My teacher has assigned me my first Bach prelude/fugue from WTC bk 1 (he's in for a lot of work!)
So do any of you Bach-o-philes (?) have advice or suggestions for someone about to take the plunge?
omg....you're a Bach virgin? For real??
I was just thinking a few hours ago that I really can no longer pretend that I love Chopin more than Bach. I used to think that I did (obviously). I guess Bach just seemed to me to be less passionate, or some such related term. But the more I get into Bach (which I have been progressively doing since I was in high school) the more absolutely enthralled I become with him. So, I love Bach and Chopin equally.
I'm willing to bet that you've got that same view of Bach that I've discarded, and I promise, after you dig into him, you'll begin to discard it as well. It takes a bit to get used to, being sparing on the pedal (I still have to fight using it too much at times) but once you get used to that only sparing pedal, it frees you up to play in the percussive style that Bach obviously intended, with percussive variation on the longer notes (such as the eighth notes in a piece that mainly uses eighths and sixteenths).
All of the PS recordings of the WTC I/10 set are good, but I especially enjoyed the Grant recording (Prelude
), though perhaps he took the beginning of the prelude a bit too slow (I say 'perhaps', because that tempo does two good things: it makes for a nice contrast with the presto, and it of course makes it easier to be graceful and musical with the ornamentation and such). The presto section in particular was excellent, as was the fugue.
The fugue is two voices and only two pages long, which my teacher thought would be good for me to start with – less to manage, maybe?
Yeah, two voices is less to manage - your set is the only
set with a two-voice fugue - but I wouldn't say it's the easiest fugue, even though it usually is
labeled as the easiest of the fugues because of the fact that it only has two voices. There are some that are slower and I think easier.
Maybe you would like that beautiful slow b sharp minor pair?
You shouldn't tease her like that!
I played through the Prelude with a lot of pedal, and I like it better that way. Guess I’ll have to get out of my romantic music mode for these.
I wouldn't suggest getting out of that "mode" at all. Yeah, you're going to have to trim down the pedal, likely. But remember, pedal is okay as long as you're not muddying anything up, or watering down percussive opportunities. And keep that "romantic mode"! Bach and Chopin are very similar in many respects, and there's nothing I hate more than a dry, static interpretation of Bach. Just because his music is mathematically perfect does not mean that it should be played merely
If you want a good example of the heavy pedal interpretation of Bach, and also some romanticism in Bach, listen to Hawley's recording of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor
. I don't know that I would use nearly so much pedal with that one in spots, because he does allow it to get a bit muddy in some of those chromatic passages, but overall, I really like his interpretation, and you can definitely get a feel for Romantic Bach from this one.
See the Barenboim takes on WTC1 and WTC2, that may sound well too - plenty of pedal and romantic style.
You say that as if they are available for free somewhere.
Or am I misreading you? (I probably am. Oh well.) I've only heard Barenboim on the Beethoven Sonatas, and that's been a while. They've got his complete set of those in our music library.