It worked then so skipping a handful of preludes and fugues, I'm now at the Prelude and Fugue in B minor. Yes, there's a lot in between that we've missed but I promise, we'll get there...eventually. And regarding the video quality and angle in these videos, they're not stellar, I realize. It was one of those moments when I was playing around with my new video camera and the prelude and fugue seemed to actually click with me so I decided to just go with it. Perhaps I'll get a better take eventually and will swap them out.
The B minor Prelude mesmerizes me. I play it as a sort of meditation because of its incredibly profound simplicity. It is made up of very few motives and ideas that keep me grounded in one thought. But as with many meditations, Bach takes me on a journey with this one thought by holding it under different colored filters to show how one idea, one concept, can come across in an entirely new way if explored in a different context. Within two pages of music we hear the main subject of the prelude in B minor (brooding,) D major (sweet,) E minor (lonely,) F-sharp minor (dour,) and then finally back to B minor which now, thanks to our journey, feels more resigned than brooding, at least to me. In the classical music world there is debate as to whether or not keys have unique colors. After working on this prelude I am on the side of those that believe that yes, different keys are very distinct from one another.
And the fugue. Surprise, surprise, I found this fugue a little bit tricky because of some particularly nasty little trills that Bach decided to incorporate into the countersubject at the beginning. Thankfully the countersubject dies a rather quick death and is gone after only a few lines. I'd like to think that the composer himself had difficulty executing the ornaments and chose to move onto something more playable.
One thing I find fascinating about this final fugue in the book is that Bach seems to actually throw away his own fugal conventions, choosing instead to focus on playfulness and frivolity in the many long episodes and sequences that take up the latter half of the piece. Practically forgetting the subject altogether (its last full appearance is in the middle of the fugue) he plays around instead with a crazy sixteenth-note accompaniment that shows up in both hands and that defy the ear because of its wide range. To the ear it sounds like the sixteenths are dancing around the other voices, making it virtually impossible to separate the individual parts. For the pianist, this can be extraordinarily challenging. For the listener, it can be dizzying but also incredibly thrilling. Hmmm...maybe I should just listen to someone else playing this fugue from now on!
To read and view more preludes and fugues from this project of mine, please see the list of links to them on the right-hand side of the webpage. And keep in mind there are plenty more to come. Just stay tuned!