Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bist Du Bei Mir

Among the diverse pieces which have, in the past six months or so, been inextricably embedded in my mind is one which may be a good deal more familiar to most readers than it was to me at a first hearing. That would be Bach's "Bist Du Bei Mir." Or possibly Stölzel's "Bist Du Bei Mir." As deeply fond as I am of Bach's music, I can't help but hope it is Stölzel who should get the credit for this gem (overplayed, perhaps, but a gem, nonetheless) of a tune; otherwise, all the poor fellow really seems to be known for is for not being Bach. . .and can't we all say the same? There is a wonderfully in-depth article which delves into the Bachness or Stölzelness of "Bist Du Bei Mir" here; it also includes a translation of the simple and effective lyrics. Would I see the tune quite the same way had I not run across a translation at work? I would like to think the music is perfect enough to blaze on its own merits, but there is something wistful about the terse words that, once understood, is hard not to taste in subsequent renditions (vocal or not) of the piece. Here, Svetla Protich plays it on the piano:

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