X35 with Cantatas Nos. 51 and 189.
Long Playing Microgroove label.
Grischkat in the 1970s. Image taken from a record cover of one of his recordings.
Grischkat conducts Magnificat (J.S. Bach) on the German OPERA label, Reference
the LP was in its infancy a lot of pioneers tried their luck. Many label names
came into existence but not all survived the mono era to make the transition to
the stereo format. Many ceased to exist or their catalogs were sold to other record
companies. In the record business there was a lot of wheeling and dealing going
on, not necessarily in the pejorative sense.
was a label of Period Music Co., which held office at 884, 10th Avenue, New York
19. Renaissance specialized in recordings of old music like a few other labels
did: Bach Guild (sub label of Vanguard Recording Society); Bach Society; Handel
Society (sub label of Concert Hall Society); Haydn Society; and later Baroque
was the main label of Period Music Co. On Period René Leibowitz conducted
modern music; cellist Janos Starker played Sonatas accompanied by pianist Abba
Bogin, Inez Matthews sang Songs (Lieder) by Schubert and Beethoven, and spirituals.
Later pianist Istvan Nadas made his debut on Period playing stylish Beethoven
Sonatas. And there was jazzman Charlie Shavers on Period.
June 1952 the advertisement of Period in Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog lists
the following Renaissance LP recordings of works by J.S. Bach:
Cantata No. 201 (Phoebe and Pan);
Cantata No. 205 (Der zufriedengestellte
Aelus - Aeolus appeased);
Missa Brevis No. 1 (S 233);
Sanctus No. 1 (S
Missa Brevis No. II (S 234);
Sanctus No. 2 (S 238).
discs have references X 42, X 43, X 44, and X 45 respectively. These choral works
are all performed by various soloists, the Swabian Choral Singers, The Tonstudio
Orchestra of Stuttgart, Hans Grischkat conducting.
is the practical indication used in the USA for the numbering of the works of
J.S. Bach devised by Wolfgang Schmieder, indicated in Europe as "BWV"
(Bach Werke Verzeichnis).
Wolfgang Schmieder (1901-1999) was a German musicologist
who, after his graduation became an archivist at Breitkopf & Härtel Publishers
in 1927. In 1942 he took up the post of "Bibliotheksrat" (Library Manager)
of the city of Frankfurt a.d. Main. The "Bach Werke Verzeichnis" (BWV
catalog) was published in the Bach year 1950, the 200th Anniversary of Bach's
same 1952 advertisement announces the release of a 3-12" LP set of Mozart's
Cosi Fan Tutte on Period SPL 555. That is the recording with Erna Hassler (soprano),
Hetty Plümacher (contralto), Käthe Nentwig (soprano), Albert Weikenmeier
(tenor), Karl Hoppe (baritone) and Joseph Dunnwald conducting that same Stuttgart
Tonstudio Orchestra. See
Cosi fan tutte.
May 1952, the 4-12" LP set of Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248/S248)
performed under conductor Hans Grischkat is listed for the first time in Schwann
Long Playing Record Catalog as Renaissance X 201. The recording was probably made
in 1951 or even earlier. The price for this edition was $23.80, plus libretto.
Quite expensive for a specialist's recording and most certainly not a bestseller.
months later, in November of that year, it was announced that Don Gabor had bought
the Christmas Oratorio recording with Grischkat from the Period people and initially
he was going to offer the 4 LP set on Remington for only $5.95 plus $ 1 for the
libretto. But soon the price went up to $ 11.96 as listed in the 1953 Remington
catalog issued in the Winter season 1952-1953.
deal with Period (Renaissance) meant that Remington Records obtained the original
Renaissance plates as well. From these plates the Remington records were pressed,
be it on Websterlite, the special vinyl mix Don Gabor had devised to keep the
cost of record production low.
Schilling (soprano), Ruth Michaelis (contralto), Werner Hohmann (baritone), Bruno
Mueller (bass), The Stuttgart Choral Society, the Swabian (Suebian) Symphony Orchestra,
conducted by Hans Grischkat.
Remington R-199-118/4.Cover by Curt John Witt.
dead wax shows the Period plate number (X 20).
oratorio (consisting of six cantatas) performed by a renown interpreter of Bach's
music, was obviously a nice addition to the Remington catalog. Collectors who
would buy cantatas issued on the Renaissance label or whatever label that offered
Bach's choral music, could now acquire the inexpensive, complete Christmas oratorio
from Remington, or they could buy the newly released, expensive recording by Vladimir
Grossman on Vox, which was officially listed in the January 1953 Schwann catalog.
