FRIEDRICH WILHELM ZACHOW'S THIRTY-THREE EXTANT CHURCH CANTATAS: AN EXAMINATION OF PITCH STANDARD ISSUES, CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA SIZE, AND CONTINUO GROUP CONSTITUTION
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Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (1663-1712), born a generation before Bach and Handel, wrote over 120 church cantatas and several Lutheran Masses for the Marienkirche in Halle. Among them, only thirty-four cantatas and one Lutheran Mass are extant. This essay focuses on four aspects of their performance practice: pitch standard issues, choir size, orchestra size, and continuo group constitution. When exploring Zachow's surviving cantatas, a discrepancy is evident in regards to consistency in pitch standard. For most of the cantatas, all the vocal and instrumental parts share a single pitch standard. However, in a quarter of the cantatas, woodwind instruments are notated a minor third higher than the key of the organ, whereas the strings and the voices are notated either in the key of the woodwinds or that of the organ. Moreover, the continuo parts in two extant cantatas (TV 18 and 19) share the same key with French woodwind instruments in tief-Cammerton. In order to understand these issues, the prevailing pitch standards of Zachow's time are explored and discussed. The pitch relationship of the instruments mentioned in Zachow's surviving cantata manuscripts are also examined and compared with the practices of other contemporary composers. Considering the size of Zachow's cantata choir, no extant documentary evidence has been found other than the surviving cantata parts. The majority of the cantata manuscripts contain only one set of vocal parts, though a quarter of the extant cantatas contain two sets of vocal parts, one for a group of main singers and the other for another group of secondary singers. A focused study of these parts, and comparison with the practices of other contemporary composers, will guide us to deduce the size of Zachow's cantata choir. By contrast, additional documentary evidence exists concerning the size of Zachow's cantata orchestra: until the beginning of the eighteenth century, the city of Halle kept on its payroll five Stadtpfeifer (town pipers) and three Kunstgeiger (string players), who likely have played at Zachow's cantata peformances. Since all of the extant cantata manuscripts contain just a single part for each instrument, Zachow's cantata orchestra was a one-player-per-part ensemble. The extant cantata oevure shows that Zachow's continuo group was flexible in its constitution. The majority of Zachow's extant cantata manuscripts contain a single figured organ part in Chorton, whereas one-third of the cantata manuscripts contain two identically figured continuo part in Chorton, one of which bears the title organo and the other, simply, “Continuo.” Zachow utilized chordal instruments like organ and harpsichord in these “Continuo” parts. Unlike other cantata composers at that time, Zachow did not have the lute or theorbo in his continuo team: instead, the harp would have functioned as the supplementary chordal instrument in some of his cantatas. Zachow's use of bass wind or string instruments in his continuo team is distinctive from that of a typical middle eighteenth century continuo group. The majortity of Zachow's extant cantata manuscipts include a fagotto or basson part as the instrumental bass, whereas only five surviving cantatas (TV 4, 9,16, 21, and 29) employ a string bass part (violoncello, violono, violone, and violoncino). Zachow normally used a bassoon, instead of a violone or cello, to support his string ensemble.