Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV721

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Olivier Latry organ. Bach played with no hang-ups, using the full resources of a magnificent organ… happily discarding any ideas of authenticity and completely shorn of that kind of hallowed reserve with which so J S Bach from Durham Cathedral.


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    • JS Bach: Grosse Orgelwerke. Ivan Ronda organ. Pachelbel: Canon, Albinoni: Adagio. Christoph Schoener organ. Highly impressive, the prelude unfolds in the sombre splendour of the C minor tonality - the same as in the final chorus of St. Matthew's Passion. Divided into six segments, each of equal length, the prelude comprises bars : being the sacred number of perfection in the Scripture, of which Bach was a great connoisseur.

      Each segment consists, for the most part, of 24 bars : 24 symbolizing the 24 old men of the Apocalypse, and representing the harmony between heaven and earth, between space and time. Here, undoubtedly, Bach reveals to his public, his vision of a world of admirable architecture. This is further reinforced by the fact that the sixth and last segment is identical to the first, in such a way that it is possible to play the prelude "ad infinitum", like a star that rotates forever on its orbit, or like the Creation of Him "whose Kingdom is without end".

      If the fugue follows an harmonic structure comparable to that of the first chords of the prelude the dissonance between a perfect chord and a diminished seventh the fugue subject is much freer allowing for improvisation. It is noticeable however, that, if the exposition introduces five voices, the divertimento itself, generally uses only three, giving a lighter and more transparent texture to the work before the re-exposition which culminates in adding two supplementary voices to the original five; hence concluding the work in seven voices which are none other than a reminder of the initial chords of the prelude.

      Very probably, the work dates from the time when Johann Sebastian Bach was organist at the ducal chapel in Weimar. This tonality possesses a strong, underlying significance. It expresses perfectly a black and incurable melancholy, and can sometimes give the listener a sentiment of horror or the shivers". Indeed, these are the affects developed by the diptych : the sombre grandeur of the prelude with its harmonious equilibrium of proportions, and the pained, resigned nature of the fugue.

      As with the greater majority of Bach's works, the conditions under which this work was composed are unknown. However, the intensity of tone leads to the supposition that it might well reflect some cruel personal experience. In the absence of documentary evidence, an accumulation of concordant facts permit the hypothesis that this page of melancholic splendour, of which there remains an autographed manuscript in calligraphy, was destined for the funeral ceremony organized 17 October in St Paul's Church of the University of Leipzig of the Saxon princess elect, Christiane Eberhardine disappeared some weeks earlier.

      The ceremony commenced with the prelude, followed by the first part of the Funeral Ode BWV , also composed especially for this occasion. The rest of the ceremony comprised the second part of the Funeral Ode, and finally, the fugue. The prelude begins with a poignant lamentation in B minor, the tonality representing pain, melancholy and despair emphasized all the more by the tension derived from the uneven temperament of the intervals of the scale then used in organ playing.

      And indeed one is reminded immediately of a mortal lament on hearing these sorrowful phrases, the desperate musical outbursts, the florid ornamentation wallowing in desolation, the plaintive diminished seventh chords prevalent in this solidly constructed, eloquent funeral oration. With regard to the fugue, Bach chose for the theme a popular Central European song, one certainly known to the Princess, having as a subject, an unhappy marriage, which was the case of the Princess.

      Characterized by its dense construction, the fugue progresses obstinately by way of richly constructed episodes coming to a climax toward at its conclusion, terminating in a luminous resolution of comfort and of hope. On the contrary to what is often stated, Johann Sebastian Bach was, by the end of his life, a musician recognized not only by his peers, but also by a public of music lovers.

      In his small town of Zella, the latter wished to create, in liaison with his brother, a company of music publishing. To launch the enterprise, what could be better than publishing a selection of Bach's works accessible to a large public. Then preoccupied by the composition of highly complex works, Bach confided to his pupil a small manuscript of six chorales for organ, of reasonable difficulty and based on popular hymns. These chorales were drawn from the immense repertoire of his cantatas and then transcribed for pipe organ.

