About this work
Bach's Deutsche Orgelmesse (German Mass for Organ) opens with a lengthy Prelude and Fugue in E flat major and closes with a large Fugue in that same key. In between are 21 chorale preludes grouped in pairs or threes to serve as a section of the mass. This fughetta is one of two pieces forming the Orgelmesse's "Ten Commandments." As with most other sections, there is a grande and a petite version of the music, and this fughetta is the petite rendition. It is relatively brief compared with its sibling, but shares the same cantus firmus material. Lasting less than half the length of the approximately five-minute grande version (BWV 678), this petite account is livelier and brighter. Indeed, the mood is joyous, the music quite jaunty in its canonic activity, offering quite a contrast to the more stately and glorious manner of the grande version. Bach may have designed his petite and grande versions as a sort of parallel to the adult and children's editions of the Lutheran catechism. But one cannot construe that to mean the smaller versions are intended for children. True, this fughetta is not as complex or lengthy as its grande sibling, but it is masterfully constructed nonetheless, with subtle contrapuntal writing that was so typical of Bach.