BACH, J.S.: Trio Sonatas BWV 528-530 / Prelude and Fugue BWV 547
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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Sonata No.4 in E Minor, BWV 528
Sonata No.5 in C Major, BWV 529
Sonata No.6 in G Major, BWV 530
Prelude & Fugue in C Major, BWV547
Johann Sebastian Bach made his early reputation as an organist.
The son of a town and court musician, Johann Ambrosius Bach, he owed much of his earlytraining, after the death of his parents, to his brother, Johann Christoph, organist atOhrdruf, and began his career as organist at Arnstadt at the age of eighteen, moving toM??hlhausen four years later and in 1708 winning appointment as organist and chambermusician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst at Weimar, the elder of the two rulers of the duchy.
Bach's later career took him in 1717 to Cothen asHofkapellmeister to the young Prince Leopold, a position that involved him rather insecular music, owing to the Pietist leanings of the court. His patron's marriage to awoman without cultural interests led Bach to leave Cothen in 1723 and move to Leipzig,where he had accepted the position of Kantor at the Choir School of St. Thomas. There hewas to remain for the rest of his life in a position that brought responsibility for themusic of the principal city churches and concomitant difficulties both with the towncouncil and later with the Rector of the Thomasschule, where he was employed to teach thechoristers. He assumed responsibility for the University Collegium Musicum, establishedearlier by Telemann, a preferred candidate for the position of Kantor, and arranged forthis group some of his earlier instrumental compositions. He remained in Leipzig until hisdeath in 1750.
It was natural that a musician trainedin his craft as Bach had been should write the kind of music for which there was animmediate need. In Weimar he wrote much of his organ music, in Cothen much of hisinstrumental music and in Leipzig the greater part of his church music. The six TrioSonatas for organ seem to belong to the earlier years of Bach's period in Leipzig, datedconjecturally to 1727, apparently devised for the use of the composer's eldest son WilhelmFriedemann, who became one of the most distinguished organists of his generation inGermany. The sonatas demand clarity of performance and distinct enunciation of the twomelodic lines and bass pedal part.
The fourth of the sonatas, in E minor,opens with a motif entrusted to the upper part, immediately imitated by the lower in abrief Adagio introduction. The lower part proposes the theme of the following Vivace,imitated at the octave by the upper part. The following B minor Andante is of increasingelaboration and complexity in figuration and leads to a triple time final movement. Thesonata is arranged from the 1723 cantata, Der Himmelerzahlen die Ehre Gottes, The Heavens are telling. The fifth sonata, in Cmajor, opens with a concerto-like movement, with a relatively limited bass accompaniment,its closing bars over long-held pedal notes. There is a slow movement in A minor withmelodic lines elaborately embellished, and a final C major Allegro that continues to maketechnical demands on the performer. The G major sonata opens in the manner of a Vivaldi concerto, with the two upper parts in unison,before going on to brief antiphonal imitation on of the other. The upper part is entrustedwith the aria melody of the E minor slow movement, the opening later re-appearing in thekey of A minor, before leading, through E minor, to a final return to G major in amovement in which once more there is a miraculous interweaving of parts.
Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 547, is strikinglydifferent from much of the composer's work of this kind. Written apparently after 1723,the Prelude opens with a three-voice contrapuntal composition for the manuals in 9/8metre, with an unusual bass part for the pedals, including a distinctive rhythmic figurewhen it enters. The same rhythmic figure ends the Prelude. The first 48 bars of the fuguemake no use of the pedals, which are used only in the concluding 24 bars, the last fiveand a half providing a tonic pedal-point. The first pedal entry is in fact in augmentationof the opening of the fugal subject, which itself is treated with the greatestcontrapuntal ingenuity.
A native of Germany, Wolfgang R??bsam received his musical training in Europe from Prof.
Erich Ackermann, Prof. Helmut Walcha and Marie-Claire Alain, and in the United States fromDr. Robert T. Anderson. He resides today in the Chicago area holding a Professorship atNorthwestern University since 1974 and serving as University Organist at the University ofChicago since 1981. International recognition was established upon winning the GRAND PRIXDE CHARTRES, INTERPRETATION in 1973 and continues to grow through his recording careerwith over eighty recordings, many of which have received awards. Wolfgang R??bsam performsfrequently in major international festivals and concert halls, including the Los AngelesBach Festival; Wiener Festwochen, Vienna; Lahti International Organ Festival, Finland;Royal Festival Hall, London; Alice Tully Hall, New York, and conducts master classes bothin interpretation of early and romantic organ repertoire, and in interpreting the keyboardmusic of Johann Sebastian Bach on the modern piano.