BWV 646

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Wo soll ich fliehen hin

BWV 646 performed by Wolfgang Zerer
St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg

Organist Wolfgang Zerer has always wondered: why those two titles, 'Wo soll ich fliehen hin' or 'Auf meinen lieben Gott'?

Echo with no source

Odd one out or the trace of a lost cantata?

‘Whither shall I flee, troubled as I am by so many sins?’, asks a Trostgesänglein from 1630, to a melody regularly used by Bach in his cantatas and organ music. The hymn of faith is a rather businesslike encounter between the two keyboard parts set in the tenor in the pedal (the publication explicitly states ‘Ped: 4 Fuss.’, above the bass in the left hand). The flight or maybe the flow of Christ’s sacred blood is heard in the opening motif, a small group of seven quick notes, which recurs throughout the piece. But was this originally a cantata aria, like the five other Schübler Chorales, and was it then also arranged by a third party on the basis of a score? Or maybe there was no original and the composer wrote this work especially for the occasion. The two outer parts feel very keyboard-like in all respects; more so than in the other chorales. We will never know, until a ‘new’ cantata turns up somewhere in a dusty corner of the library.

Schübler-Choräle, BWV 645-650

They may have a number and an epithet, but that does not necessarily mean that Bach wrote the six enchanting Schübler Chorales himself. Five of them are arrangements of known cantata movements – and the sixth may well be an arrangement too, from a lost work. Whereas some people, as organist Wolfgang Zerer, do not doubt the hand of the master and identify a well-considered construction in it, other specialists see a big gap between Bach’s own refined transcriptions and these works that have often been transferred rather literally to the organ. Did the master give this task to his son Wilhelm Friedemann, for example? Did he want to give opportunities to players of more popular music in Clavier-Übung III, as well as to the most virtuoso organists? Were these hits also bestsellers when arranged? Although we do not know the answers, it is a fact that Bach himself owned a copy of Schübler’s publication, which is very interesting for its abundance of improvements and changes by a composer in the latter years of his life.


BWV
646

title
Wo soll ich fliehen hin oder: Auf meinen lieben Gott

genre
organ work (chorale arrangement)

series
Schübler-Choräle/Sechs Choräle von verschiedener Art

year
1748-49

city
Leipzig

bijzonder
Published by Johann Georg Schübler in Zella.

Cast & Crew

release date 13 November 2015
recording date 21 October 2014
LOCATION St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg
Organ Various builders between the 15th and 19th century. Restoration: Flentrop 2013.
ORGANIST Wolfgang Zerer
PRODUCER Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Jan Van den Bossche
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Sal Kroonenberg
CAMERA ASSISTANTS Andreas Grotevent, Lucas Lütz
MUSIC PRODUCTION, EDITING AND MIX Holger Schlegel
FILM EDITOR Jasper Verkaart
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Hanna Schreuders
interview Onno van Ameijde
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Vadim Dukart, Andreas Fischer

Vocal Texts

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