Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

Mass in B minor BWV 232
General Discussions - Part 17

Continue from Part 16

Discussions in the Weeks of October 4+11, 2009

Uri Golomb wrote (October 3, 2009):
Mass in B minor (BWV 232): Introduction

It's difficult to know where to start a discussion on a work like the B-minor Mass, which has so many fascinating aspects (including the question of whether it's a single work at all) and received so many different recordings. It's also a work that is of particular importance for me personally: I have written my doctoral dissertation on the work's recorded performances (you can read the abstract, and access the entire dissertation, on: http://snipr.com/ugphd_abs ). In the course of my research, I have listened to be about 80 recordings of the work, but Aryeh's recent research has revealed that the work actually has 176 recordings! And more will certainly be made in the future.

As one way of opening the discussion, I thought I'd do a brief survey on three recent recordings (which I did not discuss in my dissertation - they all came out after I'd finished it), which in different ways respond to the research of Joshua Rifkin and Andrew Parrott - the two scholars-performers who claim that Bach wrote most of his choral music (including the B-minor mass) for a choir consisting of just one voice per part. The recordings are by Sigiswald Kuijken, Marc Minkowski and Jos van Veldhoven. By focusing on these, I don't mean to criticise the use of a choir in Bach's music. I do believe that Rifkin is historically correct - that Bach indeed had a group of solo concertists (who might or might not be selectively doubled by single ripienists) in mind. This does not stop me from enjoying and recommending performances of Bach's choral music - including the Mass - with choirs in the modern sense of the word. I enjoy them and think they reveal much about the music.

But also I believe that small-scale performances have much to offer to modern audiences: the sound of a well-integrated consort of soloists singing Bach's polyphonic textures can often be breathtakingly beautiful, for one thing. Just what it is they reveal, though, depends on the specific performers.

There are many differences between the three recordings I propose to discuss. In terms of vocal forces, only Kuijken's follows precisely in Rifkin's footsteps, using only a single voice per part throughout the work. The other two are more varied: they perform some choral movements with soloists throughout, and in others they alternate between one and more voices per part. Veldhoven actually employs the same number of singers as (for instance) Suzuki - three-per-part. The difference is in the distribution: Suzuki uses the entire choir in all choral movements, whereas Veldhoven is more selective. (Adding ripienists - even to works originally conceived for single voices - is perfectly in line with Bach's own practices, as Rifkin also points out; but they were usually added in selected passages, not indiscriminately to all movements titled "chorus").

What struck me in listening to these recordings, however, was the difference in interpretive approach, more than the difference in vocal scoring. Kuijken seems to have adopted a view articulated by Philippe Herreweghe: "In Bach, if something is not possible without a conductor, it's a sign that it's not a good interpretation". In fact, unlike Herreweghe, he really does manage without a conductor, directing the performance from the violin instead. But even if I hadn't known this, I would still have felt that this is, essentially, a chamber-music performance. You don't get a sense that the a single over-arching mastermind - the Maestro - has shaped the interpretation in advance and then dictated to all concerned. Instead, the interpretation emerges from the varied interactions within a group of fine musicians, each shaping his or her own line while listening attentively to the others. The musicians are sensitive to the music's expressive character - the tension and sadness of the First Kyrie and the Crucifixus, the joy of the Gloria, and so forth - but they underline it gently. There is much restrained expressivity, but little drama or electricity. To cite just one example - the Cum sancto spiritu flows with disarming clarity and refinement, with many delightful subtleties; but we don't get the sense of exhilaration and excitement that we can hear in other recordings.

Minkowski's, on the other hand, is very much a conductor's interpretation. In the notes, he describes the Mass as symphonic, arguing that the smaller forces (larger than Kuijken's, though - he uses ten singers, two per part through most of the work) actually help in achieving this. The First Kyrie, for instance, is definitely led towards a very clear climax, as the first soprano sings the fugal subject, surrounded by dissonant harmonies, after the final fugal exposition (bar 102). The overall shaping is supported by fine attention to small details; Minkowski's treatment of individual figures often reminds me of Nikolaus Harnoncourt (in his second, 1986, recording). Coming from me, that's a compliment - I very much admire Harnoncourt's searching, detailed, no-phrase-left-uninflected approach. Others, however, find Harnoncourt mannered, and these should be careful with Minkowski as well - though they might find him not quite as extreme as Harnoncourt in that respect.

Veldhoven is somewhere in between the two. Vocally, his singers sound more like Kuijken's - "clean", well-integrated voices that sound beautifully light in the arias and duets and combine well into consorts in the choruses. I sometimes found myself wishing that he, too, would have stuck to using concertists throughout - the sound of his five leading singers combining in choral passages has a beautiful, almost magical quality that is somewhat lost when the ripienists join in. (I have the same feeling with Konrad Junghänel's recording, which is similarly structured: there is a sense of acute dialogue in the one-per-part passages, which is somehow lost when the ripienists join int). Veldhoven might not have the individualised personality of Minkowski (which could be seen as a plus or a minus, depending on your views and tastes), but he does bring out more drama and excitement than Kuijken.

On the whole, I enjoyed all three recordings very much. Bach's music is in itself intensely expressive; I don't feel that it requires highlighting from the performers (otherwise I wouldn't have liked Kuijken's version). On the other hand, I do enjoy it when performers boldly emphasize Bach's gestures - when it's done well, it does reveal additional layers of meaning. I did find myself, overall, more attracted to Veldhoven and Kuijken than to Minkowski - mainly because of the latter's choice of singers. If you're doing Bach one-per-part (as Minkowski does, in many movements and passages), you need singers who sound good as an ensemble, not just good individual voices. Minkowski's singers, I felt, sounded too heavy, and did not always integrate well with each other.

I will not enter here into the fine points of historical debate. Andrew Parrott has recently written an article on how ripienists were used in Bach's lifetime, and how these general practices could be applied to the Mass (I have yet to examine where his recommendations in this article, written two years ago, match what he himself did in 1984). I suspect that he would have issues with Veldhoven's and Minkowski's use of ripienists - Veldhoven, especially, is fond of making frequent switches from solo to tutti texture in ways which (according to Parrott's research) are not consistent with baroque practices. This might well be the case; and, history apart, I did find some of his transitions a bit "fussy". But on the whole, I did find his recording very beautiful, moving and convincing.

What struck me most of all is the sheer variety of approaches. These three performances are not worlds apart. They are all on period instruments, using a small vocal and instrumental ensemble; their approach to many aspects of tempo, dand articulation are similar. Yet there is still a very different feeling to them - from the natural fluidity of Kuijken to the drama of Minkowski. And of course if I had considered other approaches
(Suzuki, Herreweghe, Harnoncourt, Hengelbrock - not to mention Klemperer, Richter, Jochum, etc.), the variety would have been greater still. I find much to enjoy in all these versions - and this overall variety is a testimony, I feel, to the multi-faceted richness of Bach's music as a whole, and the Mass in particular.

William Hoffman wrote (October 4, 2009):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< The recordings are by Sigiswald Kuijken, Marc Minkowski and Jos van Veldhoven. >
William Hoffman writes: Thank you for your generous and probing examination of these three recent OVPP recorded performances. I'm wondering how they fit into your theme, "Multiple Approaches to Bach" (BCW 2/28/08), showing what might be called the right-brain and left-brain approaches and embracing what I call the unified rather than dualistic concept.

William Hoffman wrote (October 6, 2009):
Mass in B minor (BWV 232): Anatomy

BCW template, recordings, discussion of the Mass in B-Minor are found at: www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV232.htm

The following are the 27 movements with possible parodies, models, or influences:

No./ Type Title/ Source-Occasion/ Notes

I. KYRIE-GLORIA
1. Chs.5pt. Kyrie eleison opening, Wilderer Missa model C.Wolff
2. SA,vns. Christe eleison poss. Anh.9/8 Aug. 1727 infl Hafner
3. Chs.4pt. Kyrie eleison unknown model Stauffer
4. Chs.5pt. Gloria in exc. var. infl. Stauffer
5. Chs. 5pt. Et in terra pax var. infl. Stauffer
6. A vn. Laudamus te Anh. 14/1 wed.1725 infl. Scheibe
7. Chs.4pt. Gratias agimus 29/2 Council 1731 parody NBA
8. ST fl Domine Deus 193a/5 (Kothen) Stauffer
9. Chs.4pt. Qui tollis 46/1A Tr.+10 1723 parody short.
10. A ob. Qui sedes Anh. 9/11Aug.1727 infl.Hafner
11. B hn. Quoniam Anh. 14/3 wed.1725 infl. Scheide; new Stauffer 12. Chs.5pt. Cum sancto ?late 1720s cantata infl. Rifkin

