About this work
Bach often made numerous versions of organ works based on the same chorale theme. This chorale prelude, "Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend" (Lord Jesus Christ, look upon us), exists in at least eight different renditions, a ninth, BWV Anh. 56, being of doubtful origin. Among the more popular versions are the BWV 709, 655, 632 (which serves as the first work in the Glaubenslieder section of the masterful Das Orgelbüchlein), and this one, BWV 726. Most of these versions are short, lasting about one-and-a-half to three minutes, and this one is no exception, but it is quite effective in its brevity and must rank with the best renditions. Bach gives the chorale theme a generally grandiose treatment in this prelude, one that is quite appropriate to the spirit of the text. Yet he also infuses the music with color, alternating brief fast sections of digital passagework with majestic statements of the melody. In the end, the juxtaposing of these seemingly opposing expressive approaches and Bach's subtle contrapuntal writing yield a convincing whole that Baroque and organ-music fanciers will find quite attractive.