In an intriguing juxtaposis of the old and the new, Daniel Saleeb’s solo organ piece “erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem wort” will appear alongside the corresponding Bach-Cantata in a performance given by the Kantor der Antoniterkirche Köln conducted by Johannes Quack, on 5th March 2017 in Cologne, Germany.
The work was written for William Whitehead’s Orgelbüchlein Project, a major international composition project to complete the 118 missing pieces of JS Bach’s Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) manuscript with new compositions based on his intended melody. Commissioned by the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music in 2013, the work is a wordless setting of the associated chorale text:
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort,
Und stur’ des Papsts und Türken Mord,
Die Jesum Christum, deinen Sohn,
Stürzen wollen von seinem Thron.
(Maintain us, Lord, within thy Word,
And fend off murd’rous Pope and Turk,
Who Jesus Christ, thy very Son,
Strive to bring down from his throne)
This setting draws on the tension in the text between prayerful reverence and the violent language of defense of Lutheranism from its perceived attackers which isn’t without a xenophobic aspect. The piece was first performed by William Whitehead at the Chapel of Lincoln’s Inn, and has since received performances by James McVinnie at the Chapel of St. John’s College, Cambridge, St. John’s Smith Square, and on BBC Radio 3 from St. Paul’s Knightsbridge. The Project describes it as wild, dramatic-rhetorical, followed by octatonic whirlwind, finally coming to becalmed exposition of chorale melody, difficulty level: 5.
“It was the first piece I wrote for the organ, and was written practically at the same time as a Fantasia on the same melody. I managed to get access to the organ at Lincoln’s Inn to write the Toccata — and that was basically my first proper intro to the instrument — although, the organ is quite familiar thanks to years of singing in cathedral and chapel choirs,” reveals the composer whose eclectic work includes music for the church, the concert platform, schools, film as well as theatre.
Have a look at Daniel’s “erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem wort” or discover more on his profile on Composers Edition.
Tags: BBC Radio 3, Cantata, Cologne, Daniel Saleeb, Germany, James McVinnie, JS Bach, Lincoln's Inn, London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, organ, solo, St John's Smith Square, St Paul's Cathedral, The Orgelbüchlein Project, Toccata on "Erhalt uns, Westminster Abbey, William Whitehead