Suggested Reading

Look here for topics of interest related to this season's programs.

Veni redemptor gentium

posted Sep 30, 2009, 7:44 PM by Artistic Director   [ updated Sep 30, 2009, 7:52 PM ]

The original Latin version of this text is attributed to St. Ambrose.  Bach uses it in three of his surviving cantatas (BWV 61, 62, and 36).  The German translation of the Latin text is by Luther.
For something completely different, check out the performance by Horowitz of Busoni's piano transcription of Bach's organ prelude BWV 659 of "Nun kommt der Heiden Heiland", and the performance by Nanni of Kempf's piano transcription of the same.  Bach composed three versions of this chorale as organ preludes in his collection "Die Achtzehn Grossen Orgelchoräle BWV 651-668" , performed as a group by Lionel Rogg, here: (BWV 659, 660 and 661).  In addition, Bach composed another version of this chorale for organ, in a completely different vein:  BWV 559.

Performance Practice

posted Sep 30, 2009, 7:41 PM by Artistic Director   [ updated Sep 30, 2009, 7:41 PM ]

Regarding performance practice for the Monteverdi, a very interesting and amusing perspective on "historically informed performance" can be found in Dr. Denis Stevens' article On Performing Monteverdi's Vespers.  Stevens edited one of the first modern editions of the Vespers in the 1960s, with a subsequent revision in 1995.
Regarding appropriate performance practice for Bach's cantatas, there is a lot of lively dialogue in the literature and on the internet.  For an introduction, using youtube links on this site, it is interesting to compare Koopman's performance of Cantata 1, movement 1, with Richter's performance of Cantata 1, movement 1. 
Koopman is known for using a limited number of performers, and his general approach to "historically informed performance" (HIP).  Listen for Koopman's use of embellishments in the soprano part in the first movement (motivated by a corresponding embellishment in the orchestra).  Richter, on the other hand, uses a large chorus with full orchestra.
Even Harnoncourt (who is known as an early and major advocate for historically informed performance) turns out a much larger, full-blooded performance of Cantata 61 than one would expect (this video also shows Harnoncourt's enthusiasm for conducting).  The "Ensemble muasicale dell'Appennino marchigiano" performance of BWV 61 linked on this website is unusual, in that it is "pragmatic" (and borders on "hip", with one voice per part (OVPP)), but the singers perform with full near-operatic sound.  The orchestra is also reduced to one per part, and soloists cover the entire cantata (the "correct" way to perform Bach cantatas, according to some "hip"-sters).  The Herreweghe performance is very energized, and is typical of current performance practice with Bach cantatas.

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