Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B-flat Minor, BWV 867, Kris Verhelst

It’s time to return to the Netherlands Bach Society for another recently released performance.

Every Friday the organization adds a new high quality video recording to its website as part of its All of Bach initiative. The project will conclude with a complete catalogue of J.S. Bach’s works in time for the Netherlands Bach Society’s centenary in 2022.

Here, the Belgian harpsichordist Kris Verhelst performs Bach’s Prelude and Fugue No. 22 in B-flat minor, BWV 867. This comes near the end of Book 1 of The Well-Tempered Clavierpublished in 1722. Throughout the collection, Bach explores all 24 major and minor keys, each of which comes with its distinct atmosphere. B-flat minor, with its five flats, exudes a darkly-veiled warmth and melancholy.

The prelude is filled with a sense of deep longing. From the opening bars, listen to all of the wrenching, dissonant tension in the harmony. This is followed by a rare five-voice fugue—there are only two in the entire Well-Tempered Clavier. The fugue subject includes a stunning, upward-leaping minor ninth. Listen to the way all of these voices weave together and overlap. In the final moments, the five voices enter into a thrilling hyperstretto in which only one note separates each statement of the fugue subject. The voices seem to pile on top of each other, bringing this sublime, contrapuntal drama to a close.

Recordings

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

1 thought on “Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B-flat Minor, BWV 867, Kris Verhelst”

  1. I recently discovered that Beethoven made an arrangement for string quintet of the fugue of this set, similar to what Mozart did with several of the other fugues of the WTC, including, ironically, the B Flat Minor Fugue from Book II.

    I wonder whether the Beethoven arrangement has ever been recorded.

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