Nun danket alle Gott
BWV 657 performed by Peter Kofler
Behind the music
A meticulous heir
Bach has perfect command of the old masters’ techniques.
Towards the end of his life, Bach might have felt out on a limb, musically speaking. While his sons explored new stylistic paths, father Sebastian could go no further. He took the Baroque to its extreme. As the ultimate Baroque composer, he drew on a centuries-long heritage, going from Renaissance composers who started writing polyphonic music according to a sophisticated system, through the organ schools of Sweelinck, Buxtehude and others, to the most up-to-date influences from Germany and much further afield. There was no style that Bach had not embraced in one way or another.
This more traditional chorale arrangement of Nun danket alle Gott from Bach’s youth shows what a meticulous heir he was. In the manner of the old masters, each chorale entrance is prepared in the three lower parts, by rhythmically manipulating the melody and adding ornaments. Bach thereby creates eight neat packages of ‘Vorimitation’, with the chorale as the jubilant closing piece.
The joy and the faith in God expressed in the text are interpreted in a profusion of motifs, such as an inescapable long-short-short figure; although the pedal bass plays the first four chorale phrases without ornamentation. Sometimes, Bach lets the parts speak out, and then they tumble over one another again, adding to the lively character. Bach lends extra harmonic tension to the introduction to the seventh entrance, before letting the closing phrase culminate in a long pedal point above a virtuoso explosion in the alto and tenor.
18 Choräle/Leipziger Choräle, BWV 651-668
In the last ten years of his life, Bach gathered together and completed a series of chorale arrangements, presumably planning to have them published, just like the third part of the Clavier-Übung in 1739. It concerns a selection of his compositions from much earlier years, when he was working as an organist in Weimar, Arnstadt and Mühlhausen. The collection became known as the 18 Choräle or Leipziger Choräle. Incidentally, 18 Choräle is a misleading title, as the set originally comprised 17 pieces. The eighteenth, Vor deinen Thron tret ich (BWV 668), was added to Bach’s manuscript later on.
- Nun danket alle Gott
- organ works
- 18 Choräle (organ)
- Special notes
- Part of a manuscript containing 17 chorale arrangements, BWV 651-667, which Bach collected in the 1740s, and of which the earliest versions sometimes originated in his Weimar period.
- Release date
- 6 August 2020
- Recording date
- 18 July 2019
- Jacobikerk, Uithuizen
- Peter Kofler
- Arp Schnitger, ca. 1700
- Director and editor
- Robin van Erven Dorens
- Music recording
- Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
- Music edit and mix
- Guido Tichelman
- Onno van der Wal
- Gregoor van de Kamp
- Robin van Erven Dorens, Marloes Biermans
- Jessie Verbrugh, Stefan Ebels
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