So I've done a couple inventions now and a three part, and I'm wanting to work on a WTC this summer. I won't have much contact with my teacher over the summer so I'm mostly on my own [I won't be seeing her for over a month from right now, so I want to get some advice here and at school before I go for this]
I want to start with the fm P&F from book I. The tempo seems slow enough that the main challenge will be the voicing of both the prelude and fugue and learning how to really bring out the subject of a fugue without having to worry about getting it "up to speed" I think, personally, that this is a good one to start with because it'll really give me time to focus on the voicing which is what REALLY matters in a fugue. But I don't know all 48 P&F's to well [I've listened to them all, but I haven't listed to them all with a score nor could I hum their themes.]
So, does anyone here who has played/taught the WTC have any advice on this? If you don't think the Fm book one is a good place to start, may I ask where you think is so I can give it a good listen with the score and decide for myself? Also, if you think a different one is a better starter, please give reasons why so that I can keep them in mind while listening. [I don't really want to do the cm book I, a friend of mine at school just did it so I don't want to be doing the same one as him. If you feel it's the best to start with I'll consider it though.]
My first P&F was No. 2 in c minor, which I thought was a good start. I enjoyed it musically and the fugue was a 3-part one, which I recommend you begin with. Also, to start I recommend choosing a key signature with not a lot of sharps or flats, just because sometimes the reading can be difficult and bog you down (with double flats or double sharps), and you don't want that for your first one. As you grow accustomed to fugues, however, that shouldn't be as much of a problem. Another good one to start would be No. 21 in B-flat major. I think this fugue is one of the most beautiful ones, too.
i think the d major prelude is very helpful (#5?).. not difficult to learn... not to0 helpful with voicing on the surface.
I say at the bottom of my post I don't particularly want to do the c minor one just because I had a friend who just finished learning it. I'll definitely check out the B-flat major one though. I was thinking starting with a three voice would be good since I've only done one 3 part sinfonia, not two or three of them, that way I'm also not throwing myself into to much as far as voices go.
The only issue I have with the B-flat is that it's fast, which is one of the things I didn't particularly want for my first one.
No, I don't think that this is a particularly "good place to start" in the WTC. You say that you want to start with a 3-voice fugue but this is one of the longer, more difficult four-voice fugues; tempo alone is not the deciding factor on how difficult a Bach fugue can be. The F minor fugue is a long, complex, four-voice work, with some uncomfortable stretches and the necessity of often playing a voice that shifts between the two hands. While this often happens in Bach, it's even more challenging in this fugue. There are at least a dozen more from Book I that are considered easier than the F minor.
The C minor is among the easiest of the Preludes and Fugues, so unless the fact that a friend recently studied it is a real deterrent to you, then it would be a good place to start.
Alright then. I'll definitely give the C minor a good look.
Except ther ecording I have of the C minor prelude is awful. It's Gould's...and he's playing it WAY slower than the metronome mark [marked at 144 per quarter, he's playing maybe 80 or 90] and there was no expression throughout the prelude, just straight. But I do rather like this P&F so I'll either do this, or the D major.
Also, what about the Fm from book II? I just listened to it, it's a 3 voice fugue not 4 and all the stretches and voices look very manageable. Would that work?
Remember that Bach never gave metronome markings, nor, except in very rare occasions, did he even given tempo indications. What edition gives 144 = quarter note? That's faster than anything listed except Czerny! As far as the tempo for the C minor is concerned, tempos vary widely from pianist to pianist, and Gould, as good as his Bach may be, was often eccentric about tempos.
Prelude : Gulda = 63 to the quarter; Richter = 132 to the quarter
Fugue : Gulda = 60 to the quarter; Gould and Martins = 88 to the quarter.
Take note of this comment by Palmer in the Alfred edition to Bk I;
"The wide divergence of supposedly knowledgeable opinion [about tempos] could be the subject of a long discussion. Praeludium 24 (B minor) is a particularly interesting example. Compare Malcolm Hamilton's quarter note = 40 with Glenn Gould's 84 and Anthony Newmans 132! This editor would be the last to say that any of these tempos is wrong. ... It was completely in the Baroque spirit to leave the choice of tempo to the performer."
I'd forgotten Bach gave no metronomes. the version I have is a public domain version I downloaded with a torrent, it's the Funper edition. I was planning to go out and buy the actual book once juries are done so I can begin working on it seriously.
But that is interesting about Baroque tempos.
Did you see the part about the F minor book II? It's a 3 voice fugue and seems real straight forward, would that be a good idea?
The F minor from Bk II might be a possibility. It's not as difficult as the F minor from Bk I.
Alright. I'll try to decide between the Cm and the Fm BkII. I'll just decide based on musical likings, not difficulty of learning either.