WTC I/19 in A major - Prelude

    from Siglind Bruhn
J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier
In-depth Analysis and Interpretation

I/19.1.1 The prelude-type

This piece presents itself in polyphonic style with consistent three-part texture. Its most prominent idea is two-and-a-half bars long and of complex structure - thus a subject rather than a motive. It appears imitated on the dominant and recurs frequently throughout the composition, in consistently alternating voices. In other words, this prelude is a fugue!


I/19.1.2 The overall design of the prelude

The initial harmonic progression concludes on the middle beat of bar 3. As it coincides with the end of the first subject statement, this cadential close cannot be interpreted as a structural caesura. The first cadential close of structural importance, i.e. that occurs outside the confines of a subject statement, emerges in bars 11/12. It comes as a typical closing-formula, complete with cadential-bass pattern in L and do-si-do (keynote / leading-note / keynote) figure in U. This cadence concludes the first section on the downbeat of bar 12 in F# minor.

There are only two sections in this piece

I bars 1-12 tonic to relative minor key
II bars 12-24 relative minor back to tonic

These two sections correspond with one another in great detail. Apart from a small re-arrangement in the order of its components, occasional slight variation and an extended cadential close at the end of the piece, the second section seems like the answer to the first.

Compare with

bars 1 - 3   bars 12-14 (U/M/L corresponds with U/M/L)
bars 4 - 6
bars 7 / 8
bars 8m-11d
---


|
|
'--->


bars 15-17
bars 17m-20d
bars 20-22m


(U/M/L corresponds with M/L/U)
(U/M/L corresponds with L/M/U)
bar 11   bars 22m-24 (both are cadential closes)

 

I/19.1.3 Practical considerations for performers

Looking at pitch pattern and rhythm for guidance with regard to the character of the prelude, one finds that the pitch pattern contains large jumps both in the longer note values and in the sixteenth-notes, and that the rhythm pattern gives the impression of simplicity and regularity. (This is achieved despite the frequent syncopations which, in the context of this polyphonic texture, combine with the quarter-note motion to form a complementary rhythm and are thus not truly perceived as metric displacements.) The basic character of this "three-part fugue" should therefore be interpreted as rather lively. This character, however, includes a strong lyrical element.

The ideal tempo is moderate with gently paced quarter-notes and rather swift sixteenth-notes. The articulation is legato for the sixteenth-notes and non legato for the eighth-notes and quarter-notes. Among the quarter-notes, those with distinct melodic quality (like the four chromatic steps in bars 1/2, lower voice) are only very softly detached, while notes of cadential character (see e.g. the lower-voice notes which, in bars 2-3, proceed in sequenced descending fifths) sound more clearly separated. Among the eighth-notes there are several distinctive appoggiaturas (see U: bars 7/8 and 15-17); these must obviously be played legato. The only other longer note values which definitely require linking appear in the upper-voice closing-formulas in bars 11/12 (F#-E#-F#) and 24 (A-G#-A). The above-mentioned syncopations can be linked to their successors if one wishes to underscore the melodic step and its rhythmic quality. However, if one prefers to stress the complementary pattern of which the syncopations are a part, non legato execution is more appropriate. (In this case, the cut must be well after the tied strong beat.)

The A major prelude contains only one indication for ornamentation, the cadential mordent in bar 3. This mordent, since it is approached stepwise, commences on the main note and can do with only three notes. In bar 14, the upper voice features a similar figure. It also appears in the context of a cadential close, and equally consists of a dotted-note group on the dominant before its resolution into the tonic. Although Bach did not indicate ornamentation here, it may safely be assumed that such a typical closing-formula would have been decorated with the same cadential mordent (in this case beginning on the upper neighbor note and including four notes).

 

I/19.1.4 What is happening in this prelude?

The subject of this "fugue" is two and a half bars long. Beginning on the downbeat of bar 1, its first subphrase ends with a sixteenth-note rest on the fourth beat of the same bar; the second subphrase, consisting exclusively of regular sixteenth-notes which descend in half-bar sequences, concludes with the C# on the middle beat of bar 3.

