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Music from the Berlin Sing-Akademie.

Carl Heinrich Graun. "Ich suchte den, den meine Seele liebet": Kantate zum ersten Ostertag, GraunWV B:IX:5, fur Soli (SATB), Chor (SATB), zwei Oboen (Oboe d'amore), zwei Violinen, Viola und Basso continue Herausgegeben von Tobias Schwinger. (Quellenpublikationen aus dem Archiv der Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, Bd. 3.) Beeskow: Ortus Musikverlag, 2011. [Editorial in Ger. and Eng., p. vi-vii; pref. in Ger., p. viii-xi; crit. report in Ger., p. xii-xiv; plates, p. xv-xviii; score, p. 1-53. ISMN M- 700296-63-6, 979-0-700296-63-6; pub. no. OM 114. 18.50[euro].]

Johann Theile. Der Sionitin Wiegenlied: "Nun, ich singe, Gott, ich knie," fur vier Singstimmen (SATB), drei Violen, Violone (zwei Violinen, Viola, Violoncello) und Basso continue Herausgegeben von Ekkehard Krviger. (Quellenpublikationen aus dem Archiv der Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, Bd. 4.) Beeskow: Ortus Musikverlag, 2011. [Editorial in Ger. and Eng., p. vi-vii; pref. in Ger., p. viii-ix; text in Ger, p. x; crit. report in Ger., p. xi; plates, p. xii-xiii; score, p. 1-10, and 6 parts. ISMN 979-0-700317-04- l;pub. no. OM 135. 15.00[euro].]

Johann Christian Roellig. "Uns ist ein Kindlein geboren": Kantate fur den 1. Weihnachtstag, fur Soli (SATB), Chor (SATB), zwei Trompeten, Pauken, zwei Horner, Flote, zwei Oboen, Fagott, zwei Violinen, Viola und Basso continuo. Herausgegeben von Klaus Winkler. (Quellenpublikationen aus dem Archiv der Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, Bd. 5.) Beeskow: Ortus Musikverlag, 2012. [Editorial in Ger. and Eng., p. vi-vii; pref. in Ger., p. viii; text in Ger., p. ix; crit. report in Ger, p. x-xi; plates, p. xii-xiii; score, p. 1-72. ISMN 979-0-700317-34-8; pub. no. OM139. 29.90[euro].]

At the time of Carl Friedrich Zelter's death in 1832, the music collection of the Sing-Akademie in Berlin stood as perhaps the most tangible representation of how its late director influenced musical life in the Prussian capital. Even in the waning years of the Enlightenment, a sensitivity toward a historical musical repertory had begun to emerge in Berlin. After his ascension to the throne in 1740, King Frederick II of Prussia explicitly imitated the Saxon court at Dresden, and in doing so promoted a less than innovative state music. Ironically, upon invading Saxony in 1756 in what became known as the Seven Years' War, music at Frederick II's court stagnated. Until the end of his reign in 1786, almost all music heard at the Prussian Royal Opera was composed by either Carl Heinrich Graun, who died in 1759, or Johann Adolph Hasse. Some hosts of musical salons mimicked the staid musical fashions of the court, in part to curry favor or standing in Berlin. Meanwhile, several musicians, particularly Johann Philipp Kirnberger, cultivated a different strand of veneration for the musical past, focused to a great extent on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

However, it was Zelter who institutionalized music historicism in Berlin. At least from the time of his appointment as director of the Sing-Akademie in 1800, Zelter further expanded the audience for music of the past to the educated upper middle class, and constituted the Sing-Akademie as a means of self improvement or cultivation (Bildung). In order that private choral rehearsals would support the attainment of Bildung, the collection needed to include examples of great historic music. Thus, Zelter amassed an impressive array of music, containing repertoire dating back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and extending well beyond just a performance collection.

In the Sing-Akademie's collection of music, past masters held pride of place. But, despite the growing interest in historical music among a broader segment of the population, the music collection of the Sing-Akademie had remained throughout the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century a collection available only to select members of the private choral society. By the time the collection was removed from Berlin to protect it from bombing raids during World War II, few scholars had examined its contents, despite increasing awareness among musicologists of the richness of the over 5,000 mostly manuscript items contained therein. During the occupation of German-held territories following World War II, the collection, which had been secured in a castle in Silesia, was secretly confiscated and taken to the Soviet Union.

