Prelude (in A minor) BWV 894
From Bach’s extensive output of Preludes and Fugues related to his two “Well Tempered” collections we expect concise writing in a typical style. But the Prelude and Fugue (BWV 894) is a complete surprise, much longer than usual, with complex architecture and features found in the Italian concertos which Bach arranged for organ and harpsichord in his earliest years at Weimar. This work has many of the ideas of larger forms, the continuous triplet motion, frequent statements of the theme in the tonic key, and racy cadenzas in both movements. The sheer energy and invention are nearly overwhelming, but the sonority of the Italian harpsichord makes the music transparent and clearly relates it to its models, the violin writing of Vivaldi and his school. This work may have been one of the composer’s personal favourites, as he later arranged it as a triple concerto for flute, violin and harpsichord, composing two new movements.
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