WHICH ART IN HEAVEN / TENEBRAE / About the concert

The introduction of tonight’s concert, Prelude and Fugue in B minor, is a mature piece by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), in which the prelude is in the form of a serious concerto grosso, while the fugue, with a subject composed exclusively of quavers, is contrastingly impatient. The subject itself has the range of a diminished seventh, as have the fugato “solo” sections in the prelude. Tense chords and striking abruptios complete the Passion-like character of the work.

The three great chorale preludes of the act of contrition (Kyrie, Christe, Kyrie) that follow come from the Clavier-Übung III collection. In its individual hymns (Protestant chorales), the collection sums up all the important sections of the Protestant mass. The Kyrie itself, as cantus firmus, cites the Gregorian chant, more precisely the ordinary Kyrie fons bonitatis (Lord, source of goodness) in a German paraphrase.

The intimate chorale prelude O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde gross (O man, bewail thy sins so great) with its richly coloured leading Voice is one of the longest chorale preludes in Orgelbüchlein. It reaches very remote tonalities (A flat minor, C flat major), thus emphasising the penitent character of the music.

Chorale prelude Vater unser im Himmelreich is Bach’s weighty personal testimony. It is set in five voices, with each hand playing a different manual. Besides the rhythmically complex melody line, the cantus firmus of the chorale is given a canon treatment.

Georg Muffat’s (1653–1704) Passacaglia in G minor ranks among the most important works by this J.S. Bach predecessor. The constantly repeated motif in the lowest voice is variously harmonised and figured. In the inventiveness of these figurations, the compositional and improvisatory artistry of Baroque musicians is well apparent.

The character of Pēteris Vasks’s (1946) Te Deum is very different from the one its title might suggest. It is an intimately expressed act of praise and thanksgiving to God. The musical language is very accessible and employs elements of musical minimalism.

The Prelude in F sharp minor that follows, by the North German composer Dietrich Buxtehude (1637–1707), is full of reversals. It is a finely crafted fantasia with several smaller fugatos. Towards the end, the organ pedal is given a virtuoso solo performance.

Ondřej Múčka, translated by Štěpán Kaňa


Preludium h moll BWV 544:1
Prelude in B minor BWV 544:1

from Clavier-Übung III
Nr. 1 Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit BWV 669
(canto fermo in soprano)
Nr. 2 Christe, aller Welt Trost BWV 670
(canto fermo in tenore)
Nr. 3 Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist BWV 671
(canto fermo in basso)

O Mensch, bewein‘ dein‘ Sünde gross
BWV 622
from Orgelbüchlein

Passacaglia in G minor

Te Deum

Prelude in F sharp minor BuxWV 146

Vater unser im Himmelreich BWV 682
from Clavier-Übung III

Fugue in B minor BWV 544:2

Hans-Ola Ericsson (Sweden) – organ


Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, Jezuitská street

April 17, 9 PM

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