e-book Fugal Composition: A Guide to the Study of Bachs 48 (Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance)

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The short cadenza-like passages found throughout the second page, demonstrated in measures of figure 8b , of this prelude are good exercises for learning the concept of "cadenza". Working on shaping cadenzas in short passages like this can be a very useful tool in preparation to playing linger concerti cadenzas. This piece is recommended in preparation for concerti cadenzas. The Prelude in C minor from Book 2 is an example of two-part invention. Hands separate practice is ideal since hands will be trading roles between having the melody and providing accompaniment.

Rotation exercises in thirds would be helpful to apply in each hand separately. Since each beat of the first two measures is composed of chords with a neighbor tone, one should play only the real notes of the chord when applying rotation. Also important is to work on the rotation and alignment or "arm supporting the fingers," isolating the two-beat pattern - as in measures This prelude presents characteristics of a two-part invention. It would be good for the student to be familiar with some of the two-part inventions.

Invention No. Its brilliant opening in the first two measures suggests a tutti followed by the soloist in measure 3. Later in the piece, measures for instance see figure 11b , it seems there are two soloists alternating with the tutti, perhaps a violin and a flute. This prelude has different sections, some sounding like little cadenzas in the middle of the concerto, others sounding like solos or tutti. The student should definitely take advantage of this aspect to create different colors and contrast within the piece. Concerto-like prelude.

Its opening measures suggest a tutti mm. This specific passage shows a texture that could represent two soloists in the upper voices. Finding the different sections will enable the student to identify main differences in textures and patterns. Since this piece was written with many sequences, it is very important to find its main patterns. For instance, measures 3 is a model for measures see figure 11a thus, practicing each measure and stopping on the downbeat of the next one is a good strategy.

The cadenza-like passages mm. This is a very challenging prelude for its virtuoso character and constant flow of sixteenth notes in at least one of the hands, with the eventual addition of a third voice in measure In the case of the Prelude in G minor - key of discontentment, resentment and dislike - the double dots should definitely be applied since it increases the drama. A careful study of the voices separately is necessary since they float in between hands, as we can see in figure 12 , being very important to know where exactly a certain voice ends or begins. This prelude presents characteristics of the French overture style, characterized by the practice of double dots.

The Preludes of the Well-Tempered Clavier are pieces that present a great variety of styles. It is undeniably important to be familiar with these different styles before approaching the Preludes so that one can achieve a well-informed interpretation. Bach's Little Preludes , the French and sometimes English Suites , and also the two and three part inventions offer the variety of styles that we need in order to play these Preludes with spontaneity, character and style.

A student does not need to have played an entire French suite in order to understand a Prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier. Learning some of the dances or a specific one that relates to the style of the assigned Prelude can be a helpful and clarifying way to introduce the concept of style to a student.

In addition to teaching students about the many styles of Bach, these Preludes are fascinating pieces of music, effective repertoire and performance material. After working on these Preludes , the student will have a better understanding of Bach's language and will be able to make more conscious artistic decisions. Clavier Companion. Accessed December 7, Grove Online.

Well-Tempered Clavier. Henle Verlag. Accessed November 26, Dance and the Music of J. Accessed November 30, English Suite No. Ernst Naumann. Carl Ferdinand Becker. The Well-Tempered Clavier. Munich: G. Yo Tomita. Bach Performance on the Piano. Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard. During the school year of , Larissa was hired as adjunct teacher of class piano at the institution where she currently studies.

She has been working actively as a solo and collaborative pianist and also serving as a teacher and researcher. Other movements, such as Var 7 gigue and Var 11, effervesce with energy and good humour. Yes, this is certainly the spirit which I like to prevail in my Goldberg Variations. But, as I say, Hantai is careful to avoid anything in the nature of superficiality.

Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: Pedagogical Approaches and the Different Styles of Preludes

Not for a moment is the listener given the impression that his view of the music is merely skin deep. Indeed, there is a marked concentration of thought in canons such as that at the fourth interval Var Elsewhere, I found Hantai's feeling for the fantasy and poetry of Bach's music effective and well placed such as in Var Little more need be said except that Hantai has taken note of Bach's autograph corrections to the text published in Nuremberg in or by Balthasar Schmid.

Invigorating, virtuosic playing of this kind deserves to win friends, and my recommendation is that, whether or not you already possess one or more recordings of the Goldbergs , you make a firm commitment to add this one to your library. The Ouverture Var 16 , the Quodlibet and much else here have an irresistible esprit , a happy conjunction of heart and mind. Another triumph for an enterprising label. Nicholas Anderson April This truly astonishing performance was recorded in , 26 years after Gould's legendary disc.

Gould was not in the habit of re-recording but a growing unease with that earlier performance made him turn once again to a timeless masterpiece and try, via a radically altered outlook, for a more definitive account. By his own admission he had, during those intervening years, discovered 'slowness' or a meditative quality far removed from flashing fingers and pianistic glory. And it is this 'autumnal repose' that adds such a deeply imaginative dimension to Gould's unimpeded clarity and pin-point definition.

The Aria is now mesmerically slow. The tremulous confidences of Variation 13 in the performance give way to something more forthright, more trenchantly and determinedly voiced, while Var. Variation 21 is painted in the boldest of oils, so to speak, and most importantly of all, Landowska's 'black pearl' Var. The Aria's return, too, is overwhelming in its profound sense of solace and resolution.

Personally, I wouldn't want to be without either of Gould's recordings yet I have to say that the second is surely the finest. The recording is superb and how remarkable that what are arguably Gould's two greatest records should be his first and his last. Now he confirms his appetite for the big entrance with three monuments to variation form, each rooted in its own century, yet all united by the harnessing of maximum variety, maximum discipline. But the instant he touches the piano such information becomes irrelevant. Certainly he can muster all the athleticism, velocity and finesse of a competition winner ready to burst on to the international scene.

But like the rarest of that breed — a Perahia, say — his playing already has a far-seeing quality that raises him to the status of the thinking virtuoso. There is, if you care to rationalise, a Russian depth of sound and eloquence of phrasing, tempered by Germanic intellectual grasp.

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There is also a sense of exulting in technical prowess and energy. But not once in the course of these three themes and 99 variations did I feel that such qualities were being self-consciously underlined. But such fine nuances only emerge in the dutiful process of comparison, rather than in the wholly absorbing experience of Levit traversing another musical peak. Top-notch recording quality, too.

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If a finer piano recording comes my way this year I shall be delighted, but frankly also astonished. This included the concertos of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov and, in , he gave a New York recital entirely devoted to contemporary music. Here you will search in vain for the sort of muddles or confusions that would sometimes plague his performances evidence of his proud boast that he did little practice.

His Bach has a peerless lightness, grace and natural beauty, the reverse of Teutonic earnestness and heaviness. This is Bach-playing to listen to every day, fresh, spry and well modulated.

The tripping, French swagger of Contrapuncti 2 and 6 and the smart Italian cut of No 9 fit neatly under the fingers. The great unfinished fugue is especially fascinating, gradually accumulating kinesis until the surge of B-A-C-H pulls us towards its unattained apotheosis with the force of the Severn Bore. Perhaps no pianist since Charles Rosen has so persuasively demonstrated that this contrapuntal encyclopedia is to be heard as well as read.

That impression is deepened by this disc: here is an artist who palpably adores and reveres JSB in equal measure, and makes sense of a programme that could have sounded bitty — 35 tracks, with the biggest work being the youthful Aria variata alla maniera italiana. From this, he has found his own way with Bach — highly individual but never mannered. We then get another dash of cold water in the C minor Prelude and Fugue from Book 1. The Prelude is judged to perfection, combining energy and brilliance, the Fugue a model of crisp detail. Even an outwardly simple piece such as the A major Invention, BWV, is full of interest, the energy infectiously joyous, the trills razor-sharp.