The fact that the rest in the middle of the subject is of structural importance (and not tension-sustaining) follows from the relationship among the preceding notes. The F# on the middle beat of bar 1 is composed as an appoggiatura which resolves indirectly, i.e. through an artificial leading-note) onto the eighth-note E. This resolution concludes a dynamic curve and thus marks the end of the first subphrase. The scalar ascent after the rest picks up the tension and prepares a second climax on the downbeat of bar 2. The sixteenth-note figures in the second subphrase contain an interesting feature. Stripped of what may be recognized as ornamental splitting, the underlying quarter-note pattern contains the same descent in consecutive fifth which the middle and lower voices present in simple intervals. (Ex. 2 shows this simplified melodic line.)

The subject recurs five times (see diagram below). The only modification it suffers occurs at the beginning of the second section where the four initial sixteenth-notes sound an octave higher than the remainder of the phrase. (This is certainly due to the confines of the keyboard in Bach's time: continuing in the high register for even the first subphrase alone would not have been possible).

Faithfully throughout the entire "fugue" - including the initial, normally unaccompanied entry - the subject is supported by two companions:

CS1 is introduced in the lower voice. As is revealed by all its later statements, it commences on the second beat of bar 1; the A on the first beat is a harmony-supporting note of no melodic relevance. CS1 also consists of two segments. The first, a chromatic descent through four quarter-notes, recurs regularly; the second, introduced here as cadential intervals, appears in constant variation, while always preserving its cadential character.
CS2 is first presented in the middle voice. It begins belatedly, after the end of the subject's first subphrase. As was already mentioned, its predominant feature are the syncopations. The first two of them together with their falling fifth remain essential material of this counter-subject throughout the piece, whereas the closing-formula experiences constant variation.

Both counter-subjects represent a decreasing tension as their overall dynamic design. Their variations modify only the details but not the principal outline (see ex. 2).

In addition to this primary material, two of the subject-free passages feature in their upper-voice lines a three-note episode motive, M1, presenting Bach's famous upbeat + appoggiatura-resolution figure; this motive can be regarded as remotely related to the subject's first subphrase (see the simplified version in ex. 2). In bars 6m-8m, M1 is underscored by a parallel and accompanied by sixteenth-note figures in descending sequences; in bars 14m-17m, the middle and lower voices create a complementary pattern of descending scales, also in sequences. The reason why this episode is longer than the first one lies in the difference between the harmonic processes: while the first episode only links the dominant (reached at the end of the subject answer in bar 6m) with the tonic (on which the third subject statement begins in bar 8m), the episode in the second section modulates from the relative minor (in which this section commences) back to A major (which reigns from bar 17m onwards for the remainder of the fugue).

(ex. 2)

The structure of this "fugue" is very straight-forward. Each of its two sections comprises three statements - one in each of the three voices, connected with half-bar links - as well as a bridging episode and a cadential close.

bar 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12  
U SUBJ ECT  
CS2
 
<
epi-
>
CS1
 
<
caden-
 
M
CS2
   
CS1
 
<
sode
>
SUBJ ECT
<
tial
 
L
CS1
    SUBJ ECT
<
with
M1 >
CS2
 
<
close
 

                         
bar 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
U SUBJ ECT
<
epi-
>
CS2
  SUBJ ECT
<
caden-
 
M
CS2
 
<
sode
>
CS1
 
CS1
 
<
tial
 
L
CS1
 
<
with
M1
>
SUBJ ECT
CS2
 
<
close
 

 

WTC I/19 in A major - Fugue

I/19.2.1 The subject

The subject of this fugue is most unusual, in several regards. It commences with a single eighth-note on the downbeat of the first bar, followed by three eighth-note rests. Such a brusque beginning appears almost as a conscious attempt to avoid any resemblance with a melodic character. This impression is reinforced by the continuation of the subject after the rests. A sequence of five perfect fourths jumping upwards in regular eighth-notes mock the listener's hope for a line, while also blurring the 9/8 time signature with their groupings of two eighth-notes each.

