Autumn Bach Cantatas

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Autumn Bach Cantatas

By popular demand: well, two people said they are interested, some more Bach cantatas for Sundays and anydays.

For now just a quick list of cantatas for the up-coming days.

This Sunday (22nd september) is the seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.  Three cantatas Bach wrote for this day survive:

BWV148: Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Names;

BWV114: Ach, lieben Christen, seid getröst;

BWV 47: Wer sich selbst erhohet, der soll erniedriget werden.

I have to do my homework on these because, Camaron, all three of these are in the 'least-known' category for me.  I will listen to all three over the next couple of days, but if any of these are higher up on your radar perhaps you'd like to start the ball rolling? Otherwise I'll report soon!

The next sunday, the 18th after Trinity, is also the Feast of Archangel Michael (Michaelmas), an occasion that inspired Bach to several fine works:

BWV130: Herr Gott, dich loben wir;

BWV 19: Es erhub sich ein Streit;

BWV149: Man singet von Freuden vom Sieg.

All three of these are festive works with powerful choruses and some fascinating arias. I'll introduce these next week, unless anyone else would like to start.

Since Michaelmas is a Sunday this year, I think the Feast Day would take precedence over the normal Sunday liturgy. For the record, the cantatas for the 18th Sunday after Trinity are; BWV 96 (Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn) and BWV169 (Gott soll allein mein Herze haben). The latter is a lovely cantata for solo alto with a prominent organ obbligato part. Perhaps we shouldn't allow that one to escape unnoticed.

Anyway that's the basic information.  More to follow soon for this Sunday. You know any of this Sunday's works, Camaron?

Chris

 

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Lots to take in Chris! I'll be reporting in due course...

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Christ, I don’t know any of them and I only have no. 148. So I’ve gone to youtube and others!

Starting with BWV 47: what a magnificent choral first movement!

The cantata starts with a magnificent chorus and this has been a great discovery. There is a very charming ritornello with a strong taste of Vivaldi. This gives way to the chorus proper, a really nice fugue for 4 voices. The subject of the fugue seems to me somehow related the main melody of the ritornello although it is different and more severe. There are two full expositions with the voices appearing in a different order and a really nice feature is that approaching the end of the movement it is the soloists who start singing the whole ritornello, with moments where they do so in unison before quickly going into thick counterpoint again. I would imagine there is some word-painting there but don’t know what. Although the subject of the fugue is severe in character I find the actual movement really energetic and cheerful.
 

Some quick research shows that the ritornello is based on his prelude from BWV 546 (prelude and fugue). For those interested Koopman plays it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdLUevcBAW0 

Probably I shouldn't extent on interpretations but I’ve listened to the choir in six or seven versions, and found that I enjoyed the most Kuijken on one hand (find here) and Ristenpart on the other (Spotify, no link). I thought that Gardiner could be really good here (being usually fast and energetic) but nope!

After this there are two arias, with a recitative and a final chorale. To these I’ve only listened a couple of times and I find them attractive but not particularly memorable. The first soprano aria is accompanied by either a violin or an organ depending on the version. I personally found the organ more appealing.

So, I’ll see what I find in 114 and 148!

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Chris, for a version with organ for that aria you can hear Koopman here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVB653eSTfE

I will add some more comments on 148 and 114 later on today.

Cheers!

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Thanks Camaron for all that.  It seems we can offer a joint recommendation for No.47 for this Sunday, with several versions to choose from on YouTube, and no doubt more on Spotify (not available here).

Concerning the trio (bass aria) you mention Camaron, I must say I can hear the violin reasonably well in my Harnoncourt, both with the CD through speakers and with headphones via the computer. It is weaker than the oboe though, as you say. Perhaps that's because the violin part is low-lying for the instrument and almost always well below the oboe.  That's particularly noticeable when (as in Harnoncourt) the previous aria has an obviously much higher violin part, which 'sings out' well.  I wonder whether the violin was Bach's original intention for the bass aria?

Good that you reminded us about Bach-cantatas.com.  I had mentioned it a long time ago in one of the earlier threads but it was time for a reminder.  A superb resource.

