J.S. Bach's Chamber Music for Violin.
The publication of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe (hereinafter NBA), from its first volumes in 1954 to its completion in 2006, spurred a fundamental and continuous reassessment of the musical sources, and of Bach's development and methods as a composer. Inevitably, time has brought new knowledge, not to say new principles of editing, which have left some of the volumes in need of revision. This is particularly so of the earlier ones. One of the first in 1954 was Friedrich Smend's much-criticized edition of the Mass in B Minor, and that work has inaugurated this revised series with a facsimile (Messe in h-Moll, BWV 232, mit Sanctus in D-Dur (1724), BWV 232III: Autograph Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, ed. Christoph Wolff, Documenta musicologica, zweite Reihe: Handschriften-Faksimiles, Bd. 35; Faksimile-Reihe Bachscher Werke und Schriftstucke, n. F., Bd. 2 [Kassel: Barenreiter, 2007]) and new edition (NBA revidierte Edition [hereinafter NBA rev.], Bd. 1: Messe in h-Moll, BWV 232, ed. Uwe Wolf [Kassel: Barenreiter, 2010]). A feature of this new edition was the use of X-ray spectography in an attempt to distinguish entries by C. P. E. Bach in the original autograph score. The results have not remained unquestioned, but undoubtedly technology wall continue to refine our understanding of sources.
NBA series VI, volume 1, was also one of the earlier volumes (1958), and now appears as volume 3 of NBA rev. It contains the Sei Solo for violin BWV 1001-1006 (hereinafter the Violin Solos), the Two Sonatas for violin and continuo BWV 1021 and 1023, and the Six Sonatas for obbligato harpsichord and violin (which seems the most appropriate English amalgam of the various titles in the sources) BMW 1014-1019. These are by no means all of Bach's Kammermusik mit Violine. Notably lacking is the Fuga in G minor BMW 1026, not only a fine piece but of special interest as perhaps Bach's earliest surviving chamber work for violin and continuo. Along with other violin works, it is edited by Klaus Hofmann in NBA series VI, vol. 5 (2006), Verschiedme Kammermusikwerke.
NBA series VI, vol. 1, and in particular its edition by Gunter Hausswald of the Violin Solos, has received its fair share of critical comment over the years. This new revision of the solos was initially published by Barenreiter (Drei Sonaten und dm Partiten fur Violine solo [Kassel: Barenreiter, 2001]) as a performer's edition of NBA series VI, vol. 1, "revised" by Peter Wollny. NBA rev., vol. 3, now "edited" by Peter Wollny, has a few differences in the musical text, while the source information given in a general way in the 2001 preface is now greatly extended in the 2014 Revisionsbericht. Readers will still need Hausswald's Kritischer Bericht for details of variant readings. Wollny adds a further six manuscript sources to Hausswald's twelve. While not all of Wollny's source assessments have gone undisputed, he has greatly simplified the editing problem by concluding that only two of the eighteen do not derive from Bach's 1720 autograph, and that these are compromised in various ways as independent versions.
In his preface to the 2001 edition, Wollny refined some common assumptions about the origins of the solos, and the supporting information and arguments are strengthened in his 2014 report. Georg von Dadelsen suggested that the paper of the autograph, made in Joachimsthal, near Carlsbad in Bohemia where Bach spent May to July 1720 in the suite of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen, may indicate that Carlsbad was the place where Bach assembled the fair copy (Johann Sebastian Bach, Sei solo a violin senza Basso accompagnato, BWV 1001-1006, Faksimile des Autographs, ed. Georg von Dadelsen, Documenta musicologica, zweite Reihe: Handschriften-Faksimiles, Bd. 24 [Kassel: Barenreiter, 1988], 9). Now the same paper-type has been found also in Leipzig documents of the 1720s and in other of Bach's Cothen works, so we can say no more than that the date Bach put on the tide page is 1720. The date 1842 entered by Christina Louisa Bach, daughter of Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, does not necessarily tell us about the early provenance of the autograph; it may just be the date at which it came into, or passed through, her hands. Hausswald's Source C, which contains an anonymous early-eighteenth-century copy of BWV' 1001 to 1005, has been thought to represent an early version of the solos, perhaps originating as early as 1714 when Bach became concertmaster at Weimar. Wollny shows that Bach probably did not lead from the violin at Weimar, and the differences from the autograph look more like adaptations by the person who made the copy for his own use. That person was perhaps Johann Gottlieb Wagner, who played a leading role as violinist in Bach's Leipzig ensemble from 1723 to 1726. All in all, Hausswald's Sources B (Anna Magdalena Bach) and C, which he used as controls for dubieties in Source A (the autograph), are not really much help, since both were less careful than Bach, particularly in the placing of slurs, the single most problematical aspect of editing these pieces.
