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Bwv 562


sbarber49
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Can someone please tell my why the Novello edition of the Fantasia in C minor (BWV 562) does not have the ornaments that are in the old Bachgesellschaft edition (and others)? Is it taken from another manuscript? Is it a legitimate way of playing the piece.

 

I have always used the Novello edition to which I years ago added the ornamentation by hand, but have just started a pupil on the piece and am wondering about it.

 

Stephen Barber

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Well, well, isn't this interesting? I don't know the answer, but would be equally interested in learning.

 

I too first learnt my Bach from the Novello editions, later replacing them with the NBA. As a user of the NBA, I am acquainted with the ornaments you mention, but never realised they were in the old Bachgesellschaft edition too. Since I know absolutely nothing about Bach scholarship, I have to accept the claim that the NBA versions were based on sound, up-to-date scholarship, but I do sometimes wonder whether the team of (mainly German?) editors were sometimes biassed towards familiar readings. As far as I can gather, though, this does not seem to be the case here.

 

According to Peter Willims's BBC Music Guide Bach Organ Music, the fantasia is followed by one fugue in one manuscript and by a different, incomplete fugue in 6/4 time in another. This latter version may date from as late as the Leipzig years. This incomplete fugue, printed in the Bachgesellschaft and NBA editions, is apparently autograph, so does that mean the ornamented copy of the Fantasia is also autograph? One would certainly hope that the editors were not taking a "pick and mix" approach.

 

Williams goes on to say that "The appogiaturas are not unimportant grace-notes or a mere notational quirk. The piece could hardly be taken as a model for extemporised ornaments as there are few if any comparable passages elsewhere, but there is something crucial here to an understanding of Bach's changing harmonic style. This is to be seen especially in the rising appogiaturas of this piece. The taste hints at le goût français, of course, and it is not difficult to find similar but smaller-scaled pieces by de Grigny and others".

 

I am still left wondering, if these ornaments are genuinely Bach's, why the piece is so unique in his output. The bare Novello reading does seem more in keeping with Bach we know from elsewhere.

 

For those still using Novello, this should take you to the Bachgesellschaft version.

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Incidentally, aren't the final half dozen bars of this piece (in particular) just wonderful? I'm sure it is very, very naughty, but I can never resist playing the trill in the anti-penultimate bar as a Doppelt-Cadence, i.e. with a turn at the beginning - CBAB - just for the pleasure of the dissonance the A natural introduces against the A flat in the left hand! It seems in keeping with the dissonance of the consecutive sevenths on the final two beats.

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I am still left wondering, if these ornaments are genuinely Bach's, why the piece is so unique in his output. The bare Novello reading does seem more in keeping with Bach we know from elsewhere.

 

Kimberley Marshall has written the following:

The elegant Fantasy in c minor, BWV 562, demonstrates Bach at his most French, with beautifully ornamented melodies and graceful slurs suggesting the vocal style of Lully’s operas. The five-part texture, with two voices in each hand and one in the pedal, may have been adopted by Bach following his study of Nicolas de Grigny’s Premier Livre d’Orgue (Paris, 1699). Bach made a complete copy of this source (now Mus. HS 1538 of the Stadt und Universitäts Bibliothek in Frankfurt-am-Main), which attests to the detailed attention he gave to Grigny’s compositional style. The autograph copy of the work (P490) makes explicit Bach’s ornamentation, so there is no question of these having been inserted at a later date by a copyist fond of French agréments.

 

If this is correct, how could the Novello editors justify leaving the ornaments out?

 

Stephen Barber

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I understand, although I do not have a copy here to check, that the Peters edition used the same source as Novello as it has considerably less ornaments than the highly-decorated Bach Gesellschaft edition. I believe that there was more than one manuscript.

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Stephen, thank you for that very helpful information.

 

Gareth, I rather suspect it was actually the other way around. The Novello edition is not exactly noted for its musicology and I doubt the pieces were edited from original sources. I've just checked my copy of vol. 2 that contains the Fantasia in question and I get the distinct impression that the editors, Sir Fred Bridge & James Higgs, merely copied their texts from Griepenkerl's mid-nineteenth-century edition. That, I think, is the old Peters edition and is distinct from the old Bach-Gesellschaft, though I wouldn't swear to that.

