This is my entry for the Secrets of Organ Playing Contest, week 63. I play the first part of the 5th Triosonata by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Bach 6 triosonatas are generally regarded as one of Bach's masterpieces for organ. They are also considered to be amongst his most difficult compositions for the instrument. As they are triosonates the texture is very open and all three voices can be clearly heard. The player sees himself before the monumental task to keep close attention to phrasing and articulation of all three voices and cannot waver in concentration for even a second. The slightest mistake can be easily heard.
So, I just stayed away from them.
Until a few weeks ago I started playing on the sample set of the Klapmeyer organ in the St Nicolai church in Altenbruch. It's sound immediately seemed perfect to me for Bach's Triosonatas and I decided to try to master at least one of those intimidating compositions. They are all 6 of them beautiful pieces, yet the 5th is the first one I ever heard as a youngster. I can't say it is the most beautiful one, as they are all 6 beautiful. Nevertheless, as it is the first one I ever heard and I still remember the impact it had on me, I have a weak spot for the fifth sonata.
Although the score of these sonatas is readily available on imslp, I transcribed the music anew from the (digital copy of the) autograph. I wanted to render it as closely as possible as Bach himself had notated it. Most modern notation only use treble and bass clef. Bach himself made frequent use of the various C-clefs as well. Paper was expensive in those days, and by using the C-clefs staves could be drawn close to each other. Bach did not need ledger lines between staves, because if a part becomes to low for the treble clef Bach just switches to the alto clef. And that his how he played and saw them himself: with frequent clef switches. Playing from the same visual input brings me just a little closer to Bach himself, and I imagine it helps playing this musicauthentically.
This first part takes, in the tempo I chose, a little over 7 minutes to play. And 7 minutes of rather fast past trio writing is almost impossible to play without error. For me at least. I hope you'll forgive me the occasional error. Perhaps I should have waited a bit before playing this for the contest. However, I'm really excited that I now play one movement of those fantastic pieces and I wanted to share that. There are two more movements to master and still a lot of work to be done on this movement. Yet this is where I am now and I am already quite pleased with that.