Wollny is very positive about the ease of editing the autograph, which he says in his 2001 preface "poses hardly any questions for a modern scholarly-critical edition" (p. x). Not everyone who has grappled with editing it has found it quite so straightforward. The problems begin in m. 1 of BWV 1001: the slur in the second beat is obviously too short, and should cover the whole group to the end of the beat; and there is a slur missing from the 7-6 appoggiatura in the third beat. The appoggiatura is part of the thematic material of the piece, and every other instance of it has a slur. Slurring appoggiaturas to their resolutions was nonetheless a performance convention, taken for granted along with slurring trills to their termination and so on. Two main problems are already here, identified by Dadelsen, who considered that Bach's policy was to notate essentials and leave more conventional matters to performers (pp. 10-11 in the facsimile cited above). The function of the editor of a "historischkritische Ausgabe" (the term Dadelsen preferred to the problematical "Urtext-Ausgabe") was to interpret the essentials; the rest should be left to "instructive" editions. There are a few obvious wrong notes in the autograph, which editors have corrected without fuss; the main problem is with the all-important bowing slurs. Here Bach's writing habits need to be taken into account. He liked to keep everything within the stave, and disliked writing slurs that interfere with accidentals or note stems and flags. When there is a chord at the beginning of a beat he therefore tends to write the slur to the right. There are many instances, but take BWV 1001, Adagio, m. 5 third beat. Does the "scholarly-critical" editor give what Bach probably intended, or a literal, "diplomatic" transcription? Hausswald interpreted here; Wollny in 2001 was literal; in 2014 he is as Hausswald (similar cases are in BWV 1002, Sarabande, m. 5; and BWV 1004, Sarabanda, m. 7).
Hausswald in NBA series VI, vol. 1, was an improvement on Alfred Dorffel's Bach Gesellshaft edition (Joh. Seb. Bach's Kammermusik, Sechster Band: Solowerke fur Violine, Solouierke fur Violoncello, Johann Sebastian Bach's Werke, Bd. 27, pt. 1 [Leizpig: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1879], hereinafter BG), since Dorffel did not have access to the autograph. Hausswald's main critics have been Dadelsen, in a series of articles published in the 1970s and 1980s, and Joel Lester, in an article in Current Musicology ("Problems in the Neue Bach Ausgabe of the E Major Partita for Violin Alone," Current Musicology 13 [January 1972]: 64-67), and his book, Bach's Works for Solo Violin: Style, Structure, Performance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). Dadelsen in particular wrote excellent sense about the Presto of BWV 1001. Hausswald was no expert on early-eighteenth-century violin playing, and in 1958 was still advocating the Vega "Bach bow" for chordal playing. Slurs in the Presto need to be interpreted in the light of bowing conventions of the time, and Dadelsen proposed a number of emendations to NBA series VI, vol. 1. Lester (1972) pointed to a number of places in the "Gavotte en Rondeaux" of BWV 1006 where, in a group of four eighth-notes, the autograph clearly has a single slur over the first three, whereas Hausswald, without comment in his Kritischer Bericht, followed BG in giving two slurs, over pairs of eighths. In 2001 Wollny followed Dadelsen partially for BWV 1001, Presto, but in NBA rev., vol. 3, has left intact Hausswald's readings for this movement, and also for BWV 1006, "Gavotte en Rondeaux."
