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note check ... Bach WTC, Vol. II, Prelude XX


Dave Horne

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I have the Czerny edited edition (1893) and found what I think is an error, most likely a typo.

 

I changed the note in question years ago but was wondering what appears in other various editions.

 

In the second half of this A minor prelude, measure nine - the measure with the descending chromatic bass line starting on E, the last note in the upper voice is an F natural in my edition but I'd bet all my money, well, most of my money, that it really should be an F#.

 

What does your edition show? Marino?

 

 

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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My edition (Bischoff) also has F natural. This makes sense in the context of the next measure, which begins with an implied B half diminished (although it's difficult to identify a definitive key center during that passage).

 

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Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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I have the Henle-Urtext and the Schneider edition published by Alfred. They both show F natural. I've been playing this piece for almost 9 years now. F# to my ears sounds a bit out of place, but hey, there are no wrong notes in jazz right? Bach was the original bebopper, most of his WTC was him just sitting down and blowing through all the keys in the style of the day.

 

The strangest thing though, the Alfred edition totally omits bar 8.

It sounds perfectly natural jumping from bar 7 to 9 (their 8).

Strange!

I've always used the Henle for learning pieces because it's the easiest to read.

I will refer to the Alfred for their take on alternate fingerings,and most important, they write out all the ornamentation. Trills, mordents, cadence, etc. Getting all those notes to fit rhythmically in the bar, that to me is the biggest headache in playing Bach...makes you want to pull your hair out!

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Yea, trills in Bach ... you can spend hours learning all the notes and the GD trills will always set you back.

 

I spent all my practice time today working through various Bach pieces. ..... I don't think they had quantizers in his day.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Take that back...on the Henle they divided bar 7 into two lines but put the measure 8 marking on the second line at beat 3...a bit confusing. There are so many notes per bar in this piece, I had always read this has 2 bars.

Soo....the measure 9 in question is really bar 8 on both editions.

Hopefully I'm in the same place now.

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I spent all my practice time today working through various Bach pieces.

 

I do that from time to time as well. It is a rejuvenating - and humbling - experience. Speaking of humbling, there are quite a few videos on YouTube of Glenn Gould tearing through Bach pieces. He was just amazing.

Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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This piece had to set listeners ears going in all kind of different directions back in those days.

It's really like a little sonata, it's so chromatic!

What the hell is old J.S. playing there must have been going through their minds.

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If you take a close look at that motif (the one I spelled out incompletely in the initial post), the last two notes every time it is stated has the interval of a perfect fifth. That F natural in the measure in question makes the interval a tritone.

 

Since Bach is not here to settle this, I'll keep playing the F# ... it sounds better to my ears. (This isn't for performance, just my own amusement.)

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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I remember going nuts over a note in the Chopin Etude op.25 no.6, the one in thirds. I had originally learned it from the Schirmer/Fridheim edition 17 yrs. ago. That edition over time started to fall apart so I picked up the Henle. In the Schirmer, bar 7 the top note of the third was A natural, played it that way for years. In the Henle it stayed in the key signature of 5 sharps, so A#.....what???? I went to all of the recordings I had, Pollini, Gavrilov, Perahia, out of the three only Perahia might have been playing the A#, it goes by pretty quick so it's hard to catch for sure.

I asked the resident expert/concert pianist Jeffrey Biegel over on the Piano World forum about this. He had posted an astounding recording of himself playing this piece, so I figured he would be a good guy to ask. He responded that he played the A, the A# sounded weird to him. I agreed. The A# changed the fingering dramatically as well, who wants to relearn something like that after 15 years.

So I asked...What's up w/ the Henle, I thought that was the bible? He said, I take that stuff with a grain of salt, I play what sounds best to my ears and lays best w/ the fingering.

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For Chopin, Henle isn't really the bible, although you can never go too wrong with those excellent editions. For Chopin, I'd say Paderewski and The Mikuli editions (published by Schirmer) are the two sources to use. One was written by a huge Polish commitee of scholars, the other by Chopin's student (Carl Mikuli). I usually use both and use the most favorable fingerings and note choices from one or the other depending on my preference. Henle is German and is great for everything but outstanding for German composers. Just like Durand is great for Debussy, Ravel and Poulenc. (Frenchies).

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Sorry to be late to the party - very busy these days. Dave, you can send the remains of your money to me... :D

 

Bach: I have two edition of the WTC, the urtext by Henle Verlag and an excellent Italian one. Both give F natural. Personally, I much prefer it; like in many other occasions, Bach starts some kind of symmetrical progression, only to deceive our ear at strategic points. It's an almost vertiginous moment!

 

Chopin: The great pianist Alfredo Casella, who has revised the complete Chopin works, writes about that specific passage, saying that in both the original manuscript and the first editions, there's no trace of the A natural. So the correct version would be A#. As in other controversial musical passages from the past centuries, a certain tradition of playing the A natural has been established - but that's not what Chopin had written. Of course, he's not here anymore to beat us... :D

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That's very interesting Carlo....regarding The Chopin.

