A Chorale for our times

In the period 5-8 April 1750, Bach underwent a 2nd eye operation delivered by London eye surgeon Dr John Taylor. It must have been agony and an experience from which Bach never recovered – a stroke followed three months later and our beloved JSB passed away on 28 July that same year. One of the greatest Chorale Preludes is “Vor deinen Thron trett’ ich hiermit” (Now I stand before thy throne) BWV 668 (Leipzig Chorale Preludes, the great ’18’), sometimes referred to as the ‘death-bed’ chorale with the story being that Bach dictated this on his death-bed a few days before he died. This is doubted, but somehow it conjures up a lovely image doesn’t it?

Bach’s music is performed using a variety of musical forces as well as the original ones. It is well known that Paul Steinitz advocated performing Bach using musical forces with which the composer would have been familiar – implementing period style using period instruments and reduced choral forces – the latter for attention at his death and which he did not complete, sadly. This satisfied a huge musical curiosity as to how it originally sounded. Nowadays, the horizon has been broadened and Bach’s music is played on an ever-widening variety of instruments from marimba to saxophone to anything you care to name, as well as by specialising chamber ensembles.

Click here to listen to “Vor deinen Thron trett’ ich hiermit” beautifully played by the Danish String Quartet joined by a youth choir. Take a moment…

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