II. CREDO
13. Chs.5pt. Credo orig. c.1747; based on studies , Stauffer
14. Chs.4pt. Patrem omni. 171/1 NY 1729 parody NBA
15. SA obs. Et in unum source, incipit 213/11 1733 b-day Aug.
16. Chs.5 Et in carnatus addition to Credo c.1748
17. Chs.4 Crucifixus 12/1 Eas.1714 parody NBA
18. Chs.4 Et resurrexit Anh. 9/1A 1727 Aug. b-day 1727 Hafner,
19. B,obs Et in spiritum Anh.14/6 wed.1725 infl. Scheide, unknown
20. Chs.4 Confiteor (added ORIGINAL 1748)
21. Chs.4 Et expecto 120/2 Council 1728-9 parody NBA

III. SANCTUS
22. Chs.6 Sanctus, Xmas 1724, 26-27; orig. first mvt. NBA

IV. OSANNA-BENEDICTUS
23. Chs.8 Osanna; A.11/1A name day 1732; +215/1A congr. 1734 NBA
24. T fl/vn. Benedictus Anh.14/4 wed. 1725 infl. Scheide; unknown
25. Repeat 23

V. AGNUS DEI
26. A vns. Agnus Dei Anh.196/3 wed.1725, 11/4 Asc.1735 parody NBA
27. Chs.4 Dona nobis repeat, contrafaction of 7

The primary source is George Stauffer's <Bach, the Mass B Minor: The Great Catholic Mass> (Yale Univ. Press, 2003).

Anatomy of the B-Minor Mass

26 movements (Osanna repeated): 17 choruses/9 arias (2/1 Kyrie, 5/4 Gloria, 7/2 Credo, 3/2 Sanctus-Agnus Dei. Choruses: 1 8-part (23), 1 6-part (22, SSAATB), 6 5-part (1, 4, 5, 12, 13, 16; SSATB)
Arias: Duets (3): SA (2, 14), ST (7), Solos (6); A (5, 9, 23), B (10, 18), T (22)

Instrumentation:

Choruses with 3 trumpets & timpani (12, all tutti): Gloria (5), Et in terra pax (6), Gratias agimus tibi (7), Cum sancto (12) Credo (13), Patrem ominpotentem (14), Et resurrexit (18), Et expecto (21), Sanctus (22), Osanna (23, 25), Dona nobia pacem (27). Choruses without trumpets & timpani (5): Kyrie (1, 3), Qui tollis (9), Crucifixus (16), Confiteor (20).

Aria instrumental accompaniment: 2, Christe eleison, unison violins; 6, Laudaumus te, violin, strings; 8, Domine Deus, flute, strings; 10, Qui sedes, oboe, strings; 11, Quoniam, horn, 2 bassoons, 15, Et in unmum, 2 oboes, strings; 19, Et in spiritum, 2 oboes; 24, Benedictus, flute or violin; 26, Agnus Dei, unison violins. Except for the opening and closing arias for unison violins, the accompaniment is never repeated among the other seven aria movements. The Benedictus can be played by either solo violin or flute.

Movements with previous source materials:

Parody through extant music (8): 7. chorus Gratias agimus tibi, 9. chorus Qui tollis, 14. chorus patrem ominipotentem, 17. chorus Crucifixus, 21. Chorus at expecto, 23 & 25. chorus Osanna, 26. aria Agnus Dei.

Original (1): 22. chorus Sanctus (1724).

Model (3): 8. duet Domine Deus, 13. chorus Credo in G (1747), 15. duet Et in unum Dominum.

Possible Recognized Model (7): 2. duet Christe eleison, 6. aria Laudaumus te, 10. aria Qui sedes, 11. aria Quoniam, 18, chorus Et Resuurexit, 19. Aria Et is spiritum, 24. aria Benedictus, Indeterminate previous source (5): 1. Kyrie eleison I, 3. chorus Kyrie eleison II, 4. chorus Gloria in excelsis, 5. chorus Et in terra, 12, chorus Cum sancto spiritu,

Newly composed (2): 16. chorus Et in carnatus est, 20. Confiteor.

Most recent possibbilities: William H. Scheide, "Sein Segen, BWV Anh.I 14: A source for Parodied Arias in the B-Minor Mass?", in <About Bach> Wolff festschrift, pp. 69-88 (Univ. Illin. Press 2008)

The most recent comprehensive B-Minor Mass source is:
International Symposium: Understanding Bach's M-minor Mass. Discussion Book 1 and 2, edited by Yo Tomita, Elise Crean, Ian Mills and Tanja Kovaèeviæ (Belfast: School of Music and Sonic Arts, 2007), 511p, found at: www.music.qub.ac.uk/tomita/bachbib/conferences/Belfast-Nov2007/BMM-DB.htm

Available and of particular note are the Abstracts and the Discussion Book, Volume II (Resource Book) with its Select Bibliography.

To come?? Select summaries of Abstracts and Scheide article; Fugitive thoughts on styles, dance-influences, symmetrical structure, and Bohemian transmission connections.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 6, 2009):
Contexts for the Mass in B Minor

Having spent a fair amount of time with Bach's Mass in F Major in preparation for a performance in December, I've been struck by the similarities with the Mass in B Minor. A glance at the movements of the two works is striking:

Mass in B Minor

1. Chorus: Kyrie eleison
2. Duet (Sop & Alto): Christe eleison
3. Chorus: Kyrie eleison

4. Chorus: Gloria/ Et in terra pax
5. Aria (Sop): Laudamus te
6. Chorus: Gratias agimus
7. Duet (Sop & Alto): Domine Deus
8. Chorus: Qui tollis
9. Aria (Alto): Qui sedes
10. Aria (Bass): Quoniam
11. Chorus: Cum Sancto Spiritu

Mass in F Major:

1. Chorus: Kyrie eleison (Revision)
2. Chorus: Christe eleison
3. Chorus: Kyrie eleison

4. Chorus: Gloria/ Et in Terra/Laudamus/Gratias (unknown parody?)
5. Aria (Bass): Domine Deus (parody?)
6. Aria (Sop): Qui tollis/Qui sedes (parody BWV 102)
7. Aria (Alto): Quoniam (parody BWV 102)
8. Chorus: Cum Sancto Spiritu (parody BWV 40)

A few observations:

1. Scale: Although the Mass in B Minor is on a titanic scale, the Mass in F major is a large work, larger than most of the cantatas (it runs about 30 minutes in performance)

2. Text division: The division into movements is very similar. The B Minor Mass is more expansive in the central movements of the Gloria but there is recognizable pattern inboth.

3. Scoring: The Mass in F has a large festive orchestra of 2 ob, 2 horns and strings.

4. Movement types: Both masses use "stile antico' counterpoint in Kyrie II (the F Major Mass uses fugal style in all three Kyrie movement), the 'Cum Sancto' is a modern fugue in both.

5. Parody Sources: Both works borrow heavily from earlier works. This is major hallmark of Bach's compositional style in the last decade of his life: the other masses and the Christmas Oratorio are notable examples.

6. Liturgical Context: 'Missa Brevis' is a misnomer: Bach never used the term. It came to mean a smaller scale mass only in the classical period (vs. the 'missa longa' or 'missa solemnis'). All of Bach's masses are on a large scale. Nor are they confined to the Lutheran liturgy. Stauffer showed that nocyclic masses were common Catholic practice in the period and thus could be used in both churches: Vivaldi's famous "Gloria" is a good example of these independent mass movements which could be used in combination with other movements.

All of this would suggest that the Mass in B Minor does have comparable works in Bach's oeuvre. Why he took up the mass as a major compositional genre is for the historians to discover. Stauffer certain points to Dresden as the influence and target.

Sw Anadgyan wrote (October 6, 2009):
Uri Golomb wrote:
[couic]
< What struck me most of all is the sheer variety of approaches. These three performances are not worlds apart. They are all on period instruments, using a small vocal and instrumental ensemble; their approach to many aspects of tempo, dynamics and articulation are similar. Yet there is still a very different feeling to them - from the natural fluidity of Kuijken to the drama of Minkowski. And of course if I had considered other approaches (Suzuki, Herreweghe, Harnoncourt, Hengelbrock - not to mention Klemperer, Richter, Jochum, etc.), the variety would have been greater still. I find much to enjoy in all these versions - and this overall variety is a testimony, I feel, to the multi-faceted richness of Bach's music as a whole, and the Mass in particular. >
Greetings Aryeh, Uri and everyone on board,

Thank you so much for you introduction to the Mass in B minor for I got to read it after returning home from purchasing the newly arrived in Montreal version directed by Sigiswald Kuijken on Challenge Classics.

My following comments are of a totally amateurish nature.

May I begin with my "first impression"?

After the initial run-through of a complete listening, Out of those three OVPP versions aforementioned, only the Kuijken one left me thrilled, Minkowski disappointed me and Vandelhoven kinda left me in neutral gear.

