Motets BWV 225-230Conducted by Reinhard Kammler with Augsburger Domsingknaben
HIP Motets - Great Recording!
Charles Francis wrote (February 6, 2001):
I recently discovered a great CD of Bach motets (BWV 225 -230) with the 'Kammerchor der Augsburger Domsingknaben' conducted by Reinhard Kammler. Here, at last, we have a continental choir who can sing like an English cathedral choir!
Regarding the historical performance practice, the CD cover notes inform us:
'In announcing "Baroque Esprit" deutsche harmonia mundi is launching a series of outstanding recordings which truly reflect historical performance practice.'
Of interest, they state:
"Bach remarked in a memorandum from 23 August, 1730: 'In order that the choruses of church pieces may be performed by the choirs as is fitting, the vocalists must in turn be divided into 2 sorts, namely, concertists and ripienists.' "
"In the same document we read the following regarding the vocal forces of the Kantorei: 'Every musical choir should contain at least 3 sopranos, 3 alto, 3 tenors and as many basses, so that given the case one should be indisposed [...] at least a double-chorus motet can still be sung. [N.B. Though it would be even better if the Coetus [= circle, group] was such that one could have 4 singers to each part and thus perform every chorus with 16 persons.)' "
The CD notes conclude:
"In the present recording by the Augsburg Cathedral Choirboys, every effort was made to meet as closely as possible the scoring ideal recommended by Bach."
Certainly, it is interesting to compare the historical performance practice of 1987 with the 'One Voice Per Part' approach used by Cantus Cölln ten years later. In the earlier recording, one can note both the use of boys rather than female sopranos, and the strict adherence to the "scoring ideal recommended by Bach" as soloists alternate with the chorus.
Darryl Clemmons wrote (February 7, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] Now you have done it! You have offended the one voice per part contingent. They have great heartburn with "The Memorandum". Somehow, they conclude it means one voice per part. I have read it and re-read it. It would seem to me he wanted a few more singers to fill his choir. Considering all his cantata choruses have four (even BWV 50 was thought to be originally for four) parts, the question remains: why was he short handed? He only needed four singers.
You caught me on a bad day. Normally, I would be more gracious. However, "The Memorandum" is hard to ignore when arguing one voice per part.
Sybrand Bakker wrote (February 7, 2001):
[To Darryl Clemmons] I will briefly summarize mr. Parrots reasoning: The term Chorus is meant to be an organization, where Coro (in Bach's music) is just any group of singers.
Bach required a Chorus (and you rightfully recall the word 'coetus') to consist of 3 or 4 people per part *as there was always someone ill or on leave to his parents*. I recall Parrot quoting actual absentee rates, but currently I don't have them at hand.
With respect to the double-choir motet: how many people do you need for this type of work? Exactly 8 (or 10 of course when it is a 5-voice double choir), which is in line with 3 or 4 people per part, still allowing for absentees. After reading Parrots book, I've asked myself the following questions: 1 How come in so many cantatas the Coro sings the opening and final movement only? Why would you require 12 to 16 singers doing nothing for 4 hours (the duration of a complete service) or during the half hour of a cantata 2 Assuming the MP was performed on the organ loft, is there sufficient space for 32 singers and 24 instrumentalists (2 orchestras of 12 instruments each)
Darryl Clemmons wrote (February 7, 2001):
[To Sybrand Bakker] First, why would you need 32 singers? The double motets (I doubt many were performed during the services) could be split among 12 to 16 singers.
Second, these people were a lot more used to hardship than you and I. They could stand around for the duration of the service without noticing the discomfort.
Third, I don't think the chorus opening and chorus closing proves a point.
Finally, the whole argument is probably unprovable for either side until some document or eye witness steps forward. I withdraw my negative comments about one voice per part. The music should be played according to the wishes of the conductor because we don't know the composer's intentions...
Sybrand Bakker wrote (February 7, 2001):
[To Darryl Clemmons] You misread me. If we follow the memorandum as Mr. Koopman and several other people understand it, we would use 16 singers per choir in the MP! That's why I 'm talking about 32 singers. I believe Koopman and others are actually using that big number of singers.
With your last statement I definitely don't agree: We do know the composers intentions as per the number of parts retained. For the SMP there are no ripieno parts at all: there are 11 parts (2 x 4 + Peter + Pilate + Soprano in Ripieno), hence the SMP should be performed OVPP.
Charles Francis wrote (February 8, 2001):
[To Sybrand Bakker] As you most certainly know Arnold Schering and followers argue that 3-people read from each part, giving 2 x 4 x 3 = 24!
Iphise (ghcf) wrote (February 8, 2001):
Sybrand Bakker wrote:
< With respect to the double-choir motet: how many people do you need for this type of work? Exactly 8 (or 10 of course when it is a 5-voice double choir), which is in line with 3 or 4 people per part, still allowing for absentees. >
*** I have read a number of pro-OVPP arguments (and ordered Mr. Parrott's book) and I must say that I'm glad that such arguments exist, because I would have have been in favor of OVPP even in the absence of any academic support. To my humble ears, it just sounds better (of course, I'm talking only about the instances where it's warranted - I don't suggest singing DeLalande OVPP). Apart from volume, there is a qualitative difference between solo voices singing together and several voices per part. Even two voices per part sound like a "chorus" - there is a certain fullness and neutrality (anonymity) to the choral sound which, to me, cannot compete with the joy of listening to solo voices. The interpretive possibilities open to solo performers are also wider than those open to choristers who have to sing in unison with other people on the same line.
