June 16, 2021--Chorale Prelude on Vater unser im Himmelreich by Samuel Scheidt

This is reaching back into history further than I usually do with Scheidt's Chorale Prelude on Vater unser im Himmelreich. Samuel Scheidt is a transitional composer between the later Renaissance styles and the early Baroque, and I think you hear it clearly in this prelude. The work begins as an instrumental paraphrase of a polyphonic motet--three voices enter in turn, each playing a fragment of melody before moving into freer counterpoint against each other. Interestingly, at the opening the three voices are based on the inversion of the chorale melody. In an inversion, the melody is played as though it were turned upside down: the original chorale melody begins with three pitches on the same tone before skipping down a third and then ascending by step for the next two pitches. In the inversion, the melody begins with the three tones on the same pitch followed by a skip UPWARD by a third and then descending by step. The fourth voice carries the original chorale tune (cantus firmus) in the uppermost voice. Meanwhile, the three lower voices continue in progressively faster rhythmic values below it creating the controlled chaos that is quintessential to the Baroque aesthetic.

In this recording, I used a Principal 8', Bourdon 8' and Flute 4' on the Swell for the tenor and alto voices. The pedal used a Subbass 16' and Principal 8' for the bass. The Great was a Bourdon 8', Flute 4', Gemshorn 2', and Tierce 1 3/5' combination.

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