I played it with the A# for almost two years but never could get used to the "new" fingering. After hearing the recordings and speaking w/ JB over there at Piano World, I think I'm going to stay w/ the A natural, it just lays better for me.

 

I would like to read the Casella edition however. Like DH said, I'm just doing this for my own satisfaction. People wouldn't pay a dollar to hear me perform this stuff.

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I would like to read the Casella edition

Well, the Casella edition has the text in Italian, English and French, so you could use it with no problem. :) It's full of interesting remarks and good fingering suggestions.

The publisher is Curci; rather cheap in Italy, can't say overseas.

Incidentally, Casella is also the revisor of my 'other' WTC edition (other than Verlag)

 

Like DH said, I'm just doing this for my own satisfaction. People wouldn't pay a dollar to hear me perform this stuff.

Ha ha, it's about the same for me. I really tried to bring a few Chopin studies to performance level during my conservatory years, but I wouldn't attempt one today. :freak:

To be sure, I didn't give up classical music entirely; I have a few selected solo and chamber pieces which I try to polish again every now and then... I have even performed them in public sometimes. Also, when I did my Bach record in 2000, I really immersed myself again into the whole process of polishing a performance/interpretation, and regardless of the results, that was a fantastic experience.

But for being a 'serious' classical performer, you have to do that, and nothing else. Sad but true.

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How true....but then would be no time for "Moments Notice" or rhythm changes. I can remember my lessons w/ Terry Trotter, we would listen to Pollini's recording of the Etudes or Casadesus's playing on the "Le Tombeau de Couperin" and I would just say....."F..k man, how great is that?..just unbelievable!" He would always come back with....yea but let's hear him on a 12 bar blues..haha.

Hopefully people would pay a few nickels to hear me play that stuff..haha.

 

Thanks for the info on Casella, I will definitely try to get my hands on some of his editions.

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I hadn't heard about the Casella either. I wonder if they are available in the U.S.. I'll do my research and report back. (I'm the print manager at a local music store.)

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

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Same story for me regarding the Chopin etudes. In my younger days, I worked really hard on a number of them, but never really got them to "live performance" standards. I managed to get op.10 #12 and op.25 #12 to the point where I wasn't embarrassed to let my dog hear me play them. :) The one that really made me pull my hair out was op.10 #1 (C major) - with those gigantic r.h. stretches. I worked with the Paderewski edition, which I think is outstanding.

 

I wish I had more time to devote to classical piano. :(

Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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hi Dave Horne ... your ears are spot on with this Bach prelude ... definitely an F# last semi quaver bar 25.

Right hand is playing the main theme of the piece in this bar ... starting on a 'G' this time (identical to bar 4).

 

yep, fantastic piece of music. cheers, guy .

 

.

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Thanks Guy! Every time that motif is stated, the interval of those last two notes is always a perfect fifth, (even the instances where Bach inverts that motif - the second half of that prelude.

 

To have the interval of a tritone for those last two notes of that motif is jarring (even to my jaded ears).

 

 

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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All musicians are Italian at heart :D

Ha ha ha....!! right :D

Once, a Cuban musician said to me, "Italians are washed out blacks!"

:D :D :D

 

 

Well "vertiginous" is practically an Italian word, coming from the Latin.

 

 

Absolutely right... In fact, when some forumite says that my English is somewhat sophisticated, it's because most of times I just make up the English version of some Italian/Latin word, hoping that it does really exist... I guess that the result sounds somewhat exotic, or sophisticated, to anglo-saxon ears. :D :D

But really, my English is nothing above average. I've learned it all by myself, and I know for sure there are huge holes in my knowledge.

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Yeah I think every Latin addition to the English language was made by someone trying to sound sophisticated.

 

But on the other hand, sometimes the anglo-saxon version is by far the best. For example, I don't think Vertiginous Gillespie really flies. :D

 

In any case I do agree 100% with your comments here Marino, and your choice of words :)

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  • 3 months later...

There are a lot of mistakes in many editions of Bach, some of them being the fault of the original manuscripts and/or ambiguity alongside normal human error.

 

One of my co-workers created MIDI for almost everything Bach ever wrote during his "off time", and commented to me how difficult it was to resolve some of these issues, as we have to bias our resolution against what we think we know about conventions at the time (harmonic theory, what was acceptable, how much Bach himself pushed the envelope).

 

http://www.jsbach.net/index.html

 

For any of you in the SF Bay Area, if interested in playing at one of the sponsored J.S. Bach nights, get in touch with me. I have been too busy to participate yet, but fully intend to do a transcription fo an unexpected instrument early next year :-).

 

I think Michael Manring will be at the show, but not playing this time. He's good friends with my co-worker as well as of a folkie friend I used to collaborate with occasionally (he even guested for free on her album -- he's an all-around great guy).

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