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Universal Music / Emarcy Records, 2000

1 CD 17 €
2 CDs 32 €

+ shipment
Belgium: 4 €
European Community: 8 €
Rest of the world: 15 €

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About the programme
BWV 766 Partite diverse sopra Christ, der du bist der helle Tag
With the very first variation, the gentle prayer of protection is intoned, interpreted in the text by Alberus “Lord, protect us this night”, addressed to the Christ, associated with the glorious day. The rhetoric uses triplets for the ascension and fall of the angels (Partita VI) and descending sequences for the closing eyes (Partita VII).

BWV 767 Partite diverse sopra O Gott, du frommer Gott
From the absence of a pedal part, we can deduce that the work was written during Bach’s youth, perhaps while in Lüneburg. The text, included in the psalters at Weimar and Leipzig, is a prayer for a peaceful death.
The ascending and descending chromaticism in Partita VIII symbolises the fall and transfiguration by death, while the fanfares in Partita IX represent the resurrection.

BWV 770 Partite diverse sopra _*Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen_*
The authenticity of this choral partita has not been confirmed, but the recent discovery of a chorale with three variations on the same text, by Bach, seems to reinforce the theory behind its inception.
Of the four pieces interpreted in this recording, this is the most archaic, allowing us to imagine ourselves in the presence of the original version, dating from the 1700s. The final piece (Partita IX) takes the form of a free fantasia with many changes of “tactus”.

BWV 768 Partite diverse sopra _*Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig_*
The text of this chorale, published in 1663, is linked to the prayer “Salve Jesu” and describes Christ’s Passion. The language and musical rhetoric are similar to those used in the Passion according to St. Matthew and demonstrate full maturity, particularly in the last two Partitas (X and XI). The rhetoric of the Passion and the Resurrection are very clearly brought into play. The chronology of the various Partitas seems to have been reworked dramatically between the initial version and the final version, in 1717.

“The general public will not allow itself to be taken in for much longer by poor sound, cheaply presented as precious ‘original baroque’ sounds. The term ‘authentic instrument’ should not cloud our judgement solely out of enthusiasm for the alleged rediscovery of ‘genuine’ ancient sounds.” Nikolaus Harnoncourt ‘Musik als Klangrede’ (Musical Arguments)

The musical adventure behind this BL!NDMAN recording has been linked to research into articulation especially modified for the saxophone; ultimately, it is an integral part of the creation of a new, unique ‘instrument’, adapted to Bach’s writing – this quartet of saxophones with such a unique sound. The morphology of the saxophone is reminiscent, in more than one respect, of that of the pipes of certain organ stops for which these Choralpartiten (choral partitas) are intended: the reeds (oboe, cromorne, bombarde) as well as the flutes (pommer, gedeckt) or the narrow string stops such as the viola da gamba or the Erzähler. Beyond these initial similarities, the differences soon became clear. Firstly, the dynamic style of playing the saxophone which enables modulations in intensity which are impossible on the organ within the same registration and, chiefly, the continuous dynamic movements (crescendo and diminuendo).

Then there is the rhythmic and agogic independence of the four parts, played by four different interpreters; as if the ten fingers and two feet of the organist could be perfectly dissociated so as to achieve unrestrained inequality – the ultimate freedom of keyboard players. Then again, there is the modulation of tone within one and the same phrase which, in the most melodic variations, likens the solo instrument to the oboe in the most beautiful of Bach’s arias (BWV 770, II; BWV 768, I). Listen, for example, to the very slow attacks of the accompanying voices, reminiscent of the consort of viols (BWV 770, III). Or the subtle shaping of the soprano paraphrase against the strictness of the cantus firmus, over the perpetual dolcissimo movement of the lower voices (BWV 768, X). The visual image which is then spontaneously presented of this new instrument is that of a protean, multi-dimensional and perfectly ductile keyboard. The decision to present the melody of each cantus firmus on its own is intended to remind us of the individual nature of each of the four instruments, as well as of the antiphonal tradition of the Lutheran rite.

