J.S.Bach :: Prelude & Fugue in D Major, BWV 850 (WK I)
Bach at daylight! A different view than our tradition with candle light, focused light at late evening, with a quieter and more intimate world, but a way to celebrate the new life that comes with spring, and also the new life that reluctantly starts with the loss of my father.
D Major: hope, strong joy, future perspectives, work, force, power... that's what I definitely will need lots of the coming weeks/months.
You know what?
This is a very difficult prelude on a historical keyboard. O, yes, I know, I was in piano class myself, so this prelude would hardly be accepted for an examination because of 'too easy', but not on a clavichord. Bach continuously spread the soprano voice over several octaves, forcing the hand to twist and jump, departing often from upper keys, which is not at all as evident as on a Steinway.
I mentioned this earlier: much of this 'private-use' music was meant for study, training for both the player and the composer. Learning to play in all keys, in essence, that's probably what the WK's were meant for. As Liszt would repeat a century later. O, it IS beautiful music, but that are the etudes of Chopin or Liszt as well. Also "old" Bach was unstoppable in digging for new techniques and possibilities. They all did, just compare the later Mozart sonata's with the earlier ones, or the late Haydn keyboard works. Not to mention Beethoven... well, he did not only open new technical worlds, but complete universes... But don't underestimate Bach in this: his music is way before the time of the Viennese gigants, or the Liszts, Chopins, ... but even today, most of his music is extremely difficult to play.
We're just used to it, I guess.
The prelude has several layers: the 'simple' joyful right hand, with a layer within of to be accentuated and prolonged notes (it is not written like that, but to my mind obviously meant to be played like that), and with the ever ongoing bass in eight notes, that asks for special accentuation to become clear both in melody and structure.
The fugue is very special in writing: entry theme with 32d notes, followed by much slower note values. Some resolve this 'problem' by choosing a really fast tempo, in which the 32d notes are seen as ornamentation. That is an idea, but to my mind, the 32d notes are structural for this theme, resulting in a slower tempo, that really makes the contrast to the longer quarter notes, leaving these with a feel of eternal rest and peace. It's hard to keep this slow movement 'rolling' till the end.
Playing it in this way gives a great feel of relaxation... hopefully also to you as well!
Thanks for listening!