Sheep may safely graze
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Instrument: Percussion Quartet
Duration: 5 min.
Arranged by Michiko Noguchi
Performing Artists: Tatsuo Sasaki, Shino Machida, Makino Takahashi & Miwa Akuzawa
Movement 9 from the ‘Hunting Cantata’ (BWV208), the earliest of Bach’s surviving secular cantatas. It is thought that Bach’s employer, William Ernest, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar ordered the poet Salomon Franck to write the text, and Bach to compose the music for this cantata to be given to the Duke’s friend Christian, the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels. As a tribute to Duke Christian, a great lover of hunting, the characters who appear in the cantata are Diana (soprano), the goddess of the hunt, her lover Pan, the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, and Pales, another deity of shepherds, flocks and livestock. Bach skilfully uses horns and recorders in the orchestration to evoke a rustic, pastoral scene.
All Bach repertoire was arranged for the purpose of recording the CD "Back to Bach" which was released in November 2017 in Tokyo.
The repertoire performed by marimba players today are mostly modern original pieces. However it is very important to get to know classical music, especially that of Bach. It is my wish to to make marimba ensemble more popular and provide music which is not too difficult technically, yet contains high artistic quality. This was my motivation to release this Bach series, Music,and CD. The title "Back to Bach" reflects this wish, and repertoire on the CD was performed by world renowned marimba performers.♪ iTunes :http://qq1q.biz/JT5D
Note: Players have option to play most the pieces on two marimbas, 5 octave and 4 octave.
This quartet can be played on two marimbas: Mar. 1 on 4.0 Octave Marimba & Mar. 2-4 on 5.0 Octave Marimba.
About the composer +
Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and over three hundred cantatas of which around two hundred survive. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.
Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.
Review (Percussive Notes, June 2020)
Michiko Noguchi’s arrangement of “Sheep may safely graze” from Bach’s “Hunting Cantata” feels like a quaint little postcard from the marimba orchestras of yesteryear. This arrangement appears to be geared towards younger performers, with only one part requiring more than two mallets (and then, only in the service of blocked three-note chords). However, there is a danger to handing the piece over to students, as there are a number of performance challenges with which to contend. There are a few Baroque-style ornaments that the arranger has chosen to retain, which will require an extra dose of practice for younger ensembles. The solo voice, while given to the nominal first part, is neither the highest nor most active part, and great care will need to be taken to ensure that it does not get lost amidst the active flourishes of the rest of the ensemble. The arranger’s instruction that the highest accompanimental performer use “hard rubber mallets with light touches,” while understandable given the range of the part, nonetheless makes it somewhat difficult to ensure that the solo voice,presented an octave lower and with soft mallets, is clearly heard. It is by no means impossible to achieve the desired balance, and performers will have a wonderful opportunity to develop their chamber music sensitivity in the process, but the obstacle may prove prohibitive for some middle- school or high school ensembles.
Although the unostentatious treatment is intended for keyboard quartet (with three players sharing one 5-octave marimba and the fourth taking a featured role on a separate instrument, which can be either a marimba or vibraphone), one could easily envision doubling the parts of this 4½-minute aria in the vein of Clair Omar Musser’s historic ensembles. My opinion is that the piece would be best presented in the marimba orchestra fashion, rather than as a quartet, which would allow the full scope of Bach’s cantata to be more evident. Either way, the arrangement is a fun change of pace from most keyboard quartets, and it would be a nice addition to a school program.
Front Cover graphics and layout: Ronni Kot Wenzell
Engraving: Michiko Noguchi
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copyright © 2018 Michiko Noguchi