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Comments

pedro barahona
10/17/2012 7:53am

Greetings from Honduras. This site has valuable information. Thanks.

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Philip
10/18/2012 5:59pm

Hi Pedro, thanks for your feedback! :-)

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Chris Williams
09/20/2014 5:17pm

Yes, a delight! Greetings from Olympia, WA USA.
My wife and I listen to Bach's 48 as well as Mozart's Piano Concertos every Saturday afternoon.

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Örn Leifsson
10/17/2012 9:58am

Great to see a webite on the WTC the best piece of music ever written.
Lots of interesting information here, was reading your comments on the first pieces and hope you will add comments to the whole book.
I have many of the recordings you mentiones in the Notable Performance section and mostly agree on your comments there I have also two performances that you do not mention but I quite like and they are the ones by Keith Jarret on the ECM label, WTCB1 on Piano and B2 on Harpsichord and WTCB1 by Maurizio Pollini on DG label.

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Philip
10/18/2012 6:02pm

hi Örn, thanks for your comments! True, those are two records I should consider. I never checked on KJarret playing Bach, need to follow this one up...

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gordon hawthorne
03/15/2013 8:53am

I always admired Jarret's music and improvisational prowess, but alas, he hasn't the depth or the breadth of articulation that this incredible piece of musical wisdom requires.
I was dissapointed.
Give me Gould, Schiff or Landowska and my spirit would be satiated.
It's disgraceful that the Empire of this realm hasnt canonised this most inspirational and uplifting of beings.
J S Bach saved me - he redeemed my soul. i am forever in debt to my Lord of Music.
I hear JSB has this effect on many a lost musical soul.
Wachet Auf!

Philip
03/15/2013 2:04pm

Hi Gordon, great to hear of you. I tend to agree to your comments regarding KJs recording, but nevertheless I do respect the attempt of this cross over. Most of the time, in my point of view, such cross overs fail quite miserably (e.g., when Gulda plays jazz), and in that sense, one could say that KJs recording is actually quite well done. :)

Jan Carsbring
10/30/2012 7:38am

Congratulations on this excellent new site! You have encouraged me to have a serious try at the Fugue C-major, and your comments are most helpful. Also, I much appreciate your recordings. It's nice to hear (for a change) WTC-pieces performed on the organ! The Velesovo sample set is beautiful indeed, and you can clearly hear every note sustained to its full time value - a didactic bonus. As to the prelude C-major, I have "destroyed" it by playing it at the piano mechanically and thoughtlessly over and over again countless times. Completely my own fault of course, I don't blame the piano! However, your organ recording gave me - quite unexpectedly! - a feeling like hearing it as for the first time. Listen to the beautiful bass line! I look forward to many more revelations in the universe of the WTC. Your undertaking is a huge one, if you intend to cover the whole WTC as thoroughly as the first pieces! (Well then, not so huge as if I were to learn to play it all, which - alas - is impossible.) Many thanks for sharing your knowledge! Best wishes! Jan Carsbring, Stockholm, Sweden.

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Philip
10/31/2012 6:58pm

Jan, thank you for your extremely nice and encouraging comments! I sincerely hope that you will master the C major fugue soon. With music and learning it is like in the Nike-advertising for sport - there is no finish line. :)

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Felipe Diniz
11/10/2012 4:19pm

I just added to my favorites, this is all great!
Be sure that im going to take a look here a lot of times.

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Philip
11/12/2012 1:42am

Hi Felipe, thanks for your nice comment. More analysis sections will be finished soon :-)

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Ernst Cupido
12/07/2012 3:00pm

Philip, I believe I read somewhere on this website about temperaments but despite looking again twice can't find it. Appreciate your reaction.
Regards,
Ernst

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Philip
12/08/2012 3:11am

Ernst, you can find some brief comments at http://bachwelltemperedclavier.org/which-keyboard-to-use.html . However, the question of instrument tuning has not yet been a focus of this website. I do enjoy using old tuning practices through the Hauptwerk tuning tools, but my personal theory knowledge of this topic is limited.

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Lance
12/24/2012 8:01am

Congratulations ! An excellent, user friendly website packed with insights, interesting views and recommendations. Andras Schiff will be my gift to me for Christmas ! A heartfelt thank-you from a Bach harpsichord aficionado.

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Philip
01/01/2013 5:15am

hi Lance, thats very nice! I hope you enjoy the Schiff 2012 recordings :)

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Alexandre
01/15/2013 4:00pm

I just started playing piano some months ago and I am fascinated by Bach music. I am listening the interpretations of Richter again and again.
Thank you very much to bring such interesting information on the WTC!

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Philip
01/16/2013 6:34pm

Hi Alexandre, thanks for stopping by and your friendly note. All the best with your endeavors!

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Kevin McClearey
02/13/2013 11:55am

I'm an enthusiastic, novice student of classical music (in general) and the works of J.S. Bach (in particular). I am really enjoying the process of gaining so many valuable insights from your site! It seems that each time I listen to the WTC (as played by Angela Hewitt on her 2008 Hyperion recording), I understand and appreciate it more fully - and your "cyber-mentoring" has a lot to do with that. Thank you!

