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MP3 Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Michael Bach, Andreas Werckmeister - EARLY - American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble, Johnny Reinhard, Rebecca Pechefsky, Douglas Frank Chorale

Amazing microtonally-informed performances of Johann Sebastian Bach, uncle Johann Michael Bach & Andreas Werckmeister

27 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Orchestral, CLASSICAL: Traditional

EARLY (P-200202) is the second CD in the PITCH collection created from a treasure of live concert performances in New York City by the American Festival of Microtonal Music (since 1981). The masterful recordings made by Norman Greenspan capture spectacular live performances of virtuosi microtonal musicians. The title of the CD refers to the bucolic nature of Thuringian life in the later Baroque.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) needs little introduction to international audiences, however it is questionable that modern audiences hear his works the way he intended them to be heard. Evidence has been mounting that Johann Sebastian composed all his works in Andreas Werckmeister''s preferred chromatic temperament III tuning (published in 1681 throughout Germany). This temperament served as the standard organ temperament in all the major Bach cities. The Arnstadt organ, built by master organ builder Wender, was prescribed for Werckmeister tuning according to a description of Wender''s preferences given by Leipzig''s Kuhnau. The Muhlhausen organ, again built by Wender, was tuned by Bach''s predecessor, Ahle, a personal friend of Werckmeister''s. Buxtehude, another of Werckmeister''s good friends, was a strong advocate for this tuning in Lübeck. In addition, Bach''s cousin Walther studied with Werckmeister in Halberstadt and praised this master in his 1732 Musikalisches Lexikon, the first German language encyclopedia of music.

In Werckmeister III tuning there are 39 different melodic intervals produced at six cents apart (1200 cents to the octave).

Werckmeister Preferred Chromatic (Werckmeister III):
C 0
C# 90 (same as Db)
D 192
Eb 294 (same as D#)
E 390
F 498
F# 588 (same as Gb)
G 696
Ab 792 (same as G#)
A 888
A# 996 (same as Bb)
B 1092

Brandenberg Concerto #2 is part of the set of six pre-symphonic works by J.S. Bach composed in the Anhalt-Koethen period, most likely intended for performance in the Castle Mirror Room ("Schloss Spiegel Salle"). Only in this room can an alto recorder balance with a trumpet, for the acoustics are miraculous. This performance is of an encore presentation of an AFMM concert, repeated at the audience''s insistence.


Johann Sebastian Bach''s The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II, is as clear a microtonal masterpiece as can be imagined. Each key in both major and minor is treated to full compositional focus in 2 complete sets, written over 20 years apart. The tuning now called Werckmeister III was well established in J.S. Bach''s homeland of Thuringia. In it, each key is intervallically different from the next. The more diatonic keys are the closest to "just" intonation (pure intervals) with the more chromatic keys down right Pythagorean (a tuning that foregoes pure thirds in favor of perfect fifths). There is good representation of various meantone tunings and a practical mirror of conventional 12-tone equal temperament. Each of the Preludes and Fugues heard here was chosen specifically to highlight these differences in key character.

Harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky has been performing microtonally at AFMM concerts for many years now, as well as throughout the New York metropolitan area and across the nation.


Andreas Werckmeister (1645-1706) is credited for describing the "circle" of 12 major and minor keys through "well temperament" for the first time in history. Born in Benneckenstein, Thuringia, he lived his entire life in the Harz Mountain region, although he frequently traveled throughout the German lands. In Quedlinburg, Werckmeister published 9 books dealing with musical theory, theology, composition, and organ building. Bach owned a copy of Werckmeister''s Orgel-Probe, which was a diagnostic tool for organ building (1681), in his personal library (according to Bach scholar Christoph Wolff). Werckmeister''s most important treatise is Muscalische Temperatur (Musical Temperament), which remains untranslated in published form.


The score copy of Werckmeister''s Christmas Cantata, Wo Ist Der Neugeborne König Der Juden, was made by the composer''s contemporary Johann Georg Nattermann, cantor in Bosenrode after 1715. At the center of the Cantata, which is symmetrical in form, is a sequence of four arias, each separated by a short ritornello. Preceding and following the group of arias is a chorale for solo alto. The cantata is framed by the opening chorus, the principal movement, which is repeated at the conclusion. The opening chorus is preceded by an instrumental sonata, which serves to establish the character and tonality of the cantata. This is accomplished, in part, through the presentation of motivic material used in the opening chorus. Much like an organ intonazione, the sonata also serves the function of giving the choir its pitches. The ritornello, similar in character to the sonata, but much shorter, also makes use of motivic material found in the opening chorus.

According to the work''s modern editor, John Eric Floreen, "The movements of this cantata all begin and end in C major, but include movement to the dominant, subdominant, mediant, or submediant tonal levels. While Werckmeister''s well-known theoretical works on tuning systems represented significant advances and opened new doors in the realm of harmonic relationships, including the possibility of movement through the complete circle of fifths, this cantata is conservative in matters of harmonic progressions.

TEXT (in translation)
Where, where, where, where is the newborn King of the Jewry?
For we have seen his star before us, from Eastern homeland, and have come now,
the child to worship

(alto) All the riches of this world shall my soul shun now and ever.
Jesus and his light, my joy, reconciles me with the Father.

