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  • Recitals begin at 1:10PM
  • Recitals last 45 minutes …
  • Admission is FREE with retiring collection

     
   

J. S. BACH’s compositions for the organ are a unique part of the world’s entire musical heritage, but what makes the greatest of these so great? How can we better appreciate these masterpieces?

On the first THURSDAY of the month, for SIX consecutive months Lee Dunleavy, Director of Music at All Saints, explored six of J. S. Bach’s greatest compositions for the organ. Beginning at 1:10PM and lasting around three-quarters of an hour, these informative recitals presented an easily accessible guide on what to listen for in the works, an explanation of how they are constructed and what makes them tick.

This second series looked at the BROAD THEMES in Bach’s organ works – from influences from France and Italy, to the importance of numerology – and presents a number of his most popular and important compositions,

alongside some of his lesser–known works. This was also the first series to feature our new VIDEO DISPLAY SYSTEM, enabling the concert-goers both to hear and to see (on a large projection screen) the player in action.

CHRISTMAS CHORALES
2nd December 2010
BWV 769
The German reformer Martin Luther posited that worship should be conducted in the vernacular rather than Latin. He thus saw an immediate need for a large repertory of new hymns, known as chorales. These were Bach’s “Hymnbook” and it is no surprise that he based hundreds of works on these melodies and texts. This recital explores his treatment of Christmas melodies, from his remarkable variations on Vom Himmel hoch (BWV 769), to the works in the Little Organ Book, including the ever–popular In dulci jubilo (BWV 608), and to the lesser known works from the Neumeister Collection.

LO STILE ITALIANO
6th January 2011
BWV 588

Bach is often portrayed as a musical sponge, soaking up the diverse styles of French, Italian, and German composers to create a unique and personal idiom for the organ. Especially vital to the genesis of his organ works were aspects of Italian counterpoint and concerto technique. We know that he was greatly influenced by Italian masters. C. P. E. Bach reported that his father “heard and studied the works of Frescobaldi,” an assertion confirmed by Bach’s ownership of Frescobaldi’s organ collection Fiori musicali. We hear this influence in his Canzona in D (BWV 588) and his vivacious transcription of Vivaldi’s Concerto in C (BWV 594).


NUMBERS & MUSIC
3rd February 2011
BWV 668
Last year we explored the numerology behind the Passacaglia in c (BWV 582) and its connection to Bach’s pilgrimage to Buxtehude in Lübeck (a five hundred mile journey by foot). This year we look at Bach’s multiplication of sin (13) and prayer (7) in the 91 bars of Vater unser im Himmelreich (BWV 682) and his final work, dictated from his deathbed (perhaps?) to his son–in–law J. C. Altnickol – Vor deinen Thron tret’ ich (BWV 668). This work has a remarkable construction with numerological references to Bach himself, to the Holy Trinity, and lots of intrigue regarding the circumstances of its composition.

À LA FRANÇAISE
3rd March 2011
BWV 562

In the Obituary for his father, C. P. E. Bach wrote: “While a student in Lüneburg, my father had the opportunity to listen to a band kept by the Duke of Celle, consisting for the most part of Frenchmen; thus he acquired a thorough grounding in the French taste, which in those regions was something quite new...” Bach's Fantasia in G (BWV 572) makes reference to the French style in several ways, not least in its other title, Pièce d’orgue. The elegant Fantasy in c (BWV 562), demonstrates Bach at his most French, with beautifully ornamented melodies and graceful slurs suggesting the vocal style of Lully’s operas.


IN A MINOR MOOD
8th April 2011

BWV 546

Many of Bach’s most famous compositions – from the Toccata & Fugue in d (BWV 565, see 5 May 2011), to Mass in b (BWV 232) and the Double Violin Concerto in d (BWV 1043) – are in a minor key. Two of his greatest Prelude & Fugues are also in minor keys – the ‘Great’ in c (BWV 546) with its Rhetorical Prelude and unusually ill–fitting Fugue, and the setting in f (BWV 534) featuring a roundly shaped Prelude and a Fugue of ambitious length featuring many opportunities for elegant ornamentation. Why did Bach write so many works in this form, and how does he stretch the form to its limits?

TOCCATA & FUGUE!
5th May 2011

BWV 565

One of the most famous works in the organ repertoire, the Toccata and Fugue in d (BWV 565) has been re-used in a wide variety of media from film – Disney’s “Fantasia” – to pop music – Sky’s 1980 Top 10 hit “Toccata”. However was it originally written for organ, or is it even by Bach? There are various musical features that are ungainly on the organ, and recent violin solo ‘versions’ seem more successful. Do the parallel octaves in the Toccata, unique in Bach’s output, tell us that this is the work of a lesser composer?



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