Intensely chromatic and tonally open, Bach's chorale prelude “Das alte Jahr vergangen ist,” BWV 614, suggests different contexts of reception “as-music-analysis.” I imagine a reception of the prelude as liturgical-musical contemplation and religious experience. I construe Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel's setting of Bach's “Das alte Jahr” in the concluding “Nachspiel” of her piano song cycle, Das Jahr, as suggesting interactions of public and private sonic worlds. I follow potential tonal-harmonic alternatives (after Schoenberg and Berg on the chorale) and implications of staging a motivic parsing through timbre and articulation (after Webern). These differently related interpretive and perceptual contexts shape experience and invoke orientations by which the music-structural aspects of a work can be construed and experienced. Bringing two or more contexts together stimulates new levels and types of connection, just as a melodic pattern continually recalibrates and interacts with potential harmonic and contrapuntal orientations. Changing or shifting emphases in one orientation respond to the demands or constraints of another; in particular, I track the tonal potential of interactions of prolongational, associative, or stretto-like musical figurations in the prelude. These “differences” in orientation become creative and expressive of newly available content, multiplying interactions of composition and text, reception and analysis.
Research Article|April 01 2006
Marianne Kielian-Gilbert; Inventing a Melody with Harmony: Tonal Potential and Bach's “Das alte Jahr vergangen ist”. Journal of Music Theory 1 April 2006; 50 (1): 77–101. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00222909-2008-008
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