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Philip
02/13/2013 12:42pm

hi Kevin, thanks a lot for your friendly message! I am very glad you find this website valuable. The progress of the chapters has been stalled a bit in the last two months, but I am back into providing more information now (Feb 2013), expecting to complete more sections of the website in April / May. Just now I published all the BPM maps, which I find quite interesting.

All the best to you!
Philip

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tiziana
03/12/2013 1:52pm

perhaps also Maurizio Pollini's recording of the first book could be mentioned among the best of all times. Thanks for your work

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Philip
03/14/2013 4:11am

Hi Tiziana, you are right, the list of recordings is incomplete. I have meanwhile some 10 additional records in my shelf and will definitely work them in soon. Right now I am finishing mybown recording and will update some analysis sections next. All the best Philip

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Chip
04/18/2013 12:16pm

What a wonderful site and resource -- thanks so much, Philip!

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Philip
04/25/2013 2:56pm

hi Chip, thanks a lot, glad you like it!

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gordon hawthornthwaite
04/18/2013 4:16pm


Just clicked on your YT videos - incredible interpretations.
Colour, breadth, depth, tempi and a natural articulation.

Insightful and Revelatory

Keep up the good work!




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Philip
04/25/2013 2:58pm

hi Gordon, thats very kind of you - very motivating! :-) Thanks a lot...

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Frank David Klemetz
05/16/2013 5:38am

I have a strong feeling to get to know Bach - and started with WTC.
Your webbsite here and your excellent organ playing on youTude made me so happy. I want to encourage you to go on with your valuable work.
If you also have a Facebook site then I want to be one of your friends there: personally I use my middle name Frank David.
Greetings from Finland.

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Philip
05/23/2013 8:01pm

Hi Frank, thanks a lot, very kind. I will pick up the work here soon, just finished with the first book CD production, which took me a lot of time. I will contact you via facebook. All the best Philip

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john lewis grant
05/21/2013 1:36pm

Great site. I'd would add S. Feinberg, Julia Cload, Edwin Fischer, and Jorg Demus to the list of noteworthy piano recordings.

Richter remains my favourite account of book 1; Feinberg, of Book 2. Barenboim comes in a very close 3rd.

I'm a romantic, I guess. Sue me!

Cheers,

John Grant

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Philip
05/23/2013 7:45pm

John, I guess you are! And thats of course totally fine... ;-) I came across Feinberg's recording some time ago, and its a great documentation of romantic Bach understanding. Needs to be included here, I agree. All the best Philip

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Steve
06/09/2013 4:37pm

Do you have anything to say about using the (Hauptwerk) organ pedal with WTC? I'm finding it both challenging and in many cases rewarding.

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Philip
06/11/2013 8:38am

hi Steve, I do use the organ pedal once in my project, which is the final organ point A in the A minor fugue. This is simply because my hands are not able to master a 11th (either left or right). On the piano it works ok with the pedal, but on the organ, the lack of sustain of the organ point is simply not acceptable.

Other than that I made the decision at the beginning of the project to stick to the Urtext, and not make any transformation using the pedals. I am very sure that results might be quite rewarding, if done well, for example in the C#minor fugue, or the Bb-minor fugue. Rather difficult, on the other hand, e.g. in the E major or A major fugues - it all depends.

Anyways, nice to hear of you!
Best regards
Philip

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Francesco
06/15/2013 1:21am

In my opinion, Jarrett is underestimated, while Gould is overestimated. Frankly, many renditions by Gould are irritating: think, for example, to fugue II, book II, it was CLEARLY made to be played legato (marvelous interplay between the two hands, it's a kind of "melodic counterpoint"); so, WHY play it staccato???? Gould only wants to express himself and his ego. Not Bach.
I absolutely prefer Jarrett.
Greetings from Italy

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Philip
06/16/2013 11:33am

hi Francesco,

I agree, Gould's version is special in the sense that there are quite a few inconsistencies and his interpretation may be counter-intuitive, even artificial. It stems from Gould's general approach to art - as he saw the interpret at the same level as the composer, tasked to reinvent the composition. While this creates in some cases clearly odd results, others are simply stunning, such as e.g. B2P/FGmin. I do therefore share your skepticism, but on the other hand admire Gould's approach in many instances.

Regarding Jarrett, I am not yet so much into his playing. But anyways, thanks for your remark!

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Francesco
06/16/2013 12:00pm

Yes sir, your reply is enlightening :-) Actually, I didn't (I don't) mean to throw Gould in the trashbag. Fair is fair, i think he can do practically whatever he wants on piano, both his technique and imagination are limitless; his Goldberg Variations are stunning -convincingly stunning- I just think some sort of a legend has been created about him, and EVERYTHING he plays has to be the best you can hear... Simply, I don't think this is always right.
Regarding Jarrett, he said (about his approach to Bach's WTC) : "This music does not need my assistance". Simple as that... :-)
Thanks again for this site, and your insightful remarks.

