Page 22 - Classical Singer magazine 2019 Fall University Issue
P. 22

The Varied and Masterful Songs of C.P.E. Bach
The plot turns on a case of mistaken identity involving the mythical Three Graces and the narrator’s sweetheart, and the language veers between  owery imagery and deadpan sarcasm. The inventiveness of this lengthy text is more than equaled by Bach’s music. Clearly conceived for keyboard
(as opposed to an instrumental ensemble), the cantata  ows from recitative to arioso to metrical aria and back again, responding to every shift in tone with imaginative and original gestures.
Crucial to performing any of these works is sympathy with the texts. Again, the new editions of these songs are indispensable to non-German- speaking singers as they provide complete translations for every song and every verse, both on the PHI website and in o print editions. As the translator of all these poems, I can
attest that there are many great works here.
So can these pieces—charming, moving, and profound— nd
a home in the modern recital program? I am certain that they
can. The longer and more complex secular works are neglected gems and deserve more exposure on concert programs. They would be completely convincing on a modern piano, and the keyboard writing is imaginative and independent enough to provide satisfying challenges to an accompanist.
A set of spiritual songs could
start a recital or be o ered during a worship service, or a song by Bach could be programmed alongside some of Beethoven’s settings of Gellert poetry. Don’t be put o  by the long string of stanzas that many of these songs have! Most will work beautifully with a well chosen subset of verses
and, like all strophic songs, a ord an opportunity to create variety through shifts of dynamics, tone color, and text articulation.
Now that the full body of
C.P.E. Bach’s songs is available to performers, it’s high time that they join the song literature and earn their place as great exemplars of Lied.
Downloads of PDFs and translations available at
P amela Dellal is a Boston-based singer whose career spans four continents and repertoire of eight centuries. S he teaches voice, historical performance, and diction at the Longy School of Music of Bard College and at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. S he is also renowned for her work as translator of the complete sacred works of J.S. Bach and the complete Lieder of C.P.E. Bach.
Bachelor of Music Bachelor of Arts Master of Music Doctor of Musical Arts
Julie Wright-Costa (Voice Area Head)
Robert Breault (Director of Opera)
Kirstin Chávez
Seth Keeton
Carol Ann Allred
Mary Ann Dresher
Paul Dorgan
Je ery Price
Barlow Bradford
(Director of Choral Activities)
Emily Mercado
(Choral Music Education)
at the University of Utah
With outstanding faculty, a supportive learning environment, and state-of-the-art facilities.
22 Classical Singer | September/October 2019

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