I find the version from Marc Minkowski too florid with the singing somewhat more meticulous than Kuijken, wich seemed more subdued and solemn, just as it is with Vandelhoven where the singing I find is nicely aerial.

Where Minkowski seems to lack in a sense of sacredness, he makes up for it with a real sense of buoyancy; this would be the version with the most "personality".

There is nothing wrong per se with the Vandelhoven version, it is, to my ears, elegant and with little idiosyncracies.

I'm using two sections to help me precise my current opinions the concluding Kirie eleison to appreciate the "rolling movement" and the transition to the Qui tollis peccata mundi, simply because it is of those spots
where it does affect me a lot, or not. Only Minkowski failed to register on that particular scale but not by much.

For those weary of the occasional Minkowski neck-braking speeds, I checked the Cum Sancto Spiritu, impression-wise, and his is no faster than Vandelhoven's take; only Kuijken is of a more leisure pace.

Now before using too much space for little contribution, let me compare the Agnus Dei aria enabling me to reach conclusion.

With Vandelhoven the singer, Matthew White, seems more austere and the playing verging on the anemic. Minkowski has Les Musiciens du Louvre in the same delicate space and Nathalie Stutzmann doesn't particularly shine, being correct. Petra Noskaiova, for Kuijken, is the only one to remind me of Kathleen Ferrier with that little oomph in her rendering.

Another thing I want to mention is the quality of the wind intrument players in all three versions. To my neophyte ears, more than the increasingly popular format of One-Voice-Per-Part, it is the gorgeous sounds from these musicians that characterize these recordingsand make them valuable additions to your collection.

I would recommend Kuijken without any hesitation, Vandelhoven with some and Minkowski with a lot of it!

On a personal note, these three recordings have allowed me to rediscover in a brighter light the Cantus Cölln version.

Thank you and happy listening

Julian Mincham wrote (October 6, 2009):
Now before using too much space for little contribution, let me compare the Agnus Dei aria enabling me to reach conclusion.

With Vandelhoven the singer, Matthew White, seems more austere and the playing verging on the anemic. Minkowski has Les Musiciens du Louvre in the same delicate space and Nathalie Stutzmann doesn't particularly shine, being correct. Petra Noskaiova, for Kuijken, is the only one to remind me of Kathleen Ferrier with that little oomph in her rendering.

This reminded me of an incident when I was an impecunious student. There were not so many versions of the Mass on LP around then of course, but there were a few.---and I wanted one.?I asked my music lecturer which one he would advise me to shell out my carefully cossetted cash on and I always recall his reponse--------go into the record booth (as you could in those days) and try to hear the opening chorus and the Agnus Dei from each recording. If you like those movements you'll probably like the whole performance--if not you know not?to buy it.

The version I got was by Eugen Jochum with Lois Marshall, Hertha Topper, Peter Pears, Kim Borg and Hans Braun--rather dated today but I have an affection for it because?it was through that recording that I I really got to know the work.

(At least two members of this group, Neil H and Lew G will know the shop I got it from--in a mall just off Rundle Street!)

Happy Days

Russell Telfer wrote (October 6, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote
< This reminded me of an incident when I was an impecunious student..... >
Not particularly relevant to this but an incident from a performance of the Mass in B Minor in the Festival Hall, London.

It was a nasty autumn, some members had dropped out with sore throats and I'm pretty sure the fellows on either side of me had colds too. As well as that, they'd been working their socks off so far, and when it came to the Credo, they couldn't get any sound out. It's one of those bare, exposed moments and as we took the beat I could barely hear anyone else singing at that moment. Quite an unnerving moment.

Russell
(Been away in Canada. Recovered now.)

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 7, 2009):
< For those weary of the occasional Minkowski neck-braking speeds >
Suggestion: tap the brake pedal, do not stomp on it! At least in the old days, before ABS.

Comments on recordings are always especially enjoyed by me, I trust a bit of stand up comedy in response is tolerable?

Take my mother-in-law. Please!

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 7, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< The version I got was by Eugen Jochum with Lois Marshall, Hertha Topper, Peter Pears, Kim Borg and Hans Braun--rather dated today but I have an affection for it because?it was through that recording??that I I really got to know the work. >
I will be seeking it out, based on the line-up alone. It is gratifying how enduring is the work of Eugen Jochum; his Beethoven symphonies remain at the top of my list. Rather dated? How about classic!

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 7, 2009):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< (Been away in Canada. Recovered now.) >
Those of us who have had the spiritual joy of hanging out with Canadians know exactly what you mean. For the rest of the world to ponder. Good for the throat, in any case.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 7, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<< The version I got was by Eugen Jochum with Lois Marshall, Hertha Topper, Peter Pears, Kim Borg and Hans Braun--rather dated today but I have an affection for it because?it was through that recording??that I I really got to know the work. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I will be seeking it out, based on the line-up alone. It is gratifying how enduring is the work of Eugen Jochum; his Beethoven symphonies remain at the top of my list. Rather dated? How about classic! >
I must dig it out and hear it again--maybe 'slow and a little ponderous at times' might be a better description rather than 'dated'? But it's hard to fault the line up of singers for that time.

Uri Golomb wrote (October 7, 2009):
Jochum made two recordings of the Mass - in 1957 (the one that Julian wrote ab) and in 1980. I have much affection to both recordings - with a slight preference to the 1980 version, which is my favourite among modern-instruments version (ahead of Richter, Klemperer and Rilling, for instance; I did enjoy Abbado's version tremendously, but at the moment it's not commercially available). It is indeed quite slow and heavy, but not as rigid as many other modern-instrument versions, and at times it's deeply expressive. The First Kyrie, for instance, maintains a powerful arc of tension and release despite the slow tempo. It's amazing, BTW, how little Jochum's interpretation has changed in the 23 years separating his recordings - other conductors have changed much more in shorter spans of time. In some cases (Rilling's 1977 and 1999 versions, Harnoncourt's 1968 and 1986), it's difficult to believe that the same conductor is responsible for both versions.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 7, 2009):
[To Uri Golomb] Thanks for this info Uri.

Do you have ready access to the names of the soloists on the later recording?

Uri Golomb wrote (October 7, 2009):
[To Julian Mincham] The soloists in Jochum's second recording of the Mass were Helen Donath (soprano), Brigitte Fassbaender (alto), Claes-Håkan Ahnsjö (tenor), Roland Hermann and Robert Holl (basses). There are more details on: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV232-Jochum.htm.

Uri Golomb wrote (October 7, 2009):
I should add that my main reason for preferring Jochum's second recording is that the choir sounds better there. I'm not sure whether the choir itself was better then (more steady singing, less vibrato) or whether it's due to a better, clearer recording. Probably a combination of both. But there are moments I prefer in the first recording. The beginning of the second part in the First Kyrie, for instance: in both recordings, Jochum creates a tremendous crescendo and build-up of tension, starting from the basses' entry and building up to a climax at the seventh entry (there are only five voices, but each of the two sopranos enters twice). But in the 1957 recording, there is a sense of hushed mystery in the bass entry, and of a gradual "lifting of the mist" as more voices enter; and something of that mystery is lost in 1980.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 7, 2009):
[To Uri Golomb] Many thanks--I should have thought to look this up on the site myself!

Russell Telfer wrote (October 9, 2009):
Ed Myskowsk wrote:
< Those of us who have had the spiritual joy of hanging out with Canadians know exactly what you mean. For the rest of the world to ponder. Good for the throat, in any case. >
No, Ed, no!

Maybe that's how it read, but that's not what I meant. The exhaustion was physical, not mental, although I did briefly enter the fifth dimension during a guided talk in Quebec City. IMO on a scale of awfulness Canada scores a puny 5%. Most places score more including my own neck of the woods.

See Canada in 15 days. That's what I did. Imagine Appreciate the music of Johan S Bach in 45 minutes It's a bit like that. I didn't even have time to seek out Douglas' church in Toronto.

William Hoffman wrote (October 9, 2009):
BWV 232 Intro: Commission

The following is the Abstract for a presentation at the 2007 Tomita B-Minor Mass Conference in Belfast. It can be accessed at: http:// www.music.qub.ac.uk/tomita/bachbib/conferences/Belfast-Nov2007/BMM-DB.htm

Michael Maul
"How Relevant are Counts Sporck and Questenberg for the Genesis and Early Reception of the B-minor Mass?

