SOPP578: I would like to study the Bach Preludes and Fugues in D Major, BWV 532 and Eb Major, BWV 552
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
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V: Let’s start episode 587 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Maureen. And she’s our Total Organist student. And she writes,
The concern with the coronavirus is ratcheting up as you will know. Scotland is beginning to grow concerned and lockdown is being implemented for next week. I thought it would be a great opportunity to play as often as possible during the time when this happens here in Scotland.
I would like to study the Bach Prelude and Fugue in D Major, BWV 532 and BWV 552 (this is Prelude and Fugue in Eb Major). Is this fingered for purchase by any chance? I would love to purchase it if it is. Thank you,
V: So Ausra, is it available? Yes (laughs), I know the answer! Both of these scores are available. And quite a few people like to play D Major Prelude and Fugue, obviously for a single reason probably, because of this amazing D Major scale in the pedal.
V: Have you tried playing it, Ausra?
A: Yes, I have played it during my master’s studies at EMU.
V: Mm hm.
A: In the United States, so, I don’t think this was the most successful of my Preludes and Fugues that I have played by J.S. Bach. I would have sort of like spasm at the beginning of that opening scale.
V: Yeah, that’s, this is tricky. Do you remember the pedaling that you used?
A: Well, yes, I sort of recall it.
V: Mm hm. Because when people ask about pedaling this particular passage, for me, of course I use only toes, but I use alternate toes. Strong beat playing with the left foot, and weak beat playing with the right foot, and alternating. But the beginning note is an upbeat, D, right?
A: Mm hm.
V: So I play it with the left foot as well. Left, left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right, right. And I finish with the right, because it’s the last one.
A: For me, it was really hard to hit the D note with my left foot, because it was already quite high, so, and I have short legs, so…
V: Mm hm. I wonder if you would play, or try playing this piece on our MIDI keyboard - pedalboard, I mean - Viscount 30 note MIDI pedalboard. Do you find it elegant and practical and easy to play?
V: Because I do!
A: Well, it’s quite comfortable, but, well, it’s really not suited for old music, for baroque music, so…
V: But to me, it is a little bit, I think, narrower than our house organ pedalboard, right? Or no?
A: But I find our house organ keyboard/pedalboard more comfortable for me at least.
V: But the thing...I mean, what’s different about it?
A: Well, the touch is very different.
V: Touch is of course different.
A: And that’s, I think the most important thing.
V: But reach, I mean, it’s smaller with MIDI pedalboard.
A: Since I still have short legs, I, it’s not that narrower that I would benefit out of it.
V: You don’t notice it that much?
A: Well, not so much.
V: But when you are playing, let’s say Buxtehude, is it comfortable enough for you, or should I buy another pedalboard, just for your legs?
A: I wish that would be, you know, get that organ bench that we are waiting for, and I could practice my tracker organ.
V: Let’s have two pedalboards - one for you, one for me!
A: We have two. We have two organs, two pedalboards. But we have only one organ bench yet.
V: Yes - Viscount organ bench hasn’t arrived yet, even though I have ordered it, what, two months ago? Yeah.
A: More than that.
V: More than. It’s stuck maybe somewhere in Poland.
A: Why would Poles need your organ bench?
V: (laughs) I don’t know. There was an incident of Polish, at the Polish border, they held masks…
V: And gloves, probably, protective gloves.
A: At the beginning of the quarantine, so.
V: Yeah. Maybe they fight Corona with our pedal, organ bench.
A: Who knows? New method.
V: Yes, and of course Maureen is looking into BWV 552, this is E flat major Prelude and Fugue. What would you have to say about that?
A: Oh, You mean this Toccata?
V: No, E flat major Prelude.
A: Oh, E flat major.
A: I thought about E major, you know, that you are working now.
V: Mm hm.
A: Well, this is really elegant piece of music. It’s my favorite, probably.
V: No surprise. Can you tell us why? Because of that E flat deep note in the second page?
A: Not only because of that. I find the form, musical form of the Prelude just fascinating. And that triple fugue is also really wonderful. You can see all the composition methods in one fugue, used by Bach.
V: I agree. This prelude has a perfect form: ritornello concerto form. It has three themes, A, B, and C, and they alternate with each other in a very interesting way: A,B,A,C,A,B,C,A. Once I understood that, I started to think maybe I could write a piece of my own based on this form. And I did - I just added introduction and the ending, like a coda, and had my own Opus 3 Veni Creator piece.
V: Yes. So good luck to Maureen, right?
A: Yes. These are two big pieces, but if quarantine will last for awhile, she will be able to learn them both very well.
V: Yes. And of course, since she’s practicing at home and probably cannot play for concerts, it’s nice to share your work virtually, on YouTube, let’s say, and this way, your work will spread. Of course, Maureen could learn this piece and submit to our weekly Secrets of Organ Playing Contest, don’t you think, Ausra?
A: Well, yes. But maybe we have even more music to listen and to judge.
V: Last week, we had, what?
V: Ten - amazing record number.
A: I know.
V: One week, I think we will catch up to Pinky and Spiky Drawing Contest, and we will have more organ contestants. Do you believe that?
A: That’s possible. I guess now people have more time to practice organ.
V: Thank you, guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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