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01 September 2018

35. Out of order

For me, the most important reason to look at a composers manuscriptor (more likely) a scan or facsimile of itis to understand something about how it came to be written.  Compositional process (to use the musicological jargon) is always at least interesting to me, and it can sometimes be riveting.  Often you find that a piece that you know well as it is was nearly very different.  (I keep promising I will blog about Mendelssohns Italian symphony in this regard; indeed I will, but I just need to find time to re-read John Michael Coopers excellent study of it.  But there are very many examples of less extreme but still significant revisions in the standard repertory.)

This months post concerns just two instances where a composer decided to insert or re-order material, so that the manuscript presents the music out of sequence with what became the composers intended text was.  That’s not to say, of course, that (given time) the composer might not have changed it again, reverting to the original sequence or inserting or reordering new material.  Whatever one might say about the Fassung letzter Hand, its very “lastness makes it a handy reference point.  For example, in the discussions below I will refer to the bar numbers of the texts as we have come to know them, not as they appear in sequence in the source.

A cropped view of the third page of the autograph score of first movement of Mozart's c minor piano concerto; Mozart has marked the score to indicate that additional measures (written on a subsequent page) are to be inserted between the measures we now know as 43 and 63.
SOURCE:  detail of Mozarts autograph of K. 491/i f. 2r, 
showing  bb. 40-43 and 63-66.  The autograph is held by the
Royal College of Music, London, as RCM MS 402, but this scan is
from the 2014 Bärenreiter facsimile of the score.  

(A 1964 black-and-white facsimile is freely available on the IMSLP.)
An interesting instance of inserted material occurs in the first movement of Mozarts gloomy, glorious C minor piano concerto, K. 491.  As seen at right, Mozart originally followed the bar 43 (as we number it) with the bar that later became 63that is, he made a nineteen-bar insertion at this momentand a gorgeous one it is, with the duet of descending figures alternating between flute and bassoon.  He thus continues the subdued mood a little longer before the outburst that he originally planned at this moment.

I have mocked-up an audio example of this juxtaposition, although of course we can't know that it would have sounded like this:  Mozart generally orchestrated in layers, adding instruments one at a time, and so he might have scored this a little differently if the passage beginning at b. 63 had really been at b. 44.  But if you want to hear the text with the nineteen-bar cut, its on my soundcloud here.

The insertion of a new idea leaves this opening ritornello in a particularly awkward state in the autograph, requiring a jump forward to find b. 44, a jump backward to find b. 63, and a consequent jump forward again to find b. 90.  Moreover, as portions of this are reused again as the closing ritornello (which Mozart indicates with a dal Segno (in this instance, a cartoon head facing back toward the beginning) and other markings), one page of the autograph (f. 3v) contains bb. 54–62, 91–98 (re-used as 501–508), and 99.  But this is an extreme case, and Mozart leaves no doubt about his letzter intended sequence of bars.  (And, so far as I know, no edition has ever screwed it up.)

As I was working on the previous post about bar numbers, my research took me to a page that I would nominate as perhaps the single most interesting page of extant Handel manuscript.  (I may well be wrong:  I have had my eyes on perhaps 5% of Handels extant manuscriptsmostly in facsimile or scansso I can hardly claim to any authority.  Moreover, I would welcome nominations for other contenders for that title.  By all means let me know.)

Anyway, my nominee for that distinction is this page, which has the conclusion of the second movement of the organ concerto published as Op. 7 no. 5 (HWV 310):
A page containing the last thirteen of the two-bar variations that make up the second movement of Handel's g minor organ concerto, opus seven number five.  This page of Handel's autograph has sections added in the margins after the main text was completed, and the two-bar units have been numbered to indicate the ultimate intended ordering.
SOURCE:  page from Handels autograph for HWV 310 (Op. 7 no. 5), mvt. 3; British Library R.M.20.g.12, f. 69v
Handel dated this manuscript, indicating that it was completed on 31 January 1750.  Then again, what does completed mean?  The alterations on this page might well have been made after that date.  The dating is a minor consideration, however.  The real question is What happened here?

