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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 8

Continue from Part 7

The B minor Mass: Accessible?

Uri Golomb wrote (August 10, 2002):
In my investigation into the reception of the B minor Mass, I have come across two opposite views on the work's accesibility to modern audiences; and I would be curious to know what you think of them. One the one hand, Paul Henry Lang, in his Music in Western Civilization (London: J. M. Dent, 1942) believes that this is one of Bach's least accessible choral works. Here is the quote:

While seemingly an entirely different work, the B minor Mass is still a gigantic collection of cantatas, a fact well illustrated by the inclusion in this Catholic work of six individual numbers taken from his earlier German-Protestant cantatas. Thus six sections of the Mass - Gratias, Qui Tollis, Patrem, Crucifixus, Osanna, Agnus Dei - contain music that was originally the embodiment of a spirit diametrically opposed to the Latin text to which it was now fitted without radical alterations or noticeable effort. It cannot be denied that this fact, together with the virtually prohibitive proportions and the great variety of forms and devices employed in the individual sections, makes the Mass somewhat diffuse and heterogeneous. Gigantic concerted motets in the old five-part setting, composed with all available resources of polyphonic mastery, alternate with suave and mellow duets in the vein of Steffani, whose chamber duets were undoubtedly the models followed by Bach; arias are relieved by colossal double choirs, only to be followed by a coloratura aria with an obbligato instrument in the Venetian-Neapolitan manner. The wealth of great music compressed in this score is phenomenal and at times oppressive, but withal the B minor Mass will remain a masterpiece isolated in the whole literature, for it is almost beyond the grasp of the listener and definitely beyond the scope of any divine service, Catholic or Protestant. (1942: 498-499; emphases added)

For contrast, Robert Marshall's believes that the Mass -- in contrast to the cantatas and Passion --

is not only immediately accessible but positively thrilling with its brilliant and utterly majestic choruses, the grace and straightforward lyricism of its solos and duets, and its unusually colourful and varied orchestral palette. Above all, the Mass is entirely free of those problematic baroque conventions of text and form that I mentioned before. The Mass in B minor is indeed a catholic work in every sense of the word, and as such occupies a unique place in Bach's oeuvre, one that gives it a special significance in any consideration of the composer's universality. (Marshall 1989: 69)

In case you wonder what he means by "problematic baroque conventions", here is what he writes a little earlier in the same article, where he tries to explain why the cantatas are not among Bach's most popular works:

It is inevitable, I should think, that the modern listener has difficulty with this, quite frankly, rather alien repertoire: difficulty not only with the theological content, and especially, the rather drastic imagery of the texts, but also with some of the basic musical conventions of the genre -- which (as it happens) were largley imported from teh even more alien world of early-eighteenth-century opera: the fairly regular succession and alternation fo recitatives and aria construction -- a device which often renders the individual arias -- for all their intrinsic beauty and effectiveness if heard separately -- simply too long and, to our taste, too static in the context of a complete church cantata. (ibid, p. 68)

(I should add that Marshall himself admires this music; what he is trying to explain is its alleged lack of appeal to the general classical-music-loving audience, as opposed to committed Bach enthusiasts)

The quotes are from an article titled "On Bach's Universality"; this appears in:

Marshall, Robert C. 1989. The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sources, The Style,The Significance. New York: Schirmer Books.

What I would like to know is whether you agree with Lang, with Marshall, or with neither... (or, perhaps, you agree with both, and think you can reconcile the apparent contradiction). Since both Marshall and Lang seem to speak of the general listening public, not just their own reaction, this would be valuable. (Of course, they were writing in differnet times, and quite possibly thinking of different audiences)

Francis Browne wrote (August 11, 2002):
[To Uri Golomb] Marshall seems to me more correct in his estimate of the relative accessibility of the B Minor Mass and the cantatas. I would add just one simple point , which is implied by some things he says. The general listener to classical music will be familiar with the Latin text of the mass from numerous other composers and so have some anticipation of the general character of the music. It is therefore easier to assimilate Bach's mass to other, more familiar works of the same genre.

The texts of the cantatas are far less familiar to ordinary listeners both theologically and in the language used, and as Marshall says, the musical conventions of the cantatas may also be difficult for general audiences.

MY own experience is that the familiarity of the text of the mass and my enjoyment of later masses( Haydn< Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner) meant that I came to appreciate Bach's mass long before I started to listen seriously to the cantatas or even the passions.

Your studies could produce a very interesting and illuminating book. Good luck.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 12, 2002):
Uri Golomb asks in regard to the public reception of the B minor Mass BWV 232:
< What I would like to know is whether you agree with Lang, with Marshall, or with neither... (or, perhaps, you agree with both, and think you can reconcile the apparent contradiction). Since both Marshall and Lang seem to speak of the general listening public, not just their own reaction, this would be valuable. >
Where Lang stated about BWV 232 , “The wealth of great music compressed in this score is phenomenal and at times oppressive, but withal the B minor Mass will remain a masterpiece isolated in the whole literature, for it is almost beyond the grasp of the listener.

And Marshall wrote, “[BWV 232] is not only immediately accessible but positively thrilling with its brilliant and utterly majestic choruses, the grace and straightforward lyricism of its solos and duets, and its unusually colourful and varied orchestral palette. Above all, the Mass is entirely free of those problematic baroque conventions of text and form that I mentioned before.”

Marshall regarding the cantatas, “It is inevitable, I should think, that the modern listener has difficulty with this, quite frankly, rather alien repertoire: difficulty not only with the theological content, and especially, the rather drastic imagery of the texts, but also with some of the basic musical conventions of the genre.”

I really have nothing to say about the public reception of this work, because I have a strong bias in regard to Bach whose music has accompanied me almost my entire life and also because I have never heard a live performance of this work where it might be possible to observe or speak to people ‘off the street’ who just happened to attend a presentation of this work. Those few individuals whom I know and who have this work in their collection of recordings knew before they bought them what they were ‘getting into.’ They, also, would not be good subjects for the questions that I could ask them about this work.

This leaves me pondering the statements by Lang and Marshall. In doing so, I come up with my own observations of the differences between the cantatas with German texts (and the many mvts. from these cantatas that were incorporated later into BWV 232) and later Latin language parody versions as found in the B minor Mass.

What seems to stand out most in my mind is the transformation from one form (German) to another, more universal form (Latin.) Something isgained, while at the same time, something is also lost. This became quite clear to me as I prepared my discussion of Mvt. 1 of BWV 102. There a similar transformation takes place: an introductory choral mvt. to a cantata is transformed into and parodied in the 1st mvt. of his Mass in G minor BWV 235.

See for more specific information: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV102-D.htm

What happens is this:

The angularity of the musical line which was first conceived with definite, specific images and movements that are based on the German text is pacified, mellowed, or even removed when the same notes are used to express a Latin text. Not only does the German obviously have harsher pronunciations of words, specifically the consonants, it also has very definite picture images that the words conjure up, whereas the Latin, on a higher level of commonality (educated speakers from various European cultures are able to relate to the Latin more easily than the German, which may even seem very foreign and alien to them) can, by its very nature, address a much wider audience. As I have already stated, in this transformation something is gained as well as lost: a wider audience base is gained, but the specificity of the images (word painting, etc.) is lost. Latin has a more beautiful sound when sung because it uses the vowels to greater advantage in singing, while German always has to contend with harsher sounding consonants. Latin, however, tends to be more of language of many abstract ideas (many words with abstract suffixes come to mind – it is more difficult to form clear picture images of these in the mind), but German attempts to maintain the specific pictures of images in its words. Bach utilized to great advantage this latter characteristic of German. Unfortunately these specific images do not always translate easily into other languages, whereas the Latin words are readily accessible beyond the borders of German speaking countries.

For Bach, this process of transformation was always a mixed blessing: He could address a wider audience with the Latin text of the Mass, but the specific references where music and text are intimately connected are mainly lost because the composition had originally been conceived with the German text in mind. The specific power of the German text set to music by Bach is, for the most part lost, and replaced with a wider, universal appeal. Bach thereby connects with and puts himself into and feels that he now belongs to the long stream of composers who had composed Latin Mass settings before him.

To understand this process of change better and to see what is gained and lost, it is very educational to listen to mvt. 1 of BWV 102 in one of the better recordings and then listen to Herreweghe’s rendition of BWV 235. What a world of difference there is! Herrweghe’s suave, ethereal, smoothly rendered Latin text and the powerful original German text in the Rilling version of BWV 102. Listen and view, if you can, the score of BWV 102, Mvt. 1, ms. 45-47 (the first entry of a fugal section) on the words, “Du schlägest sie” [“You beat them” or “You keep on beating them” a rather violent picture!] and then listen and look at ms. 45-47 of the Kyrie section, mvt. 1 from the Missa g-moll BWV 235 which has the words, “Christe eleison” on the very same notes! Now decide which words express better what you hear in the music.

