Bach Lottery 10: What's My Policy on Tardiness?

Obviously my Bach Lottery Urlinie has been untergebrochen slightly. Let's just say that I went through the Five Stages of Paper Grading: 1. idealistic enthusiasm, 2. shock, 3. frothing horror, 4. "The Grim", and finally 5. acceptance. It's something every teacher must eventually face and I feel as though I have come through flame the better prepared for the next wave (prompt #2 just went up yesterday!) and stronger as a human being.

Back in distant October I spent a pitiable time with two WTC pairs. As little playing as they did get, I truly understand Schumann's conviction that they can act as a spiritual discipline and source of edification; they were my momentary but Pleasant Arbor on my Difficulty Hill.

Book 1, Prelude and Fugue 8 in E-flat/D-sharp minor
          The Prelude has always been described to me as suggestive of an aria with basso continuo accompaniment. I've never completely heard it that way. The interplay between lyric right hand and suddenly lyric and imitative left suggests something more complex lying just below the surface of the blatantly simple block chords and naked lines. The chords intrude upon the vocal line, as if Orpheus' harp suddenly started calling the shots. Still, I wonder how Bach the improviser would have filled in those pregnant pauses to perhaps emphasize the melodic voice – I imagine him playing after dinner and filling his living room with outrageous Italian fioriture and getting some laughs from his slightly tipsy, ganz deutsch audience. Who knows.
          If you love augmented and inverted fugue subjects, Fugue No. 8 is for you. Very tight and often overlapping writing makes it hard to bring it out, but such a fun challenge as waves of theme in every shape and color crash over the pages. Deserves much more time.

Book 1, Prelude and Fugue 21 in B-flat Major
          The Prelude suggests a miniaturized toccata in the vein of his youthful, organ rock star days: The flurrying passage work, scalar runs spanning some four octaves, dramatic fanfare chords, and a obdurate refusal to cadence. I always remember a footnote I read about Carl Czerny adding a big tonic chord after the final upward flourish and it getting slammed as one of the most Philistine editing decisions in history. Its silence rings in my ears at the end of this piece.
          The Fugue should come attacca in my opinion, maintaining a contrasting interplay between free and strict sections so prevalent in Buxtehude's praeludium. It's one of those tight little dance fugues where all the counter subjects are custom made to bring out the coordinated effect of the whole – a big contrast from the youthful, I'll-do-whatever-I-want Prelude. Again, wish I'd had more time on these.

Up next:
Book 1, Prelude and Fugue 10 in E minor
Book 1, Prelude and Fugue 12 in F minor

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