BACH, J.S.: Das Orgelbuchlein, Vol. 2 (USA RMC Classical Music/ Wolfgang Rubsam) (Naxos: 8.553032)
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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Orgelb??chlein / The Little Organ Book Volume II
Fantasia in C Minor, BWV 562
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, BWV 618
Christe, du Lamm Gottes, BWV 619
Christus, der uns selig macht, BWV 620
Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund', BWV 621
O Mensch, bewein' dein' S??nde gro?ƒ, BWV 622
Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ, da?ƒ du f??r uns gestorbenbist,
Hilf, Gott, da?ƒ mir's gelinge, BWV 624
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der den Tod ??berwand, BWV 626br>
Christ ist erstanden, BWV 627 Versus 1-3
Erstanden ist der heil'ge Christ, BWV 628
Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag, BWV 629
Heut' triumphieret Gottes sohn, BWV 630
Komm, Gott schopfer, heiliger Geist, BWV 631
Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend', BWV 632
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 633
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 634
Dies sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot, BWV 635
Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV 636
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, BWV 637
Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, BWV 638
Ich rut' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
In dich hab' ich gehoffet, Herr, BWV 640
Wenn wir in hochsten Noten sein, BWV 641
Wer nur den lieben Gott la?ƒt walten, BWV 642
Alle Menschen mussen sterben, BWV 643
Ach wie nichtig, ach wie fl??chtig, BWV 644
Prelude and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 539
Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a family that had forgenerations been occupied in music. His sons were to continue the tradition, providing thefoundation of a new style of music that prevailed in the later part of the eighteenthcentury. Johann Sebastian Bach himself represented the end of an age, the culmination ofthe Baroque in a magnificent synthesis of Italian melodic invention, French rhythmic danceforms and German contrapuntal mastery.
Born in Eisenach in 1685, Bach was educated largely by hiseldest brother, after the early death of his parents. At the age of eighteen he embarkedon his career as a musician, serving first as a court musician at Weimar, beforeappointment as organist at Arnstadt. Four years later he moved to M??hlhausen as organistand the following year became organist and chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst ofWeimar. Securing his release with difficulty, in 1717 he was appointed Kapellmeister toPrince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen and remained at Cothen until 1723, when he moved toLeipzig as Cantor at the School of St. Thomas, with responsibility for the music of thefive principal city churches. Bach was to remain in Leipzig until his death in 1750.
As a craftsman obliged to fulfil the terms of his employment,Bach provided music suited to his various appointments. It was natural that his earlierwork as an organist and something of an expert on the construction of organs, shouldresult in music for that instrument. At Cothen, where the Pietist leanings of the courtmade church music unnecessary, he provided a quantity of instrumental music for the courtorchestra and its players. In Leipzig he began by composing series of cantatas for thechurch year, later turning his attention to instrumental music for the Collegium musicum of the University, and to the collection andordering of his own compositions.
The Orgelb??chlein orLittle Organ Book includes chorale preludes for the church year and written during Bach'stime at Weimar and, in part, during the subsequent period he spent at Cothen. Eachprelude provides a musical meditation on the theme of the chorale on which it is based.
The later chorale preludes in the collection are for the seasons of Passiontide, Easterand Pentecost, with an additional ten preludes that provide a parallel, in number atleast, to the ten commandments. Bach's Fantasia in Cminor, BWV 562, written, it is thought, at Weimar, and here providing anintroduction to the second part of the Orgelb??chlein, opensmajestically over a tonic pedal. The first chorale prelude, O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig (O Lamb of God, guiltless)offers a canon at the fifth, the melody appearing first in the bass, to be imitated in thealto. Christe, du Lamm Gottes (Christ, Lambof God) opens with an accompanying canonic texture, before the chorale is introduced in acanon at the twelfth between an inner part and the upper voice. Christus, der uns selig macht (Christ, who makes us blessed) again offers a canon, thepedals entering in imitation of the upper part. DaJesus an dem Kreuze stund' (When on the cross Jesus hung) is followed by O Mensch, bewein' dein' S??nde gro?ƒ (O man, bewailyour great sins), which offers a considerable elaboration of the chorale melody. The nextprelude, Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ, da?ƒ du t??runs gestorben bist (We thank you, Jesus Christ, that you died for us) retainsthe melodic line relatively unmodified and the final prelude of the group, Hilf Gott, da?ƒ mir's gelinge (Help, God, that I mayachieve) is a canon at the fifth between the upper parts, with a semiquaver triplet innerpart against a slower moving bass line.
Empty pages left for missing chorale preludes are followed bythe Easter Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christlay in the bonds of death). Jesus Christus, unserHeiland (Jesus Christ, our Saviour) is in triple metre, to be followed by Christ ist erstanden (Christ is risen), its threeverses variously treated. Erstanden ist der heil'geChrist (Risen is the holy Christ), accompanies the chorale melody with apredominantly rising melodic line, while Erschienen istder herrliche Tag (Now appears the glorious day) is a canon two octaves apart between the top and bottom parts, withthe beginning of a canon at the unison in the inner parts. Heut' triumphieret Gottes Sohn (Today triumphs theSon of God) ends the celebration of Easter.
Further empty pages are left in the autograph for otherchorales, with those for Pentecost starting with Komm,Gott Schopter, heiliger Geist (Come, God, Creator, Holy Ghost), the familiar Veni Creator melody in the upper part, with a triplerhythm inner part accompaniment. More empty pages lead to Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend' (Lord JesusChrist, turn to us) presents the chorale melody in dotted rhythm and Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (Dear Jesus, we arehere) has a canonic imitation of the melody a fourth below, in the alto part. A secondversion of the same chorale, again with the same canon, is less elaborate in form. Emptypages suggest the omission of nine chorales.
The last section of the Orgelb??chleinopens with a prelude on Dies sind dieheil'gen zehn Gebot (These are the holy ten commandments), its simple melodyprefigured in diminution in the pedals, imitated in the tenor part. Further blank pagesfor three missing chorales lead to a chorale version of the Lord's prayer, Vater unser im Himmelreich (Our Father in Heaven),the inner parts, as so often, in elaborate imitation of each other. Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt (Through Adam'sfall is all destroyed) illustrates the fall of man in the descending intervals of aseventh in the pedal part. It is fo