Johann Sebastian Bach, Agnus Dei (Hohe Messe, BWV 232)
A few days ago I stumbled upon a tanscription of Bach’s Agnus Dei, from his Hohe Messe (BWV 232), for organ. And it was actually quite a bad transcription, in my opinion, that did not do justice to the heavenly beauty of the original. So I set myself the challenge to create a better transcription.
Bach’s original is scored for violin, alto and basso continuo. The violin and alto play beautifully intertwining melodies and the basso continuo provides the harmonic basis. Those three parts can be played note perfect with two hands and two feet. The three parts together do however not allways play complete harmonies and in the original aria it is up to the continuo player to fill in the missing harmony notes. As I am not an experienced continuo player I decided to write an extra fourth part, that has the role of filling in the harmonic blancs where appropriate and to add some extra motivic drive where I thought an continuo player could add that.
The result captures the spirit of the original quite nicely, though a stop on an organ, or combination of stops can not compete in expresiveness with a singing human. It turned out to be a bit difficult to play (for me), so it took a few days to practice. I hope you enjoy the performance and the score.
The first recording was done with the Hauptwerk software and the sampleset, made by Sonus Paradisi, of the Schittger organ in the St. Martini-kerk, Groningen. The second recording was done with the Hauptwerk software and the sampleset, made by Sonus Paradisi, of the Bader organ in the Walburgiskerk, Zutphen (https://www.sonusparadisi.cz/en/organs/netherlands/zutphen-virtual-organ-model.html).
Bach, Hohe Messe, Agnus Dei
2nd Performance (slower)
Well done! Obviously not easy to play.
Thanks! Perhaps I should have practised a few days more. But I wnted to share this one and move on with other scores I want to publish.
You could play the left hand down an octave
I love your website and play many pieces at St Mary’s Cathedral Aberdeen UK where I have been organist for 49 years
Yes, playing an octave down is of course a good possibility. Only, I wanted to use all 3 Principal’s 8′ of this sample set for the alto-solo, so playing an octave down wasn’t an option. Could try it on another sample set thought.
I love the idea that my scores are used all over the world. Thanks for letting me know!