Part of the problem of editing the Violin Solos is the inevitable result of having to modernize the notation of an autograph whose Schriftbild is enormously suggestive of how Bach felt the music as he wrote it. The autograph has been available in numerous facsimiles since 1950, and is now, together with some of the other principal sources, online at Bach Digital (http://www .bach-digital.de/). As Lester has pointed out (1999), for Bach an accidental usually means a sensitive note. The early-eighteenth-century convention of repeating accidentals within the bar is therefore an expressive indication, lost in the modern convention. Bach's stemming and beaming can be very suggestive of brise polyphony (compare the effect of BWV 1001, Adagio, last beat of m. 11, to first beat of m. 12 in the autograph with the linear effect of modern beaming. Bach's polyphonic brisure in the BWV 1002 Allemanda is habitually misread by violinists as a jagged, aggressive melody). The NBA editorial guidelines recommend dividing elaborate melismas, such as a modern player may find difficult to read, into groups of four by subtracting a beam from thirty-seconds etc. after every four notes. This can give a counted-out effect that is the opposite of what Bach intended (compare for example BWV 1001, Adagio, m. 3, fourth beat, in either NBA version, with BG, which kept the original beaming). More fundamental was Hausswald's conversion of the common rhythm of a dotted eighth beamed to three thirty-seconds, to an eighth tied to the first of four thirty-seconds. The latter is more "correct," but again gives a counted-out effect. Quantz tells us that a dot is an accent, and that in this figure the thirty-seconds are to be played at the very end of the beat. Bach's notation is essential for the effect he wants, notably in BWV 1003, Grave, second half of m. 5. Comparison of NBA (with tied notes), NBA rev. (with dots), and the autograph is illuminating. All editors omit the dot on e1 in the last beat. It is "incorrect," but conveys a vital performance nuance in this dramatic threefold tirata.
Detail is all, and since these are some of the most played violin pieces in the repertory, it is worth contemplating their notation. Ambiguities abound, and there will never be a "perfect" edition of them, but NBA rev., vol. 3, is a most welcome improvement on Hausswald in NBA series VI, vol. 1, and will be the most prestigious modern edition. Performers will no doubt use it in conjunction with a facsimile of the autograph.
Wollny, perhaps understandably, makes no mention of the theories of Martin Jarvis in relation to Anna Magdalena Bach. These have received a great deal of publicity recently thanks to a book (Martin Jarvis, Written by Mrs. Bach [Pymble, N.S.W.: Harper Collins, 2011]) and a widely viewed television program, but have not so far received much attention in the scholarly literature. Readers may therefore like to know of such critical assessments as there are. Jarvis's many articles since 2002 are listed online at the Bach-Bibliography of the Bach-Archiv Leipzig (http://www.bachbibliographie.de/). Assessments include: Mark M. Smith, "Anna Magdalena Bach as Copyist of Bach's Solos for Violin and Suites for Cello," Stringendo 31, no. 2 (2009): 38-39; Yo Tomita, "Anna Magdalena Bach as Bach's Copyist," Understanding Bach 2 (2007): 59-76; and Ruth Tatlow, "A Missed Opportunity: Reflections on Written by Mrs Bach," Understanding Bach 10 (2015): 141-57 (Understanding Bach is freely available online at Bach Network UK, http://www .bachnetwork.co.uk/understanding-bach/).
The two sonatas with continuo were issued by Barenreiter in 2005, edited by Peter Wollny, with performance indications and commentary by Andrew Manze, and continuo realization by Zvi Meniker (Sonaten G-Dur, e-Moll, Fuge g-Moll, BWV 1021, 1023, 1026 [Kassel: Barenreiter, 2005]). There is only one source of the Eminor Sonata BWV 1023, in the Dresden Sachsische Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitats-Bibliothek, and Wollny now identifies the copyist as Johann Gottfried Grundig around 1720-30. Given the Dresden connection, Wollny posits the visit of Johann Georg Pisendel to Weimar in 1709 as the origin of the sonata, and that date suits its rather untypical, not to say experimental, nature, lacking the integrative urge that was to become such a feature of Bach's later Weimar and Cothen works. The NBA rev. musical text is not quite the same as the 2005 performing version. In the source the continuo figuring is sometimes laid out in a way that suggests voice leading; this was reproduced in 2005, and the implications worked out in the realization, but NBA rev. standardizes it to modern convention. It is difficult to see what is gained by this, particularly in a "scholarly-critical" edition. The authorship of this piece has been doubted, but Hausswald identified the name Bach at the head of the sonata as in the hand of Bach himself or one of his close associates. It would be useful to have this important identification confirmed or otherwise.
