Prelude & Fugue

Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude & Fugue in C major


About this work

An early work that almost certainly predates the composer's move to Weimar in 1708, J.S. Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 531 is music of a most exuberant kind. The propulsive opening thought of the Prelude, a kind of rapid-note alternation in the pedals that rises by way of arpeggiation, has an aspect of joyous, celebratory brass fanfare to it. The Fugue's subject, though technically built from a different interval pattern, is right from the same page, gesture- and rhythm-wise, as that first thought of the Prelude (it is also, one might add, a very peculiar fugue subject). When, before they have even had a chance at the subject, the pedals interrupt the Fugue's contrapuntal texture with a measure of bursting-at-the-seams broken octaves (to which the upper voices respond with six-voice chords --there is no strict maintenance of the four-voice texture here), it is a magical moment in the organ repertory. As he so often does, Bach finishes this organ fugue with a brief quasi-cadenza, the likes of which has already been heard at the end of the Prelude as a kind of bridge to the Fugue.