This movement is a set of variations over a ground bass.  (Here’s a good recording by Lorenzo Ghielmi with La Divina Armonia.)  While it would not be fair to say that the variations could work as effectively in any order, this movement is clearly highly sectionalized into two bar segments, eighteen in all (with many of them immediately repeated).  Handels autograph shows that at some point after finishing the movement with just fifteen segments, he added three more.  He also (at the same time?) re-ordered the intended sequence by numbering each segment.  The first four segments are on the preceding page, so this page starts with the fifth segment.  The following illustration is intended to clarify what the autograph reveals:  the sections shaded in red were (I argue) the original version of the movement, proceeding in their original order (left-to-right, top-to-bottom).  The shaded sections in blue were added subsequently, and the numbering shown incorporates the new variations into a re-ordered sequence.  (The bar numbers indicate the final form, as do the bold variation numbers.)
SOURCE:  my own schematic offering a hypothesis about Handels original sequence of the variations as presented in the autography; a recording edited to manifest this sequence (and omitting the blue sections) is available here on my soundcloud page.

There is a logic to Handels revised ordering: the first three sections (3-4-5) are melodic, but thereafter there is a series of showy 32nd-note patterns, first arpeggiations in each hand (6), then scales in one hand or the other (7-8-9); then, starting at the mid-point, a stretch of new melodic ideas with more daringly chromatic harmonies (10-11-12); then, by way of a Scotch snap [short-long, with the short note in a metrically stronger position] figure (13), there are three sections with triplet figurationright hand, left hand, both together (14-15-16); the ending of the movement consists of the most brilliant of the 32nd-note arpeggiation patterns (17), and a grand chordal peroration (18).

There is, however, also a logic to Handels original version, which is not at all stream-of-consciousness.  (The variation numbers here refer to the final version.)
  • melodic introduction (3–4–5)
  • triplets (14, 16)
  • more chromatic melody (10–11–12)
  • “Scotch snap (13)
  • 32nd-note figures (7, 9, 17),
  • chordal coda (18)
In the original version the triplet sections come before the central chromaticized melodic passages, andin a move commonly seen in Baroque variationsthe speed of the ornaments increases as it nears the end, with (in this case) a series of three 32nd-note variations.  It is notable that the three (blue) sections that were added later each feature the left hand, which was apparently not emphasized in Handel's original conception of the piece.  Indeed, I think it not too fanciful to suggest that even the (inner-line) left-hand triplets in variation 16 were added as part of the revision:  they seem to my eye squeezed into the staves in an already sufficient texture.  (I note that in Simon Prestons recording, which I was using for my cut-and-paste version on Soundcloud, he leaves out the left-hand triplets on the first time through this variation, adding it in only for the repeat.)
cropped scan of the same page shown above; this shows the only variation to have two running lines (right hand and left hand) above the ground bass, but the cramped notation suggests that the left hand line was possibly a late addition.
SOURCE cropped to show detail of the same page given in full above
It is not at all unusual that such reordering and insertions occured:  this is the way we write.  Having written, we may then proceed to move chunks of prose around hither and yon as it seems better to usas we have new ideas and second thoughts.  I was surprised, however, to find such clear evidence of Handel's revisionsand delighted to try it out another way.

01 August 2018

34. So teach us to number our bars

Todays post marks the second birthday of Settling Scores.  I have been having altogether too much fun with it, and Ive met all sorts of interesting (and interested) people.  Some were names I knew professionally, but very many have been entirely new.  I am gratified by the response, even if I am sometimes completely in the dark on the reasons why some posts take off and others fall comparatively flat.

Although when I started this project I had a long list of issues I wanted to coverand that list remains longI never imagined I would spend a post on bar numbers.  What could there possibly to say?  The bars are numbered!  End of story!  But just a few weeks after I began blogging, I knew eventually this post would happen.  It was prompted by a post on the blog put out by the G. Henle Verlag.  Henle urtext editions have dominated the market (particularly for piano students) in the USA for as long as I can remember.  Youd know those slate blue covers anywhere, even if they have updated the look a bit over the years.  Their blog comes out every two weeks, written by their house editors in rotation.  It offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at editorial work in progress.

The post that got me thinking concerned their new edition of Camille Saint-Saënss marvellous second piano concerto.  (To clarify:  the edition is a two-piano version, with a new reduction of the orchestral material.)
SOURCE:  cropped page scan of https://www.henle.com/en/detail/index.html?Title=Piano+Concerto+no.+2+in+g+minor+op.+22_1355, accessed 20 July 2018
Although in the preface editor Peter Jost goes to some pains to point out that the piano reduction published as the first edition in 1868 was not by the composer (but rather his pupil, Adam Laussel), the Henle blurb above gets this wrong.

