Monday, 5 June 2017

Listening to JS Bach in Braunschweig Cathedral.

The poster for last evening's concert in Braunschweig Cathedral. 
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Europe is being celebrated in Braunschweig with a series of free concerts in the Cathedral, and special exhibitions in the various city museums.   Last night I listened to JS Bach's Cantata BWV 74 and Mozart's Divertimento No ?  I did not catch the whole title, as my German can be sadly lacking in the evenings!
The Mozart was performed at short notice because the soloist for the advertised GF Handel  Concerto for Harp had been injured in a cycling accident, and was unable to play.
 The organ and rose window in the Cathedral.
Something happened during the performance of the Bach cantata, that I have never witnessed before.  Although I am not familiar with the work, I began to realise early on that the pulse and structure of the work was in disarray.  The trumpets flagged and had almost disappeared, when suddenly the conductor stopped the players, paused, and then began the performance from the beginning.  The performance then continued without a break.
Last night I read about the composing of this cantata in Leipzig in 1725, when Bach was Cantor at the Thomaskirche.  The work makes huge demands on the solo violin, whose part is written at the opposite end of the expressive spectrum Bach usually wrote for the instrument.  The work portrays a graphic depiction of hell, with the usual human voice of the violin dancing to the tune of hell.  
I think it was the trumpeters who lost their way, as the violinist kept going regardless.  Bach had favourite players in his orchestras, and wrote works specially for the talents of his special players.  His favourite was the trumpet player Gottfried Reiche. 

Gottfried Reiche - Wikipedia
Gottfried Reiche (German pronunciation: [ˈgɔtfʁiːt ʁaɪçə]; 5 February 1667 – 6 October 1734) was a German trumpet player.
I experienced a similar mishap as a singer in a madrigal choir, when singing a work by Henry Purcell.   We had practised the song to perfection, but on the day of the competition, we lost the thread for some reason, and the conductor had to stop us mid way.   We began again, sang perfectly, and came second!

 The Cathedral was full to overflowing, with people sitting near the 13th century seven armed candelabra.

The conductor takes a bow at the end of the performance.

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