Every Friday the Netherlands Bach Society adds a new high quality video recording to its website as part of its All of Bach initiative. Their goal is to perform all of J.S. Bach’s works in the run-up to the organization’s centenary in 2022. One of the recent additions to their Youtube channel is harpsichordist and musicologist Pieter Dirksen’s performance of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in F minor, BWV 857. This is the twelfth piece from Book 1 of The Well-Tempered Clavier, published in 1722.
Contrast is a characteristic of many of Bach’s prelude and fugue pairings—an introspective prelude leading to a sunny, transcendent fugue, for example. Here, an atmosphere of beautiful and inescapable melancholy pervades both. Listen to the way the motivic cells move from one voice to another, engaging in a sublime conversation and branching out in a process of continuous evolution. This music develops with an awe-inspiring sense of inevitability. Notice the way an allusion to the Prelude’s theme returns in the Fugue around 5:43.
- Pieter Dirksen talks about Prelude and Fugue in F minor, BWV 857
- Bach: Goldberg Variations / Canonic Variations, Pieter Dirksen Amazon