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£70,000 y 5 SN Tce J.S Bach - Le opere complete per liuto Bach: from the lute to the guitar Johann Sebastian Bach's Works For Lute nlike the vast majority of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, the pieces in the present edition (BWV 995 1000 and 1006a) have successfully resisted all attempts to establish their origins and the Instrument on which the composer intended them to be played, although they have now been conventionally known for more than a ‘century as "Bach's Works for Tute”. All that can be said about them with any certainty is that they are indeed by Johann Sebastian Bach himself and not apochryphal, as are a number of the pieces which appear in Volume 45 of the first edition of the “Bach Gesellschaft", published in 1897 when these seven compositions went to press for the first time in their existence. ‘Throughout almost all of Europe during the eighteenth century, the lute went into a petiod of increasing decline which was to lead to its eventual disappearance from the musical seene ofthe times. The keyword here is “almost”, because in Germany the Inte enjoyed enormous popularity thanks to the country’s taste for what was known as Hausmusik. An entire school flourished of highly ‘virnzoso performers on the instrument, headed by Silvius Leopold Weiss, and thelr reputations went well beyond the confines of their home turf It is hardly surprising that, in terms of both quality and quantity, this was the period of Germany's major contribution to the literature for the lute. Consequently, it would have been wholly natural for a musician and composer of Bach's statureto be interested in the instrument ~ indeed, tis known that he came into contact upon a number of occasions with ‘the greatest lutenists of his time. However, the question of whether and how that interest turned into something more concrete - in other words, whether Bach actually played the lute and, if he did, how good he was and how much he knew about the instrument ~ has remained unanswered to this day, for all the studying and probing by various experts. ‘Two of the compositions - BWV 995 and 998 - were unquestionably intended to be played on the lute. The ‘manuscript scores carry explicit indications to this effect and more will be said about this matter below. The main point is that a number of aspects suggest that Bach had 4 fairly general knowledge of the lute’s instrumental SM bat possibilities and idiom but was not sufficiently accom- plished on the instrument to be able to writea score for it which would be perfectly playable in every detall. ‘This is why even performance on period instruments requires a “transcription”, meaning revising and changing many details such as Key, chord voicings or use of the bass register. It must be remembered that changes of this sort are not at all necessary in Bach's other works for solo instruments, such as the violin or cello. I is therefore highly likely that Bach composed for the lute “in the abstract” - in other words he did not check whether everything he wrote could actually be played on this particular instrument. It may well be that he intended to fentnust a lutenist with the task of a practical edition of the work. That Bach did this on other occasions is apparent from the tablature scores for the Suites BWV 995, the Partita BWV 997 and for the Fugue BWV 1000. Leipzig, where Bach spent the last twenty-seven years Of his life, had been a major centre of activity for the lute constantly since the sixteenth century. The composer had a great deal of contact with those who wrote for the fate and who played it and became friends with a number of them. He was particularly close to Johann Christian Weyrauich, a lutenist who was a lawyer by profession. If Weyrauch himself wrote any music, it has not survived for posterity. His importance lies in the fact that two editions in lute tablature of compositions by Bach are attributed to him - the Partita BWV 997 and the Fuga delSignore Bach BWV 1000). OF Bach's seven compositions for lute, only three have come down to us in the composer's own hand: the Suite in G minor BWV 995, the Prelude, Fugue andAllegro in E flat major BWV 998 with its explicit indication that it's intended for the lutand the Partita in E’ major BWV. 1006a which has no frontespiece and no indication of, the instrument for which it was written. The other ‘compositions ~ the Suite in E minor BWV 996, the Partita in C minor BWV 997, the Prétude in D minor BWV 999 and the Fugue in G minor BWV 1000 - have survived 1s copies in keyboard notation or in lute tablature. That these compositions are attributed to the lute is due, in the case of the Prelude BWV 999, to an explicit indication ‘made by the copyist and, in the case of the Partita BWV 997 and the Fugue BWV 1000, to the edition in French Jute tablature by Johann Christian Weyrauch. Finally and quite simply, there is no real foundation for claiming, that SuiteBWV 996 was ever intended for the lute. The latter two cases are the most controversial, since the Fugue BWV 1000 was undoubtedly transcribed by ‘Weyrauch with no supervision from Bach, while the Suite BWV 996 was intended by the composer for his “Lautenwerk”: More will be sald about this below, when ‘examining each of the individual works. In sum then, that these compositions were intended for the lute is certain for three of them (BWV 995, 998, 999), probable for another three (Partita BWV 997, 10060 and Fugue BWV 1000}, but highly questionable for Suite BWV 996, Suite BWV 995 has the following title in Bach's own hhand: “Suite pour la luth par J.S. Bach”. A frontespiece vas added to this with the following: “Piéces pour la Luth é Monsieur Sckouster par J.S.Bach". Dated 1727- 1731, this Suite is anarrangement, (although