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BWV 553, Little Prelude & Fugue in C Major
J.S. Bach

The Eight Short Preludes and Fugues are a collection of works for keyboard and pedal by Johann Sebastian Bach. They were believed for a long time to have been composed by one of Bach's pupils, Johann Tobias Krebs, based on certain unusual characteristics of the music when played on the organ. These pieces came to be played often on the organ in the 19th and 20th centuries because other keyboard instruments with pedal are no longer as ubiquitous as they were at the time of composition.

Subsequent scholarship by Speerstra, Vogel and others has suggested that this collection was conceived specifically for the pedal clavichord, thereby making the claim of inauthenticity far less tenable. Several elements of the pieces, including the rolling of large chords, octave doublings and repeater notes, and the patterns of movement of the fingers and feet, the rhythm, and overall texture are idiomatic on the clavichord but make little sense on the organ. Performer Harald Vogel has recorded the collection on a pedal clavichord along with an essay by Speerstra (see liner notes) on the clavichordistic nature of these pieces and a discussion of the manuscript indications. These works continue to be performed frequently in Christian worship because of their short length (about 3 minutes each) and ease of performance compared to the undoubtedly authentic preludes and fugues of J.S. Bach. Nearly all serious students of organ performance learn most, if not all, of these works. The alternate English title, "Eight Little Preludes and Fugues" is also used.

recorded/sequenced on the Reuter opus #822 pipe organ, February 4, 2008

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