This Prelude and Fugue in C minor probably dates to the
earlier part of Bach's years in Arnstadt, where he
served as the organist at the Neue Kirche. The work
likely came before for his intense study of the music
of Buxtehude, an activity he commenced in 1705. While
not as well-crafted as many of the later Preludes and
Fugues, this one is nevertheless rewarding for the
listener, not least for the composer's trademark
brilliant contrapuntal writing.
The Prelude half of the work begins in a rather austere
mood, the theme presented in the lower register, its
contour tilting mostly downward. The music here
foreshadows the opening of the famous Toccata and Fugue
in D minor, BWV 565, replete with a similar three-note
idea permeating the first measures. The mood brightens
a bit when the writing enters higher ranges, the music
becoming somewhat stately but still not quite
dispelling its somber character. The Fugue begins
quietly and modestly, building energetically from
skeletal, unassuming textures at the outset to meatier
but still lean sonorities in the latter portions. The
mood here does not substantially break from the
darkness and seriousness of the opening, though the
mixture of brilliance and busyness, of rhythmic and
persevering drive in the writing imparts a resolute,
triumphant sense, especially in the glorious ending.
This Prelude and Fugue in C minor typically lasts just
over five minutes.
Although originally composed for Organ, I created this
modern interpretation for Mandolin & Guitars (Mandolin
& 3 Classical Guitars).