No Fu7ur3
11/14/2013 5:00pm

I am happy to read that I am not the only one who finds Groaning Gould's "interpretations" not only irritating and narcissistic but just plain wrong! Wrong as in staccato, rubato and crazy dynamics that make me wince with their utter contradiction of what to me is the intent of the 48. I have an open mind, for example, I have no problem with Wendy Carlos' synthesizer interpretation, because it is honest and does not pretend to be a classical interpretation. While I would not choose to listen to The Swingle Singers, on those rare occasions, such as in an elevator or the dentist's office, when I have inadvertently heard them, I did not experience that clenching feeling in my stomach that happens whenever I listen to Groaning Gould -- which I do, occasionally, so as to learn how *not* to play Bach.

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Gordon
06/17/2013 7:51pm

"This music does not need my assistance." - why did he record it then? He should have programmed it into a ZX Spectrum - I would've preferred that option at the sales counter.
He plays Bach like it's Handel. Maybe he should record some Handel for us.

"A performer cannot move others unless he is also moved." - genes reveal . . .

Gould's interpretations opened the door for us all to explore. There are very few 'keys' in the history of musical interpretation. He deserves his place.

"Simple as that... :-)"

Barcelona District Council to Gaudi : "We specifically told you to stick to the plans!"

Gesundheit!

ps. I am insane.

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Philip
06/19/2013 5:21am

hi Gordon,

I understand where you are coming from - and its true, we can all learn from un-orthodox approaches, and who says that when Bach writes "presto" one actually has to speed up (see Gould's approach to B1PrelCmin). Just like Gaudi thought he has the right to cross the lines given to him - and with what great results.

On the other hand, I can understand the remark re "it does not need my assistance". Personally, I feel that some of the P/Fs in the WTC are in some way comparable to chess problems, which can enlighten the student just because of their stringency and the beauty of thought. This aspect may be of less importance for actual interpretations though - a midi promenade through the WTC provides us with ample evidence that there is indeed a need for a performer's input, even within the most abstract concepts of counterpoint.

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Gordon
06/19/2013 3:55pm

Beautiful - I think you just opened up another door in my pathalogical mind and I do realize now that my input was indeed somewhat 'reactionary'(as I feel Gould's approach was too.)

I enjoy all interpretations that have a perceivable depth or maybe an extra dimension that only devotion and understanding can give rise to.
Some artists however, feel that they have a sense of duty to push the envelope and this primal fire burns away deeply within them.

Maybe we should all meet up in Leipzig and chew the cud over some beer and tobacco!

Blessings from the pirate Empire and good luck with your wonderful work.

Gordon

Francesco
06/20/2013 10:34am

Well, I was just wondering where to spend my summer holidays... Leipzig would be fine. Maybe Eisenach would be even better :-)
Did Bach invent jazz? Here's the proof: listen to B1, Cminor prelude's coda. It's Bach, undoubtedly, but it could be Jarrett as well.
"This music does not need my assistance, the melodic lines themselves are expressive to me; the very direction of the lines, the moving lines of notes are inherently expressive." This has NOTHING to do with midi files or Zx Spectrum... Seriously, have you ever wondered what is the main difference between JSBach and other baroque or "contrapunctal" composers whatsoever? To me, nobody has Bach's melodic and harmonic richness. Room for "interpretation"? Sure there is, but...no exaggerations, please. Gould in "Goldberg Variations" is near to God... Alas, not the same in WTC.
It's a matter of personal taste, maybe. Surely, indeed :-)
Anyway,

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Gordon of Khartoum
06/20/2013 5:26pm

Seriously, yes.I have spent my life inside music.And absolutely, Bach had/has an innate and 'organic' sense of chromatic line, relation and expansive texture.His 'kunst' has it all: Power, Beauty and Intelligence. Even his own hand is truly brushlike. He found a seed and nourished it - if anyone was close to God, he was closer!
Was he too pushing the boundaries of orthodox methods? . . . And thus creating his own language . . .
My opinion is that these minds tap into a certain source of creative essence that is in a way, here to challenge and enhance the mind of the many.
And I am sorry, inherent English sarcasm is my downfall . . . I never said Gould is the finest interpreter of the WTC - I merely defended his approach to performance and relegated Jarrett's edition. I dont care what he say's in his famous notes - I hear keine.
Personnally, I would rather hear someone who imparts more than the page can offer and that doesn't always mean articulation - so hang me for witchcraft!
Bach's output is the stairway to heaven for me personally and I'm sure for many others too. Looking forward to Phillip's Book 2 and 'yes' to Eisenach . . . must busk for fare first : )

ps. i hear Voices

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Philip
06/23/2013 7:22am

Some more 5c from my side:

Gould, to me, even though he is often eccentric, (almost) always gives me the impression that there is a journey behind what he does. In other words, he arrived in doing it after a longer development process. This, to me, is the weakness of Jarretts performance. Maybe because I (think I) know the background, but there seems to be a certain reluctancy that I can hear in his takes, an insecurity, covering stylistic aspects, but also the way he lets (or does not let) his soul speak in the music. It seems to me that this is because the road he has gone through with baroque music was just much shorter than his jazz journey. Such, he is a "jazzer", and while his Bach is of course great, one can hear that he is in (for him) foreign terrain. And his sentence that the music speaks for itself, in my view, seems a little bit of a defense in the sense that he might have less to say in this kind of style than when he plays with his quartett. By contrast, Gould has much less respect of the WTC, given that Bach's oeuvre was his life long focus, but he also lets "himself" speak maybe even too much in some cases - that might be the other side of the coin.

