. . . and could only have one piece of music with me, what would I take? Well, I’m not anticipating being on a desert island anytime soon — but I am going on vacation next week. I’ll be packing my organ shoes, just in case I’m able to get to an organ. I’ve decided I’m going to take my copy of Bach’s Clavierübung — also called the German Organ Mass with me. I’m playing two pieces from this collection on Trinity Sunday, June 3rd: Vater unser im Himmelreich (The Lord’s Prayer) and Wir glauben all an einem Gott (We all believe in one God— the Credo). Somehow when the church year comes round to Trinity Sunday, I always think of Bach!
According to Wikipedia, the Clavierübung “is considered to be Bach’s most significant and extensive work for organ, containing some of his musically most complex and technically most demanding compositions for that instrument.” The collection contains 21 chorale preludes on the Lutheran mass, and Bach himself performed the work in 1735 in a two-hour organ recital on Frauenkirche organ in Dresden, receiving “great applause.”
The Clavierübung has as its bookends — the great Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, nicknamed the “St. Anne.” In 1978 Carl Crosier and I performed the Clavierübung nearly completely, and interpolated the chorales on which the preludes were based between the pieces. It was the beginning of “The Bach Chamber Choir,” a group Carl founded with professional singers who came together in only one rehearsal to perform concerts. Thirty years later, we learned that someone had recorded our performance, so I had Bill Potter, the LCH webmaster, post it on the LCH website. You can click here to hear our performance. (This page contains a number of audio files and may take several minutes to load completely.) Unfortunately, the program did not list who played which piece, and Carl and I can’t remember exactly who played what!
For the liturgy this Sunday we will use the Lutheran Chorale mass, no doubt my favorite setting of the liturgy, which includes:
Kyrie, Gott, Vater in Ewigkeit (Kyrie)
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr (Gloria)
Wir glauben all’ an einem Gott (Credo)
Jesaia, dem Propheten (Sanctus)
Christe, du Lamm Gottes (Agnus Dei)
Then we are off to the Bachfest in Leipzig, Germany! I’ll keep you posted on our travels and all the great music we hear!