PANPIPESBach, Johann Sebastian
Prelude: "Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig" for Pan Flute & Strings
Bach, Johann Sebastian - Prelude: "Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig" for Pan Flute & Strings
BWV 644
Flute, Violin, Viola and Cello
ViewPDF : Prelude: "Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig" (BWV 644) for Pan Flute & Strings (1 page - 283.67 Ko)296x
MP3 : Prelude: "Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig" (BWV 644) for Pan Flute & Strings 52x 638x
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Composer :
Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685 - 1750)
Instrumentation :

Flute, Violin, Viola and Cello

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Copyright :Public Domain
Added by magataganm, 29 Aug 2016

The Orgelbüchlein ("Little Organ Book") BWV 599-644 is a collection of 46 chorale preludes for organ written by Johann Sebastian Bach. All but three of them were composed during the period 1708–1717, while Bach was court organist at the ducal court in Weimar. The remaining three, along with a short two-bar fragment, were added in 1726 or later, after Bach's appointment as cantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig.

The collection was originally planned as a set of 164 chorale preludes spanning the whole liturgical year. The chorale preludes form the first of Bach's masterpieces for organ with a mature compositional style in marked contrast to his previous compositions for the instrument. Although each of them takes a known Lutheran chorale and adds a motivic accompaniment, Bach explored a wide diversity of forms in the Orgelbüchlein. Many of the chorale preludes are short and in four parts, requiring only a single keyboard and pedal, with an unadorned cantus firmus. Others involve two keyboards and pedal: these include several canons, four ornamental four-part preludes, with elaborately decorated chorale lines, and a single chorale prelude in trio sonata form. The Orgelbüchlein has a four-fold purpose: it is a collection of organ music for church services, a treatise on composition, a religious statement, and an organ-playing manual.

In these chorale preludes, the traditional Lutheran hymns are subjected to various types of polyphonic treatment, with different types of countersubjects and imitative devices. The two pieces chosen by Mr. Escaich show two different compositional approaches: in the New Year chorale In dir ist Friede ("In You is Peace"), the melody is heard in close four-part imitation, elaborating on the very first two measures of the tune in particular. The Easter hymn Christ ist erstanden ("Christ Has Risen"), by contrast, is given in three variations; what is remarkable is that not only the countersubjects change from one variation to the next but the melody itself undergoes slight modifications. However, the chorale melody doesn't wander from voice to voice but stays in the treble all the way through.

The verses of Franck's hymn alternate the order of the words nichtig and flüchtig in their opening lines. Bach's title conforms to a later 1681 hymnbook from Weimar which inverted the order throughout. The chorale prelude is in four voices for single manual with pedals. The cantus firmus in the sporano voice is a simple form of the hymn tune in crotchets. The accompaniment, intricately crafted from two separate motifs in the inner voices and in the pedal, is a particularly fine illustration of Bach's compositional method in the Orgelbüchlein. The motif in the pedal is a constant three note quaver figure, with octave leaps punctuated by frequent rests. Above this bass, the inner voices weave a continuous pattern of descending and ascending scales in semiquavers, constantly varying, sometimes moving in the same direction and sometimes in contrary motion. This texture of flowing scales over a "quasi-pizzicato" bass captures the theme of the hymn: it is a reflection on the transitory nature of human existence, likened to a mist "gathered in an hour together, and soon dispersed." Similar semiquaver figures had been used in other contemporary settings of this hymn, for example in a set of variations by Böhm and in the first chorus of Bach's cantata BWV 26, but without conveying the same effect of quiet reflection. To Spitta (1899) the scales "hurry by like misty ghosts." Hermann Keller saw the bass motif as representing "the futility of human existence." Others have suggested that the rests in the pedal part might symbolise the nothingness of ach wie nichtig. Exceptionally Bach scored the final chord of this nebulous piece without pedal. A similar device has been used by Bach for the word inanes ("empty") in the ninth movement of his Magnificat. Stinson (1999) also sees similarities with Bach's omission of a bass part in Wie zittern und wanken from cantata BWV 105, an aria concerned with the uncertainties in the life of a sinner.

Source: Wikipedia (

Although originally created for Organ, I created this Interpretation of Choral Prelude (BWV 644) "Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig" (Oh how fleeting, oh how feckless) for Pan Flute & Strings (Violin, Viola & Cello).
Sheet central :Das Orgel-Büchlein (170 sheet music)
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