Yes, the Latin compositions should be more accessible to the general public (if they really are, I can not judge), but the original compositions in the cantatas, if the German is properly understood, may be even more rewarding, because they represent Bach’s original conception of the idea. Seeing and hearing the direct associations between text and music adds another dimension that is missing in the Latin. Personally, I find the Latin compositions by Bach (excluding the Magnificat which was directly conceived with the Latin text in mind) uplifting, but somewhat abstract. They do not touch me the same way that the cantata compositions do. I think this is mainly due to the direct connection that Bach establishes between the text and the music when he originally sets a German text (or a Latin one like the Magnificat.) Some of this is lacking in the Latin parodies of the cantata mvts. I think that Bach, in the B minor Mass is trying to say, “Look and listen! I’m not just a local composer restricted to the principality I live in and the language that I speak daily. I also have something to say that is on the level of all of the other great composers who have composed Masses that are heard and understood throughout all of Europe.”

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (August 12, 2002):
First off, I must say that I agree with Lang in that this is a complete hodge-podge of disparate works. It is for this reason that I do not consider the mass to be Bach's Summum Opus, as it is often thought of. (I am much quicker to give the title to SMP, or if there is a such thing as Summum "Opi", then I can say Bach wrote 300 of them-all short works for Sunday mornings)

However, the music is great (I love the Herreweghe!), and if one composer can string together a lifetime of acheivement, its 'ol Sebastian (J.S. Bach).

I think that the fact that the music can sound good together is out of listener's habit and coincidence.

Lalis Ivan wrote (August 12, 2002):
I am using this opportunity to delurk. I think that the answer depends on how one defines accessible. I think that Lang understands it in a sense of getting inside the work and "digesting" it. Then he's probably correct that it may be difficult for somebody who approaches Messe H-moll with these intentions.

OTOH Marshall talks IMO about a listener with rather hedonistic intentions, who wants to enjoy the music without getting into it too deeply. For such a person, H-moll Messe with its choruses, duets, arias, must be more accessible than let's say Matthaus Passion with lots of recitatives, that may sound monotonous to some.

A few words about me - my name is Ivan Lalis, I am of a Slovak origin, I live in Switzerland. My interests in Bach music are "rather hedonistic", but I must say, that step-by-step I learn to appreciate the music within the context it was composed.

I did miss OVPP discussion, thus very briefly. I think that Parrott wrote that he thinks it should be used for cantatas and that it is not to be applied for motets or chorals. He wrote he is convinced, the music was written to be performed in this way, but he does not say it is the only valid way. And that's IMO, most important. Because we'll never know how this music was (meant to be) performed and if OVPP was a paradigm or just a compromise solution. Or if it was at all :-) My personal opinion is - whatever makes justice to the music, reveals something to the listener, is OK to me.


BWV 232: Quoniam and goats (bassoons)

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 24, 2002):
I know it isn't proper practice to mention another mailing list, but I think this warrants it.

On the handel-l mailing list, the question of aria orchestration has been discussed (as a side note to a rather heavy confrontation over tenors singing castrato roles an octave lower), and an example that was given was that active bassoon parts with a bass aria don't sound too good. However, this is what we have from the "Quoniam" in the Gloria of BWV 232 (Mass in Bmin). Even with the great Herreweghe recording that I have (btw, late thanks for those who helped me choose it), the bassoon parts just don't fit (IMO). Why did Bach do this?

Ludwig wrote (September 24, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] I do not have my copy of the Mass handy to do more than hazard a guess at the moment but Bach may have done this because it was common practice of his day and as an admirer of Handel--he might have decided to copy what Handel did. Which brings up a sore point with me---I had always been told that Handel was much older than Bach—this is not true--Handel and Bach were near the same agebut Handel outlived Bach probally because Handel did not have any surgery which Bach did.

Re: other lists---it seems to be done all the time which sometimes is confusing for those invovled with these lists as they start reading and suddenly find Mahler posts that is suppose to be about Bach or Bach recordings on a list devoted to Bach Cantatas or the life of Bach.

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 24, 2002):
Matthew Neugebauer wrote and asked:
< and an example that was given was that active bassoon parts with a bass aria
don't sound too good. However, this is what we have from the "Quoniam" in the
Gloria of BWV 232 (Mass in Bmin). Even with the great Herreweghe recording that
I have (btw, late thanks for those who helped me choose it), the bassoon parts
just don't fit (IMO). Why did Bach do this? >
In the appendix 2 (Text Incipits) of the Oxford Composer Companions:J.S.Bach [Boyd] you will find the scoring of individual arias with bassoon (abbreviated) as "bn." Just skimming through the list I found 7 arias for either tenor or bass that specificially called for a bassoon. There you will find, for instance, a bass aria with not only bassoon, but also cello and violone, all instruments in the deep register.

With your question, "Why did Bach do this?" you seem to be implying, "What is wrong with Bach? These parts simply don't fit." Perhaps these questions should be turned around to read: "My ears are unaccustomed to this sound. I will now learn how to include this (for me) new sound in my listening vocabulary so as to improve my enjoyment of these works." There is also a good possibility that the vocalists and instruments today are still unable to recapture the actual quality of sound (and balance between the parts) that Bach once heard and was striving for.

If you listen to the Bach cantata recordings available, you will discern that there are many more tenor and bass arias where the conductor has taken the option provided by the continuo part to include a bassoon even though the bassoon was not specifically indicated in the score. This option is used even more frequently when other wind instrument(s) such as oboe(s) are included in the scoring. The number of cantatas and arias in this group is quite large. The problem that arises here in today's recordings is the same one that Bach faced with his "Zippelfagottists" -- many bassoonists simply play the notes, and rather loudly at that. In doing so, this type of playing, all too often, becomes boring and uninteresting, even obtrusive at times. This is the way that Geyersbach, "the nanny-goat bassoonist" must have sounded to Bach.



Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 24, 2002):
< Thomas Braatz wrote: Perhaps these questions should be turned around to read: "My ears are unaccustomed to this sound. I will now learn how to include this (for me) new sound in my listening vocabulary so as to improve my enjoyment of these works." >
You do have a point, and I apologize if this is the case.

However, The bassoon parts-as in there is more than one bassoon part-in this aria are very buzzy and active, and as you also alluded, obtrusive and distractive to the dialogue beetween the horn, the bass soloist and the continuo. Perhaps I should wait until, as another point you gave states, bassoonists can recreate the sound that Bach intended.

As always, HIP is an ongoing process.

Ludwig wrote (September 24, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz] It also could be symbolic of the Agnus Dei in that sheep and goats bleat. However, I for one do not think I could tolerate a performance in which bleating occured often or entirely--Tiny Tim (rest his soul in peace)nearly drove me beserke with his 'tip toe through the tulips" some years back. Maybe real goats and sheep could.

One must remember when using the highly honored Oxford that it is heavily influenced by the romantic school of the period in which it was born and this is
especially evident in the first edition of which I own but I will say that the first edition chooses it's musicians/composers well --even Tschaikovsky is given serious consideration even though he was still living at this time. The first edition speaks rather dispargingly of the Harpsichord but raptures great over the piano.

You seemed to speak in absolutes. Bach had to use what ever he had available and there was no bassoonist for a continuo he was counting on that Sunday then he had to use the Organ alone or with others. The Violone was the bass of the viole family. the ancestor of todays contrabasse, and was not that common however the gamba was the beloved instrument of that day ( and still is) in the lower registers. To my best understanding; Violone parts can be easily dispensed with as they generally followed what ever the gambists were doing. It was not until the revolution of Beethoven who had the gaul and temetry for that time to write REAL PASSAGES for bass that any real bass music was written as before that time a bass had nothing to do but sparing work and most of it tediously boring-- it was the area where string flunkies of lesser skills got dumped.
lvb

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 25, 2002):
The thing is, I'm not talking about continuo here. In "Et in Spiritum Sanctum" (which is part of the Credo, and to my knowledge composed at a different time than the Gloria, where we find "Quoniam"), Bach has two oboes d'amore, the bass soloist, and continuo. Herreweghe has bassoon continuo with a light, almost unnoticable organ, creating a wind trio. IMO, this sounds very nice in the pastoral 6/8 time, with the oboes primarily restricted to eigth notes and the continuo mostly doing a uarter-eighth
pattern (mostly the quarter note, but sometimes eighth rests and sometimes notes).

However, in "Quoniam", we have not one but two active bassoon parts, a somewhat active continuo and an almostg separate horn part. I know this is redundant, but why do I sense a problem here? Again, it doesn't seem to fit.

Ludwig wrote (September 25, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Perhaps this is an artistic decision designed to create interest and variety which it does in your case. Again none of us were there at the first performance but we do know that Bach used what was available at the time and the artistic decisions regarding the performance of which you write may be attempting to reflect this.

IF you have access to ALL the original mss then that may solve your critism problem but unfortunately we may not have all these(lost in nearly 3 centuries of war, natural disasters and human attitudes) and what you may be hearing may have come from a copy no longer in existence.

I suspect that if all the above is not helpful then what we have is an impure score that has been tampered by some of the folks of the romantic and later periods of Music. I have such a score by the G. Shirmer company in New York that substitutes Clarinets (which barely existed until Bach had written his last work) for oboe d'amoure. I have seen scores that have very romatic crescendos and decresendos that are not in the mss. There impurities are often put in by rather arrogant snobs who think that they can compose the work better the the composer did which is rarely if ever true.