Little was known of the collection's location or survival until June 1999, when a group of researchers that included the Bach scholar Christoph Wolff succeeded in tracing it to the Archive-Museum of Literature and Art in Kiev, a division of the Central National Archives of Ukraine (Wolff, "Recovered in Kiev: Bach et al., A Preliminary Report on the Music Collection of the Berlin Sing-Akademie," Notes 58, no. 2 [December 2001]: 259-71). As a result of extended negotiations, the Ukrainian government returned the collection to the Sing-Akademie, which has placed it on permanent deposit in the Musik-Abteilung of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin--PreuBischer Kulturbesitz. As anticipated, the discovery of this collection in Kiev and its deposit at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin has resulted in extraordinary opportunities to examine long-inaccessible materials documenting Berlin's musical life in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

One of Wolff's collaborators in locating the collection, Patricia Kennedy Grimsted, has written in greater detail on the complicated political issues involved in the return of the Sing-Akademie's library to Berlin ("Bach Is Back in Berlin: The Return of the Sing-Akademie Archive from Ukraine in the Context of Displaced Cultural Treasures and Restitution Politics," Spoils of War: International Newsletter 8 [June 2003]: 67-104; also available at http://www.ucis 6_03_Grimsted .pdf [accessed 19 November 2014]). But, as Grimsted points out, access to the collection remained limited for years after its return to Berlin. Observers expected the Staatsbibliothek would be able to process the collection rapidly, despite the lack of additional staff, as well as publish scholarly editions. Now, following a project supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the entire collection has been cataloged in RISM, many recordings have been made based on its materials, and editions of lost music have begun to appear.

The three editions reviewed here offer further evidence of the collection's breadth, and serve as some of the first installments in the series Quellenpublikationen aus dem Archiv der Sing-Akademie zu Berlin. The only known sources for the compositions by Theile and Roellig under review are found in the Sing-Akademie; the autograph manuscript of the Graun cantata is located here as well. Theile's Nun, ich singe, Gott, ich knie represents an interesting addition to the known corpus of a master of the north German baroque. The Graun cantata expands our knowledge of the composer's sacred music, which is often limited to his oratorio Der Tod Jesu and his Te Deum. Roellig's Christmas cantata not only provides further evidence of the sophisticated work of an overlooked figure, but also a significant large-scale addition to the repertory of German baroque cantatas.

The publisher, Ortus Musikverlag, founded in 1998 by the musicologists Ekkehard Kriiger and Tobias Schwinger, has specialized in publishing northern and eastern German music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. That Ortus Musikverlag is publishing editions based on the holdings of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin stems not only from the close relationship between the firm's program and the strength of the collection, but also from the role of its cofounder Tobias Schwinger as a collaborator from 2006 to 2010 on the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft project mentioned above. The three editions reviewed here represent the only vocal music as yet published in Onus's Sing-Akademie series.

Johann Theile is esteemed among the north-German baroque contrapuntists, including Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reincken. Yet, his Christmas piece, Nun, ich singe, Gott, ich knie, strikes a humble profile. The first-person text, representing the voice of the Daughter of Zion, consists of six stanzas. Theile's setting begins with an instrumental introduction (for three violas and violone) closely related thematically to the setting of the first stanza for four voices and continuo. Stanzas two through five are treated strophically, with the alto, tenor, and bass declaiming the text in block chords with the soprano intoning an untexted descant interspaced by a string accompaniment. In setting the final stanza, Theile introduces short imitative cells in contrasting pairs of voices in what remains an essentially homophonic texture. The single surviving source consists of nine parts in the hand of an anonymous copyist; the copy had belonged to Jacob Ditmar der Junger (1702-1781), who served as Kantor of St. Nikolaus in Berlin from 1726, and who had amassed a notable collection of seventeenth-century German and Italian sacred music. A number of items from Ditmar's music collection survive in the Sing-Akademie's archive.

Johann Christian Roellig's Uns ist ein Kind geboren marks the birth of Jesus with much greater fanfare. Until recently, the identity of the composer remained confused with other similarly named members of a large Saxon family of musicians. Born in 1716, he appears to have studied and worked primarily in the region of Dresden and MeiBen, writing Lutheran cantatas, secular vocal music, and instrumental music, surviving mosdy in copies made by an amateur musician and painter in MeiBen, Carl Jacob Christian Klipfel. Following the Seven Years' War, sources suggest Roellig worked with a theater company in Hamburg, as reflected in materials for a comedy and two Singspiele. Roellig later entered the service of a merchant with connections to both Hamburg and MeiBen. The manuscript of the cantata is inscribed: Meissen | den 13 Dec: | 1755.

