Return to Homepage

On-line Book Review

YO TOMITA

PACKAGE
OVERVIEW
PACKAGE TITLE Das Bach-Paket der Musik-Konzepte. Edited by Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn.
PACKAGE CONTENTS
SPECIAL PRICE DM 95,-- / öS 694,-- / sfr 86.50 [all five volumes; individual price is given below]
ISSN 0931-3311
TO ORDER edition text + kritik im Richard Boorberg Verlag GmbH & Co., Levelingstraße 6a, 81673 München, Germany.
Email: etk.muenchen@t-online.de

Issued four times every year, the Musik-Konzepte series have reached 108, of which eight (in five books) deal with the music of J. S. Bach so far. To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, the publisher decided to offer special package at a special discount price, saving of DM 67 (= 41% discount). 
FRONT COVER
OVERVIEW

List of articles in this book
TITLE Musik-Konzepte 17/18: Johann Sebastian Bach. Das spekulative Spätwerk. Edited by Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn.
PUBL. DETAILS München: edition text + kritik (1981; 2nd unrevised edition, 1999), 132p. Paper back. Price: DM 32 / öS 234,-- / sfr 29.50
ISBN 3-88377-057-4
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION Collection of four essays devoted to the late works of J. S. Bach.
WORKS COVERED BWV 769, 769a, 1079, 1080
READERSHIP Scholars and highly dedicated music lovers of Bach’s late works, who are particularly interested in extra-musical aspects of Bach’s music.
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION Bearing mind that it was originally published in 1981, these articles reflect highly subjective and speculative approaches that were common in those days.

The Musik-Konzepte’s first Bach volume is focused on the late works; this in itself tells us something about their speculative colour as a series. In this volume there are four articles written by different authors, as follows:
  1. Gerd Zacher discusses the canonic variations Von Hommel hoch, BWV 769 and 769a, the printed version and the autograph version. As we all know, there are many interesting differences between these two versions, viz. the order of movements and musical details. Zacher examines Bach’s rearrangement of this variation through the identification of musico-rhetorico figures in each variation.
  2. Michael Kopfermann unfolds a very detailed analysis of canons in the Musical Offering, focusing on number symbolism. Using 69 examples, he argues how Bach expands the canonic art to its limit.
  3. Ugo Duse’s article is a German translation of Musica e silenzio nell'Arte della fuga originally appeared in 1962. It is a thought-provocative essay on various issues on the Art of Fugue, discussing from historical, theoretical, sources, question of orders of movements, and reception. Readers are reminded that some of the facts used his discussion are now out of date.
  4. Richard Hauser discusses Gerd Zacher’s ten interpretations of the Contrapunctus I from the Art of Fugue, which he dedicated to T. W. Adorno in 1968. To each analysis is given an endearing name, as follows:
Remarkably those four essays approach from different angles, and each author discuses his thesis with a distinctive tone. Although their arguments tend to be subjective at times, they will be interesting readings for those who love Bach's late works. 
FRONT COVER
OVERVIEW

List of articles in this book
TITLE Musik-Konzepte 42: Johann Sebastian Bach. »Goldberg-Variationen«. Edited by Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn.
PUBL. DETAILS München: edition text + kritik (1985), 106p. Paper back. Price: DM 28 / öS 204,-- / sfr 26.
ISBN 3-88377-197-X
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION Collection of four essays devoted to the Goldberg Variations.
WORKS COVERED BWV 988
READERSHIP Scholars and highly dedicated music lovers of the Goldberg Variations.
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION Modestly significant are Niemöller on stylistic features and Zenck on the reception in the early 19th century.

In Bach centenary year of 1985, Musuk-Konzepte produced a volume on the Goldberg Variations. It contains four articles by different authors, as follows:
  1. Heinz Hermann Niemöller discusses the inner structure of the work, focusing firstly on stylistic feature of each piece, then on their arrangement as a unified structure; here he makes one unfortunate error, i.e. 3 x 14 =32 [should be 42!]. He also discusses the origin of the work as well as an early 19th century views by ETA Hoffmann and JN Forkel in reasonable depth.
  2. Martin Zenck, a well-known author in this topic, examines in great depth the connection between Bach and Beethoven through their celebrated variations, i.e. the Goldberg Variations and the Diabelli Variations. He first visits how Beethoven came to know the Goldberg Variations, and then moves on to make various observations on the differences and similarities between these great works.
  3. Berthold Türcke focuses his discussion on the 25th variation of the Goldberg, unfolding an interesting analysis of its harmonic contents.
  4. Wolfgang Schreiber’s short essay concludes the volume with the history of the recording of the Goldberg Variations from Landowska to Andras Schiff.
Covering style, structure, historical background, reception history, and recording, this volume addresses almost all the major issues except sources, Bach’s revision process and the 14 canons found in his personal copy discovered in 1974. 
FRONT COVER
OVERVIEW

List of articles in this book
TITLE Musik-Konzepte 50/51: Johann Sebastian Bach. Die Passionen. Edited by Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn.
PUBL. DETAILS München: edition text + kritik (1986), 139p. Paper back. Price: DM 32 / öS 234,-- / sfr 29.50.
ISBN 3-88377-238-0
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION Collection of four essays devoted to Bach’s two great Passions.
WORKS COVERED BWV 244, 245.
READERSHIP Scholars and highly dedicated music lovers of Bach’s Passions.
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION Although there are many similar articles published elsewhere, these articles contain many original arguments.

