Triple Counterpoint

Bernard D. Sherman

in Inside Early Music

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195169454
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865017 | DOI:
Triple Counterpoint

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Small choruses may command the scene today, but Johann Sebastian Bach’s choral music remains in some respects embattled terrain: the arguments keep circling back to Bach. For some listeners, historically informed performances “are so supple and elegant, so refined and light, that they miss the gravity” implicit in some of Bach’s scores. Among the historicists themselves, the performance-practice issues are by no means resolved. Chief among the problem areas are the very concepts of “singing” and, even more, of a “chorus”. This chapter examines this pair of issues and others, including the question of historical authenticity itself. The discussions bear out Joseph Kerman. The views of Jeffrey Thomas, Philippe Herreweghe, and John Butt on singing Bach are discussed, along with issues such as phrasing and articulation, the use of musicological evidence in preparing performances, the importance of rhetoric in understanding the aesthetic of Baroque music, boys’ versus women’s voices in Bach, music conducting, and the distinction between German and Italian singing styles.

Keywords: Jeffrey Thomas; Philippe Herreweghe; John Butt; Johann Sebastian Bach; choral music; articulation; phrasing; Baroque music; rhetoric

Chapter.  9248 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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