He ends his journey with the A minor Fantasia and Fugue, BWV, which again is unerring in its sense of build, the closing bars of the Fugue making a fittingly grandiose conclusion to the disc. The best is as good as anyone anywhere — and the whole, of the six complete cantata sets, probably the most consistent. Now all 56 CDs have been gathered together in an elegant black box. But it is the impact of this music that makes it such an achievement: Bach squares up to the highs and lows of mankind, and our baser motives and higher aspirations are engaged with in a musical language that transcends the passing of time.

James Jolly January In the 19 years since its inception, this cycle of all of Bach 's sacred cantatas in 45 volumes and on 83 discs has enriched the catalogue incalculably. Beside the more glamorous projects that have captured the attention in the sphere of period performance, the work of Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt and their colleagues in Amsterdam and Vienna has progressed steadily and with consummate musicianship. Each volume in this monumental project offers rich rewards and bears witness not only to Bach's unparalleled genius but to the remarkable consistency and imagination of the many performers who have contributed to it over the years.

It is a series that was started long before cycles and integrales became the fashion and it stands to outlive many of the cycles that have come and gone during the last two decades. James Jolly October While he has only recorded the work once before, in , performances of the work have peppered his career in all four corners of the globe. If there was anything Gardiner learnt from the monumental traversal of the cantatas during that great millennium year, it was to take longer-breathed interpretative positions with Bach and to know when to let the singers, especially, and the music do the work.

How can it be uncovered without pressing too hard on the tempi or under-curating those reflections of discrete stillness? Less consistent are the solo movements. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood December There are few who strive sincerely to juxtapose the bedfellows of academic rigour and inspired musicianship. Given his recent Handelian activity at the helm of the Dunedin Consort and Players, some might have forgotten that John Butt is a Bach research specialist and author of the Cambridge Handbook on the Mass in B minor.

This performance demands to be heard. Butt has considered every musical connection, context, texture and form. Each section of the Roman Ordinary is envisaged as continuous music, so there are no pregnant pauses between solo and choral movements. Thomas Hobbs and Matthew Brook sing the principal lower-voice contrapuntal passages with sensitive blend and superb intonation: they also declaim their solo movements with confidence and eloquence.


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Once upon a time the bravery of minimal forces tackling this repertoire was ridiculed by sniffy sceptics. The sonorities of full homophonic chords concluding the grandest choruses are thrilling, whereas the densely polyphonic choral passages always possess clarity and logic thanks to the disciplined interplay of the singers. Many excellent recordings of this monumental work cater for different tastes and priorities. Some have more consistent line-ups of soloists, equally impressive choirs of varying sizes and comparably strong artistic direction.

As throughout, all the singing is complemented by delectable instrumental accompaniments. Less abandon than Koopman, perhaps, but this is supremely refined playing and articulates the ambitions of an exceptionally distinguished project. This is another major recording event — as was the pioneering last one — shining like a beacon in a fairly uniform era of recorded vocal Bach. Recorded in the sumptuous acoustic of the Jesuitenkirche in Vienna, one can detect the flavour of southern European oratorio, ebulliently theatrical, immediate and free-breathing, and without the austerity of North German rhetoric.

At such moments, a large liturgical space gives the work a dramatic energy which is matched in the sharply etched arias, each carefully withdrawn from the marketplace of the action to stand on its own merits. Unlike the specialists of the pioneering years, Harnoncourt hand-picks his soloists from the widest possible pool. But with even these wonderful contributions, it still takes clarity of vision to graphically propel the drama yet also ponder it reverentially. Again, Harnoncourt leaves his mark with his unerring compassion at most of the critical points.

The austerity is palpable where Christ gives up the ghost. Are these really intended? In short, this is the most culturally alert reading in years. A truly original and illuminating experience not least, the bonus CD-Rom of the autograph score. As has often been the case since his Bach Pilgrimage of , the John Eliot Gardiner of this new, second recording of the St Matthew Passion is a changed conductor from that of the first.