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Incidentally, aren't the final half dozen bars of this piece (in particular) just wonderful? I'm sure it is very, very naughty, but I can never resist playing the trill in the anti-penultimate bar as a Doppelt-Cadence, i.e. with a turn at the beginning - CBAB - just for the pleasure of the dissonance the A natural introduces against the A flat in the left hand! It seems in keeping with the dissonance of the consecutive sevenths on the final two beats.

Not naughty at all, but correct - the sign in the NBA has an opening turn; and the earlier version of the piece has (as shown in Williams's big book) a simple turn on that note rather than a trill (but no Ab to clash with).

 

Paul

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Gareth, I rather suspect it was actually the other way around. The Novello edition is not exactly noted for its musicology and I doubt the pieces were edited from original sources. I've just checked my copy of vol. 2 that contains the Fantasia in question and I get the distinct impression that the editors, Sir Fred Bridge & James Higgs, merely copied their texts from Griepenkerl's mid-nineteenth-century edition. That, I think, is the old Peters edition and is distinct from the old Bach-Gesellschaft, though I wouldn't swear to that.

 

I wasn't trying to imply that it was the other way around at all, Vox. I too am sure that the Novello edition was just copied from the Griepenkerl which, as you correctly say, is the source for the old Peters edition.

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The Novello edition is not exactly noted for its musicology and I doubt the pieces were edited from original sources. I've just checked my copy of vol. 2 that contains the Fantasia in question and I get the distinct impression that the editors, Sir Fred Bridge & James Higgs, merely copied their texts from Griepenkerl's mid-nineteenth-century edition. That, I think, is the old Peters edition and is distinct from the old Bach-Gesellschaft, though I wouldn't swear to that.

 

To broaden it out a bit: just how unreliable is the Novello Bach edition? I've always used it, although I wouldn't, of course, if I were starting out now. I thought that it was pretty reliable as regards the actual notes - the editorial additions can be ignored. (The number of wrong notes I play probably make any misreadings pale into insignificance anyway.) With BWV 562 it's a completely different piece, though.

 

Are the volumes revised by Emery better? Has anyone studied the Ridout edition for Kevin Mayhew?

 

Incidentally I hadn't known that Fauré had produced an edition of Bach's organ works (https://urresearch.rochester.edu/handle/1802/1718). I wonder why he didn't write any organ music - or is there a stray piece or two somewhere?

 

Stephen Barber

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Are the volumes revised by Emery better? Has anyone studied the Ridout edition for Kevin Mayhew?

 

Where my Novello editions are duplicated, I have noticed quite significant variations between the older editions and the volumes revised by Emery. I seem to recall that BWV 550 has quite a few changes especially.

 

I've never seen the Ridout edition but have heard that it contains a number of inaccuracies.

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To broaden it out a bit: just how unreliable is the Novello Bach edition?

Only a Bach specialist could really answer that one. I am not sure whether the Novello edition is actually that unreliable. It is more that its reliability (or unreliability) is an unknown quantity because there is no indication for the innocent reader of how they arrived at the readings they did. I suppose what I mean is that this uncertainty makes the edition unreliable, but that does not necessarily mean that it is inaccurate (though, of course it might be).

 

Are the volumes revised by Emery better? Has anyone studied the Ridout edition for Kevin Mayhew?

At least Emery was a Bach scholar who knew a bit about the original sources. Somewhere in a distant back number of The Musical Times around 30 or 40 years ago there is a review by him of one of the NBA volumes in which he takes the editing to task for the boldness of some of its interventions i.e. changing one or two source readings because "Bach would never have done that". I haven't read it since so can't remember the details, but I think it wasn't so much the principle, which is valid enough if the source is unreliable, as the fact that he could demonstrate that Bach "did do that" elsewhere. I think the piece in question was Ein feste Burg.

 

Incidentally I hadn't known that Fauré had produced an edition of Bach's organ works (https://urresearch.rochester.edu/handle/1802/1718). I wonder why he didn't write any organ music - or is there a stray piece or two somewhere?

