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Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues #2721481
03/15/18 03:20 PM
03/15/18 03:20 PM
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Brendan Offline OP
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Sooooo, I've decided to undertake both books of the WTC as a multi-year performance project. As of now, the plan is to split it into three concerts of 16 P/Fs, as a two-hour concert is slightly too long for most audiences outside of the Proms, IMO.

I was also thinking of putting descriptive phrases/titles into the program notes (not on the program itself, so don't kill me, purists) to help the audience get into the character of each piece, something along the lines of this:

Prelude in C: A Simple Prayer
Fugue in C: Steps to Heaven (stepwise subject that ends in the top register of the piano)
Prelude in c: Driven with Purpose
Fugue in c : Molto Meccanico
Prelude in C#: Faster than Light
Fugue in C#: Lighter than Air

Etc. What titles would you use? I'm also prepared for a 16-paragraph essay from someone's on why this is a terrible idea and that I will burn in the Lake of Fire for even considering such a thing.

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Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721488
03/15/18 03:54 PM
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What an amazing piano project! Very interesting program notes idea also. Will you play the programs from memory?

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721514
03/15/18 06:16 PM
03/15/18 06:16 PM
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This is a terrible idea. You will burn in the Lake of Fire for even considering such a thing.

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721542
03/15/18 08:45 PM
03/15/18 08:45 PM
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Hi, Brendan -- Good luck on this venture! I, too, embarked upon at least having working acquaintance with every P & F about 10 - 15 years back, and it took 2 or 3 years to complete (I didn't know many in WTC II). Frankly, I never assigned nicknames or descriptive terminology to any of them, and so have nothing to share with you on that front. I am curious, though, about the pianist or pianists that you think have the best overall approach to them. I personally play them in a very Romantic manner -- I have a downright aversion to playing Bach in a cold, clinical style when using a modern piano, with all its "advantages" in dynamic contrast and voicing -- but I at least can understand that this wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea. Incidentally, Madison WI really has a LOT of Early Music practitioners -- there are not just one, but several groups that specialize in the performance of pre-Bach and Bach repertoire.

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721543
03/15/18 08:47 PM
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Hi, Brendan -- Good luck on this venture! I, too, embarked upon at least having working acquaintance with every P & F about 10 - 15 years back, and it took 2 or 3 years to complete (I didn't know many in WTC II). Frankly, I never assigned nicknames or descriptive terminology to any of them, and so have nothing to share with you on that front. I am curious, though, about the pianist or pianists that you think have the best overall approach to them. I personally play them in a very Romantic manner -- I have a downright aversion to playing Bach in a cold, clinical style when using a modern piano, with all its "advantages" in dynamic contrast and voicing -- but I at least can understand that this wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea. Incidentally, Madison WI really has a LOT of Early Music practitioners -- there are not just one, but several groups that specialize in the performance of pre-Bach and Bach repertoire.

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721598
03/16/18 03:46 AM
03/16/18 03:46 AM
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I want to vomit. You could at least state which type each piece is i.e. gigue, toccata, allemande etc.

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721601
03/16/18 03:53 AM
03/16/18 03:53 AM
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Brendan, I love the project! But personally, I do not like the program notes as I prefer my own imagery (or none) as a listener. There may not be an image at all, but just the beauty of the music. Particularly in Bach.

I would find it irritating if someone told me what the imagery needed to be. ...... but that’s just me.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: chopin_r_us] #2721672
03/16/18 10:43 AM
03/16/18 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
I want to vomit. You could at least state which type each piece is i.e. gigue, toccata, allemande etc.


That would be none of them, since they're not movements from stylized dance suites.

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721678
03/16/18 11:29 AM
03/16/18 11:29 AM
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I wouldn't do this thing myself, and the most compelling argument against it is that J.S. Bach didn't do it. But there's some sensibility to the idea. Bach was keenly interested in the music of Francois Couperin and even corresponded with him a bit. Couperin famously gave most of his keyboard pieces descriptive, and often cryptic, names. So I guess an interesting thought exercise might be what if Bach had decided to go the same route with his keyboard pieces?

Last edited by David Farley; 03/16/18 02:11 PM. Reason: typo
Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721679
03/16/18 11:30 AM
03/16/18 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Brendan
Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
I want to vomit. You could at least state which type each piece is i.e. gigue, toccata, allemande etc.


That would be none of them, since they're not movements from stylized dance suites.
I'd look a bit closer. For instance, how is WTC I Prelude 8 not a Sarabande? WTC I in C# not a Gigue? WTC II in f not a Gavotte? Oops, I'm doing your work for you!

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721701
03/16/18 12:22 PM
03/16/18 12:22 PM
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Victoria, BC
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There are some interesting, opposing views here. I, for one, would hesitate - given the generally abstract nature of Bach's Preludes and Fugues - to suggest to others titles that might impose my perspective on a listener. The listener should be able to determine for him/herself what the music "means" or "says" if, indeed, it "means" or "says" anything specific to a particular audience member.

