Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

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Andre
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Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Andre » Thu May 12, 2016 5:30 pm

Hi,
I’m currently working on this Bach fugue, the well-known violin partita movement that is cataloged as BWV 1000 (in Am) for guitar. I've chosen the Willard transcription since it seems like a pretty good one and works out well for me with respect to (most) fingerings.
I was wondering if any of you have tried the transcriptions in Gm, closer to the original violin score, and prefer it over the Am transcriptions. There is one by Manuel Barrueco. As a listener, I actually prefer to hear this piece on violin, but from a guitar playing point of view I'm not sure if it makes much of a difference.
Also, are there any Am transcriptions that you feel are better than Willard's?
Right now I’m leaning towards sticking with the Willard version. It works, and it’s manageable. I never seem to tire practicing this music, even at a crawl.
I’m thinking it’s probably a wash, but would be curious to hear opinions from those of you that are familiar with the Gm versions, or have tried both.
Thank you.
Best regards,
Andre
Best regards,
Andre

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David Norton
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by David Norton » Thu May 12, 2016 5:59 pm

The g-minor version is much harder on guitar, as you lose access to the open tonic-subdominant-dominant (A-D-E) strings. The opposite is true for violin, you have the open lower G and D strings available. So g-minor is a natural key for violin, just as a-minor is a natural key for the guitar.

(It's always seemed to me that "playing transcriptions in the original key" is a bit of artistic snobbishness, a way of saying "I am 'more pure' in my art performance than YOU are". That's fine if the performer's goal is to impress others with their technical prowess in being able to play in original key, but really is a bit of a bore to the listener who simply wants to hear good music played well.)
David Norton
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soltirefa
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by soltirefa » Thu May 12, 2016 6:50 pm

I always have two or three versions handy, as well as search the web for versions, and come up with what works best for me. Sometimes it can be a little of one and a little of the other. In general, I think Koonce put more thought into alternative fingerings to make it flow easier. For example, I have been playing 995 Prelude lately and there's one spot where Koonce uses an open E bass instead of an octave up and where he plays a G bass on the 6th string instead of the G up an octave. Those changes are not what's in the original, but it really makes that spot smoother.

When you consult a variety of versions in order to come up with what's best for you, sometimes it requires getting reasonably good at each way before you can make a final determination.

JohnB
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by JohnB » Thu May 12, 2016 8:03 pm

Forgive me if I am wrong but I believe BWV 1000 is a separate reworking, by Bach, of the fugue from the BWV 1001 violin partita, possibly for lute (big question mark there). Incidentally he also arranged the same fugue for organ (BWV 539), so I guess he rather liked it.

When I last tackled it I played the violin version (arranged for guitar, of course).
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso", Christopher Dean 2018, Ana Maria Espinosa 2014

Andre
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Andre » Fri May 13, 2016 10:26 am

All, many thanks for your thoughts and insights.
David_Norton wrote:The g-minor version is much harder on guitar, as you lose access to the open tonic-subdominant-dominant (A-D-E) strings. The opposite is true for violin, you have the open lower G and D strings available. So g-minor is a natural key for violin, just as a-minor is a natural key for the guitar.
(It's always seemed to me that "playing transcriptions in the original key" is a bit of artistic snobbishness, a way of saying "I am 'more pure' in my art performance than YOU are". That's fine if the performer's goal is to impress others with their technical prowess in being able to play in original key, but really is a bit of a bore to the listener who simply wants to hear good music played well.)
That makes sense to me. Come to think of it, Am is the key used in transcriptions of other (parts of) suites I'm currently playing, like BWV 997 and 995.
Fully agree with you about the playing goal. Especially in this case where the music is challenging on so many levels.
soltirefa wrote:I always have two or three versions handy, as well as search the web for versions, and come up with what works best for me. Sometimes it can be a little of one and a little of the other. In general, I think Koonce put more thought into alternative fingerings to make it flow easier. For example, I have been playing 995 Prelude lately and there's one spot where Koonce uses an open E bass instead of an octave up and where he plays a G bass on the 6th string instead of the G up an octave. Those changes are not what's in the original, but it really makes that spot smoother.
When you consult a variety of versions in order to come up with what's best for you, sometimes it requires getting reasonably good at each way before you can make a final determination.

