Autumn Bach Cantatas

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RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

The first chapter of Durr's has a very nice history of the development of the protestant cantata up to Bach. It is not very long at all but really dense! Some of the points are very relevant to your other thread chris, strophic or syllabic singing and all that. Some references to Buxtehude, a composer a really like and who I am always wanting to get to know better.


From the chapter on the development of Bach cantatas I got my first surprises, that No 21 is an early cantata (!) and that No. 80 doesn't actually belong to the Leiping cycle of chorales cantatas, being as it is one of the greatests chorales cantatas!

So doing lots of catching up..

I won't have access to internet next week chris, but I hope you keep it going with a little help from your friends, and that other people start warming up too.

 

 

 

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Chris!  We're off!  I'm listening to your 'starred' playlist now.  Monteverdi too - new to me.

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

No. 19 is a wonderful feast,
For Michael slew the venomous beast.
And we are guided by angels' protection
When we move in heavenly direction!

And that Chris, is the message of this one. Extraordinary piece.

The forthright opening depicts Michael's courage and no nonsense approach to killing the dragon. Agreed it's a vigorous fugue with strident drums and trumpets. The aria 5 is as you say excellent, the highlight in a work that's strong in every section. The lilting 6/8 siciliano seems perfectly at ease with the words. What struck me about this section was the extraordinary repetition, over-repetition, deliberately, of the words, as the words to this section are so short:

Stay, ye angels, stay by me!

    Lead me so and stay beside me
    That my foot may never stumble!
    But instruct me here as well
    How to sing your mighty "Holy"
    And the Most High thanks to offer.

To quote you Chris - Bleibt ihr Engel, bleibt bei mir (Abide O angels, abide with me!) the constant repetion of these words is like a plea to the angels really.

Yes the soprano aria is difficult (and I did listen to Harnoncourt's version) but as you say the boy soprano does brilliantly with it. As I say, a very triumphant closing chorale - we can rest assured that we have the angels' protection.

Kev - don't worry about ritornellos and obligatos. It's as important to notice moods and how the words/themes are treated and how the piece speaks to you...

(Private message (!) to Chris: Still here, but busy with job interview preparation. One last Thursday, one this Wednesday...should have been one today as well but I cancelled that one. Plus symphonies as I say. I'll have to be content with shortish posts for the moment).

Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

An uneven but, nevertheless, interesting trio of Cantatas by the great Master. I find the No. 48 a bit problematic as for the text involved, the rather awkward first recitative and the overall purpose of the work. A message for an unconditional humility?..

No. 56 is the most profound, but at the slippery field of the Solo Cantatas. Fortunately, wir haben nicht genug of it! There are quite a few recordings, but not this overwhelming situation as the BWV 82. Here, Bach manages to combine the necessary religious austerity with some earthly vivacity and musical brilliance.

Gardiner offers all these three together along with some more, in his usual double package, in his Vol.10. His performances and recordings are at his usual high standards. No. 5 can be found with Richter which I find always authoritative and convincing.

No. 56 has quite a few great recordings. I personally prefer Fischer-Dieskau with Richter (on Archiv) as a more mature performance and a better recording (1969). By the way, Fischer-Dieskau seems to have recorded this Cantata five times (two with Ristenpart, the newest on Audite from 1950). Another big favourite and great voice is Herman Prey. He recorded this work three times. The one on Berlin (from 1959) is the worthiest and the only available, I trust. Gerard Souzay seems to have recorded it twice. From the more recent voices, possibly Klaus Mertens with Ton Koopman is a refined and solid performance and recording. In between, the specialist Max van Egmond with Frans Bruggen, on Sony, is a safe bet as well. Suzuki has the not so refined Peter Kooij, but in the more mature and excellently produced recent recordings of BIS, in his Vol.41 (along with 82, 84 and 158). Finally, there is (probably was now) recording with Alto, an Hungarian called Magda Tisray, on Hungaroton!