When reflecting on the early reception of Bach's B-minor Mass, those areas of the German Reich which were committed to the Catholic denomination, especially the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Margravate of Moravia, will be of particular interest to the researcher.
As we know from Bach's note on the score of the Sanctus BWV 232/III-`NB. Die Parteyen sind in Böhmen bey Graff Sporck'-the Bohemian Count Franz Anton von Sporck borrowed the original parts from Bach in the 1720s and likely organized performances of this work in his residence in Kuks. Apart from Sporck, Bach was in touch with another Catholic nobleman, Johann Adam von Questenberg. In 1981 Alois Plichta proved that Bach and the Moravian Count, who resided in Jaromice near the city of Brno, had been in contact.
(p.20)
However, this fact has hardly been considered so far. A correspondence between a student of the University of Leipzig and Questenberg, dated April 1749, indicates that the Moravian Count obviously contacted Bach at that time. Unfortunately, this letter has come down to us without any particular details about Questenberg's request. The Count was a passionate lutenist and an opera lover so he might have asked Bach to send him some instrumental music. Interestingly enough, the mysterious letter was written just when Bach was working on the completion of his B-minor Mass-a fact that led Christoph Wolff to assume that Questenberg might even have been the initiator of this project. This would easily provide an explanation as to why a Protestant Cantor of St. Thomas' in Leipzig would create such a large-scale work that was only suitable for a Catholic service.

For a long time, important records referring to Questenberg and Sporck were kept behind a locked door, which made research on the Counts' musical activities extremely difficult. During the course of a project run by the Bach-Archiv Leipzig which focuses on the systematic and large-scale exploration of archives relevant to the life and work of Bach, I began to reappraise this `Grauzone in Bachs Biographie' (C. Wolff) as a result of the discovery and analysis of records referring to both Questenberg and Sporck in several archives in the Czech Republic. The large amount of records found in Bohemia and Moravia provide unknown and detailed information not only about the capacity and standard of the Dukes' orchestras but also about the musical preferences of Sporck and Questenberg. Eventually, the exploration of the Counts' biographies will lead to a better understanding of the origins of their connection to Bach.

MICHAEL MAUL works at the Bach-Archiv Leipzig and is also a Lecturer at the University of Leipzig. In 2004 he published the oldest surviving manuscript of a German opera and in May 2005 he discovered the aria `Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn' (BWV 1027)."

Stauffer in his 2003 B-Minor Mass monograph says (p. 260): "The work could have been Bach's response to a private commission from a Catholic patron. Count Sporck, the borrower of the 'Sanctus' parts in the 1720s, cannot be considered, for he died in 1738. But Bach had other acquaintances -- Friedrich Ludwig von Haugwitz in Silesia and Count Johann Adam von Questenberg in Moravia -- who might have been interested in a Monumental Catholic church work. Bach reportedly corresponded with Questenberg in the spring of 1749 about a commission or project.* Unfortunately, nothing is known of its nature. *C. Wolff NGBF:111, JSB:TLM:430f.

Maul and others are pursuing these connections. As reported recently, it is possible that the B-Minor Mass was performed soon after its completion, possible at St. Stephens in Vienna. I also think its is possible that Baron von Swieten may have had access to German and Austrian sources. Much may have been word of mouth after 1750. Christoph Wolff writing about the St. John Passion (BWV 245) says that the C.P.E. Bach circle in Hamburg, c.1790, having heard the Credo, which was well-known, passed on information to the Berlin Singakademie re. Bach vocal music, including the early Weimar Passion.

As for Count Sporck, an extended article on him can be accessed through: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV233-242.htm
Commentary.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 9, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Maul and others are pursuing these connections. As reported recently, it is possible that the B-Minor Mass was performed soon after its completion, possible at St. Stephens in Vienna. I also think its is possible that Baron von Swieten may have had access to German and Austrian sources. Much may have been word of mouth after 1750. >
What specific evidence is there for a "possible performance"? What source specific sources would Swieten have had? And why didn't he perform it then, or have copies in his library? Were those sources lost later, because Beethoven was desperate to get a copy of the B minor Mass for his own studies in preparation of the Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123, and it seems odd that all these sources just vanished.

William Hoffman wrote (October 9, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Having spent a fair amount of time with Bach's Mass in F Major in preparation for a performance in December, I've been struck by the similarities with the Mass in B Minor. >
Thank you very much, Doug, for your analysis of the Mass in F and connections to other Masses.

If I may pickup on what you have written, I'm going to focus on the horn connection. As you point out, BWV 233 is scored for 2 horns and 2 oboes and the first two movements, "Gloria" and "Domine Deus," are parody. Incidentally, there is a whole historical genre called the "Parody Mass," for those averse to the term "parody." Get over it; it's been around for maybe a millenium!

Joshua Rifkin in his notes to the Masses BWV 233-236, Nonesuch, Rilling, says the two movements, BWV 233/2 & 3, "clearly derive from da capo movements, a form that Bach never employed in original compositions with Latin texts. In the chorus he elides the division between the opening and middle sections, and abbreviates the beginning of the recapitulation, but the original form remains." Rifkin suggests that the chorus may have originated in Koethen from an instrumental work (cf. BWV 1046/3) or a congratulatory cantata for Prince Leopold, and that the ensuing bass aria with strings may have originated in the secular cantata BWV Anh. 18, 1732 rededication of the Thomas School and the cantor's quarters remodeling and expansion.

We'll be taking up the Lutheran Masses a year from now. Meanwhile, I'd like to connect some possible dots. Start with the B-Minor Mass bass solo, "Quoniam," with the gorgeous horn solo and two-bassoon accompaniment. It could be traced to the sacred wedding cantata BWV Anh. 14, Feb. 12, 1725. Then there is the marvelous opening chorus of BWV 65 for the Feast of Epiphany, 1724. It may be that at that time, Bach had met Count Sporck in Leipzig, a friend of Picander, who dedicated his first book of poetry to the Count and who may have facilitated the Bach-Picander collaboration. Sporck was a champion of the horn and I will pursue this further in a few weeks with the discussion of BWV 65. Also, I will take up the McCreesh Bach Epiphany Mass (c.1740) which I believe includes BWV 233. Bingo, full circle!

As for other topics related to the current discussion of BWV 232, I'm pursuing both the Trinity Feast "omnes tempore" connections with the Mass and the biblical origins of the Mass Ordinary texts.

Peter Smaill wrote (October 9, 2009):
[To William Hoffman] The Michael Maul theory is decidedly provisional; as he explained at Belfast, we may never know whether the score and parts of the B Minor Mass were delivered to von Questenberg, who like Count von Sporck was an enlightened Catholic patron interested in the work of the greatest protestant composer of their time. Apparently the servants at the great estate of Jaromerice where von Q lived subsequently took to protecting the trees in winter by wrapping old scores around their trunks!

In this context of ecumenical relevance, it is interesting that von Q's ancestor Gerhard von Questenberg was the Habsburg ambassador during the Thirty Years' War and attempred to negotiate an end to the conflict, associated with the famous Catholic general Wallenstein who tried to secure peace but was murdered. This von Questenberg is dealt with rather inaccurately in Schiller's trilogy of Wallenstein plays, depicted as entirley partisan there to absolutism.

So...if Maul is right, then this later Count Jan Adam von Questenberg was, like his ancestor, acting as a bridge between the Catholic and Protestant worlds.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 9, 2009):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Apparently the servants at the great estate of Jaromerice where von Q lived subsequently took to protecting the trees in winter by wrapping old scores around their trunks! >
Such a crime. I can't believe that one of the estate managers wouldn't have put a halt to this. Granted people may have not have known the musical value of what they were using, music manuscripts were a big investment in terms of paper, ink, time and the cost of copying. Recent research on the notion of "intellectual property" quotes 18th century sources/documents where rulers cite those reasaons for prohibiting copies of compostions from being distributed to other courts or performers. Pisendel went to great risks to send Telemann a score of a beautiful Zelinka motet, and begged him not to allow the source be made known, since it could have serious ramifications for Pisendel's position in Dresden.

Why not rip an oil painting out of a frame and wrap a tree with that as well? I've heard the stories about Bach scores were used to wrap fish after his death, but I don't know the origin of that or if it's truly factual.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 9, 2009):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< The Michael Maul theory is decidedly provisional; as he explained at Belfast, we may never know whether the score and parts of the B Minor Mass were delivered to von Questenberg, who like Count von Sporck was an enlightened Catholic patron interested in the work of the greatest protestant composer of their time. >
I think we have to be careful about using terms like "enlightened" and projecting back modern motives of building ecumenical bridges between Catholics and Protestants. In the 18th century, there was little or no interest in such developments. The churches were pretty much fixed in their doctrines and in their political arrangements.

On a practical musical level, however, there was clearly substantial movement. The career of Handel is a good example. Although an orthodox Lutheran, he was commissioned to write lavish liturgical music for the Catholic mass and vespers in Rome. Later Handel would do the same for Anglican Church.

