Johann Sebastian Bach

Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit (I), chorale prelude for organ, BWV 669 (BC K1) (Clavier-Übung III/1)

    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 Oehms Classics OC 020
    2017 J.S. Bach-Stiftung B 535CD
    2015 Nordic Sound NOSCD 1968
    2014 Ramée 1305
    2014 Hungaroton HCD 3274546
    2014 Brilliant Classics 94792
    2013 Editions Hortus 20
    2012 Syrius SYR 141457
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94201
    2011 NCA 60230
    2011 Erato 2564676018
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 477 862-8
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4778628
    2010 Danacord 706
    2010 NEOS 90902
    2009 Ricercar 289
    2009 Gramola 9885455
    2009 Pro Organo 7225
    2008 Regent 276
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4694202
    2007 Musical Concepts 191
    2007 BIS 1527/28
    2007 Analekta 24022-43
    2007 Novalis 150185
    2007 Erato 4699028
    2007 Rondeau 4017
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Raven 875
    2006 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 41426
    2006 Psallite 60601
    2005 Zig Zag Territoires 050901
    2005 Gothic Records 49242
    2005 L'empreinte digitale 13136
    2005 Raven 750
    2005 Interdisc Trading 97440
    2004 Archiv Produktion 000185602
    2003 Guild 7262/63
    2003 Art & Music 1539/58
    2003 Pro Organo 7138
    2002 CPO 999867
    2002 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77841
    2002 CBC Records 2009
    2002 Hyperion 44121/36
    2001 BIS 1091/2
    2001 Motette 12701
    2000 Querstand 9919
    2000 K 617 7061
    2000 Stradivarius 33561
    2000 Stradivarius 80018
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 73878
    2000 Archiv Produktion 463712
    1999 Teldec 25705
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Haenssler 92101
    1999 Channel Classics CCS13498
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 290772
    1999 Teldec 3984-25713-2
    1999 Valois 4425
    1999 Hyperion 67213
    1999 Meridian Records 84377
    1999 Archiv Produktion 419904
    1998 Berlin Classics 0093622
    1998 Raven 400
    1998 Nimbus 5561/2
    1996 Naxos 550929
    1996 Supraphon 31762
    1996 Philips 454648
    1995 Novalis 150078
    1995 London 444410
    1995 Novalis 150130
    1994 BIS 443/44
    1994 Centaur Records 2667
    1994 Erato 96358
    1994 Erato 96723
    1993 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77276
    1993 Kontrapunkt 32055/56
    1990 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 7868
    Brilliant 93102-VOL6
    Brilliant 99706
    Brilliant 93102/153
    Brilliant 99706/15
    Fleur de Lis 501/502
    Berlin Classics 0010602
    Disques Pierre Verany 790052
    Calcante Recordings 010
    Classico 155/6
    Arkay Records 6161
    Analekta 4033
    Interdisc Trading 97440/6
    Hyperion 44132
    Ligia 104081
    EMI Music Distribution
    Ligia 104077/80
    Archiv Produktion 463720
    Christ Church, New Haven 1063
    Classic CD 107