quips and clips

J.S. Bach ~ Prelude & Fugue XIX in A Major, II

  All my video performances of the complete Well-Tempered Clavier are streaming at http://www.christopheroriley.com My 96-episode series of explorations into each of J.S. Bach’s Preludes & Fugues, Everything We Need To Know About Playing The Piano We Learn From The Well-Tempered Clavier, is now available by subscription at Become A Member  

J.S. Bach ~ Prelude & Fugue XVIII in g# minor, II

This Prelude is the only one of the 48 to have dynamic markings, a presumed poco forte opening modified perspectively by a piano dynamic (echo? solo vs. tutti?). The keening melodic half-steps are noted by slurs more tactile and clung than modern legato. The Fugue I have found the most challenging of all the 48…

J.S. Bach ~ Prelude & Fugue XVII in Ab Major

The Prelude begins with a Concerto movement feeling, and its binary form, rare in Book One but generously invoked in Book Two presents an opportunity for embellishment and improvisation. I recorded both of the Ab’s over the course of three days, the two Preludes on the first day. The Fugues took each a full day…

J.S. Bach ~ Prelude & Fugue XVI in g minor, II

The tragedy and majesty of the g minor Prelude immediately asserts itself. I shape the voices and distinguish them by use of connectivity and discontinuity, the tympanum of the dotted notes riding a spectrum from militaristic to ultra-lyric. The admonishment of repeated notes that make up the 2nd half of the Fugue’s subject is leavened…

My immersion in the literature of The Well-Tempered Clavier

I’ve interrupted my Yukio Mishima binge for good reason. Steeped as I am in the Well-Tempered Clavier, I’ve come to know some of essential contemporary texts on Bach’s process, his reaction and interaction with the cultural trends of his time, and specific analysis devoted to the WTC. Laurence Dreyfus’ excellent Bach And The Patterns Of…

J.S. Bach ~ Prelude & Fugue XV in G Major, II

This Prelude enlists another one of the known techniques of the time, making a blooming sound out of a completely natural, colloquial position of the hand. The parallel voices I seek to subvert, instead of following their inexorable tandem procession, I highlight 3-note melodic cells, through articulative transparency and dynamic shading, first in the upper…

J.S. Bach ~ Prelude & Fugue XIV in f# minor, II

Maybe my favorite of all the cantabile Preludes; reminds me of the Minore Variation #25 in the Goldberg Variations. The multivarious subjects of the Fugue run from the stentorian rhetorical to the motive, emblematic to the fluid and accumulative semi-quavers. And those new Steinway hammers are coming in nicely, I think. All my video performances…

J.S. Bach ~ Prelude & Fugue XIII in F# Major, II

Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier is distinguished by Bach’s ever-evolving experiments, alchemical meldings of genres, styles, forms and formats. The F# Major Prelude, with its martially-dotted thorough-going texture suggests a French Overture, but in performance one finds instead this most stringently regulated yet most opulently resounding two-voice texture. The Fugue begins on the trilled…

J.S. Bach ~ Prelude & Fugue XII in f minor, II

Immersed as I am, recording and expostulating upon The Well-Tempered Clavier, it’s immensely invigorating engaging learned minds on my own journey. Of particular note, for historical, analytical and philosophical context is David Ledbetter’s indispensable study of The 48. We tend to think of The 48 as a sui generis demo for the latest 2.0 of…

Always nice to hear from the fans

  Our friend, Ruth, sent this here to the website: copy of comment to NPR re. FROM THE TOP:For a number of years, we have so looked forward to listening to From the Top, with Christopher O’Riley as the host par excellence. He was well-prepared, interactive, sensitive, and seemed to have a natural ability to…

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