What was to prevent Bach from accepting commissions from Catholic patrons? The Lutheran authorities in Leipzig may not have liked it, but if there was a connection with the Saxon Court at Dresden, they may have acquiesced. After all, there was a Jesuit chapel royal in Leipzig. Bach may very well have contemplated a career change at the Catholic Chapel royal in Dresden. At the same time, his interest in mass composition evidenced in the so-called 'Lutheran' masses shows his concern to provide Leipzig with the most modern liturgical music.

I find it hard to believe that the Mass in B Minor was ever repertoire at a minor aristocrat's chapel. The sheer scale of the work argues for a very special event and major royal or imperial performance. This is music of princely "magnificence."

Chris Kern wrote (October 10, 2009):
Mass in B Minor

Today I went to the music library and looked at a facsimile of Bach's manuscript of BWV 232 while I listened to the Parrott OVPP recording. I only listened to the Kyrie and Gloria.

It was interesting to go through the Mass with Bach's manuscript in front of me; sometimes it was harder to follow than a modern printed scorbut it was remarkably clear for the most part, and it was kind of neat to listen to the Mass that way. I'm sure Bach never imagined his manuscript would be printed and used as a reference centuries later.

One interesting thing about the OVPP that I didn't notice before is that it really brings out the contrast between voice being doubled by an instrument and not. There's one spot in the Et In Terra Pax where the fugue development is only voice + continuo, with no doubling instruments, and it has a noticeably different timbre from the other areas; I don't believe I noticed this on the regular choir recordings. You can also hear a big difference when Bach collapses both sopranos into one line.

William Hoffman wrote (October 10, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I find it hard to believe that the Mass in B Minor was ever repertoire at a minor aristocrat's chapel. The sheer scale of the work argues for a very special event and major royal or imperial performance. This is music of princely "magnificence." >
William Hoffman responds: I agree with your thoughts, especially the last, above. I do wonder if perhaps Sporck and Questenberg were intermediaries between Bach/Leipzig and the Dresden and Vienna Courts. They certainly could have assumed that role. The Sanctus was just a foretaste of the feast to come.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 10, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< I do wonder if perhaps Sporck and Questenberg were intermediaries between Bach/Leipzig and the Dresden and Vienna Courts. >
Using minor artistocrats as intermediaries was a standard way that royals and their senior courtiers negotiated with all types of artists. There were always concentric circles of decision-making which guarded social superiors from direct contact with middle-class artists and artisans. The court party which supported "modern" composers like Telemann in the negotiations for the Leipzig cantorate could well have decided that Bach belonged in Dresden or Vienna. I was listening to the Biber 56-part 'Missa Salisbugiensis' the other day -- it's a truly mediocre work -- but its monumental scale always reminds me of the "imperial" quality of the Mass in B Minor. A Hapsburg performance?

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 10, 2009):
Chris Kern wrote:
< One interesting thing about the OVPP that I didn't notice before is that it really brings out the contrast between voice being doubled by an instrument and not. >
These contrasts really struck me at the recent OVPP performance of the St. Matthew Passion by the Tafelmusik Orchestra and Choir. There were three obvious textures:

1) The voices as "soloists" without any doubling in the arias and recitatives.

2) The voices as "congregation" with the instruments doubling at pitch in the chorales.

3) The voices as "chorus" with the instruments doubling at the octave in the figugural and turba choruses.

The various scorings created extraordinary contrasts which I had never heard before with large choirs.

Peter Smaill wrote (October 10, 2009):
BWV 232 Intro: the Vienna Connection

William Hoffman responds:
< I agree with your thoughts, especially the last, above. I do wonder if perhaps Sporck and Questenberg were intermediaries between Bach/Leipzig and the Dresden and Vienna Courts. They certainly could have assumed that role. The Sanctus was just a foretaste of the feast to come. >
Apart from the launch of the Maul/Questenberg theory at Belfast? in November 2007 there was a further dramatic discovery which also relates to the later?Viennese court and musical circles there.In the paper "Viennese Traditions of the Mass in?B Minor" given by Ulrich Leisinger.

"...we may conclude that Mozart was able to study Bach's Mass..in detail shortly before he started working on his Mass in?C Minor(K 427). There are obvious similarities between the two works, starting with the five part "chorus" with two sopranos for the "Kyrie" and an eight double part chorus for the Osanna- settings that are not commonly found in mass compositions of the period. ..

Sefan Kunze has analysed the gestalt of the "Qui Tollis" in some detail before summarizing:

"The "Qui Tollis" reminds of the "Crucifixus" from Bach's B Minor Mass, which Mozart cannot possibly have known, however"".

Not so! The rediscovery of the "Eisenstadt" score, faintly recorded pre WWII, and a copy of the Van Swieten score,? re-established ?this version, which passed through Haydn's estate (it was once thought to have been ?hidden in a chimney at Esterhazy in the war!). This Eisenstadt copy of the Berlin original was written out to be given away, possibly also /as well as from Kirnberger. Leisinger thinks however that Van Swieten himself may have shown it to Mozart. It is in the Eisenstadt Collection in Austria, ms 1518; and was 193 in Haydn's collection.

William Hoffman wrote (October 10, 2009):
[To Peter Smaill] William Hoffman replies: Another possible dot to connect: In 1740, Vivaldi's memorial service was held at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna where Haydn was a member of the Vienna Choir Boys. Ten years later, Haydn composed his first Missa Brevis, Jaroslav Pelikan points out in the beginning of his chapter, "Aesthetics and Evangelical Catholicity in the B Minor Mass" in <Bach Among the Theologians> (1986). The essay's theme is that "By setting the text of the Latin Mass, Bach in fact was participating in a liturgical and musical process begun by Martin Luther himself...." Pelikan also asks (p.118): "What meaning could Bach have attached to the B Minor Mass if he did not consider the possibility of the performance of this work, completed as it was near the end of his life," citing C. Wolff, <Bach Family>, 96f.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 10, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Another possible dot to connect: In 1740, Vivaldi's memorial service was held at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna where Haydn was a member of the Vienna Choir Boys. >
It would be very interesting to study the trails of musical influence in the 1740's. Vivaldi's visit to Vienna shows the strong Venetian connection connection in Vienna and Salzburg. So too in Dresden. Long before Augustus converted to Catholicism and brought in Italian musicians to his chapel royal, Schütz had created an influential link through Gabrieli and Monteverdi -- and that was when the chapel royal used the Lutheran rite. It would not surprise me if records turned up which showed a Dresden or Vienna performance for the Mass in B Minor.

Just to be precise, the choir at the Dom, St. Stephen's Cathedral, was a different institution from the Hofkapelle choir, the court choir which sang in the imperial chapels for court functions (it became the Vienna Choirboys after the dissolution of the Austrian monarchy after WWI). Because St. Stephen's was the site of many imperial occasions, there was much overlap of the two choirs, just as even today the choir of the English Chapel Royal
will join with the choirs of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral for royal weddings, funerals and coronations.

Chris Kern wrote (October 13, 2009):
Mass in B Minor (2)

I listened to the second part (Credo to the end) with the manuscript score; the second part is a little messier and harder to follow but it was still a nice experience.

Parrott's OVPP is definitely one of my favorite versions. One other thing I noticed this time is that with OVPP there are some soli/tutti contrasts built into the score -- for instance, in the Sanctus sometimes the altos and sopranos act independently, other times they are together. The treatment of the two sopranos in the first three parts are different; sometimes they're independent, sometimes they combine, and sometimes (like in the Crucifixus) only one sings. The DoNobis Pacem is 8 voices vs. the 5 voices of the Gratius Agimus Tibi. I don't think these textures and contrasts can be heard in a non-OVPP performance (even in a small choir I'm not sure the ear can distinctly hear 8 voices vs. 4 voices in a concerted work, but 1 vs. 2 is a big contrast).

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 13, 2009):
Chris Kern wrote:
< The Dona Nobis Pacem is 8 voices vs. the 5 voices of the Gratius Agimus Tibi. I don't think these textures and contrasts can be heard in a non-OVPP performance (even in a small choir I'm not sure the ear can distinctly hear 8 voices vs. 4 voices in a concerted work, but 1 vs. 2 is a big contrast). >
One of the practical distortions of the OVPP hypothesis that is cropping up is that conductors think that they can now decide that certain passages can be "solos" without any justification. A few years ago, the Tafekmusik Orchestra and Choir did a superlative Mass in B Minor. It was not OVPP: I think the strings were 3-3-2-1-1 and the choir was around 25. I was astonished in the first Kyrie that, after the opening four bars, the first part of the fugue was given to the soloists and second to the tutti choir. This went on all evening: e.g. the "Qui Tollis" was given to a solo quartet. The performance was beautiful, but the effect was to turn the Bach mass into a Classical mass with solo quartet alternating with choir. That ain't what Rifkin and Parrott intended.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 13, 2009):
Chris Kern wrote:
< I don't think these textures and contrasts can be heard in a non-OVPP performance (even in a small choir I'm not sure the ear can distinctly hear 8 voices vs. 4 voices in a concerted work, but 1 vs. 2 is a big contrast). >
This is a nice point. Although I did not yet take the time to listen for it, my guess is that it will also be apparent in Rifkin, even from the LPs.

