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Bach analysis - Essay Example

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St John Passion Introduction If the ritornello motif in the violins are done right, strong and pacing an almost marching rhythm, with a triple-like quivering feel over a deliberate and stately four-count bar, all the while reflecting a sensitive controlling crescendo in the dynamics, then the opening chorus of the St…
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Download file to see previous pages And just as important it stands a clear testimony of the skill and wonder of Johann Sebastian Bach as the foundational composer of Western music. This portrayal of “Herr, unser Herrsche” is so rendered by the Cologne Cathedral Boys’ Choir.1 Conductor Eberhard Metternich has shaped the quivering triple-like motif that is later carried through the lower instrument voices as a continuum expressed and released on a recurring sixteenth motif. The accents on the third, and the first in the phrases of four sixteenths maintain the triple feel activeness or energy of the quiver. Durr describes the motif as an enhancement over "a persistent pedal point" that is latter carried into the voices 2. The contrast of the strong pedal and the persistent repeating motif to dictate rises and falls in emotional feeling is perhaps indicative of the tools and techniques Bach has, at that time in his life, finally polished to display skillful and precise artistic control. Bach wrote his music through the Lutheran Christian frame of reference. He guided it through the Baroque frame of the Enlightenment to its decorative height, by way of the Saint John Passion and the Magnificant, to his magnus opus, as noted and appreciated by so many, the St. Matthew Passion. \ Discussion The St. John Passion was first performed in 1724 as Bach entered the first prolific period of his Leipzig phrase. As the New Canto zu St. Thomae, some believed he had written the work earlier in preparation for the Good Friday performance, the high point of the year for music in the Lutheran church.3 The work covers the Passion play biblical narrative in John 18:1 to 19:42 and enabled Bach to realize an uninterrupted and thematic score for the chorales and the arias. The work leads up to the Pontius Pilate tribunal scene in Part II where it ends with the Golgatha and burial scene. Repeated text passages were used, along with repeated crowd scene responses to unify the work. Wolff identifies "intensity and depth of expression" in the key sequence as it progressed later in part two. His sketch identifies Bach's precision toward foundation harmony. Chapter 19-22 is scored with three flats; through 24, four sharps; through 28, two flats; through 35, four flats; with the vocals and instruments expressing contrasting colors.4 Over the course of time, Bach took the Passion through several changes and never seemed quite satisfied with the final form. A year before his death, he had reworked almost half of the two part, 40 piece work. By that time he had reverted, after two major edition changes, back to the tighter original version. The problem he had was not a musical one but a libretto one. Wolff writes of it lacking textual unity.5 Bach uses familiar church hymns to develop some of the recitatives, arias, and choruses making up his work and draws from the work of other composers and poets for themes and ways of rendering the libretto. The music was written for a four-part chorus with solo tenor and bass, and a solo quartet of soprano, alto, tenor and base. Bass voices belong to Jesus, Peter, and Pilate, and the Evangelist is tenor. Instruments of the orchestra comprise two flutes, two oboes, viola da gamba, strings, lute and organ. Period instruments included viola da gama, two violas d'amore, continuo with cello and two oboes da caccia. The opening chorus is followed by the Evangelist recitative who sets the background for the betrayal of Jesus. Jesus sings to identify himself to the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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