Twelve Variations on Chorale by J.S. Bach


A set of variations on the Chorale “Nimm von uns Herr Du Treuer Gott” from Cantata 101 by J.S Bach

Duration: 22′

Premiere: La Schola Cantorum, Paris, 2002
J.Y. Song, piano

Recording: Live from Berlin, Simone Dinnerstein
Release date: August 26, 2008

Published: Rassel Editions, NY

12 Variations on Chorale by J.S. Bach explores the power and modernity of Bach’s harmonic insight and poetry. The composer writes: “I have always considered Bach’s Chorales to be among his finest compositions. Often they are used in class for students to learn the rules of harmony. This is a pity, as they are much more than mere harmonic realizations of chorale melodies. In each chorale, Bach focuses on a particular feature of the chorale melody and composes a miniature work of art bringing to all its voices the motivic potential residing in the original tune.

Thus it is in the Chorale Nimm von uns, Herr, du Treuer Gott (Take from us, Lord, Thou demanding God) from the eponymous Cantata 101 that Bach chooses a particular melodic moment from the Lutheran hymn and infuses all the other voices of the Chorale with this unique sonority, with an almost maniacal insistence.
In my Variations, I take on this mania to see how far one can go. . . . The first 10 Variations free themselves little by little from the Chorale, eventually yielding to the 11th, entitled Variation of Variations, taking all the elements I have teased out of the chorale through the previous ten variations and making a single movement out of them. The final variation returns to the Chorale, cast onto a higher spiritual plane.”
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein has been playing this work worldwide. It is on her new CD The Berlin Concert available August 26, 2008 from Telarc.