Recording: Kevin Bowyer on the organ of Odense Cathedral, Denmark [NI 5262]

Posthumously published 1902.  Composed 1896.

The last composition of any composer carries a certain level of mystique, and that is true of these chorale preludes, the only organ works of Brahms to carry an opus number (although he did not assign it).  They were written in the summer of 1896 after Clara Schumann’s death (some may have been conceived earlier), and it is highly probable that Brahms was already aware of his own illness at that point.  While there is evidence that Brahms intended to prepare them for publication, there is also a recorded statement that they could be seen as more private companion pieces to the Vier ernste Gesänge.  Like those songs, the preludes are “settings” (albeit wordless) of religious texts--Lutheran hymns and their associated chorale melodies.  At any rate, the identity of the preludes as a “set” is debatable.  The original autograph of all eleven was found on Brahms’s desk after his death in 1897.  The first seven were originally numbered differently (1, 5, 2, 6, 7, 3, 4) from the order we now know.  The published order came from an apparent engraver’s model in the hand of copyist William Kupfer, with corrections in Brahms’s hand.  The remaining four preludes were not included in this fair copy, and retain their original numbering.  It is possible that he was planning two sets of seven preludes and did not complete the task.  It remains unclear whether the reordering of the first seven originated with Brahms.  It is almost certain, however, that he intended for them to be found and released.  The eleven were eventually edited and released by Eusebius Mandyczewski (who would also become a principal editor of the Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke) in 1902.  The pieces were of such obvious significance and quality that they were assigned the posthumous opus number 122, by which they are still known.  Four pieces for organ survive from Brahms’s early period (around 1856-57).  Two of them, an intense, brooding fugue in A-flat minor (WoO 8) and a fine chorale prelude and fugue over “O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid” (WoO 7) were actually published in periodicals without opus numbers.  But Brahms had no particular personal relationship to the instrument (it does accompany three early choral works, Op. 12, Op. 27, and Op. 30), and the fact that he turned to it again after forty years for his final opus is remarkable. 

The genre of the chorale prelude, forever associated with Johann Sebastian Bach, was for Brahms a means of paying homage to his musical heritage.  He followed the conventions of the form, the most important of which was to paraphrase and elaborate upon the lines of pre-existing Lutheran chorale melodies.  Brahms’s use of counterpoint and harmony show a mixture of baroque techniques with romantic sensibility.  They are all rather short, along the lines of the preludes in Bach’s Orgelbüchlein.  Brahms chose some extremely familiar melodies and some obscure ones.  While several are associated with texts about death and eternity, other topics, including penitence and even Christmas, are also included.  He probably was contemplating thoughts of mortality while composing them, though, and it may not be a coincidence that the last music he would ever write would be No. 11, the second setting of “O Welt, ich muß dich lassen” (“O world, I now must leave thee”) with its fading echoes and transfigured, lingering closing bars.  While Brahms indicated dynamics and changes to different manuals (keyboards), he did not indicate any registration.  This is up to the performer, with consideration of the instrument being played, for individual organs vary more greatly than any other instrument.  He also largely avoided tempo markings.  These masterpieces, their composer’s final testament, remain staples of the romantic organ repertoire.  No. 1, a full chorale fugue, is easily the most elaborate of the set.  The slow, majestic, and tragic No. 2 leads into No. 3 (the first setting of “O Welt, ich muß dich lassen”), with its constantly shifting meters.  No. 4, by contrast, is an exuberant shout of joy and marks a point of demarcation in the set.  All of these first preludes make full use of the pedal board.  Nos. 5-8 largely do not, although the pedal entrance at the end of No. 7 is powerful.  No. 5 is exquisite.  Its fast, but gentle decorations of the chorale melody are derived by manipulating the melody itself.  No. 6, with its beautiful 12/8 flow and major/minor vacillation, is the shortest.  No. 7 rivals No. 1 in terms of content.  Its interludes make particularly effective use of multiple manuals.  The almost unbelievably gorgeous No. 8, by far the most well known, is also the most artful in its near-complete concealment of the original chorale melody.  Two greatly contrasting settings of the famous “Passion” chorale are then followed by Brahms’s poignant final farewell.

Note: The chorale texts, which appear printed above the melodies in all early editions of the preludes, are given below in both the original German and in the metric English translation that appears in the 1928 Novello edition edited by John E. West.  Only the first verse of each chorale text is given.

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)

In the manuscript, Brahms frequently used the alto clef, which is retained in both above scores (edited by Eusebius Mandyczewski).  Later and more modern editions (unavailable on IMSLP) typically dispense with the alto clef, which today's organists are not normally expected to read.

1. Mein Jesu der du mich (My Jesus calls to me).  No tempo marking.  Chorale fugue with melody as cantus firmus in pedal.  E MINOR, 4/4 time.

Chorale Text (Johann Christian Lange)
Mein Jesu, der du mich
zum Lustspiel ewiglich
dir hast erwählet,
sieh wie dein Eigentum
des großen Bräut’gams Ruhm
so gern erzählet.

English Translation (Michel-Dmitri Calvocoressi)
My Jesus calls to me,
Holds out eternal bliss.
He deigns to choose me.
Hear, Lord, Thy servant meek
Sings loud the Bridegroom’s praise,
In Thee rejoices.