Meeting up at the Bach fest in Leipzig in 2014 seems a great idea. Including beer and tobacco sounds even better (I am a passionate pipe smoker)... ;)


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Gordon
06/25/2013 1:01am

Marvelous!
What a wonderfully wise and well-tempered synopsis - I do admire a certain individual's flair with the quill. : )
And I wonder who's 161st birthday it is today . . .

All the best from Sherborne and yes, again to Leipzig - maybe I can find some local flake for you :p


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Philip
06/25/2013 8:16am

Gordon,
we could chat on Facebook (if you have an account) - I am www.facebook.com/philip.goeth
see you there!
P

dan anbury
06/27/2013 12:45am

Just new to all this but my feeling is,Glenn Gould playing bach and Bach played by angela hewitt , maybe.

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Philip
06/28/2013 4:00am

hi Dan, welcome to the forum and thank you for your post! Its true, AH is certainly less dominant as an interpreter, compared to GG. If you enjoy AHs play, you might want to listen to Till Fellner's WTC1. In my view, he delivers one of the most stringent approaches when it comes to transparent play. And I admire his touch, he is a sound master. All the best Phi

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Gordon
06/28/2013 12:46pm

Incredible - Till's great depth and expressive flow reveal a soundscape that fortells the tension and power of late german romantic development.
He lets Bach's latent energy flow through him in a patient and devoted air.Each interval is stressed and every line pushed forward. I like his work.
(please excuse my poetic license)

Francesco
07/07/2013 11:52am

Well, I only meant to rescue poor Jarrett, who was so unfairly trashed by some... :-)
Actually, the best Bach is Friedrich Gulda's . IMHO.

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Carlos P
07/08/2013 4:33pm

I second that opinion :' Poor Jarrett '

And maybe there isn't a 'best' version?
Perhaps good, different and then maybe, pointless(lacking direction).
In the right hands a harpsichord can become alive - Bach is not black & white. lol

Carlos/eSpana

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Philip
07/09/2013 1:13pm

guys, nothing further away from me than wanting to trash KJ. I admire both of his 'standards' CDs, and who would expect that a grande like him can also play Bach that well. Gulda's jazz adventures, as an analogon, have much less substance imho.

And yes, in this area we just exchange personal likes and dislikes. Clearly, there is no black and white, or one-dimensional truth.


peace! :-)

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08/14/2013 1:58pm

Greetings from Vancouver. I am a graduate student majoring in composition. I just want to say thank you and how amazing you are to build up this website and share these musical analysis with people. It helps me a lot recently and enrich my passion to Bach!

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Philip
08/15/2013 2:09pm

hi Cathy, thanks a lot for your friendly comment! Do you have music samples of your compositions online? Would be interesting. All the best Philip

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Viola
09/07/2013 3:38pm

Hi, Philip!
Das war aber gar nicht schlecht getastet für einen Anwalt!!! Silbermann und Mietke tauchen auf, Phrasierung stimmt. Technik stimmt. ;-)
Mit diesem Werkzeug Jura studieren und Anwalt sein war wohl wie eine Amputation. Mein mitfühlendes Beileid. Möge es Ihnen nun besser gehen.

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Philip
09/08/2013 1:36am

hallo Viola, vielen Dank, das ehrt mich. Ich freue mich sehr über Ihren Kommentar und das Kompliment. Alles Gute! :-)

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10/02/2013 2:31am

The best site about WTC... I'm reading it all

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Philip
10/04/2013 4:22pm

Carlo, many thanks, very glad you like the site. All the best! Philip

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wEn
10/11/2013 11:22am

Hi Philip!
I am starting to learn WTC and thanks for all the info here!
They are really really useful!

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Philip
10/17/2013 9:35pm

hi Wen, thanks, happy if it helps. All the best! :-)

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10/27/2013 4:56pm

Our dear Philip,
I have been enjoying your recordings, thank you a lot for all of them.

For learning to play and deeper enjoy playing ourselves - which a lot of us positively want - your analyses are very good and we really, really want to inspire you to go on.

Suggestion: Very seldom you find a good analysis of the changing harmonies in Bach. Could you invent an 'open for readers' score version, where you have the main harmonies written - and we could fill in chord details and harmony suggestions on own separate lines?

Example: Learning to play in Book 1 the G#minor Fugue my only way was to follow your advise and transpose it first up to Aminor. But first after transposing the Fugue down to Gminor ( perhaps Bach's first original composing mode ) suddenly all the harmonies fell into place! Even with variations for certain often re-emerging chords. E.g at the end of the subject the strong cadence i-ii-V-i which I could not get out of my head: The 'leitmotiv' - occuring 22 times in the G#minor Fugue. NOTICE: In my transposed Gminor I could clearly see, that this i-ii-V-i cadence leitmotiv, which on first hearing the recording sounded 22 times about the same in fact NEVER is the same at all in close harmony details. Suddenly I saw the secret and could in Gminor easily name the every 22 time slightly different chords in these 'leitmotiv' cadences.

It was such an unique catharsis experience I feel like perhaps sharing in detail the harmonies I found with you and your readers when you come - want to inspire you to decide to do it - in your own analysis in more detail to the interesting G#minor Fugue.

