Partite diverse sopra: Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen

Johann Sebastian Bach

Partite diverse sopra: Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen


About this work

This Chorale partita is a large composition with a theme and ten variations and having a duration of 12 minutes or more. It probably dates to the first two decades of the eighteenth century and, as the headnote indicates, may be the work of someone other than Bach. It is quite popular, as evidenced by its steady flow of recordings, recordings whose performers likely believe it to be either the work of Bach or of someone who could rise to his lofty artistic heights. The main theme is stately and serene, played mostly in upper-register sonorities but lacking Bach's typically deft contrapuntal writing. The theme is heard but once and the first variation immediately follows, which is delivered in even higher sonorities and imparts an ethereal, yet playful mood. The next variant carries on in much the same manner, while the third is mellow, but still sings in the higher ranges. The fourth is lively and shows interesting contrapuntal activity, while the ensuing variation is playful and dreamy, and the sixth is vivacious and muscular. The next mixes the somber with the stately to wonderful effect. The eighth and ninth are both energetic and colorful, while the brilliant and somewhat complex tenth continues the lively pacing but adds a glorious glow.