BWV 952

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Fugue in C major

BWV 952 performed by Pierre Hantaï
at home in Chevreuse, France

"The theme reminds me of an organ piece. You can hear the pedal as it were."

Sidelined

What if this fugue were to change places with BWV 846 or 870?

As this fugue is not part of Bach’s great keyboard cycles, it disappeared from sight, along with many other ‘separate fugues’. And yet this lively piece with tastefully harmonic twists and turns would not look out of place in the Wohltemperirte Clavier. While Bach did include other ‘separate’ fugues in the series later on, this one got away.

Since the late nineteenth century, BWV 952 has often been included in editions of ‘little preludes and fugues’. This led to the fugue becoming unjustly sidelined. It went from being not-quite-WTC to ‘minor’ exercise material for beginners. Context is everything.

Fortunately, Bach’s ‘separate’ harpsichord and organ music also continued to be played. And in the hands of a harpsichordist like Pierre Hantaï, the quality of this fugue becomes suddenly clear again, and we realise why the music has survived. It is easy to imagine that Bach may indeed have considered including this fugue in the Wohltemperirte Clavier. And it might actually be a good test to listen to BWV 952 in the place of one of the two C major fugues in the Wohltemperirte Clavier. New context – new evaluation.


BWV
952

Title
Fugue in C major

Genre
keyboard work

Year
unknown

City
Weimar?

Cast & Crew

Release date 16 December 2016
Recording date 16 September 2016
Location Chevreuse, Frankrijk
Harpsichordist Pierre Hantaï
Harpsichord William Dowd and Bruce Kennedy after Michael Mietke
Director Jan Van den Bossche, Hanna Schreuders
Music recording, edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera and interview Gijs Besseling
Producer film Hanna Schreuders

Vocal Texts

Original

Translation

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