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
Bach cantata recordings.
Grischkat conducts Magnificat (J.S. Bach) on the German OPERA label,
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 Records.
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
Cantata No. 201 (Phoebe and Pan);
Cantata No. 205 (Der zufriedengestellte Aelus - Aeolus appeased);
Missa Brevis No. 1 (S 233);
Sanctus No. 1 (S 237);
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, and Hans Grischkat
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.
Cosi fan tutte.
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 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 death.
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 he was going to offer the 4 LP set on Remington
for only $5.95 plus $ 1 for the libretto. The deal 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
Schilling (soprano), Ruth Michaelis (contralto), Werner Hohmann
(baritone), Bruno Mueller (bass), The Stuttgart Choral Society,
the Swabian (Suebian) Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hans Grischkat.
Cover by Curt John Witt.
dead wax shows the Period plate numbers (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
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.
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 attendaanjce 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
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 and Oratorios.
Müller, Bass was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has
appeared in oratorio festivals in Stuttgart, Brussels, Cologne,
Frankfurt, Oslo, Basel, Berlin, Leipzig and Paris.
Soloists: Andrea Steffen-Wendling, Violin Solo; Adolf Kassa,
Trumpet Solo; Hans Sperling and Fritz Pfeifer, oboe; Eva Hölderlin,
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
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 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.
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:
Herze der ewigen Liebe + Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt - Nixa
ist das Heil nun kommen wird + Lobe den Herrn, den mächtigen König
der Ehren - PLP237
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
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.
on Nixa PLP 201 in England - On the continent both the Nixa
issue and Remington 118/4 were available for a short period.
Hans Grischkat soon received tough competition from Hermann Scherchen,
Ferdinand Grossmann, and Felix Prohaska.
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. Singers
are 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. He 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 meaning 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.
Text and research,
Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published on July 20, 2011.