Säulen (Pillars) is an extensive organ sonata in three movements.
The opening movement picks up a theme from Schönewolf’s Sonata for violin solo, Caritas abundat, transforms it into a space-consuming theme in the pedal and implements it as a passacaglia, then as fugue. Despite the ‘intellectual rigour’ of contrapuntal techniques, the sound language is poetic—calm, talking passages alternate with powerful polyphonic clashes of sounds that conclude the movement even with the greatest dynamics. However, the horizontal linearity of the polyphonic mesh always predominates.
The second movement is a large-scale choral arrangement. The chants Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele and Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele give this movement also its name. Amazingly sober its beginning. The vertical shifting of sounds is reminiscent of the columnar arrangement of organ pipes. In the course of time, the middle movement experiences numerous and ever new immense increases with the then omnipresent choral melodies. Dissonant but surprisingly soft-romantic sounds complete the movement.
The finale is an energetic and powerful toccata. Left and right hand play in roaring octaves. Everything is derived from the preceding movements. Suddenly the pedal play begins with great dignity, presenting the Passacaglia theme of the opening movement. The final part—increased to apotheosis—is presented by the Easter Hallelujah in the pedal. In the upper part the chordal sounds of the beginning of the sonata reappear, forming a large parenthesis, while the left hand continues the motivity that characterizes the entire movement to the end chord.