Josts blog post concerns the arresting opening of this concertoa free-flowing, unmeasured prelude at first, developing gradually into more conventional Romantic virtuoso piano figures covering the whole compass of the instrument.  Here are the first three pages as they appeared in first edition of the full score:
SOURCE:  scan of 1875 Durand edition from 1995 Dover reprint.
The Durand engravers have provided the conventional full score accolade on the first page, showing the complete resources required for the work.  In the autograph, however, the first page to be in full score is the third page, at the orchestral entrance, and the preceding two pages appear very much as a separate introduction, ending mid-page with a double bar and a clearly implied attacca across the page:
SOURCE:  scans of the autograph score, F-Pn Mus. MS-488, fully available here.  In this example, I have taken the images not from the Bibliotheque Nationale site, but rather from the Henle blogpost.  This has required cropping them to display them appropriately:  Henle inaccurately represents p. 2 abutting p. 1 (as if recto facing the preceding verso), although it really should abut p. 3, as above.
Jost points out that Saint-Saëns numbered the measures of this movement, starting with the orchestral entrance.  Thus the prelude is unnumberedalthough it isnt entirely unmetered, and even concludes with ruled bars.  Jost follows the composer on this, yielding a movement of a prelude plus 112 bars.

The first edition lacked measure numbers, but had rehearsal letters.  Sabina Teller Ratners thematic catalogue of Saint-Saëns works gives the total number of measures in each movement, and thus in this case numbers from the beginning, with the last bar as number 115.  (Her bar 11 below is Jost's bar 8.
SOURCE scan of Ratner catalogue (OUP, 2002) Vol. 1, p. 353
I do not understand the value of Mr. Jostreturn to the composer's original numbering.  We dont know enough to understand whether those numbers were intended to mean anything at all.  Was Saint-Saëns making a philosophical statement about the music (as Mr. Jost inevitably issome music designated as preceding the real piece)?  Was there at that moment nothing written on the preceding pages, with the composer planning to improvise an introduction based on material that appears later in the movementeventually codifying it as text?  I exchanged e-mails with Mr. Jost in the days following his post, but came away unsatisfied.

As I see it, bar numbers serve one principal and practical function:  orienting the user in a score.  A bar number is a coordinate used to locate something.  It need not be anything else. 

For any music requiring more than one player, numbered bars are useful in rehearsal (Well start in bar 63), where the system is more preciseand arguably less cumbersomethan rehearsal letters (Well start six bars before F).  In Jost's edition, taking it from the top is not the same as from bar #1, and that may lead to some confusion.

Measure numbers are essential, however, in critical editions (like Josts) so that the editor can cite a detail in the critical commentary and the user can locate it easily.  Compare, in this connection, how the new C. P. E. Bach edition deals with the unmeasured sections of the fantasies:
Source:  cropped scan of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach:  The Complete Works, Ser. I, Vol. 3 (ed. David Schulenberg, 2005); detail of p. 34, the fantasy from Wq 63 no. 6.
Here the first portion of the piece goes without a barline for several systems, so each system is given a letter:  bar 1a, bar 1b, bar 1c.  This illustration begins at bar 1h.  The first barline does not appear until after the 3/4 time signature, so that in this edition the bar marked Largo is still bar 1j, with the bar following it reckoned (finally) as bar 2.  (The critical commentary can thus cite a note in a specified portion of this extended bar 1.)  This method is necessarily idiosyncratic:  it works for this edition, but it would not be readily translated to another.  But it doesn't need to be:  the sole function of these bar numbers is to connect the critical commentary portion of the volume with the score, and this system works well enough.  (To be fair, Jost does employ a similar policy:  the opening systems of the Saint-Saëns are labeled with Roman numeralslike the front matter of a book—which inevitably suggests that we havent yet reached the real thing.)

It is a more honest method than, for example, Henles treatment of the Mozart Modulating prelude (K. Anh. C 15.11) which gets a new bar number for each system, despite no barlines:
SOURCE:  cropped scan of Mozart:  Klavierstücke (HN 22, ed Ullrich Scheideler, 2006), p. 66.
Glancing through their back catalogue, I see that Henles practice has been inconsistent.  Here is a page of K. 394 in their 1955 edition (no longer in print), and the circled bar numbers correspond with ruled bars rather than with systems:
SOURCE:  scan of p. 40 of Mozart:  Klavierstücke (ed. B. A. Wallner; Henle, 1955)
Incredibly, this same worknewly edited by Mr. Scheidelerappears in the same new volume as the modulating prelude (HN22) with the bar numbers allocated exactly the same way as in 1955, so the new volume itself is insconsistent.  The Neue Mozart-Ausgabe isnt much better in this respect:  K. 394 is treated as above (although the Henle and NMA bar numbers do not correspond); other works in the volume, including the modulating prelude, use the a... b... c... system as in the C. P. E. Bach edition.  For a particularly interesting situation, see the NMAs presentation of K. 284a [NMA IX/27/2, pp. 5–9]; bar (25) is my favorite.

