Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr
BWV 663 performed by Reitze Smits
Lutheran church, The Hague
Behind the music
Full of symbolism
Bach paints a clear picture of Jesus sacrifice, without saying a word.
In three connected yet very different movements in the Leipziger Choräle, Bach portrays the Trinity. His central arrangement of the Gloria melody, which was sung every week, portrays the Son, following the Father (BWV 662) and preceding the Holy Ghost (BWV 664).
In this remarkably long, well-balanced work, the chorale melody is not in the upper part, but in the tenor, which is the traditional place of Jesus between heaven and earth. It is written in 3/2 time, just as many chorales in the Orgelbüchlein that concern the Passion and, for example, the Crucifixus in the Mass in B minor. Just before the repeat in the middle, the cantus firmus (the chorale melody) rises above the upper parts for a moment, where the words refer to Jesus’ heavenly dominion. Near the end, after a florid solo, the music almost comes to a stop on the word ‘Not’ (need) and then proceeds in a straight line to the radiant ending ‘erbarm dich unser aller’, where the chorale melody is suddenly accompanied by an extra figured part. Probably the most beautiful symbolism is provided by the refined ornamentation of the melody, sometimes buoyantly virtuoso and sometimes tormentedly chromatic - symbolic of Jesus’ life and suffering?
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.
- Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr
- organ works
- 18 Choräle (organ)
- Special notes
- BWV 663a is an earlier version of this chorale arrangement.
- Release date
- 10 October 2014
- Recording date
- 28 November 2013
- Lutheran Church, The Hague
- Reitze Smits
- Organ registration
- Arjan de Vos
- Johann Heinrich Hartmann Bätz, 1762
- Frank van der Weij
- Film director
- Jan Van den Bossche
- Directors of photography
- Jorrit Garretsen, Sal Kroonenberg
- Music production, editing and mix
- Holger Schlegel
- Film editor
- Dylan Glyn Jones
- Jef Grosfeld
- Production assistants
- Imke Deters, Zoë de Wilde
- Onno van Ameijde
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