Fantasia and fugue in C minor

Fantasia and fugue in C minor

BWV 537 performed by Erwin Wiersinga
Stiftskirche St. Georg, Goslar-Grauhof

  • Menu
  • 1. Fantasia
  • 2. Fugue

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Powerful lamento

A mournful fantasia with a vigorous fugue

The Fantasia that precedes the Fugue in C minor is a lamento pur sang. The rarefied notes floating high up seem to be lamenting some tragic loss or other. The sense of desolation is further reinforced by the dispirited, deep droning of the organ notes in the far distance. The lamento mood does not lessen on the introduction of the second theme, as now the notes start to descend breathlessly still further in pairs. Even after an extensive repetition of the two themes, we are still not done with the misery, as it closes with a question.

 It is hard to imagine a greater contrast with the fugue that follows. Still in mournful mood from the fantasia, you suddenly plunge into an extremely energetic first theme of the fugue. This is powerful music, which is reaffirmed by the second theme. The motto here is Higher! Higher! Louder! Louder! The notes are crammed together more and more by the increasing chromatics, which along with generous help from the pedal gives them the drive of a crowd feverishly searching for the exit. Like a sort of encore, the opening returns almost literally, so that Bach finally appears to choose for vigorous action after all – although he does end in a minor key.

 No autograph of this undated work has survived and the only copy of it was also nearly lost after the death of Bach’s pupil Krebs in 1780, when a big roll of manuscripts was nearly thrown away as old paper. We do not know who saved the piece for posterity, but anyway the energy it displays is a tribute to composition itself.

Fantasia and fugue in C minor
organ works
after 1720

Extra videos

Organist Erwin Wiersinga

“BWV 537 has always been one of my favourites ever since I first played it. It has wonderful, intense harmoniesand it's very lyrical.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    9 September 2016
  • Recording date
    25 August 2015
  • Location
    Stiftskirche St. Georg, Goslar-Grauhof
  • Organist
    Erwin Wiersinga
  • Organ
    Christoph Treutmann, 1731
  • Film director and editor
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Camera
    Maarten van Rossem, Onno van Ameijde
  • Music production, editing and mix
    Holger Schlegel
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh

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