And in particular all the scores (the old Bach Gesellschaft editions) are there:

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/index.htm

And all the texts, with translations:

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/index.htm

Also strongly recommended, Nicholas Kenyon's Bach volume in Faber's Pocket Guide series.  An incredible amount of detail (including something worthwhile on every cantata) packed into a 500-page paperback selling for less than £10. I believe Kev will second my recommendation!

Now the question is: is anyone else going to listen to this glorious music?

Chris

 

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

BWV 47 indeed.

I didn't know about that book Chris, and it sounds right for me, so i'll be ordering it soon.

I'm hoping other people will start warming up soon or -actually- start a different series... piano trios, Beethoven piano sonatas, the evolution of the sonata form, etc, etc...

For now a simple question: we stick to this thread for all coming cantatas, or are we starting a new thread for each sunday.....?

 

 

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

I was thinking of a new thread for each month perhaps?  So next week anyway would be in this thread.

Camaron, do you know of Alfred Dürr's book The Cantatas of J.S.Bach?  Nearly 1000 pages devoted to detailed analysis of all the sacred and secular cantatas, together with full texts and translations. Expensive (around £55) but worth every penny if you're a Bach-Cantata devotee!

Chris

PS: A very full analysis of Cantata 47, especially the magnificent opening chorus, can be found at:

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV47-Guide.htm

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Camaron,

The Dürr book is not heavy with music examples: should be no problem, but the Kenyon book is the absolute bargain.

It's well worth looking at the text and translation of that opening chorus, if you've got time. I think you will find it helps.

When we come on to next week's cantatas I'll use a bit more space discussing the texts!

 

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Chris, Camaron, I am really sorry I could not participate even a bit on the always so interesting and of vital importance threads of Bach's Cantatas.

Since you covered most of the aspects of the three current ones, I will confine myself to the recordings only:

- BWV 47. I found Suzuki as the more balanced and best recorded (it is one of the more recent in his series). Gardiner has the benefit of having all the three together, but he shines mostly on BWV 114.

- BWV 114. Apart from the quite good Gardiner, somehow Suzuki is fine (in the middle of his series, Vol.25, along with BWV 78 & 99).

- BWV 148. I prefer Richter for the fine singing throughout and his convincing, albeit old-fashioned, way of delivering any work of Bach as a masterpiece! Again Suzuki is the well balanced, not that exciting, but always interesting to follow performance and recording (it is one of the first volumes in the series, Vol.14, along with BWV 48, 89 & 109).

Camaron, since you are pretty new to the forum and for your info, a thread for Piano Trios (actually about the Chamber Music with Piano, i.e. Piano Trios, Quartets, Quintets etc.) has been created by me rather recently. You may find it in this section. For Beethoven's Sonatas, we have quite often covered them, on various threads. However, if you mean a thread where we can do the same thing as here: discussing one Sonata after the other, in chronological order, well, that would be another issue one has to consider if it would be workable. As for the "evolution of the Sonata Form", leave it for much later...

Parla

 

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Thanks Parla for your comments. 

I have a lot of respect for Karl Richter's Bach: when his recordings started to appear they were the 'benchmark' ones for me and many others. I still recall the excitement of the first DG Archiv issues (Nos.8 & 45, then No.78 with the Magnificat). I'm not surprised his performance of No.148 is successful, the big, extrovert works still sound well to me even though his style got heavier as the years went by. And what soloists he had! For me that is all to often the problem with many recent versions. I find it curious that so many commentators point out the inadequacies of boy soloists when the difficulties of the arias are so often all-too-apparent in the performances of the adults. This is too often the case in the Gardiner, Suzuki and Koopman sets.

I'm still searching for recordings that match my enjoyment of the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt set!

Now, concerning your last paragraph: I for one would be more than interested in a systematic (one by one) discussion of the Beethoven sonatas, and I'm sure there would be others interested. A problem might be that it should ideally involve a detailed discussion of the music (before we come to recordings). Could anyone lead that discussion? I'm afraid I could not! Goofyfoot once suggested some discussions of works with the scores. GF how about it? Could you take this on? Or Camaron?

Let's see!

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Listening to Bach Cantata 47.  The Rias Bach Cantatas Project/audite

'One day I hope to start [writing] again, because it was one of the big aesthetic experiences of my life, like getting into the Bach cantatas'.  Clive James, The Blaze of Obscurity (2009) (from Kenyon's Bach)

I feel a rather like Clive (except that I don't write...yet).

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