BACH, J.S.: Great Organ Works
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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Toccataand Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
Fugue in G minor, BWV 578
Prelude and Fugue in E flat major, BWV 552 "StAnne"
Jesu bleibet meine Freude, BWV 147 (Jesu,Joy of Man's Desiring)
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV564
Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582
Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of afamily that had for generations been occupied in music. His sons were tocontinue the tradition, providing the foundation of a new style of music thatprevailed in the later part of the eighteenth century. Johann Sebastian Bachhimself represented the end of an age, the culmination of the Baroque in amagnificent synthesis of Italian melodic invention, French rhythmic dance formsand German contrapuntal mastery.
Born in Eisenach in 1685, Bach waseducated largely by his eldest brother, after the early death of his parents.
At the age of eighteen he embarked on his career as a musician, serving firstas a court musician at Weimar, before appointment as organist at Arnstadt. Fouryears later he moved to M??hlhausen as organist and the following year becameorganist and chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar. Securing hisrelease with difficulty, in 1717 he was appointed Kapellmeister to PrinceLeopold of Anhalt-Cothen and remained at Cothen until l723, when he moved toLeipzig as Cantor at the School of St. Thomas, with responsibility for themusic of the five principal city churches. Bach was to remain in Leipzig untilhis death in 1750.
As a craftsman obliged to fulfil theterms of his employment, Bach provided music suited to his variousappointments. It was natural that his earlier work as an organist and somethingof an expert on the construction of organs, should result in music for thatinstrument. At Cothen, where the Pietist leanings of the court made churchmusic unnecessary, he provided a quantity of instrumental music for the courtorchestra and its players. In Leipzig he began by composing series of cantatasfor the church year, later turning his attention to instrumental music for the Collegiummusicum of the University, and to the collection and ordering of his owncompositions.
Leipzig Clavier??bung, of which the thirdvolume appeared in 1739, opens with an impressive and majestic Prelude in Eflat, and the whole collection ends with a fugue in the same key, known tothe English as the St. Anne Fugue because of the similarity of thesubject to a well-known Anglican hymn-tune of that name.
The famous D minor Toccata and Fugue isan early work, probably written while Bach was organist at Arnstadt or atM??hlhausen, that is in 1706 or 1707, before he moved to Weimar. The Fugue inG minor, BWV 578, is thought to have been written before 1707. Itsfive-bar subject is stated first by the soprano, followed by the other threevoices in descending order. Sequential episodes lead to partial and completeentries of the subject, as the fugue goes forward. A cantata provides themovement Jesu bleibet meine Freude known in English as Jesu, joy ofMan's Desiring.
The C major Toccata, Adagio and Fugue,striking not least in the distinctive nature of the three sections intowhich it falls, is in form the counterpart of the three movement Italianconcerto of the period. The work opens with a brilliant improvisatory prelude,display on the manuals followed by a passage for pedal solo, before moreelaborate counterpoint involving manuals and pedals. There follows an Adagioaria, slowing in a concluding recitative, before a capricious fuguesubject, interrupted by abrupt rests, a characteristic that naturally recurs,as the four parts enter, in descending order.
Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (Icall on you, Lord Jesus Christ) accompanies the chorale of the title with apedal part of repeated quavers and a middle part of running semiquavers.
The Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor,BWV 582, a monumental work, is thought to belong to the period beforeWeimar. The fugue is preceded by a passacaglia, a major example of the Baroquedance-variation form. The passacaglia theme, perhaps borrowed from a Mass byAndre Raison, is heard first on the pedals, to be followed by twentyvariations.
A native of Germany, Wolfgang R??bsamreceived his musical training in Europe from Erich Ackermann, Helmut Walcha andMarie-Claire Alain and in the United States from Robert T. Anderson. Livingtoday in the Chicago area, he has held a professorship at NorthwesternUniversity since 1974, and since 1981 has served as University Organist at theUniversity of Chicago. International recognition was established in 1973 whenhe won the Grand Prix de Chartres, Interpretation, and has grown through hisrecording career, with over eighty recordings, many of which have receivedawards. Wolfgang R??bsam performs frequently in major international festivalsand concert halls, including the Los Angeles Bach Festival; Wiener Festwochen,Vienna; Lahti International Organ Festival, Finland; Royal Festival Hall,London; Alice Tully Hall, New York, and conducts master classes both ininterpretation of early and romantic organ repertoire, and in interpreting thekeyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach on the modern piano.
The Hungarian organist Bertalan Hock wasborn in Budapest in 1953 and studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest andsubsequently at the Liszt Academy of Music in Weimar. Since 1976 he has servedas organist of the Matthias Church in Buda, where he supervised thereconstruction of the organ. Bertalan Hock has a repertoire ranging from Bachto the contemporary and has given concerts abroad in addition to his concertappearances and recordings in Hungary. These last include a number of discs forHungaroton, including recitals on the Matthias Church Rieger organ.