The choral partitas
These four choral partitas are generally assumed to have been written around 1700, when Bach was only fifteen years old; their perfection would seem to confirm that he was subsequently able to return to and rework them. The choral partita itself is the continuation of a writing style already in use among J.S. Bach’s predecessors and first practised by Georg Böhm (1661-1733). The term partita – which, until Bach, always assumes variation – would, from Bach onwards, also come to mean a suite of individual pieces, even dances.
The choral partita is a set of variations in which the harmonic and metrical thematic foundation (cantus firmus) of the original chorale is maintained. In this respect, it can be distinguished from the variation techniques used in liturgical organ music such as the motet, in favour of the simple succession of different ‘variations’ on the same theme. We see here, however, the degree of inventiveness with which Bach handles this ‘poor’ technique, bestowing an individual identity on each of the variations, going so far as to give the impression that each piece, while conforming to a standard, has always been a separate, independent entity.
(text: François Deppe)


Eric Sleichim: concept and composition, transcriptions and arrangements
François Deppe: musical advise

BL!NDMAN [sax]
Koen Maas: soprano saxophone
Eric Sleichim: alto saxophone
Piet Rebel: tenor saxophone
Raf Minten: baritone saxophone

Originally released as universal music / emarcy records, 2000, ref 157675 2
BL!NDMAN records BLD001


1. BWV 766 Partite diverse sopra Christ, der du bist der helle Tag (10’42)
BWV766: Cantus Firmus – alto sax
BWV766: partita 1- Coral
BWV766: partita 2
BWV766: partita 3
BWV766: partita 4
BWV766: partita 5
BWV766: partita 6
BWV766: partita 7

2. BWV 767 Partite diverse sopra O Gott, du frommer Gott (14’48)
BWV767: Cantus Firmus tenor sax
BWV767: partita 1 – Coral
BWV767: partita 2
BWV767: partita 3
BWV767: partita 4
BWV767: partita 5
BWV767: partita 6
BWV767: partita 7
BWV768: partita 8
BWV768: partita 9

3. BWV 770 Partite diverse sopra Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen (15’39)
BWV768 Cantus Firmus – baritone sax
BWV768: partita 1 – Coral
BWV768: partita 2
BWV768: partita 3
BWV768: partita 4
BWV768: partita 5
BWV768: partita 6
BWV768: partita 7
BWV768: partita 8
BWV770: partita 9
BWV770: partita 10

4. BWV 768 Partite diverse sopra Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig (20’20)
BWV770 Cantus Firmus – soprano sax
BWV770: Coral
BWV770: partita 1
BWV770: partita 2
BWV770: partita 3
BWV770: partita 4
BWV770: partita 5
BWV770: partita 6
BWV770: partita 7
BWV770: partita 8
BWV770: partita 9
BWV 770: partita 10 BWV770: partita 11


‘The way the Belgian BL!NDMAN quartet plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s music is as characteristic as it is original. Nothing of Bach’s texture is altered. Bach is simply performed in a new, different way, often with an unusual, fresh phrasing free of any historicism, and with great musical sensitivity.’ – Frankfurter Rundschau

‘More than 250 years ago sound and space were already being changed in a comparable way by J.S.Bach. To this extent the transcription for saxophone of choral variations for organ was legitimate. The exceptional aspect of this evening, which revolved round the theme of ‘Polyphonic Variations’, was the fact that the four Belgian musicians also played in exquisite tones and with perfect fingering.’ – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
‘There have already been made a lot of transsriptions of Bach’s music, in different degrees of disrespectfulness. That it is in fact possible to arrange the music of the great composer in a way that is at the same time original and respectful, is now proved by BL!NDMAN… Classical music is in a way an unexpected choise from the man who treats his sax in such a different way that sometimes the sound of air and the keys is the music itself. But the result finally became a beautiful cd, which will appeal to a large public.’ – Hans-Maarten Post, Het Nieuwsblad

‘This cd is a relief in a time of numerous arrangements brought to us in this remembrance year of Bach. Instead of delivering us yet another version of the most famous Bach highlights, BL!NDMAN has chosen the little known partita’s for organ… The themes of the four partita’s are repeatedly presented by one of the solo saxophones, a moment at which nothing really announces the heavenly beauty which is to come: the four-part arrangement of the thomascantor, which, by the total harmony of the wind instruments sound as if played on organ. All that is required for the devotee of classical music, is an ear free of prejudices. For those who want to be convinced immediately: listen to the chorale ‘Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gutig’ and hear that it’s really, really good.’ – De Morgen/Metro, 28-06-2000