BWV 714

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Ach, Gott und Herr

BWV 714 performed by Bart Jacobs
St Bavo's Church, Haarlem

"Bach is putting you on the wrong track."

Mystical Italian

Who could Bach have picked this up from?

Bach regularly used styles and forms from Italian music throughout his oeuvre. Yet the first movement of BWV 714 is special, as practically nowhere else does Bach write such purely Italianate organ music. As organist Bart Jacobs remarks: this is definitely the Italian style of durezze e legature, which literally means ‘harshness and suspensions’. Here, Bach writes long, sustained notes, resolving dissonants and making room for new dissonants in a chain that is only truly resolved at the end. In Italy, this sort of mystical music often accompanied the elevation: the displaying of the host during Mass.

It is rather similar to Frescobaldi, but bears an even stronger resemblance to the improvisations of Italian church organists. You can still hear organists improvising in this style today in Italy. So who could Bach have picked this up from? Maybe indirectly from the Italian organist and composer Vincenzo Albrici. Albrici worked in Dresden and even at St Thomas Church in Leipzig for a year in 1681, after which he left for Prague. Albrici’s pupil Johann Kuhnau might possibly have improvised in this Italian style as well. One Italian organist that Bach may have heard was Giovanni Alberto Ristori, who arrived in Dresden in 1715. Along with Zelenka and Heinichen, he was responsible for the church music at the Saxon court. He was certainly an excellent organist, as he received a temporary appointment as chamber organist in 1733.

For the second movement of this chorale arrangement, Bach chooses a strict canon. It is as though he alarmed himself by his excursion into Italianate mysticism and wanted to contrast it with a strictly Protestant variation. 


Ach, Gott und Herr / Ach, Gott und Herr per canonem

organ work (chorale arrangement)



Cast & Crew

Release date 18 August 2017
Recording date 22 September 2016
Location St Bavo's Church, Haarlem
Organist Bart Jacobs
Organ Christian Müller, 1738
Director Bas Wielenga
Music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
Music edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera Bas Wielenga, Jeroen Simons
Lights Gregoor van de Kamp
Producer Jessie Verbrugh
Interview Onno van Ameijde

Vocal Texts




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