John Henderson's book lists just one piece - an unpublished Improvisation of 1900. It is strange considering he spent so many years at Saint-Sulpice. I suppose it must be due to the focus put on improvisation at the time. Apparently Franck's classes at the Paris Conservatoire did not cover repertoire much at all - they were mainly about improvisation.

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I've never seen the Ridout edition but have heard that it contains a number of inaccuracies.

I would love to know whose text Ridout based his edition on. I was never aware that he was a musicologist so I can't believe he worked from the original sources (though the fact that he didn't publish anything scholarly does not necessarily mean that he did not have the knowledge). I had a glance at some of the volumes once. The texts looked very neat and easy to read and I remember much being made of the attention paid to the page turns - a distinct selling point over NBA in that respect. I would have bought them if I could have been sure that the texts were good. However, I never saw any reviews in the learned journals, which I thought a bit strange. Even if review copies were not submitted I would have thought some scholar would have pounced on them.

 

Incidentally, while on the subject of Bach editions, does anyone know what happened to the projected new OUP edition of the organ works? Who was doing it? It appeared in their catalogues quite a few years ago now as "in preparation" and then subsequently disappeared again as siliently as it came. Presumably the project was abandoned?

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I would love to know whose text Ridout based his edition on. I was never aware that he was a musicologist so I can't believe he worked from the original sources (though the fact that he didn't publish anything scholarly does not necessarily mean that he did not have the knowledge). I had a glance at some of the volumes once. The texts looked very neat and easy to read and I remember much being made of the attention paid to the page turns - a distinct selling point over NBA in that respect. I would have bought them if I could have been sure that the texts were good. However, I never saw any reviews in the learned journals, which I thought a bit strange. Even if review copies were not submitted I would have thought some scholar would have pounced on them.

 

Incidentally, while on the subject of Bach editions, does anyone know what happened to the projected new OUP edition of the organ works? Who was doing it? It appeared in their catalogues quite a few years ago now as "in preparation" and then subsequently disappeared again as siliently as it came. Presumably the project was abandoned?

 

I use the Mayhew edition, it was a 21st birthday present, in fact all four, and especially volume three are looking distinctly worn out - I'm now 34!! :rolleyes:

 

One major question I've always had is why they didn't include the 'Gigue' Fugue (BWV 577) especially as the 'short 8' are there...

 

The major plus is the excellent layout - amazingly there always seems to be a hand free to turn, and the large, thick paper handles very well indeed. The down side is that they won't fit in my music case, and when I've played Bach recitals requiring all four volunes it's like showing up with a breeze block!

 

As for errors, I've spotted a few, but as I didn't learn from these volumes I suspect I see what i know should be there rather than what is there, if that makes sense.

 

P.

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One major question I've always had is why they didn't include the 'Gigue' Fugue (BWV 577) especially as the 'short 8' are there...

I agree it is strange to have omitted the one while including the others. The "Jig" fugue is an opus dubius - it isn't in the NBA either, though Bärenreiter did include it in a recent volume (not NBA, but in compatible format) of such works that are now considered to be probably by Bach after all. I don't know the ins and outs of why it is/was thought not to be by Bach.

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I don't know the ins and outs of why it [the 'Jig' fugue] is/was thought not to be by Bach.

Peter Williams comments that doubts about J S Bach's authorship were raised because of suspicions raised by the 'poor' sources. It also contains five unusual features when considered as a fugue, and there is a progression which, put bluntly, is poor writing for a person like Bach.

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Apparently Franck's classes at the Paris Conservatoire did not cover repertoire much at all - they were mainly about improvisation.

 

He still managed to write the only truly "great" organ music other than Bach's. (I know no-one will disagree!)

 

Stephen Barber

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He still managed to write the only truly "great" organ music other than Bach's. (I know no-one will disagree!)

 

Stephen Barber

There are two propositions there:

 

1. Franck wrote truly "great" organ music.

2. No one else other than Bach wrote truly "great" organ music.

 

May I respectfully disagree with both.

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He still managed to write the only truly "great" organ music other than Bach's. (I know no-one will disagree!)

