BACH-HALL: Chorale Prelude No. 2 (« Jesu, der du meine Seele ») [BachScholar]


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ABOUT HALL’S “10 CHORALE PRELUDES FOR PIANO, BOOK 1”: Wikipedia summarizes the chorale prelude as: “In music, a chorale prelude is a short liturgical composition for organ using a chorale tune as its basis. It was a predominant style of the German Baroque era and reached its culmination in the works of J.S. Bach, who wrote 46 (with a 47th unfinished) examples of the form in his Orgelbüchlein.”

Although originally an organ genre, chorale preludes have also been composed for piano, most notably those by Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924). Busoni’s well-known chorale preludes (composed around 1890-1920) are piano transcriptions of Bach’s chorale preludes for organ, meaning that they are “transcriptions of arrangements” rather than original arrangements, per se. That is, Bach used a traditional chorale tune (hymn tune) as the basis for his organ renditions or arrangements, then over 150 later Busoni transcribed these arrangements to piano. With Busoni’s renditions, the pianist is essentially playing exactly what Bach wrote for the organ, which often result in awkward and unidiomatic piano pieces.

Hall’s “10 Chorale Preludes for Piano, Book 1” are of an entirely different esthetic than Busoni’s, since Hall consulted the original source (i.e., Bach’s original four-part chorales) rather than Bach’s organ arrangements. Hall’s “10 Chorale Preludes for Piano, Book 1” are arguably the finest chorale preludes ever written for piano, more pianistically idiomatic and original than Busoni’s, all being beautiful romantically-inspired piano pieces for the advanced pianist. They were all composed in intense “white heat” over a very short period of only about two weeks in February, 2016, under the influence of God in His person of the Holy Spirit. Hall never planned on composing original chorale preludes, yet one day in early February, 2016, a small spark led to a giant conflagration. Only two weeks later, Hall had miraculously completed ten masterpieces while teaching full-time a total of 45 weekly piano students.

ABOUT THIS CHORALE PRELUDE: Bach composed three different harmonizations for this chorale. The chorale used for this arrangement comes from the "C.P.E. Bach Collection" rather than a cantata. This is the calmest and most "meditative" of the ten chorale preludes, in the rare key of B-flat minor (also the key of Bach's original four-part chorale) and characterized by slow triplet movement.

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