Does any of this really matter?  It depends, of course, on whether a number is merely a milepost or whether it has any substantive meaning relating to the music.  Once you start disconnecting the numbers from the sequence of bars on the page you surely must mean something.  I looked to see what the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe does with those passages in the organ concertos in which they have interpolated Wolfgang Stockmeiersuggestions of how to improvise in response to Handel's instruction ad libitum.  I, for one, don't think such interpolations belong in that sort of scholarly edition, but at least the editors had the good judgment to leave those bars unnumbered (and in small type):  Handel didnt indicate how many bars to play, and neither should the HHA.

SOURCE:  cropped scan of a portion of the second movement Op. 7 no. 4 (HWV 309) as presented in HHA Ser. IV Bd. 8, p. 204
For comparison, heres Handel's autograph for this section:
SOURCE:  page from Handels autograph for HWV 309 (Op. 7 no. 4), mvt. 2; British Library R.M.20.g.12, f. 66r

When I began work on my first editorial projectWaltons Variations on a Theme by Hindemith for the William Walton EditionI remember starting by numbering the bars and assuming that it would be a straightforward task (young and callow as I was).  The anxiety that awaited me!  I wanted to number the bars sequentially across all the variations.  In a way, this was a substantive statement:  it meant essentially the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  But really there was a practical reason for this:  the critical commentary would be much harder to use if you had to keep track not only of the bar number but also of the variation number.  When I set to work, however, I found that Walton had paid no attention to the seams between the variations.  This might be because he would send off a completed variation to his publisher before starting another, but it is just as likely that he didnt care if a complete final bar of one variation was followed by a pick-up bar of the next.  In many musical editions, bar number 1 is the first complete bar rather than the first thing on the pagebut I found I would have to count each of these incomplete tags at the beginnings and ends of variations as full bars if I wanted to have just a single numbering system for the whole piece.  It worked, but I still dont like the look of it.

On the substantive (rather than practical) value of rehearsal marks, the words of Jonathan Del Mar are a useful reminder.  The following disclaimer can be found in the preface to each of the scores of his Bärenreiter editions of Beethoven symphonies (and a similar one for the concertos, etc.):
SOURCE:  cropped scan of p. V of Del Mar's edition of Symphony no. 9 (BA9009)
How orchestras survived for so long without rehearsal marks I cant imagine, and at least those who attempt historically-informed-performance are not bound to historical rehearsal practices.  (The unions would never stand for it.)  I bristle against heavy-handed editing, when the editor goes out of the way to make a mountain out of a molehill.  Herr Josts treatment of the Saint-Saëns strikes me as just that.  Then again, this blog is made entirely out of molehills treated as if they were mountains, so Im one to talk.

01 July 2018

33. Off the deep end

With this twelfth post, it is time to retire my logo for the
My plan (starting in December 2016) was to start each month for a year with a Bach post.  Life got in the way of that, so it has taken me eighteen rather than twelve months to complete.  In any case, this will not be the last Bach post.  As I have already written, the pre-history of this blog was a Bach episode; more than that, as I have been acquiring cheap secondhand copies of the critical reports of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe in the last two years (now 56 and counting), I expect to return to Bach textual issues for years to come.
For this post, though, I want to puzzle over some of Bach's impossible notes.  I dont mean notes that are unplayable (that is, that the technique that is required is truly prodigious, like Schoenbergs claim that he was willing to wait for evolution to produce a violinist with a little finger long enough to play his concerto properly), but rather notes that are beneath the range of the instrument.  For most instruments, its difficult to say there is an upper limit to the range; along comes a player who can top it.

