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Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
#2944772 02/09/20 04:30 PM
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I just wanted to share that I composed a piano transcription of J.S. Bach's monumental Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor BWV 582.

It goes without saying that it was a very challenging and arduous undertaking, considering the need to add the organ pedal part to the left hand, the polyphonic complexity of the original work, and the objective to sound/feel pianistic while at the same time alluding to a full 'organ' sound that is able to convey the magnificence and mysticism of this masterpiece. I also strived to be as faithful to the original piece as possible.

I'm quite proud of the end result, and the transcription has already received many favorable critiques.

You can watch one of my first performances of it on YouTube
I hope you'll enjoy it!

Yves Corsellis

Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945119 02/10/20 12:42 PM
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Bravo!

Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945126 02/10/20 12:58 PM
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BWV 582 is a sublime piece of music, IMHO. Your transcription is skilled and thoughtful, and beautifuly performed! Thanks for sharing.

Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945188 02/10/20 03:15 PM
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Thank you for your nice comments!

Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945240 02/10/20 05:37 PM
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Hi, Michdys -- Fantastic -- Just blew me away! Is it possible to get the score somehow? Here in Madison, WI, there's an annual event called "Bach Around the Clock" -- actually a 12 hour recital in which members of the community, whether professional or amateur, get to perform. It was introduced in 2011, and I've provided a 30 min segment each year since its inception. This would be just a great piece to work up and perform next year. Thanks!

Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Tim Adrianson #2945258 02/10/20 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
Hi, Michdys -- Fantastic -- Just blew me away! Is it possible to get the score somehow? Here in Madison, WI, there's an annual event called "Bach Around the Clock" -- actually a 12 hour recital in which members of the community, whether professional or amateur, get to perform. It was introduced in 2011, and I've provided a 30 min segment each year since its inception. This would be just a great piece to work up and perform next year. Thanks!

Hi Tim
How to order the score is in the YouTube footnotes


"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
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Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945459 02/11/20 10:07 AM
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Excellent job! Some transcriptions of this work that I've come across (especially Malata's) seem to try too hard to make the piano sound like an organ; while others come off sounding a little thin. You seem to have found a very good balance. The strands of counterpoint in the fugue are very clear; it just becomes music instead of a piano trying to sound like whatever. I think it's worthy of comparison to Liszt's Bach transcriptions. Well done.

Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945488 02/11/20 11:32 AM
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Sublime transcription and performance. Bravo !!


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Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945521 02/11/20 01:11 PM
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I wonder, if there is any transcriptions for mere mortals like me (Henle 6-7)?

Thanks for any hints

Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945542 02/11/20 01:42 PM
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transcribed 35 modern songs for piano. what can I do with them?


scorepian
Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
rmns2bseen #2945626 02/11/20 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
Excellent job! Some transcriptions of this work that I've come across (especially Malata's) seem to try too hard to make the piano sound like an organ; while others come off sounding a little thin. You seem to have found a very good balance. The strands of counterpoint in the fugue are very clear; it just becomes music instead of a piano trying to sound like whatever. I think it's worthy of comparison to Liszt's Bach transcriptions. Well done.

Thank you very much for the nice compliments, although the Liszt comparison is really too much honor, honestly wink
It’s actually a pity that Liszt (or Busoni for that matter) never transcribed the Passacaglia, but what we do know, is that Liszt strongly opposed playing this work on full organ throughout (which is what some organist strongly believe was the intention, not based on the manuscript, mind you – which is lost – but on copies). Liszt allegedly once angrily asked a famous organist if he really believed that Bach himself played his Passacaglia and Fugue throughout on full organ. He answered for the poor chap: “No way! Bach was too great an artist for that, don't you know that Bach was famous for his wonderful organ registrations?” Liszt himself supposedly used to play the Passacaglia in the ‘romantic’ way on the organ, i.e. starting softly and gradually building up to a climax.

What you've mentioned about the transcriptions you’ve come across is so true, more even: it was the very reason why I finally decided to try to write my own transcription! You can actually read this for yourself in (part of) the preface to my score on my publisher’s website (click on ‘Look inside’): https://www.valeurajoutee.eu/en/product/j-s-bach-arr-yves-corsellis-passacaglia-bwv-582/
Contrary to some 'thin' arrangements (these actually sound more like a transcription of a harpsichord piece than of an organ work), Malata really exaggerated by unnecessarily octavating and filling nearly everything. Not only does it sound ridiculous in some instances, it also often is almost unplayable.

As for the balance between a piano and an organ like sound that does justice to the grandeur of the original, well, that was a tough nut to crack indeed. This actually took most of the time and a lot of thinking and experimenting from scratch to my performance on YouTube (by coincidence 9 months of gestation smile ), together with quite some (minor) adjustments over the following years.
Admittedly, the scale often tipped too much in one or the other way: I started with the organ registrations I used to hear, then I tried to make it sound more pianistic, back and forth a few times till I thought to have found a good balance/compromise. What eventually did the trick for me, was trying to ‘orchestrate’ the work, just as we pianist often have to orchestrate original piano works in order to produce a greater color palette. But isn’t that precisely what organist do – almost literally – by choosing the registrations???
Thinking and writing in this way actually closed the circle for me: it gave me the symbiosis of a piano and organ sound that I was looking for.

Last edited by Yves C.; 02/11/20 05:44 PM.
Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Chordo24 #2945633 02/11/20 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Chordo24
I wonder, if there is any transcriptions for mere mortals like me (Henle 6-7)?

Thanks for any hints

There are three absolutely beautiful transcriptions by Siloti that absolutely fit into the Henle 6-7 level of difficulty:
- of the Organ Prelude in E minor
- of the Prelude in B minor
- of Bach's famous Air

Re: Piano Transcription Bach Passacaglia & Fugue
Yves C. #2945823 02/12/20 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Yves C.
Liszt allegedly once angrily asked a famous organist if he really believed that Bach himself played his Passacaglia and Fugue throughout on full organ. He answered for the poor chap: “No way! Bach was too great an artist for that, don't you know that Bach was famous for his wonderful organ registrations?” Liszt himself supposedly used to play the Passacaglia in the ‘romantic’ way on the organ, i.e. starting softly and gradually building up to a climax.

I may be wrong or "misremembering", but hasn't there been speculation that Bach originally intended the work for pedal harpsichord? Although to be honest I'm not that fond of performances of it that I've heard on that instrument. At any rate, again, excellently done and I'll have to get hold of a copy.


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