Only in the last few years has the music of Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785) begun to receive recognition for its true value, as the work of one of the most talented and individual composers in the generation after J.S. Bach. Homilius was a pupil of Bach’s at the second church in Leipzig, the Nikolaikirche (Bach was Cantor of church music for the city as a whole, not only St Thomas’s where he was based). Before the age of 30 he became Cantor at the then-new and stunning Frauenkirche in Dresden, with its superb Silbermann organ, much coveted by Bach who had to make do with what he saw as lesser, patched-up old instruments in Leipzig. In fact his entire career was based in Dresden, for in 1755 he moved over the river to the city’s Kreuzkirche, where he took charge of the music until his death 30 years later.
As might be expected, Homilius’s choral preludes are rooted in the contrapuntal tradition propounded by his teacher Bach; not, however, without characteristics belonging to the more affective aesthetic movement of Empfindsame Stil for which Bach’s son CPE is now best known. Thus there are some bold modulations which Father Bach would never have imagined or countenanced, such as the oscillation between C minor and C sharp minor in Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder, or the (then still) unusual B flat minor key of Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten.
This appears to be the first recording to include all the great organ chorales so far authenticated as the work of Homilius – many of them remain unpublished. It is made by a Venetian keyboard musician specialising in early music, on a modern
(2007) instrument tuned to Werckmeister III – as close as is practicable to the tuning that Homilius would have known.
Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785) was a favourite pupil of J.S. Bach, and was regarded as one of the best (if not the greatest) organist who ever lived. During his long professional live he held several important posts, his last 30 years as cantor of the Kreuzkirche in Dresden.
Homilius’ Chorale Preludes are firmly rooted in the contrapuntal tradition of his great teacher J.S. Bach, with added elements of the Empfindsame Stil, dramatic expressions of emotion. They show incredible skill, master pieces in their genre.
This is the first time the complete Organ Chorales are recorded, several of which are not yet published.
Played on a magnificent 2007 Zanin organ, built in the tradition of 18th century baroque style. The complete specificatons of the organ are included in the booklet.
Felix Marangoni is a specialist in 17th and 18th century keyboard music, a scholar and devoted musician, winner of several important competitions, such as the Buxtehude Competition in 2007.