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JS Bach Prelude BWV 998

J.S. Bach, "Prelude BWV 998"

Version and Fingering: Renato Bellucci

I was struck by the beauty of this Bach Prelude from the first time I heard it played by Williams in his Complete Lute suites double LP from the late 1970s. This is the Prelude to this absolute Fugue which is the Ultimate Fugue: Fugue BWV 998. I I worked on the piece with Abel Carlevaro in Montevideo and the fingering that the Uruguayan Maestro posed was simply irresistible. The phrasing comes out natural and the player can concentrate on the marvelous sequence. What a genius this man was...what a gift to humanity ! A 12 notes sequence per measure is all the Master needs to capture our soul's attention. The phrase starts with the high D (second note of the phrase) and ends with the low D at the beginning of the second measure. Make sure you see the phrase from this perspective in order to put the emphasis in the right place.

Hear me play Prelude BWV 998 from my CD "Chaconne", 2000. 6=D means that string 6 is tuned down from a low E to a low D. Hear how to do this by clicking on the real audio image below

Staff and Video 1

Analysis:
With Baroque music, and especially with the music of Bach, the opening phrase must be kept as square and straightforward as possible. No vibrato, no tenuto and no "effects" whatsoever. Simply present the main musical idea as clearly as possible. This is the type of scenario where a repeated right hand fingering sequence comes in handy. I use the a finger (ring finger) repeatedly to even out the sound to the maximum. This does not mena that you cannot use other right hand combinations. Actually, I insist that my students ought to ry out different fingering combinations and decide on their own which fingering combination works best for them. Bach is the greatest master at musical phrasing that ever existed. He could elaborate on short 5-7 notes melodies or elaborate on complex multi-part melodies. In every instance, the German Master touched perfection and with it every single part of our soul.
In the video I mark the open string in yellow. Use the open strings to your advantage in order to make your position changes swift and a lot easier. You will use this technical resource extensively in BWV 998.  

Video 1
Asunción, April 4, 2005
Revision: Asunción, December 21, 2012
Revision: San Bernardino, Paraguay, October 27, 2014
Revision: Asunción, Paraguay, April 18, 2016 (staffs 4, 22 & 24)

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