Johann Christoph Oley, Ermuntre dich mein schwacher Geist
Oley’s prelude to the chorale “Ermuntre dich mein schwacher Geist” is the last one chorale prelude taken from manuscript Ec 266.1.2. I kept this one as the final composition to be published because of two reasons: it is the most surprising of the compositions from manuscript Ec 266.1.2 and it is the most difficult one to play. Where often Oley’s compositions are a bit stiff, scholarly or even boring, this prelude shows Oley could write some fasinating music as well. He abondons his usual baroquish style to adopt for one leaning more to the classical era, even though it is written more or less as an organ Trio. I say more or less, because the parts for both hands are independent and indeed exhanged between the hands, the parts themselves are not monophonic and feature chords and even two voices in one hands. The final bars even have a double part for the pedals. Like a classical sonata the first half of the composition ends on the dominant (C major here). The second half features a very short episode touching some minor tonalities before recapitulating the material of the first part in the tonic (F major).
The relation with the melody of the chorale is unclear to me. Perhaps Oley’s intention is to use no more than the first few notes of the choral melody as a motif or theme for the composition. The composition certainly does not follow the harmonic layout of the choral melody. Perhaps there is another melody that is used for this choral. If so, I am not familiar with it.
The prelude is rather difficult to play with all the trills and hand crossings. I didn’t succeed in recording a performance in one go. So I decided to record the first half and second half seperately and glue them together in the video/audo-software.
The recording was done with the Hauptwerk software and the sample set of the Holzey organ of St. Peter and Paul in Weissenau by Prospectum (https://www.prospectum.com/index.php?language=english&id1=2&id2=9).
Oley, Ermunter dich mein schwacher Geist