It is only after one and a half bars that this pattern is interrupted and, interestingly, the change happens on three levels simultaneously. On the rhythmic level, the D on the sixth eighth-note of bar 2 suspends the regularity, if not monotony, of the eighth-note pulse with a syncopation. On the melodic level, the descending semitone D-C# on the seventh and eighth eighth-notes of bar 2 represents the first interval to express some emotional tension. Finally, on the harmonic level, the suspension generated with the syncopation creates an appoggiatura, i.e. a non-harmonic note which requires resolution.

The concurrence of these three features allows a satisfactory conclusion of the subject only with this resolution on the eighth eighth-note of bar 2. (The harmonic design supports this concept; see below). The recognition of this range reveals yet another unusual feature of this subject: initial statement and answer appear in stretto, a device normally strictly reserved for entries outside the exposition.

With regard to the question of subphrasing this subject is probably interpreted best as consisting of two segments: the initial note with an implied subsiding of the tension during the rests, and a curve from the fifth eighth-note to the end. (Another concept, in which the rests would serve to heighten the tension from the initial downbeat to the continuation of the line, is theoretically possible but in practice somewhat artificial.)

Bach's harmonizations of the subject in the course of the fugue contain a variety of small changes. They all have in common that the first representative of the subdominant appears at the end of the first bar, followed on the downbeat of the second bar by the dominant (see e.g. bars 5 and 24). This leads then into an interrupted cadence (mostly on the second eighth-note of the subject's second bar), and the return to the tonic only occurs with another S-D-T progression (ex. 3):

As is obvious from what has been explained above, the tension within this subject climaxes on the syncopation. The dynamic outline thus consists of a moderately attacked initial note followed by an implied release during the rests, and a gradual crescendo which sets out from a fairly soft level, leads to a peak on the syncopation and is complemented by a short relaxation.

 

I/19.2.2 The statements of the subject

The A major fugue contains fourteen subject statements.

1.
bars 1/2 U 8. bars 23/24 L
2.
bars 2/3 M 9. bars 25-27 U*
3.
bars 4/5
L 10. bars 27-29 M
4. bars 6/7 L 11. bars 31/32 M
5. bars 9/10 U 12. bars 33-35 L
6. bars 13-15 L 13. bars 42/43 M
7. bars 16-18 L 14. bars 44-46 L
(Note the voice crossing in bars 23-27: M sounds temporarily above U.)

(ex. 4)

The subject experiences a great number of changes throughout the fugue. In fact the only feature which is reliably found is the interval structure of the sequenced fourth in its center.

(a) The beginning of the subject appears modified in various ways.
* In two instances, the initial note appears in a different octave from the remainder of the phrase. (See in bar 13 where it is one octave lower, and in bar 27 where it is one octave higher.)
* In two other instances, the initial note belongs to a key which is subsequently given up. This modulation causes the second subphrase to sound as if displaced. (See bar 16: initial B in B minor, continued as if in F# minor, later modulating to E; bar 42: initial F# in F# minor, continued as if in A major but resolution returning to F# minor).
* In a fifth case, the curious one-note subphrase is completely altered. In bar 31, the downbeat-note has become a rest and the three ensuing rests are replaced by notes. As these notes appear in the form of an additional ascending fourth (enhanced by a syncopation), they give the impression to extend the second subphrase, and thus change the subject in this statement into one indivisible unit.

(b) The center of the subject with its consecutive fourths is also modified in detail and in length.
* Some modifications are tonal. In the answer statements (see e.g. in bar 2 and 6), the first fourth interval of the second subphrase is placed one tone lower. Similarly in bar 13, the first leap appears as a diminished fourth. This is due to the minor mode of this statement and must thus be regarded as another tonal adjustment.
* In bars 16/17, the third of the consecutive fourths is augmented. This interval modification is an artificial one; it marks the pending modulation to E major. Similarly in bars 33/34, the augmented fourth E-A# and the diminished fourth A#-D are witnesses of the modulation in this statement from D major to B minor.
* Three statements feature alterations in the length of the sequenced-fourth pattern. In two instances there is an inner extension: bars 25/26 contain two and bars 33-35 three additional eighth-notes in the fourth pattern. By contrast, in bars 16/17 the consecutive fourths are shortened by two eighth-notes.

