BACH 777

BACH on the Pedal Clavichord


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1: Prelude in a minor BWV 569

2: Trio Sonata No. 1 in E-flat Major BWV 525
      Allegro - Adagio - Allegro

3: Prelude & Fugue in C Major BWV 545

4: Fugue in G Major BWV 577

5: Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor BWV 582

6: Fugue in g minor BWV 542

7: Fugue in d minor BWV 539

8: Prelude (Fantasy) and Fugue in c minor BWV 537

9: Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major BWV 552


Eric van Bruggen plays a replica by Dick Verwolf, Leiden Holland, of a pedal-clavichord by Johann David Gerstenberg Germany 1760 now in the Music Instrument Museum, Leipzig.

Friederich Griepenkerl, in his 1844 introduction to Volume 1 of the first complete edition of J. S. Bach's organ works, wrote: "Actually the six Sonatas and the Passacaglia were written for a clavichord with two manuals and pedal, an instrument that, in those days, every beginning organist possessed, which they used beforehand, to practice playing with hands and feet in order to make effective use of them at the organ. It would be a good thing to let such instruments be made again, because actually no one who wants to study to be an organist can really do without one."

Organ practice was difficult in baroque times; churches were cold and damp, and someone had to be cajoled or hired to work the pumps which supplied wind to the organ. A clavichord with pedal-board would permit the organist to practice both the manual and the pedal parts in the warmth and convenience of home. While clavichords were typically single manual instruments, two could be stacked to provide multiple keyboards further replicating the organ. Pedal harpsichords were similarly used for domestic practice, though the quieter sound of the pedal clavichord might be preferred by organists having close neighbours!

Another point which may be made about the pedal-clavichord, one on which there is wide agreement among those who play the instrument, is that it is far more demanding than the organ. The precision and clarity of the pedal-clavichord, heard in close proximity to the player without the confusion of resonating acoustic, requires considerably more precision. Several professional organists of high standing whom we have recorded have quietly gone away for further practice when confronted with a pedal-harpsichord, with perhaps even more reticence should we have been fortunate enough to record a pedal-clavichord which is even more sensitive to the touch.

Forkel, Bach's first biographer, who drew heavily on the reminiscences of Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach, states categorically that Bach composed the Six Trio Sonatas, of which we offer one in this programme, in order to perfect the pedal technique of his son Wilhelm Friedemann, an objective which, as Forkel further adds, appears to have been admirably achieved. Despite the lively, tuneful character of these almost dance-like pieces, they do in fact conceal a wealth of technical difficulties, almost traps for the player, particularly in demanding total independence of hands and feet. Complex rhythms and note values are set in deliberate conflict as between hands and feet. Listening to the present recording of the Trio Sonata No. 1 in E-flat Major BWV 525, one might imagine CPE struggling with this piece in the Bach family appartments above the Leipzig Thomas School.


For comparison we also offer the Six Trio Sonatas played on Silbermann organs, BACH 744, as well as on the pedal-harpsichord, BACH 759.

 

Baroque Music Library