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Philip
11/17/2013 1:57pm

Dear Frank, thank you very much for your valuable input. Indeed, the fugue in G# minor is quite special, as it contains various permutations of very similar micro-structures, some of them leading to rather exotic keys. An example might be the modulation in bars 21 (etc) to A# minor, with E#7 as dominant. Enharmonically, this passage can also be notated as F7 - Bb minor, which is certainly easier to understand, and in G minor, it would be E7 - A minor, even more simplistic. But leaving those (resolvable) difficulties aside, I agree, the fugue is a masterwork in construction, and I commit to publish my analysis as soon as I have a little time to formulate it properly. Kind regards! :)

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Gordon H
11/02/2013 5:25pm

Hi Philip,
What do you think of Ottavio Dantone's wtc on the harpsichord?
I rather like his measured approach, sympathetically weighted phrasing and the breadth of sound that he conjures.

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Philip
11/03/2013 12:20am

Gordon, I agree with you, a real treasure. Need to listen in more, its very musical indeed.

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12/21/2013 9:41am

I recently purchased a recording of the complete WTC by Evelyne Crochet. I bought it without any particular expectation. I own at least 7 other recordings of the WTC of which Gould has been my favorite by far while Gulda was a distant second. I honestly never expected to hear a performance of the WTC that did not leave me thinking how it failed in various ways to measure up to Gould. But that began to change when I started listening to Evelyne Crochet. In the last week I have listened to it all the way through at least 5 times, and each time I discover new beauties in the performance, new things that I had never before heard in this amazing composition.

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12/21/2013 9:47am

I wanted to ask a question: One of the things I have noticed in Crochet's rendition is that many of the fugues, as she plays them, seem to be somehow related to their preludes. Perhaps this is something that others will find obvious, but I never noticed it before, and I would like to know if others have discussed hoe the fugues are related to their preludes.

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Philip
01/02/2014 3:11pm

Dear Lancelot, thanks a lot for your comments. Regarding your question: We know that WTC 1 and in particular WTC 2 were not composed by JSB "in one go", but are in fact a collection of various works, some of which JSB has used in a different form and context before including them into the collection. That does not mean, however, that there is no conscious structure that governs the sequence of Ps and Fs. There are quite a few theories regarding the overall structure, and I have tried to find my own way through it. Particularly book 1 seems to me very logical in its step by step introduction of types of fugues, its overall balance of deep thought and playfulness, and the preludes are linked to the fugues entirely logically. What I must say though: I went through the collection so often, both as a listener and a player, that it is hard to say if this assessment is based on rational arguments, or on the mental ability to take something as almost god given, if only it is repeated often enough (and, maybe, from early enough in life).

christian revuelta
12/23/2013 2:02am

Hi thanks for very informative site. One small question as regards notable performances, have you deliberately omitted Keith Jarrett's ?

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Philip
12/26/2013 10:00pm

hi there, thank you for your comment :-)
Regarding KJ, you may look at the brief discussion earlier in this thread. I do value his approach to play baroque music, but I am not convinced of the result. KJ is an incredible jazz pianist though.... :-)

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Gordon H
12/23/2013 2:52am

Excellent CD by the way Philip.


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Philip
12/26/2013 10:01pm

merci :-)

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Jean-Claude Bournival
12/26/2013 10:58am

Bonjour. Première visite sur votre site mais pas la dernière. J'ai toujours cru que plusieurs préludes et fugue du "Clavier bien tempéré" pouvaient être exécutés à l'orgue, ce que vous faites très bien. J'ai hâte de visiter votre site au complet. Merci de cette initiative

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Jean-Claude Bournival
12/26/2013 12:16pm

J'ai acheté, par pur hasard (à cause du prix ridicule, 5$ au Québec), l'interprétation de Christiane Jaccottet des oeuvres de JS Bach au clavecin, dont les deux livres du Clavier bien Tempéré. C'est une de mes versions préférée. Vous connaissez?

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Philip
12/26/2013 10:58pm

Salut, je vous remercie pour vos aimables commentaires. Il est intéressant que vous mentionniez CJ, comme j'ai récemment acheté ses CDs, et je les trouve très bien joués. Jusqu'à présent, je ne la connaissais d'un vieil enregistrement Suisse des 'Concerts Brandenbourgois', son solo dans le 5ème concert est exceptionnel. Joyeux Noël!

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06/02/2015 7:26pm

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.

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Dean
01/02/2014 5:16am

One thousand thanks for this website (and YouTube channel), which is hugely helpful for me.

More and more taken by Baroque in general and Bach in particular, I decided to take up learning the piano as a hobby. A year later, I am almost through "First Lessons in Bach," and have as a goal (many years in the future no doubt) to be able to play something from the WTC without mangling it too much. No matter how many times I screw something up on the keyboard, Bach is never dull, and his music makes practicing a joy, even if absurdly challenging.

As I am constantly playing the (1970's) Tureck and Gulda versions of the WTC, this site will be of great use as I try to learn more about each one. Thanks so much for your labor of love.