(soprano) The Eastern Star shines brightly now, rise up, go forth you merry Wisemen!
We want with you to journey wherever now the light will lead. God never will deceive you.
Leave every thing behind you, go quickly and draw near to find the true reward.
Jesus, this you shall be.

(alto) Go quickly forth, no efforts spare, no matter what the danger,
while traveling on this journey.
The Star will guide, the Lord will richly compensate for all hurt,
brought on in following his way.
Break through all danger and pain?
Jesus, this shall be so.

(tenor) O comforted, go forth for there we see the King of Heaven.
The darkness now is over. We find the little child, so dear.
He is our joy and treasure. O blest time, long a waited, the new Jerusalem:
the Wisemen, too, rejoice. Jesus shall be our joy.

(bass) My Saviour, light the way now to the Kingdom of our Father,
away with shameful Herod, and all the foes that trouble you.
O let the Star shine ever, to lead you on the pathway.
Your will be done; my treasure, joy, desire and peace, Jesus, this you shall be.

(alto) Jesus now abide with me, at my side remain forever.
Christ shall always lead me forth to life giving streams of water.
Blest are those whose prayer shall be: Jesus, ever stay by me.


Johann Michael Bach (1648-1694) was both Johann Sebastian Bach''s uncle and father-in-law. He served as organist and municipal clerk in the town of Gehren near Arnstadt. He and his more renowned older brother, Johann Christoph Bach, married a pair of sisters, the Wedemann''s, and the youngest of his five daughters was Maria Barbara (J.S. Bach''s first wife). Johann Michael was especially recognized as an expert craftsman in the field of organ construction and in building stringed instruments and clavichords. Unfortunately, most of his music is lost. However, the performance heard here of Ach, Bleib Bei Uns, Herr Jesu Christ is in a more likely intonation than that of equal temperament - Werckmeister III tuning. It is likely that the Bach brothers (the uncles) had already worked out the "natural consequence" of Werckmeister III in its relation to an earlier quarter-comma meantone rival (or "Praetorian" tuning), long before young Sebastian was on the Thuringian scene. Instead of flattening each perfect fifth by 6 cents, Werckmeister III only flats four of them: C-G, G-D, D-A, and B-F#, leaving the remaining fifths pure.

Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ, weil es nun Abend, worden ist.
Dein göttlich Wort, das helle Licht, lass ja bei uns auslöschen nicht!
In dieser letzten betrübten Zeit, verleih uns, Herr, Beständigkeit,
Dass wir dein Wort und Sakrament rein behalten bis an unser End.

O stay with us, Lord Jesus Christ, now that the evening comes with dusk.
Your holy word, this radiant light, let never be extinguished here!
In earthly life, full of agony, grant us, O Lord, consistency that we
keep word and sacrament pure and holy till our very end.

Brandenberg Concerto #5 is here performed with a modern flute. It has been placed at the end of the album to make the connection of the past with the future. Here, the achievement of retuning modern instruments allows for new possibilities in bringing the past into the language of the present. The use of modern trumpet in the Brandenburg Concerto #2 is never questioned, for few can master the non-piston trumpet then in use. The harpsichord solo is even more resplendent as it modulates into the different intervallic territory provided by Werckmeister III tuning. Surely, this was the ideal vehicle for the composer to bring attention to the keyboard, usually resigned to continuo duty.

Johann Sebastian Bach BRANDENBURG CONCERTO #2
Thomas Verchot, solo piccolo trumpet
Dan Auerbach, solo violin
Bram Kreeftmeijer, solo oboe
Johnny Reinhard, solo alto recorder
Maxim Mosten, ritornello violin
Julieanne Klopotic, ritornello viola
Anastasia Solberg, viola
Dan Barrett, cello
Jay Elfenbein, double bass
Rebecca Pechefsky, harpsichord

Prelude and Fugue
Rebecca Pechefsky, harpsichord

Douglas Frank Chorale:
Cynthia Shaw, soprano
Megan Friar, alto
Thom Baker, tenor
Gregg Lauterbach, bass
Dan Auerbach, solo violin
Johnny Reinhard, solo alto recorder
Maxim Mosten and Julieanne Klopotic, violins
Anastasia Solberg, viola
Dan Barrett, cello
Jay Elfenbein, double bass
Rebecca Pechefsky, harpsichord

Prelude and Fugue
Rebecca Pechefsky, harpsichord

Douglas Frank Chorale:
Cynthia Shaw, soprano
Megan Friar, alto
Thom Baker, tenor
Gregg Lauterbach, bass
Maxim Mosten, violin
Julianne Klopotic, violin
Dan Barrett, cello
Rebecca Pechefsky, harpsichord in Werckmeister III
Johnny Reinhard, conductor

Prelude and Fugue
Rebecca Pechefsky, harpsichord

Johann Sebastian Bach BRANDENBURG CONCERTO #5
Jennifer Grim, solo flute
Dan Auerbach, solo violin
Rebecca Pechefsky, solo harpsichord
Ralph Allen and Julianne Klopotic, ritornello violins
Anastansia Solberg, ritornello viola
Mat Fieldes, double bass

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