The “Bach Favorites” votes are in! Countdown to #1

Johann Sebastian Bach by Haussmann

Johann Sebastian Bach

The election results for the “Bach Favorites” list are in! ABS audience members, along with ABS musicians and staff, cast their votes in January and February for their favorite works by J.S. Bach. To celebrate “Early Music Month”, we begin our countdown of these favorites below, providing along the way some of the comments of what people love about the music. Many could not narrow down their choice to just one Favorite. We received several responses stating “all of them!” One such respondent was ABS contrabass player and Music Administrator, Steven Lehning:

Steven Lehning

Steven Lehning

“I have the great fortune to have played a tremendous number of works by J.S. Bach. I am also lucky enough to play both a bowed string instrument and keyboards, so I have been able to explore many more works than if I only played one. That being said, I have yet to play well over half of Bach’s music (and we know that much has been lost throughout the centuries).  Each time I play something I haven’t before (even if it is a work I have heard numerous times) I learn something new and have a renewed appreciation for his genius. Of course I am repeatedly drawn to some works more often that others (the ‘Cello Suites, the Mass in B Minor, etc), but until I have been able to play everything, I think it would be unfair to pick my own particular favorite at this time.” – Steven Lehning, ABS musician (violone/contrabass)

With the composer’s vast and inspiring catalog of works to choose from, some top vote-getters emerged in the counting of the “Bach Favorites.” So, without further ado … Let the countdown begin!

46) Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben: Jesus bleibet meine Freude (“Jesus Joy of Man’s desiring”), BWV 147

45) Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd: Schafe können sicher weiden (“Sheep May Safely Graze”), BWV 208

“A deep and meaningful expression by an inspired genius” – Jan Stevens

44) Concerto in G Minor for Oboe, Strings, and Continuo, BWV 1056r

43) Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4

42) Toccata & Fugue arranged for solo violin by Tatiana Chulochnikova

41) Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047

“The greatest challenge for a trumpeter” – John Thiessen, ABS musician (trumpet)

40) Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, BWV 1043

39) Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist, BWV 454

“I love the chorale and the different ways it is set. The tenor aria dances. The soprano soars” – George Wright

38) French Suites, BWV 812-817

“Especially as played by Angela Hewitt. I want to dance all the forms, chaconne, gavotte, minuet, etc.” – Dan Chow

[Listen Here]

37) Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106

“One of the first Bach cantatas I sang” – William Langley

36) An Wasserflüssen Babylon, BWV 653b


Don Scott Carpenter

“As an organist myself, it’s almost impossible to pick my favorite piece, but if I had to, it would be “An Wasserflüssen Babylon,” BWV 653b in five voices for two manuals and double pedal. It is probably the hardest piece that he wrote for the organ, but it’s simple elegance makes it so beautiful. My favorite recording is by my teacher’s teacher, the blind German organist Helmut Walcha from his complete recording of the Bach organ works released on Archiv Recordings.” – Don Scott Carpenter, ABS Executive Director

[Listen Here]

35) Musikalisches Opfer (“Musical Offering”): Ricercar à 6

34) Italian Concert, BWV 971

33) Partita No. 2 for Violin in D Minor, BWV 1004

“The chaconne!” – Bill Stewart

32) Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63

31) Motets for Double Choir, BWV 225-230

“The choral delicacy and fervent feeling; the way Bach builds on motifs to something grand” – Julie Monson

The list continues with Part II.