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Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV663
1708/17; revised into Leipzig Chorales collection, the '18' circa 1744/7

'Bach: Piano Transcriptions, Vol. 4 – Samuel Feinberg' (CDA67468)
Bach: Piano Transcriptions, Vol. 4 – Samuel Feinberg
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'Bach: Wachet auf!' (CDA67071/2)
Bach: Wachet auf!
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'Bach: The Complete Organ Works' (CDS44121/36)
Bach: The Complete Organ Works
CDS44121/36  16CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted  
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Track 4 on CDA67468 CD1 [5'48] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 13 on CDS44121/36 CD10 [6'22] 16CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV663
In the great cycle of thirteen Chorale Preludes that he worked on gradually through the 1920s and 1930s, Feinberg showed that he was fully aware of the underlying musical ‘programme’ of each piece, and this affected the musical ‘spacing’ that he envisaged in each case. The presentation of the cantus firmus is carefully considered and he always imagined different registrations – even if it was usual not to change registration during a performance of the original on the organ. Feinberg proves to be very attentive to Bach’s occasional indications – for instance in BWV650 in G major, where the cantus firmus is marked Pedal 4 Fuss, indicating in practice that it would sound an octave higher than the normal pedal line.

Two of the chorales offer us the chance to compare Feinberg’s transcriptions with those of Busoni: BWV665 in E minor, and BWV659 in G minor. In the latter piece we find a large number of different choices in the two versions. The tempo is Adagio in Busoni’s transcription, followed by numerous character indications, and Largo in Feinberg’s, and this qualified only by the word espressivo. As for dynamics, Busoni marks the whole piece piano (with the suggestion to play una corda except during the cantus firmus passages), while Feinberg suggests a basic pianissimo dynamic with numerous small crescendi and decrescendi. In terms of musical ‘breathing’, Busoni insists that there should be no rallentando at the entry of the cantus firmus; Feinberg suggests one not there but instead at the end of each sequence. As for phrasing and articulation, Busoni suggests very little: a simple legato, albeit with indications of pedal; Feinberg insists on a constant legatissimo with numerous phrase markings but no pedal. The two transcribers thus seem to have envisaged widely divergent scenarios. Despite this, however, there are other aspects in which the composers are much closer together.

from notes by Christophe Sirodeau © 2004
English: Andrew Barnett

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Details for CDA67468 disc 1 track 4
Recording date
3 December 2003
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Jeremy Hayes
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Bach: Piano Transcriptions, Vol. 4 – Samuel Feinberg (CDA67468)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: September 2004
    2CDs for the price of 1
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