Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor for harp

Posted In: Coffee Break

  • Participant
    Jerusha Amado on #210689

    Hi all,

    I just saw Bridget Kibbey’s masterful performance of the Toccata on YouTube. I would never have thought that a piece of such complexity could be adapted for our instrument. What do you think of it?

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #211386

    I think it’s an awful choice to play on the harp. It’s such a fine masterwork for organ. A harp can never produce those thundering sounds. Even an orchestra doesn’t compare. It seems like young harpists want to make a splash by playing the most unlikely music they can find, and that is unfortunate. There is so much great original music for harp not getting played, and there are many works suitable for transcribing, just not a lot of J. S. Bach. To think you can’t have a great program without Bach on it seems off. And how many people have played Dewey Owens’s masterful transcription of the Chaconne? The Italian Concerto is another one that almost seems to work, but there are a couple of notes in the slow movement that cannot be played, so why not play the more-difficult and wonderful Sonata by C. P. E. Bach instead?

    Participant
    emma-graham on #211850

    It’s a great feat of technical expertise and she is incredible…..but I really don’t like it! It’s too fast for me. It just sounds blurred and shapeless. Just my thoughts, no offence intended. I agree with Saul that I’m not convinced it sounds right on harp anyway. If I had to listen to it I would go for Amy Turk’s version, which has a bit more shaping and clarity to my ears.

    Participant
    Katrina Szederkenyi on #211965

    I admit that I really enjoy playing Bach simply because it’s hugely pleasurable to play despite the challenge. Also, J.S.Bach himself transcribed many of his pieces to fit different instruments, and with careful research I find many of the keyboard sonatas, french suites and english suites beautifully playable!
    Just tossing in my two cents… 🙂

    Participant
    Jerusha Amado on #211981

    Saul–I agree that a significant portion of the heavy drama of this organ piece is lost in the translation to harp, but I admire Ms. Kibbey’s technical prowess nonetheless. I also acknowledge that there are a number of excellent works much more suited to harp that are sometimes overlooked. And to Katrina’s point, we do have a number of works of Bach’s that transfer well to the harp. Emma–You’re right in saying that this version of the Toccata and Fugue is faster than would be ideal.

    I appreciate all of your opinions. Thank you!

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