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Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I #2555306 07/08/16 07:30 PM
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I'm getting back to piano (I played many years ago), and one of the pieces I'm relearning is Fugue No. 2 in C-minor from WTC I. I've been listening to various recordings and what strikes me is how much the articulation differs from interpretation to interpretation. The differences are huge, actually. I'm aware that there is not a single way to play staccato (for example), but how is it right to clearly play legato instead of staccato?

I'm specifically referring to the circled notes in the image below:

[Linked Image]

Glenn Gould takes it even one step further and replaces lots of staccato with legato, which I honestly don't understand. I mean, how much freedom do we have with Bach?

Personally, I feel very tempted to play those circled notes non-staccato, but wouldn't this be wrong?

I appreciate all the input.

Last edited by Stephano; 07/08/16 07:31 PM.

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Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: Stephano] #2555307 07/08/16 07:51 PM
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As far as I know Bach didn't write any articulation so it's up to the performer.

Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: pianoloverus] #2555308 07/08/16 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As far as I know Bach didn't write any articulation so it's up to the performer.

Interesting, thanks. I even typed various things in Google to find out if Bach wrote articulation but didn't find an answer, so I just assumed he did.

I guess what I posted above is basically just the publisher saying how he thinks it should be played.

In any case, this is good news, as it sounds much better to me when I don't play those circled notes staccato like in the score.


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Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: Stephano] #2555322 07/08/16 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Stephano
[...]
I guess what I posted above is basically just the publisher saying how he thinks it should be played.

[...]


If you were to look at an Urtext Edition you would find that Bach rarely - very rarely - makes any articulation marks, dynamics or tempo indications in his scores.

An interesting sidelight to this question can be found in the Alfred Masterworks edition of the WTC, Book I, edited by Willard A. Palmer. In an appendix "Articulation Tables" (pp. 208-216), Palmer shows 15 (yes, fifteen!) different articulations for the subject of this fugue, each by a different but well-known harpsichordist or pianist, including such performers as Fischer, Landowska, Gulda, Tureck, Kirkpatrick and Richter.

The most important point to consider, once you have decided how you want to articulate the subject, is that you treat it the same way for each entry and re-entry.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: BruceD] #2555337 07/08/16 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD

The most important point to consider, once you have decided how you want to articulate the subject, is that you treat it the same way for each entry and re-entry.

Of course, this makes logical sense, and it's hard to argue against it. But over the years, I've come to feel that whatever rigor is gained from this kind of consistency comes at too great a cost. Each statement of the theme occurs in its own context, and sometimes, I feel, different articulations are called for.

Sometimes inconsistency should be embraced!

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"


-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: beet31425] #2555351 07/09/16 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by BruceD

The most important point to consider, once you have decided how you want to articulate the subject, is that you treat it the same way for each entry and re-entry.

Of course, this makes logical sense, and it's hard to argue against it. But over the years, I've come to feel that whatever rigor is gained from this kind of consistency comes at too great a cost. Each statement of the theme occurs in its own context, and sometimes, I feel, different articulations are called for.

Sometimes inconsistency should be embraced!

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"



I think that it could just as well be argued that the thematic material could be varied each time it appears. Or even made unnoticeable in the overall texture at times. I don't think the point of performing each and every fugue is to give a lesson in how it was put together, which often seems to be how performers approach them. Some are more "brainy" in affect than others, and may benefit from that approach, but I think many work quite well if that aspect is played down a bit. Just my two cents...

Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: wr] #2555352 07/09/16 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Or even made unnoticeable in the overall texture at times...

I was thinking about this recently when I heard some WTC fugues performed on harpsichord. There's only so much you can bring out some of those middle voice theme statements.

A fugue is a piece of music, and we have to find its internal logic, the way it breathes. Too many performances merely emphasize the theme statements, and call that an interpretation.


-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: Stephano] #2555474 07/09/16 03:03 PM
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I appreciate all the posts. The Articulation Tables mentioned by BruceD are especially interesting.

Today I tested my new audio interface by quickly recording the Fugue in question.

You can listen to the recording here: http://vocaroo.com/i/s1K77yWvuXnx

Please excuse any possible mistakes as it was only done to test the equipment without me focusing entirely on the performance.


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Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: Stephano] #2555678 07/10/16 11:48 AM
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I like the tempo that you have chosen.

Here are a couple of comments:

Given that this is being played on a piano (digital?), I am listening for a little more dynamic range in the overall performance.

Where you have a climbing, repeated figure such as that occurring in measure 5 (soprano voice, starting on the E-flat), I would like to hear an increase in intensity (volume?), each time the figure is repeated. It seems to me that that would give a greater sense of direction all the way through to measures 6-7.

What would you think about a sudden change in dynamic at measure after the G-minor chord, and then build up again following it? Even a slight pause at that cadence wouldn't seem out of line to me before starting in on the next episode.

Your tempo changes at measure 20, and I think the descending bass line at that point is a little too pronounced.

Again, some terraced dynamics might work at measures 25-26; that idea might be something to experiment with.

This performance has a pleasant, sprightliness to it which I find quite appropriate. The lines are pretty clean which means that the texture is also clean throughout. I guess the only two things I might be looking for is 1) a greater dynamic range using some terraced dynamics, and 2) a little more relaxation of the tempo at cadences before a new episode begins.

All this said, everyone else here is probably better versed in Baroque performance practice than I, even on a modern piano, so take all this with a considerable dose of salt.

Nice work; thanks for sharing!

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: Stephano] #2557992 07/21/16 07:10 PM
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Thanks, BruceD. Will definitely try to incorporate some of your ideas in my next recording of this piece.


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Re: Articulation in Fugue No. 2 (Cm) WTC I [Re: Stephano] #2559895 07/30/16 09:37 PM
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Hello, BruceD, here is my new recording:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2559868/

Please feel free to comment.

Last edited by Stephano; 07/30/16 09:37 PM.

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