Doug concluded his response, with respect to the abuses of many subsequent OVPP performances:
< That ain't what Rifkin and Parrott intended. >
There are reams of pages in the BCW archives decrying Rifkin and Parrott, based on the works of their followers (or with even less basis), and nearly as many pages suggesting (correctly) to get back to the source before commenting, as Chris has done.

U CD GT WURS ADVYS (with reference to HELP!!! on BRML). Geez, I remember when shouting HELP was a request for a Beatles tune. Come to think of it, often it still is.

William Hoffman wrote (October 14, 2009):
Mass in B Minor: Fugitive Notes

Structure

The structure of Bach`s B-minor Mass is his favorite: palindrome or mirror, also known as cross-like or chiastic. The five sections of the Mass Ordinary are a classic case of palindrome, from the perspectives of actual form, as well as style and mood:

Kyrie and Agnus Dei - pleas for mercy, slow, mostly stile antico (chorus-aria-chorus)
Gloria and Sanctus - canticles of joy, mostly stile moderno, gallant and operatic
Credo -- involved, core, mixed stile, in Bach's final version, itself palindrome

Stauffer in <Bach: The Mass in B Minor> points out that the Gloria is a modified symmetry (p.96), with the aria No. 8, "Domine Deus," as the center, and the Credo is pure symmetry, the center being No.17, "Crucifixus," or "cross" (p.142). Within the Credo, No. 19, "Et in spiritum," is modified aria da capo form (A-B-A'), symmetrical, (p.130), balancing instrumental and vocal ritornelli with vocal material.

Stauffer observes variously that Bach's original Credo in G-mixolydian was expanded when Bach composed a new No. 20, "Confiteor," or confession," doing a double contrafaction, redistributing the Latin text of the previous two movements, to achieve perfect symmetry in the Credo centerpiece.

< No./ forces, Title/ mvt. type (A=antico, B=moderno)
1. Chs. 5pt., Kyrie eleison; A, 4/4, Adagio intro., Largo fuga gravis
2. SA,vns. Christe eleison; B, 4/4 Neopolitan opera duet, ritornello
3. Chs.4pt. Kyrie eleison II, A. 2/2 alle breve. Palestrina-style

II. GLORIA
4. Chs.5pt. Gloria in exc.; B, 3/8 Vivace, giga, ritornello
5. Chs. 5pt. Et in terra pax; B 4/4 (adagio), pastoral, fugue w/expos.
6. A str. Laudamus te; B, 4/4, Lombard rhythm, modified da-capo
7. Chs.4pt. Gratias agimus; A, 2/2 Renaissance motet
8. ST fl Domine Deus; B, 4/4, Neopol. opera duet, pastoral, da capo AB
9. Chs.4pt. Qui tollis; B, Lento ¾, prelude & fugue, da capo A only
10. A ob. Qui sedes; B 6/8, gigue, ritornello
11. B hn. Quoniam; B ¾, modified da capo
12. Chs.5pt. Cum sancto; B, ¾ Vivace, fugal, A-B sections

III. CREDO
13. Chs.5pt. Credo; 2/2, mixed style (vocal motet, ostinato acc.)
14. Chs.4pt. Patrem omni.; 2/2, mixed style (fugal motet, ind. instr. acc.)
15. SA obs. Et in unum; B, 4/4 Andante, Neopol. Aria, modified da capo
16. Chs.5pt. Et in carnatus; ¾, mixed style (homophonic motet, rhythmic acc.)
17. Chs.4pt. Crucifixus; A, 3/2 lamento, ground bass, prelude, da capo AB
18. Chs.4t. Et resurrexit; B, ¾ rejouissance dance, ritornello
19. B obs Et in spiritum; B, 6/8 pastoral, Vivaldian ritornello, modified da capo
20. Chs.4pt. Confiteor; 2/2 mixed style (double fugue, 5 expos., instr. acc.)
21. Chs.5pt. Et expecto, 2/2, mixed style (alle breve with bouree-like music)

IV. SANCTUS
22. Chs.6pt. B; Sanctus, 4/4 prelude; "Pleni sunt coeli" 3/8 fugue

OSANNA-BENEDICTUS
23. Chs.8pt. Osanna; B, 3/8 passapied
24. T fl/vn. Benedictus; B, ritornello, da capo A, sensitive style
25. Repeat 23

V. AGNUS DEI
26. A vns. Agnus Dei; B, ¾ modified & abridged da capo aria
27. Chs.4 Dona nobis repeat, contrafaction of 7 (inner borrowing tradition) >

The Baerenreiter 2006 vocal score edition from the NBA II/1a has the early versions of the Mass in B Minor "Credo in G," "Missa (Kyrie-Gloria)," and "Sanctus." The early Credo, says Uwe Wolf in the Preface "Preface" (Howard Weiner translation), probably dates to the 1740s and the copy in the hands of one-time Bach student Agricola "was probably made no earlier than 1755. Stauffer also points out that the Credo movement was well-known after Bach's death, beginning in the Berlin circle of Nichelmann and Agricola, and performed in Hamburg by C.P.E in 1786.

Text Sources

The five-part Ordinary of the Mass is based on biblical readings and the Nicene Creed essentially are derived from non-psalmodic sources, but with specific psalmodic, influences.

The "Kyrie eleison" (Lord have mercy) comes from a litany or repetitive, responsive phrase. The litany can be traced back at least as far as Psalm 136, where the psalmist gives thanks for God's saving and providential care, and then concludes each verse with the confession, "For God's mercy endures forever." The origin and usage of the "Kyrie" in the Roman Mass, like the other four sections of the Ordinary, as well as the origins of the lectionary seasons, are obscured by varying practices and usages. Its earliest appearance in Roman observance was as a call to the readings from the Old Testament, Epistles, and Gospels. It often accompanied the full Canticle of Zechariah (father of John the Baptist), called the "Benedictus" (blessed), Luke 1:68-79. The three phrase Kyrie-Christe-Kyrie eleison was initially chanted (sung) by the congregation as a canticle of biblical text referring to God's assertive activity in the world.

The "Gloria in excelsis Deo" (Glory to God in the highest) is an expansion, an elaboration, of the canticle, Luke 2:14, modeled on various Psalms and canticles. Luke attributed the song to the angels at Jesus' birth. It is called the Greater Doxology, (Glory be to the Father.Son, and Holy Spirit), which Bach used in the Latin Christmas Cantata, BWV 191. It's authorship and age are unknown. By the fourth century it was associated with morning prayer (lauds), as was the "Benedictus," and was imported from there into the Eucharist, or second half of the Mass (the first half being the Word of the Mass), after the Kyries.

Martin Luther in establishing the vernacular Deutsche Messe (1526) accepted the "Kyrie" as it has been used customarily, with the various melodies for the different seasons, together with the Angelic Hymn, "Gloria in excelsis," which follows; nevertheless its use rests on the judgment of the bishop or how often he desires its omission." Typically, the "Gloria" was not used during Advent and Lent. Luther made minor variants in the Latin text, notably in the Sanctus, the phrase "gloria tua" (thy glory) becomes "gloria eius (his glory) which Bach observes.

The "Credo" (I believe) or creed. Was first used in worship during baptism, which explains the formation of the initial Apostles Creed, but the christological controversies of the first centuries led to the introduction of the Nicene Creed, an expansion of the Apostles Creed, from the Council of Niceae (325) into the Eucharist. The Credo is in a triune, Trinitarian form of God as creator, redeem, and sanctifier.

There followed several centuries of divergent communion practice during the second half of the Mass. Eventually the "Credo" was placed before the Institution of the sacraments and before the "Sanctus" (Holy, from Isaiah 6:3) and established "Benedictus" during the codification of Gregory the Great (590-604). Around 700, the "Agnus Dei" (Lamb of God) was assigned to be sung at the Communion Fraction or symbolic breaking of the bread or Christ's body. The "Agnus Dei" from John 1:29 had previously been used during the last two-thirds of the "Gloria," in the plea to Jesus Christ the Redeemer.

(My sources for the text sources and usage of the Mass Ordinary are: Paul Westermeyer's <Te Deum: The Church and Music> (Augsburg Fortress, 1998), and Bard Thompson's <Liturgies of the Western Church> (Fortress, 1961).

