Prelude & Fugue No.17

Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude & Fugue No.17 in Ab major

BWV886 • “The Well-tempered Clavier Book 2: Prelude & Fugue No. 17”

About this work

The elegant A flat major prelude, one of the more extended in this book of the Well-Tempered Clavier, plays with the tonic and subdominant chords right from the beginning, and the entire piece is dominated by a short, rustling figure, like a bird flapping its wings before taking off. The fugue is, harmonically, one of Bach's oddest, the descending chromatic notes of the countersubject helping obscure the A flat tonality, indeed suggesting a sort of B flat flat. The four voices of the primary subject enter in the order alto, soprano, tenor, bass.