Regards,


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Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: chopin_r_us] #2721703
03/16/18 12:23 PM
03/16/18 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Originally Posted by Brendan
Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
I want to vomit. You could at least state which type each piece is i.e. gigue, toccata, allemande etc.


That would be none of them, since they're not movements from stylized dance suites.
I'd look a bit closer. For instance, how is WTC I Prelude 8 not a Sarabande? WTC I in C# not a Gigue? WTC II in f not a Gavotte? Oops, I'm doing your work for you!


Respectively, because WTC Prelude 8 doesn't start with an upbeat nor is it in 4/4 meter as Allemandes are; because C# Major isn't in compound duple, doesn't start with an upbeat and isn't in fugual style as gigues in Bach generally are; and because f minor doesn't have the gavotte rhythm, isn't in compound duple,and isn't imitative. Oops, you obviously haven't read the HDM articles for any of these forms and don't know that Bach always specifies dance movements when using them!

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721714
03/16/18 12:43 PM
03/16/18 12:43 PM
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f minor: the only prelude to start half-way through the bar and 4 bar sections? and Bach's not thinking Gavotte (actually more Gavotte II) ? The Gigue in the Partita no. 1 is hardly in fugal style. And I said 8 was a Sarabande.

Oh dear! Bach's made a mistake, another Gigue without fugal writing!
[Linked Image]
If you plan to take some tickbox mentality to Bach you will not only not get very far, but you will certainly miss a heck of a lot on the way.

edit: sheesh, 2018 and still I can't say h*ll?

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721759
03/16/18 02:29 PM
03/16/18 02:29 PM
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Place me in the camp of disliking this idea. I have an Alfred edition of Mendelssohn's Song Without Words where the editor decided to place descriptive titles on each piece. More often than not the title goes opposite to what I feel the music is about.

This is just my opinion though. The prelude and fugues are not 'program' music.


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Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721764
03/16/18 02:40 PM
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Put me in the camp of not minding if there are descriptive titles. If someone doesn't like this can't they just not read them? For me, they would give an interesting perspective on the performer's thoughts.

As far as the Mendelssohn Songs Without Words titles another poster mentioned, aren't they more or less standard in almost all editions?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/16/18 02:43 PM.
Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721769
03/16/18 02:52 PM
03/16/18 02:52 PM
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If I was in the audience how could I not read what's on the program? Still I would probably just dismiss the added titles.

I'm referring to the Alfred edition. Some of the 'songs' were given titles by Mendelssohn like "Spinning Song" and "Venetian Boat Song" but the editor gives all of them titles. E.G. Op. 85. No. 4 is entitled "Eulogy" which for me doesn't capture at all what the music is 'about'.


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Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Vid] #2721782
03/16/18 04:03 PM
03/16/18 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Vid
If I was in the audience how could I not read what's on the program? Still I would probably just dismiss the added titles.

I'm referring to the Alfred edition. Some of the 'songs' were given titles by Mendelssohn like "Spinning Song" and "Venetian Boat Song" but the editor gives all of them titles. E.G. Op. 85. No. 4 is entitled "Eulogy" which for me doesn't capture at all what the music is 'about'.
As soon as you see there is a list of titles(that will probably be prefaced by some explanation) you just don't read them. Are you forced to read the next sentence in this post, for example?

Re the SWW, I think there is a pretty standard list of titles for many of them(not given titles by Mendelssohn) that are given in some editions, not just the one you have. Or at least they are commonly known, and so most/some of the titles in your edition are probably not made up by the editor unless he decided to ignore the history of these pieces.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/16/18 04:08 PM.
Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721798
03/16/18 04:56 PM
03/16/18 04:56 PM
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Ah, its just my opinion. I may read the program notes out of curiosity if I attended such a concert since the performer took the trouble. I'm not THAT close minded about it.

Maybe the editor was following tradition. The titles are fanciful and like I said, most often at odds to the character of the actual music.


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Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721872
03/16/18 10:14 PM
03/16/18 10:14 PM
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If there were titles for the WTC in the program I would read them - and then probably make fun of them. And wonder about the performer...

Mendelssohn did not give titles to the Songs without Words, except for a couple of obvious ones like the Duetto and the Venetian Boat Songs. Mendelssohn did not want them titled - they were all added by some melodramatic editor later. So when I see one in a program with a title I know the performer has not done their homework...

Sam

Re: Descriptive titles for WTC Preludes and Fugues [Re: Brendan] #2721894
03/17/18 02:59 AM
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The WTC I and II Preludes and Fugues are examples of absolute music and were never intended to be programmatic.

But y'all know that already. blush

Brendan, I'm afraid that after you go to all the trouble of coming up with 96 separate "descriptives" your audience may simply lose interest after the first 12 or so.


Last edited by Carey; 03/17/18 03:03 AM.

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