The volume dedicated to Bach’s Passions contains five essays by the following authors:
  1. Heinrich Poos discusses “symbols” in Bach’s sacred vocal works, focusing particularly on rhetorically originated figures and ideas in St. Matthew Passion, such as falling tetrachord, “cross figures” (Figura Christi vel hominis), and etc. Numerous examples are taken from other vocal works.
  2. Nicolas Schalz revisits the reception history of St Matthew Passion, its origin, form (incl. symmetrical structure) and contents. His table outlining “Bach’s work-table (framework of composition) for St Matthew Passion” is very interesting.
  3. Hennes Holz writes about the text of St John Passion from a rather ‘twisted’ standpoint; I say no more!
  4. Peter Böttinger examines analytically the Bass aria “Eilt, ihr angefochtnen Seelen” from St John Passion (BWV 245/24), focusing in particular the metric ambiguity and its effect.
  5. Clytus Gottwald considers the paradox of performing sacred works in our concert venue by extensively quoting the discussion by Mauricio Kagel and Theodor W. Adorno.
Although there are many similar articles published elsewhere and the fact that most of the authors are less well known in the field of Bach Studies, scholars and students studying Bach’s Passions cannot ignore their original contributions. 
FRONT COVER
OVERVIEW

List of articles in this book
TITLE Musik-Konzepte 79/80: Bach gegen seine Interpreten verteidigt. Edited by Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn.
PUBL. DETAILS München: edition text + kritik (1993), 171p. Paper back. Price: DM 42 / öS 307,-- / sfr 39,--.
ISBN 3-88377-437-5
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION Collection of eleven short essays by Gerd Zacher approaching from diverse speculative standpoints, covering some of the well-known keyboard works by Bach, such as WTC I and the Art of Fugue.
WORKS COVERED 529, 542a, 801-804, 846-869, 1080
READERSHIP Scholars and highly dedicated music lovers of Bach’s music who are keen to know more about speculative approach to his music.
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION Although it offers a wide range of approaches, arguments are mostly very subjective.

This volume contains eleven essays by Gerd Zacher written between 1987 and 1992. You can view the contents by clicking the link placed under the front cover image.

The range of issues that Zacher addresses is quite impressive: number symbolism in Bach’s works and their structural significance, rhetorical figures and musical discourse, Bach’s understanding of the tonality and various types of cadences, aspects of metre and rhythm, and so on. They are all discussed with specific works, such as the Well-Tempered Clavier I and the Art of Fugue.

If you are interested in these highly speculative discussion, this is no doubt an interesting reading. But the lack of an index is particularly regrettable. 


FRONT COVER
OVERVIEW
TITLE Musik-Konzepte 87: Johann Sebastian Bach. Der Choralsatz als musikalisches Kunstwerk von Heinrich Poos. Edited by Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn.
PUBL. DETAILS München: edition text + kritik (1995), 112p. Paper back. Price: DM 28 / öS 204,-- / sfr 26.
ISBN 3-88377-494-4
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION Monograph dedicated to the discussion of Bach's chorales from both historical and analytical perspectives.
WORKS COVERED BWV 60, 153/5, 179/6, 244, 248, 288, 370, 382, 769. (+ many more brief citation)
READERSHIP Scholars and music lovers who are interested in the historical background of Bach's chorales.
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION Good summary of the subject topic, which is discussed logically.

Unlike other volumes in this series on Bach, this is a monograph by Heinrich Poos, discussing Bach’s chorales from a mixture of historical and analytical approaches. He first examines the historical background of chorale as a musical form, and attempts to identify the origin of its artistic value. BWV 179/6 is used to demonstrate his argument.

In Chapter 2, he moves on to discuss the reception history of Bach’s chorales, viz. editions by CPE Bach and JP Kirnberger, followed by unique editorial intervention (i.e. improvement!) by GJ Vogler. This is a very fascinating topic; Bach was not only viewed by his next generation as the perfect model for their study but also considered as somewhat outmoded, providing ample opportunities for both the faithful and unfaithful to demonstrate their arguments. I, for one, feel that the discussion could have been extended further, highlighting more amply the difference in stance between two conflicting factions. This chapter concludes with the discussion of an analysis of BWV 244/25 by Arnold Schönberg.

Chapter 3 is dedicated to the analytical studies on BWV 248/17 and 60/5; the discussion was initially concentrated on the aspects of their melody and harmony, which was later extended to cover various other issues relating to rhetorical aspects of musical composition.

Chapter 4 is a supplement in which he collects several facsimiles of historically important items for his discussion of Chapter 2. This is followed by good bibliography, compiled by Stephanie Schwandt.

Overall, Poos’ analysis is easy to follow, as his argument is organised well; numerous music examples are also helpful. He actually quotes briefly many works by Bach and others, and the usefulness of the book could have been increased by an index which is unfortunately lacking from this series.

Reviewed on-line on 4 April 2000


Return to the previous page