(c)

The syncopation, seemingly so characteristic in this subject, is not exempt from changes; it is displaced in various ways or even entirely dropped.
* In bar 34, it is delayed by three eighth-notes but basically retains its position (with tie-suspension and weak-beat resolution).
* In bar 26, owing to the subject's extension by two eighth-notes, the syncopation appears later and in a different metrical position (with a strong-beat resolution).
* In bar 17, after the shortening in the consecutive-fourth pattern, the longer note falls on the fourth eighth-note in the bar - which in the compound time of 9/8 is not a weak beat - and thus, despite its tie prolongation, forfeits the character of a syncopation.
* Finally in bars 44/45, the second subphrase progresses in uninterrupted eighth-note motion without any longer note value.

(d)

Finally, the end of the subject also contains various modifications.
* In three instances, the resolution expected after the syncopation is delayed. In bar 28, this occurs without any further changes in the harmonic pattern; in bar 17, the modulation from B minor to E major has already taken place earlier in the subject statement, and the delayed resolution arrives on the expected pitch. In bar 14, however, the deviation leads from G# to an A# which then resolves onto B - instead of the expected A. This alteration is not merely one of melodic detail but entails a modulation from F# minor to B minor in this final extension of the subject.
* The final subject statement in the fugue features a freely varied ending (see bars 44-46).

Interestingly, the only true stretto in this fugue is the one between the initial statement and its answer, in bars 1-3. Further in the course of the composition, subject entries appear neatly separated from one another. There is one instance, however, where the rhythmic pattern of the voices accompanying a subject entry contains a hint of stretto. In bars 25/26 the middle and lower voices, accompanying the upper-voice entry, feature a single eighth-note on the second of the compound beats, followed by three eighth-note rests and a sequence of eighth-note notes in leaps of fourths. Although neither the intervallic connection between the two subphrases nor the end follow the original shape of the subject, the entry of this rhythmic group gives the impression of a stretto. Due to the many sequences typical in this subject, this impression soon turns into one of parallel or parallel in contrary motion respectively (see bar 26).

 

I/19.2.3 The counter-subject

In the main body of the fugue, the voices accompanying the subject statements display hardly any characteristic or even recurring features, and true contrapuntal lines are non-existent. The small figures which do appear repeatedly are all derived, in a more or less direct way, from the subject.

Only with the introduction of regular sixteenth-note motion from bar 23 onwards can one distinguish voices to such an extent as to follow more than one longer melodic idea at a time. These sixteenth-notes create a companion to the subject which recurs once. In its original appearance CS commences on the downbeat of bar 23 (middle voice) and ends on the third sixteenth-note of the third group (see M bar 24 beat 8: A). When taken up in bars 27-29, the counter-subject can be regarded as extended along with the subject; its end now falls on the downbeat of bar 29.

This counter-subject does not seem to contain any features which would distinguish its dynamic outline. The absence of any rhythmic hallmarks within the constantly flowing sixteenth-notes and of particular intervals or otherwise highlighted melodic features classify it as a passively jingling accompaniment rather than a competing partner. In order to distinguish CS from the many other sixteenth-note figures yet to come, it is possible to stress the hidden line inside the runs.

The example displays what the intensity shading in this interpretation entails (ex. 5):

In the passages of the fugue which are devoid of sixteenth-note motion one can discern three little motives which appear repeatedly (see examples 6a, 6b, 6c below).