0:00 [m. 1]--Chorale Line 1.  Each chorale line is preceded by a three-voice fugue exposition.  For the most part, the soprano and alto are played by the right hand, the tenor by the left.  Brahms only indicates forte ma dolce, suggesting a solid, but soft-edged registration.  The soprano voice begins on a half-upbeat with the “subject,” a gently falling line that leaps, the falls again.  After a measure and a half, the alto starts a fifth lower, on B minor while the soprano continues with a brief “countersubject” containing dotted (long-short) rhythms and a “zigzag” figure that had appeared at the end of the subject. 
0:17 [m. 4]--After another measure and a half the tenor enters in the left hand, again on E minor, an octave lower than the soprano.  The alto continues with the “countersubject,” and the soprano continuation (not a second countersubject) contains arching arpeggios and syncopation.  After the tenor statement of the subject, that voice begins the countersubject, but it is subtly extended to bring it to the “dominant” level.  The alto plays more with the zigzag figure.  The soprano briefly pauses, then begins an “inverted” (upside-down) version of the subject’s opening.
0:28 [m. 6]--Halfway through the measure, against the continuing texture in the manual, the actual chorale line enters on the pedals, in slow half notes.  Its initial downward motion and the following upward leap show a clear relation to Brahms’s “subject.”  In the manual, the tenor completes the countersubject and the alto develops the zigzag figure, adding leaping syncopation.  The soprano continues the “inverted” subject opening.  Both soprano and alto reach quite low, intertwining with the tenor.  The tenor voice, after the countersubject, is more steady.  It plays the subject in C major, but then it moves more quickly with the alto against the long last note of the chorale line.  The soprano breaks for a measure, then begins the “inverted” subject again as the chorale line in the pedal reaches its last long note.  After that note cuts off on the “dominant,” there is a one-bar bridge in which the tenor drops out and the alto turns to the original subject.
0:46 [m. 11]--Chorale Line 2.  Against the continuing lines in the alto and soprano, the tenor begins a new exposition with a new subject.  The alto quickly drops out, leaving the soprano to its falling figures.  The “melodic minor” scale is very prevalent.  The tenor “subject” is now only one measure long.  It begins with another half-upbeat and a turn.  The alto enters on B minor as the soprano briefly drops out.  The tenor “countersubject” is a rising scale followed by a syncopated descent.  The soprano entry is delayed by a half-measure, and is an octave higher than the tenor one.  The alto plays the “countersubject” as the tenor arches down and back up.
1:01 [m. 14]--The chorale line enters in the pedals, again halfway through the measure.  At the same time, the soprano begins another “inverted” version of the new subject.  This reaches quite high.  The alto develops the original turn figure, alternating and in contrary motion with the soprano.  The tenor has wide leaps and arching lines.  As the chorale line in the pedal descends to a full cadence on the last long note, the soprano and alto freely reverse the directions of their turn figures and the tenor continues to play leaping, arching lines.  At the last long pedal note, the soprano also arrives at a long note two octaves above it.  The outer voices thus hold this while the alto and tenor continue their figuration for another measure.  They also reach a full stop, the tenor trailing.  This is the first time all voices reach a complete stop.
1:18 [m. 18]--Chorale Line 3.  The piano marking probably indicates that Brahms expected a change to the second manual here.  This third subject is much more active than the previous two.  All three entries begin halfway through the bar, and all are a measure long.  The soprano begins, reversing the key scheme, as it begins on B minor.  The subject is characterized by a trill-like opening and then a rapid turn.  The alto enters next, on the home key of E minor.  The soprano continues with a countersubject of two three-note ascents.  The tenor entry is again on B minor.  The alto plays the countersubject and the soprano, after extending its countersubject, continues with arching figures, still in the rapid motion.  In a one-measure bridge, all three voices freely elaborate on the material.  The tenor reaches low and leaps to long notes.
1:35 [m. 22]--The chorale line in the pedals begins halfway through the bar, as usual.  The emphasis on B minor in the preceding exposition is appropriate, as this line is in that key.  Above it, the soprano line has another statement of the subject.  The penultimate note of the chorale line is long and filled with tension.  The soprano plays a slower line against the continuing alto/tenor figuration.  Against the last long note, the alto plays the slower notes as the soprano moves to leaping figures that had been played by the tenor before the chorale line.  Only the tenor has the faster motion at the end.  The full cadence on B minor is confirmed by the trailing soprano and alto.
1:51 [m. 26]--Chorale Line 4.  This exposition has another one-bar subject that begins halfway through the bar.  It has narrow syncopated downward motion with prominent half-steps, closing with an faster upward turn.  The tenor states it first as the alto and soprano continue to trail downward from the last section.  They pause as the tenor continues.  The key seems to move back to E minor.  The alto enters next after the briefest pause, briefly introducing B again as a “dominant.”  The soprano comes in an octave above the tenor.  Here, there is no identifiable countersubject, and the voices continue in free, steady counterpoint as the next ones enter and before the chorale line.
2:10 [m. 30]--Chorale line in the pedals, halfway through the bar.  This line is simply a steady motion down to B.  There is another cadence in that key (now major), but it only arrives at the end, unlike line 3.  The upper voices add much interest, introducing faster notes.  Halfway through the line, the tenor, alto, and soprano, in close succession a half-measure apart, present another brief exposition with a syncopated note and a rapid descent.  Their entries are a seventh apart, on B, A, and G.  The descending lines continue in the soprano, then the alto, approaching the cadence over the last chorale note.  The alto and tenor also have slower parallel motion in sixths.  The soprano trails with a descending arpeggio.
2:26 [m. 34]--Chorale Line 5.  A forte marking indicates a return to the principal manual.  For this exposition, Brahms introduces the subject and countersubject at the same time.  Beginning on an A major chord, the tenor plays fast arpeggios that rise to a distinctive high point and turn back downward.  This is presumably the countersubject.  The soprano plays a slower, more deliberate line (presumably the subject).  This also breaks into arpeggios punctuated by syncopated downward leaps.  These are passed between the two voices before the entry of the alto.  The harmony moves back through E, but then toward D major.
2:33 [m. 36]--The tenor drops out as the alto enters with the slower, more emphatic subject head, a fifth lower than the soprano entry.  The soprano takes the arpeggios with the high point and downward turn.  Both lines are abbreviated and interrupted as they begin to pass the arpeggios to each other.  The A-major arpeggio has arrived, and the tenor voice enters in the low register, two octaves below the first soprano entry, with the slower subject head.  The alto imperceptibly passes the arpeggios to the soprano, which again reaches the high point and downward turn, now on its original pitch level from the first tenor statement.  The tenor does not continue with the subject, but takes over the downward arpeggios from the soprano.  The alto, meanwhile, appears to begin the slower line in B minor, but is interrupted by the pedal chorale.
2:44 [m. 38]--Chorale line in the pedals, halfway through the bar.  This line moves from B minor toward its “dominant” chord of F-sharp, which is the last low note of the line.  The upper voices continue to develop the arpeggios and the slower subject head.  The latter is first heard high in the soprano, then from the tenor in the middle range as the arpeggios are freely passed from one voice to the next, arching down and back up.  As the tenor reaches down low again, the soprano begins the descending arpeggios from on high.  Passing these to the alto, the soprano has one more entry of the slower subject head, overlapping with a last one from the tenor.  The low F-sharp arrives in the pedals, and the arpeggios in the alto become syncopated, trailing at the arrival of the F-sharp-major chord.  After this arrival, the soprano immediately descends to B, leading directly into the last section.
3:01 [m. 42]--Chorale Line 6.  Another forte marking highlights the increased texture, and fuller registration is perhaps called for.  The three voices in the fugue are expanded to four for the rest of the piece.  The added voice (the bass) begins.  It is followed by soprano, tenor, and alto, all overlapping on an emphatic subject with a long-short-short figure.  In the tenor and bass, this arches up, then back down.  In the soprano and alto, it arches down, then reaches up.  The key begins to turn from B back to the home key of E minor.  After the overlapping entries, the four voices continue to develop the figure, with the alto and tenor freely crossing one another.  The downward arch is heard low in the bass, the upward one in the alto.  Scale figures are added, as are dotted rhythms and voices playing in thirds.
3:18 [m. 46]--Chorale line in the pedals, halfway through the bar.  This last line simply descends from the ever-prominent B down to the final low E.  The upper voices (now four) continue with the same material, including the long-short-short figure, scale passages, dotted rhythms, and voices in thirds or sixths.  The “melodic” form of the E-minor scale, with the note C-sharp, is prevalent.  The pedals, combined with the four voices in the manuals, create a five-voice texture.
3:30 [m. 49]--The last low E arrives in the pedals, and it is held for a full two bars.  The upper four voices continue to pass the long-short-short figure to one another.  As they reach the end, the note G-sharp is used, creating a final E-major chord.  This so-called “picardy third” was commonly used by Bach in his minor-key chorales.  Here, the note is even heard in the soprano voice.  The alto trails the other voices at this final cadence, confirming it with a turn to the keynote E.  After the chord cuts off (at 3:44), there is a long decay and reverberation.
3:54--END OF PRELUDE [50 mm.]

2. Herzliebster Jesu (O blessed Jesu).  Adagio.  Harmonized, embellished chorale with melody in upper voice.  G MINOR, 4/4 time.

Chorale Text (Johann Heermann)
Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen,
daß man ein solch scharf Urteil hat gesprochen?
Was ist die Schlud?  In was für Missetaten
bist du geraten?

English Translation (Dr. John Troutbeck)
O blessed Jesu, how hast Thou offended,
That now on Thee such judgment has descended?
Of what misdeed hast Thou to make confession?
Of what transgression?
0:00 [m. 1]--Chorale Line 1.  The first note of the melody is played alone.  On the last beat of the measure, the accompaniment enters.  The first pattern, a harmonized three-note upbeat, is prominent throughout.  There are also brief upbeat figures in the pedals.  The harmony of these first upbeats is major, but the minor key is asserted during the second measure.  The third note is not reiterated (it is a repetition of the same pitch, the keynote G, used for the first two implied syllables), but assumed to carry over.  After three of these three-note upbeats, the fourth and fifth chorale notes move down from G, and the left hand introduces a downward-winding figure that is associated with punctuations of the chorale.
0:22 [m. 4]--The line is completed, moving up, then arching back down.  The note associated with the first syllable of “verbrochen,” another repeated note, is again not reiterated, but implied.  The pedal notes sink down to the low register with some chromatic motion.  The note associated with the second syllable of “verbrochen” is decorated with two motions downward in dotted (long-short) rhythm.  The end of the line moves to the “dominant” harmony and is marked by the downward-winding figure in the left hand. 
0:45 [m. 8]--Chorale Line 2.  This line has no comma or pause, as did line 1.  It introduces more decorations of the chorale melody, mainly descending lines.  The three-note upbeats are still present in the accompanying harmony.  The shorter upbeat figures (downward leaps) return in the pedals.  The line works toward the “relative” major key of B-flat major, but the harmonies are very chromatic, and notes associated with B-flat minor are used (G-flat and D-flat).  At the note associated with the first syllable of “Urteil,” the pedal moves down chromatically before the cadence on B-flat.  The approach to the cadence includes some mild syncopation, and the cadence itself is marked again by the downward-winding left hand figure.  The line is a measure longer than line 1 because the notes associated with “solch” and “scharf” are extended to a full measure.
1:32 [m. 16]--Chorale Line 3.  There is a dynamic change to piano here, indicating a possible change to the second manual.  The “reed” sound in this recording is preserved, but softer.  The pedal drops out for the notes associated with the question “Was ist die Schuld?”  The downward leaps previously in the pedal are now in the left hand.  The descending line associated with the question moves through F minor down to D minor.  The decorative lines include a middle voice with ascending lines as well as the descending lines that embellish the chorale melody itself.
1:49 [m. 19]--The pedal re-enters for the remainder of the chorale line, taking over the descending leaps as well as some three-note upbeats.  The left hand now participates in the decorative lines.  There is some syncopation in the inner voice played by the right hand under the chorale melody.  A crescendo marking for the line does not necessarily imply a change of manual (which also may not necessarily occur earlier, at the question).  The line moves from D minor through C minor and back home to G (now briefly major) whose arrival is punctuated by the downward-winding left hand figure.
2:19 [m. 24]--Chorale Line 4.  In this recording, there is an obvious change back to the principal manual here rather than a crescendo in the preceding passage.  The simple descent of this shorter final line is given a highly chromatic treatment by Brahms.  G minor is established, but almost immediately undermined.  The melody itself is again richly decorated with descending lines and dotted rhythms.  The descent of the last four notes is expanded to a full chromatic scale, filling the gaps with shorter notes in the long-short rhythms.  The accompanying voices below the melody  heavily emphasize the “dominant” harmony on D.  The pedal has one more downward leap, then approaches the final low G via the “dominant” note D.
2:38 [m. 27]--The long-sustained final G arrives in both the melody and the low pedal, but the harmony does not arrive at the expected G minor.  Instead, three-note upbeats and leaps in the inner voices initially suggest C minor.  The note B-natural is used as a bridge to the final G-major chord (Brahms will again use the “picardy third”).  But other notes from G minor (F-sharp and E-flat) bring the music back home.  The outer G’s are sustained under three of these three-note upbeats in the inner voices.  Then, syncopated motion leads to the downward-winding left hand figure as the inner voices approach the G-major chord.
3:02 [m. 30]--The inner voices arrive and fill out the last chord.  Brahms indicates a fermata over it, although it is already a full measure.  In this recording, the organist takes Brahms at his word and sustains the chord for almost twenty seconds.  While exaggerated, this emphasizes the heavy, serious nature of the chorale text and Brahms’s prelude based upon its severe melody.  The chord cuts off at 3:21, and there is the usual decay and reverberation typical of cathedral organs.
3:36--END OF PRELUDE [30 mm.]