Good points. It's also an approach I use often. I have a Konrad Ragossnig (Eschig edition) of the fugue which I consulted, and which differs from WIllard in some key points, but not in a way that makes it any easier for me playing wise, nor any more enticing from a musical standpoint. I do have a few sheet versions of 995 (incl. Willard), and some web ones, although not the Koonce. I'll have to check it out. It's one of my favorite suites. I started out playing the 997 with a pretty good transcription calling for a capo at the 3rd fret ( to mimic the original Cm key?) but eventually went back to Am. Just sounds better to me. In the end, as pointed out by you fellows, it all comes down to what works best in achieving the desired musical result.
JohnB wrote:Forgive me if I am wrong but I believe BWV 1000 is a separate reworking, by Bach, of the fugue from the BWV 1001 violin partita, possibly for lute (big question mark there). Incidentally he also arranged the same fugue for organ (BWV 539), so I guess he rather liked it.
When I last tackled it I played the violin version (arranged for guitar, of course).
John, you may be right about that. I really don't know enough of this history to comment. I'm only aware that such transpositions did take place. (I did ask my former teacher once about BWV 995, i.e. whether Bach had written it for the lute or cello, but I recall him saying that the musical historians didn't all agree on how extensive his "lute writing" was, and that he may have been simply reworking a number of these string works, incl. 995, for S. L. Weiss, his lutenist friend and contemporary. And further, that out of all the "lute" suites, BWV 1006 may have been the only one initially written for the lute. Don't know if there is a historical consensus about this either).
Anyway, it's something for the Bach scholars to answer and/or debate. I have my hands full just trying to play any of it! :D
Thanks again to all for your comments.
Best regards,
Andre
Best regards,
Andre

stringaction
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by stringaction » Tue May 31, 2016 8:37 am

Hi Andre

I think JohnB is right here. BWV 1000 is based upon a transcription/intervollation for the lute by a guy called Weyrauch, a contemporary and friend of Bach. It is not an exact transcription of the fugue in BWV 1001, esp. the beginning is different. No autograph by Bach himself on BWV 1000 has yet emerged, so it is to this day unclear whether Weyrauch made it up all by himself or whether he had a text by Bach as a basis. It would not be unusual for Bach to rework and significantly change pieces and arrange them for different instruments (see BWV 1006a). Original works by Weyrauch, who was not a professional musician, are not known. So it would be a fair guess to assume that Weyrauch had some kind of a Bach score to work on.

Cheers
Stringaction

Andre
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Andre » Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:54 pm

stringaction wrote:Hi Andre

I think JohnB is right here. BWV 1000 is based upon a transcription/intervollation for the lute by a guy called Weyrauch, a contemporary and friend of Bach. It is not an exact transcription of the fugue in BWV 1001, esp. the beginning is different. No autograph by Bach himself on BWV 1000 has yet emerged, so it is to this day unclear whether Weyrauch made it up all by himself or whether he had a text by Bach as a basis. It would not be unusual for Bach to rework and significantly change pieces and arrange them for different instruments (see BWV 1006a). Original works by Weyrauch, who was not a professional musician, are not known. So it would be a fair guess to assume that Weyrauch had some kind of a Bach score to work on.

Cheers
Stringaction
Thanks for your post and info. Interesting info about Weyrauch. That was new to me.
I had noticed too that guitar transcriptions of BWV 1000 and 1001 were different in some areas, esp. the beginning, as you point out. The 1001 in Gm versions more closely resemble the work for violin.

Re: BWV 1006a: I also subsequently checked out the notes on all the lute suites in the Willard book I have, and contrary to what I wrote above, he indicates that this 4th lute suite was a transcription from the solo violin partita (as you inferred above), as was the fugue in question. So, my initial recollection on the 1006a was not correct.
He goes on to say that the 1st (BWV 996) and 2nd (BWV 997) were written by Bach for the lute. The 3rd (BWV 995), as mentioned above, was derived from the cello suites.
Thanks again for your comments.
Best regards,
Andre

JohnB
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by JohnB » Fri Jun 10, 2016 2:36 pm

Andre, many people believe that the first and second lute suites were actually composed for the lute-harpsichord (it seems that Bach owned two of those instruments when he died).

Incidentally, Bach also arranged the first movement of the 3rd Violin Partita (BWV 1006) as movements for his Cantatas BWV 102a and BWV 29. (His Cantatas are real gems IMO.)

It's fun (and interesting) to listen to these versions. This video is the Sinfonia from the Cantata BWV 29 conducted by the very highly regarded Masaaki Suzuki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmTsMRYf21k

(The other movements aren't bad either. :wink: )
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso", Christopher Dean 2018, Ana Maria Espinosa 2014

Andre
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Andre » Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:19 pm

JohnB wrote:Andre, many people believe that the first and second lute suites were actually composed for the lute-harpsichord (it seems that Bach owned two of those instruments when he died).

Incidentally, Bach also arranged the first movement of the 3rd Violin Partita (BWV 1006) as movements for his Cantatas BWV 102a and BWV 29. (His Cantatas are real gems IMO.)

