Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony is still one of his most popular pieces. And if Bach’s last Contrapunctus in “The Art of the Fuge” is uncomplete, its performance finishing “in the air” after his signature B.A.C.H. always provokes a strong emotion.
But these are exceptions! Most of the time, uncompleted pieces are rarely performed, and even seldom studied. This is a pity because, as in the field of architecture and visual arts, fragments can sometimes provide a strong impression.
Years ago, my attention was drawn to Jacob Praetorius’ choral fantasia on “Durch Adam’s Fall ist ganz verderbt”, one of the most important Lutherian chorales. That piece is one of the very first ones to be written explicitely “in echo” for three manuals and pedal. But I never took the time to really study it carefully until I started the preparation of a CD dedicated to this important composer. I found it so beautiful, so expressive, that I decided to compose an ending, in his style. Praetorius’ composition stops after the first four verses A – B – A – B, so that it was clear that the rest of the fantasia should be built on C – D – E – F, bringing the choral to its conclusion. Of course, writing that ending took me a lot of time, and I had to question many aspects ot his style, as well as the work of his contemporaries such as Heinrich Scheidemann. In that sense, my “composition” is not more than a proposal, and it would be great to hear and read other proposals that would make that wonderful piece more well-known and appreciated.
It’s been a pleasure to record it in November 2018 on the precious Stellwagen organ in the Jacobikirche in Lübeck, one of the most beautiful historic organs I’ve played. You can listen to it on the CD released by Ricercar (RIC 400).