Musical contribution – January 2022

Bourrée                                                                                                 J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

(LiVE Sample Set: Dresden, Silbermann)

We would like to start by wishing you all – from all over the world – a happy and musical 2022. We hope you continue to enjoy playing organs in general, and of course Johannus in particular.

We are kicking off the new year with a work by the German master himself: a piece that wasn’t actually written for organ, but for another instrument. Having offered you something similar back in January 2010 and October 2016, we decided to do this one more time, allowing you to create a suite from all these disparate works.

This composition is part of one of the six sonatas/partitas for solo violin, written by Bach between 1703 and 1720. While it is unknown whether he ever heard them performed, we do know they were released only in 1802. Despite this release, they ended up fading into obscurity, and it wasn’t until the second half of the nineteenth century that they were unearthed by the renowned violinist Joseph Joachim. These compositions were eventually adapted for a variety of instruments, including guitar and lute.

When I inadvertently came across an arrangement for keyboard instruments, I couldn’t contain my excitement – particularly after listening to a recording of the original work. Adapting this piece of music for organ is tricky, as you need to find the right harmonies while at the same time retaining the character of the work. Yet the ancient dance of French origin, the bourrée, has remained fully intact in this composition.

As for performance instructions, concerto would be one option, and the short, staccato articulation calls for plenty of clarity. On the Great: Principals 8’, 4’, 2’ and on the Swell or Solo: Flutes 8’, 4’, 2’. You can choose to mix it up slightly for the repetition.

But even if we play the Forte parts only with a Principal 8’ and use a Flute 8’ on the other keyboard, this remains an appealing Allegretto.

Enjoy!

André van Vliet

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