From Leipzig town records, 1723: Dr. Platz, Ratsherr of Leipzig said: "Da man die besten (Telemann, Fasch, Graupner) nicht bekommen konnte, müsse man den mittleren (Bach) nehmen."

"Because we could not get the best, we have to take the mediocre."
Fate, however, agreed with the Bürgermeister, who then remarked that if it was possible to get Bach, they should forget about Telemann.

Much as current fashion in Baroque HIP (Historically informed Performance) is to talk about emphasising rhetoric in the text, the humour, anguish and a myriad of other emotional affects are often overlooked in favour of an insipid sweet-tempered sonority suitable for tea parties.


the eternity of suffering in hell ...whilst sipping Darjeeling

The main message in Cantata 20 is the eternity of suffering in hell for ones sins and a call to better oneself before death. Would an apt musical treatment for a devout composer be to depict the contentment of eating a nice scone whilst sipping Darjeeling?


The aria, “Wach auf, wach auf” would be an excellent example of rhetorical setting: amidst an insistent and uncomfortable call (often using the “out of tune” 11th & 13th harmonics of the natural trumpet) for people to reform before facing judgement, the text cites “Frighten from the tomb”. At the word “Schrecken” (frighten), the trumpet part contains a non-harmonic note that Bach knew cannot be played sweetly, immediately parodied in the solo Bass’s awkward melodic leap.

In this performance, we intend to follow the text-rhetoric of the cantatas, warts and all. We will also explore the possibilities of “just” intonation, accompanied by a “1/6th comma” temperament.

Temperament is currently a hot topic in HIP. Since the recent re-introduction of “real” natural trumpets, which have limited-but-pure tuning, muscians playing more adjustable instruments have been referring again to the work of 18th century authors such as Prelleur, Leopold Mozart and Tosi, better to understand their ideals of resonance.

Mike Diprose
May 2008



J.F. Fasch

“Sanftes Brausen, süsses Sausen“ FWV D:S2

Chr. Graupner
Concerto in G, GWV 333  for flauto d'amore, oboe d'amore, viola d'amore, fagot, strijkers en continuoJ. S. Bach

JS Bach

“O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort“ BWV 20

Sat 24th & Sun 25 May 2008


This was the first project I directed with De Swaen after their kind, unsolicited invitation to do so. Bruce Haynes was in the audience at the concert in Amsterdam. What an honour!