Matthew Westpha wrote (February 8, 2001):
(To Darryl Clemmons) The musicologists who argue for one singer per part haven't ignored the Entwurff ("Memorandum") - far from it. They've taken account of the entire Entwurff (rather than a single paragraph in isolation) - as well as the music Bach performed with his "first choir," which involved not only his own works, but motets (usually dating from the 17th century and often for double-choir) and other music by composers other than Bach himself.
Darryl, perhaps I'm mis-remembering, but I thought that, the last time this subject came up, you said that you would get Parrott's book ("The Essential Bach Choir") at least to see his arguments re one-singer-per-part and examine the evidence he presents.
I take it you haven't done so. If you had read Parrott's book, you wouldn't be suggesting that the proponents of single-voice Bach are ignoring the Entwurff.
Darryl Clemmons wrote (February 8, 2001):
(To Matthew Westphal) I am not suggesting they are ignoring it. Only that I have yet to read a plausible explanation for the Entwurff. I would have bought a copy of Parrot's book but my wife has veto powers on what I buy. She feels I have enough Bach and chess books already. Also, I know what I like to hear when it comes to choral works. Some of then sound better with OVPP and some don't. I often like to have copies of both to compare. Consequently, I can either buy another book about OVPP or another CD with OVPP. Concluding, I am glad Parrot et al believe in OVPP. It is nice to have some more recordings of Bach to choose from.
Johan van Veen wrote (September 13, 2001):
Does anyone know the recording of Bach's motets with the Augsburger Domsingknaben (deutsche harmonia mundi)? I saw it in my record shop today in the budget series 'Baroque Esprit'. Is it worth buying and how would you compare the choir with the Tölzer Knabenchor, for instance?
Boyd Pehrson wrote (September 13, 2001):
[To Johan van Veen] Yes, I do have the Motets BWV 225-230 on DHM sung by the Augsburger Domsingknaben, with Reinhard Kammler director. First, I would point out that the number of Bach's works recorded these days with boys' voices is much smaller than should be the case. In my opinion it is worth investing in what good comes along in that regard. Having said that, I would say this recording is not as refined as one would find from the Tölzer Knabenchor, Thomanerchor, Wiener Sängerknaben or Hannover Knabenchor.
The Augsburger Domsingknaben does come close, and is better at singing Bach than many other recorded boychoirs could be. I think the philosophy of the Augsburger Domsingknaben is different than the Tölzer Knabenchor. The former is a regular church choir, and its resources and training are devoted to that task, the latter has 'perfection' as a goal.
The quality of the singing on this CD is good overall, and I wouldn't discourage you from buying it. My copy was sent to me as a replacement by Amazon.de for the Thomanerchor version they couldn't obtain for me. So, I was disappointed by not receiving what I ordered. Nevertheless the solo work is sung all by the boys, and there are some beautiful moments. Bach cannot be diminished here. Neither would I diminish the delightfully clear and ringing voices on this CD that occasionally pierce
the texts with charming beauty.
On this "Jesu, meine Freude" (BWV 227) a wonderful connection among the singers develops, and the solo work is very nicely handled. The old instruments (as Herr Harnoncourt would call them) are deep in the background and allow the singers to promote the full text with feeling and a sense of understanding. The "ich" sound is different here and is more of an "insh" nasal sound. The soprano soloist (on "Furchte Dich Nicht" BWV 228, and throughout) sounds quite beautiful and is worth more than a passing listen as his voice is in a rich stage. I would offer the educated speculation that this is probably close to the sounds Bach heard from his own choir. His choir did not have a year to perfect their performances of specific pieces. They were taught musical principles and expected to perform whenever the time came, and sometimes whenever a new Cantata was dropped in front of them. These very Motets would probably have been handled by Bach's second rank choir and directed by a prefect, for they were devised for funerals and not for use in the regular church services.
Taken in such a spirit, the performances on this CD are worth having in one's collection. These are not the performances that graced the compact disk that featured the same programme sung the Tölzer Knabenchor, but then again what could surpass that?
Katia Tiara wrote (September 13, 2001):
[To Johan van Veen] here are some soundfiles: http://www.bth.at/tiara/cd/MotettenADK.htm
The recording of the Augsburger Domsingknaben keeps reminding me of the Tölzer's first recording of Bach's motets on Philips for how the division of solo and choir work is dealt with. I cannot agree with Boyd however regarding the quality of the recording since I personally would rank the Augsburger's approach much higher than the Thomanerchor's (and I haven't heard WSK and Hannover dealing with these pieces).
You have asked about the same choir's Haydn Masses on VoA; Manfred wrote a review, see: http://www.bth.at/boychoir-
Two more soundfiles: http://www.bth.at/tiara/cd/HaydnMessenADK.htm
You see, these recordings have been featured amply on my personal webpage - this pretty much tells you that I really like them.
Sorry for mentioning Haydn on this special list!
Motets BWV 225-231: Details
Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Systematic Discussions: BWV 225 | BWV 226 | BWV 227 | BWV 228 | BWV 229 | BWV 230 | BWV 231 | BWV 225-231 - Summary
Individual Recordings: Motets - K. Junghänel & Cantus Cölln | Motets - E. Ericson | Motets - D. Fasolis | Motets - N. Harnoncourt | Motets - R. Kammler
Reinhard Kammler: Short Biography | Augsburger Domsingknaben | Recordings of Vocal Works | Motets - R. Kammler