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Philip
01/02/2014 3:13pm

hi Dean, nice to hear of you. Happy that the site is useful for you, and keep digging! The WTC is one of the few things that never loses its riddle-type fascination, even when you might begin to think that you solved some of the enigma.

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Emre
01/19/2014 3:10pm

Thanks for everything. Thanks for sharing Bach's magic in this century that we are in unluckily.
Danke aus der Türkei

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Philip
01/19/2014 3:25pm

Dear Emre,

thank you for your kind feedback. :) I am glad that this site is useful for you.

Herzliche Grüße in die Türkei!

Philip

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01/20/2014 9:52am

Hi Philip!

I'm so glad to have stumbled onto this website and that there are so many other lovers of Bach out here and especially of The Well Tempered Clavier works!

I'm a composer from NY and have been so inspired by Bach's fugue-writing, especially after having studied his Well Tempered Clavier volumes at Columbia University, that I've been creating my own similar project for most of my life called "Bach to the Future"! It's sort of a mental exercise to imagine what types of fugues would Bach have written if he were alive today! So, I'm writing a fugue in every major and minor key based on well-known tunes like "The Star Spangled Banner", "I Wish You a Merry Christmas", "Hey Jude", "Gilligan's Island", "The Munsters", etc. I've done my best to incorporate many of the devices Bach favored, such as stretto, diminution, elongation, inversion, retrograde etc. Although I haven't planned for a "preludes" section (the fugues keep me busy enough), I have 21 complete fugues out of 23 so far, and I'm hoping to complete the collection really soon, as I've already in the middle of writing the last 3.

There are three purposes of this collection:
1. To make people laugh joyfully, once they recognize the popular melody as a fugue subject!
2. To illustrate to those less familiar what a fugue is all about. By having a familiar melody as the fugue subject, it's much clearer to track how all the parts work together and you can hear each voice weaving in and out clearly.
3. Simply to be a great piece of music for the sake of its own beauty, a masterful fugue in the style of the inspiring Bach! (hopefully).

As I've spent most of my time writing this volume, my recordings are still in the "DEMO" phase now, but I plan to release several versions in the future, such as fully orchestrated, various guitar ensembles, two keyboards (unfortunately as I'm not a keyboardist myself, I feel my fugues are too complex to be performed on a single keyboard), and even an electronica version one day. If you or any of your visitors are interested in helping me one day with these recordings, I'd be very excited to pursue the possibilities!

In the meantime, you or anyone are free to listen to and/or download my DEMO versions here: https://www.reverbnation.com/playlist/view_playlist/3401045?page_object=artist_3490950

I have 13 of my fugues up so far, but I'm constantly adding new ones on a regular basis as time allows. I'd also love feedback from you or anyone interested in the project! :-)

Cheers!

EP

Gordon
01/20/2014 10:37am

Excellent work Erik! Love your joyful and very entertaining approach.
Out of interest what soundcard/tone generator did you utilise? Those winds sound good :)

GH

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Philip
01/25/2014 1:27am

Hi Eric, thank you for introducing your project here. I went through some of the fugues on your website, and find them well done and very musical. One caveat from my side though - my personal view would be that if Bach would live today, he would very likely not write baroque fugues on themes gained from pop music or the like. Rather, he might be in the middle of contemporary avant-garde, or, perhaps a leading modern jazz musician!? :-) Who knows... All the best! Philip

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Gordon
01/25/2014 5:53am

I agree Philip.I get the feeling that JSB would be as provocatively creative today as he was 300+ years ago. He would blow us away with his creative power. There are 2 words that often accompany genius: Awe and Reverence. There is no match for what this man accomplished, creatively and productively. No match anywhere, ever.
An artist of this quality usually respects himself enough not to 'entertain' popular ideaology. The closest he came to 'selling out' was the Brandenburg Concerti project - this is very telling from the artists perspective.
However, education of young humans should always contain the fun factor :)

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edgar goeth
01/29/2014 3:51am

I m impressed! edi

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Philip
01/29/2014 5:38am

;-)

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Kai Carver
02/23/2014 4:51am

Thank you for your very informative web site. Really great.

One small issue: your audio page is baffling. There is a reference to audio recordings in "sub-sections of this chapter" but I have been unable to find them. A Google search of your site returns some nice preparatory recordings, and I forget how I was able to find your YouTube account, which has some nice recordings too. So thank you, but you could make that audio page a bit clearer!

Finally, I think you do not review any organ performances. Any you like? I recently discovered Louis Thiry's recording, my first WTC on the organ. So nice!

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Philip
02/23/2014 5:25am

hi Kai, I saw this just now - seems I had to republish the website so that the menus appear again when you travel over them with your mouse. Thanks for letting me know!

Regarding organ recordings, there are not many out there, thats true. Flick through the site, maybe you like some of the approaches.

Cheers from London
Philip

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Andrea Gottardello
04/05/2014 9:36am

I wish to congratulate whit M° Philip Goeth for his marvellous recording of The Well Tempered Clavier. I'm organist and harpsichordist too and i found his recording of this great headwork played whit great expression, technical mastership and perfect choose of register.

Thank you,

Andrea Gottardello

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Philip
05/06/2014 1:33am

Caro Andrea, grazie per il vostro messaggio. Molto gentile :)

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istar gozaydin
04/21/2014 11:45pm

hi from Istanbul! thank you for a most helpful website, especially for your preferred list of performers. but why not to add john lewis as well?

