BWV 734

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein

BWV 734 performed by Erwin Wiersinga
Stiftskirche St. Georg, Goslar-Grauhof

"The right hand has a very lively 'perpetuum mobile' that keeps going to the very end."

Cheerful leaps

The irrepressibly whirling joys of Advent.

Many of Bach’s chorale arrangements are short, but there are few that are over as quickly as this one. The right hand races through a long string of semiquavers, above a quite unique left hand that is very jumpy for a basso continuo line. In between – in the tenor played by the pedal – is the chorale melody, which was borrowed in the sixteenth century from another of Luther’s hymns and appears elsewhere in Bach’s oeuvre, for example in the Christmas Oratorio and cantata BWV 6. Although the perpetuum mobile in the upper part appears impetuous, Bach constructed it with great care. It seems to have started with a little motif described by Samuel Scheidt in 1624 as imitatio violistica; a way of linking four quick notes on the keyboard under a slur, like a stringed instrument would do. Bach treats the chorale melody in the same way, repeating it line by line, but then in very fast, short fragments in ever-changing combinations. The result is simply astonishing. No wonder the Italian composer and Bach fan Ferruccio Busoni arranged this cheerful piece for his favourite instrument at the beginning of the twentieth century, creating the ideal encore for pianists who like to impress their audience. 


Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein

organ work (chorale arrangement)

ca. 1708-1717


Special notes
An alternative version of this work, entitled 'Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit', is described as an earlier version or a less successful arrangement, especially where the melody differs from Bach’s version, in view of the different text.

Cast & Crew

release date 5 February 2016
recording date 26 August 2015
LOCATION Stiftskirche St. Georg, Goslar-Grauhof
ORGANIST Erwin Wiersinga
organ Christoph Treutmann, 1731
FILM DIRECTOR and editor Onno van Ameijde
Camera Maarten van Rossem, Onno van Ameijde
interview Onno van Ameijde
Producer Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts




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