One of these impossible notes has puzzled me for yearsthe low B in b. 94 the Pièce dorgue (a.k.a. Fantasia in G Major), BWV 572.  It is a note which did not exist on the pedalboard of any organ Bach is known to have played.  (Linked here is a great resource about the organs of Bachs milieu, and also access to free recordings of the whole corpus on preserved instruments of Bachs time.)
BWV 572, bb. 8995a; SOURCE:  cropped scan of NBA Ser. IV Bd. 7 (ed. D. Kilian, 1984), p. 133. 
Indeed, that B doesnt exist on any pedalboard I have ever played either.  Apart from some old English organs that might have pedals down to the G below, or French instruments extending down even to F (pedalboards which are, to say the least, rather different animals than those in Germany), you would need something like the Marshall & Ogletree international touring organ made for Cameron Carpenter to play Bachs low B as written.  Carpenters is an instrument that figuratively goes up to eleven (. . . and literally goes down to G).
The extended pedalboard of Marshall & Ogletree Op. 8 (2013); SOURCE: photo cropped from Cameron Carpenter’s website; my highlighting added.
SOURCE:  P 288 Fas. 2 f. 3r; cropped from Bach-Digital
No manuscript of BWV 572 survives in Bach's hand.  Most, but not all, of the early copyists transmit the low B apparently without question.  Johann Peter Kellners copy moves the B up an octave [at right]an emendation to a text that seemed to him manifestly erroneous?  (Kellner is known to have taken liberties with the texts he copied.)  My sense when I play this piece is that some sort of rhythmic articulation is needed in the bassline on the midpoint of that bar, so that I will at least strike the B again (as Kellners copy indicates) if not actually to add another 16 stop in the pedal (to suggest the effect of the lower octave).

The Kellner copyindeed all of the eighteenth-century copies, and Bachs default layout in his organ workstransmits the work on only two staves (rather than the three staves we expect of organ music now).  Often these sources will indicate Ped. at certain points, although the absence of the instruction to play on the pedals need not imply that an organist wouldnt use them.  I am intrigued, though, to see the suggestion in Breitkopf & Härtel’s new edition of the organ works thatdespite the title Pièce dorgue, transmitted in many early sourcesthis music may have been originally intended for the harpsichord, which by Bachs time generally had a compass extending down to the G or F below the bottom C of the organ [p. 18].  The five-part writing is playable with two hands alone (albeit awkwardly at times), butin my hands, anywaybecomes unplayable at about b. 178.

Peter Williams (p. 170) reports the startling fact that this low B is not unique in the texts of Bachs organ works.  It appears, for example, in Kellners copy of the C major transposition of the E Major Toccata, BWV 566and doubtless it is the downward transposition that explains its presence there.  Indeed, Kellner writes the B almost apologetically in parenthesis, and doubled the octave above [below left, for example].  A low B is called for in the manuals in a copy (also Kellners?) of the C major Toccata, BWV 564, where it is the last note in the final cascading figure before the final chord [below right].  In that instance it makes good musical sense; it just cant be playedeven by Cameron Carpenter (unless he took the whole piece up a half-step--a gimmick he has been known to use).

SOURCE:  cropped scans of two pages from D-B Mus.ms. Bach P 286: (L) from Fasc. 3, BWV 566 bb. 209b210a, cropped from Bach-Digital; (R) from Fasc. 5, BWV 564/iii bb. 140-41, cropped from Bach-Digital
What makes the unapologetic presence of an impossible low B in BWV 572 so perplexing is that at two other moments in the same piece Bach ostensibly writes his way around notes that were unavailable to him on the organ.  For example, the climax of the movement is a prolonged march up the pedalboard, both beginning and ending with a deceptive motion from D to E.  The top E was not within the compass of the majority of organs Bach knew.  Is it significant that he deftly avoids it in b. 172?
BWV 572, bb. 157175; SOURCE:  cropped scan of NBA (as above), p. 135; my highlighting added.
Maybe, but not necessarily.  Satisfying as it is to play that long scale up, I find something even more satisfying about the leap down in b. 171:  it suggests that a cadence is imminent (in a way that just another whole note would not), yet once more the resolution is avoidedand the downward leap enables Bach to reach the lowest(?) note of the pedal (b. 175) pretty quickly by means of another scale down.  The overuse of the word awesome has made it trite, but I think this is a passage that deserves the adjective in its truest sense.  Whether or not the high E was available to Bach, he has made a virtue of not calling for it here, and brings the manual tessitura down at precisely the same moment, so that it can expand outward again.

