24 preludes, each one coupled with a fugue of similar key (24 in all), equals 24 “prelude and fugues.” Got it?

[...] to understand Feltsman's curt but good-spirited onstage persona is to understand his worship of Bach and particularly the Well-Tempered Clavier, from which he played in entirety its First Book.

The first book (WTC I, as some call it) has exactly 24 preludes and 24 fugues. It’s just that each prelude is coupled, paired, hooked up with a fugue, which as we just saw, equals 24 “prelude and fugues,” a pair for each key (24 pairs).

The C Minor Prelude fluttered by in a blur, and from the outset, this set of 48 preludes and fugues seemed like a race to the finish.


Okay. If you add the 24 preludes to the 24 fugues, yes, you get 48 preludes and fugues. I’m just not sure if you're trying to refer to 24 “prelude and fugues.” 24, because each prelude is coupled with its own fugue.

See, when one speaks of 48 “prelude and fugues,” I assume they are referring to both WTC I and WTC II, each consisting of 24 “prelude and fugues.” Combined there are 48 “prelude and fugues.” However, there are 96 preludes and fugues. Got it? I'm lost. Maybe you're right.


Gustav said...

This is why I only stick with PDQ Bach, whose Short-Tempered Clavier is a collection of preludes and fugues in all the major and minor keys, except for the really hard ones.

Anonymous said...

Very funny Gustav. Maybe performer and reviewer only like the major key p&f's. Then there would be only 24 p&f's for both WTC books!

David Rakowski said...

CUSTOMER: I'd like to order 3 preludes and 2 fugues, please. I'm especially interested in the F-sharp minor prelude.

WAITER: I'm sorry, sir, we don't serve "preludes" and "fugues". We only serve prelude-and-fugues.

C: Really?

W: Yes, sir.

C: Huh.

W: Yes, sir.

C: So like, I can't order the F-sharp minor prelude by itself, and the ravishing B minor fugue by itself?

W: I'm afraid not, sir. As I said, we only serve prelude-and-fugues.

C: Huh.

W: Yes, sir.

C: So, I can't, like, order the F-sharp minor prelude-and-fugue and substitute the B minor fugue for the F-sharp minor fugue?

W: No, sir, I'm afraid not.

C: Huh. Who's the chef tonight?

W: I believe Empiricus is on duty, sir, and he's insistent that there are no substitutions tonight, or any other.

C: So can I order the F-sharp minor prelude-and-fugue and the B minor prelude-and-fugue and simply not eat the F-sharp minor fugue and the B minor prelude, and leave them on my plate?

W: Sir, once we have delivered the food you order, it's your business what you do with it. And incidentally, the three-part imitative structure of the B minor prelude is an excellent complement to the wild chromaticism of the fugue. I very highly recommend you not separate the two.

C: Has anyone had only the B minor prelude without the fugue?

W: Hundreds of times, sir, but we do not serve them that way. Empiricus's rules.

C: Huh.

W: Yes, sir.

C: Huh.

W: Would you like to order, sir?

C: Can I get an aria from an early cantata?

W: Yes, sir, but only if you order the entire cantata.

Empiricus said...

That, Davy, is funny.

By the way, I could care less how you'd like to serve em up. The customer is always right, right? As long as the profit keeps rolling in, let them have their cake and eat steak, too, and a side of mac and cheese topped with m&ms, and one order of fried Carmina Burana paired with a nice steamed prelude, but hold the fugue.