J.S. Bach: Transcriptions

J.S. Bach: Transcriptions
Composer Johann Sebastian Bach
Artist Stefano Molardi organ
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 96413
EAN code 5028421964133
Release July 2022

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About this release

Transcription has always been a widespread musical practice: the desire to arrange pieces requiring an ensemble of instruments and/or voices for a single instrument like the organ, harpsichord or, later, piano, influenced the musical world in previous centuries, expanding the repertoire and providing composers with new ideas for formal structures and performance techniques.

The 18th century was a very fertile period for transcription, and the practice reached its pinnacle among members of Johann Sebastian Bach’s circle. In his Weimar period Bach transcribed the works of others for both organ (three concertos by Vivaldi and two by Ernst) and harpsichord (an astonishing 14 pieces by various Italian composers), but he also adapted his own works for instrumental/vocal forces to the keyboard.
The aim of these recordings is to offer listeners a series of works by J.S. Bach that in one way or another were originally written for instruments other than the organ. This includes the artist's own contribution to the genre in seven tracks on CD 1.

BWV539 is taken by Bach (or one of his children or pupils) from his Sonata No.1 in G minor for solo violin. The sinfonia from the cantata BWV29 and the first movement of the trio sonata BWV528, meanwhile, were certainly his own work. His ‘entourage’ was definitely responsible for the three trios BWV1014, BWV21 and BWV1027. The first of these is the third movement of the sonata for harpsichord and violin BWV1014 (originally in D), while the second is an arrangement of the sinfonia for oboe, strings and continuo from the cantata Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis BWV21. BWV1027 contains three movements that may originate from a lost sonata in G for two violins and continuo – the same material is used in the sonata for two flutes and continuo BWV1039 and the sonata for viola da gamba with obbligato harpsichord BWV1027. The second movement of the trio sonata BWV528 has a previous version in E minor, while the third movment has similar features to the Allegro ma non presto of the sinfonia from cantata BWV152 and was likely first composed in Bach’s youth as a sonata for oboe, viola (da gamba?) and continuo. The trio sonata BWV525 offers a similar scenario. In this case, the 1978 discovery of an incipit from an organ trio in a catalogue suggests that there may be an earlier version (in B flat) of at least the first movement. It is almost identical to the start of the first movement of BWV525, and the entire sonata could derive from a sonata for alto recorder, oboe and continuo. comes from a single source written out by Benjamin Cooke (1734–93), who was organist at Westminster Abbey in London. The transposition of BWV545b into B flat (BWV545 is in C) and the transcription of the piece’s various movements were probably carried out by Bach’s pupil Johann Tobias Krebs. The Prelude, Trio & Fugue are Bach’s own work, interpolated with an anonymous Adagio and Tutti (possibly also transcribed by Krebs). The Trio movement is an arrangement of the third movement of the Sonata for viola da gamba & obbligato harpsichord BWV1029.

Transcription has always been a widespread musical practice, following the desire to arrange pieces originally written for an instrumental and/or vocal ensemble for an instrument like the organ or harpsichord or, later, the piano. The eighteenth century was a very fertile period for transcriptions, reaching its pinnacle among Johann Sebastian Bach’s circle. The transcriptions Bach (1685-1750) made during his time in Weimar both for organ (three concertos by Vivaldi and two by Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar) and an astonishing 14 for harpsichord (by various Italian composers) are of great artistic value.
However, Bach also adapted his own works originally written for instruments or voices, ‘appropriating’ them for the keyboard. These included the first movement of his Trio Sonata No. 4, taken from the sinfonia from the cantata Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes BWV 76 (for oboe d’amore, viola da gamba and basso continuo) and the Schübler chorales, which started off life as arias in various cantatas. The aim of this recording is to offer a series of transcriptions that were originally written for instruments other than the organ. The transcribers include Bach himself, contemporaries of him, two 19th century composers: Alexandre Guilmant and Robert Schaab, a pupil of Mendelssohn, ending with the present organist, Stefano Molardi himself.
Stefano Molardi is a “renaissance man”, organist, harpsichordist, scholar, historian and writer. He recorded extensively: the complete organ works by J.S. Bach, organ works by Bach family members, complete organ works by Kuhnau and other repertoire. His playing is clear, crisp, free and rhythmically vibrant. His recordings received 5 star reviews in the international classical magazines.
Played on the Johann Nepomuk Holzhey (1797) organ at the Neresheim Abbey, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the specifications of which are included in the booklet.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Johann Sebastian Bach: Sinfonia, BWV 29 (Transcription by A. Guilmant)
  2. Johann Sebastian Bach: Bleibt, ihr Engel, bleibt bei mir, BWV 19
  3. Johann Sebastian Bach: Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, BWV 110
  4. Johann Sebastian Bach: Wer bist du? Frage dein Gewissen, BWV 132
  5. Johann Sebastian Bach: Christi Glieder, ach bedenket, BWV 132
  6. Johann Sebastian Bach: Herr, der du stark und mächtig bist, BWV 10
  7. Johann Sebastian Bach: Komm süsses Kreuz from St. Matthew’s Passion
  8. Johann Sebastian Bach: O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß from St. Matthew’s Passion
  9. Johann Sebastian Bach: Von den Stricken meiner Sünden from St. John’s Passion
  10. Johann Sebastian Bach: Fuga in D Minor, BWV 539
  11. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio in G Major, BWV 1027: No. 1
  12. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio in G Major, BWV 1027: No. 2
  13. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio in G Major, BWV 1027: No. 4

Disk 2

  1. Johann Sebastian Bach: Wachet auf, ru­ uns die Stimme, BWV 645
  2. Johann Sebastian Bach: Wo soll ich fl iehen hin, BWV 646
  3. Johann Sebastian Bach: Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 647
  4. Johann Sebastian Bach: Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, BWV 648
  5. Johann Sebastian Bach: Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 649
  6. Johann Sebastian Bach: Kommst du nun, Jesu von Himmel herunter, BWV 650
  7. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio Sonata in E-Flat, BWV 525: I. Tempo ordinario
  8. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio Sonata in E-Flat, BWV 525: II.Adagio
  9. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio Sonata in E-Flat, BWV 525: III. Allegro
  10. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1014
  11. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio No. 1 in C Minor, BWV 21
  12. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio Sonata in E Minor, BWV 528: I. Adagio. Vivace
  13. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio Sonata in E Minor, BWV 528: II. Andante
  14. Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio Sonata in E Minor, BWV 528: III. Un poc’allegro
  15. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude, Trio and Fuge in B Major, BWV 545b: I. Prelude
  16. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude, Trio and Fuge in B Major, BWV 545b: II. Adagio
  17. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude, Trio and Fuge in B Major, BWV 545b: III. Trio
  18. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude, Trio and Fuge in B Major, BWV 545b: IV. Tutti
  19. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude, Trio and Fuge in B Major, BWV 545b: V. Fugue