(Almost) perfect music: Johann Michael Bach, Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund

in #classical-music2 years ago

The choral "Da Jesu an dem Kreuze stund" is a Lutherian hymn, meant for the Passiontide. As today is the last day of that period, I'm just in time playing this.

The music I play here comes from a manuscript, owned by the Staatsbibliothek Berlin, containing 16 choral preludes. In the manuscript no composer is indicated for any of the compositions. From other sources, however, it is known that some of these choral preludes were composed by Johann Pachelbel and Johann Michael Bach. It is therefore my assumption that the other compositions were composed by one of these composers as well.

Music of Johann Pachelbel and Johann Michael Bach was sometimes mixed up. The reason for this is the habit in those days of indicating composers with initials only, and the fact that Pachelbel was often also spelled as Bachelbel and shortened to Bach. So it is possible that music we know as music from Pachel was in fact composed by Johann Michael Bach and vice versa.

Of the 16 compositions in this manuscript 3 are in other manuscripts attributed to Johann Pachelbel and three to Johann Michael Bach. The other 10 compositions have no other source and remain anonymous. Could it be that some of the attributions are wrong, based on the often made interpretation of initials, as described above? And if so, to which of both composers should we attribute all these compositions?

At the very least I think this manuscript is a collection of music of Bach ánd Pachelbel. It could however equally well be a collection of works of one composer, Bach or Pachelbel. And if that were the case, I'd like to think it is a collection of music of Johann Michael Bach.

One thing is for sure: whoever composed this music, it was a craftsman and musician pur sang. I've seldom played, heard or seen music that flows so naturally and beautifully, with expert voice leading and harmonic progression.

It is a pity that music of anonymous composers is somehow regarded as inferior. Music from known composers gets played far more often than music of anonymous composers. As far as I know, I am the only one playing and recording this composition. And that's a pity. So perhaps I should just bluntly state Johann Michael Bach is the composer of this music.

Organists, amateur and professional: play this wonderful music by Johann Michael Bach, in concerts and in service. Feel how perfectly it renders the emotions of Passiontide. Enjoy the intricate subtle play of the inner voices. Treat your audience to superb, heartfelt music. Play it, play it, play it!

Score available on my site (see link below). Also in a version with only treble and bass clef, so there's no excuse not to play it... :-)

The recording was done with the Hauptwerk software and the sampleset, made by Sonus Paradisi, of the Schittger organ in the St. Martini-kerk, Groningen (http://www.sonusparadisi.cz/en/organs/netherlands/groningen-st-martini.html).



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