M1 first emerges in U: bars 3/4. With its fourth jump, tied note and weak-beat resolution it sounds like a free sequence of the five final notes of the subject. This motive recurs at the beginning of bars 5, 6 and 7, each time in the middle voice. (Furthermore, variations of this figure can be found in U: bar 43 and M: bar 44.)
M2 is introduced in U: bars 5/6. Here an initial tied note and weak-beat resolution are complemented by two eighth-notes in zig-zag motion (third or fourth up + fifth down). This figure imitates the end of the subject's answer plus the two notes which follow it until the next downbeat (see M: bars 3m-4d).
M2
recurs in bars 7/8 (U+M in parallel), 8/9 (M), 10/11 (M, imitated in U), bars 11/12 (L, imitated in U), 17 (M, imitated 17/18 in U, then sequenced in M), 18/19 (U), 22 (M), 43/44 (U), 46 (M), 47/48 (U), 51 (U), 52/53 (M). (If one allowed for interval modification, many more recurrences could be observed.)
M3 appears as an emotionally even more intense combination, consisting of two tied-note+resolution pairs in ascending sequence. This figure occurs three times: in bars 12/13 (M), 13/14 (U), 16 (U).

 

I/19.2.4 The episodes

There are seven subject-free passages in this fugue.

E1 bar 8 E5 bars 29/30
E2 bars 11/12 E6 bars 35-41
E3 bar 15 E7 bars 46-54
E4 bars 18-22    

Several of the subject-free bars use no recognizable melodic material, they fulfill no function other than that of a cadential close. This is true for E3 and E6a (bars 35-36d) which are both extended cadential formulas in B minor, and the last bar of E6 which presents a closing-formula in F# minor.

More frequent are episodes - or segments thereof - which play with one of the motives before they give in to the conclusion:

E1 commences with an M2 parallel followed by a closing-formula in A major;
E2 contains two M2 imitation patterns before ending in F# minor with M3 accompanied by a cadential bass pattern;
E4a, E7a (the first segments of E4 and E7) both feature M2 with free imitations in the lower voice before leading into a cadential close in E major and A major respectively;
E7c (see from bar 51) also presents M2 with free imitation, now accompanied by sixteenth-note motion in the lower voice which also concludes in a cadential-bass pattern

Three episode segments reveal a particularly close relation to the primary material, by using larger fragments of the subject and the counter-subject:
E4b (see bars 20-22) exposes in its upper voice a little six-eighth-note figure which is imitated in stretto (see U/M: bars 20/21); next follows a rhythmic variation of the subject, also with imitation (see bars 21/22; due to the pattern of consecutive eighth-notes, both imitations soon appear as parallels).
E5 features the first half of CS (see U: bar 29, imitated in L) as well as freely jumping eighth-notes (L, imitated in U);
E7b takes up this combination in transposition (see bars 49/50), while
E6c recalls it in free variation (see bars 39-41d).

The only episode portion to feature a larger motive is the second segment of E6 (see E6b in bars 36-394). This is particularly noticeable since all three voices establish patterns of twelve-eighth-note length, and thus momentarily weaken the metric order of the nine-eight time.

The upper-voice motive spans from the D on the second eighth-note of bar 36 to the long B on bar 37d; it is imitated in the middle voice (from E to C#).
The middle-voice motive, from bar 36 F# to bar 37 E, is similarly imitated in the upper voice (from G# to F#).
Both motives then appear once more in their original position, but break up after the first half (see bars 388-394).
The lower-voice figure in running sixteenth-notes has the same length; it reaches from bar 36 F# (the second sixteenth-note) to bar 37 C# (on the second compound beat) and is sequenced (from the following G# to D in bar 387) and then followed by a partial sequence of its center portion.

As the above-listed material reveals, several of the episodes are related:

E6a
corresponds with
E3
E7a
corresponds with
E4a
E7b
corresponds with
E5

In a wider sense, E6 and E4 are conceived in structural analogy: both commence with a segment providing a cadential close, after which they proceed to present some genuine episode material which is imitated; both then continue with a variation of primary material (a variation of the subject in E4, a variation of the "counter-subject episode" in E6), and both conclude in another cadential formula.

