Bach Prelude

Posted In: Repertoire

  • Participant
    Andelin on #216930

    I was looking at 2 different versions I have of the Bach prelude from the well-tempered clavier. First, I noticed the one arranged by Yolanda Kondonassis uses more of the enharmonic flats, rather than sharps (for example, measures 12, 22, and 28). (I don’t know where the other version I have came from, so I don’t have a good way to reference that, unfortunately.) Do you have a preference, when there is the option, of using flats or sharps (in this particular piece, or in all harp music in general), and why? I understand that the context is going to mainly be the deciding factor, but in this piece, it seems either one works. I’m wondering what the thought process is behind choosing how to play it.

    Also, does the Kondonassis version seem to be missing a measure? I double checked it against the other harp, and a piano book I have, and I think it’s missing one measure. Have you noticed that? I can’t imagine it was done on purpose, but ??? I’m not imagining things am I?

    Thank you!

    Participant
    emily-mitchell on #216937

    I assume you are referring to the C major Prelude, Bk 1 (there are 48 preludes with accompanying fugues in all). Enharmonics are often used to ease pedaling and spacing of notes within the hand since harpists only use four fingers distinct from the pianist’s five. It’s not mandatory, but sometimes a passage can’t be played any other way but enharmonically on the harp. In the case of either, or, it gives you performance options from original manuscript. I’m assuming your other edition is for piano. Regarding the missing measure, or rather added measure, the Schwenke copy (1783) inserts this measure, in-between Mm 22 and 23, that has become generally accepted despite its non-authenticity. The Wagener-Volkmann autograph (Royal Library-Berlin, 1732) does not include this measure. Your piano edition probably includes the measure. You can play the prelude with or without this measure, but it is becoming more common not to play the measure unless you are playing the Charles Gounod melody version composed over this Bach prelude, then you need the added measure.

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #216944

    The Prelude in C versions I have also can be played with the Gounod Ave Maria. Each is 40 measures. Thanks for the distinction, Emily. However, I am unclear as to exactly what measure is added. If playing the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria what measure is extra?

    Participant
    Andelin on #216964

    Yes, it is the prelude in C I am referring to.

    Thank you, Emily, for the mini history lesson. I had no idea! And I’ve heard this song many times. I have now at least 3 versions, one for piano and two notated for harp (perhaps I’d find another if I loooked through all my books, haha!).

    As for the extra measure, I’ve always heard it with it included, as far as I can remember. So leaving it out sounds off to me. And my son, who plays violin, will hopefully play the ave Maria with me someday. I’ve always loved the two parts together.

    I’m trying to decide which enharmonic notes are ‘easier’ (in quotations because multiple pedal changes aren’t easy for me yet, As I’m relatively new to pedals). I can rewrite the accidentals, but don’t want to take the time to do so if it’s unnecessary. I am hoping to get some input from those who have more experience with the pedals, which note they prefer, and why. :). In this particular piece, do you find the flats to be easier? Or does it not make that much difference?

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Andelin.
    Participant
    emily-mitchell on #216967

    Hmm, the Prelude in C, Bk 1, is only 35 measures. Not sure where you’re picking up extra measures unless an introduction has been added. With the added measure, it would only be 36 measures. There are a lot of editions that are arrangements loosely based on Bach’s manuscript. The added measure fits in-between Mm 22 and 23. I’ve attached a copy of the added measure. It’s the measure at the bottom with the stain (sorry about the stain.)

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    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #216986

    I think my three arrangements add measures for an introduction because all have the the part for Ave Maria.

    Participant
    emily-mitchell on #216987

    Andelin: Listen to it again to hear what Bach composed when you play the prelude as a solo. (Even his wife’s (Anna Magdalena) Klavierbüchlein (1725) does not include this measure.) As I explained to Gretchen, there are lots of arrangements of the Prelude in C, Bk 1. Often they are loosely based on Bach’s manuscript. The Schwenke that includes this measure is a copy not an autograph. It was felt that Bach left something out because the base line wants to progress upwards by half steps. When it makes a skip, it feels like something is wrong, but this is the genius of JS Bach not to do what is expected.

    Harpist use enharmonics to divide the pedaling between the feet. I don’t use an enharmonic in M12 because I get the C# in the previous measure with my left foot, and then the Bb as written also with the left foot, but you could use an A# for the Bb with the right foot, and get the C# with the left foot. In M22, I use a Gb for the F# with the right foot, and a D# for the Eb with the left. Likewise in M28. I use a D# for the Eb with the left foot, and my right foot gets the F#. If you are not comfortable using both feet at the same time, you can play as written, but you may lose time trying to accomplish pedaling with only one foot. This prelude is for more advanced players because the pedaling is chromatic.

    Participant
    emily-mitchell on #216988

    Gretchen, follow the base line on the second page to find where the added measure fits in. The base line goes from F, to F#, then to Ab. It’s in-between these two measures F# & Ab that the added measure appears.

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #216990

    Thanks. I just went to Imslp and found two of the early versions to compare. The first is dated 1740-59 with copyist Karl Muller and composer corrections by Wilhelm Bach. It is a hand printed manuscript. The second one is typeset and easier to read. Edited by Frank Kroll 1866.

    When I get to measure 21 in the earliest version, the baseline is F, F then F#, F#, followed by Ab, Ab, to G The Kroll arrangement in the same place goes F F, F# F#, Ab Ab and on to G. They appear to be the same throughout. Both versions are 35 measures.

    Participant
    brook-boddie on #217012

    Emily,
    If you were recommending a version of this piece for late beginner/lower intermediate players, which one would you suggest? I’ve been wanting to learn this piece, but I’m not sure which arrangement would be best. I appreciate any recommendations you may have. Thank you!

    Participant
    emma-graham on #217013

    Emily thank you so much. I never knew about the added bar (no idea how that happened!) The editions I use have it included and one is on the ABRSM grade 4 syllabus so young harpists will learn the added bar. I have just listened to it without it and it suddenly makes so much more sense. I’ve literally just got hold of my copy and crossed it out!!!

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #217014

    Brook, Regina Ederveen sells an arrangement for lever harp on Sheetmusicplus. Josh Layne has a free version on his website or you can find it on his YouTube clip of Prelude in C. You might want to look at those.

    Participant
    brook-boddie on #217017

    Thanks so much, Gretchen. I’d actually like to have an arrangement for pedal harp if you know of any good ones.

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #217024

    Josh Layne’s version is for pedal harp. Josh has the pedals marked in his arrangement. However, his arrangement is for the Bach/Gounod version of Prelude in C. But you could take out the extra measures. If you want what appears to be the correct version, you can go to imslp and download the Prelude in C arr. Kroll. This reflects what was discussed above but has no pedal markings. Hopefully, others will have suggestions for you, too.

    Participant
    emily-mitchell on #217038

    Brook,
    I prefer the original because a simplified version is not what Bach wrote. It looks like Gretchen has done her research to find good arrangements. Comparison will let you know how far the arrangement has strayed from the original.

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