3. O Welt, ich muß dich lassen (O world, I now must leave thee).  First setting.  No tempo marking.  Harmonized, embellished chorale with melody in upper voice.  F MAJOR, 4/2 (alla breve) and 3/2 time.

Chorale Text (Johannes Hesse)
O Welt, ich muß dich lassen,
ich fahr dahin mein Straßen
ins ew’ge Vaterland.
Mein’ Geist will ich aufgeben,
dazu mein’ Leib und Leben
befehl’n in Gottes gnäd’ge Hand.

English Translation (Michel-Dmitri Calvocoressi)
O world, I now must leave thee,
And go my lonely journey
To my eternal home.
I faithfully and humbly
Commit my soul and body
unto the Lord’s all-loving hands.

0:00 [m. 1]--Chorale Line 1.  This prelude is set with four voices in the manuals along with the pedals, for a five-voice texture.  It is characterized by two-note stepwise slurs.  Often, these slurs are in series where the second note of one slur is repeated as the first note of the next one.  The tenor voice, forte ma dolce, begins on an eighth-note upbeat to a 4/2 measure.  The alto follows an octave higher, imitating the descending line.  The pedal provides support.  The soprano and manual bass enter together.  The soprano appears to echo the alto, but it then emerges into the actual melody of the chorale line, still decorated with the two-note slurs. 
0:14 [m. 2]--When the melody reaches its fourth note (A), a 3/2 measure is inserted, and the line is embellished with slower dotted (long-short) rhythms.  The two-note slurs continue in the pedal and the middle voices.  At the last note of the phrase, another 4/2 measure extends the arrival with descending and arching two-note slurs.  In this measure, the pedals also have two-note slurs with repeated notes, but they move up by thirds (skips) rather than by steps.  The harmony moves from F major through minor keys, beginning with A minor and G minor.  The top voice with the chorale briefly breaks.
0:31 [m. 4]--Chorale Line 2.  The meter again changes to 3/2, but this now remains in force for the entire chorale line and most of the next one, four straight 3/2 measures.  This second line descends to a half-close.  The two-note slurs are abandoned for this line and the next.  The accompanying voices include syncopation and upbeat figures that aid in the harmonic motion.  The line moves from G minor through D minor (“relative” to the home key of F major) to C major (the preparatory “dominant” of the home key), assisted by the pedals.  After the half-close, the pedal briefly drops out, and the lower voices in the manuals (building from the bottom to the top) trail after it in descending lines that contain many chromatic notes and half-steps, leading back toward D minor.
0:54 [m. 7]--Chorale Line 3.  The top voice, and the chorale line, both sneak in on the upbeat.  Most of this line takes place in the fourth straight 3/2 measure.  As it winds around, the lowest manual voice (which has briefly dropped out) and the pedal enter.  It vacillates between D minor and F major (“relative” keys).  At the last note of the line, which is lengthened, there is a diversion to the “dominant,” C major.  Here, the meter changes back to 4/2 for one bar.  The inner voices gradually work back to the two-note slurs in preparation for the arrival of line 4 on the upbeat.  Again, the top voice of the chorale briefly breaks.
1:11 [m. 9]--Chorale Line 4.  The line begins on the upbeat, leading into two 3/2 measures.  In the first of these, the second note of the line is held for almost a full measure.  The lower voices, using the two-note slurs, seem to establish F major again, but B-flat major intrudes.  On the last beat of this measure, the chorale line moves up, and from here, the actual line matches the notes of line 1.  The second 3/2 measure matches the 3/2 measure in that line.  The harmony underneath it, however, is quite different.  It continues to be colored with a minor-key character, and the arrival point, which already suggested D minor in line 1, makes this even more explicit.  The arrival is, as expected, extended in a 4/2 measure.  It resembles the corresponding measure of line 1, with motion to A minor, but the pedal is given stepwise two-note slurs.
1:39 [m. 12]--Chorale Line 5.  This melody of this line, set over two 3/2 bars, corresponds to line 2, and its harmonic path is similar, but it is much more heavily embellished.  At the end of the first measure, after the first descent, an decorative arch is added to the melody.  In the lower voices and pedals, the note E-flat and the key of G minor are more heavily emphasized before the motion to D minor and C major, which are expected.  The last two notes are also decorated and broken up.  Then, for the first time, there is a brief, but complete pause in all voices.
1:55 [m. 14]--The transitional measure is now a 4/2 bar.  A three-note upbeat in the manual bass leads into a rich series of descents and ascents in this transitional measure.  The pedal is absent for the first part of it, as it was after line 2.  The key of A minor is heavily emphasized throughout the measure, and it leads back through C to D minor at the end.  The pedal enters halfway through with a descending line.  The transition briefly leaks into the next bar where the final line begins.
2:09 [m. 15]--Chorale Line 6. The line’s first measure is the last 3/2 bar of the prelude, whose shifting meter has been a defining feature.  Minor keys again color this first measure, which moves from D through G minor.  The rising line of the first five notes is supported by a similar rising line in the pedal.  The inner voices (which briefly lack the bottom manual bass) include more syncopation, dotted rhythms, and wide leaps.  As the top note of the line is reached, the meter changes back to 4/2 and stays there for the last four measures.  The quick descent in the original chorale melody is retained and is followed by another typical decorative descent.  The middle voices become more static, and the pedal pauses after its ascent.  The arrival of the home key, F major, is evident, but pointedly delayed through chromatic detours.
2:26 [m. 17]--The final notes of the chorale melody, which establish an extended arrival on the home keynote F, are obscured, stretched out, and heavily decorated in the next two measures.  Before the final arrival of F, there is strong emphasis on the “dominant” harmony of C.  The pedal is still absent as the inner voices begin to move together in sonorous harmonies, the lower two in thirds.  The top line itself wanders around the final home keynote.  When the pedal finally enters at the end of the measure, it is to help underscore the painfully delayed arrival of F.  Even then, the inner voices still include the chromatic note E-flat in the next measure.  The pedal and the top chorale voice (along with the manual tenor) hold the last note while the other inner voices continue to move in radiant harmonies.  A fifth voice (in the right hand) is added, and the right hand plays in thirds under the held note.
2:51 [m. 19]--The very satisfying final chord is marked with a fermata, and there is decay/reverberation after it cuts off at 3:03.
3:15--END OF PRELUDE [19 mm.]

4. Herzlich tut mich erfreuen (My faithful heart rejoices).  No tempo marking.  Harmonized, embellished chorale with melody in upper voice, including anticipatory interludes.  D MAJOR, 6/4 time.

Chorale Text (Johannes Walter)
Herzlich tut mich erfreuen
die liebe Sommerzeit,
wann Gott wird schön verneuen
alles zur Ewigkeit.
Den Himmel und die Erden
wird Gott neu schaffen gar,
all Kreatur soll werden
ganz herrlich hübsch und klar.

English Translation (Michel-Dmitri Calvocoressi)
My faithful heart rejoices;
The summer comes at last,
When God, all things reviving,
Shall bring Eternity.
The Heav’n and Earth in splendor
Will He afresh create,
And all of us, His creatures,
Shall pure and flawless be.

0:00 [m. 1]--Chorale Lines 1-2.  Each line pair of the chorale melody is preceded by an “anticipatory” statement.  At first, these are single-voiced, played in the left hand in the tenor register, and decorate the notes of the melody.  The first “anticipation” begins on the level of the “dominant” (A major) and imperceptibly shifts down a step to the “subdominant” (G major).  As with all lines in this prelude, it begins on an upbeat.  The melody notes, although decorated with wide-ranging arpeggios, are perceptible because they arrive where they should in the sweeping, swinging rhythm of the 6/4 meter, and are sustained.  The mood is joyous and exuberant, although not yet loud.  At the very end of the “anticipation,” the right hand adds a second voice that echoes the left.
0:14 [m. 5]--The lines are presented on their original pitches in D major.  In contrast to the “anticipations,” they are richly harmonized as well as decorated, with two voices below them in the manuals, along with an extremely active pedal part.  Brahms marks the harmonized lines on the original pitches forte.  The lower voices are quite chromatic, especially at the end, where F-sharp minor is briefly suggested.  The inner voices trail with continuing decorative arpeggios after the chorale voice and pedal arrive at the last note.
0:25 [m. 9]--Chorale Lines 3-4.  The second “anticipatory” statement is very similar to the first, but it is entirely set on the “subdominant” level.  A mild “hemiola” (metric regrouping with implied 12/8 superimposed on 6/4) is briefly introduced.  As before, the right hand enters with an “echo” at the end.
0:34 [m. 13]--The harmonized statement on the original pitches is also similar to that of lines 1-2, and again gives brief suggestions of F-sharp minor.  The arrival is more closed because the last melodic note of the line is the keynote, D.
0:45 [m. 17]--Chorale Lines 5-6.  The third “anticipatory” statement adds a right hand voice throughout, although the decorated melody (again on the “subdominant” level) is still in the left hand.  For the most part, the right hand voice moves in contrary motion to the left, outlining the same chords in its arpeggios.  Brahms does indicate a softer piano level here, almost certainly indicating a move to the second manual.  Halfway through, there is a suggestion of B minor.  The metric “hemiola” is more pronounced here, even intruding on the melody itself at the end.  At the end of the anticipation, the right hand voice adds a syncopated descent against the continuing left hand arpeggios, leading into the actual statement of the lines.
0:55 [m. 21]--The harmonized statement follows the previous patterns, although some syncopation is added and this time there is an actual harmonic motion at the end.  This is appropriately to the “subdominant” key of G major, where the anticipations have mostly been set.
1:06 [m. 25]--Chorale Lines 7-8.  Unlike the previous anticipations, which began on upbeats, this last one begins halfway through the previous measure (m. 24).  Again, it is marked piano, and the change of manual is so quick that the previous forte lines are still decaying.  The entry is thus obscured.  While still on the “subdominant” key of G major, this anticipation differs substantially from the previous ones.  Most significantly, the chorale melody is moved to a top voice in the right hand, and there are two voices below it, one in each hand.  The setting in the tenor register is retained, so the lower voices reach into the bass.  The one in the left hand is almost entirely syncopated, with leaps down and back up beginning off the beat.  The supporting voice in the right hand is largely confined to brief two-note slurs after the melodic notes.  At the end, it introduces slow syncopation, then becomes active, rising above the last note in arpeggios.
1:17 [m. 29]--The pedal enters “early,” forte, as the anticipation is concluding.  Its first notes match those of the first anticipation from the beginning of the prelude, creating a sense of rounding and arrival home.  As with the anticipation, the actual line begins halfway through the measure (m. 28).  After the first burst of activity, the pedal returns to its usual function in the harmonized lines.  Although there are chromatic notes, the harmonization is straightforward and the arrival on D is strong.  After the arrival of the final chorale note, the lower voices, as usual, continue their decorations.  These pass to the pedal as the inner voices take a slower, punctuating descent in thirds.  The line is extended a measure to accommodate a final sustained chord after the typical decorations of the final note.  Cutoff and decay at 1:35.
1:45--END OF PRELUDE [33 mm.]

5. Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (Deck thyself, my soul).  No tempo marking.  Harmonized, embellished chorale for manuals only, with melody in upper voice.  E MAJOR, 4/4 time.

Chorale Text (Johann Franck)
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele,
laß die dunkle Sündenhöhle,
komm ans helle Licht gegangen,
fange herrlich an zu prangen!
Denn der Herr voll Heil und Gnaden
will dich jetzt zu Gaste laden;
der den Himmel kann verwalten,
will jetzt Hergberg in dir halten.

English Translation (Catherine Winkworth)
Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
Leave the gloomy haunts of sadness,
Come into the daylight’s splendor,
There with joy thy praises render
Unto Him Whose grace unbounded
Hath this wondrous banquet founded,
High o’er all the heavn’s He reigneth,
Yet to dwell with thee He deigneth.

0:00 [m. 1]--Chorale Line 1.  The prelude is marked piano and dolce, and is played on one manual without pedals.  The chorale line in the upper voice follows the rhythm of the original melody.  It is decorated by two lower voices.  The higher of these moves between the right and left hands.  At least one voice is always continually moving in flowing sixteenth notes.  In this first line, the melody begins immediately on a half-measure (not in the measure count), initially only with a slower lower voice that starts with a leaping octave.  The middle voice enters on the last half-upbeat with the flowing motion.  The first six notes of this are an actual imitation of the chorale melody at four times the speed.  Through most of the line, the flowing motion remains in the middle voice while the lower voice moves in slower eighth notes.  They briefly exchange this motion in the second half of the line.  The end of the line also moves toward the “relative” minor key, C-sharp minor.  The flowing motion in the lower voices continues after the last note.
0:16 [m. 3]--Chorale Line 2.  Unlike line 1, this line starts at the beginning of the measure.  Both lower voices largely have the flowing motion here, although the middle voice introduces some syncopation.  The fast imitation of the chorale melody’s opening, which has been used repeatedly, is on the original pitches here in the bottom voice.  The bottom voice also has some eighth note motion and octave leaps.  As in the first line, there are only a few chromatic notes pointing toward the “relative” minor key (C-sharp minor) or the “subdominant” (A major).  This line ends with a full and warm cadence in E major.  It is extended as the lower voices trail the last chorale note.
0:29 [m. 6]--Chorale Line 3.  It is now established that each line is two and a half measures long.  The melody of the third line is the same as that of line 1.  It begins halfway through the measure where line 2 reached a cadence (m. 5).  The lower voices are not the same as in line 1.  The bottom voice has the flowing motion from the outset, and the middle voice begins with a syncopated leap (now a downward fourth).  The middle voice continues with syncopation until halfway through the line, when it takes the flowing motion and the bottom voice changes to slower eighth notes.  The harmonies are also different.  There is no real motion to C-sharp minor at the end.  Another related minor key, F-sharp minor, is briefly emphasized.
0:42 [m. 8]--Chorale Line 4.  The melody is the same as that used for line 2, but as with line 3, the lower voices are not the same.  It begins on the downbeat of the measure.  Unlike line 2, the lower voices contain no syncopation.  The rapid version of the chorale opening, now in the middle voice, is again on the original pitches.  Both voices mostly use the flowing motion, although the bottom voice briefly breaks at the beginning and has an ascent in the slower eighth notes at the end.  At the E-major cadence, the lower voices move in opposite arching directions and confirm the cadence more strongly than at the end of line 2.
0:56 [m. 11]--Chorale Line 5.  It begins halfway through the cadence measure (m. 10).  This line has a completely new melody that rises higher and makes a definite motion to the “dominant” key (B major).  The flowing motion is used by both voices, with the bottom voice again briefly using the slower notes, especially in a final ascent toward the B-major cadence.  At the end, there is a very brief shift back to E for the beginning of the next line.
1:09 [m. 13]--Chorale line 6.  Although it now begins on the downbeat, the melody is the same as that of line 5.  The lower voices are not the same.  Most notably, the bottom voice uses more slower notes and wide leaps, including octaves.  The B-major cadence at the end is almost immediately undermined.
1:22 [m. 16]--Chorale Line 7.  Following the pattern, it begins halfway through the measure (m. 15).  This line is set at a lower pitch level and is more harmonically adventurous.  The rapid imitation of the chorale opening is heard here on the same pitches used under line 1.  The line moves to the key of F-sharp minor, already hinted at the outset.  The lower voice has some wide octave leaps and slower eighth note motion, while the middle voice has a dotted (long-short) rhythm and some syncopation.  As in the whole prelude, the flowing motion is always present in at least one of the lower voices.  The cadence in F-sharp minor is undermined in the continuing lower voices by a strong move back home to E major.
1:36 [m. 18]--Chorale Line 8.  It begins on the downbeat.  The initial harmonization in the lower voices is derived from a portion of line 3, specifically the hint at F-sharp minor, a vestige of the cadence in that key at the end of line 7 (and another instance of the opening chorale gesture).  This immediately swings to C-sharp minor, closer to the home key, with a mild syncopation in the middle voice.  The approach to the final E-major cadence includes syncopation in both lower voices.  This cadence is extended to a full measure instead of the usual half-measure, with the flowing lower voices continuing under the extended final note.  The lower voice has leaping octaves and strong syncopation here, while the middle voice adds an arching punctuation.  At the very end, two more voices are subtly added to the texture that leads to the last chord. 
1:55 [m. 21]--The last chord is an added measure notated as half notes with a fermata, and is to be considered the first part of the partial measure that began the prelude.  The chorale note is held over from the previous full measure while the lower voices arrive at the chord.  Cutoff and decay at 2:02.
2:13--END OF PRELUDE [21 mm.]

6. O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen (Blessed are ye faithful souls).  Molto moderato.  Harmonized, embellished chorale for manuals only (pedal entry under final cadence), with melody in upper voice.  D MINOR, 12/8 time.

Chorale Text (Simon Dach)
O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen,
die ihr durch den Tod zu Gott gekommen!
Ihr seid entgangen
aller Not, die uns noch hält gefangen.

English Translation (Michel-Dmitri Calvocoressi)
Blessed are ye, faithful souls departed;
Death awakened you to life immortal.
You are delivered
of all cares that hold the world in bondage.