The role these episodes play in the development of tension within this fugue is deter-mined, on the one hand, by the frequent use of extended cadential formulas and, on the other hand, by the relative independence of the material presented. There are episodes or segments thereof which complement the preceding subject statement with a straight-forward relaxation; this is the case in E1, E2 and E3, as well as in E4a and E6a. Other episodes serve as bridges; this is especially true of E5, less of the passages corresponding with it. On the other side there are those episode segments which, after a cadential close but before the beginning of the next subject entry, attract attention for their own sake; they are the ones which require the most radical change of color in order to be fully appreciated. E4b and E6b are most obvious examples. The only subject-free passage not to fall into one of these patterns is the final episode (E7). Its three segments, which all allude to different models heard before, seem primarily to express a reluctance to end the fugue.

 

I/19.2.5 Character, tempo, articulation, ornament realization

The pitch pattern with its predominance of fourth jumps, and the rhythmic pattern with its regular eighth-notes accompanied in the center sections of the fugue by equally regular sixteenth-notes, both clearly suggest a rather lively basic character. The tempo of this fugue may be fairly swift. The nine-eight time given by Bach should be interpreted as a choice of notation rather than of pulse, and be rendered with the idea of a compound triple time with triplets in mind.

Articulation in this piece needs careful planning if it is not to destroy essential musical details. The basic attitude corresponding with the character encompasses:

for the eighth-notes distinct non legato (in a crispness which comes close to the staccato touch of later musical eras)
for the quarter-notes non legato of more extended duration
for the sixteenth-notes a quasi legato of almost Classical leggiero quality.

These basic categories, however, include important exceptions:

Within the non legato, all appoggiaturas must be linked to their resolutions. This applies to the appoggiaturas in the subject as well as to those in M1, M2 and, twice, in M3. In addition, several notes in the cadential formulas demand legato (see bars 15/16 M: D-C#-D; bars 19/20 M: E-D#-E, bars 22/23 U: A-G#-A; bars 48/49 M: A-G#-A; bars 53/54 U: A-G#-A).
Within the quasi legato of the sixteenth-notes, a distinction is desirable between the "hidden" melodic notes in the counter-subject and the remaining notes of more directly virtuoso quality.

The relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue in A major can be rendered in two slightly different ways, depending mainly on whether one wishes to emphasize the contrast of characters, with a more lyrical prelude preceding a more virtuoso fugue (a) or, on the contrary, diminish it, so that a prelude of Allegretto motion is followed by a fugue in Allegro ma non troppo (b).

(a)
one sixteenth-note
in the prelude
corresponds with

one eighth-note
in the fugue

(b)

one quarter-note
in the prelude
corresponds with
one dotted quarter-note
in the fugue

The fugue contains two ornaments. One of them, that in bar 8, is a typical attribute of cadential formulas; as such it should be transferred also to the corresponding formula in bar 41 (on the dotted G#). The second ornament is designated in bar 26. All of these ornaments commence on the upper neighbor note and move in thirty-second-notes. The one in bar 8 comes with a written-out suffix, while its structural counterpart in bar 41 is followed by a weak-beat resolution. The latter thus represents an interrupted trill which stops short on the fourth note within the shake which is then tied over and sounds as a syncopation to the last eighth-note in the bar. The trill in bar 26, like that in bar 8, is a note-filling trill which comprises eight thirty-second-notes, including the suffix notes.

(ex. 7)

 

I/19.2.6 The design of the fugue

The fugue in A major contains several features which provide clear indications of the structure. These are found, in the first instance, in the change of rhythmic pattern and the choice of the episode material and the texture, and in the second instance, in the order of subject entries and the harmonic design.

The emergence and disappearance of the sixteenth-note accompaniment allows for three large portions to be distinguished. The first ends on bar 23d, the second on that of bar 42. These two structural caesuras are preceded by those episodes which, as was shown above, are conceived in structural analogy: E6 and E4 both consist of a segment with a cadential close followed by genuine episode material and a variation of primary material. The fact that the subject statement in bars 23/24 appears in reduced ensemble further supports the first caesura.