perhaps “enrichment” - harmonically and rhythmically ~ might be a better description}, of Bach's Fifth Suite for solo cello BWV 1011. The composer and writer on music Johann Friederich Reichardt had the following to say about Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin: * Their composer played them often himself on the clavichord ‘and added thereto as muck harmony as he felt necessary. He thus recognized the necessity for a harmony of sound which could not be fully achieved in these compositions’, ‘The Suite BWV 995 may therefore be taken as written evidence of something Bach frequently did at home and ‘which is also at the origin of the versions for lute of the Partita BWV 1006a and of the Fugue BWV 1000. This piece has come down to us in an extremely accurate tablature version which is probably the work of Adam Falkenhagen, oneof the major lutenists of his time and ‘who also composed for the instrument. Suite BWV 995 ‘opens with an extended Freneh-style Prélude which is in two parts: the first is like a toccata, while the second, (which is marked “Tres viste") follows the pattern of fugue. The various movements comprise the four trai tionally stylized dances Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue, although the latter two are separated by a pair of Gavotes. Suite BWV 996 was originally entitled “Praehudio con La Suite da Giov. Bast. Bach aufs Lauten-Werk" and dates back to the composer's youth, having been written at some time during 1708-1717. It has survived in two ‘manuscript copies written out by Johann Gotfired Walther and Heinrich Nikolaus Gerber, one of Bach's pupils. It is known to have been written for the Lautenwerk, a keyboard instrument similar to the harpsichord but with gut strings, which made it sound similar to the lute. Indeed, some of the movements of this suite, { Prelude, Courante and Gigue), are in fact unplayable on the lute without @ great deal of pruning and adaptation of the score. Despite its clearly being fora keyboard instrument, itis today considered part of Bach's works for lute since ‘the composer is known to have been interested in achieving a certain type of sound, Proof of this comes from various sources which indicate that Bach had a Laufenciavicymbel (Lea Lautenwert) made by Zacharias Hildebrans in Leipzig in 1740. Reference had already been made to the Lau- tenwerk by Marin Mersenne in 1636 and it is likely that this instrument, which combined the intimate speech- like sounds of the lutewith the technical perfection of LS. Bach - le opere complete per liuto xix the keyboard, dated back even earlier. It was certainly widespread in Germany, particularly after 1718 when Johann Christoph Fleischer, an instrument builder from Hamburg, made significant technical improvements to it Indeed, one of Bach's cousins, Johann Nikolaus Bach became very well known for his performances on the Lautenwerk, and according to a treatise on keyboard instruments by Jacob Adlung published in 1768, the Lautenwerk was one of the finest keyboard instruments in existence, second in greatness only to the organ. Suite BWV 996 was composed during the same period as the Toccatas and in fact shares the same style, especially in the Practudium which opens with a thapsodie Passaggio in an improvisatory style, followed by a short Presta in fugue form, There are the usual four stylized dances, an Allemande which is very similar to the thie French Suite BWV 808, a Courantc, a Sarabande in the same taceata- like style as the Praeludium and a Gigue which is preceded by an elegant Bourrée Partita BWV 997 has survived in four manuscript versions intended for performance on the harpsichord in the hand of various eopyists and pupils of Bach and in a French tablature version entitled Partita al Liuto by Johann Christian Weyrauch. However, te latter has only three movements, a Fantasia (identical to the Prélude), a Sarabande and a Gigue, while the complex tripartite Fugue with the Da Capo and the Double are omitted, probably because these two movements are extremely complicated and go to the very limits of what i technically possible for the Tate, The work is from Bach's mature | yeas, being dated between 1738 and 1741, and in the versions for harpsichord is entitled. Sonata, which is in fact more in keeping with its austere character, (with the | exception ofthe Gigue), than the term “Partita, or indeed “Suite” Leaving aside such matters, the composition is entirely based on an ascending, and descending seale and is a fine example of how much Bach was capable of ‘creating out of such ordinary basic material. The imposing tripartite Fugue with its da capo is especially worthy of note, being a rare form in Bach's work overall yet appearing twice in his compositions for lute (Le. here and also in the typtyeh BWV 998). Partita BWV 1006a is written out in the composer's hhand but the frontespiece is missing. Since this would hhave indicated the instrument which the composition was intended for, the question has always remained a matter for conjecture. The three most likely hypotheses are lute, harpsichord and harp. That the notatian is on ‘two staves would seem to suggest the harpsichord, but | from the manuscripts of Suife BWV 995 and the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro BWV 998, we know that Bach used this type of notation also when composing for the lute. Furthermore the instrumental texture and type of writing do not conform to what is playable on the harpsichord, while raising the key by half a tone produces a composition which is wholly idiomatic in nature for the lute. work ean be dated around 1740 and is a harmonized | version of the Third Partita for Solo Violin in E major BWV 1006 which Bach composed a few years earlier It | may thus be seen as further evidence of the practice