Period and Gabor must have known about the upcoming release on VOX. So Remington
could present itself again as the budget label with "Music for Millions"
and ranked itself at the same time in the same league, more or less, of these
more expensive labels. That was a clever move.
liner notes glued on the inside of the front of the box say:
the Conductor, has assumed as his life work the study and performance of the church
cantatas and other choral works of Bach. Conductor of the Suebian Symphony and
the various "Singkreise" in Reutlingen and Stuttgart, he is also Professor
of Choral Conducting at the State Conservatory of Music, Stuttgart.
Choral Society is a handpicked group of the best singers from the local "Singkreise"
or singing circles. Attendance at weekly rehearsals, and at the community sing
symposium, which is conducted for two weeks every summer, is mandatory. The highest
standards of admission requirements and stringent regulations concerning attendance
at rehearsals make it possible to acquire the precision demanded by baroque music.
Suebian Symphony Orchestra, Oboe Choir (two oboi da caccia, two oboi d'amore),
two corni da caccia, bassoon, violone continuo three D-trumpets.
Michaelis, Contralto is a resident of Munich and member of the Bavarian State
Opera. She has appeared on every German operatic stage, in roles ranging from
Monteverdi to Richard Strauss. She has appeared at the Salzburg Festivals and
has sung all of the alto cantatas of Bach in concert.
Schilling, Soprano has appeared as soloist in oratorio performances under
the world-famous conductor Hermann Abendroth, as well as at the Stuttgart, Cologne
and Leipzig Gewandhaus Bach Festivals.
Hohmann, Tenor has concertised in Germany and France. He specialized in the
study and the performance of various Evangelist Tenor roles in the Bach Passions
Müller, Bass was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has appeared in oratorio
festivals in Stuttgart, Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Oslo, Basel, Berlin, Leipzig
Soloists: Andrea Steffen-Wendling, Violin Solo; Adolf Kassa, Trumpet Solo;
Hans Sperling and Fritz Pfeifer, oboe; Eva Hölderlin, organ continuo.
editor Alec Robertson reviewed this performance, issued in Great Britain on the
Nixa label, in 'The Gramophone' of August 1952. The following paragraphs are taken
from that review.
performance, as a whole, shows every evidence of loving preparation and care and
it is only occasionally that it seems to fall short. Thus, there is a sense of
haste in the cradle-song that robs it of its tenderness; but in the beautiful
quiet singing of "Keep, 0 my spirit" in Part III, Ruth Michaelis shows
what she might have done with the earlier aria, and the orchestra here at once
establishes the proper atmosphere. Schweitzer's great authority can be quoted
for the heavily stressed playing of the "angelic" opening theme in the
Pastoral Symphony, and this is usually done; but the effect is much more, it seems
to me, in accordance with Bach's intentions if the lovely melody is allowed to
float along, except where it is required to break out joyfully. (...)
the singers phrase most artistically and Werner Hohmann, the narrator and singer
of the tenor arias, has remarkable breath control. Bruno Muller, the bass, is
admirable in his duets with the sopranos but in his first aria in Part I (No.
8) he breaks out into a rush of aspirates that only an Italian tenor would envy.
The one thing in the excellent orchestral playing, and sometimes in the equally
excellent choral singing, that I feel inclined to criticise is too much use of
staccato, so that the music falls into a metronomic jog-trot rhythm that can be
a danger in Bach. (...)
recording, by and large, is good (though not free of pitch waver in some places),
and we certainly hear most clearly the carefully worked out and most interesting
schemes of Bach's orchestration. - Alec Robertson
before the eminent Gustav Leonhardt and the daring Nikolaus Harnoncourt started
dusting off the scores of Johann Sebastian Bach and brought us a pure and sober
and also original setting for the performances of the many compositions of Johann
Sebastian Bach, it was Hans Grischkat who dedicated himself to the noble practice
of performing the Choral Works true to the score as it possibly can be. Already
in the 1920s - when he was in his twenties himself - Grischkat made name by performing
Bach Cantatas in a style far from the dramatic and romantic approach of so many
a conductor in those days. After World War Two Grischkat became the prominent
researcher and knowledgeable interpreter of many a Bach-score.
disc with highlights was issued in the Remington Musirama series on R-199-155.