The live format is not so unusual in these economic times but choir soloists do seem to be dear to Gardiner for purely musical considerations, to judge from his use of them in several post-Pilgrimage projects. There is no doubt, however, that both elements pay off here. The recording was made in Pisa Cathedral last September, but its foundations were laid over the previous six months in a city tour which included a memorable performance in Brussels the day after the terror attacks there.

The experience seems to have drawn the musicians together and intensified their commitment. This is a memorable and moving St Matthew , and for all the right reasons. Musically it is very fine. The choir are excellent, of course, with a solid but clear and intimate sound even in the larger choruses, no end of expressive means in the chorales, and a thrilling quickness in the crowd choruses.

Gardiner asks for a lot of quiet singing from them and they execute it with superbly controlled beauty. What really makes this one special, however, is its emotional integrity, coming not from affected theatricality but from a pervading air of profound sadness. This is just one strongly moving moment among many, which more often than not are achieved through tender phrasing, confident but never exaggerated articulation and measured but not sluggish tempos.

Though this at first may seem like a surprisingly light-touch reading from Gardiner, it is in fact one with a firmly controlled atmosphere of hurt and vulnerability. That his considerable experience has enabled him to find it in such a thoughtfully moulded, expertly executed and deeply committed reading, so honestly communicative of its intent and so free of self-conscious monumentalism, sententiousness or melodramatics, is why I believe it to be one of his finest achievements. Its emotional intimacy and urgency are better suited to the agility and immediacy a one-to-a-part performance brings, and the result can be a deeply compelling human drama.

This is not, by the way, a polite way of saying that the performance lacks expressive variety or that performing standards are modest. Chorales are shaped with care and expressive sensitivity, but also never overcooked. Then a short burst from a Buxtehude Praeludium leads straight to the opening chorus, nearly nine minutes after the disc has started. A similar sequence follows Part 1, and Part 2 is prefaced by another organ chorale.

The reconstruction then ends with a few liturgical nuts and bolts and a final chorale for the congregation. But while you may not always want to sit through nine verses of chorale before getting down to business or indeed listen to the half-time sermon, taken from a collection by Erdmann Neumeister, which is downloadable from the Linn website! Alongside the top-class and pliable choral singing of Polyphony comes the roll call of exceptional soloists — Nicholas Mulroy among them.

History has not judged kindly the revisiting of major Bach choral works by eminent conductors. Here is the exception. Without a hint of world-weariness, each movement builds on the experience of what has been heard before a device encouraged by Bach in his emollient and atmospheric instrumentation, and the decisive connections between each cantata. Witness the soft-grained radiance and ease, whether Mass or opera-inspired, which eschews an inward-looking and parochial outlook.

Indeed, Harnoncourt is unique in his decisively pictorial and luminous landscape in the more perennial oratorio tradition , alongside a highly developed ear for charting the work with kaleidoscopic, if occasionally maverick character. The springy choruses are bright but warm, spacious and unhurried, and packed with cathartic and lyrical dialogues between instruments and voices.

Matthew Halls neatly juxtaposes bustling vitality and an unforced conversational quality in the first part of the Sinfonia, with the three natural trumpets sounding particularly shapely and relaxed. The chorus is impressively disciplined and radiant in the opening chorus, during which rapid duet passages are delivered impeccably by James Gilchrist and Peter Harvey.

The pairing is a sensible idea shared with previous discs from Leonhardt, Rilling and Suzuki but that need not dissuade anyone from savouring these outstanding performances. One of the most striking features in this new collection, as I mentioned previously, is how attentive Gardiner is to the individuality of each of the motets.

Gardiner would disagree. Countersubjects 4.

So what's so good about Bach then?

The Exposition 5. A Classification of the "48" 6. Group 1: Fugues for Two Voices 7. Group 2: Fugues for Three Voices, without Stretto 8. Episodes 1 9. Group 3: Fugues for Three Voices, with Stretto Fugues for Four Voices General