Johann Gottfried Walther, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
Walther is of course well known, and as such not really the subject of Partitura Organum. But this piece is too beautiful and fits the time of year too well to ignore. It is one of three preludes Walther wrote on the theme of “Nun komm der heiden Heiland”. It presents the chorale melody in all four voice. As counter subject for the first fragment of the melody Walther uses both the other fragments. Thus he creates a texture in which the melody fragments twirl around each other, in both more or less plain form and heavily embellished. One needs the score to really hear what’s going on.
The recording was done with the sampleset, made by Organ Art Media, of the Arp Schnitger organ in Steinkirchen.
Walther, Nun komm der heiden Heiland
Score (non alto)
Walther, Nun komm der heiden Heiland non alto
I note that you say that this is one of three preludes on Nun komm der Heiden Heiland composed by J.G. Walther. In the Breitkopf edition of the collected organ works of Walther this piece is presented as Verse 3 of a three verse partita. The first two verses are similar in style but this piece is quite different. The Breitkopf edition does not state the sources used.
I see that in Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Mus.ms. 22541 II this piece appears with no other Walther preludes, but as part of a collection of preludes on Nun komm by other composers. That suggests that the piece you have published here is a stand alone prelude and not part of a partita, unless there as other Walther sources that suggest otherwise. Maybe the other two preludes in the Breitkopf edition are also separate pieces.
This composition appears in the manuscript you mentioned (Mus.ms. 22541 II) on page 27. The other two composition of Walther based on this choral melody appear on pages 17 and 18 of the same manuscript. Here they are indicated as vers 1 and vers 2.
Another of hte Walther manuscripts (Mus.ms. 22541 I) features the same three compositions on pages 42 – 45, where they are indicated as vers 1, vers 2 and vers 3.
Interesting is further that in manuscript Mus.ms. 22541 II, on pages 19 – 22 Walther notates BWV 661 and BWV 660 and calls them vers 1 and vers 2.
Now, did Walther intend his three compositions as a chorale partita, to be played as one ccomposition? Or did he intend his three compositions as introduction to three different verses of the same chorale? In effect, as three seperate compositions?
Nobody doubts that BWV 660 and BWV 661 are seperate compositions. I am inclined to think that the three Walther verses are seperate compositions as well. Hence is it that I wrote “one of three preludes”.
Many thanks for your reply. What I was wondering was whether there were other sources for these preludes and what inferences could be taken from them. Taking account of the evidence I agree with your assessment that the three Walther preludes are indeed separate compositions.