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BACH, J.S.: Well-Tempered Clavier (The), Book 2
The Classical Shop
release date: August 2008
Originally recorded in 2008
Total Time - 141:57
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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
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The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II: 24 Preludes and Fugues
No. 1 in C major, BWV 870
No. 2 in C minor, BWV 871
No. 3 in C sharp major, BWV 872
No. 4 in C sharp minor, BWV 873
No. 5 in D major, BWV 874
No. 6 in D minor, BWV 875
No. 7 in E flat major, BWV 876
No. 8 in D sharp minor, BWV 877
No. 9 in E major, BWV 878
No. 10 in E minor, BWV 879
No. 11 in F major, BWV 880
No. 12 in F minor, BWV 881
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No. 13 in F sharp major, BWV 882
No. 14 in F sharp minor, BWV 883
No. 15 in G major, BWV 884
No. 16 in G minor, BWV 885
No. 17 in A flat major, BWV 886
No. 18 in G sharp minor, BWV 887
No. 19 in A major, BWV 888
No. 20 in A minor, BWV 889
No. 21 in B flat major, BWV 890
No. 22 in B flat minor, BWV 891
No. 23 in B major, BWV 892
No. 24 in B minor, BWV 893
Jeno Jando piano
Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a family that had for generations been occupied in music. His sons were to continue the tradition, providing the foundation of a new style of music that prevailed in the later part of the eighteenth century. Johann Sebastian Bach himself represented the end of an age, the culmination of the Baroque in a magnificent synthesis of Italian melodic invention, French rhythmic dance forms and German contrapuntal mastery.
Born in Eisenach in 1685, Bach was educated largely by his eldest brother, after the early death of his parents. At the age of eighteen he embarked on his career as a musician, serving first as a court musician at Weimar, before appointment as organist at Arnstadt. Four years later he moved to Mühlhausen as organist and the following year became organist and chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar. Securing his release with difficulty, in 1717 he was appointed Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt Cöthen and remained at Cöthen until 1723, when he moved to Leipzig as Cantor at the School of St. Thomas, with responsibility for the music of the five principal city churches. Bach was to remain in Leipzig until his death in 1750.
As a craftsman obliged to fulfil the terms of his employment, Bach provided music suited to his various appointments. It was natural that his earlier work as an organist and something of an expert on the construction of organs, should result in music for that instrument. At Cöthen, where the Pietist leanings of the court made church music unnecessary, he provided a quantity of instrumental music for the court orchestra and its players. In Leipzig he began by composing series of cantatas for the church year, later turning his attention to instrumental music for the Collegium musicum of the University, and to the collection and ordering of his own compositions. Throughout his life he continued to write music for the harpsichord or clavichord, some of which served a pedagogical purpose in his own family or with other pupils.
The collections of Preludes and Fugues in all keys, major and minor, known as The Well-tempered Clavier, or, from their number, as The Forty-Eight, explore the possibilities inherent in every possible key. Experiments in keyboard tuning in the later seventeenth century had resulted in differing systems that, nevertheless, made the use of remoter keys feasible. Earlier composers, including Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, Pachelbel, Pepusch and Mattheson had already made use of some form of equal temperament tuning in collections of pieces in varying numbers of keys. While the precise nature of the tuning system used by Bach may not be clear, his well-tempered tuning at least made all keys possible, although, in the system of equal temperament employed, some keys were probably more equal than others, an effect lost in modern piano tuning.
The second book of Preludes and Fugues in all twenty-four keys, twelve major and twelve minor, was assembled for publication in 1742, drawing to some extent on compositions from Bach’s period at Cöthen and, more largely, from the work of recent years. While the Preludes vary in mood and form, the Fugues are bound by stricter rules of counterpoint, in which a subject is announced, to be answered in imitation by a second, third and fourth voice. The answer may be accompanied by a countersubject, a secondary theme that fits with the subject, but, has its own characteristics. Intervening episodes appear between further entries of the subject in other keys from any of the voices or parts. Other devices include the use of stretto, the overlapping entry of voices with the subject. Further complementary subjects may appear, again entering in imitation by one voice of the other, and may be combined with the original subject. The subject itself may appear in inversion, upside down, or in augmentation, with longer notes, or diminution, with shorter and quicker note-values. True art is to conceal art, and this Bach, as always, achieves in music that is never subservient to technical requirements. The Preludes and Fugues were written for unspecified keyboard instrument, with some suggesting rather the gentle tones of the clavichord, others the louder harpsichord and some even the sustained notes of the organ.
"He [Jando] uses light and shade judiciously. His approach brings great variety to the music"
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