Konrad Küster (Hg.): Bach Handbook. Joint edition of the publishers Bärenreiter, Kassel etc. And J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart and Weimar, 1999, 997 S., DM 158.
In spite of a plethora of new publications, the 250. Anniversary of the death of Johann Sebastian Bach on the 28th. The Bach Handbook, which is very comprehensive, excellently edited and typographically lavishly designed, is aimed at the readers of the New Bach Edition of July 2000. "The basis of the presentation are research results, to which the development of the new Bach edition has led and which can be found in its environment or in the context of the new Bach edition. In dealing with this have resulted." This is how the editor formulates in his preface the intention to summarize almost 50 years of Bach research. In the foreground should be the "Werkdarstellung are arranged according to the groups of works in the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, which appeared in its second revised and expanded edition (BWV2) in 1990, and whose Small edition (BWV2a) is available for everyone since 1998.
The conception of the Bach Handbook, however, differs – according to Küster – from "usual" 'Werkführer' in that his contributions are laid out as coherent texts and allow for continuous reading". Küster would like to give the Bach Handbook the character of a reference work, combined with that of a "reading book", give. The latter goal is probably served by the essay-like, italicized titles which precede the respective headings. Here are some samples:"Secondary tasks of the organist, field of action of the director musices / THE VOCAL MUSIC" or"Bach's political profile or Where is the music?". The fact that the latter article is essentially concerned with the balance of power in Leipzig's council at the time of Bach's application, election and activity in the city can at best be gathered by the reader from the subdividing chapter headings. These titles will not be quoted in the following. The Bach Handbook cannot make any literary claim whatsoever. On the other hand, it fulfills the character of a reference work in an exemplary manner: through the diverse structure of the individual contributions and detailed indexes. A preceding chronological table with the most important life data. Smaller digressions in some articles are helpful in assigning the works to Bach's life. Of the four articles preceding the works (on Bach's situation in Leipzig by Ulrich Siegele; on Bach's reception by Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen; on the performance practice of Bach's music since 1750 by Martin Elste; and on Bach's relationship to theology by Martin Petzoldt), the former and latter also deal with Bach's professional existence.
The lion's share of the work descriptions, namely all contributions to Bach's vocal music, has been written by the editor Konrad Küster, also those about "Small 'pedagogical' piano pieces" and "orchestral music. The remaining contributions are by Michael Kube (General Information on Organ Music; Choral-Bound Organ Works; The Well-Tempered Clavier), Werner Breig (Free Organ Works), Siegbert Rampe (General Information on Piano Music; Suites and Piano Exercises), Peter Schleuning (Capricci, Toccatas, Fantasias), Emil Platen (Inventions and Symphonies), Hans Eppstein (Solo and Ensemble Sonatas; Suites for Solo Melody Instruments), and Friedrich Sprondel (Musical Offerings; Art of Fugue; Canons).
In this main part of the handbook, almost all authors deal with the body of work (whereby in the judgment "real, "dubiously." Or "inauthentic will follow the new BWV), the source tradition, in particular the question of multiple versions (whereby they mostly rely on the results of the New Bach Edition), the reception of the works in Bach's time and in the subsequent period up to 1800 (whereby the source quotations, which are refreshing to read, are predominantly taken from the first three volumes of the Bach documents published by the Bach Archive Leipzig [cited without further details as Doc. I-III !] are taken). The information on the New Bach Edition also leaves much to be desired. Although the Sigel "KB" will in the abbreviations as "New Bach Edition, Critical Report (following series and volume reference)" The contributions to the exhibition are often not mentioned in the text, unless the author (and editor of the corresponding volume of notes) is critiqued. Even in the detailed bibliographies at the end of each contribution, the editors are not to be found as authors of the Prefaces and Critical Reports to the New Bach Edition. This approach is in strange contrast to Küster's preliminary remark.
Also in other respects the handling of the New Bach Edition is not at its best. Friedrich Sprondel, who in his contribution "Die Kunst der Fuge" (The Art of the Fugue) The book, which succeeds in presenting the complicated relationship between Bach's autograph with its supplements and the posthumous first printing in a clear and comprehensible way, is based on a work by Pieter Dirksen published in 1994 and does not mention the Neue Bach-Ausgabe (VIII/2: Zwei Notenbände  and Kritischer Bericht , edited by Klaus Hofmann) at all. Siegbert Rampe, whose contributions are characterized by the good combination of knowledge as a scientist and interpreter, overestimates the investigations of Christoph Wolff on some copies of the original print of Klavierübung I to such an extent that he wants to see the musical text partially changed, where Wolff only suggests to extend the Critical Report of the New Bach Edition by some information. (Richard D. Jones published an addendum to his report in 1997!) Ramp (S. 773) even draws the following generalizing conclusion from Wolff's study: "The interested interpreter should note that the edition situation of the partitas is unsatisfactory so far, because in all editions of the 20th century, fugues with a three-part construction are not available. Several important sources remained unconsidered in the early twentieth century."
