The Drei Psalmlieder
, Op 13 (1872) is a collection of three choral songs for four-voiced mixed choir, with texts that Cornelius fashioned after Psalms. They are wonderful examples of his ability to set texts and to rework older music into something new and fresh (see also the Reitermarsch
, derived from Schubert). Each of the pieces is based on a different instrumental movement by Bach: ‘Bußlied’ (after Psalm 88) draws on the Sarabande from the French Suite No 1 (BWV812), ‘An Babels Wasserflüssen’ (after Psalm 137) on the Sarabande from the English Suite No 3 (BWV808), and ‘Jerusalem’ (after Psalm 122) on the second Minuet from the Partita No 1 BWV825. Cornelius has retained the musical substance of Bach’s originals, distributed between the four voices (thus the sopranos usually carry the melody). The first two of these miniatures are dark and chromatic, in accordance with Bach’s sarabandes, whereas ‘Jerusalem’ is jubilant and diatonic, set in the manner of a chorale.
from notes by James Deaville © 2000