The two halves of Roellig's cantata for Christmas day mirror each other in organization. The first half, performed before the sermon, consists of a chorus, followed by a recitative and aria with a concluding chorale. The second half begins with a chorale, followed by an aria, then a recitative, and concludes with a chorus. In the first chorus, after an instrumental introduction, the voices enter at measure 24, followed by a restatement of the single thematic idea in die dominant at the midpoint of the movement (measure 74), with a return to the tonic at measure 106. A twelve-measure instrumental coda beginning at measure 136 concludes the celebratory first movement. The subsequent recitative presents a prayer-like text for bass and organ accompaniment, but closes with an entreaty by the soprano in the last six measures. The recitative establishes A major for the following da capo aria for soprano with flute, strings, and continuo. Part one of the cantata concludes with a setting in D major of a verse of the chorale Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her. Another traditional Christmas chorale opens the second half of the cantata with a G-major setting of the third verse of the chorale In dulci jubilo with horns and continue A da capo aria for alto, also in G major with two horns, and oboes doubling violins, and a recitative for alto and bass form the center movements of the second half of the cantata. A D-major chorus, in which the two halves of the stanza are contrasted musically in an A-B-C-B pattern, concludes the cantata. The single source for the cantata consists of the autograph score and a set of parts in the hand of Klipfel.

Given the standing of Carl Heinrich Graun as Frederick II's Kapellmeister, with his music continuing to enjoy the king's favor even after the composer's death, it is not surprising that the Easter cantata Ich suchte den, den meine Seele liebet survives in several sources, including the autograph score, three scores in the hands of copyists, and a set of parts. The autograph, one of the copies, and the parts comprise the collection of materials under the SingAkademie shelf mark SA 737. The music itself, however, predates Graun s affiliation with the Prussian court, originating with his work in Braunschweig from 1724 to 1735. In addition to operas composed there, Graun composed numerous sacred vocal pieces; sources for several of these were rediscovered in the Sing-Akademie archive.

The cantata Ich suchte den, den meine Seele liebet, on a text by Johann Armand von Uffenbach, begins with a slow introduction for strings and continuo. This segues into a fugal four-part chorus in F major with a lengthy subject and consistent countersubject forming a clearly conceived exposition; the rest of the movement maintains a strong polyphonic thread, but the strictness of the exposition gradually dissipates. A statement of the fugue subject in the alto as the movement nears completion (measure 179) denotes the final entrances of the other voices presenting the subject in diminution and in stretto before the movement concludes in a freely-composed coda. A tenor recitative accompanied by strings is followed by a da capo duet for soprano and bass, and two arias, the first for bass, the second for alto. After a recitative for soprano, the work concludes with a four-part setting of the verse "So feiern wir das hohe Fest" from the Easter chorale Christ lag in Todesbanden. Following the closing "Halleluja" of the chorale, the tenor interjects jubilant melismas on "Halleluja" between repetitions of the four-voice chordal statements of "Halleluja" from the chorale. The tenor's melismas wend their way to F major, thereby bringing the cantata back to its home key.

In each volume, the source descriptions and comments on individual variants are brief, but sufficient. A commercial edition of this music could not possibly prove viable if the editions presented the extensive scholarly commentary found in, for instance, Das Erbe deutscher Musik, where some might have hoped music from the Sing-Akademie's archive would (and still may) appear.

The printed page is clean and laid out nicely. All three editions are printed on A3 paper and interleaved into a single gathering, despite the significant differences in length between the three volumes. The relatively short height of the editions makes the music somewhat crowded on the page. While the publisher has made reasonable and necessary compromises in both the extent of the critical apparatus and in the physical presentation of the volumes, they are made in the right places and with the purpose of making this very satisfying music available in affordable editions.

In all, these new editions offer important additions to the published record of music from the eighteenth century. While they only suggest the vast riches of the Sing-Akademie archive, it is hoped these editions signal the prospect that a large corpus of choral music from the German baroque long hidden will enjoy publication in this series.


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Author:Boomhower, Daniel F.
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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