Commentary

A Latin Mass by Bach, "must not be seen as some sort of betrayal of the Reformation, heritage, nor, for that matter, as a `liturgical monstrosity'," says Jaroslav Pelikan in the chapter, "Aesthetics and Evangelical Catholicity in the B Minor Mass," from Bach Among the Theologians> (Fortress 1986).

Pelikan points out that Bach also had established his setting of Luther's chorale-based Deutsche Messe in the four-voice plain chorales (BWV 250-500) and the ClavierUebung III (1739), German Organ Mass, (BWV 669-81) for the "Kyrie," "Gloria" and "Credo": "Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit" (Kyrie, God the Eternal Father), BWV 371, 669, and 672; "Allein Gott in der Hoehr sei Ehr" (All Glory be to God on High), BWV 260 and 675-677; and "Wir glauben all' an einem Gott" (We all believe in one true God), BWV 437 and 680-81. "The Sancus" is found in the "Heilig, heilig" (Holy, holy), BWV 325, and the "Agnus Dei" in "O Lamm Gottes unschuldig" (Lamb of God, pure and holy), BWV 401, and organ chorale preludes 618 and 656, or the "Christe, du Lamm Gottes" (Christ, thou Lamb of God), BWV 23/4 chorale chorus and BWV 619 organ chorale prelude.

Stages of Mass composition:

1. Kyrie, BWV 233a, assumed to have been composed in Muehlhausen or Weimar, 1707-1718, uses the German chorale Christe du Lamm Gottes 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 and horns and oboes play the hymn melody, presumed to be sung by soprano in German in the "original."

2. Sanctus, BWV 232III, first performed at Christmas 1723 and repeated at Easter 1727, and again ca. 1742-48. Bach composed a new "Sanctus" score for the B-Minor Mass in the late 1740s.

3. 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). While most of the Missa is presumed to be parodies from previous cantatas, only the music of the A sections of two opening choruses has been found: BWV 29, for the Town Council, 1731, for No. 7, "Gratias agimus tibi," and BWV 46/1, for the 10th Sunday After Trinity, 1723, in No. 9, "Qui tollis peccta mundi." Bach submitted the Missa while seeking the title "Court Composer" and finally was granted the title from the Saxon Court in Dresden on Nov. 19, 1736.

4. 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. It is possible that the four later Missae were complied for Count Anton von Sporck, see BCW Count Frantisek Antonin von Sporck and Bach's Four Shorter Masses

4. In the mid 1740s, before the assembly of the B-Minor Mass, Bach composed the earlier version of the Mass centerpiece, the Credo in G-Mixolydian. During the 1740s, Bach was studying older Mass music from the Dresden archives and in particular the handing of the Credo chant intonation in the Giovanni Battista Bassini "Credo," which he realized in 1747-48 as BWV 1081. In Bach's full "Credo" setting, BWV 232IV, research found three additional opening choruses from previous cantatas were borrowed: BWV 171/1 for New Year's 1729, in No. 14, "Petrem omnipotentem"; BWV 12/1 for Easter 1714, in No. 17, "Crucifixius"; and BWV 120/2 for the Town Council 1728-29, for No. 21, "Et Expecto." The closing "Credo" chorus source was not found until 1737 when Friedrich Smend began an indepth study of the Genesis of the B-Minor Mass, culminating in his early NBA criticial commentary, NBA KB I/2.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 14, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< 3. Missa "Kyrie"and "Gloria," BWV 232I and II, composed in 1733.
...
Bach submitted the Missa while seeking the title "Court Composer" and finally was granted the title from the Saxon Court in
Dresden on Nov. 19, 1736. >
A few observations from Rifkin's notes to his 1982 recording:

Rifkin suggests that the parts may have been copied in Dresden, as well as submitted, as part of a familial venture including Anna Magdalena, C.P.E., and W.F. in 1733, which also pursued the application (successful) of W.F. for the post of organist. The time discrepancy (1733 to 1736) is accounted for by the lassitude of W.F. in furthering his fathers interests. Rifkin: <In the fall of 1736, Bach had to remind Friedrich about the matter. This time his effort succeeded on 19 November. [...] By now, however, tha parts to the Missa had probably faded from memory.
While the parts lay unused in Dresden, the autograph score of the Missa lay similarly unused in Bachs possession. Not until the early 1740s does he seem to have paid it any notice -- and then it would appear, only long enough to adapt three numbers from the Gloria for the Latin Christmas cantata Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191.> (end quote)

With regard to the Gloria itself, Rifkin states: <This expansively designed movement falls into two distinct sections, the Gloria in excelsis and the Et in terra pax. The combined evidence of the autograph and [of] the music itself reveals that each section originally belonged to a different composition.> (end quote)

Rifkin then goes on to acknowledge that there is little evidence, but that the most likely sources based on analysis of the music are a secular and sacred cantata respectively, both from Leipzig. However, I do not see any specific data cited which would preclude an earlier source, the argument is on stylistic grounds, for example:

Rifkin: <The Gloria in excelsis evidently formed the first portion of of a da capo movement; the use of trumpets with three oboes points to Leipzig as its place of comosition.> (end quote)

I pass this along for information only, I am not qualified to endorse it (or not). I do find that Rifkins writing is always clear and enjoyable, his points either supported, expressed as opinion, or blends of the two, logically argued. This does not of course mean that he is necessarily correct, but he is easily understood.

Uri Golomb wrote (October 14, 2009):
In responsto Doug Cowling's critique of the Tafelmusik Mass: I did not hear this performance myself, but in general, the alternation between solo and tutti passages is exactly what Parrott, at least, had in mind. He did it himself - in his B-minor Mass and in his Jesu meine Freude. Rifkin states explicitly that such arrangements are within the spirit and practices of the Baroque period. There are models from Bach himself - for instance, in the way he added ripienists to the Leipzig version of Cantata BWV 21.

Thus, Parrott too begins the First Kyrie one-per-part, then gradually adds the ripienists - in a way similar to what Bach did in "Sei nun wieder" in Cantata BWV 21. He recently wrote an article - which I don't have access to at the moment - detailing exactly how, in his view, ripienists should be deployed in the Mass (the starting point is that you can do the Mass without any ripienists; but if you do use them, there are specific ways to do so). He would certainly object to some specific ways in which ripienists have been employed in recent performances - implying that some transitions can be too fussy and detailed, for instance. But deciding that some movements should be done with concertists only, and some with concertists and ripienists, is in itself historically authentic. The devil, as often, as in the details.

As I said, this is not a commentary on the Tafelmusik performance, which I haven't heard. The size of the choir was definitely not in line with Rifkin's and Parrott's findings there: a full complement, for Bach, would have alternated between one-per-part and two-per-part, with the ripienists standing apart from the concertists (not a single block as in today's choirs): so the entry of the ripienists would have been experienced as a subtle change in timbre, not a dramatic gesture. This is clear if you compare Parrott and Gardiner in the First Kyrie: both start the opening fugue (post-introduction and ritornello) with single voices, and then add a fuller complement gradually, starting with the bass's fugal entry. But in Gardiner, this emerges as a grand dramatic gesture - whereas with Parrott it is, as I said, just a subtle shift.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 14, 2009):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< in general, the alternation between solo and tutti passages is exactly what Parrott, at least, had in mind. He did it himself - in his B-minor Mass and in his Jesu meine Freude. Rifkin states explicitly that such arrangements are within the spirit and practices of the Baroque period. There are models from Bach himself - for instance, in the way he added ripienists to the Leipzig version of Cantata BWV 21. >
I should be more specific. Tafelmusik presented a brilliant OVPP performance of the Matthew Passion in which the ripienists were seamlessly added like stops on an organ. The Mass in B Minor however was not OVPP. It was a standard arrangement with a choir of 25 voices and the soloists sitting in front. They did not sing with the choir but stood only to sing the "solo" passages. It was all very beautiful but it made Bach sound like a Classical mass. I can't see any historical justification for this disposition of voices. The Classical disposition grew out of the polychoral tradition.

 

BBC Radio 4 - Tales from the Stave - Bach 'B Minor Mass'

Teri Noel Towe wrote (December 1, 2009):
With thanks to Peter R., for calling my attention to this documentary on the autograph score of the Bach B Minor Mass:

Click here: BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - Tales from the Stave, Series 5, Bach's B-Minor Mass: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p2cq0

The documentary is available on line until next Monday, December 8.

It is, as Peter told me, a "must listen" for anyone interested in Bach.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 1, 2009):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
>With thanks to Peter R., for calling my attention to this documentary on the autograph score of the Bach B Minor Mass:<
Thanks for pointing to this most interesting programme , Teri.

