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Work

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach Composer

Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro in Eb for Lute, BWV998

Performances: 44
Tracks: 111
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Musicology:
  • Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro in Eb for Lute, BWV998
    Key: Eb
    Year: 1740-45
    Genre: Prelude / Fugue
    Pr. Instrument: Lute
    • 1.Prelude
    • 2.Fugue
    • 3.Allegro
The final entry in a catalog of lute pieces that spanned 35 years (perhaps longer), the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat, BWV 998 of J.S. Bach makes plain how unimportant the modern debate over the instrumentation of these works (were they composed for lute, or Lautenwerk, a lute-like keyboard apparatus, or even just ordinary harpsichord?) would have been to the composer himself. "For lute or keyboard" is the very clear indication on the autograph score. The Prelude, Fugue and Allegro was written sometime during the first half of the 1740s; it is an imposing and virtuosic work, the myriad difficulties of which are made none the easier by its transcription for guitar—standard these days save for the precious few Baroque lutenists who grace modern concert halls and record shelves. The technical complexities offer a bounty of rich counterpoint for those who can scale their peaks.

The Prelude is of the same constantly-arpeggiated kind that we find in the Well-Tempered Clavier (the second book of which dates from around the same time as this work). There is just a single pause in the motion: just before the coda, Bach throws a fermata over a third-inversion seventh chord, complete with a rich suspension, that is so enrapturing that only a flurry of 16th notes can propel the motion forward again.

The Fugue is on a subject in all quarter notes; the 16th-note-oriented episodes have as much of the Baroque concerto about them as they do fugue. The Allegro is an uptempo binary-form dance in joyous, vigorous running 16ths.

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