal parts as new Latin text underlay adaptations from the original cantata music in German.
(It should be noted that Bach parodied two types of compositions: occasional secular works such as Köthen serenades and Leipzig <drammi per musica>, composed originally for a particular event, and given new life in sacred church year cantatas (using the same German language) for Easter and Pentecost Feast Days as well as Feast Day Oratorios, and the use of sacred cantatas as contrafactions for special Liturgical Latin Mass music, thereby providing a new, repetitive venue for the utilization of the music. Most of Bach's secular to sacred adaptations were done between 1723 and 1735. All of the sacred pieces were given Latin texts in new works beginning in 1733 and continuing until just before Bach's death in 1750. Thus, Bach had different purposes for the two types of alterations: extended life and new usage, both in the name of expanding the repertory of well-regulated church music.)
Häfner's article, "The Work," in the Breitkopf 1985 edition of <Missa> BWV 234 lays out the evidence for both the purpose and uses of the music as well as the conjecture regarding the three movements where no cantata source has been found of the 24 total movements in the four short >Missae>. He suggests that Bach began their adaptation following his designation on Nov. 19, 1736, as "Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Court Composer," for the court Catholic or older Lutheran service and later in for service in Leipzig, with the A-Major Mass original c.1738 score designation with a continuo part for "Violoncell piccolo" and the later parts set dating to Bach's last years performing the work for the third time in Leipzig.
Douglas Cowling wrote (October 13, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< It uses the Renaissance tradition of contrafaction or new text underlay, usually involving Latin and the vernacular, as well as the Baroque (formerly common-practice period) pursuit of the collective dissemination of works. >
I think this is an extremely important point. I have always wondered why Bach chose to adapt German cantatas for his Latin masses when he could write fresh settings as he did in the Magnificat. The contrafactum (aka "parody") mass was the standard compositional method in the Renaissance: even Palestrina's "Missa Papae Marcelli" is now presumed to use the "L'Homme Armé" theme as its basis. When Bach came to write his Latin mass, it may have been an unspoken tradition that a Latin mass should be an adaptation. Interestingly, Bach seems to have resisted the common Renaissance custom parodying secular works.
Douglas Cowling wrote (October 13, 2011):
Bach's "German Mass"
William Hoffman wrote:
< The Schemelli Songbook published in Leipzig in 1735 ... included the five extended four-part chorale settings of Luther's <Deutsche Messe> (vernacular German Mass": "Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit" (Mercy, God Father in eternity) in e-G, BWV 371; Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Her (Alone God in the highest be glory) in G Major, BWV 260); "Wir Glauben all an einem Gott" (We all believe in one God) in D Major, BWV 437; "Sanctus" (Holy) in F Major, BWV 325; and "O Lamm Gottes unschuldig" (O Lamb of God unstained) also in F Major, BWV 401. >
Is there any scholarly speculation that these might be settings used at weekday masses or by Choir II on Sundays and feast days? It would be interesting if they were shown to be Bach's "German Mass."
Ed Myskowski wrote (October 13, 2011):
Warren Prestidge wrote:
< I am excited to see the Missa Brevis in A come up for discussion.
However the opening Kyrie doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The Christe Eleison is impressive but I find both Kyries very unsatisfactory. I even wonder if Bach is adapting music by someone else in the opening piece. I would be very glad to be set right or further enlightened about these perplexing opening sections. >
Thanks for the personal responses, which inspired me to listen (and read) a bit more than I might otherwise have done. I think replies from BCML correspondents are addressing the point of sources for the music. There is also much of interest in the booklet notes to the Folan/Publick Musick set of the Missae, BWV 233-236, notes by Peter Watchorn, with a reprint of an earlier essay by Alfred Mann, specific to BWV 234. These notes are consistent, in particular, with ideas posted by Doug Cowling:
(1) The Missae BWV 233-236 in fact originally formed a set of five works which included the Kyrie and Gloria from BWV 232, much later expanded to become the B minor Mass.
(2) BWV 234 has a unique relation to the origin of BWV 232, in terms of structure and reworking of sources. The Christe and second Kyrie of BWV 234 are likely adaptations of recitative originals. Although this does not exactly correspond to the *unsatisfactory* sound in a choral setting noted by Warren, perhaps this is moving toward an explanation?
Warren Prestidge wrote (October 14, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski & Julian Mincham] Thanks, Julian and Ed, for your comments on the Missa Brevis in A.
The reference to "rococo" is helpful. Perhaps in the first Kyrie Bach is experimenting with "modern" rococo forms?
The insight that the Christe and second Kyrie of the Missa Brevis in A derive from recitative makes a lot of sense to me. It would account for the strangely "angular" quality of the subject in the second Kyrie and the fact that, in a sense, the Christe "goes" nowhere, even though it is a moving piece.
Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242: Details
Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | General Discussions
Systematic Discussions: BWV 233 | BWV 234 | BWV 235 | BWV 236 | BWV 233-236 | BWV 237-242