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Philip
05/06/2014 1:30am

Dear Istar, thanks a lot - I have to admit I dont know his interpretation so far. Need to check. Best regards! Philip

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05/20/2014 8:51am

Thank you so much for this lovely web site. I am an advanced amateur pianist working my way through Book II of the WTC, and have been doing research to learn even more about the composer who captured me before I was even old enough to understand that "Bach" was a person's name, and not a "genre". (I had told my parents, when I was about 4-years old, that when I grow up I would compose Bach music.)
I also am a choral singer, and have sung many (but NEVER ENOUGH) of Bach's choral works.

Is it fortunate, or unfortunate that one long lifetime is far too short a time to appreciate the work of this genius?

P.S. Imagine my elation when I discovered, in my early 20's, that I share the March 21 birth date with Bach-but, different year, of course!

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Philip
07/19/2014 3:01pm

Dear Hermine, thank you for your comment. Yes, you are right, sometimes 'Bach' seems to be a genre rather than a person, so pervasive is the work. All the best in your musical endeavours! Philip

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Daniel
07/02/2014 9:49pm

Have you heard the version by Kirkpatrick on clavichord? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

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Gordon
07/02/2014 11:26pm

I never knew Ralph K recorded the set, I thought he was mainly a Scarlatti devotee . . how wonderful. I will seek this arcane clavier-vault gem out. Thanks Daniel

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Philip
07/19/2014 3:02pm

hi Daniel, no, I am not familiar with it. Thanks for the hint, will check it out. Cheers! P

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Sarah
08/06/2014 3:25pm

Allo!!
So, I'm doing research on Preludes and Variations from the Medieval ages to the present. In your research, have you found anything stating just how the WTC books foreshadowed the sonata-allegro or the general sonata form?

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Philip
09/12/2014 4:19am

Sarah, that is an interesting subject. As is well known, the sonata form developed through the centuries, with Haydn and Mozart establishing an early standard of the classical sonata, and Beethoven developing it further, opening up the form to a more in-depth 'struggle' in exposition and development.

The earlier sonata forms, as used by Bach and others in the baroque age, are, in my point of view, only to a rather limited extend the harbinger of what came in the classical age. Further, in JSBs fugues, one can doubtlessly spot aspects of introduction of themes and their development, but the fugal technique follows a different set of parameters than the later sonata form.

There will surely be more competent people in the musicology space who have investigated this issue in depth.

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Howard
08/08/2014 7:14am

Just wanted to thank you for providing such a wealth of information about JSB and the WTC. I hope you'll be able to continue posting on the remaining pieces of WTC I.

I find it interesting that you praise Andras Schiff's 2012 recording so frequently. I only have his earlier recording of WTC I, and I find it largely disappointing because of the excessive reverb wash -- all of the pieces sound as if they are half-pedaled from beginning to end, or recorded at the bottom of a deep stone well. I'm currently working through the Verlag Urtext that he edited, and clearly he has a definite idea of phrasing which his fingerings are supposed to facilitate … but I can't hear the phrasing in the earlier recording, as it is quite blurred. I take it from your comments that this problem doesn't exist with the 2012 recording, and will try to get a copy.

Thanks again for all of your efforts.

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Philip
09/12/2014 3:49am

Howard, thats an interesting observation. In my view, Schiff's version is rather 'dry' in terms of pedaling, in fact he hardly uses it at all (so witnessed in live performances). Maybe the audio engineers thought that makes the sound 'too dry' and emphasised the spacial component of the piano sound. However, I always thought that the recordings sound very natural and extremely lightly pedalled, as compared e.g. with Richter or Barenboim.

Best regards!

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Howard
09/16/2014 6:42am

You're exactly right about the audio engineers, Philip. I do a lot of audio engineering myself (although like you, I am a semi-retired lawyer) and am very sensitive to reverb … some might say 'overly sensitive'. The original Schiff recordings seem to be mixed primarily from the mics farthest away from the piano, and so are picking up all the studio or concert hall reflections. (I can't say for certain, but I think that these were recorded in a concert hall, as most studios would still produce a drier sound). I would love to hear Schiff recorded solely from the close mics -- the ones directly over the strings. You'd get the clarity of a Gould recording with the singing legato of a Schiff interpretation.

Best regards back to you!

Philip
09/17/2014 1:03pm

btw, Howard, have you come across Friedrich Gulda's recording of WTC 1/2? He does use the pedal (scarcely), but from a audio engineer's perspective, this is the driest recording that I know.

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Howard
09/19/2014 6:09pm

No, but I've seen you praise him in almost all of your analyses. Will have to order the recordings. Thanks for the tip!