If you are into literature--you will find the same thing and one of the most famous examples,aside from Shakespeare, of this is the Dairy of Anne Frank (which is currently undergoing another revision preparing for re-publication)

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 26, 2002):
Matthew Neugebauer states and asks:
<< However, in "Quoniam", we have not one but two active bassoon parts, a somewhat active continuo and an almost separate horn part. I know this is redundant, but why do I sense a problem here? Again, it doesn't seem to fit. >>
Ludwig added:
< IF you have access to ALL the original mss then that may solve your criticism problem but unfortunately we may not have all these (lost in nearly 3 centuries of war, natural disasters and human attitudes) and what you may be hearing may have come from a copy no longer in existence. >
Regarding primary sources (definitely autograph score and possibly also the original set of parts, although I have not been able tomake the determination of the latter easily by examining Smend's commentary in the NBA KB), it is clear that this was Bach's intention (the instruments required are clearly marked in the score as well as on the original parts.) The corno da caccia part in the NBA is notated the same way as the other instruments and does not take into account that this is an instrument in D . The Csibas have identified this as a 7-ft long (coiled, of course) instrument, "Corno da caccia in D" that plays the following notes: c' e g b(flat) b c'' d e f f# g g# a b c''' In his famous portrait, Gottfried Reiche in the year 1727 holds a "Corno da caccia in C" (8 ft. long). It is amazing to see how compact this instrument is!

Bach used the Corno da caccia in D only once in his entire oeuvre in this particular mvt.! The other 'cornos' that Bach used are 16, 14, and 12 ft. long instruments. Certainly the sound of these instruments (including the modern instrument that we call the French horn) must sound very different and should not be used in playing this part. Perhaps this is the reason why the horn part as played today does not blend as well with the bassoons and bass voice. Bach's instrument must have sounded more like a trumpet (but certainly not as loud as a modern trumpet which should not be used to replace the instrument that Bach called for here.) However, Bach did frequently couple a trumpet (tromba) in a similar range with the bass voice in his cantatas. Check it out!

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 25, 2002):
[To Ludwig] Well, the score I have is the Dover mini score (I'm not sure which edition it is), and there aren't any cresc/decresc, just articulation markings and block (isolated) dynamic markings, both of which are possible in music of the time.

Besides, which score would an HIP ensemble like Herreweghe's use anyway?

Am I the only one who doesn't like this orchestratioon for Quoniam?

Ludwig wrote (September 26, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz]
As for as the Corno da c. is concerned; Bach scores for it rarther extensively throughout most of the Cantatas (I do not have the time at the momemet to go through all 200 cantatas to designate which)particularly in the earlier cantatas in which he also includes trombones---as many as 4 or 5 trombones. The scoring for trombones seems to drop out about about the time of Cantata BWV 100 and it seems that Horns also do too about this time in the scores. Trumpets however continue throughout the entire Cantatas and the reason for this is that Trumpeters were in high demand not only in Church but also for Govermental purposes andeasier to come by. Bach usually uses the Horn as a solo instrument as opposed to a cantus firmus instrument which is not it's typical use by Bach.

Bach writes for Horns in c,b,F, which is basically the range of the Trumpet and seems to use them for the purpose of descriptions of nature as in BWV 1 or for the wonderings of wisemen in bwv 65 and in such cases Bach describes these horns as corno da caccia or cono parforce and sometimes just corno.

French Horns in F (or corno da caccia) occur in BWV 1. Bach's general use of the term 'corno' alone usually means French Horns but it in some cases can mean a slide trumpet(more often called 'tromba da tirisi') or cornett however in the latter case it would not be transposed and would not be limited to natural tones.

There are many problems with Bach's writing for horns that have not been resolved because of the distance of time--most horn players can rarely if at all play above a''' with the mouthpiece in use today irregardless of the kind of horn used. 'Clarino' horn
playing has yet to be learned by horn players as it has been by some trumpet players.

I am beginning to see the problem (Quoniam) as one of orchestration balance--so if two bassoons are called for (and they are not rankets) then perhaps enough horns are required to bring balance into this situation or the other way around. However, the
orchestrating of Bassoons and horns together is a long repected practice that is used by such master orchestrators as Bennet, Tschaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsaov.

It also could be that Bach was expermenting and found this experment not very successful which is why he did not try it again. If we recall correctly; Bach was a great admirer of Handel and Handel was not afraid of doing orchestration experments as this.

The B minor mass is the source or appears to be of most other works that he wrote--i.e. a sort of developed sketch book. While much has been made of the B minor laying on a shelf for some 100 or so years never being played; it likely was used by Bach for other source material. However, we have a problem here with which came first" the chicken or the egg?"

It could have worked the other way around in that Bach took material from his other works and used them in the B minor--we find the usual figures and passages from the cantatas as well as the oratorios.

This of course is an hypothesis and as far as I know no one has ever explored this. It would be a good project for someone looking for something to do their Doctorate on.

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 26, 2002):
Ludwig has made a number of points that need to be corrected:
< As for as the Corno da c. is concerned; Bach scores for it rather extensively throughout most of the Cantatas (I do not have the time at the moment to go through all 200 cantatas to designate which) particularly in the earlier cantatas in which he also includes trombones---as many as 4 or 5 trombones. >
There is no need to go through all the cantatas for this information. The Corno da caccia is NOT used 'rather extensively' in ALL of Bach's music: there are only 9 works in which there are 19 instances where he did -- BWV 16/1,3; BWV 107/1/7; BWV 143/1,5,7;174/1; 213/1,13; 232/11 (Quoniam...); 248/IV/36,42; 1046/1,3,4,7; BWV 1071 (see 1046). As I pointed out, BWV 232,11 (in some editions it is mvt. 10 of the B minor Mass) is the ONLY work that specifically calls for a Corno da caccia in D, the others are for the same instrument in F, G, B, and C.

< The scoring for trombones seems to drop out about the time of Cantata 100 and it seems that Horns also do too about this time in the scores. Trumpets however continue throughout the entire Cantatas and the reason for this is that Trumpeters were in high demand not only in Church but also for Governmental purposes and easier to come by. >
The assigning of BWV or Cantata numbers to Bach’s works are quite haphazard (blame the BGA editors for this.) It makes little or no sense to talk “about the time of Cantata number such and such.” Although Spitta had initiated the examination of Bach’s works to ascertain their chronology, the bulk of this task was completed with the help of modern methods of analysis by Alfred Dürr about 40 years ago.

< Bach usually uses the Horn as a solo instrument as opposed to a cantus firmus
instrument which is not it's typical use by Bach. >
If you mean “Corno” when you speak of “the Horn,” then you will be in for a surprise, for there are many such mvts. which do precisely that: lend support for the cantus firmus in the soprano. It makes no sense for me to list them all here for you.

< Bach writes for Horns in c,b,F, which is basically the range of the Trumpet and seems to use them for the purpose of descriptions of nature as in BWV 1 or for the wonderings of wisemen in bwv 65 and in such cases Bach describes these horns as corno da caccia or cono parforce and sometimes just corno. >
BWV 1/1,6 is for a Corno in F (12 ft. long)
BWV 65/1,6 is for a Corne du chasse in C (8 ft. long)

< French Horns in F (or corno da caccia) occur in BWV 1. Bach's general use of the term ‘corno' alone usually means French Horns but it in some cases can mean a slide trumpet(more often called 'tromba da tirisi') or cornett however in the latter case it would not be transposed and would not be limited to natural tones. >
Much of this confusion (and misinformation) has been cleared up by the book by the Csibas (pin 1994) that I discussed a few weeks ago.

< There are many problems with Bach's writing for horns that have not been resolved because of the distance of time--most horn players can rarely if at all play above a''' with the mouthpiece in use today irregardless of the kind of horn used. 'Clarino' horn playing has yet to be learned by horn players as it has been by some trumpet players. >
ditto above - this has all been addressed by the Csibas in their fairly recent book on this subject and many brass players in HIP ensembles are certainly grappling with this problem right now.

< It also could be that Bach was experimenting and found this experiment not very successful which is why he did not try it again. If we recall correctly; Bach was a great admirer of Handel and Handel was not afraid of doing orchestration experiments as this. >
Personally, I think that Bach was not afraid of experimentation because this is what he was always doing in his cantatas. He did not need Handel to look up to.

< The B minor mass is the source or appears to be of most other works that he
wrote--i.e. a sort of developed sketch book. >
It’s the other way around!

< While much has been made of the B minor laying on a shelf for some 100 or so years never being played; it likely was used by Bach for other source material. However, we have a problem here with which came first "the chicken or the egg?" >
Uri Golomb could certainly fill you in on the fact that this myth has no basis in fact.

< It could have worked the other way around in that Bach took material from his other works and used them in the B minor--we find the usual figures and passages from the cantatas as well as the oratorios. >
Now you are getting back on track again.

