Advent Calendar Day 2 – Wachet Auf (J.S. Bach)

For December 2, then, here is Bach’s Wachet Auf. Actually, this version is so very slow that it should probably be called “Schlafet Mehr”, but of all the recordings available online, this one had the best choir. So it’s slow, but worth waiting for.

This is not the organ prelude you (and most of YouTube) are thinking of when you hear Wachet Auf and Bach in the same sentence, but the choral version with the awesome alto alleluia in the middle (there will be a theme of excellent alto lines in this advent calendar, at least until I run out of pieces I personally remember singing in Advent. This is what happens when you let the alto control the programming). It is more fun when it goes faster, but this can’t be helped.

If you’re not a Bach afficionado, the way this piece works is that the sopranos sing the melody line of Wachet Auf (Zion hears the watchmen’s voices) very, very slowly (very, very, very slowly in this recording), while the altos, tenors and basses sing something completely different and polyphonic underneath. The effect is gorgeous, if a bit boring for the sopranos (see note above about what happens when you put the alto in charge of choosing music).

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