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Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring is the usual title in English of the last movement of J S Bach’s Cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben. Originally scored for choir, trumpet, violin and basso continuo, it was written in 1723 for the church of St Thomas in Leipzig where Bach was employed. This version is scored for two Alto Saxophones.
Musicians at an intermediate level and above will find this ideal for formal and informal performances. The famous melody in 9/8 alternates with the slow 4-part chorale sections. All players will enjoy experiencing the rich texture of Bach’s harmony. The overall performance time is around three minutes if played at the faster tempo that Bach preferred. The sample recording is from the Clarinet and Alto Saxophone version of this duet.
Teachers will enjoy using this arrangement as a fun way to introduce 9/8 rhythms. There are few rests and long lines, so breathing will require planning.
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