BWV 694

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Wo soll ich fliehen hin

BWV 694 performed by Leo van Doeselaar
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

"The two parts, to be played on different manuals are fighting out a duel, allowing each other no rest at all."

A chorale melody that is laden with doom

Bach’s early organ compositions were snatched from oblivion by Kirnberger.

Bach cherished many of his compositions, ensuring they were collected, recycled or – if at all possible – published. But there are also pieces that did not receive this treatment, including the concise chorale arrangement Wo soll ich fliehen hin, BWV 694. The fact that it has survived is due only to Bach’s pupil Kirnberger, who collected twenty-four organ compositions, among other works, following his master’s death. The most remarkable thing about this collection is the lack of cohesion. The only thing that might connect the works is that they probably all date from the period before 1710.

Bach used the same chorale melody later on for another organ arrangement, BWV 646, which he published along with five others in the latter part of his life. So the youthful work on the same melody probably did not pass Bach’s own critical test. For music-lovers, however, it is very good that the piece survived, as this earlier version shows that Bach changed the emphasis later on.

The words of the chorale are about the fearful sinner who diligently tries to escape the clutches of the devil, and finds redemption and peace in the blood of Jesus. Above the doom-laden chorale melody in the pedal, which unfurls frightfully slowly and is therefore unrecognisable, the right hand plays a hurried escape motif. Nevertheless, the cheerful undertone in the left hand reveals that there will be a satisfactory outcome. In the even shorter BWV 646, the mood is also clearly hopeful. But the big difference is that Bach has filtered out the impending doom of the pedal. The message he gives is one of joy and encouragement. For the young Bach, however, hell and damnation must have been continually lying in wait.

Kirnbergerschen Sammlung, BWV 690-713

Bach cherished a great many of his compositions, ensuring that they were collected or recycled, and – if at all possible – published. But there are also pieces that missed the boat, such as the twenty-four early organ compositions now known as the Kirnbergerschen Sammlung. We owe the survival of these works to Bach’s pupil Johann Kirnberger, who collected twenty-four organ compositions, among other pieces, following the death of his master. The most striking thing about this collection is its lack of cohesion. The only similarity between the works is that they probably all date from the period before 1710.


BWV
694

Title
Wo soll ich fliehen hin

genre
organ work (chorale arrangement)

series
Kirnbergerschen Sammlung

Year
1739

City
before 1710?

Special notes
BWV 646 is a later arrangement of this chorale.

Cast & Crew

release date 15 May 2015
recording date 23 June 2013
LOCATION Walloon Church, Amsterdam
Organ Christian Müller, 1734
ORGANIST Leo van Doeselaar
PRODUCER Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Jan Van den Bossche
DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY Sal Kroonenberg, Ruben van den Broeke
Grip Antoine Petiet
MUSIC PRODUCTION, EDITING AND MIX Holger Schlegel
FILM EDITOR Dylan Glyn Jones
COLORIST Jef Grosfeld
interview Onno van Ameijde
PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS Marco Meijdam, Zoë de Wilde

Vocal Texts

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