0:00 [m. 1]--Chorale Line 1.  The prelude is mostly in D minor, but the first line is almost entirely in the “relative” major key of F.  The piece is mostly played on manuals only.  The 12/8 meter creates a pastoral mood in the flowing voices under the chorale melody.  Brahms marks it dolce.  There are three voices under the longer chorale notes.  The lowest of these comes in halfway through the first measure.  All three voices use much stepwise motion, but some prominent leaps in the middle voices are derived from the first two notes of the chorale melody.  In the second measure, there is a brief hint of G minor and some syncopation.  The syncopation continues in the third measure, which does hint at the eventual final key of D minor.  This is fleeting, however, and the chorale melody reaches a decorated full cadence in F major.  The lower voices continue to flow, and the tenor briefly drops out.  The last alto note turns to A minor.
0:35 [m. 5]--Chorale Line 2.  This line, also four measures long, is entirely in the key of A minor.  Again, the flowing, stepwise motion dominates.  The bass briefly pauses at the beginning.  Again, there is mild syncopation, as well as some leaping motion in the middle voices.  The second and third measures introduce several chromatic notes.  The A-minor cadence, again with a briefly decorated chorale melody, is colored by the “picardy third” (creating a major chord).  The trailing voices, which include two wide leaps in the tenor, make a move toward the belated home key, D minor, at the end.
1:05 [m.9]--Chorale Line 3.  The short third line firmly establishes D minor.  The two lower voices begin with a rising motion harmonized in thirds.  The alto voice joins this upward motion.  Again, there are several chromatic notes.  The upbeat between the two measures is decorated by the leaping figure derived from the first two notes of the chorale.  At the end of the line’s brief descent, A minor is again suggested, but this is fleeting and the next line moves directly back to D minor.  The two middle voices hold their notes as syncopated “suspensions” moving into the final line.
1:21 [m. 11]--Chorale Line 4.  Brahms indicates that the volume should gradually increase here.  The flowing inner voices include more leaps, and the bass introduces strong syncopation.  The chorale melody itself rises up a scale on D.  This scale is basically major with the lowered sixth note typical of the minor key, but Brahms’s harmonization is more minor than major.  The upbeats of the first two measures decorate the chorale scale with leaping figures that are anticipated and echoed in the middle voices, particularly the tenor.  The cadence, which arrives halfway through the third measure, is clearly in minor, although the chord itself uses the “picardy third.”  The rising chorale line creates a sense of tension and anticipation, and Brahms marks forte at the cadence.
1:42 [m. 14]--At the D-minor cadence halfway through the penultimate measure (m. 13), Brahms indicates that the pedal should be used for a held bass D.  This pedal note is not a part of the previous lower voices.  These lower voices themselves expand from three to four, and then in the final measure, even five.  They trail after the cadence, still mixing major and minor.  The right hand plays in thirds, and then, in the last measure, the left hand does as well, adding another voice on top of the thirds.  With the held chorale and bass notes, there are a total of seven voices (expanded from four) that approach the last held D-major chord.  Cutoff and decay at 2:03
2:15--END OF PRELUDE [14 mm.]

7. O Gott, du frommer Gott (O God, Thou faithful God).  No tempo marking.  Harmonized, embellished chorale for manuals only (pedal entry under last line), with melody in upper and lower voices, and including preparatory interludes.  A MINOR, Cut time [2/2].

Chorale Text (Johann Heermann)
O Gott, du frommer Gott,
du Brunnquell aller Gaben,
ohn’ den nichts ist was ist,
von dem wir alles haben,
gesunden Leib gib mir
und daß in solchem leib
ein unverletzte Seel
und rein Gewissen bleib.

English Translation (Edith M. Fowler)
O God, Thou faithful God,
Thou Fountain ever flowing,
Without whom nothing is,
All perfect gifts bestowing,
A pure and healthy frame
O give me, and within
A conscience free from blame,
A soul unhurt by sin.

0:00 [m. 1]--In this prelude, each line of the chorale is preceded by a substantial two-part preparation.  The first of these serves as an introduction and establishes the pattern.  The first part is marked forte and begins with a short eighth-note upbeat.  It is forceful and dramatic.  The bold opening gesture in the right hand alternates with falling figures where the left hand joins.  After two exchanges, the opening gesture is expanded and harmonized.  A trailing line in an inner voice leads to the second part of the introduction.
0:10 [m. 4]--Halfway through the measure (m. 3), Brahms explicitly indicates a change to the second manual, piano.  The abrupt change of volume is characteristic of the preparatory interludes throughout the piece.  The short upbeat gesture is expanded to a half-measure.  Here, the softer passage continues with similar patterns, but moves the opening gesture to the left hand, changes the direction of the falling figures so that they skip upward, and gradually moves everything downward.  After two measures, the right hand slows down, beginning with a chromatic descent.  It then leaps upward and descends again.  Meanwhile, the alternating figures, now all in the left hand, become more chromatic, with changing directions.  They subtly lead into the understated entry of the chorale line.
0:18 [m. 8]--Chorale Line 1.  The entry of the actual chorale line interrupts an expected cadence.  Unusually for the set, Brahms actually marks the chorale lines in this prelude with the German word “Choral,” perhaps to draw attention to them after the preparatory interludes.  The entry of the lines is always in the quieter second manual, so perhaps this is another reason he explicitly marked them.  The first line is heard in the right hand in slower notes above the continuing rising and falling gestures, which are passed back and forth.  It begins halfway through the measure, its first note functioning as an upbeat.  A bridge using the opening gestures trails the last chorale note, leading up to the second preparatory interlude.
0:26 [m. 11]--The hands move back to the louder main manual.  The first part of this interlude also begins on an eighth-note upbeat, but now the opening gestures have a generally falling contour, more closely matching the alternating figures.  In these, the hands are in contrary motion with the left hand moving upward.  They also introduce chromatic notes that briefly suggest a motion toward the “dominant” key of E.  The harmonized expansion, which  is a half-measure longer here, continues to trail downward.  The top voice slows down, introducing another brief chromatic descent.
0:32 [m. 14]--The shift to the quieter second manual now happens on an eighth-note upbeat.  It begins with a brief arching motion in thirds in the left hand, but then continues the downward-moving patterns.  The opening gesture is moved to a middle voice.  After two measures, a more continuously flowing motion begins in both hands.  Before the entry of the chorale line, there is a suggestion of the “subdominant” key of D minor.
0:40 [m. 18]--Chorale Line 2.  As with the first line, the second begins on a half-bar upbeat and remains on the softer second manual.  It is again played in longer notes above the rising and falling gestures, which are again passed back and forth.  The chorale line itself is a descent to the “dominant” note, E.  Both hands become more continuous under the last three notes, with wide descending arpeggios in the left hand.  The last chorale line note is placed in a measure (m. 21a) marked as the first ending for a complete repetition of everything to this point.  In the original chorale melody, the third and fourth lines are set to the same music as the first and second.  Brahms thus retains the repetition literally, in contrast to what was seen in No. 5.
0:50 [m. 1]--The first ending leads directly into the opening upbeat, which is marked by a change back to the louder manual.  The repetition then proceeds as at the beginning with the first part of the introduction.
0:55 [m. 4]--Softer second part of introduction, as at 0:10.
1:04 [m. 8]--Chorale Line 3 corresponding to the identical line 1, as at 0:18.
1:12 [m. 11]--First part of preparatory interlude, as at 0:26.
1:18 [m. 14]--Softer second part of interlude, as at 0:32.
1:25 [m. 18]--Chorale Line 4 corresponding to the identical line 2, as at 0:40.  The second ending (m. 21b) has a new eighth-note upbeat leading into the next interlude.  The lead-in actually continues briefly into the next measure with an ascending arpeggio.
1:36 [m. 22]--After the repeat, the structure with two-part interludes continues.  This one begins very differently.  Back on the louder “main” manual, the top voice in the right hand repeats a note (E), punctuated by chords.  These chords first suggest the “relative” major key of C, then briefly D minor.  After two exchanges, the material derived from the opening figures returns, establishing C.  It is passed between the hands before another ascending arpeggio.
1:45 [m. 26]--The expected shift to the quiet second manual happens after the brief arpeggio, before the second half of the measure.  It continues in C major, using the figures from the opening.  Both hands are now in the treble range.  The top voice is isolated, and is followed by the lower voices.  The preceding chords established a fourth voice.  Previously, there had been no more than three.  Here, rests indicate that the lowest voice is pausing.  In fact, the chorale melody will enter in this lower voice.  Over the continuous motion, the top voice has slower sighing descents.
1:49 [m. 29]--Chorale Line 5.  A return to A minor is briefly suggested, and then the chorale melody enters, more subdued and concealed than before, partly because it is in the left hand.  The left hand is still in the lower treble range, which conceals the melody even more.  It starts halfway through the measure (m. 28).  Despite the previous rests, a three-voice texture is still used here.  The left hand is isolated on the chorale line, which has an arching shape.  The right hand, in two voices, returns to the rising and falling figures.  The key vacillates between A minor and C major.  A descending line trails after the last chorale note.
1:56 [m. 32]--Like the last interlude, this one begins with block chords in four voices on the louder main manual.  This time, they begin on an upbeat.  The top voice does not lead them, but the bottom voice trails them.  The key is still C major, but there are inflections toward F major and D minor.  Two chord exchanges lead to faster motion, still in four voices.  In a turn toward the cadence, rapid sixteenth notes are used for the first time.  There is a full cadence in C major, but it is immediately colored by new shades of its relative, the home key of A minor, in a trailing arpeggio that shoots upward.
2:05 [m. 36]--Change to the quieter second manual.  The same chords that began the interlude are heard an octave higher, and only in three voices.  The moving harmonies are different, however, and the second exchange changes direction.  As in the corresponding passage of the previous interlude, both hands are in the treble.  The bottom voice under the second exchange is very chromatic.  The key is still C major.  Leading into the chorale line, the top voice begins to play in syncopation, and all three voices have chromatic motion.
2:12 [m. 39]--Chorale Line 6.  As with line 5, it sneaks into the left hand halfway through the measure (m. 38).  Again, it is in the lower treble (or upper tenor) range.  Above it, the two right hand voices now use material from the opening figures instead of the rising and falling gestures.  Both voices play in syncopation against the chorale, and have chromatic motion.  After the third note of the chorale melody, a fourth voice enters below it, obscuring it even more.  The last two notes of the melody even have two voices below them.  With the entry of the fourth voice, the syncopation ends, and all voices have continuous motion, the top voice using upbeat figures.  The last concealed chorale note is part of a full, embellished cadence on C major.  The last two trailing notes in the tenor voice quickly move away from the key, which has prevailed for some time.
2:20 [m. 42]--This interlude, again beginning on the louder main manual, begins like the introduction and follows its notes for a measure and a half.  At that point, a fast turn figure is added to the upper voice.  A trailing line in the middle voice cascades downward and moves the key toward the “dominant” key of E.
2:26 [m. 45]--The softer second part of the interlude is also derived from the introduction, but it is set in the key of E minor.  The opening material moves down to the middle voice in a low register.  The punctuating figures move downward in two exchanges.  The lower tenor voice returns to the opening figure, adding the fast turn figure from the first part of the interlude.  It is immediately followed by the upper voice, which inverts the turn figure leading into the chorale line.
2:32 [m. 48]--Chorale Line 7.  Brahms changes the original chorale line to make it closer to line 1.  It is identical to that line, except that the last two notes are a step lower.  The two voices below it become extremely active.  The middle voice in the right hand incorporates four of the fast turn figures in sixteenth notes.  The lower voice in the left hand has wide descending arpeggios.  While the lower voices are highly chromatic, the line remains in E minor, ending on a half-close.  A rising arpeggio in the left hand follows the last chorale note.
2:39 [m. 51]--The final interlude begins powerfully, as usual back on the louder manual.  The first part begins with the rising and falling figures, which are passed among the four voices.  The motion becomes more continuous in the second measure.  The key moves decisively back home to A minor.  The third measure has a powerful descent, harmonized in sixths, in the right hand.  The tenor voice crosses into the middle of the descending sixths.  After a strong A-minor arrival, a long rising arpeggio bridges to the second part of the interlude.
2:47 [m. 54]--The quieter portion is divided into two subsections.  The first of these is, as usual, on the second manual, piano.  Like the first part, it is based on the rising and falling figures, but these are punctuated by three-note groups with voices in contrary motion.  It begins with an upbeat to the third beat of the measure.  There are still four voices.  The passage is extremely chromatic.  After two measures and four exchanges, all voices suddenly and unexpectedly stop, and there is a half-measure general pause.
2:53 [m. 57]--The second subsection is marked pianissimo, the only such marking in the prelude.  Brahms perhaps intended the use of a third manual here, if available.  There are two echoes, separated by rests, of the last gesture before the general pause.  They each move downward.  The second echo ends on a highly dissonant and anticipatory “diminished seventh” chord.
2:58 [m. 59]--Chorale Line 8.  After the pianissimo echoes, the full power of the organ is unleashed, an exhilarating effect.  The last chorale line is the only one to be played forte on the main manual.  It is placed at the top of a five-voice texture in the manuals and begins on a half-bar upbeat.  Each hand plays two voices underneath the chorale line.  In addition, Brahms brings in the pedals for the only time.  The voices under the line use material, especially the three-note groups, from the preceding interlude.  The pedals, providing a sixth voice, underscore a powerful motion to the last chord.  When the last chorale note arrives, it is held, along with the pedal.  The four lower manual voices, with each hand harmonized in thirds, add a final trailing motion to the chord, which is major.  It is marked with a fermata.  Cutoff and decay at 3:13.
3:26--END OF PRELUDE [62 mm.]

8. Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (Behold, a rose is blooming).  No tempo marking.  Harmonized, embellished chorale for manuals only, with embellished, concealed melody in upper and middle voices.  F MAJOR, 6/4 time.

Chorale Text (Anonymous)
Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen
aus einer Wurzel zart,
wie uns die Alten sungen
von Jesse war die Art,
und hat ein Blümlein bracht
mitten im kalten Winter
wohl zu der halben Nacht

English Translation (Michel-Dmitri Calvocoressi)
Behold, a rose is blooming
From out a tender root,
Thus in the house of Jesse,
As tell our ancient hymns,
A young and tender shoot
Amid the gloom of winter
Burst forth in wond’rous bloom.

0:00 [m. 1]
--Chorale Line 1.  This exceedingly beautiful prelude derives its charm through artful concealment of the very familiar chorale melody.  The setting for manuals only has deceptively difficult figuration.  The harmony is in four voices throughout.  The first line begins on an upbeat.  The notes of the dolce melody are hidden within a flowing motion in the top voice.  Most characteristic is a syncopation where the second half of a beat is accented and tied over to the next full beat.  When this happens, as on the second and fourth chorale notes, the actual chorale melody is on the syncopated note, which is approached from above.  There is some mild chromatic motion.  The lower voices provide simple harmonic support.  The line ends with an trill-like extension of the penultimate note.  This precedes an accented syncopation on the last note and a brief turn to D minor.
0:19 [m. 3]--Chorale Line 2.  Again on an upbeat, this line quickly affirms the home key of F major, but includes more chromatic motion, especially with the short notes on the beats that lead into the chorale notes.  In this line, every note of the chorale melody, except for the opening upbeat and the last note, is approached from below.  This contrasts with the approach from above heard in line 1.  The third and fourth notes are syncopated, which actually matches their placement in the original chorale. The last note is decorated with a trill-like motion similar to that heard on the penultimate note of line 1, but it moves in the opposite direction and includes a syncopation to emphasize the melodic note.  A full cadence ends the line.
0:35 [m. 5]--Chorale Line 3.  Brahms indicates a change to the second manual here.  If not softer, it should have a different sound quality.  In this recording, Bowyer uses a more flute-heavy sound.  The melody and harmonization are essentially the same as line 1, but Brahms shifts it down an octave and to the inner voices.  It begins in the tenor and migrates to the alto.  The other voices, except for the bass, are rearranged.  While the melody is in the tenor, the previous alto line moves up an octave and to the soprano, and the previous tenor shifts up to the alto.  When the melody moves to the alto, the tenor resumes its role from line 1, but the soprano continues with the former alto line.  It adds one new arching motion, then shifts down to the original alto octave, which is still higher than the chorale melody.
0:50 [m. 7]--Chorale Line 4.  The melody moves back to the top soprano voice, and the presentation is nearly identical to that of line 2.  There is some subtle new chromatic motion, including a mild syncopation, in the two inner voices.  Brahms also indicates a possible motion back to the main manual as an alternative to placing the change at line 5.  Bowyer stays on the second manual in this recording.
1:06 [m. 9]--Chorale Line 5.  The change back to the main manual is explicit in this line, which introduces contrast after the first four.  As with lines 2 and 4, every chorale note is on the off-beat.  This time, though, the approaches from above and below are mixed to form three arching motions (downward, upward, then downward again) in the top voice.  The first and third notes are approached from a third above and below rather than a step.  The second and fourth notes are syncopated, as in line 1.  The low trill-like motion on the last note moves in the direction it did for lines 1 and 3, but as in lines 2 and 4, the chorale note is off the beat and emphasized with a syncopation   The lower voices have some subtle, almost inaudible rhythmic exchanges under this trill-like motion.  This last note and the harmony under it are the “dominant,” C.
1:22 [m. 11]--Chorale Line 6.  The upbeat is harmonized by a prominent chromatic dissonance (E-flat) in the alto, held over the bar line with the other lower voices.  In this line, whose melody is the same as lines 1 and 3, some notes of the melody are on the beat, and two of the ones that are not (the second and fourth, the latter approached from below) are on an accented syncopation.  The third note is the most notable here, as it is approached from above by a striking downward leap of a fourth, and it is not an accented syncopation.  In contrast to previous lines, the penultimate note is held while being decorated by flowing sequences of thirds in the lower voices (the alto and bass).  The melodic note does add a brief trilling motion at the end before the approach to the last note, which is on an accented syncopation approached from above.  The mildly chromatic harmonization turns to D minor at the end, as in lines 1 and 3.
1:38 [m. 13]--Chorale Line 7.  The line uses the same melody as lines 2 and 4.  The syncopation and the approaches in the melody match  line 2.  But the setting is more elaborate.  The upbeat has a wider harmony, with a bass note so far from the tenor that the pedal may be required to play it.  The chord on the first downbeat, completed when the melody moves up from its lower decoration, is a colorful and dissonant “diminished seventh.”  The alto, then the tenor, join the flowing motion of the melodic line in the soprano.  The alto joins the syncopation on the third note, the tenor the one on the fourth note.  The two syncopated melodic notes are given a brief reiteration after the (now shorter) held note.  The last note, with its trill-like motion and full cadence in F, is as in line 2.
1:54 [m. 15]--Chorale Line 5, second statement.  To add contrast to the repetition, Brahms again indicates a change to the second, gentler manual.  The restatement of line 5 is moved down to the tenor voice, where it remains.  The bass voice is only subtly altered to help the tenor melody (which reaches quite low at the end) stand out.  The soprano part transposes the first three notes of the previous tenor line up an octave, but from that point, both the soprano and alto are somewhat more free, paraphrasing the previous two inner voices and adding a couple of chromatic notes.  At the end, against the low trill-like motion in the tenor melody, the soprano reinforces the melodic note and the harmonic motion to C.
2:10 [m. 17]--Chorale Line 6, second statement.  Other than the change in manual, this statement is the same as the previous one at 1:22 [m. 11], without the change of voicing heard in the repetition of line 5.
2:26 [m. 19]--Chorale Line 7, second statement.  Most of it is the same as the statement at 1:38 [m. 13], except for the second manual.  There is one added chromatic decoration to the second syncopation (on the fourth chorale note) in the alto and tenor.  At the end, the cadence is gorgeously extended.  An extra tenor voice is added to the left hand, which echoes the decorative trill just heard in the soprano melody, adding one last chromatic inflection (E-flat).  As this new tenor line completes its echo, a “plagal” cadence (typical of such reiterations, like an “Amen”) is placed on the upbeat where the repetition of line 5 had begun before.  This resolves with a five-voice final chord in an added closing measure.  Cutoff and decay at 3:00.
3:09--END OF PRELUDE [21 mm.]

