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Tocatta, Adagio & Fugue in C Major - BWV 564

J.S. Bach

Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C Major, BWV 564 is an organ composition by Johann Sebastian Bach, written in 1708 in Weimar. The autograph score simply bears the title "Toccata in C Major", but the piece has become known exclusively by this title. It is unique among Bach's organ works in interpolating a slow section between the prelude and fugue, although he had apparently been toying with the idea for years - the Prelude and Fugue in C Major BWV 545 exists in an alternate early version (transposed down to B-flat major) with what later turned up the as slow movement from the C major organ sonata.

Apart from its florid, quasi-improvised opening, the toccata almost entirely eschews the virtuosity typically associated with the genre, instead focusing very intently on the contrapuntal development of a few short motives treated in concertato style, with alternation between full and comparatively sparse textures corresponding to the tutti and solo groups of a concerto grosso.

The Adagio is written in two very different sections. The first features a gentle, aria-like melody in the right hand over a simple chordal accompaniment; the second, and much shorter, section, marked Grave, emphasizes chromatic progressions, suspensions, and dissonances.

The fugue is built on a striking, strongly violinistic subject in 6/8, and returns to the concerto-like style of the toccata, with very free, brilliant episodes and a virtuosic cadenza at the very end.

recorded/sequenced on the Reuter opus #822 pipe organ, June 8, 2007

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