< This of course is an hypothesis and as far as I know no one has ever explored this. It would be a good project for someone looking for something to do their Doctorate on. >
No need for this. Much work has already been done. Any new work will not need to begin at the stages you have suggested with the exception of the confusion and lack of good information about Bach’s use of brass instruments. I heartily recommend the Csiba’s book (if you can read German.)

Ludwig wrote (September 27, 2002):
Thomas Braatz:
There is no need to go through all the cantatas for this information. The Corno da caccia is NOT used 'rather extensively' in ALL of Bach's music:

lvb:
This is a distortion or misreading of what I stated. I did not state ALL OF BACH'S MUSIC that is what Mr. Braatz added or his interpetation. Also it is rather obvious that you did not read the entire post before replying in a more thoughtful manner.

Perhaps we are looking at different editions or having a problem of semantics. I am using a Kalmus edition as well as the orginal recorded edition of the complete cantatas by Mr. Braatz is not including those of BWV 1 et al as in BWV 52 which calls for 2 corno da caccia. Earlier I stated that I did not have time (due to an appointment) to check all the cantatas. I am in the process of developing a list in which horns are used and in the early cantatas they occur more often than not. So if Mr.Braatz disagrees perhaps he needs to consult what I am seeing and critically compare with what he is seeing. I am not disputing Mr. Braatz as I do not see what he is looking at. However, in performance of many of the Cantatas: I have from a practical point of view had to be concerned about this.

lvb:
< Bach usually uses the Horn as a solo instrument as opposed to a cantus firmus instrument which is not it's typical use by Bach. >

Braatz:
If you mean “Corno” when you speak of “the Horn,” then you will be in for a surprise, for there are many such mvts. which do precisely that: lend support for the cantus firmus in the soprano. It makes no sense for me to list them all here for you.

lvb:
Because Mr. Braatz seems to be using a stange set of charsets I often have difficulty read what he has to say although I will admit that I admire much of what he does make readable.

I do not expect Mr. Braatz to list all of them here but the incidences seem to be more in favor of solo than not. I AM NOT SAYING THAT BACH NEVER OR BARELY USED HORNS FOR THE CANTUS FIRMUS merely that they have a more.

braatz
Csibas (published in 1994) that I discussed a few weeks ago.

lvb
I am sorry but I must have missed this and struggling to read Mr. Braatz'z charset which do not transliterate into English well---it may have been unreadable or perhaps I mistakenly took the information spelling of Csibas as a charset corruption. I have complained to Yahoo bitterly about this as I am suppose to be able to send and receive messages in more than 20 languages using different charsets including as an amusement--ancient Eguption hieroglyphics.

If Mr. Braatz can give me the publisher etc then I will make every effort to read this book.

lvb
< There are many problems with Bach's writing for horns that have not been resolved because of the distance of time--most horn players can rarely if at all play above a''' with the mouthpiece in use today irregardless of the kind of horn used. 'Clarino' horn playing has yet to be learned by horn players as it has been by some trumpet players. >

Braatz:
ditto above – this has all been addressed by the Csibas in their fairly recent book on this subject and many brass players in HIP ensembles are certainly grappling with this problem right now

lvb
Upon what does this author based his work?

Braatz:
He (Bach) did not need Handel to look up to.

lvb;
That may be true but he did any way as well as can be infered the Italian masters.

Lvb :
yes I read german but some German words give me great pain as to the proper meaning since they can have multiple meanings and sometimes these meanings are not related to each other.
------------------

Now for the Quoniam solution which I found by looking at the construction of a modern oboe and one that is a copy of one made during Baroque period. The baroque
oboe seems to have somewhat abrupt narrower to abrupt wider bore than the modern oboe and the sample oboe I am speaking of is in the Boston Museum Fine Arts
Museum collection in Boston Massachusetts, USA of which I have details of which I had planned to attached but the file is too large inspite of reducing it several times for yahoo to accept. I will try to send separately to see if that helps.

As the bassoon is the bass of the oboe family; it is reasonable to assume that the bore in bassoons of the baroque were somewhat different than modern bassoons and either had a wider or narrower bore than modern oboes and therefore blended better than in the problem situation.

I have relatives who are organbuilders and asked them about this situation and they agree that the size bore can make all the difference in the tonal qualities of
an instrument and this is also true in brass instruments.

So the reasons that things may not seem to fit together is that that the instruments differed from what we have today in the blending with each other.

Robert Sherman wrote (September 27, 2002):
< Ludwig wrote: There are many problems with Bach's writing for horns that have not been resolved because of the distance of time--most horn players can rarely if at all play above a''' with the mouthpiece in use today irregardless of the kind of horn used. 'Clarino' horn playing has yet to be learned by horn players as it has been by some trumpet players. >
That's true, but listen to Barry Tuckwell's astounding recording of the Zelenka Capriccios in which he effortlessly and musically floats up to Bb. I met Mr. Tuckwell about twelve years ago and he told me he's used the same horn and mouthpiece for everything throughout his professional career. So presumably he's played the Eulenspiegel low notes and the Zelenka highs on the same equipment.

But that's not to say that others can do it, of course.

Ludwig wrote (September 27, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] Barry Tuckwell is a god and he can do what no other human usually can on the French Horn. Yes, he has done the high and low notes (Eulenspiegel--I have him do this) but please note that I stated MOST by which I mean the average orchestra hornist as you seem to note.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 27, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz] Alright-so then does anyone know which horn Herreweghe uses in his recording?

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 27, 2002):
[To Ludwig] hmmm...

Balance could be the problem, but perhaps the horn is too loud and the bassoons and continuo are too quiet...

If of course JSB wasn't satisfied with the result, then why didn't he just change it unless...I thought the Mass was assembled near the end of his life from earlier compositions.

Anyway, my point is again, that if he wasn't happy with the experiment, then why did he keep it as it was. I mean, do chemists who have made an ineffective compound or whatever get a patent on it and market it? The only reason they would do that is for someone to think of something they didn't-of course I haven't yet thought of anything substantial, but perhaps just take out the bassoon parts entirely...

Or just make the bassoons louder

Ludwig wrote (September 27, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Well first of all we are dealing with apples and oranges re your references to artists vs chemists(scientist).

I can say that this is correct as it is a pure guess to your question but Bach was so busy with composing,rehearsing, supporting his 20(?) kids, that he may have decided that one day he would get back to it one day and never did. Artists often do works that they leave either not polished or not finished.

Then again when he found that the experment did not work perhaps he did not want to revisit the fiasco and get on other things. As I said--I am just guessing and you nor I probally know the real answer to this.

After my post that you are writing about; I had the opportunity to examine a modern oboe and a oboe from the baroque period so I am now stating that the problem and solution probally lies in the construction differences of a modern bassoon and the ones used in the baroque age.

There are some of us Bach zealots think that the B minor was constructed and pieced together from works that he had written and there are those of us who take the opposite stance that is he drew from the B minor to compose all of his other works based primarily on the fact that many things that came to be shortly before Bach died seem to be found in the B minor which everyone seems to think was composed much
earlier in Bach's life.

We could argue and fight about this the rest of our days but without a time machine we can not truly know the absolute answer.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 28, 2002):
[To Ludwig] Again, my recording of the Mass is the Herreweghe, which usues period
instruments as well, can we please get back to the discussion at hand-I am not concerned with the horn part, just the bassoons'.

What do you all think about making the bassoons play louder, or perhaps pitting 2 (or even 3?) per part instead of the usual 1.

Robert Sherman wrote (September 28, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] You are describing the notes as written for "horn in D", which means they actually sound a major second higher (really D, F#, A, etc).

Note also that in the uppor octave what you describe as f and f# are actually a single note (the 11th harmonic) which is between F'' and F#'' but not in the Western scale which only goes to the 5th harmonic. By lipping and/or hand-stopping the player would pull it up or down to get an F or F#. Similarly, the Bb' is actually a bit below true Bb' but can be lipped up to make a useable Bb.

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 30, 2002):
Bob Sherman wrote: < You are describing the notes as written for "horn in D", which means they actually sound a major second higher (really D, F#, A, etc). >
No, I don't believe so. The Csibas give the Corno da caccia in D as the instrument used. The notes that were given are those notated by Bach, not the actually sounding ones. Whenever the Csibas list the range of notes for an instrument as sounding, they indicate a 'k.' = 'klingend' {which means actually sounding notes.} In this case they did not indicate a 'k' so they are looking at the notes the way Bach originally did, but if you look at the score in the NBA, it is given as sounding. Perhaps the NBA editors, at that time, did not really know what to do with this part so they simply notated it as sounding thus leaving it up to the conductor/performer to make the decision as to which instrument should be used.

Here are some interesting points based on the NBA edition: [In the NBA the "Quoniam tu solus sanctus" mvt. is listed as mvt. 11.]

1) The NBA lists the instruments used in the entire "Missa" section beginning with "Tromba 1, also Corno da caccia." This is usually based on a fairly reliable source. This seems to mean that the 1st chair trumpet (tromba) player who had the highest part elsewhere in the larger mvts. would also play the solo part in the "Quoniam" mvt., but on a different instrument, the Corno da caccia.

