The Prelude and Fugue No. 11 in F Major, BWV 880 comes from the second book of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. These sublime etudes traverse all twenty four major and minor keys, and in Bach’s words, were conceived “for the use and profit of musical youth desirous of learning, as well as for the pastime of those already skilled in this study.” They are pieces characterized by a divine sense of order.
The majestic Prelude unfolds with a continues stream of flowing eighth notes. A generous back and forth dialogue between voices, it resembles the improvisatory French prélude non mesuré (“unmeasured prelude”) which originated in lute music. While these scores were written commonly in an enigmatic graphic form, Bach provides all of the notes. The brief, dancelike Fugue provides an unexpected contrast. Its subject mirrors the rising and falling motif of the Prelude. The previous dignified chorale is swept away by a jubilant, leaping gigue.
The German harpsichordist and pianist, Christine Schornsheim, recorded this performance on February 13, 2022 for the Netherlands Bach Society:
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