Johann Sebastian Bach

Es ist das Heil uns kommen her (I), chorale prelude for organ, BWV 638 (BC K67) (Orgel-Büchlein No. 40)

    Description by Rovi Staff

    As organist at Weimar, Johann Sebastian Bach was charged with providing a harmonic underpinning for the singing of Lutheran chorale tunes chosen for each day. Bach wrote out many of these harmonizations, in part as instruction for younger composers (they are still used for this purpose). A derivation of this practice, Bach's conception of the organ chorale, as manifested in the chorale preludes, dates from 1713-1714, about the time he became familiar with Vivaldi's concertos.

    Bach's Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) contains chorale preludes for the church year written during the composer's service at Weimar (1708-1717). In about 1713, Bach began assembling the Orgel-Büchlein, and his earliest entries seem to be Her Christ, der ein'ge Gottes-Sohn, BWV 601, In dulci jubilo, BWV 608, Christ ist erstanden, BWV 627, and Heut' triumphieret Gottes Sohn, BWV 630. These were very original compositions, highly expressive miniatures based on a chorale melody, supported with refined counterpoint, and featuring highly condensed motivic writing.

    Bach's Orgelbüchlein was essentially complete by 1716. Only the fragment O Traurigkeit and the chorale prelude, Helft mir Gottes Güte preisen, BWV 613, were added later. "Complete" is used with some reservation here, because Bach originally projected 164 pieces but completed fewer than 50. In Bach's manuscript, pages with finished pieces alternate with blank ones intended for other chorale preludes. The later pieces differ from Bach's earlier chorale elaborations, in that they contain only one statement of the melody and are intended to demonstrate how to accompany a chorale with contrapuntally proper figurations that support the meaning of the text.

    In the early 1740s Bach assembled a number of chorale preludes, possibly with the intention of publishing them as a set. These Achtzehn Choräle (Eighteen Chorales) BWV 651 - 668 were almost certainly written before 1723 and revised later. The Fantasia super Komm, heiliger Geist, BWV 651 is an especially impressive, extended elaboration of the chorale melody, which is in the pedal. The tune is treated in a less ornate fashion in the next prelude of the set (BWV 652). The highly convoluted Von Gott will ich nicht lassen, BWV 658 also contains the chorale melody in the pedal.

    The six Schübler chorales (BWV 645 - 650) are derived from Bach's cantatas and contain one of his most popular chorale preludes, on the melody Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645.

    The third part of Bach's Clavier-Übung, published in Leipzig in 1739, contains 21 chorale preludes (not all appear in every publication), many of which are for manuals only. Nine of these are meant for use during the Mass, while the others are for the catechism. Among the most impressive is Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist, BWV 671, which is in five voices with the chorale melody in the pedal. More complex is the first of two preludes on Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir, BWV 686, which is in six parts, including two pedal parts.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Decca
    2018 Danacord DACOCD 791792
    2017 Analekta AN 291568
    2016 Gothic Records G 49297
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94981BR
    2015 BNL Productions 112836
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94639
    2011 Erato 2564676018
    2011 Analekta AN29970
    2011 Siba Records SIBA 1003
    2011 Ars Musici 23307
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 477 862-8
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4778628
    2009 Ricercar 289
    2009 Hyperion CDA67683
    2008 Regent 254
    2008 Calliope 5711
    2008 MA Recordings 76
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4694202
    2008 Alphée / Zebralution
    2008 Motette 50821
    2008 Loft Recordings 1086
    2007 Musical Concepts 191
    2007 BIS 1527/28
    2007 Analekta 24022-43
    2007 Querstand 603
    2007 Erato 4699028
    2006 Raven 875
    2006 Analekta 8216
    2006 Analekta 3002
    2005 ATMA Classique 22299
    2005 Cascavelle 1047
    2004 Archiv Produktion 000185602
    2004 Haenssler 92201
    2003 Art & Music 1539/58
    2003 Analekta 29812
    2003 Raven 610
    2002 Harmonia Mundi HMA195 1215
    2002 Raven 580
    2002 Hyperion 44121/36
    2000 Titanic 221
    2000 Harmonia Mundi HMX295 1215
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 73878
    2000 Archiv Produktion 463712
    1999 Teldec 25705
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 290772
    1999 Haenssler 92094
    1999 Teldec 3984-25713-2
    1999 Valois 4425
    1999 CPO 999653
    1999 Calliope 9711
    1999 Archiv Produktion 419904
    1998 Berlin Classics 0093612
    1996 Nimbus 5457
    1995 London 444410
    1995 Cantate 57609
    1995 Gallo 706
    1995 Herald Records 154
    1994 Hyperion 66756
    1994 Erato 96725
    1994 Naxos 553032
    1994 Erato 96358
    Analekta 4030
    Meridian Records 84235
    Hyperion 44129
    Deutsche Grammophon 431816
    Note&Ton
    Erato 91702
    Ligia 104081
    EMI Music Distribution
    Archiv Produktion 463719