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#1840358 02/07/12 07:39 PM
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Is there any documentation on Bach's attitudes toward tempo in, for example, the WTC? There are tempo markings in a few places but for the most part there are none. Some are obviously intended to be slow and contemplative and others are clearly meant to be wild romps. But how slow, and how fast?

As an example, I'm noodling around with WTC I, #15. The prelude is quite easy but I listened to a few recordings online - all name brand material - and for the most part the accepted pace is very fast. Too fast for my taste but I'm wondering whether there's more to it than taste?



Justin
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Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780
jnod #1840381 02/07/12 09:10 PM
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I printed this out a long time ago... I think it is pretty good.



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Wow - great - thanks!


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CA--You always find the BEST stuff!!! thumb


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
jnod #1840495 02/08/12 02:06 AM
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You are welcome. smile

Andy, it is just that sometimes I had the same problem before... smile About this particular article, I even have it on my piano!



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Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
I printed this out a long time ago... I think it is pretty good.

It is! It's very interesting.

But if we look at what's really there, IMO it also confirms that the answer to the OP question is what I would have thought:

Originally Posted by jnod
Is there any documentation on Bach's attitudes toward tempo....

No, not really. smile

jnod #1840526 02/08/12 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jnod
Is there any documentation on Bach's attitudes toward tempo in, for example, the WTC? There are tempo markings in a few places but for the most part there are none. Some are obviously intended to be slow and contemplative and others are clearly meant to be wild romps. But how slow, and how fast?

As an example, I'm noodling around with WTC I, #15. The prelude is quite easy but I listened to a few recordings online - all name brand material - and for the most part the accepted pace is very fast. Too fast for my taste but I'm wondering whether there's more to it than taste?



To be exact, there are two instances in the 48. Bach, gives us complete freedom with all the rest. Each prelude and fugue has it's own character and as you've noted it's fairly obvious how most of them "should" go (of course there will always be someone who plays to the extreme poles...anything for attention). Notation, time signature, key, underlying pulse all play a huge role in determining tempo with Bach, and there is some evidence that he like fast tempi, but the "correct" tempo is that which fits the character of the piece and that which allows the performer to convey said character to his audience. So, is there more to it than taste? Yes...and no. Do your homework first and be grounded in the WHY you're doing what you're doing so that you can back it up and then apply it. Leave recording out of things though. Make your own decisions.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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stores #1840882 02/08/12 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by stores
....there are two instances in the 48....

Can you say which?
And what? smile

Mark_C #1840892 02/08/12 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by stores
....there are two instances in the 48....

Can you say which?
And what? smile


3.5, if we're counting preludes and fugues separately. According to my Henle,

1. Book I B minor prelude is marked (Andante), in parentheses. (Why in parentheses?)
2. Book I B minor fugue is marked Largo (no parentheses).
3. Book II G minor prelude is marked Largo.

And,

3.5. Book I C minor prelude has Adagio and Allegro indications towards the end, but nothing at the beginning.

-Jason

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Originally Posted by beet31425
3.5, if we're counting preludes and fugues separately. According to my Henle,

1. Book I B minor prelude is marked (Andante), in parentheses. (Why in parentheses?)
2. Book I B minor fugue is marked Largo (no parentheses).
3. Book II G minor prelude is marked Largo.

And,

3.5. Book I C minor prelude has Adagio and Allegro indications towards the end, but nothing at the beginning.

Apparently there are different views on which things (if any) are authentic from Bach. I'm guessing that when Stores said "two," he meant that as far as he's concerned, there are 'two and only two' (how's that for a usage from math?) grin that are authentic. Are they from among those that you mention? I guess we'll find out.

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Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by stores
....there are two instances in the 48....

Can you say which?
And what? smile


3.5, if we're counting preludes and fugues separately. According to my Henle,

1. Book I B minor prelude is marked (Andante), in parentheses. (Why in parentheses?)
2. Book I B minor fugue is marked Largo (no parentheses).
3. Book II G minor prelude is marked Largo.

And,

3.5. Book I C minor prelude has Adagio and Allegro indications towards the end, but nothing at the beginning.



Also, in Barenreiter -

The Bk. I b minor prelude has Andante without parenthesis.

The Bk. I c minor prelude has a "presto", as well as the "adagio" and "allegro".

They also note that in the Bb major prelude, a reliable copy of one of Bach's students has an "adagio" in bar 11.

And there's a "presto" for the last section of the Bk. I e minor prelude.