9. Herzlich tut mich verlangen (My heart is filled with longing).  First setting.  No tempo marking.  Harmonized, embellished chorale with melody in upper voice.  A MINOR, 4/4 and 6/8 time.

Chorale Text (Christoph Knoll)
Herzlich tut mich verlangen
nach einem sel’gen End,
weil ich hier bin umfangen
mit Trübsal und Elend.
Ich hab Lust abzuscheiden
von dieser argen Welt,
sehn’ mich nach ew’gen Freuden,
o Jesu, komm nur bald!

English Translation (Catherine Winkworth)
My heart is filled with longing
To pass away in peace;
For woes are round me thronging,
And trials will not cease.
Oh fain would I be hasting
From thee, dark world of gloom,
To gladness everlasting;
O Jesus, quickly come!

0:00 [m. 1]--Chorale Line 1.  This is the most famous of all Lutheran chorale melodies, the one Bach used repeatedly in the St. Matthew Passion.  The two preludes on the melody are greatly contrasted.  In this one, the melody in the top voice is embellished, but recognizable.  It begins forcefully with an eighth-note upbeat.  There is one voice below it in the right hand, one in the left, and one in the pedal.  The lower voices echo the rhythm of the upbeat opening with chromatic chords (including the distinctive “Neapolitan” chord).  The embellishments focus on the “weak beat” notes of the chorale melody and are trill-like.  The left hand voice adopts this motion as well after the first melodic embellishment.  Under the last two chorale notes, after the main descent, the lower voices become highly chromatic and mildly syncopated as they trail to a half-close.  The pedal focuses on upbeat motion, then leaps down an octave.
0:20 [m. 3]--Chorale Line 2.  In this line, the embellishments, also on the weak beats, abandon the trill-like motion in favor of brief descents from above.  These are again imitated by the lower voices, which often play in parallel harmony.  These lower voices have a long downward trail under the last note of the line, confirming the strong A-minor cadence and adding a major-flavored “picardy third.”  The pedal has the same function as it did in line 1.
0:36 [m. 5]--Chorale Line 3.  The chorale melody for this line is the same as line 1.  Brahms’s setting is an intensified version.  The upbeat is expanded to a three-note ascent, mirrored by the left hand when it enters.  The lower right hand voice and even the top chorale line are given new chromatic material, making this line move colorful than the first line.  The pedal notes are also changed to match the new harmonies.  This continues under the last notes.  Finally, the lower voices melt into the same approach to the half-close.
0:54 [m. 7]--Chorale Line 4.  The melody is the same as that used for line 2.  Again, the harmonization is varied here.  The upbeat is again expanded to three notes, now adding an arching motion.  This is reflected in the lower right hand voice when it enters.  The left hand voice is actually less active than it was in  line 2, being reduced to octave leaps.  The lower right hand voice is artfully varied, subtly inserting the trill-like motion in alternation with the decorative descents in the top chorale melody.  The trailing lines under the last note leading to the cadence are slightly varied from line 2.  The cadence is fully minor, abandoning the “picardy third.”
1:11 [m. 9]--Chorale Line 5.  The last cadence is followed by an upward turn at the upbeat leading into entirely new material.  Brahms unexpectedly changes the meter to a dance-like 6/8 here.  He indicates piano, almost certainly signaling a change to a manual with weaker registration.  This change should already happen in the upward upbeat turn following the cadence.  The pedals are absent for the entire 6/8 interlude.  The melody is highly embellished, including dotted rhythms and decorative runs.  The lower voices, playing in counterpoint, also use dotted rhythms.  A second voice is added to the left hand to compensate for the pedal.  The key turns to the “relative” major of C, but the harmony is still extremely chromatic.  After the lower left hand voice sustains a long note, the two left hand voices play in thirds.
1:24 [m. 11]--Chorale Line 6.  It is approached by a three-note chromatic slide on the upbeat.  The left hand voices, and eventually the right hand voices, favor motion in thirds.  The A-minor key is re-established.  The dotted rhythms and runs are still typical.  The upper left hand voice introduces mild syncopation.    The line, and the 6/8 interlude, conclude with a trailing descent to a cadence.
1:38 [m. 13]--Chorale Line 7.  The 4/4 meter and the pedals return, as does the forte level, indicating a motion back to the louder manual.  The setting is similar to lines 1 and 3, including the pedal figures, but the chorale melody here, although analogous, is at a higher pitch level.  After the upbeat, the melodic voice and the lower right hand voice play rising lines in alternation before the melodic voice re-introduces the trill-like decoration.  Rising lines and trill-like motion are mixed in the approach to the half-close, which also includes some syncopation in the left hand voice, which had been static but becomes enlivened.
1:56 [m. 15]--Chorale Line 8.  The last line is approached by another three-note upbeat, now a downward arch, which is reflected in the lower right hand voice when it enters.  The descent from above, familiar from lines 2 and 4, is used here.  The lower voices are less active, but they assist in the downward trajectory with very colorful harmonies.  The last note is approached by a rising three-note upbeat.  This last note is, rather famously, the “dominant” note, not the main keynote, but the trailing voices emphasize a full A-minor cadence underneath it.  They introduce the “picardy third” at the very end.  These last trailing voices are not sustained, and there is no fermata in the chorale line voice.  Cutoff and decay at 2:20.
2:33--END OF PRELUDE [16 mm.]

10. Herzlich tut mich verlangen (My heart is filled with longing).  Second setting.  No tempo marking (Adagio in last measure).  Chorale melody in pedals as cantus firmus under decorative, continuous lines in manuals.  A MINOR, 6/4 and Cut [2/2] time.

Chorale Text (Christoph Knoll)
Herzlich tut mich verlangen
nach einem sel’gen End,
weil ich hier bin umfangen
mit Trübsal und Elend.
Ich hab Lust abzuscheiden
von dieser argen Welt,
sehn’ mich nach ew’gen Freuden,
o Jesu, komm nur bald!

English Translation (Catherine Winkworth)
My heart is filled with longing
To pass away in peace;
For woes are round me thronging,
And trials will not cease.
Oh fain would I be hasting
From thee, dark world of gloom,
To gladness everlasting;
O Jesus, quickly come!

