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Chorale Partita I on "Ach wie fluchtig"

Composer Notes... A set of variations on the Chorale “Ach Wie Flüchtig, ach wie Nichtig” (“How fleeting, and worthless”) The title as given by Bach for his Cantata No 26. There are three movements:- Chorale, Fantasia and Fughetto. Dedicated to James Lawson.

The melody of this Chorale is by Michael Frank (1609-1667). The first movement, Chorale, offers this melody in alternating two and three part harmony in the key of A minor. The Fantasia begins with flowing sixteenth notes and the melody enters in quarter notes in the pedals. After each phrase of the melody the upper part gives a counter melody. The Fugetto is in three voices and ends with the Chorale Maestoso.

As a newly appointed carillonneur with a very small repertoire the composer set himself the question “What would Bach have done in these circumstances?” and the answer seemed most likely “an improvisation on a chorale melody, perhaps”, so that’s what he did. Aberdeen 1966, revised 1988.

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