Within the first of these larger portions, the redundant lower-voice entry in bars 6/7 announces the imminent end of the first section which is confirmed by E1 with its cadential formula. The second section of the fugue thus begins in bar 9; it also contains a redundant lower-voice statement which appears as a repetition of the one preceding it (compare U bars 4/5, 6/7 with U bars 13/14, 16/17).

Within the second larger portion, the only inner episode (E5) concludes the third section after a complete set of three statements, one in each of the voices. The fourth section then begins in bar 31 and contains two subject entries as well as the closing episode. The relationship between the statements of each of these sections is also confirmed by the harmony: while the three statements of the third section appear in the keys of tonic and dominant, the two entries of the fourth section are placed on the subdominant (D major and its relative B minor).

The third portion contains only two subject statements followed by a long episode. No further subdivision into sections is possible here. There are three facts, however, which demand a slight modification of this concept: the final episode consists of several structurally distinct segments; the first of these segments concludes with a cadence in the tonic (in bars 48/49); and, above all, the sixteenth-note motion characteristic for the center portion of the fugue but abandoned in the fifth section is taken up again from bar 49 onwards. These features indicate that one should regard the fifth section as completed on the downbeat of bar 49, and interpret the final six bars as a coda.

The harmonic outline of the fugue confirms the structure described above. The four initial subject statements are in A major, the key in which the first episode concludes the first section. After another entry on the tonic, E2 modulates to the relative minor key. The following two statements each modulate (F# minor/B minor and B minor/E major), but E4 closes the section again in the tonic. The third section resembles the first one in that its statements all relate to the tonic. The fourth section, just like the second one, leaves the home key area, this time for the subdominant and its relative minor. The episode which closes this section re-establishes not the tonic but its relative F# minor, leaving the final return to the home key to the second, modulating statement in the fifth section.

For a sketch showing the design of the fugue in A major see ex. 8.


I/19.2.7 The development of tension

The four initial entries of the fugue create, by way of their descending order, the deceptive impression of a four-part fugue. The tension grows throughout and is only released in the short episode which follows. The second section features a reverse of this process. Its first entry is the only harmonically stable one in the original major mode, while its second statement commences in minor and ends in a modulating extension. The third entry, conceived again as a redundant statement, is varied to such an extent that it appears much weaker than the preceding one. This section comes to a transitory close in very soft shading on the downbeat of bar 20, after which the remaining segments of E4 create an independent little tension curve.

As the third section commences in reduced number of voices, and, furthermore, as its three entries in L, U and M are arranged in such a way that their actual pitch position (particularly that of the initial notes) sounds in ascending order, a gradual increase of tension similar to that in the first section is created. The fourth section recalls the second one insofar as it also proceeds from the major to the minor mode in decreasing tension, and also comes to a transitory close in soft color after the first segment of its concluding episode, after which the remaining segments of E6 attract fresh attention for their motivic material.

The fifth section begins in the minor mode. Its second subject statement, although returning to major and even, in its extension, to the tonic, remains comparably inconspicuous. In the coda, however, the prolonged ascent of the jumping eighth-notes in bars 49-51 engenders a final climax which is now virtuoso rather than thematic.

The relationship between the sections is an important feature of this fugue and should by all means be conveyed in performance. The increase of tension in the first section and the complementing decrease in the second section, followed by the small tension curve in E4, all find a faithful correspondence in the increase of tension in the third section, the complementing decrease in the fourth section and the following small tension curve in E6. In the final portion of the composition, the subject statements appear merely as an afterthought of lesser importance, whereas the coda provides an unexpected additional climax.

As can be seen from all that has been said above, the A major fugue contains all the structural ingredients of a "real" fugue; however, due to its unusually non-melodic subject, orientation for the listener may be extremely difficult. Only the most exquisite color shading and careful articulation (see particularly the appoggiaturas) can guide one through this apparent jungle of jumping intervals and make this composition a fascinating experience.