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"Erbarm dich" BWV721

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I see that Stephen Farr is playing this in his Prom. What's the latest state of scholarship on who might have written it?

 

Ian

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I see that Stephen Farr is playing this in his Prom. What's the latest state of scholarship on who might have written it?

 

Ian

 

 

================

 

 

We're not doing very well with this are we?

 

 

MM

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================

 

 

We're not doing very well with this are we?

 

 

MM

 

Peter Williams notes - Only one copy, by J G Walther.

 

It'll be interesting to see how he plays it. Williams comments 'Walther specifies neither pedal nor two manuals, and it is playable on one keyboard - surely not by chance in what is at times a five-part piece?"

 

I find it works well on a soft principal, or flute with mild chiff, plus slow tremulant.

 

JS

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I see that Stephen Farr is playing this in his Prom. What's the latest state of scholarship on who might have written it?

 

Ian

 

 

===================

 

 

With those simple repeated accompanimental chords, this Chorale Prelude is unique in Bach's organ repertoire, but not in his entire repertoire. I understand that there a similar styles to be found in some of the cantatas.

 

According to Peter Williams, "Erbarm dich" comes to us only as a copy, but a very old copy indeed, thusd suggesting a contemporary copyist to Bach.

 

I seem to recall a discussion about this very work in Piporg-l, which may be worth pursuing.

 

Vivaldi was known to use repeated chords of course, but for me, the most likely source is Georg Bohm, who used something very similar:-

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lYzvcyAFlU

 

The bit we're interested in starts at 2m 30secs, but do enjoy the rest of this superlative organ-playing on a simply wonderful organ.

 

Bach was, of course, inspired by Bohm, and it may be that Bach himself decided to write something chordal and simple, rather than heavily contrapuntal.

 

In the absence of the original manuscript in Bach's hand, is further scholarship likely to yield anything new?

 

Somehow I doubt it, but there is an interesting avenue yet to be pursued.....that of added ornamentation, which this work cries out for. It can, of course, be played on a single manual, but soloing out the top line, with added ornamentation, really brings it to life in the right hands.

 

MM

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I find it works well on a soft principal, or flute with mild chiff, plus slow tremulant.

I hate those repeated chords with a chiff! To my mind a romantic diapason, even a fairly big one, works well - no chiff, a prompt bass for the chords, and a strong treble to bring out the melody above the accompaniment. I take it faster than most people (than anyone else I've ever heard, actually) to avoid a trudging feel to the repeated chords and to let the melody flow.

 

Paul

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There is even no need to go for a romantic stop, the true baroque ones

can give exactly the same effect, without Tschack-Tschack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovFjxHj7PxE

Oh yes! The Grauhof organ is a marvel in sound. There are some stunning recordings of Bach's grand P+Fs with Olivier Vernet which are really worth listening -- that's Bach on a truly grand scale.

 

Michael Christfried Winkler, a former organist at the Kreuzkirche in Dresden, did a double recording of the piece on this disk (you might try to get some snippet from a web shop!). The first version is not unlike Weinberger's, only a little bit faster. For the second one, Winkler goes in at breakneck speed while turning up the Crescendo-Walze of the huge Orgelbewegung Jehmlich organ, and just before Tutti, about two-thirds through the piece, has the blower turned off; then he holds down the last chord until the last coughing bit of wind has gone from the Schwimmers.

 

"Ah no, it's not meant to be played this way!" a former colleague of mine said. Of course not, but Winkler created a very exciting piece of music.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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A sublimely simple piece. The chords to my mind should provide us with a gentle impetus and not all the same. (An orchestra would never do that. Why should organists?) I try to see if the strong and weak beats can be subtly given inflection and a Gambe and Flute of non-Romantic persuasion seem to inspire considerably to this end. A Tremblant can also add much to the 'living' quality of the sound on some organs. For the Chorale - a simple line, beautifully articulated. (To stop a stretched legato line, use only the 2nd finger for every note. This makes it possible for the ear to become accustomed to the 'projection' of such a simple line and for the notes to correspond to the accompaniment. Of course use a less bizarre fingering once you know what to listen out for and how to control it.)

Best wishes,

N

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===================

 

Somehow I doubt it, but there is an interesting avenue yet to be pursued.....that of added ornamentation, which this work cries out for. It can, of course, be played on a single manual, but soloing out the top line, with added ornamentation, really brings it to life in the right hands.

 

MM

 

This prompted me to turn to John Scott-Whiteley's 21st-Century Bach DVD at the Wenzelkirche, Naumburg.

 

Here he plays on two manuals - LH & Ped on HW Gedackt 8 and RH on RP Rohr-Floete 8 + Quintadehn 8 - with the solo line very heavily ornamented. To me, this is a case of more is less, and the whole track becomes musically as well as visually irritating (like so many other examples in this series).

 

The one redeeming feature is the ravishingly beautiful sound of the two 8 foots together floating round the building. Hildebrandt was a genius - for me the Number 1 Bach organ anywhere in the world.

 

JS

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This prompted me to turn to John Scott-Whiteley's 21st-Century Bach DVD at the Wenzelkirche, Naumburg.

 

Here he plays on two manuals - LH & Ped on HW Gedackt 8 and RH on RP Rohr-Floete 8 + Quintadehn 8 - with the solo line very heavily ornamented. To me, this is a case of more is less, and the whole track becomes musically as well as visually irritating (like so many other examples in this series).

 

The one redeeming feature is the ravishingly beautiful sound of the two 8 foots together floating round the building. Hildebrandt was a genius - for me the Number 1 Bach organ anywhere in the world.

 

JS

 

===============

 

 

Oh dear! I hate to be seen criticisng my old tutor, but I'm inclined to agree with John Sayer.

 

Surely, the whole point of ornamentation is to add emphasis and expression TO the chorale melody, and not to re-write the melody in such a way that the chorale is lost in a welter of additional notes?

 

With such naked writing, the smallest addition is very noticeable, and for that reason, I would personally keep any ornamentation to an absolute minimum; combined of course, with Nigel's splendid observation about a very fluid and expressive accompaniment. The Lullian thump of a large stick kills this CP, (and most other baroque works), stone dead.

 

That's the difference between those who interpret and those who just play the notes.

 

As for "best" organs for Bach, there are some extremely impressive ones in America, but Hilderbrandt works for me, I have to say.

 

MM

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The one redeeming feature is the ravishingly beautiful sound of the two 8 foots together floating round the building. Hildebrandt was a genius - for me the Number 1 Bach organ anywhere in the world.

 

JS

 

 

===================

 

I think (actually I know) that Bach would sound wonderful on thisparticular American instrument. John Brombaugh left a remarkable legacy of truly fine organs in genuine baroque style, and this is one of the best examples.

 

 

MM

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