European musicologists and record collectors were well aware of the significance
of Grischkat's practice as he could be found on the Nixa label (Great Britain),
Contrepoint (France), Opera (Germany), and VOX. The Period recordings were issued
on the Nixa label in Europe. The recordings released in the USA on the Renaissance
label may well have been those that were issued in France on Contrepoint.
They are all from the early nineteenfifties.
selection of recordings by Hans Grischkat and the Schwäbische Singkreis made
in the early 1950s and that were available in Europe:
on Nixa PLP 201 in England - On the European continent both the Nixa issue
and Remington 118/4 were available for a short period.
Herze der ewigen Liebe + Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt - Nixa PLP 236
ist das Heil nun kommen wird + Lobe den Herrn, den mächtigen König der Ehren -
Gott in allen Landen + Meine Seele rühmt und preist - PLP 235
zufrieden gestellte Aeolus - PLP 243
Brevis in g + Sanctus in d - Contrepoint MC 20059
Brevis in G + Sanctus is G - Contrepoint MC 20025
Messe - Vox PL 8063 3x12" - Margot Guillaume, Hetty
Plümacher, Werner Hohmann, Horst Günter, The
Pro Musica Orchestra Stuttgart, Hans Grischkat
|Vox PL 8063
was also issued in Great Britain in a gatefold album containing the three discs.
Instead of supplying liner notes with information about the work and the artists,
listeners were advised to buy a booklet from the Oxford University Press about
Bach's B Minor Mass.|
was of course not only the works of J.S. Bach that he performed. A noteworthy
recording was availble on Renaissance X 49 of St. Matthew Passion by Heinrich
Schütz performed by the Stuttgart Choral Society. Singers were Claus Stemann
(tenor), Margot Mangold (mezzo-soprano), Georg Jelden (tenor) and Bruno Müller
(bass), recorded in the
Palace Chapel (Schlosskapelle)
in Ludwigsburg Germany. Renaissance X 49 was released in the Winter of 1952.
DeMotte writes in
The Long Playing Record
Guide about this recording:
It is difficult to realize that music of such emotional power and depth as this
was composed before the birth of Bach. Grischkat leads his choir and soloists
in a moving performance, well recorded.
recording was later issued on Dover HCR-5242, in mono of course. A later issue
on CD mentions 1957 as date of copyright while it actually should be 1952.
interesting recording is 'Historia der Auferstehung Jesu Christi' (Easter Oratorio)
also composed by Heinrich Schütz and performed by the Schwabischer Singkreis
conducted by Hans Grischkat. Performers were Hans Ulrich Mielsch, Reinhold Bartel,
Erich Wenk (Jesus), Herrad Wehrung, Edith Schadt, Nargarete Witte-Waldbauer, Martin
Hermann, Ulrich Schaible, Anne Maria Weinmann, Theophil Maier, August Mesthaler.
Below the cover of the mono release, Vox DL 970.
conducted many a performance in the Stiftskirche in Stuttgart and for his recording
of the B minor Mass (H-Moll Messe) he received the "Grand prix du disque"
in 1960. This was a later recording issued on the VOX label, again with the "Schwäbische
Singkreis", and now with the Orchestra of the 35th German Bach Festival.
Friederike Sailer (soprano), Margaret Bence (contralto), Fritz Wunderlich (tenor),
Erich Wenk (bass), and the Swabian Chorale. Instrumental soloists are Susi (Susanne)
Lautenbacher (vioin), Karl Strobel (flute), Friedrich Milde (oboe), Karl Arnold
(horn), Siegfried Hopf (English horn), Walter Gleisle (trumpet). Eva Hölderlin
played the organ, Herbert Schaeffer the cello, and Georg Hörtnagel played
double bass. Vox Mono VBX7, Stereo STPL511283 and SVBX 57.
was not all. Grischkat continued to make recordings and he continued his research
and studied extensively the Cantatas and prepared the publication of the scores
for professionals, and he even took care of the publications in the pocket book
format accessible for the layman as well. His performances have nothing of the
dry, ascetic practice one sometimes encounters in the modern performances of a
few conductors of today. That is why many critics noted and appreciated the precise,
yet very lively performances led by Hans Grischkat.
the Remington catalog is missing the Grischkat Concerteum recording CR 321 - CR
Remington on Concerteum
- of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater. However that recording was issued in the USA by
the Period label, Reference 530.
Grischkat whose full name was Hans Adolf Karl Willy Grischkat, was born on August
29, 1903, in Hamburg, Germany. He died in Suttgart, the town he lived his prosperous
life in, on January 10, 1977.
and research, Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published on July 20, 2011.