0:00 [m. 1]--This second setting of the “passion” melody is remarkably uniform in texture.  The melody itself is placed in the pedals.  In the manuals, the almost hypnotic motion begins in an introduction.  The right hand, set in the tenor register, piano and molto legato, plays flowing, winding arpeggios in sixteenth notes.  The left hand has two voices, most notably a throbbing bass line with repeated notes.  The changes of pitch in this bass line are slow and deliberate, but they actually reflect the notes, and even the rhythm, of the first line from chorale melody itself.  The upper left hand line is in longer notes.  In the second measure, the right hand arpeggios are grouped in three-note ascents that create a subtle cross-rhythm or hemiola.
0:25 [m. 3]--Chorale Line 1.  Beginning on the upbeat, it enters prominently in the pedals.  Unlike the first setting, there is remarkably little chromatic harmony.  The throbbing left hand establishes a solid “pedal point” on A.  The middle voice, which had been slow, joins the flowing motion of the top voice in contrary motion to it.  It must be passed between the hands.  The top voice itself migrates upward, where it plays the same patterns from the introduction an octave higher.  The three-note hemiola groups are retained in the second measure, and the middle voice subtly shifts to parallel motion at the end.
0:48 [m. 5]--Chorale Line 2.  The melody continues without pause in the pedals.  Here, the throbbing left hand bass moves away from the “pedal point” as the cadence is approached.  The material in the upper voices, although it maintains the same uniform rhythm, is new, having not appeared in the introduction.  The voices are now mostly in parallel motion, and the right hand adds an intermittent third voice that harmonizes it in thirds or sixths.  The arpeggios are replaced by a more undulating motion that slowly works downward.  As the chorale line in the pedals reaches its last note in the second measure, it coincides with a full restatement of the introduction.  The chorale note is held under the first measure of the introduction, now an interlude.
1:23 [m. 8]--Chorale Line 3.  It is identical to the setting of line 1.
1:47 [m. 10]--Chorale Line 4.  Identical to line 2 until the final note.  There, the upper voices play an altered version of the first half of the introduction material.  The throbbing left hand bass settles again on the “pedal point” A.  The arpeggios of the upper voice are subtly changed to emphasize new harmonies leading into the contrasting chorale lines that will follow.  The middle voice appears to drop out, but it is concealed in sustained notes of the arpeggios that move chromatically upward.
2:12 [m. 12]--On the upbeat, the interlude changes in texture as the next line is approached.  The meter also changes from 6/4 to cut time, or 2/2.  This is, perhaps intentionally, basically a reversal of the meter change in the first setting (No. 9).  To mark this, Brahms indicates a change of manual, possibly to an even softer registration.  The pulsating left hand becomes more active, and the upper voices pass arching figures back and forth.  The harmony moves to the “relative” major key of C.
2:20 [m. 13]--Chorale Line 5.  After the upbeat, the pulsing left hand voice breaks for the first time.  The chorale line in the pedals moves more quickly and with straighter rhythm due to the meter change.  The two hands now pass the short arching figures back and forth.  The right hand adds a high upper voice that descends.  The key does make a strong motion to C major, with some minor-key inflection.
2:37 [m. 15]--Chorale Line 6.  The chorale line in the pedals descends to a half-close, moving through D minor back to A minor.  The high top voice concludes, and the arching figures passed between the hands continue.  As the last chorale note is approached, the top voice in the right hand slips in again, and the (now three) voices in the manuals play together.  On the measure of the last chorale note (m. 16), the top voice descends in strong syncopation.  Under it, the lower two voices descend in harmonized thirds over the length of a full chromatic scale.  This sudden chromatic motion is in stark contrast to much of what has gone before. 
2:55 [m. 17]--The upbeat after the harmonized chromatic scale subtly reintroduces the pulsing bass voice in preparation for the return to 6/4 meter for the last two lines.  Brahms indicates a return to the principal manual here.  The following 6/4 measure is an interlude analogous to the introduction and its restatement, but it is half as long.  As expected, the notes of the pulsating bass anticipate the upcoming chorale line, but only the first four, including the upbeat, are included before the chorale line entry on the pedals.  The texture of the upper  voices is similar to the introduction, but two downbeat notes in the arpeggios are indicated as being sustained.  The “dominant” harmony on E is briefly emphasized.
3:08 [m. 18]--Chorale Line 7.  The line is similar to lines 1 and 3, but it is higher.  Unlike the setting of those lines, the flowing motion is only in the top voice in the right hand.  The pulsing bass voice settles on the “pedal point” A, however, as it had before.  The left hand middle voice keeps the slower motion from the interlude and harmonizes the pedal chorale melody in sixths, moving parallel to it.  Brahms continues to indicate sustained downbeat notes in the arpeggios, effectively creating a “hidden” fourth voice in the manuals.  The first measure of the arpeggios is an octave higher than it was in the previous interlude up until the upbeat, where it adapts to the rest of the line.  The “dominant” harmony is still strongly emphasized.  The second measure again uses the three-note hemiola groups.
3:36 [m. 20]--Chorale Line 8.  For the last line, Brahms brings the middle voice to a halt on the keynote A.  The pulsing bass moves away from that note.  It moves at the same time as the chorale melody in the pedals, but not parallel to it.  After an upbeat that includes the major-key “picardy” third, the flowing top voice leaps up to a high A and descends in a scale pattern, abandoning the arpeggios.  Brahms retains the subtle two-voice texture in the right hand.  This becomes more overt with notes above the scale patterns, which descend to the middle range after another upward leap. 
3:56 [m. 21]--The last measure is marked “Adagio.”  The last chorale note is the “dominant” note, E.  The throbbing bass pulses on a low E.  The arpeggios slow down, and the middle voice again moves.  After a suspenseful and dissonant chord, Brahms moves the final harmony to a full A-major chord (with “picardy” third) surrounding the “incomplete” chorale note, including a low A below it in the pedals.  This last chord is marked with a fermata.  Cutoff and decay at 4:24.
4:38--END OF PRELUDE [21 mm.]

11. O Welt, ich muß dich lassen (O world, I now must leave thee).  Second setting.  No tempo marking.  Harmonized, embellished chorale with melody in upper voice, including echo effects.  F MAJOR, 4/4 time.

Chorale Text (Johannes Hesse)
O Welt, ich muß dich lassen,
ich fahr dahin mein Straßen
ins ew’ge Vaterland.
Mein’ Geist will ich aufgeben,
dazu mein’ Leib und Leben
befehl’n in Gottes gnäd’ge Hand.

English Translation (Michel-Dmitri Calvocoressi)
O world, I now must leave thee,
And go my lonely journey
To my eternal home.
I faithfully and humbly
Commit my soul and body
unto the Lord’s all-loving hands.

0:00 [m. 1]--Chorale Line 1.  In contrast to No. 3, this final prelude remains in the same meter throughout, and its voices mostly move together in block harmonies.  It is specifically written for three manuals with three different volume levels to accommodate its distinctive echo effects.  The harmony is very rich, with four voices in the manuals (two in each hand) as well a fifth in the pedals.  Brahms marks the opening forte ma dolce, and it is played on the main manual.  The first line begins on an upbeat.  The melody is in the top voice.  Two-note rising slurs are characteristic, both in the inner voices and in the melodic voice (which adds “filling” notes and reiterations to the melody during these slurs).  Under the sighing slur that ends the line, the alto voice has a chromatic slide and the tenor has a mild syncopation.
0:16 [m. 3]--Each line has two echoes, during which the pedal voice drops out.  The first is on the second manual and piano.  Here, the sighing close of the line is repeated, and the chromatic rise is in the manual bass.  For the second echo, pianissimo on the third manual, the effect is of a fade into the distance.  The sighing close is repeated again and moved down an octave to the tenor, while the chromatic slide is in the top voice.  The texture is reduced to three voices (the alto dropping out) for this second echo.
0:27 [m. 5]--Chorale Line 2.  After the echo, Brahms immediately returns to the full-voiced main manual (with pedals) for the full statement of the second line.  Here, falling two-note slurs are introduced along with the rising ones  This line also ends with a sighing gesture, but the key shifts to the “relative” key of D minor.  It is punctuated by a rising line in the tenor voice.
0:39 [m. 7]--In the first echo (again of the closing sigh), the rising line is inverted to a more chromatic descending one, and the left hand harmonizes it in thirds.  In the second echo, the closing gesture is concealed in the inner voices, the top voice vacillates, and the last harmonies move the key back to F major.  The second echo remains in four voices.
0:51 [m. 9]--Chorale Line 3.  Following the established pattern, the full line is stated on the rich main manual with pedals.  While the two-note slurs are still present in the inner voices, the top voice with the melody is not embellished.  The two left hand voices are very active here.  The tenor trails the half-close that ends the line, then passes the motion on to the alto, which hints at another motion to D minor.
1:03 [m. 11]--The last two rising notes are echoed.  In the first echo, the hint at D minor is confirmed.  The second echo again conceals the two chorale notes in the middle voices, and moves back to the “dominant” harmony in F major.
1:16 [m. 13]--Chorale Line 4.  The full statement of this line is very similar to that of line 1, with rising slurs and embellished melody.  The closing sigh has the most variation.  It is embellished with a turn figure, which is harmonized in contrary motion in the tenor voice.  The alto trails it with another turn figure.
1:32 [m. 15]--The first echo is a straight repetition of the closing turns in the soprano and alto, but without the contrary motion in the tenor, which moves with the manual bass in block chords.  The pedal, of course, has dropped out.  The second echo repeats the closing soprano turn an octave lower without concealing it, but it is not followed by the alto turn.  It makes a motion to D minor.  Because of the two turn figures in the first echo, the two echoes together are a measure longer than those of previous lines.  The first echo is shifted back a half-measure, while the second is in the original metric position.
1:47 [m. 18]--Chorale Line 5.  The full line is set similarly to line 2, but its harmonies are much more chromatic, especially in the alto, which has a prominent chromatic descent.  The closing sigh, like that of line 4, is embellished with a turn figure, but this one is also extremely chromatic, all in half-steps.  Instead of a half-close in D minor, the motion to that key’s “dominant” of A (minor mixed with major) is more complete.  The trailing alto turn mildly veers back toward D minor, however.
2:03 [m. 20]--The first echo syncopates the two notes before the closing turn, which is shifted back a half-measure, as in line 5.  The trailing alto turn is also echoed, and the motion to A minor/major is retained.  The second echo is also syncopated, but it is back in the original position, and it shifts the turn figure away from the melody and down to the alto voice.  It moves firmly to D minor and then back to the “dominant” harmony in F major.  It does not include the trailing alto turn.
2:20 [m. 23]--Chorale Line 6.  The original chorale line is much longer than the previous lines, and Brahms retains the extension in his setting.  There is some chromatic motion at the beginning, and even the previously rather static pedal becomes enlivened.  The two-note slurs are again prevalent.  In the second measure, the distinctive decorative descent of the original melody is clearly retained.  This is followed by a syncopation leading into the third measure, where the extended and embellished final cadence begins.  The final arrival is not until the fourth measure, making the line twice as long as all previous full statements.
2:44 [m. 27]--The first echo begins halfway through the cadence measure (m. 26) with a trailing alto line.  This line then becomes the highest voice, as the entire register shifts down.  The echo largely incorporates the decorative descent, but not the final cadence.  This descent is heard in what could be described as the “first tenor” in this lower four-voice texture.  The echo is suspended on a “pre-dominant” G-minor chord.
3:00 [m. 29]--The second echo completes the cadence.  It begins halfway through the measure (m. 28), as did the first echo, with a trailing descent in the tenor range.  The pedal remains absent, but Brahms adds another voice in each hand, creating a warm and lush six-voice texture, still at the pianissimo level of the third manual.  Halting chords in the right hand, along with mild syncopation in both hands, cause the cadence to linger, very reluctantly fading away.  The final F-major chord has a fermata.  This lingering conclusion comprises the last measures of music that Brahms would ever write.  Cutoff and decay at 3:34.
3:48--END OF PRELUDE [30 mm.]
Note: The original CD of this recording (“Complete Organ Works”) includes a 22-second pause after the track (preceding a two-track “appendix”).  When ripped to a file, this pause is incorporated in the file, resulting in a total time of 4:10.