2) The NBA gives the modern, actually sounding notation which begins with the octave leap from d'' to d'''. This is done in order to modernize the moving clef signatures. If you have ever seen the BGA, you will know how difficult it is to get one's bearings, if one has become very familiar with the modern standards for orchestral and choral scores. However, the NBA editors in their wisdom have nevertheless indicated Bach's original for the 1st note in the mvt. There, in the standard treble clef, is the single note: c''. Thus there is no doubt as to what the first note for this instrument was as notated by Bach: it looked like a c'', but it sounded like a d''.

3) Contrary to the typical French horn sound, which has a much richer sound and would play this part an octave lower, this part was to be played by a 'tromba' virtuoso of the caliber of Gottfried Reiche. Let me mention again that the instrument that Reiche has in his hands in the famous portrait of him has been identified by the Csibas as a Corno da caccia in C which, as I have listed, is used more frequently than the Corno da caccia in D which is used only once in the Quoniam and nowhere else.

4) This high range brass instrument certainly should not be confused with a French horn, although this instrument is often used as a replacement.

5) On another point: the Corno da caccia has no dynamic markings in the original parts that Bach copied himself, but the both bassoons have forte and piano markings for various sections. Bach must have been aware of the fact that two bassoons, if allowed to play like 'Zippelfagottists' would simply be too loud for this instrumental grouping.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 30, 2002):
Alright-I think I'm getting somewhere
< Thomas Braatz wrote: 5) On another point: the Corno da caccia has no dynamic markings in the original parts that Bach copied himself, but the both bassoons have forte and piano markings for various sections. Bach must have been aware of the fact that two bassoons, if allowed to play like 'Zippelfagottists' would simply be too loud for this instrumental grouping. >
So I guess the question is if anyone knows what a "Zippelfagottist" sounds like, and if all bassoonists, whether using baroque instruments or modern, sound like a "Zippelfagottist"

I think the main problem, as can possibly be interpolated, is that the bassoon and continuo parts aren't as clear and definite in my ear as the bass soloist and the horn part. This might have to do with dynamics, or it may have to do with the orchestration that Bach used-I still don't know for sure

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 30, 2002):
Well, maybe "all bassoonists" is incorrect, perhaps I should say "if it has become the accepted tone of a bassoon"

This I doubt though, because the bassoon is a great instrument and bassoon repertoire is easily transferable to euphonium

(in fact, I had to juggle both the euph part and the bsn part in Wind Ensemble last year! That was interesting)


Ludwig wrote (September 30, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Think I missed something here. If it is not a bassoon then it has to be a ranket whose tone qualitieare similar the difference is that a ranket has a somewhat more reedy sound, is quiter and can be carried around in one's shirt pocket and it is remarkable that such a small instrument can produce the same lower notes as the bassoon. The bassoon on the other hand must be lugged around.

The Euphonium did not exist until the 1800s and I am going out on a limb and say it came in existence around 1850-1860.

Now if we are going to brass then the trombones could possibly do these passages.

Could we move on to another topic please as this pedantry is getting very tiresome and the baroque age was not known for pedantry as the classical and romantic ages are.

Ludwig wrote (September 30, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] I need to verify this but will hazard a guess that zipple- fagottist might refer to something like a ranket.

You need someone who knows Bach's handwriting well enough to be able to determine whether the dynamics were added later by someone else or they are genuinely

JS Bachs. Compare Mendlesohn's (sp?) handwriting of dynamics to that of JS as well as the handwriting of the sons to the father.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 30, 2002):
[To Ludwig] Well, trombones might work

But anyway, I guess that's enough of substituting instruments (unless pedantry means something else)

Maybe I have my answer though-I guess the bassoons never play loud enough (i.e. equal to the horn)

Can anyone who has different recordings of the Mass (besides the Herreweghe and the dreadful Giulini) tell me if they think the bassoons are playing as clear and loud as the horn part?

Ludwig wrote (October 1, 2002):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Bassoons are equal to Horns in certain passages--listen to Sibelius (master of the brass section), Tschaikovsky (some of the overtures and symphonies) .Frankly, I do not know of any instrument that is equal to the brass sectionn other than brass.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (October 1, 2002):
[To Ludwig] I think I might know what the problem was-

After close listening, I realized that the use of cellos in the continuo was affecting the tone of the bassoons.

Here's what I think might do it:

(besides having the bassoons play louder)instead of a cello, use a third bassoon, and if I ever heard that and still didn't like it, then perhaps taking out the organ too?

I do know that use of cellos is common in continuo, and so is that of bassoons, (many times both are used) so I am not suggesting anything too alien.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 1, 2002):
I decided to listen to a fairly recent recording of the B minor Mass in order to determine what a modern recording does with the Quoniam. This is a live-recording from the Bachfest Leipzig 2000 on the 28th of July with Biller conducting the Thomaner Chor and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. The horn player is listed as Ralf Götz, but what I heard sounded more like a mellow trumpet (or a modern cornet) being played one octave lower than indicated in the score. In any case, it did not sound much like a modern French horn, but I could be mistaken.

I would be interested in hearing from others who have recordings of the “Quoniam” in the B minor Mass, particularly, what type of horn is being used in which range (low range or high range) and what the balance between the parts sounds like (too much low range muddiness, etc.)

Here are some extracts from various sources that unveil some interesting facts, connections, and theories regarding this movement from the B minor Mass:

Eric Chafe has an explanation for the octave interval jump in the horn at the very beginning of the Quoniam mvt.:

According to Werckmeister in his “Musicalische Paradoxal-Discourse”, pp. 92, 100, the octave represents the Son; the unison, the Father; and the fifth, the Holy Spirit (based on the proportions 1:2:3); some such idea may underlie the octave leap at the beginning of the “Quoniam” of the Mass in B minor.

In his book entitled, “The Social and Religious Designs of J. S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos,” Michael Marissen’s main emphasis on connecting the social status of horn playing with the use of horns in the 1st Brandenburg Concerto, but he also mentions the Quoniam mvt. in passing:

“The participation of two Corni di caccia (hunting horns) in a concerto grosso must have seemed unusual to early 18th-century audiences, for in the 1710s and 1720s the hunting horn was by no means a standard member of instrumental ensembles with strings. Furthermore, there are no known German precedents for the participation of horns in a concerto.
The horn first achieved stature in connection with the mounted hunt. The size and grandeur of a nobleman’s hunt became a symbol of his wealth and social status, for the expenses associated with the hunt were enormous. He had to purchase and maintain a respectable number of horses and hounds, weapons, musical instruments (one could live for a year on the price of a horn!), uniforms, and so on. Large amounts of money were paid to individuals who could play the horn as well as ride and shoot.

Just like the hunt reflected a nobleman’s social standing, so did the horn become a status symbol within the hunt. The musical skill of the mounted horn players came to be almost as important as their prowess in the field. Their elaborate systems of hunting calls turned the musical aspect of the hunt into a magnificent showpiece for their patron.

Beyond the strong associations with aristocracy and the outdoor life of the privileged classes, the hunt also embodied contemporary moral and philosophical principles. The mounted hunt ceremony was well suited for adoption into aristocratic life at the end of the 17th century, a time when the ancient courtly ideals inherited from the Middle Ages were seeking forms of expression more in line with the worldliness and prosperity of the late baroque. The hunt was emblematic of “Tugend” (worldly virtue; a complex mixture of bravery, industry, honesty, and chivalry), signifying a new manifestation of the older “ritterlich-höfisch (chivalrous-courtly) ideals central to aristocratic thought. Owing to its ceremonial and signal functions in the hunt, the horn emerged as an allegorical figure representing aristocratic values. The sound of the horn was therefore able to excite deep feelings in the aristocracy, in whose minds it symbolized the very essence of nobility.

Because of these associations, the original effect of the horns in early 18th-century concerted music was probably much more evocative than we might suspect today. The fanfares in Reinhard Keiser’s “Oktavia” of 1705 provide an early example of the coloristic employment of horns for evoking the salubrity of the outdoors and the grandeur of aristocratic life. And in the “Quoniam” of Bach’s B-minor Mass the horn’s affective connotations highlight the image of God’s entry into the world as a human being in the form of Christ the King.”



John Butt in his book on the Mass in B minor gives the following bits of information about the Quoniam mvt.:

“Another striking allusion to the Dresden tradition is Bach’s use of the horn for an aria in the “Missa” (“Quoniam”); this instrument is particularly prominent in Heinichen’s works.”

“[C.S. Terry, 1924] emphasizes the religious implications of the musical devices. His analysis is usually sensible and accords with the expressive metaphorical practices of Baroque musical language: the chromaticism of the ‘Kyrie’, the confidence of the major mode in the ‘Christe’, the doctrinal unity of Father and Son in the duet ‘Domine Deus’, the six-winged seraphic hosts in the six-part choir of the Sanctus, and even the royal implications of the horn in the ‘Quoniam’.”

“Ironically, the bassoon parts of the ‘Quoniam’ contain an extremely rare instance of just what Rifkin asserts is never the case: the two players share one part.”

Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus altissimus Jesu Christe = For thou alone art holy; thou only art the Lord; Thou only, O Christ, art most high.”
Bass; Horn (corno da caccia); Bassoons 1 and 2; Continuo

Rifkin suggests that the extraordinary scoring here was inspired by the text of the lost model, which Bach subsequefound appropriate for the singularity of Christ. However, Häfner proposes that the bassoon lines were originally for oboes, an octave higher, since several corrections might relate to forbidden parallels which resulted from the octave transposition. This hypothesis seems substantiated by another frequent error in the manuscript: at the head of pages 70 and 73 (and possibly p. 72) Bach originally opened the upper bassoon line with a treble clef and later corrected his mistake. Similarly, on p. 70 the second bassoon of the second system was originally notated with an alto clef. Oboe parts would almost certainly have been scored with trumpet rather than horn, so Bach’s choice of horn for the later version substantiates the thesis that this part was specifically designed for the Dresden player, Johann Adam Schindler, whom Bach almost certainly heard at the premier of “Cleofide” in 1731. Whatever the case, it seems that Bach relished depicting the ‘most high’ with the deepest forces possible.”

“Christ majestic within the Trinity characterizes the final two movements (‘Quoniam’ and ‘Cum sancto’) in the ‘home’ key of D major.”

George B. Stauffer’s book on the B minor Mass includes information such as the following:

“We can only speculate on the details of Zelter’s approach to the B-Minor Mass, since his ‘Singakademie’ score was lost in WW II. Georg Schünemann, who examined Zelter’s manuscript in the 1920’s, states that in the ‘Quoniam” Zelter suggested that the corne da caccia be replaced with a flute, and the bassoons with basset horns or muted cellos.”

“The use of two obbligato bassoons in the “Quoniam” points to the [Dresden] Hofkirche ensemble, which included five specialists on the instrument.”

“The “Quoniam” is one of Bach’s most extraordinary arias. The setting—bass voice, horn, two bassoons, and continuo—is unique in his oeuvre. Indeed, one is hard pressed to find the combination elsewhere in the Baroque repertory. Bach seems to have gathered such improbable forces to create an elaborate iconographical conceit. The horn, a brass instrument associated with kings and conquerors (both earthly and heavenly), symbolizes Christ. Sounding in the tenor-alto range, d-d’’ (though notated an octave higher, and in C), it has the highest tessitura in the “Quoniam” and appropriately portrays the ‘most high’ nature of Christ’s sovereignty. Bach underscores the uniqueness of Christ’s ‘highness’ by placing the four other parts in the bass range.

The imagery does not stop there. The octave leap in the horn’s theme was also associated with Christ: Andreas Werckmeister (1645-1706), a Thuringian whose progressive ideas on tuning and other matters seem to have had a considerable influence on Bach, stated that since the unison symbolized God, the octave, with its perfect proportional relationship of 1:2 with the unison, represented the figure of Christ. In modern times, Helmut Rilling has suggested that the palindrome formed by the first five notes of the “Quoniam” octave motive may represent Christ’s absolute perfection—an arresting notion even if it lacks foundation in 18th-century theory. The word “altissimus” –“most high”—appears for the first time in the middle section of the “Quoniam” (mm. 53-89). Up to that point, the bass voice (also a representative of Christ in Baroque music) had risen no higher than the note b. In the middle section however, it ascends to c’, c#’, d’, and then twice, on the word “altissimus,” to its highest note, e’. In addition, the key words “Dominus” (“Lord”) and “solus” (“[Thou] only”) are highlighted with exuberant flourishes. One can theorize about Bach’s imagery in the “Laudamus te” or “Domine Deus”; in the “Quoniam,” by contrast, his instrumental and rhetorical symbols seem unequivocally clear.

The virtuosic writing for two bassoons also distinguishes the movement. A glance at Bach’s other church works reveals just four aris with obbligato bassoon, and in each case the scoring calls for a single instrument only. The paucity of written-out bassoon parts for the Leipzig cantatas in general points to limited expectations: normally the bassoon seems to have doubled the continuo, at best. And when outlining the requirements for church performance in the “Entwurff” of 1730, Bach mentioned the need for “1, or even 2” players for the bassoon, a comment that seems to imply that one player was the standard.

Matters were far different in Dresden, where the Court Capella boasted as many as five bassoonists in Bach’s time, including virtuosos Johann Gottfried Böhme, Jean Cadet, and Caspar Ernst Quantz. On an average Sunday, two or three players took part in church performances, and Heinichen and Zelenka did not hesitate to use them in a solo capacity. The “Quoniam” from Heinichen’s “Missa Fidei” of 1723, for instance, is scored for bass, obbligato bassoons and violins, and continuo. Surely Bach knew of the special resources in Dresden, and the sudden appearance of two demanding obbligato bassoon parts in the “Quoniam” seems too great a departure from his usual Leipzig practice to be purely coincidental.

The use of the corno da caccia also points to Dresden. The hunting horn, or “Waldhorn” as Walther termed it, was a Dresden specialty, appearing ubiquitously in opera, chamber pieces, and church works. The Mass settings of Heinichen and Zelenka represent one of the largest bodies of music with “clarion” horn parts that include florid writing in the high register. Bach must have been impressed, too, by such colorful scorings as corno da caccia and theorbo in Alessandro’s aria from Hasse’s “Cleofide” (Act III, Scene 6), which he most certainly attended in Dresden in 1731. In the early 1730’s the Dresden Court ensemble included two famous horn virtuosos, first-chair player Johann Adam Schindler and his brother Andreas. We find the corno da caccia in Bach’s Weimar and Leipzig cantatas, but it is always scored in pairs. The single horn of the “Quoniam” is unique in his music. In the Dresden performance materials the horn part is written on a separate sheet of paper, which leads one to believe that Bach intended it for a specialist rather than an unoccupied trumpet player. The specialist may have been one of the Schindlers….The bass and the horn [are] the two iconographical representatives of Christ.

A number of writers have viewed the clean appearance of the “Quoniam” and the finely detailed performance instructions in the autograph score as signs that this movement is also a parody. Rifkin has suggested that Bach appropriated the music from an aria whose text inspired the extraordinary setting of solo horn and two bassoons. Häfner has proposed that the “Quoniam” is derived from an aria for bass, trumpet, two oboes, and continuo, and that the bassoon and horn lines were originally an octave higher. This proposal is seconded by Butt, who points to two spots where Bach initially notated one of the bassoons in treble clef. One cannot demonstrate that Bach ever wrote an aria for bass, trumpet, two oboes, and continuo, however, or that he had two virtuoso bassoon players at his disposal in Weimar, Cöthen, or Leipzig. It may be that the “Quoniam” is new music, written with the help of a draft or sketches.”

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 2, 2002):
After checking my CDs to see if I had any other recordings of the B minor Mass, I was surprised to find other versions that finally led me to an answer to the question that I had raised: How do various recordings of the B minor Mass render the horn part in the “Quoniam.”

Here is what I found:

Karl Richter:
In the booklet accompanying Karl Richter’s 1962 Archiv recording of the B minor Mass, Georg von Dadelsen (chief critic of Friedrich Smend’s NBA edition where Smend refused to see the mass as a unified composition) maintains that the “Quoniam” is “ein Baßsolo mit konzertierendem Horn” [variously translated by an unnamed translator as “a bass solo for bass accompanied by a concertante French horn” and “un solo de basse avec cor solo.”] It is none other than the great horn virtuoso, Hermann Baumann, who does the honors here. The booklet even indicates that he is playing a ‘corno da cacci,’ but my disappointment was great when he played the part an octave lower than indicated in the score and he did this with a French vibrato. I suppose that Baumann thinks that Gottfried Reiche played these parts the same way!

Peter Schreier:
Peter Schreier, in his 1981/2 recording of the B minor Mass has Ludwig Güttler (listed as 1st trumpet) play the corno da caccia in the “Quoniam.’ This instrument was made by Frank and Friedbert Syhre in Leipzig. [This is the only recording that actually gives some details about the horn or manufacturer thereof.] Güttler is the only one who plays this part at the required pitch (not an octave lower as most other horn (or trumpet) players do. He does use some vibrato, but at least not a slower vibrato the way Baumann does. Just hearing the initial octave leap gets the listener’s attention when this is played well. For the 1st and only time I was able to hear the repeated low notes in mm. 90 ff properly. The balance between parts is incredibly improved. After hearing this version, a listener will not gladly return to other recordings that insist on playing this part an octave lower. This performance should change anyone’s previous opinion about this mvt.

Harnoncourt:
In Harnoncourt’s 1986 (now Vol. 72 of Teldec’s Bach 2000 Series) foray into the historically informed performance practices, an unnamed (perhaps it is best that he remain unnamed for posterity) member of the Concentus musicus Wien plays, correct that to ‘tries to play,’ a horn that blares (‘schmettert’) on almost every other note. This is in keeping with Harnoncourt’s notion that instruments in Bach’s day were crudely played. This means that these instruments should sound that way today to create an authentic sound that listeners will come to love. The horn (no details about this instrument are given) is played an octave lower. It would be asking too much of the instrumentalist to play the notes as indicated in the autograph horn part. The sound of the notes varies greatly in pitch and intensity, thus ensuring that a novice listener will definitely recognize that this is a natural horn. The player actually sounds like a beginner on this instrument. Needless to say, the balance between the parts is way off.

