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Re: GG: Bach with little sense of humor??!!

i we had a f-minor price for best posting, ud get it!!!


On Wed, 5 Jan 2000, Bradley Lehman wrote:

> From: Neil <neil@thump.org>
> To: f_minor@email.rutgers.edu <f_minor@email.rutgers.edu>
> Date: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 6:26 AM
> Subject: Re: GG's Opinion
> >On Tue, 14 Dec 1999 21:21:12 EST, you wrote:
> >
> >>But I can't stp thinking about what Glenn
> >>would have to say (certainly much) about the theory that all of the
> >>mathematical perfection in Bach's music lacks the passion and danger that
> >>later composers had, the bravery to take chances. But I guess for his time
> >>maybe this was what he was doing, maybe I'm just too modern to see the
> >>"rebelious" side of Bach's music?
> >
> >There's a simple solution to this. grab a copy of the the st matthew
> passion,
> >and after a few hearings I think you'll find that Bach was capable of an
> >emotional intensity almost unparalled in western music.
> >
> >Bach didn't appear to have a great sense of humour though, but him being a
> >German, this should not come as a shock :-)
> Yuh-HUH!  Bach with little sense of humor?  Please demonstrate.
> Meanwhile I present a set of exhibits:
> Exhibit A: St Matthew Passion, the humorous passage where he
> depicts Jesus' followers running around like headless chickens since
> he's taken away.  (Movement 60 in the Neue Bach-Ausgabe
> numbering: "Sehet, Jesus hat die Hand..."; in bar 34 the text is
> "verlassnen Kuechlein", "deserted chicks".) Throughout this
> movement there are two oboes da caccia squawking away in
> ridiculously ornamented lines that really do sound like chickens.
> One is not "supposed to" deploy "hunting oboes" for that, or to inject
> humor into such a serious story, but there it is.  (Unfortunately, this
> passage is usually underplayed.)
> Exhibit B: The fugue on the mailman's horn call in the Bb Capriccio.
> Exhibit C: The story about Bach petitioning his employer for extra
> remuneration during a particularly mild winter.  His reasoning was that
> fewer people than usual have been dying from the weather, and he was
> losing expected income from not playing the typical number of
> funerals.
> Exhibit D: Keyboard Partita in A minor, Burlesca: the weird staccato
> notes in the right hand.  Also the way both hands are moving in octaves
> in bar 32 and then suddenly the right hand has an unexpected rest.
> Same partita, next movement, Scherzo: at the beginning of each section
> he has the left hand playing four notes, then three, then two, then one, a
> natural diminuendo...fooling the listener into hearing the barring the
> opposite of the way it is.
> Exhibit F: WTC 1, E minor fugue: the whole passage from bar 15 to 20
> is very weird.  First he sets up the unexpected pattern of two groups of
> six notes (instead of the prevailing three groups of four), then he gets out
> of it by putting both hands in unison...unisons in a *fugue*?!  It isn't as
> if
> he couldn't think of anything more contrapuntally robust to put there.
> has both hands
> Exhibit E: First Brandenburg Concerto, first movement, everybody
> playing along in duple rhythms except the horns, which are playing
> a series of traditional horn calls in triplets.  Incongruous.  Also, the
> second trio there which features two horns vs three oboes in unison:
> very weird sound (sort of like a funky village band), and the oboe line
> is a horn-like part with all the arpeggios.
> Exhibit F: his notoriety for choosing wacky organ registrations.  He
> would pull combinations that his observers thought would never work,
> but then he'd make them work beautifully by the way he played.
> Exhibit G: Magnificat, the movement about the rich being sent away
> empty.  The flutes suddenly cut off before the final note, which is left for
> only the continuo to play.
> Exhibit H: The final movement of the orchestral suite #4 in D, the
> "Rejouissance".  The staccato notes, phrasing, and syncopation
> mess around with the triple meter throughout this.
> Exhibit I: The Quodlibet in the Goldberg Variations, juxtaposing
> popular songs.
> Exhibit J: Christmas Oratorio, the movement where two sopranos
> and an oboe are passing an echo around the building.  Sometimes
> the order of the echoing changes.  Also, sometimes the echo singer
> jumps in and completes the phrase instead of the main singer.
> Exhibit K: The Coffee Cantata.  All of it.
> Exhibit L: The extremely long harmonic sequence in the finale of the
> D minor harpsichord concerto.  It keeps going around and around so
> long that we wonder where it's going to get off.
> Exhibit M: Partita in G, menuet.  The hands alternate in such a way
> that it becomes very ambiguous where the beat is supposed to be.
> Exhibit N: Brandenburg Concerto #5, early version (see the Hogwood
> recording or the NBA edition): the harpsichord solo is laced with odd
> chromatic stuff.
> Exhibit O: French suite in E, menuet: the left hand gets fixated not only
> on its rhythmic pattern but also on a very limited set of notes.  It has the
> same response to whatever the right hand leads with.
> Exhibit P: Toccata in D, finale: the gigue-fugue suddenly breaks into
> notes twice as fast.  If the gigue has been going along at a quick tempo
> already, these are almost too fast to hear (or to play).  Exhilarating and
> funny.
> Exhibit Q: Sonata #6 in G for violin and harpsichord.  The second
> movement (Largo) ends with a half-cadence that sets up the third
> movement...and then in the third movement the violin does not get to
> play at all!
> Exhibit R: First movement of D minor harpsichord concerto: Bach pulls
> a viola joke here, with a keyboard solo passage accompanied by viola.
> Exhibit S: All the cuckoos in the Art of Fugue, Contrapunctus 4.  The
> way that much of Contrapunctus 2 "swings" with ties across the beat is
> also pretty funny.
> Exhibit T: The fact that all of the Art of Fugue can be played by one
> player, two hands...except for *one* note.  One!  (Bar 59 of one of the
> three-voiced mirror fugues: try reaching low G, high Bb, and middle C#
> simultaneously....)  Then when he rearranged these strict mirror fugues
> for two players, the new material has nothing to do with either mirroring
> or thematic content.  The originally strict lines are broken up as the fresh
> music wanders into and around and through it.  Yet it sounds like the
> original parts are still there (the auditory version of an optical
> illusion),
> and it's also an orchestration for the stereo spread of two instruments.
> Brilliant!
> Exhibit U: First movement of the solo flute partita in A minor: can be
> taken as a joke on merely mortal flute players who need to breathe.
> Also, the last note (extremely high A) is almost impossible to play on
> the flutes of Bach's time.
> Exhibit V: The sound of B-A-C-H hidden in the bass line of Brandenburg
> Concerto #2, first movement.  (Bb - A - C - B natural)
> Bradley Lehman, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
> Dayton VA