Howard
11/15/2014 12:19am

Philip, I was lucky enough to come across the 1995 Decca release of Gulda's 1972 recording of WTC I in a local CD shop. I agree with your assessment of his clarity of tone, but cannot recommend this CD as it has been horribly engineered. The disparity in volume level from one track to the next is unlike anything I've ever heard before. I pulled out some audio equipment and did some tests --- the C major prelude begins at about 35 dB below unity gain (-35 dB) and peaks, in a fortissimo passage, at -20 dB. The C minor fugue, on the other hand, begins at -10 dB, peaks at -5 dB, and never dips below -15-20 dB even in its most quiet passages. This is very typical of the entire recording. In other words, the loudest passages of some pieces don't even come up to the level of the softest passages in other pieces. Some pieces, such as the D# minor fugue, begin at an astonishing -40 dB--- basically inaudible to human ears. By contrast, Schiff's first recording of the WTC I stays between -25dB and -5 dB from start to finish. And then Gulda has an overly zealous fondness for improvised mordents, his ornament of choice it would seem, with which he liberally seasons every piece he plays … particularly in fugue subject lines and on the closing cadences of preludes and fugues alike. And finally, although I generally like Gulda's touch, he has a tendency to just bang on the keys in loud passages, which deprives these passages of any sublety or grace.

So I continue searching for a pianist with great clarity of tone, fluency of interpretation and expression, and decent audio engineers behind the console. Maybe Schiff 2012?

Philip
11/21/2014 10:56am

Howard, re the Gulda recording - I have an old analog version, and its definitely different there. Dry and the mic ultra-close to the strings - yes. But not the effects that you are enumerating. Maybe they did something in the process of digitalising the old recordings.

Anyway, good luck in your search. Koroliov is also worth a try, less pedalling and more modern type of sound engineering than many others. Best P

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Howard
12/13/2014 1:33am

Interesting. I bet when the engineers transferred the analog recordings to CD, they decided to exploit the much larger dynamic range of the CD format. Not sure if I can find Koroliov but from clips on YouTube, the 2012 (?) Schiff sounds exactly like what I'm looking for, and since I'm working with his version of the Henle Urtext, complete with some "interesting" fingerings that are intended to facilitate his intended phrasing, I think that's my next move. Many thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.

Chip Ross
08/14/2014 9:41am

Excellent site, very informative and inspiring!

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Philip
09/12/2014 3:49am

Chip, thanks a lot, very kind of you :)

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Christian
09/28/2014 3:19pm

So excited to see a website devoted to Bach's WTC!! This keyboard work has so much meaning for amateur-enthusiasts such as myself, and I suspect, many others. I especially found the remarks on practicing very interesting, I will employ some of these techniques w/ my next practice session. I do fall into the trap of trying to advance the two aims of musical enjoyment and increasing musical proficiency by simply playing through the pieces, one after the other. I'm no Glenn Gould, so these suggestions for tackling areas of difficulty are very valuable. Thank you!

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Philip
11/09/2014 2:35pm

Christian, thank you for your friendly comments. Glad the site helps, that was the purpose :)

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Joachim Kronawetter
11/06/2014 1:04am

Hallo Philip,
großartige Seite! Vielen Dank, dass du deine umfangreichen Analysen zur Verfügung stellst! Diese sind nicht nur für Tasteninstrumente und Bach extrem hilfreich. Auch deine practicing tips finde ich sehr wertvoll! Nochmals vielen Dank! Joachim (Exexinger)

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Philip
11/09/2014 2:36pm

Hallo Joachim, Danke für den Kommentar! Freu mich von dir zu hören. Alles Gute! P

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Hawthorn
11/15/2014 3:24am

Howard, re: the Gulda recording - have you thought about buying a signal 'limiter' for your audio equipment?
Just an idea . .

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tang
12/24/2014 2:34pm

merry chrismas and good website done!though i m not a classical fans^~

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Philip
05/20/2015 3:51am

hi my dear, thanks, nice to hear of you :)

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Jennie
01/02/2015 3:41am

Hello, Phillip!
I'm going to use some part of your analys for BWV 853 in my assignment. Thanks for that! :)
Happy new year!

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Philip
01/02/2015 4:38am

Hi Jenny, thanks for note and wishes - all the best to you too! :)

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01/30/2015 8:54pm

i stumbled upon your site and what a gem it is. i'm studying the e flat major p & f wtc II as my teacher felt it would be a good starter piece. although you don't have any entries for wtc II i've found much good advice here which i can apply. many thanks for your dedication to the amazing work of jsb. my daily happiness is contained in my study of his and other baroque master's music. best regards.

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Philip
02/05/2015 11:15am

Dear Deborah, many thanks for your comment! Unfortunately I am not an expert in WTK2, my knowledge of the second part is so much more superficial. I guess I need a second life to approach it in a similar way as WTK1 ;) ... In any case, all the best with your music studies! Philip

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bernie
03/05/2015 7:19am

Hallo zunächst einmal vielen Dank für dieses großartige Angebot, das gerade für einen autodidaktischen WTK-Anfänger wie mich eine unschätzbare Informationsquelle darstellt.

Nun zu meiner Frage: ich befasse mich gerade mit der D-Dur Fuge und bin bass erstaunt über die BPM-Angaben in den verschiedenen Aufnahmen. Das wäre ja unfassbar flott (und für mich sehr entmutigend :-( ). Oder beziehen sich die Beats gar nicht auf Viertel, sondern auf Achtel? (Ich kann es leider nicht selber nachprüfen, da ich keine der Aufnahmen besitze)

Danke und viele Grüße
Bernie

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