 

Stephen Barber

I'm surprised that you didn't get a bigger response to this one, Stephen. As a Franck-ophile, I am hardly going to disagree. Perhaps not every organ work was great, but Prière and Fantaisie in A are top-notch as far as I am concerned. I think there are other examples of great organ music by other composers, but then how does one define great?

JC

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Guest Barry Williams

Please may I add, in terms of 'great' music, Mozart K594 and K608, Brahms Fugue in A flat minor, Mendelssohn's Sonatas and much of Rhinberger and Reger? And what of Buxtehude?

 

Nay, the term 'great' cannot be applied so narrowly, for we must include Hindemith and Leighton, even, perhaps, early Howells, (though not his choral works please!) Karg-Elert wrote terrific music, despite his being remembered for the simple works only. Think of the Sonatina; a fine piece by any judgement.

 

Not all Bach is 'great', so perhaps the discussion is pointless. But I hope we will all agree that there is little to match the Passacaglia and Fugue and, of course, the 'St Anne' Prelude and Fugue. ( I assume that the 'great' Preludes and Fugues are taken as read.)

 

Barry Williams

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Please may I add, in terms of 'great' music, Mozart K594 and K608, Brahms Fugue in A flat minor, Mendelssohn's Sonatas and much of Rhinberger and Reger? And what of Buxtehude?

 

Nay, the term 'great' cannot be applied so narrowly, for we must include Hindemith and Leighton, even, perhaps, early Howells, (though not his choral works please!) Karg-Elert wrote terrific music, despite his being remembered for the simple works only. Think of the Sonatina; a fine piece by any judgement.

 

Not all Bach is 'great', so perhaps the discussion is pointless. But I hope we will all agree that there is little to match the Passacaglia and Fugue and, of course, the 'St Anne' Prelude and Fugue. ( I assume that the 'great' Preludes and Fugues are taken as read.)

 

Barry Williams

 

Yes, I was just being annoyingly provocative - "great" doesn't mean anything.

 

However as far as I am concerned:

Mozart - not organ music

Brahms - have never played it. I'll have to, now.

Mendelssohn: Much as I love the sonatas, not "great" music

Not Rheinberger or even Reger, nor Karg-Elert (don't know the Sonatina, though)

Not Hindemith (personally I don't think Hindemith's music has worn very well), definitely not Leighton, not Howells (although I think some of the choral music is very close - St Paul's Service, Coll Reg morning and evening, Requiem etc.).

 

I did consider Buxtehude, and I'm surprised you rate Vierne less highly than Rheinberger.

 

Stephen Barber

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Guest Barry Williams

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

 

Vierne's harmonies certainly place him in the forefront of modern music, but that is an issue far beyond mere organ music.

 

Whilst I am a great admirer of Herbert Howells, (I met him several times and found him utterly delightful and so very helpful,) I regard his ecclesiastical choral music as being of almost nothing compared with the power of his other (especially orchestral) output, which is largely ignored nowadays, and wrongly so.

 

Do, please, look at the A flat minor Fugue of Brahms. (When you have looked at the Karg-Elert Sonatina!) Therein (i.e.the Brahms,) you will find every 'device' imaginable, yet used so musically as way as to yield transports of joy in the hands of a sensitive player. The Brahms really is 'great' music.

 

Barry Williams

 

PS I disagree with you about the Mozart pieces!

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Personal opinions of greatness quickly degenerate into a list of what we like so do not really mean much. Greatness in music seems to be something defined not by individuals but by a general consensus of what composers or pieces provide the greatness emotional and intellectual satisfaction. On the other hand, without individuals expressing their views there can be no consensus - and anyway it's fun.

 

For what it is worth the general consensus seems to have Franck marked down as a "second stream" composer, i.e. excellent, but not up there with the true greats such as Bach, Beethoven, Brahms. I would not personally disagree with this. The more I listen to Vierne the more I am inclined to think he is superior to Franck, but I still don't think he quite qualifies as great - or does he?

 

Rheinberger: no, sorry; despite some truly first rate moments, he is just too uneven.

 

Messiaen is usually conceded to be a true "great" (though personally I think he became plain boring after the Pentecost Mass).

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