J.S.バッハ:前奏曲とフーガ Praludium und Fuge イ短調 BWV 543

transcription for piano by Liszt
ピアノ:エレーヌ・グリモー Helene Grimaud

Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543 is a piece of organ music written by Johann Sebastian Bach sometime around his years as court organist to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar (1708-1717).

First page of the Prelude BWV 543/1a (19th-century copy)

An alternate version of the organ piece is numbered BWV 543a. As for this earlier version only the prelude is different, that version of the prelude is sometimes indicated by BWV 543/1a (BWV 543/2, that is the fugue, being identical in both versions).

Peter Williams points out[4] that the catchy "lengthy sequential tail" of this fugue subject (its last 3 measures) easily "easily confuse[s] the ear about the beat" and is harmonically an exact "paraphrase" of the sequence in bars 6-8 of Vivaldi's double violin concerto Op. 3 No. 8 in A minor (RV 522, from L'estro armonico). Bach arranged this Vivaldi concerto as his solo organ "concerto" BWV 593, probably in 1714-16.

This 4-voice fugue BWV 543 has been compared to Bach's harpsichord Fugue in A minor, BWV 944, a 3-voice fugue that was probably written in 1708, and this organ fugue has even been called "the final incarnation" of BWV 944. (A similarity had been mentioned by Wolfgang Schmieder, editor of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis.) However, the idea of any close relationship (let alone a reincarnation) has been challenged. Williams writes that the fugue "has often been likened to the keyboard fugue BWV 944 [...] and claimed as some kind of version of it [but] the resemblances ? contours of subject and countersubject, a perpetuum mobile element, a rather free close ? are too slight" to support the comparisons. Williams also cites similarities "between the subject’s outline and that of the A minor Fugue BWV 559, or between the pedal figures in both Preludes’ closing stages [and] in the Prelude’s opening [right hand] figure, in a Corrente in Vivaldi’s Op. 2 No. 1, of 1709, and in a Fugue in E minor by Pachelbel." Aside from Williams' observations about the fugue subject, the fugues BWV 543 and 944 differ in their larger outlines: their harmonic structure and the series of expositions and episodes are not parallel.

Liszt's transcription performed by Raymond Smullyan
Because of the piece's overall rhapsodic nature, many organists play this piece freely, and in a variety of tempi; it can be easily transcribed to a different instrument. Liszt included it in his transcriptions of the "six great preludes and fugues" BWV 543-8 for piano (S. 462).


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