JS Bach: Complete Organ Works – Volume 3

JS Bach: Complete Organ Works
Volume 3 – Fantasias & Fugues
Ed. Pieter Dirksen
Breitkopf & Härtel 2016.
Edition Breitkopf EB8803. ISMN: 979-0-004-18374-8
159pp + CD-ROM

Bach Orgelwerke IIIThe new 10 volume Breitkopf & Härtel critical edition of Bach’s organ music is arriving in dribs and drabs. I reviewed volume 8 here last July, and have now been sent Volume 3. It contains all the pieces entitled ‘Fantasia’ together with isolated Fugues. In that context, it is worth stressing that there are no surviving authorized and complete Fantasia and Fugue pairs, not even the well-known Fantasia & Fugue in G minor (BWV 542). Indeed, many of the popular Preludes and Fugues were also put together by later editors, rather than by Bach.

Peter Dirksen’s detailed introductory notes (in German and English), include a discussion of discussion the historic background to the fantasia form from the Renaissance to Bach. The term became increasingly fragmented in meaning as distinct geographical musical styles developed and, by the time of Bach, was considered rather archaic. He then explores the background to individual pieces, commenting on sources, transmission, musical structure, and registration, the latter including an interesting observation on registration for the famous Fantasia in G Minor BWV 542/1, noting that the Per l’Organo pleno description dates from around 1830.

The volume includes some little known pieces, including what is generally accepted as Bach’s first known free organ piece, BWV 570. To balance that, some of Bach best known pieces are also here, including the well-known little ‘Jig’ Fugue BWV 577, the authorship of which is disputed. It seems to be linked to a piece by Buxtehude and could be an exuberant result of Bach’s visit to the Lübeck master. It also has one of Bach’s most fiendish pedal lines. The pieces are listed in title order, and the introductory notes in roughly chronological order. Two versions of the Fantasia in c (based on a movement from De Grigny’s Livre d’Orgue) are included, as are detailed discussion of the dating of this important piece. One rare example of a Fantasia intrinsically link to a Fugue is BWV 537. and with an interesting comment by Dirksen on registration.

The print quality is excellent, with an off-white background and very clear notation. I haven’t spotted any errors of notation or of note alignment. Editorial accidentals are printed in smaller font, and are reasonably easy to spot. The comprehensive concluding Commentary is only in German, but an English translation can be downloaded or found on the CD-ROM. That also contains alternative readings of 542/2 and a helpful Synopsis showing the key passages highlighted. It is a bit of a palava getting the CD-ROM software set up, but it is worth it.

More information can be found here. The full contents list of the volume and CD-ROM is as follows:

The Fantasia Concept in Bach’s Music – The Early Fantasias – The Later Fantasias – Early Fugues Based on Italian Models – Further Early Single Fugues – Later Single Fugues

Fantasia in C Major BWV 570

Fantasia in C Minor BWV 1121
Fantasia in C Minor BWV 562/1 (two versions)
Fantasia et Fuga in C Minor BWV 537
Fantasia in G Major BWV 571
Fantasia in G Minor BWV 542/1
Fuga in G Minor BWV 542/2
Fantasia in B Minor BWV 563
Fuga in C Major (Albinoni) BWV 946
Fuga in C Minor (Bononcini) BWV 574 (two versions)
Fuga in C Minor BWV 575
Fuga in D Minor BWV 539/2
Fuga in G major BWV 577
Fuga in G Minor BWV 578
Fuga in A Major BWV 949
Fuga in A Major (Albinoni) BWV 950
Fuga in B-flat Major BWV 955 (two versions)
Fuga in B Minor (Corelli) BWV 579
Fantasia in C Major (fragment) BWV 573
Fuga in C Minor (fragment) BWV 562/2
Praeludium in D Minor BWV 539/1
Fuga in G Minor BWV 131a
Fuga in G Minor BWV 542/2 – early version and variants
Fuga BWV 542/2 – F Minor version
Fuga in B-flat Major BWV 955 – ornamented version
Doubtful Works:
Fantasia in A Minor BWV 561
Fuga in C Major BWV Anh. 90
Fuga in D Major BWV 580
Fuga in G Major BWV 576

3 thoughts on “JS Bach: Complete Organ Works – Volume 3

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