This expansion happens over a long dominant pedalpoint, and again the register change in the pedal appears as if Bach might be avoiding an impossible note:
BWV 572, bb. 176185; SOURCE:  cropped scan of NBA (as above), p. 135; my highlighting added.
Marienkirche in Rötha; SOURCE:  www.blockmrecords.org
Because of the economic use of the so-called short octave, many German instruments in Bachs time lacked the rarely-needed bottom C-sharpand sometimes the D-sharp as well.  (The huge pedal pipes were, after all, the most expensive to build.)  This might explain Bachs leap up an octave in b. 184 . . . or then again it might not, as the octave motion again intensifies the advance of a cadence which is then rudely interrupted.  In any case, the low C-sharp is not thereas, for example, it is not on this 1722 Silbermann pedalboard [at right].  Curiously, though, the earliest known copy of BWV 572a copy made by Bachs cousin Johann Gottfried Waltherhas a low D whole-note throughout b. 184, even though the ensuing C-sharp is thus a dramatic leap up.

Browsing through the sets of performing material for the much-revived early cantata Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21, I note that the various sets of performing material are inconsistent about this sort of problem:  in an early version, a cello and organ are both given a non-existent low B-flat [top row, left and right respectively, the last note in the images]; in a later transposed version, the copyist of the cello part (transposed up) has an erroneous D when C would have been reachable [bottom row, leftthe wrong note is circled]; and a copyist of a basso continuo part (transposed down for Chorton pitch) replaced corresponding non-existent low A-flat up an octave [bottom row, right].
SOURCE: Composite of original parts for BWV 21/viii b. 14 (and context) all in D-B Mus.ms. Bach St 354 (sigla from the NBA Ser. I Bd. 16 critical report  linked to corresponding Bach-Digital image): top left A12; top right A13 (autograph); bottom left A19; bottom right A26
For a bona fide example in which Bach was compelled to devise a creative solution to accommodate a melody that would otherwise go below the range of the instrument consider these two versions of the conclusion of the opening ritornello of the Deposuit from his Magnificat.  In its original version (BWV 243athe Magnificat in E-flat), the unison violins end powerfully on their lowest note, the open G; when the work was revised in a downward transposition to D major (BWV 243), the needed low F-sharp wasnt available, so Bach conceived a dramatic swoop up two octaves in compensation:
SOURCE:  composite of cropped scans from NBA Ser. II Bd. 3 (ed. Alfred Dürr, 1955); top, BWV 243a (p. 46); bottom, BWV 243 (p. 108)
The cantata Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange?, BWV 155, yields a puzzle that would truly flummox us if we lacked contextual evidence.  In the bassoon obbligato for the second movement duet (a movement that always has me thinking that Horace Rumpole is about to enter), at one point Bach reaches down for a low G, fully a minor third below the B-flat that is conventionally the bottom note of the instrument.  Notice herethe very last note of the top staffthat in the autograph score Bach has taken pains to clarify what note he has written, marking it G directly above the note with the three ledger lines:
SOURCE:  f. 2v. of D-B Mus.ms. Bach P 129, the autograph score for BWV 155/ii bb. 3437, cropped from Bach-Digital
You can find references here and there positing a semi-contrabassoon,but that instrument as such is unknown for Bach.  (There is an extant Thuringian contrabassoon dating to 1714, but much of this solo is too high for it.)  Nonetheless, as Bruce Haynes has emphasized, Bach consistently distinguished the Fagotto from the Bassono by key/pitch . . . [with] the latter a m3 lower (p. 139).  The Bassono is thus, if not a semi-contrabassoon, in effect a sub-bassoon. Although the NBA volume for BWV 55 makes no comment at all regarding any of this,  the curious low G in the passage above must be a consequence of that most vexing subject, the difference between Kammerton und Chorton pitch.  It would help, of course, if the original performing parts for this cantata survived to confirm this; in this case they dont, but in another pre-Leipzig cantata, BWV 31, we have woodwinds parts notated a minor third higher than the rest of the ensemble.  (BWV 150 is preserved with a similar transposing bassoon line in a score apparently copied from parts.)  BWV 55 must thus have been conceived for a low-pitch bassoon so that the sounding G (in terms of the rest of the ensemble) would be just its bottom B-flat.  The highest note of the solo, the sounding D (two and half octaves higher), would be then just the high Fhigh but well within the normal playing range of the instrument.  Problem solved.

Or not.  None of this answers the most important question for the player hired for the gig:  How do I play this?  The advice in the NBA regarding BWV 31 seems almost absurdly obvious:  die zu tief liegenden Töne . . . des Fagotts müssen durch Stimmknickung umgangen werden  (p. vi). Roughly you have to get around the bassoon notes that are too low by tampering with [more literally bending] the part.  So we bend the truth just a bit.  My guess is that only the conductor needs to be told that.