Prelude & Fugue No.17

Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude & Fugue No.17 in Ab major

BWV862 • “The Well-tempered Clavier Book 1: Prelude & Fugue No. 17”

About this work

The brief prelude is based almost entirely on material Bach sets out in the first bar or two, a little fanfare figure announced in the right hand and echoed in the left. This provides the fodder for an ongoing conversation between the treble and bass parts, often with one hand nattering away with repetitive passagework while the other offers a more elaborate treatment of the basic motif. The four-voice fugue's angular but generally rising subject enters first in the tenor, then bass, and at length soprano and alto. Its countersubject is an elaboration of what initially sounds like little more than a rising and falling scale.