J. S. Bach: Dona nobis pacem (BWV 232 final mvt)

16 parts12 pages03:064 years ago2,926 views
Trumpet(2), Timpani, Flute, Oboe, Strings(4), Contrabass, Voice(4), Organ(2)
The grand closing movement of Bach's incomparable B Minor Mass, with trumpets and drums. It is a reprise of the "Gratias Agimus" of the same mass, with slight adjustments, that itself a "parody" (i.e., Bach reused it, not said silly things about it) of "Wir danken Dir (i.e., 'gratias agimus tibi')" from the "Ratswahl" (town council changing) cantata BWV 29.

This D major movement is remarkable for its beatific, serene nobility and grandeur; it is as content and bright as the b minor Kyrie which opens the Mass (posted on this account) is grave and shadowed, but no less noble and grand. It is scored for four choral voices, backed up by strings and continuo, with three obbligato trumpets, sometimes doubling the high voices, sometimes not, creating a six-part texture toward the end that simply blazes in Sunday morning sunlight.

The movement is a very tight fugue on a very short remarkable subject, an almost-symmetrical subject that fits in four notes, D E F# G (F# E F# D G) F# E D. This quality means that you can play it on D (as given) or on A, the dominant, A B C# D .... C# B A without even touching or modifying any tone. Over and above that, the subject (in those two keys) forms a stretto (close imitation with itself) (the second starts three notes into the first), and the entire movement is studded with stretti, including (very unusual for a fugue) at the very start.

The continuo realization is my own; the figures are from the "Gratias agimus" (the BG edition shows no figures for "Dona nobis pacem"). Again, it is remarkable that MuseScore can do this so well.