About this work
Fuga sopra il Magnificat: Meine Seele erhebet den Herren (My Soul Praise the Lord) was at one time believed to date from Johann Sebastian Bach's first year as organist in the Duke of Sachsen-Weimar's Court. At the time the Bach-Gesellschaft volume containing this work was compiled in 1893, the only manuscript sources known for the "Magnificat Fugue" dated from no earlier than 1800, and these identified the work as Bach's. Towards the end of the twentieth century, previouly unknown manuscripts came to light which established the paternity of the piece for Bach's student, Johann Ludwig Krebs.
While the Magnificat Fugue is certainly a worthwhile and even strong composition, it is not consistently compelling. It suffers in comparison to such genuine Johann Sebastian Bach works as the Prelude and Fugue (BWV 532), but is still a fine composition. In its latter half, for example, Krebs' writing is brilliant and quite as masterful as that in many of Bach's greatest works for organ. Krebs presents the stately chorale theme in a somewhat dry fashion in the opening, but soon his subtle contrapuntal voicing enlivens the music and draws in the listener. When he finally makes use of the pedal just past the midpoint of the work, the music suddenly takes on a more epic air, a greater sense of religious grandeur. Throughout the piece, Krebs subtly employs a motif, as well as its inversion, which is derives from the work's countermelody, in the end demonstrating his mastery in development and contrapuntal writing. Lasting about four to four-and-a-half minutes, this work, despite the flaws noted, may still attract many listeners, even though it is no longer recognized as a work of Bach.