Johann Sebastian Bach

Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig, chorale prelude for organ, BWV 644 (BC K73) (Orgel-Büchlein No. 46)

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This is the last of the so-titled 45 chorales of the Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book). Bach was the Court organist in Weimar for the Duke of Sachsen-Weimar from 1708 to 1717, the time during which he composed these works. In this series, the composer was likely filling some duty relating to church service, but he also was serving an educational function here for organ students, he revealed. Yet the music can, of course, be enjoyed apart from its church or educational associations. All the chorale preludes in the set are short and this final one, lasting about three-quarters of a minute, is among the briefest. It presents a bright theme in the soprano ranges, with busy accompaniment from the left hand that both reinforces the thematic fabric itself and adds vital contrapuntal elements. The chorale theme is played twice in its complete form, varying somewhat the second time, especially in its accompaniment. On its last appearance, the theme is only partially heard, its character seeming in the midst of great transition when the seemingly abortive ending comes. The music here, as in all these chorale preludes, abounds in rich ideas and detail and it is no wonder that Max Reger, Albert Schweitzer, and others expressed astonishment at their musical richness.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Decca
    2016 Gothic Records G 49297
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94981BR
    2013 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic HAEN 98004
    2013 Editions Hortus 20
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94639
    2013 Carus CV 83381
    2013 Fuga Libera FGL 710
    2011 Erato 2564676018
    2011 Ars Musici 23307
    2011 Siba Records SIBA 1003
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4778628
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 477 862-8
    2009 Ricercar 289
    2009 Hyperion CDA67683
    2008 Regent 254
    2008 Danacord 663
    2008 Calliope 5711
    2008 MA Recordings 76
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4694202
    2008 Alphée / Zebralution
    2007 Musical Concepts 191
    2007 BIS 1527/28
    2007 Analekta 24022-43
    2007 Querstand 603
    2007 Erato 4699028
    2006 Raven 875
    2006 Analekta 3002
    2004 Archiv Produktion 000185602
    2004 Col Legno 20106
    2004 Nordic Sound 1964
    2003 Art & Music 1539/58
    2002 Harmonia Mundi HMA195 1215
    2002 Raven 580
    2002 Hyperion 44121/36
    2000 Titanic 221
    2000 Harmonia Mundi HMX295 1215
    2000 Archiv Produktion 463712
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 73878
    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
    1998 Supraphon 3317
    1996 Nimbus 5457
    1995 London 444410
    1995 Cantate 57609
    1994 Hyperion 66756
    1994 Erato 96725
    1994 Naxos 553032
    1994 Erato 96358
    1994 Channel Classics 6594
    Analekta 4030
    Meridian Records 84235
    Hyperion 44129
    Deutsche Grammophon 431816
    Note&Ton
    Erato 91702
    Ligia 104081
    EMI Music Distribution
    Archiv Produktion 463720
    Ricercar 92001