It's fun (and interesting) to listen to these versions. This video is the Sinfonia from the Cantata BWV 29 conducted by the very highly regarded Masaaki Suzuki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmTsMRYf21k

(The other movements aren't bad either. :wink: )
Thank you John for this info and for posting that video, and I agree with you wholeheartedly about his Cantatas. It's mind-boggling to contemplate the quality of the music in relation to the time and deadlines Bach had to work under to deliver them. I really enjoyed listening to the Sinfonia and the melody was instantly recognizable played on keyboard. Willard's book does make a mention of an instrument called a "Lute-Clavicembalo", a keyboard instrument meant to imitate the sound of a lute, which he claims was invented by Bach. That must be the instrument you referred to.
Thanks again for your insights.
Best regards,
Andre

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Daniele Lazzari
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Daniele Lazzari » Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:04 pm

Andre wrote:Hi,
I’m currently working on this Bach fugue, the well-known violin partita movement that is cataloged as BWV 1000 (in Am) for guitar. I've chosen the Willard transcription since it seems like a pretty good one and works out well for me with respect to (most) fingerings.
I was wondering if any of you have tried the transcriptions in Gm, closer to the original violin score, and prefer it over the Am transcriptions. There is one by Manuel Barrueco. As a listener, I actually prefer to hear this piece on violin, but from a guitar playing point of view I'm not sure if it makes much of a difference.
Also, are there any Am transcriptions that you feel are better than Willard's?
Right now I’m leaning towards sticking with the Willard version. It works, and it’s manageable. I never seem to tire practicing this music, even at a crawl.
I’m thinking it’s probably a wash, but would be curious to hear opinions from those of you that are familiar with the Gm versions, or have tried both.
Thank you.
Best regards,
Andre
I currently am studying the violin version transposed in E minor... Then, if you like, it is easy play it in G minor, using a capo. As I know, there is also a version for lute in E minor but I do not have it.
Daniele Lazzari

"It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself" (J. S. Bach)
..You know, the guitar is a very special instrument! (D. Lazzari)

Brooke Martin
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Brooke Martin » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:33 pm

JohnB, I wonder why Koonce didn't include BWV 1001 in the Second Edition of "The Solo Lute Works."
JohnB wrote:
Thu May 12, 2016 8:03 pm
Forgive me if I am wrong but I believe BWV 1000 is a separate reworking, by Bach, of the fugue from the BWV 1001 violin partita, possibly for lute (big question mark there). Incidentally he also arranged the same fugue for organ (BWV 539), so I guess he rather liked it.

When I last tackled it I played the violin version (arranged for guitar, of course).

soltirefa
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by soltirefa » Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:24 pm

I wonder why Koonce didn't include BWV 1001 in the Second Edition of "The Solo Lute Works."
I think Koonce's Second Edition includes ossia bracketed in the bwv 1000 to show alternative notes that are in the violin version. It's nice that way because you can see the differences side-by-side.

Conall
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Conall » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:34 pm

Years after learning the Am guitar arrangement of this piece I discovered the violin version & I bought the entire violin sonatas & partitas.

I was amazed how playable these pieces were on the guitar - as written. Hardly any arrangement is needed - just a couple of chord voicings here & there.

It's true Gm isn't as easy or resonant on the guitar as Am but it makes a change from the monotony of Am, Em & Dm on the guitar. A few sections are arguably easier because it's played in a lower position than Am. I do play the whole work in Gm / Bb because I can't be bothered writing the other movements up a tone - nothing to do with snobbishly "authenticity" or whatever. I also like the fact that there's no fingering (in the Dover edition) so I can add my own.

Brooke Martin
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Brooke Martin » Tue Nov 27, 2018 3:32 pm

True, soltirefa, but in the First Edition, there's a very fine version of BWV 1001, edited by Koonce, that is different (and with the beginning played on the 3rd string). The beginning of BWV 1000 in the Second Edition is quite different. I wish 1001 were also in the Second Edition with any updated fingerings, etc.
soltirefa wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:24 pm
I wonder why Koonce didn't include BWV 1001 in the Second Edition of "The Solo Lute Works."
I think Koonce's Second Edition includes ossia bracketed in the bwv 1000 to show alternative notes that are in the violin version. It's nice that way because you can see the differences side-by-side.

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Tony Hyman
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Re: Bach Fugue BWV 1000 in Am

Post by Tony Hyman » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:28 am

David Norton wrote:
Thu May 12, 2016 5:59 pm
The g-minor version is much harder on guitar, as you lose access to the open tonic-subdominant-dominant (A-D-E) strings. The opposite is true for violin, you have the open lower G and D strings available. So g-minor is a natural key for violin, just as a-minor is a natural key for the guitar.

(It's always seemed to me that "playing transcriptions in the original key" is a bit of artistic snobbishness, a way of saying "I am 'more pure' in my art performance than YOU are". That's fine if the performer's goal is to impress others with their technical prowess in being able to play in original key, but really is a bit of a bore to the listener who simply wants to hear good music played well.)
Well said David, it either "swings" to the audience or it doesn't, as I see it.

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