Bach, continued

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peterm
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Post by peterm »

SDR wrote:Peter, can you describe what pleases a performer, as for instance the instrumentalists seen in some of these Cantatas, when he or she lifts delicately
off the final note of a movement---and holds position for several seconds, before lowering the hands, or the instrument ?

What does this practice add; what function or desire is satisfied by the ritual observance of this move . . .

I can imagine that, for one thing, the dying sound is heard and respected---both for the performer and for the audience. What else---or what more, can
you suggest ?

S
It’s partly follow through, but more importantly to savor the reverberations, heard and unheard, of the final note/chord. It also asks the audience to hold applause until the body of the performer is “at ease�, at which time the silence may be interrupted. The performer also needs to hold tension if continuing on. When that tension is released, it’s the equivalent of an exhale.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thank you, Peter. That accords well with what I see and hear . . .


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq0-_ESaXAg&t=3527s

Here are some older recordings, of three cantatas and a nine-minute chorale a capella. Some fine music; notable specially are wind and organ performances.
The throaty female soloists are a bit anachronistic, especially when we recall that these parts were written for far more ethereal, dry and angelic boy's voices.

But these are some of the finest cantatas from this composer, parts of them at least familiar to many, and performed superbly.

S

SDR
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Post by SDR »


SDR
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Post by SDR »

We've listened to "Wachet Auf" ("Awaken !"---Cantata 140) before; here's just the opening chorus, by a different group, taken at a refreshing clip.

The transposition to another key three-quarters of the way through is unusual for Bach . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz0FmmNrTck

On my feed this is followed by an aria from a favorite cantata, one of a different character from the preceding . . .

"Where two or three meet in my name, so there am I . . ."

. . .and, if you're lucky, on through more from the same people, eventually to Cantata 137, "Lobe den Herren . . ."

S

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Thanks for that, SDR. Interesting to see the instrumentalists standing along with the choir. Perhaps the harpsichordist should also have stood?

I had an LP of Bach's Schubler Chorales performed by Marcel Dupre at Saint-Sulpice ... long gone. I have never found that particular recording online; Many Dupre recordings, many Bach recordings, many Saint-Sulpice recordings, many Schubler recordings, but not all 4 in one. While I like Ton Koopman's artistry very much, I think Dupre was the greatest organist I have ever heard, and Saint-Sulpice the finest organ. Do you have access to anything beyond YouTube?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

On at least one occasion this conductor is seen standing at the harpsichord to conduct; the instrument is supported by ad hoc leg extensions.

Hm--I assume you've searched the Web for some sign of that recording ? I had an old Schwann recording catalog around, but now it has gone missing too.

I have a few LPs with favorite performances, but I'm not listening to those now. A very few of these have been found online. Leonhardt's "Art of Fugue" is one.

Can't say I favor Koopman as a performer, but his conducting has produced some wonders. Some of the old Musical Heritage Society discs contain performances of Bach organ
works played by Marie Claire Alain; I found her to be a transparent interpreter not given to self-indulgence.

Lately I've enjoyed various performances of the iconic and powerful Toccata and Fugue in F Major, BWV 540---for when you've had enough of the D Minor ! Here's the toccata only in an acceptable
performance, with camerawork that shows us everything the organist is doing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsOJFKU4GFw

S

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I consider Marcel Dupre to be to the organ what Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli is to the piano.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

It's been a while; I'll have to seek him out.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Dupre

This string of YouTube videos---does it proceed for you as it does for me, or is my feed auto-tailored to my viewing pattern ?---
eventually leads to a performance of Cantata 170, "Vergnügte Ruh," with a counter-tenor new to me. Very tasty performance.

S

SDR
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Post by SDR »

We have neglected the solo violin. Here is one of Bach's Violin Partitas, performed in semi-darkness by Shunske Sato for the All of Bach series.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44Wz92zQe04

S

SDR
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by SDR »

We've heard a lot of Bach's choral work this year, and it might be time to switch gears. But not before tasting one of the richer and more poignant cantatas, No 170, "Vergnte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust."

I asked for and received, one Christmas in my teens, a recording of this piece, having perhaps heard it on the radio or at a friend's house. The cantata is entirely sung by an alto soloist. In the 'fifties a counter-tenor (male singing in the soprano or alto vocal range) was not as common as it has become in the more recent era of Baroque performance. Alfred Deller acquitted himself admirably in that mid-century performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yc5tAS7rrA

Here is the translated text of the work:

1. Aria
Delightful rest, beloved pleasure of the soul,
you cannot be found among the sins of hell,
but rather in the concord of heaven;
you alone strengthen the weak breast.
Therefore the pure gifts of virtue
shall have their dwelling in my heart.

2. Recitative
The world, that house of sin,
erupts only in hellish songs,
and attempts, through hatred and envy,
to carry Satan's image upon itself.
Its mouth is full of adder's venom,
which often mortally attacks the innocent,
and will only utter Vengeance!
Righteous God, how far
has humanity distanced itself from You;
You love, yet its mouth
proclaims curses and enmity
and wishes only to trample a neighbor under its feet.
Alas! this crime is difficult to atone for.

3. Aria
How the perverted hearts afflict me,
which are so sorely, my God, set against You;
I truly tremble and feel a thousand pangs,
when they rejoice only in vengeance and hate.
Righteous God, what might You be thinking,
when they, with the very intrigues of Satan,
only scorn Your sharp proscriptions so boldly.
Alas! Without a doubt You have thought:
how the perverted hearts afflict Me!

4. Recitative
Who should hereafter
wish, indeed, to live here,
when only hatred and hardship
is the answer to love?
Yet, since even my enemy,
like my best friend,
I should love according to God's commandment,
thus my heart flees from
anger and bitterness,
and wishes only to live with God,
who is Love itself.
Ah, spirit filled with mildness,
when only will He grant you His heavenly Sion?

5. Aria
It sickens me to live longer,
therefore take me away, Jesus!
I shudder before all sins,
let me find this dwelling-place
where I myself shall be at peace.

©Pamela Dellal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergnügte ... t,_BWV_170



If the fact of a man singing in such a voice gives you pause, the alternative originally employed in Bach's time would likely have been a boy alto.

There's a spectacular example of the latter elsewhere in the modern canon of recorded and taped performances of Bach choral works. Most of the way through the Passion According to St John (1724) occurs the Alto aria "Es ist vollbracht" (It is done). The performance of Panito Iconomou, under the baton of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, is heart-breaking. Brave puppy. Mature and experienced women soloists have given us richer and more refined performances of this aria---but here we experience what the composer and his congregations might have heard.

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

http://jesuitjoe.blogspot.com/2011/04/e ... racht.html

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Bach, continued

Post by Roderick Grant »

In 1969, I attended a service at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Central Park West at 65th Street. Each week the choir sang a Bach Cantata, going through the entire existing catalog of over 200 in order. The one they sang that day was #81, "Jesus schlaft, was soll ich hoffen?" (Jesus is sleeping, what should I hope?). My favorite cantata is #80, Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott" (A Mighty Fortress is Our God), from Martin Luther's hymn, which is the Lutheran "theme song." It would have taken almost 4 years for them to repeat it, by which time I had moved back to Los Angeles.

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