The organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach is some of the most perfect and profound writing in the history of music. Bach, for much of his life, was a “church organist” and pushed the pipe organ to the compositional and mechanical limits of his day. During his lifetime Bach wrote several large-scale sets of chorale preludes: Orgelbüchlein, Clavier-Übung, Schübler Chorales and the Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes.
The Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes were written in the last ten years of Bach’s life while he was the Cantor of the Thomasschule at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. Hence, they are sometimes called the Leipzig Chorales. Unlike other sets of Chorale Preludes written by Bach these chorales are on a much larger scale. As the English Organist Harvey Grace noted, the Leipzig Chorales demonstrate “workmanship as nearly flawless as we have any right to expect of a human being.”
Organist John Scott is featured here in free videos playing the Advent Chorale Preludes from the Leipzig Chorales on the text Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland; which translates to Come now, Savior of the Heathen. The first chorale, BWV 659, is in the style of an ornamented chorale. BWV 660 is a canon between the bass and left hand with an ornamented cantus firmus in the soprano. BWV 661 is a three-voice fugue with the cantus firmus in the pedal.
John Scott will perform all of Bach’s Leipzig Chorales, BWV 651-668 in recital at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue on the Taylor & Boody Pipe Organ on Saturday, June 14, 2014. All details regarding this organ recital can be found here.
The three videos of Bach’s Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland were filmed and produced by Joe Vitacco in January of 2014. They were filmed with two Panasonic X920 and a Panasonic V720 cameras with available light. The audio was recorded from two spaced Neumann KM 130 omni-directional microphones onto a Sound Devices 702 Field Recorder. The background room tone was slightly but noticeably reduced using the isotope RX 3 de-noise feature. The video was edited in Final Cut Pro X using the Multcam Clip feature to sync the footage from the three cameras.
Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland (Ornamented chorale) BWV 659
Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland (Canon with Soprano Canto Fermo) BWV 660
Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland (Three Voice Fugue and Canto Fermo Bass) BWV 661