Beringer:
In Beringer’s recording (1994) there are very skimpy notes. The listener must assume that one of the Läubin brothers (who also appear in the Rilling cantata series) who play the trumpets is also responsible for playing what sounds like a trumpet in the low range (an octave lower than written) much in the same way that Biller (see below) also uses a mellow sounding trumpet.

Herreweghe:
In Herreweghe’s 1996 recording, Claude Maury plays what also sounds like a natural horn in a style very similar to the one heard in the Harnoncourt recording. Here Herreweghe encounters similar problems to those of his mentor and is unable to acquire clarity in the parts. It even begins to sound rather funny at times with the bassoons chugging along and the natural horn trying to play in its lower register, an octave lower than that which Bach had notated. Imagine a horn player playing with his hand continuously held in the bell of the instrument. This is what it sounds like.

Biller: [I am repeating this observation that I reported on earlier.]
This is a live-recording from the Bachfest Leipzig 2000 on the 28th of July with Biller conducting the Thomaner Chor and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. The horn player is listed as Ralf Götz, but what I heard sounded more like a mellow trumpet (or a modern cornet) being played one octave lower than indicated in the score. This is the same sound that can be heard in the Beringer recording – a trumpet in the low range is used as a substitute for a horn.

Summary:
Peter Schreier’s recording with Ludwig Güttler playing a real corno da caccia is a revelation. It is time that more brass players master the art of playing this instrument so that future generations can hear this mvt. played properly.

Uri Golomb wrote (October 2, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz] For what it's worth, Schreier is the only conductor (among the over-60 recordings I've heard) to use this type of Corno da Caccia, playing at written pitch. Furthermore, he only does this in his *first* recording; in his second recording, made with the Dresden Staatskapelle about 10 years later, he reverts to the more conventional instrumentation. (my copy, part of a boxed set, does not name instrumental soloists, and nor does the copy I've seen at the National Sound Archive, which has a more detailed booklet. Still, perhaps some edition of this recoridgng does specify these details. Incidentally, my copies of the two Harnoncourt recordings give complete lists of players: the horn player in 1968 was Ernst Mühlbacher, his 1986 counterpart was Andrew Joy) Since Schreier has not contributed notes to either of his recordings, I do not know why he changed his mind.

The following footnote in George Stauffer's monograph on the B minor Mass may offer a starting point for further research; I will report to the list if I follow up on his references:

"From time to time the question has been raised as to whether the horn should not sound at notated pitch. Peter Damm, in "Zur Ausführung des 'Corne da Caccia' im Quoniam der Missa h-Moll von J. S. Bach", Bach-Jahrbuch 70 (1984): 91-105, and Jürgen Eppelsheim, "Beobachtungen zum Instrumentarium und Orchester Bachscher Kompositionen aus den beiden letzten Lebensjahrzehnten", in Johann Sebastian Bachs Spatwerk und dessen Umfeld, ed. Christohp Wolff (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1982): 82, have convincingly demonstrated that it should sound an octave lower than written. One should also note that Heinichen and Zelenka commonly notated the horn in Dresden scores in a manner parallel to Bach's. See Wolfgang Horn, Die Dresdner Hofkirchenmusik 1720-1745 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1987), p. 120." (George Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor (The Great Catholic Mass); New York: Schirmer Books, 1997; note 75 on p. 281).

Also, some comments from John Butt's Cambridge Music Handbook on the Mass (CaAmbridge University Press, 1991, p. 49):

"Rifkin suggests that the extraordinary scoring here was inspired by the text of the lost model [Stauffer, BTW, proposes an iconographic interpretation specifically linked with the present text; see p. 89 in his book], which Bach subsequently found appropriate for the singularity of Christ. However Häfner proposes that the bassoon lines were originally for oboes, an octave higher, since several corrections might relate to forbidden parallel which resulted from the octave transposition. This hypothesis iseems substantiated by another frequent error in this manuscript: at the ehad of pages 70 and 72 (and possibly p. 72) Bach originally opened the upper bassoon line with a treble clef and later corrected his mistake. Similarly, on p. 70 the second bassoon on teh second system was originally notated with an alto clef. Oboe parts would almsot certainly have been scored with trumpet rather than horn, so Bach's choice of horn for the later version substantiates the thseis that this part was specifically designed for the Dresden player, Johann Adam Schindler, whom Bach almost certainly heard at the premier of [Hasse's?] Cleofide in 1731. Whatever the case, it seems that Bach relished depicting the 'most high' with the deepest forces possible."

Since I have not yet read the articles which Stauffer refers to, I cannot yet comment on them. One point does make sense, however: the horn part was much more likely written for Schindler than for Gotffried Reiche, since the Missa (Kyrie and Gloria) were written for the Dresden Chapel. My guess is that it certainly makes a difference whether the part was written for someone who was predominantly a trumpet player -- like Reiche, and like Güttler, who plays the part in Schreier's first recording -- on what sounds, to my ears, like the Posthorn in Mozart's Posthorn serenade -- which is played by the first trumpet) -- or for a horn player. This might well affect notational convention.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 2, 2002):
Uri Golomb stated: < Since I have not yet read the articwhich Stauffer refers to, I cannot yet comment on them. >
These articles are quite outdated already (about 15 to 20 years old.) I have checked the Tomita Bach Bibliography site and determined that Eppelsheim’s articles are only generally on all the instruments used by Bach. It is rather unlikely that he included anything significantly new regarding the use of the Corne da caccia in the B minor Mass. Damm’s article, on the other hand, is included in the extensive bibliography that the Csiba’s included in their more recent book (1994): “Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken.” Anything of significance offered by Damm would have been checked out by the Csibas and treated in their book.

< One point does make sense, however: the horn part was much more likely written for Schindler than for Gottfried Reiche, since the Missa (Kyrie and Gloria) were written for the Dresden Chapel. >
Yes, I quoted this from Stauffer’s book very recently on this list: “In the Dresden performance materials the horn part is written on a separate sheet of paper, which leads one to believe that Bach intended it for a specialist rather than an unoccupied trumpet player. The specialist may have been one of the Schindlers….”

< My guess is that it certainly makes a difference whether the part was written for someone who was predominantly a trumpet player -- like Reiche, and like Güttler, who plays the part in Schreier's first recording -- on what sounds, to my ears, like the Posthorn in Mozart's Posthorn serenade -- which is played by the first trumpet) -- or for a horn player. This might well affect notational convention.” >
You seem not to be familiar with the famous Haußmann portrait (located in the Bach-Haus in Eisenach) of Gottfried Reiche in which he is depicted holding a Corno da caccia in C. This is a slightly larger (8 ft. rather than 7) Corno da caccia than the one designated in the “Quoniam,” an instrument (the one in C) for which Bach composed 5 mvts. in his cantatas BWV 16 and BWV 107. You seem to be laboring under the misconception that there is a wide difference between horn and trumpet players. While this may be more the case today, in Bach’s time it was quite usual for the 1st Trumpeter to also play a solo horn part in the same cantata. Why do you think that Reiche allowed himself to be shown holding a Corno da caccia when he was more generally known as a Tromba player? This still does not change the fact that Bach probably wrote the Corno da caccia for one of the Schindler brothers in Dresden because this was the intended place for this music to be performed.

< This might well affect notational convention. >
I can not see how this would apply unless you persist in thinking in boxes as we do today regarding these categories of instruments: trumpets vs. horns.

Quoting Stauffer you stated:
< One should also note that Heinichen and Zelenka commonly notated the horn in Dresden scores in a manner parallel to Bach's. >
This is all the proof that we need. Now there is general agreement about the notation style, however there still remains the question whether musicians and musicologists want to accept the fact that the notes were to be played as written without invoking some hocus-pocus mythology invented after the fact that ‘there was an unwritten tradition that prevailed in Bach’s day that caused Bach to write down notes in such a way that they were not really meant to be played, but rather that he implied that such notes should automatically be played in a different manner than that which appears on his autograph scores.’ I am, of course, referring here also the crazy notion, beginning with Arnold Schering in the 1930’s and continuing into the present time with Laurence Dreyfus, that maintains that Bach employed a ‘shortened accompaniment’ in his secco recitatives. Likewise, by some sort of mistaken analogy, we now have musicians and musicologists looking at Bach’s cleanly copied Corno da caccia part and stating, “Bach did not really mean to have this music played as written. It must have been part of an esoteric tradition known only to a very select group of Corno da caccia players, who kept this ‘trade’ secret from being revealed to the public at large. This secret died with this very small group of players and composers who lived in Dresden and Leipzig during Bach’s lifetime. Since there is hardly anyone alive today who can play this music on the designated instrument as written and since the designation ‘Corno’ does not state “Tromba,” we need to consider modern horn players who are unable to play well in such a high range. Taking the modern French horn as our basis (certainly not the trumpeters who will want to use their modern piccolo trumpets), we need to allow a comparable horn sound (even if it is an octave lower and much richer in sound) because Bach wanted a horn sound here. So, in order to enable modern day performances, we will sanction the French horn playing the written notes an octave lower. In any case, this is what the public is used to hearing, so let’s give them what they already know and expect. It will be easy for us as musicologists to give our imprimatur to this idea, because it has been reasonably successful before. At least we already have a precedent.”