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      Bach continued to support his former pupil by confiding to him the engraving of the Musical Offering and by giving his brother, Johann Henrich that of the Art of Fugue. In reality, it deals with the second verse of Nicolai's famous canticle, "Zion hear the watchful voices sing". The tenor melody can be heard singing in trio with a supple, fascinating soprano ritornello, peacefully punctuated by the bass line. The score shows one of the rare Bach's annotations of registration : 1st keyb. Here, the composer has transcribed it into a work of four parts : the transcription of the two solo voices should be played by the right hand, the accompaniment by the left and the melody of the chorale with the pedalboard, with a 4 foot registration heard an octave higher resembling a tenor line.

      Bach uses this theme on several occasions. Here is another four-voiced work : the melody is heard in the right hand, while the left hand provides the double-voiced commentary and the pedalboard assures the bass line. Here the transcription is very natural. The original trio composition is once again found in the version for organ : the melody of the hymn soprano voice in the cantata heard in the right hand, the ritornello piccolo violoncello in the left and the continuo by the pedalboard.

      In rupture with the triumphal character of the work, the second part praises with tenderness the Mystery of the Incarnation. In the cantata, the chorale is given to the alto line accompanied by solo violin with underlying bass continuo. In his transcription for organ, Bach confines the chorale melody one of the most famous of the Reformed Church to a 4 foot register on the pedalboard, the left hand playing the bass part while the right hand takes the florid, ornamented violin line.

      The same year he was also named professor of organ at the Belfort Conservatory. Jean-Charles Ablitzer is an ardent chamber-music performer, and has participated in numerous baroque ensemble concerts and recordings. The high quality of Ablitzer's recordings Bach, Couperin has received ample praise from the critics : "…Playing a superb Catalan instrument with the characteristic Iberian nasality, Ablitzer constructs a glittering monument resounding with vast incandescent figures. Phrasing, registration, and digital dexterity are stunning. He remembers the lesson this composer learned during his long stay in Vienna, the importance of smooth flow and sunny declamation : here is a recording flooded with just that Viennese spirit…" from a review by Xavier Lacavalerie.

      The centuries fall away, the musical themes engage with each other like flashing swords of light…" from a review by Paul Meunier. To the glowing chorales, Monique Zanetti lends her pureness and ecstatic innocence, while Jean-Charles Ablitzer offers glory and enlightenment. On the contrary, he is constantly inspired, proposing innovative solutions with every page.

      Bach, Organ works in Goslar. Although some gaps still remain in our knowledge of German organ builder Christoph Treutmann's life and work, the major points are thoroughly familiar. Christoph Treutmann the Elder was born in Silesia about , and served his apprenticeship under Heinrich Herbst the Younger at the Herbst family workshop in Magdeburg. Christoph Treutmann is believed to have set up his own workshop sometime between and Since the early years of the 20th century, musicologists specializing in the history of the organ have been able to assert with almost complete certainty that Treutmann also served as an assistant to famed Hamburg organ builder Arp Schnitger.

      This hypothesis rests on certain technical and aesthetic features common to organs built by both men.

      Erbarm' dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV721

      Geographic and chronological coincidences imply that Christoph Treutmann must have taken part in the construction of Schnitger's organ at St Johannis church in Magdeburg, the first of the great Arp Schnitger organs in Central Germany, which was built from to This is the instrument that made Schnitger famous throughout Germany and, in terms of size, it ranks second among the impressive total of instruments attributed to the Hamburg organ builder.

      On 13 May , Treutmann was commissioned by the Grauhof Abbey to build the organ that was to be his finest work. A copy of the contract, in which Treutmann offers his services to the parish for the construction of a new organ, was recently discovered in the Clausthal-Zellerfeld university library. The Grauhof organ was completed in This organ, which has recently been restored, is substantially the same as when first constructed, and today is the only authentic surviving example of Christoph Treutmann's work.

      Erbarm Dich Mein O Herre Gott BWV721

      Treutmann's instrument resembles Schnitger's organ at St Johannis of Magdeburg in terms both of overall technical design and specific features connected with the reed pipes, windchest, and pipes. Most notably, the expanded manual and pedalboard octave was pioneered by Schnitger at Magdeburg, an innovation that during the 17th century was as costly as it was rare.

      The extensive pedal includes four windchests placed by two's on either side of the great organ.

      get link There is a forward windchest on the organ chest side for the principals, and a rear windchest for the bass flute stops and reed pipes Posaune 32'.