155 Days With Bach and Me

All Bach, All the Time…Everything Johann Composed

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Day Thirty Two: Keyboard Works, Part Three (CD 2-9)

August 28th, 2011 · 9 Comments · 1703, 1711, 1714, Authenticity Doubtful, Bach at 18, Bach at 26, Bach at 29, BWV 820, BWV 821, BWV 832, BWV 909, BWV 950, BWV 955, BWV 989, BWV 992, CD 2-9, Christiane Wuyts, Concerto E Fuga in C minor, Henri Hemsch, Jacques Goermans

Bach Edition 32Another CD of very old, miscellaneous Bach compositions (often of dubious origin), once again performed by Christiane Wuyts, a Belgium-born harpsichord known particularly for her performances of Bach’s music, as well as for her use of period instruments. The two harpsichords she’s playing on this CD were made by Henri Hemsch (1754) and Jacques Goermans (1774).

Bach must have had a robust sense of humor. Or maybe it’s harpsichordist Christiane Wuyts pulling a Glenn Gould. But one minute sixteen seconds into a very sleepy BWV 909 (“Concerto E Fuga in C minor”), Wuyts starts banging away on the keyboard with crashing chords and then intersperses the pounding with a flurry of notes starting at the 1:23 mark. It’s like Bach wanted to surprise listeners, given them something completely different. I loved it. In fact, I enjoyed the entire piece of music. There are lots of rapid-fire notes and quirky little passages in this composition. Sadly, one Bach web site indicates BWV 909 is “Authenticity doubtful; not by J.S. Bach.” Figures. One of my favorite Bach pieces to date may not have been written by Bach.

Many of the compositions on today’s CD interested me, mostly because of the speedy at which many of the passages were played. A harpsichord sounds terrific when its player’s fingers are a blur.

Another interesting piece was BWV 832 (“Suite in A major”) right around the 5:33 mark. There’s that dampened/muted sound again. I’d love to see how that’s performed. What is the player doing to achieve that sound?

Another interesting piece is BWV 955 (“Fuge in B flat major”). It just has a nice, snappy, rich sound to it. Lots of very Baroque-sounding trills. Likewise for BWV 820 (“Overture Suite in F major”). It sounds so Baroque! Like someone picking music for a movie soundtrack — if the movie had some reference to the Bach or was a period film about Bach — should consider BWV 820. I think it’s the trills.

The compositions on today’s CD are:
BWV 909 — authenticity doubtful
BWV 832 — unknown
BWV 989 — 1714 (Bach was 29)
BWV 821 — unknown
BWV 955 — unknown
BWV 820 — unknown
BWV 950 — 1711 (Bach was 26)
BWV 992 — 1703 (Bach was 18)


9 Comments so far ↓

  • Mark Trigsted

    With ya Bro…. I have the same set and just caught up today… I love your analysis and thoughts DO NOT QUIT!!!!!! Ill hang with you!

    • Bill

      Thanks for being here, Mark.

      I appreciate the encouragement, too. Period instruments are vexing when I know there are modern instruments that sound much, much better (to my ears) for some of these compositions. Glenn Gould on piano, for example.

      Post comments as often as you wish. See if you agree or disagree with my favorites and thoughts.

      One of the things I like about doing this (and I did it with Mozart two years ago) is what I learn all around the music I’m listening to. I learn about instruments and performers and periods of history and, above all, myself. It’s a great way to expand one’s horizons in practically every way.

  • Mark Trigsted

    BTW – I assume that you are using the The Bach Edition with roughly 160 CD’s broken down into 6 Volumes… I trust we have the same set! So glad I found you..

    • Bill

      Hey Mark!

      Thanks for writing.

      I have the set that includes 155 CDs. That’s why I called this site “155 Days With Bach And Me.” I’d spent more time with Johann. But I only have 155 CDs. So my time is limited. 🙂

      If you take a look at the page called Bach to Bach here on my site, you’ll see exactly what I have and how many volumes.


  • Mark Trigsted

    Totally agree on the period instruments… Primarily the harpsichord… But I like the historicity as well. A few years ago I was in Vienna and got to hear live performances of Mozart on actual period instruments was quite thrilling… Sorry I missed the Hemingway trip.. I recently downloaded his entire collection and want to start on that as well… BTW where did you find the CD images that you post?

    • Bill


      What do you mean where do I find the CD images? They’re the cardboard sleeves around each of the CDs in this box set. Are your CDs just in a paper sleeve with no image?

      I’m envious. Vienna for a Mozart concert would have been thrilling. I love Mozart.


  • Marcell

    909 – this has been one of my top ten favourite Bach pieces for a long time.

    Wanted to show you this – apparently the authorship is not that doubtful in everyone’s eyes:


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