The descriptions of the works themselves reveal a variety of methodological approaches; some of them will be discussed here. The core of Werner Breig's contribution "Free Organ Works" form works of the type prelude (Toccata, Fantasia) and fugue. Since it is difficult to systematize the pieces that precede joints, Breig circumscribes four types of joints (I. Fugues with rudimentary pedal use, II. Fugues with four-part structure, III. Variants of the Four-Phase Type, IV. Fugues with a three-part structure), which he uses as a starting point for the formation of groups of works. Of course, the corresponding preludes, fantasies, or toccatas are also described, among which are pieces that are polyphonic throughout and those with variously alternating movement techniques. For the analysis of fugues, Breig has developed form overviews that illustrate the thematic structure of each fugue in the most concise way possible. Since the few autographs and the copies of Bach's organ works can usually be dated only approximately or even vaguely, the internal chronology suggested by Breig, Bach's compositional progression from the first to the fourth group of works, is a valuable signpost.
Starting from reflections on the works, Konrad Küster dedicates himself within his contribution "Orchestral music a group of works that has mostly only been handed down in secondary sources, namely Bach's concertos. He first outlines a more theoretical model "Vivaldi's concerto form" as a synonym for "baroque italian concerto form and measures against it the diversity of Bach's design patterns (including interrelations between concerto form and fugue as well as concerto form and da capo aria) as well as his handling of solo material and ritornello. Then he turns to the individual groups of works (violin concertos and triple concerto, Brandenburg concertos, harpsichord concertos and concertos for 2-4 harpsichords). With the method of illuminating the same object from different aspects, Küster wants to win arguments for work chronology and style development. The multiple access to the same works or movements, however, rather blurs their profile, so that Küster finally has to formulate sentences like this one (S. 927): "The question of the stylistic development of Bach's concert work can therefore not be answered from the body of work and the arguments that he has made available so far." As far as the stock of works is concerned, Küster – starting from Bach's relevant activities in Köthen (court kapellmeister) and Leipzig (director of a Collegium musicum) – makes a kind of probability calculation, which yields an unrealistically high number of Bach's concertos, which is said to have once existed. On the other hand, he is rightly skeptical of tendencies to look for a lost archetype every time, even in the case of concerts, which take two forms (z.B. As violin and harpsichord concertos) have been handed down to us.
Konrad Küster takes a different approach when he "presents the more than 200 cantatas, work for work, for the first time in chronological order" represents (so the wording of advertising copy and similarly on the book cover). The chronology is based on the renowned works of Alfred Dürr on Bach's early cantatas of 1951 (21977) and on the chronology of Bach's Leipzig vocal works of 1957 (21976), and on the contribution of Yoshitake Kobayashi to the chronology of the late works (Bach-Jahrbuch 74 , pp. 1-72). Küster breaks down the extensive material, z. B. The abundance of sacred cantatas from Bach's first years in Leipzig by forming groups of two up to six works and introducing them with short texts. The motto-like headings chosen here seem somewhat far-fetched. The grouping, however, still allows the reader to keep track of the following description, movement by movement, to draw certain parallels himself or to notice great differences within these small groups. But Küster does not succeed in drawing larger lines of development. Also, to develop a chronology of individual sentence types, z. B. Of the simple four-part chorales or the "Concerto" overwritten input choruses, further preparatory work is still missing. Seen like this, there was no alternative at all for the representation work by work. When discussing the cantatas of the young Bach, Küster can fall back on his own publications. Here it is particularly hypothesized-. Speculative. Hypotheses that fall into the "possible but not compelling" category fall, like z.B. His interpretation of the Weimar Document of March 1714 (Doc. II, no. 66), he tries to impose on the reader through verbal feats of strength, but in doing so arouses skepticism rather than trust. From the fact that Johann Wilhelm Drese, the son of the Weimar Court Kapellmeister, was in Venice in 1702/03 and "probably" brought back sheet music from Italy, draws Küster the conclusion (S. 144): "At the latest here [in Weimar] must[!] Bach may have come into contact with musical ideas and constructions derived from the opera."
Readers who are enthusiastic listeners to Bach and who are not musicologists will notice that in the descriptions of the works, there is almost exclusively talk of form, and little of sound. Where is the "forefather of harmony"?, from which (according to Rameau) also the melody unfolds. One is not surprised, therefore, that Küster does not add anything to the 2. Movement (Air) of the D major suite BWV 1068 says than he is famous. Except for the small aside by Hans Eppstein (S. 878) to the preludes of the cello suites, which "occasionally threatened to become oversized", the Bach Handbook does not contain any criticism of any work or movement, any concept of form, or any compositional procedure of Bach (such as, for example, the "cello suites"). B. The "vocal installation"). Let alone that – as with other great composers – principled criticism (like z. B. In Beethoven's "heroic style" or Haydn's operas) would be loud. One may ask, however, whether Bach's great compositional mastery was accompanied by an equally great, never-ending inspiration. What does it mean from this point of view that in the 1730s and 1740s, in vocal works (Christmas Oratorio, Kyrie-Gloria Masses, Mass in B minor) and instrumental compositions (concertos), he relatively often fell back on previously created works or worked on given themes (Piano Exercise IV, Art of the Fugue, Musical Offering)?. It would be nice if Bach research in the future would also turn to new, completely unprocessed topics.