(27) Not only is this an unrealistic expectation, but orchestra members were required to execute their parts exactly as written, according to lexicographer Heinrich Christoph Koch (1802), among others: "The ripienist
should make neither more nor fewer of the smallest note or ornament ...
Of these, the four solo (concertist) parts include all the music for a particular voice range (i.e., solo recitatives and arias as well as the chorales and choruses sung by the entire vocal ensemble) while the remaining four (ripienist
) parts include only the music for the ensemble numbers.
Once the role of the concertist is correctly defined, we can profitably focus our attention on the role of the ripienist
: how many ripienists
did Bach use?
Two or more singers would read from each part: a concertist, or principal singer, and at least one so-called ripienist
in support.(15) While the concertists sang throughout, the ripienists
would have joined in only intermittently, with `tutti' and `solo' serving as their cues to sing or fall silent.
The setting of Lauda Jerusalem (Psalm 147) is similarly rich in inventive counterpoint and dramatic textural contrast between verses set for solo voice and full four-part choir (CATB) with ripienists
, five-part string ensemble, and bassoon.
To `explain away' certain evidence central to Rifkin's thesis that concertists did not share their copies with ripienists
`simply takes one too far beyond the bounds of reasonable scholarship', as John Butt correctly observes.(15) Nonetheless, Koopman insists that the iconographical sources tell a different story: `It can be proved that scores [i.e.
As I have suggested before, much of Bach's choral music could be considered to work more in the tradition of the Italian/German sacred concerto than in that of the German motet, for which multiple voices were more the norm.(13) The concerto tradition, as most famously expounded for a German audience by Michael Praetorius, is fundamentally a soloistic genre to which doubling voices can sometimes be added, yet these ripienists
never constitute a fundamental group in their own right.
Perhaps this was, however, to be expected: since the concertos are ideally to be performed by several instruments on each part, it is the less experienced (the "ripienists
") rather than the more experienced (the principal players) who define the overall level.
For each voice type, concertists (whom Parrott correctly compared with section leaders in an orchestra) and ripienists
(tutti singers) are required.
The first, marked brevius, is stylistically similar to the Vesper psalms with alternation of soloists and ripienists
. The second, marked longius, is composed in early eighteenth-century cantata style with choral sections (marked solo or ripieno) that alternate with recitatives ("Quia respexit" and "Esurientes") and arias for solo voices.
Because of their distinct execution, [the French] make better ripienists
in an orchestra than the Italians.