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J. S Bach Vol. 1

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J. S Bach Vol. 2

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The Fabulous French Vol. 1

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The Fabulous French Vol. 2

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Louis, Louis!

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Fanfares and Noels

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The 20th Century

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Major Works in Minor Keys

Musique Heorique
Musique Heroique

Program Notes for J.S. Bach Volume two

Sinfonia to Cantata no. 29 was originally written for unaccompanied violin in the key of E major, then transcribed by Bach for Orchestra, Continuo and Tympani into the key of D major. The rendition heard on this volume represents Bach's transcription and uses the Virtual Orchestra and a small organ as tonal resources. A solo violin plays the treble part, accompanied by 2nd violin, viola, contrabass and tympani. The continuo parts are played on the organ and harpsichord.

"Kommst du nun, Jesu, von Himmel herunter" is number 6 of the so called "Schübler" chorales. Bach frequently used the pedal division to sound the Cantus or melody of his choral prelude settings, but in this case, the Cantus is played by various solo instruments, including the Flugelhorn, French Horn and English Horn. 
    The bass is played by the left hand using light foundation stops on the Great division.  The right hand plays a flowing and lyrical passage, using flutes 8' and 4' on the Positiv division.

Bach's Trio Sonatas are so called as they each contain a group of three movements, each movement has only three voices. These voices one for the right hand, one for the left hand, one played on the pedals. The movements are typically a tuneful Adagio surrounded by bright Allegros on either side.
    These Sonatas would seem to be deceptively simple, but are some of the most difficult to play in all of organ literature. The separate voices almost require the organist to have three separate brains in order to process the information. A technique taught over time is to concentrate on a fourth task, such as swiveling the hips to position the player into the correct position to play the pedals.  
The Trio Sonata no. 5 in this volume is typical of the genre´. 

"Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" is one of the Schübler chorale settings, this is Bach's arrangement for organ of the famous tenor setting of "Sleepers Awake" from Cantata 140.

"Wake, awake, for night is flying; 
The watchmen on the heights are crying: 
Awake, Jerusalem, at last! 
Midnight hears the welcome voices 
And at the thrilling cry rejoices; 
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past; 
The Bridegroom comes, awake; 
Your lamps with gladness take; 
Alleluia! / And for His marriage feast prepare 
For ye must go and meet Him there."

This setting begins with a brief "contemporary" Piano Prelude, inspired by perhaps too many nights sitting in Micheals' in Sunnyvale, California, listening to the superb jazz piano of Karyn Leigh. 
    The Chorale begins with Great foundations and mixtures, with the Cantus played on the Recit´
reeds 8' and 4'. The repeat of this statement uses the Great minor principal chorus with the Cantus played by the Krummhorn. 
    The recapitulation uses both Great and Recit´ principal choruses with the Tuba Mirabilis and Clarion Mirabilis sounding the Cantus.

Chorale Prelude "Erbarm' dich mein, o Herre Gott" a serious but melodious piece. The melody is initially played on a 'Cello with a string section playing the pulsing, rhythmic accompaniment. The center section alternates to the Recit Flutes 8' & 4' with a minor 8' principal playing the melody.

    The Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major is one of the middle period organ works of Bach. The Toccata begins with manual flourishes and a pedal solo.
     A tuneful A minor Adagio starts with the Positiv 8' Regal and continues with various solo voices. There is an ominous sounding interlude following the Adagio that resolves to a satisfying C major chord.  
    The Fugue has an unusual feature in that in sounds like there are two different times signatures operating. Many times through the Fugue, the SATB voices are assigned a different sound selection the maximize voice clarity.  

Air on the G String is Bach at his most melodious. This well known tune is treated with the Cor Anglais and flute carrying the melodies. 

The Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor is one of Bach's most monumental works, one that has been studied by students of composition for now hundreds of years. 
    The Passacaglia subject (the word derived from a type of Spanish dance) is stated right at the beginning and repeated in some form (either intact or truncated) during the following 20 variations, usually in the pedal. Each variation calls out for a different tonal treatment and a different type of articulation. The following table lists the registration for each variation.


 Pedal Registration

Manual Registration

1 8' Cromorne Not played
2 16' Violone and 8' Flute Great 8' Bourdon
3 16' Quintade, Gedackt 8' Recit´ 8' Spitzflote, adding Celeste
4 Foundations p 16,8,4 Recit´ 8' Gambe and 4' Flute
5 Foundations mf 16, 8, 5 1/3, 4 Great Flutes 8', 4', 2' 


Flutes 8 and 2 RückPositiv Flutes 8', 1'


Fonds 16, 8, 4, VI mix, Great to Pedal Great Foundations 8'


Fonds 16, 8, 4, VI mix, Great/recit to pedal Great, Recit foundations 8, 4, mixtures 


Foundations 32, 16, 8, 4, VI, Posaune 16' Great, Recit, Positif foundations 8, 4, mixtures 


Posaune 16' only, adding Anches 32',8',4' Bombarde Trompette en Chemade


Fonds et Anches 32, 16, 8, 4, mixtures  Fonds et Anches 16, 8, 4, mixtures, manuals coupled


Not played Rh. Solo 8' Tuba Mirabilis, Lh Recit fonds et Anches 8 &4 


Foundations 32, 16, 8, 4, IV mixture Great, Recit, Positif foundations16, 8, 4, mixtures 


Not played Rückpositiv Flutes 8' and 4'


Not played Rh Great Flutes 8,4,1 3/5 or Cornet V; Lh 8' Trompette
16 Not played Rh Great Flute Harmonique, Lh Ch 8' Melodia
17 Violone 32, 16, 8; Quintade 16, 8' Recit to Ped. All 8' Strings and Celestes
18 Positif to Pedal only Positif Baroque reeds 16, 8', 4'
19 Foundations 16, 8, 4, VI, Posaune 16' Great, Recit, Positif foundations 8, 4, mixtures 
20 Foundations 32, 16, 8, 4, VI, Posaune 16',8' Fonds et Anches  8, 4, mixtures, manuals coupled
21 Fonds et Anches 32, 16, 8, 4, mixtures, all manuals coupled Fonds et Anches 16, 8, 4, mixtures, manuals coupled, adding Bombarde Fonds et Anches 16,8,4 Mixture

    The fugue uses the first half of the Passacaglia theme and is actually a double Fugue, where the first subject is augmented by a second, contrasting subject. There is also the usual counter-subject included in this fugue, making it one of Bach's most intricate works. The work resolves at its' end into a glorious and sonorous C major chord, using the entire resources of the Virtual Organ.  

The Fugue a la Gigue makes a wonderful encore piece to round out this volume. It is Bach at his most lively and rambunctious. Although not a note of music has been altered in this rendition, I have taken some liberties with sound selection and added some rhythmic augmentation. Well, more than some, It becomes a hard rock 6/8 R & B shuffle!


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Last modified: May 21, 2005