The Sonata in G major BWV 1021 is also a problem work in that, while the violin part has never been doubted to be by Bach, the bass is suspect. In 2005 Wollny suggested that it is indeed by Bach, originating around the time of Telemann's Six Sonates (1715) dedicated to Prince Johann Ernst of Sachsen-Weimar. Wollny is now also sure that the two dependent Sonatas BWV 1022 and 1038 are genuine Bach works rather than composition exercises by Emanuel or other pupils. The musical text of the single source of BWV 1021 was written out by Anna Magdalena Bach, to which Bach then made corrections, adding work and movement tides and bass figuring. Oddly, NBA rev. adds some performance indications (slurs) not in the 2005 performing edition. An important point is that in the bass figuring Bach habitually uses the [flat] rather than the [sharp] to cancel the #, a feature that some have taken to indicate an early Weimar origin for works (for example Source C of the Violin Solos, mentioned above). It was nonetheless conventional in figuring particularly for the diminished fifth (5[flat]). In this sonata Wollny retains the Staffelung of the figures, very suggestive for realization, though modernizes the flats to naturals.
The Six Sonatas for obbligato harpsichord and violin BWV 1014-1019 constitute Bach's other great cycle for violin, yet the source situation and consequently editorial problems could hardly be more different from the Violin Solos. Only three movements of the earliest version of the Six Sonatas are in autograph, the rest are mainly in copies by pupils and family. Add to this the existence of three distinct versions, affecting mainly BWV 1019, and the problems multiply. The editor of these works in NBA series VI, vol. 1, was Rudolf Gerber, who took for his main text the latest version, copied in Bach's last years by his pupil and son-in-law J. C. Altnickol. While this is very reliable with regard to notes, it is sparse in performance indications. Unknown to Gerber there was also a copy made around 1740 and later by Bach's pupil J. F. Agricola that is much better provided with performance markings. Gerber also mistook the order of versions of BWV 1019, being unaware that the version with three movements in autograph was mainly copied by Bach's nephew and pupil at the Thomasschule in 1725, Johann Heinrich Bach. It may be that the set was complete at least up to BWV 1019, Largo, by the time Bach moved to Leipzig in 1723, where he initially had little time for nonchurch music. Then, perhaps in answer to a request for a copy (with associated fee), he patched up a completion in 1725, parachuting in two movements from BWV 830 that he also entered into Anna Magdalena Bach's second Clavier-Buchlein in the same year. A second attempt at completion was made around 1730, including an arrangement of an aria also used in two cantatas of 1729/30. This version survives in two copies made around 1770 in the Berlin Kirnberger circle.
With greater understanding of the sources than Gerber, Wollny has been able to give more convincing performance indications (mainly bowing slurs and ornaments). The notes are largely the same, but Wollny has also most usefully given main variants on small ossia staves, something he had already done in his performing version for Barenreiter in 2004 (Sechs Sonaten fur Violine und obligates Cembalo, BWV 1014-1019). The detailed information in the commentary may confuse in that some references to ossia staves seem actually to refer to bracketed appoggiaturas in the 2004 edition, the brackets having disappeared in NBA rev., vol. 3, as have some measure numbers. On the other hand, where in 2004 the first two versions of BWV 1019 were interlarded in an appendix, in NBA rev., vol. 3, they are fully printed as separate entities, making them easier to assess. All in all, since Richard D. P. Jones's edition (J. S. Bach, The Music for Violin and Cembalo/Continuo [New York: Oxford University Press, 1993]) has now been long out of print, this volume will undoubtedly be the standard text.
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|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2015|
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