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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
been ruminating on doing something systematic this year to get to know the WTC better, thinking that committing to post here would keep me on the goal, so I will post one prelude & fugue per week, and as its late in the 3rd week, can do all 48 (books 1 & 2) by December 31. Hopefully can get some good input from others here. I plan on primarily focusing on form and style w/ a little bit of theory rather than comparing performances. Im not a piano player, so cant really discuss that aspect. it would be great if anyone wants to chime in on those topics or anything else pertinent to the topic

the two recordings I plan on mostly listening to are a piano set by Jill Crossland and a lautenwerck recording by John Paul

I will also go in reverse order, beginning with the Bm P&F from Book 2 as the first dozen or so of Book I are very familiar and its easier to start with less familiar ones and know where it will end.

My primary sources will be The Art of Preluding by Derek Remes, which lays out the figured bass foundation of the preludes, along with important schemas, and David Ledbetter’s book which will give some broader background
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

the prelude for BWV 893 is a two-part invention, albeit freer as a prelude warrants. The piece does not have any repeated sections and does not stray to far from B minor, just the relative major and a stint in F#m Always can find surprising harmony in Bach, their is a sequence of (arpeggiated) 9th chords beginning in m49.


will write about the fugue tomorrow or Saturday
 

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An interesting project and about 10 years ago I did something similar with Bk 2 only. One thing I found interesting was to examine the intertextual and symbolic references in the music, to try to get a perception on how that might trigger ideas for the sort of afekts to try to evoke. That makes it quite a big project.


As far listening to recordings go, there’s no reason to think that a single type of keyboard is revealing for each piece in WTC - some may come across well on some type of harpsichord, others on organ or clavichord or piano. In these days of easy access, there’s a lot to be gained by listening to more instrumental alternatives.

I don’t know either of the books you mentioned, so I’ll be interested to see what use you make of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The fugue is in 3/8, with the subject outlining a Bm triad. Found on Scribd, the out-of-print analysis of the 48 preludes & fugues by German musicologist Siglind Bruhn, here is her outline:

Colorfulness Rectangle Font Parallel Magenta
 

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A cheerful and easy to follow fugue to end this monumental journey -- assuming that Bach had a cyclic order in mind. That's quite a major contrast from how he chose to end Bk 1 -- so something to explain there, possibly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

David Ledbetter in his book refers to the B major prelude as one of several Book 2 preludes in an Italian concerto form, analogous to Bach’s Vivaldi transcriptions. It sound similar in texture to some of the Brandenburg Concertos
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The fugue has a slow subject in thirds and sixths with either two subjects and two countersubjects or three countersubjects, depending how you interpret what Bruhn labels CS-3 which appears after the exposition

Here is Bruhn's diagram:

Rectangle Font Parallel Slope Pattern


CS-3 does get a double exposition with the theme in 27-51. T

 

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I think the fugue offers the opportunity for real emotional intensity, a build up which can be ecstatic at the final entry -- much to my surprise I find myself really appreciating Keith Jarrett and Ton Koopman in it. The suggestion that the prelude is in concerto form sounds plausible and it makes me keen to hear some organ performances, where the registrations could separate out concertino and ripieno.
 
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