Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703) was J.S Bach’s first cousin once-removed and his music forms the solar plexus of the 17th-century craft which provided Johann Sebastian with the prime inspiration for his own vocal output. He was described in the family as ‘the profound one’, and in Johann Sebastian’s Obituary Notice recorded ‘as good at inventing beautiful thoughts as he was at expressing words’. His vocal music is generally rhetorical, concentrated and intense, often employing elaborate and rich instrumental textures.
Ich lasse dich nicht (I will not leave thee until I am blessed) is couched in the traditional German chorale double-choir motet form, an ‘in alternatim’ chorale followed by a skillfully turned section where the chorale and free material dovetail. In this edition, the sections in which the double choir are equal become quasi-antiphonal, thereby intensifying the texts from Genesis and Hans Sachs, whose ending, ‘I am a poor child of the world and find no consolation on earth’, offers an unassuming yet affecting peroration.
Scholars are increasingly of the view that this is, in fact, probably the work of the young Johann Sebastian Bach, especially given the sprightly contrapuntal élan of the second half, complete with stretti and inversions. Is this the work of precocious youth or productive old age? Or could it be a hybrid? Maybe this is the ‘young Turk’ completing an unfinished work under his cousin’s tutorial supervision. The first half employs the circular motivic techniques of a late Schützian world whilst the chromatic inflections at the end of the first section, and the succeeding fugal texture of the second half, are distinctly of the new age.
- Trumpet in C
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