Bach Lottery 7: Moving Month II

K. Nielsen
It was one thing to move from Washington back to California, but another to go from the Sacramento area to Santa Barbara. The blaring lack of a piano or keyboard of any kind bespeaks loudly of a very strained month. Activity and relaxation have each vied for supremacy in our minds and in our days and we are only now beginning to realize where we are and what we are doing.

The Bach Lottery has suffered. Aside from several highly enjoyable sight-reading sessions at random pianos and several equally enjoyable analysis sessions in random coffee shops, I have not had the time, energy, or resources to delve into these pieces as I would have liked to. Here's about all that I've got.

Book 1's Prelude and Fugue 7 in E-flat Major are difficult. The Prelude by itself is staggeringly long with extended sections and consistently puttering sixteenth notes. It reminds me of Bach's unruly Toccatas and their multi-sectional, dramatic declamation: first a prelude/toccata to warm the fingers, then a harmonically elusive fugue in slow quarter notes, and finally a three/sometimes four part invention with a double theme, a Fortspinnung to make your head spin! Should I have more time with this piece, I would bring out the rising fourth motif in the last section and suggest their relation to the slow fugue in the middle. The Fugue in capricious both melodically and harmonically, a joyful technical challenge that undoubtedly leaves a sense of happiness in its wake.

Book 1's Prelude and Fugue 23 in B Major is an old favorite. I fell in love with it my sophomore year of college and performed it in a recital in 2005. The Fugue in particular caught my attention, the solemnity and reserved nature of the subject hiding a boisterous personality that skips out in sinuous sixteenth-note counter subjects. The inverted subject is particularly interesting as well as a sort of recapitulation near the end. In 2005 I didn't care for the Prelude as much, but now, with training from Kendall, I find this piece to be a polished gem of thematic beauty. Ascending lines miss their mark, the small motif comes in many guises, and bass motion by a fifth comes out loud and clear in contrast to an otherwise smooth sound. Great contrapuntal dissonance and surprises in this short little piece.

Hopefully I will get my hands on a piano soon and have a little more to tell you about Bach this month.
Up next:
Book 1, Prelude and Fugue 16 in G minor
Book 2, Prelude and Fugue 24 in B minor

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