There's an "allegro" marking for the last section of the C# major prelude in Bk. II. And the b minor prelude in Bk. II is marked Allegro (there's another version without it).


wr #1840965 02/08/12 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
Also, in Barenreiter -

The Bk. I b minor prelude has Andante without parenthesis.

The Bk. I c minor prelude has a "presto", as well as the "adagio" and "allegro".

They also note that in the Bb major prelude, a reliable copy of one of Bach's students has an "adagio" in bar 11.

And there's a "presto" for the last section of the Bk. I e minor prelude.

There's an "allegro" marking for the last section of the C# major prelude in Bk. II. And the b minor prelude in Bk. II is marked Allegro (there's another version without it).



Good calls; I have most of those too in my Henle, just forgot about them.

So to roughly summarize: Bach writes tempo indications for abrupt tempo changes, and for pieces in B minor.

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Originally Posted by beet31425
....So to roughly summarize: Bach writes tempo indications for abrupt tempo changes, and for pieces in B minor.

If you think that's really any kind of summary, you're assuming a lot -- including that Stores was just wrong.

This gets into what we can really make of what we see in editions.

I'd easily put my money on most of those indications not being authentic.

Mark_C #1840974 02/09/12 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by beet31425
....So to roughly summarize: Bach writes tempo indications for abrupt tempo changes, and for pieces in B minor.

If you think that's really any kind of summary, you're assuming a lot -- including that Stores was just wrong.

This gets into what we can really make of what we see in editions.

I'd easily put my money on most of those indications not being authentic.


I don't think stores claims to be a Bach scholar. He said that Bach generally doesn't write tempo indications, and he's right. Yes, there are a few more examples than two, but these are coming from Henle and Barenreiter, which are based on scholarship. I don't think I'm assuming much here at all.

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Originally Posted by beet31425
....these are coming from Henle and Barenreiter, which are based on scholarship. I don't think I'm assuming much here at all.

You know more about those than I do, because I don't know anything about them. But of course that's not gonna stop me from saying just a little more..... grin

There's all kinds of "scholarship." Scholarship, even serious intensive scholarship, doesn't necessarily mean that they only give tempo indications that are authentic from the composer.

Or maybe does it?? If you know something about this specifically (with regard to those editions), that would answer it. If you don't, I'd say you are indeed assuming.

jnod #1840979 02/09/12 12:31 AM
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In his book "Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard", Paul Badura-Skoda references organ-barrels, a hand turned mechanism that was designed to produce music at the correct tempi. Based on the optimal speed of these organ-barrels, (plus other factors), he hypothesizes that Bach should be played at a faster tempo than what is being performed today.

It's an interesting book but I did not finish it because it was a bit over my head.


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This site http://www.bachscholar.com contains interesting ideas on tempo in Bach. Those more learned in the subject than myself please comment on them!


A perennially hopeful amateur!
Pianos: Boston GP178,
Currently attempting: Bach: WTC I/1,5;II/12; Chopin Polonaise in A; Etude 10/5; Brahms Op 118 No 2 Intermezzo in D; Scarlatti Sonata L23.
jnod #1841078 02/09/12 05:41 AM
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I apologise! I obviously had Book II stuck in my head when I typed "two" above. There are five indications throughout the WTC. Three in Book I and two in Book II. These five are the only tempi indications we know of with a certainty as coming from Bach, himself. Various copies do have varying tempi indications, but these are copies (which come from many sources, but most often Bach's students thus giving us the first "editions" of Bach's works).



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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Originally Posted by beet31425

I don't think stores claims to be a Bach scholar.



I don't claim to be a scholar on any subject, because one cannot know everything about anything, but, I come closest with Bach, and Beethoven, if one wanted to label my knowledge with a tag that is bandied about far too often.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

gooddog #1841098 02/09/12 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by gooddog
In his book "Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard", Paul Badura-Skoda references organ-barrels, a hand turned mechanism that was designed to produce music at the correct tempi. Based on the optimal speed of these organ-barrels, (plus other factors), he hypothesizes that Bach should be played at a faster tempo than what is being performed today.

It's an interesting book but I did not finish it because it was a bit over my head.


Organ barrels! First prize for obscure information!

I think the issue of tempo is complicated by the fact that some of Bach's keyboard music, or maybe lots of it more like, was written for instruments with more than one keyboard. The technical challenges (especially in the Goldbergs) of rapidly running your hands over each other are likely to keep some pianists from going full tilt on some of these pieces.


Justin
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Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
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Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
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