ViolaViva - Well-tempered Clavier

Johann Sebastian Bach:
The Well-tempered Clavier Part 1

Complete collection in 2 to 5 parts,
arranged for strings in 6 books by Helmut Pfrommer

The 24 preludes and fugues, which make up the Well-tempered Clavier, were created by Bach in 1722 for use both as a teaching tool and for advanced players. The collection of preludes and fugues goes through each of the major and minor keys systematically, going up by a semitone, in order to show off the new well-tempered tuning of the keyboard instruments.

The fugues can be easily played by string instruments, as can be seen by Mozart's and other early arrangements. Even the preludes, apart from No.1 in C and No.21 in B, can be easily played by string instruments. This is the first complete edition for string instruments to be published in six separate volumes. The volumes have been organized in a practical manner according to the instrumentation, this means that the majority of Preludes and Fugues with their different numbers of parts, are therefore not grouped together, this is a problem with the arranging of a lot of Bach's piano music.

About the keys: In his other works, Bach moves between A flat major and E major, between B flat minor and F sharp minor. Other more distant keys do not appear in his work apart from in the Well-tempered Clavier. As aforementioned, the latter was above all written in order to demonstrate the revolution in tuning and the new possibilities in composing and modulation. Bach's keys with many accidentals doesn't have a typical character as can be later seen in the work of Beethoven, Schubert or Chopin. Bach's lack of specific characteristics for keys with many accidentals can be heard, when we realize, that his prelude and fugue in C sharp major is based on a previous composition in C major, or the fact, that his D sharp minor fugue is based on the reworking of a former fugue in D minor. The systematic journey through the different keys gradually ascending by a semitone is not as practical for the way I have rewritten these pieces for string instruments and I have therefore transposed the more distant key signatures by a semitone.

J. S. BACH: The Well-tempered Clavier Part 1 in an arrangement for Strings in 6 Volumes:

VV 621 Vol. 1 Nine 2-part pieces for Violin and Viola or Violin and Violoncello

Preludes in C sharp [= in C1)], D, D minor, F, F sharp [G], A flat [C],
A minor, Prelude and Fugue in E minor
Play score (Vln, Vla) and 3 parts (Vln,Vla, Vc)

1) Transposed to C major
VV 622 Vol. 2 Four 2-part pieces for 2 Violas or Viola and Violoncello

Preludes in C minor, F [E flat], G, A minor
Play-score (2 Violas) and 3 parts (Vla1,Vla2, Vc)

VV 631 Vol. 3 Ten 3-part pieces for Violin, Viola and Violoncello

Fugues in C minor, C sharp [C], D minor, E flat, F, F sharp [G],
Preludes and Fugues in E flat minor/D sharp minor [D minor], E
Score and 3 parts (Vln,Vla, Vc)

VV 632 Vol. 4 Nine 3-part pieces for Violin, Viola and Violoncello

Prelude and Fugue in A, Fugues in G, B flat;
Preludes in F sharp minor, G minor, G sharp minor [G minor], B [C], B minor,
Score and 3 parts (Vln,Vla, Vc)

VV 641 Vol 5 Eight 4-part pieces for String Quartet

Fugues in C, D, F sharp minor, G minor, A flat; Prelude in E flat;
Prelude and Fugue in F minor
Score and 4 parts (Vln1, Vln2, Vla, Vc)

VV 642 Vol. 6 Five 4-part pieces for String Quartet and three 5-part pieces for String Quintet (Quintet with 2 Violas or 2 Violoncello)

Contents 4-part:
Prelude in C sharp minor [D minor]; Fugues G sharp minor [G minor], A-minor, B minor.

Contents 5-part:
Fugue in C sharp minor [D minor], Prelude and Fugue in B flat minor

Score and 5 parts (Vln1, Vln2, Vla1, Vla2=Vc1, Vc2)

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