I have trouble getting my head around the idea of splitting the original manuscript pages (!) and inserting new paper, as part of the preservation process.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 2, 2009):
Teri Noel Towe wrote:
< With thanks to Peter R., for calling my attention to this documentary on the autograph score of the Bach B Minor Mass:
Click here: BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - Tales from the Stave, Series 5, Bach's B-Minor
: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p2cq0 >
Interesting program: a little treackly on the soprano's part. I was surprised that the conductor said quite authoratatively that the Gloria was based on a work in C major which had no trumpets. Have I missed a scholarly discovery? There's general speculation about a parody source but he made it sound like it was accepted fact.

William Hoffman wrote (December 3, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Interesting program: a little treackly on the soprano's part. I was surprised that the conductor said quite authoratatively that the Gloria was based on a work in C major which had no trumpets. Have I missed a
scholarly discovery? There's general speculation about a parody source but he made it sound like it was accepted fact. >
William Hoffman replies. There is mounting evidence, still collateral and not source-critical, showing that 1) early versions of Bach's instrumental music, primarily the Orchestral Suites, originated as far back as Weimar without trumpets and drums (with oboes instead in C major) and that 2) some of Bach's materials from otherwise lost Koethen instrumental works may have been salvaged by Bach in Leipzig. Joshua Rifkin some 20 years ago and more recently raised the idea of the MBM "Gloria" and "Et in terra pax" originating in Koethen, along with ritornello passages in the Cum sancto spiritu. More recently, Siegbert Rampe and Dominick Sackman have done extensive studies of the origin and genesis of the Orchestral Suites. The bibliography is found in Rampe's recording of the "Early Overtures," Dabringhaus & Grimm (MDG) CD 341 1131-2 (2002).

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 4, 2009):
[To William Hoffman] Also, there is a newer Rifkin paper about the B minor orchestral suite and its hypothetical A minor origin: in the book "Bach Perspectives" volume 6, 2007, pp 1-98. It also has some remarks about the B minor flute sonata BWV 1030, and plenty of the other sonatas and concerted pieces that involve flute.

Volume 7 from 2008 has papers about the concertos BWV 1053 (Butler) and 1056 (Dirksen). This #7 arrived some months ago, and I haven't had time to study it closely yet.

All of these "Bach Perspectives" bound volumes are among the excellent premiums from membership in the American Bach Society. That's open to membership from anyone, merely pay the annual dues.
http://www.americanbachsociety.org/
http://www.americanbachsociety.org/publications.html
The membership fee more than pays for the newsletters and these books!

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 5, 2009):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Also, there is a newer Rifkin paper about the B minor orchestral suite and its hypothetical A minor origin: in the book "Bach Perspectives" volume 6, 2007, pp 1-98. It also has some remarks about the B minor flute sonata BWV 1030, and plenty of the other sonatas and concerted pieces that involve flute. >
Does Rifkin agree that the suite was originally for solo violin not flute, and in A minor?

I'm going to have to join the American Bach Society, I didn't realize how good of a value it was!

William Hoffman wrote (December 5, 2009):
I'm renewing my American Bach Society membership: only $25 as a student. The gift last year was <About Bach> essays. Also re. <Bach Perspectives, I will be commenting at length today (I hope) about Vol. 2, <J.S. Bach,the Breitkopfs, and Eighteeneth Century Music Trade> in BCW Part 2: Cantata BWV 217: The History of a Mystery.

 

BWV 232 Concordance, Chronology & Sources

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 11, 2010):
Thomas Braatz contributed Concordance, Chronology & Sources charts of the Mass in B minor BWV 232.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV232-Source.htm
Linked from:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV232.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/IndexRef6.htm

Thomas Braatz wrote:

Bärenreiter has just published a newly revised version of the B-minor Mass (NBA I rev) to update the now partially out-dated and much criticized version contained in the NBA II/1 edition prepared by Friedrich Smend in 1954. In order to make sense of the different numbering systems for movements in the old and new editions, a concordance is necessary to follow scholarly references to these editions. Actually a system which numbers the movements consecutively and continuously from the beginning to the end is preferable (the system used by Joshua Rifkin in his Breitkopf 2006 edition and by others as well).

The PDF charts should enable the reader to gain a quick overview of the current status of research regarding the sources (the bulk of them being parodies some of which are undisputed and listed and others which are left open as possibilities) and the chronology of the separate movements involved.

The charts should be self explanatory for the most part.

Chart 1: B-minor Mass BWV 232 Concordance & Indication of SourcesThis contains all the information from which the subsequent charts are derived

Chart 2: A Chronological Listing of the Parodied Movements (where the sources are undisputed and can be named).

Chart 3: A Color-Coded Listing with Non-Parodied (Original) Movements Given in Red. (The other colors indicate various types of parodies (those with proven derivations vs. those which are open to dispute).

Eric Basta wrote (October 12, 2010):
[To Aryeh Oron] Could you comment on the source of BWV 232 II/3 (“Et in unum”) - I can find little information on BWV 213/11 "2 later versions."

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 15, 2010):
Eric Basta had asked:
< Could you comment on the source of BWV 232 II/3 ("Et in unum") - I can find little information on BWV 213/11 "2 later versions." >
Thomas Braatz answered:
This is a response to Eric Basta's query regarding the various versions of the Et in unum" duet from the Mass in B-Minor.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Ref/BWV232-EricBasta.pdf
Linked from: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV232-Source.htm

Eric Basta wrote (October 17, 2010):
[To Aryeh Oron & Thomas Braatz] Thank you very much indeed! The PDF explains the situation quite well. It does seem though that the source of "Et in unum" should be listed as "unknown" rather than BWV 213/11 as BWV 213/11 gives us a hint of an earlier work (in the form of 4 measures of a violin part - even though the theme may have been original at that point) rather than being a source.

 

Exploring JS Bach Mass in B minor

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 28, 2011):
See the new beautiful site by Tim Smith dedicated to the Mass in B minor:
http://bach.nau.edu/mass/bm.html
Linked from: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV232.htm

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 28, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] Wow! What an incredible resource to have the complete facsimile score linked to a recording on line! The unrolling scrolls of the text boxes are silly and cumbersome: wish they were simple text windows.

Many thanks to Tim for this amazing site.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (June 28, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] It's the nature of that type of Flash animation.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (June 28, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] Many thanks to you and Tim Smith for the hard work.

This was an enormous and time consuming project, and it's greatly appreciated!

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 29, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Wow! What an incredible resource to have the complete facsimile score linked to a recording on line! >
Just to remind everyone that Nicholas Kitchen is doing this in concert performance, for the solo violin sonatas and partitas. Not to be missed, if you have the opportunity.

 

Youtube instructions for Bach Mass in B Minor site

Tim Smith wrote (September 26, 2011):
Some of you have suggested a video on the functionality of the Mass in B Minor new media at digitalbach.com/cuepoints. A great suggestion, and here it is!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmUQiLOXDQg

Please share with anybody who might be interested.

With best wishes for a happy and healthful fall season.

 

Mass in B minor BWV 232: Details
Recordings:
1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Individual Movements
General Discussions:
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
Systematic Discussions:
Part 1: Kyrie | Part 2: Gloria | Part 3: Credo | Part 4: Sanctus | Part 5: Agnus Dei | Part 6: Early Recordings | Part 7: Summary
Individual Recordings:
BWV 232 - C. Abbado | BWV 232 - Anonymous | BWV 232 - G.C. Biller | BWV 232 - F. Brüggen | BWV 232 - J. Butt | BWV 232 - S. Celibidache | BWV 232 - M. Corboz | BWV 232 - A. Eby | BWV 232 - G. Enescu | BWV 232 - E. Ericson | BWV 232 - D. Fasolis | BWV 232 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 232 - C.M. Giulini | BWV 232 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 232 - T. Hengelbrock | BWV 232 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 232 - R. Hickox | BWV 232 - R. Jacobs | BWV 232 - E. Jochum | BWV 232 - Ifor Jones | BWV 232 - K. Junghänel & Cantus Cölln | BWV 232 - H.v. Karajan | BWV 232 - R. King | BWV 232 - O. Klemperer | BWV 232 - S. Kuijken | BWV 232 - G. Leonhardt | BWV 232 - P. McCreesh | BWV 232 - M. Minkowski | BWV 232 - H. Müller-Bruhl | BWV 232 - S. Ozawa | BWV 232 - M. Pearlman | BWV 232 - K. Richter | BWV 232 - J. Rifkin | BWV 232 - H. Rilling | BWV 232 - H. Scherchen | BWV 232 - P. Schreier | BWV 232 - R. Shaw | BWV 232 - G. Solti | BWV 232 - M. Suzuki | BWV 232 - J. Thomas & ABS | BWV 232 - K. Thomas | BWV 232 - J.v. Veldhoven
Articles:
Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 [T. Noel Towe] | Bach’s B minor Mass on Period Instruments [D. Satz] | Like Father, Like Son [B. Pehrson]

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: żNovember 27, 2011 ż08:09:44