Parla

 

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

c hris johnson wrote:

The Gardiner recordings of the cantatas very conveniently for this thread group the cantatas by days of the year. And I've just noticed that his complete set is being offered very cheaply (less than £150) from 14th October, almost in time for 21st Sunday after Trinity! At that price it's tempting, even for me!

  I've been hovering over this set too Chris, particularly as it includes extras such as text with  English translation not available with Spotify...and Christmas is just around the corner....but at 3 kilos in weight and bulky...we'll see.  Talking of text (of which I know very little) I found this in my library yesterday - I've still to read the full article...

'Many of Bach's texts express ideas that listeners today would find abhorrent, for most modern ideas of social justice, reasoned discourse, and personal integrity are derived from the ideas of the Enlightenment.'  The Oxford History of Western Music  (This is a lovely book -  much more satisfying that Wikipedia).

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Souzay and Esswood - could there be a greater contrast?  I don't yet have the vocabulary to describe the quality of each voice.  Suggestions please?

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

You may try Hans Hotter versus Emma Kirkby in Ich habe genug (BWV82) for an even greater "contrast". You don't need a special "vocabulary" to express this contrast, Kev. Just a wide enough perception to embrace the incredible range of possibilities in performing Bach.

As for the "texts" used in Cantatas, Bach is the last one to blame. In any case, I express my views on the relationship of texts and music in the respective thread. Music can "redeem" a text but not the other way round.

Parla

P.S.: By the way, the quote by Berlioz on Bach could be "abhorrent" to quite a few departed and even existing members of this forum.

 

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Welcome back to the internet, Camaron!

Kev, Camaron, I'm a great fan of Taruskin's writing, and that Oxford History is an astonishing achievement for a single author. Plenty of thought-provoking stuff: only the final volume, the almost-impossible-to-write chapter on late 20th century music, seems to me rather too esoteric. As you say Kev, much more rewarding to read than the rather anodyne Wikipedia!

As for the voices, it's also interesting to hear the enormous differences even within a single voice type.  Hearing Hotter, Souzay and Fischer-Dieskau singing the same cantata (try No.82) or Esswood, Jacobs and Deller, three counter-tenors (try No.170). Astonishing differences.

Christmas and the Gardiner cantatas box sounds a promising combination! I'll have to discuss with Mrs Santa!

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Thanks Chris!

I see there has only been a passing mention of BWV 169, and it is a pity! As Chris has pointed out it takes two movements from BWV 1053 (one of my very favourite Bach concertos!), and only to hear the first movement/symphony makes it worth it, with organ as the soloist instrument, this time. But the Siciliano from the concert, made into the Alto aria “Stirb  in  mir  Welt” makes for one of the most heart-breaking pieces ever composed by Bach, IMO, and it would be a mistake to dismiss it as just a parody if you know the concerto already.

 

It also makes for a very interesting case for the ongoing thread on words and music, as there is the “pure” music composed by Bach, to which he later added the words. And I think here we have a very fine example of how the words add a new dimension, even if we don’t need to be fully reverencial: the last verse “You depraved inclinations of the flesh!” is far too moralizing, and it kind of spoils it, but the first two “Die in me/World and all your love” really intensify the  beauty and sadness of the music.

Chris, Parla and everyone: recommended recordings for this cantata please!

RE: Autumn Bach Cantatas

Continuing with this week cantatas:

I think that I may like bwv 5 a bit better than you Chris. I find the restless first chorus very nice, and it conveys well the anxiety of the text, the “guilt of the sinner”. But mainly, I just love the first tenor aria, and its delightful obligato viola.

I also like very much the contemplative chorus of 48, so different from the previous one, although I would agree that the remaining cantata is perhaps less remarkable.

Strangely I think I might go against the grain with 56, which I don’t find as memorable as the amount of recordings would suggest. I wonder if it is a case that what all bass singers recorded was BWV 82 and this one was an obvious company for it. Still, the first aria is beautiful and intense, and the second one really engaging.

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