>>For what it's worth, Schreier is the only conductor (among the over-60 recordings I've heard) to use this type of Corno da Caccia, playing at written pitch. Furthermore, he only does this in his *first* recording; in his second recording, made with the Dresden Staatskapelle about 10 years later, he reverts to the more conventional instrumentation. (my copy, part of a boxed set, does not name instrumental soloists, and nor does the copy I've seen at the National Sound Archive, which has a more detailed booklet. Still, perhaps some edition of this recording does specify these details…. Since Schreier has not contributed notes to either of his recordings, I do not know why he changed his mind.<<

Let me venture an educated guess: Schreier was unable to get a truly proficient Corno da caccia player for his second recording or perhaps the recording company was unwilling to pay extra for Güttler’s or an equivalent player's services. Also, consider the fact that conducting Bach’s major choral works all over the world during the last decade is an endeavor that Schreier has undertaken but would put him into many situations, whether in performance or recordings, where such a 1st-rate Corno da caccia player would not be available, situations which would force Schreier to revert to the ‘standard’ treatment of the part played by a French horn or trumpet player. Such a part would be played an octave lower than Bach’s original part designates. Asking a trumpeter to play the part in the ‘clarino’ range would most likely upset the delicate balance in the ensemble. Simply having the trumpeter play everything softer would not have the same effect that a Corno da caccia is able to produce. Thus such a performance would not resemble Bach’s original intentions except that another different type of brass instrument was being used. With such options (trumpet playing at the correct pitch but softly, or a modern French horn playing an octave lower, or even a natural horn played unevenly at the lower octave) available, Schreier, as would most conductors who are faced with the same dilemma, would most likely give the nod to the French horn player.

< Incidentally, my copies of the two Harnoncourt recordings give complete lists of players: the horn player in 1968 was Ernst Mühlbacher, his 1986 counterpart was Andrew Joy) >
Thanks, Uri, for sharing information such as this and the other quotes which you have shared. It has been very helpful for me in sorting out this performance problem. At the moment I am still gravitating toward the more recent information and in-depth analysis given by the Csibas. Also, relying on my ears to tell me what sounds ‘right’ (of course there will always be differences of opinion regarding this method), it has become quite obvious to me that playing the Corno da caccia part an octave lower is a relicthat needs to be overcome and should not be supported by musicologists who are trying to make conductors and listeners ‘feel good’ about listening to the “Quoniam” with a horn or trumpet playing an octave lower than written while wondering at the same time: “Why did Bach use this instrumentation? Is there something wrong here?”

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 2, 2002):
On Aryeh's site I just found some comments by Teri Noel Towe on recordings of this mvt.:

Teri Noel Towe:
< The first of these performances was given in the Musikvereinsaal in Vienna in 1950, at the International Bach Festival [4]. It is the first, and the most exhilarating, of four recorded performances of the Mass under the direction of Herbert von Karajan that have so far been released commercially. While by no means competitive with the studio recordings, this fascinating document preserves Karajan's view of the Mass at its most colorful and "operatic". Grand ritards, rich dynamics and expression, powerful interpretations from five world class soloists (including Kathleen Ferrier who otherwise never recording the alto solos and duets from the Mass in their entirety), and complete commitment from chorus and orchestra (except for a tentative hornist who sounds absolutely terrified in the "Quoniam"!) make this dramatic "Furtwängleresque" reading of the Mass a thrilling listening experience, the wildly variable and often muddy sound not withstanding. >
It would certainly be most interesting to find out whether this 'tentative' hornist was attempting to play the notes as written by Bach at the higher octave. If so, then it is no small wonder that he would sound 'absolutely terrified.' Die Karajan really attempt to take Bach's notation of this part literally, the way it is supposed to be played?

< The most recent of the neo-Baroque "modern" instrument accounts in the Straube-Ramin vein to emanate from the German Democratic Republic is Peter Schreier's, recorded in 1981-1982 [41]. Schreier unfortunately allowed himself to be seduced by some of the musicological fads that were voguish in the 1970s. He often stresses strong beats with swells and sforzandi, and he assigns the corno da caccia obligato in the "Quoniam" to a curious modern hybrid brass instrument of the same name that was invented to respond to some highly dubious "findings" that purportedly "proved" that the corno da caccia part in the Mass was meant to be transposed up, rather than down. Ludwig Güttler plays the part superbly on this bastard brass instrument, but for the discerning listener the obtrusiveness of the repeated "pedal" tones as played "up" rather than "down" and the failure of the instrument to blend at all with the two bassoons, effectively puts the kibosh on the purported "authentic" new "old" brass instrument. On the plus side are a fine group of soloists, just tempos, and enthusiastic singing and playing from chorus and orchestra alike. >
Was this really 'a curious modern hybrid brass instrument' 'invented to respond to some highly dubious "findings" that purportedly "proved" that the corno da caccia part...was meant to be transposed up, rather than down,' or is this a case of 'thinking in the box' where 'transposing up' means playing the part as written by Bach personally in a manner that was also used by Heinichen et al at the court in Dresden? A bastard instrument? Do the notes give all these details on this instrument? Perhaps the fault lies with the bassoons which were less 'authentic' and more modern. I personally found this rendition to be a revelation because I could finally hear it performed in a manner closer to Bach's intentions (unless, of course, you believe that Bach indulged in 'secret' performance practices that made him write notes that really did not sound the way that they appeared in his score, or in this instance, on his personally copied Corno da caccia part.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 3, 2002):
As a footnote to prove that the playing of the Corno da caccia is alive and well, here is an article from “Die Welt” on 9/11/02:

“Trompetenkonzert im Michel für die Flutopfer in Dresden Musik verbindet. Das haben die rund tausend Besucher des Benefizkonzertes von Ludwig Güttler am Montag im Michel erleben können Zu Gunsten der Dresdner Flutopfer spielten der 59-jährige sächsische Trompeter von Weltrang und sein Ensemble Virtuosi Saxoniae in der St. Michaeliskirche zu Beginn und am Ende des Konzertes Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach. Das Capriccio von Zelenka blies Güttler in seinem gewohnt hellen und spitzen Corno-da-caccia-Ton, auf den das Orchester gut abgestimmt war. Ein besonderer Genuss im Programm war die Motette "Was betrübst du dich, meine Seele" von Johann Hermann Schein, die der Chor St. Michaelis fünfstimmig kraftvoll und anmutig zugleich a capella sang.“

A Trumpet Concert at St. Michael’s Church [Hamburg] for the Victims of the Flood in Dresden Music unites. This is what an audience of approximately a thousand experienced when Ludwig Güttler gave a performance at a benefit concert at St. Michael’s on Monday. In order to provide funds for the flood victims in Dresden, this 59-year-old, world-famous trumpeter along with his ensemble, the Virtuosi Saxoniae, performed works by Johann Sebastian Bach at the beginning and the end of the concert. Güttler also played Zelenka’s Capriccio with his usual bright and pointed Corno-da-caccia sound which was completely in balance with the other instrumentalists. A very special musical enjoyment was also provided by the St. Michael’s Choir which sang a capella with great power and charm a five-part motet by Johann Hermann Schein, “Was betrübst du dich, meine Seele” [“Why are you so sad, my soul.”]

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 3, 2002):
For those who wish to view an engraving of the Haussmann portrait of Gottfried Reiche with a Corno da caccia in D (the instrument that was used to play the "Quoniam", go to the following sites [even though they have incorrectly identified the instrument that he is holding]:

http://www.rodmacdonald.com/Reiche.htm
or
http://abel.hive.no/trumpet/bach/reiche/

Here is where you can purchase a Corno da caccia for about $4,000.
Unfortunately, there is no picture of the historical Corno da caccia in D, but there is a coiled Baroque trumpet (Tromba) in D that begins to look somewhat like the Corno da caccia
[I do not have any connection with this firm. I only found out about them a week ago when reading the book by the Csibas. This information is given for those who wish to find out a little more about this 'mysterious' instrument]:

http://www.thein-brass.de/index_en.php

http://www.thein-brass.de/historische_preise.html

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 3, 2002):
In listing the URLs for "an engraving of the Haussmann portrait of Gottfried Reiche with a Corno da caccia in D (the instrument that was used to play the "Quoniam"" I inadvertently telescoped two ideas so that the resulting statement is incorrect. As I had indicated correctly in a previous posting, Gottfried Reiche is holding a Corno da caccia in C [not D] and I also listed the cantata mvts. in which this instrument should be played. The Corno da caccia in D is the instrument that Bach designated for the "Quoniam" in the B minor Mass. Sorry about any confusion that I may have caused.



Continue on Part 9


 

Mass in B minor BWV 232: Details
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