WTC II/9 in E major – Prelude 

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

II/9.1.1 The prelude-type

This prelude is composed in a texture which, apart from voice splitting in the final bars of each half, is consistently in three parts. Although closer inspection reveals that the lower voice takes a less active part in contributing thematic material than the upper and middle voices, the setting is undoubtedly polyphonic.

The material of this piece does not center around any one melodic idea but presents itself as a chain of motives. While all of them are either sequenced or imitated right away, only a few recur later in the piece.

This thematic design, together with the structural layout in two repeated halves, is reminiscent of a movement pertaining to a Baroque suite – the courante.

 

II/9.1.2 The overall design of the prelude

The distinct motives within this prelude are interspersed with cadential formulas which, though not always typical in their melodic details, stand out from their surroundings simply because of the noticeable absence of motivic material. It is these cadential closes – much more than the ones which conclude a four-bar motive – that shape the harmonic layout of the piece.

One can thus distinguish five sections within the E major prelude:

I

bars 1-18d

tonic – dominant

(E major to B major)

II

bars 18-24

dominant confirmed

(B major throughout)

III

bars 25-32d

dominant – tonic relative

(B major to C# minor)

IV

bars 32-46d

return to tonic

(C# minor to E major)

V

bars 46-54

tonic confirmed

(E major throughout)

 

Among other structurally relevant features, symmetries and pedal notes deserve a mention. Corresponding phrases and cadences can be found as follows:

compare

with

and with

bars 1-5d

bars 5-9d

bars 25-29d (varied)

bars 18-21d

bars 46-49d

bars 21-24d

bars 43-46d

Pedal notes occur, directly or indirectly, in nineteen of the prelude's fifty-four bars:

bars

1-3

E

bars

18-20

B

bars

46-48

E

bars

5-7

B

bars

28-30

G#

bars

51-54

E

 

II/9.1.3 Practical considerations for performers

In the attempt to determine the basic character of this prelude, one should take a close look at the rhythm and pitch patterns. The rhythmic pattern is simple. Melodically relevant notes are either sixteenth-notes or quavers; longer notes occur only in accompanying voices (see particularly in bars 1-3, 5-7 etc.) or in complementary patterns (see e.g. the syncopations in bars 18-20 and 23/24). The pitch pattern reveals ornamental figures in the sixteenth-notes (see particularly the frequently recurring "turn") and broken-chord figures (see e.g. L: bars 3, 7; U: bars 9, 10). The quavers produce mainly jumps, in both broken chords and octaves (see e.g. U: bars 12, 15, 21/22). The basic character of the prelude can thus be identified as rather lively.

The tempo is paced in a swift triple pulse; ornamental sixteenth-note-figures should be perceived as groups projecting a single information, and not as a succession of single, melodically relevant notes. The articulation encompasses legato for the sixteenth-notes and non legato for most of the quavers. Exceptions occur only where one of the voices in the three-part texture splits to form a complementary-rhythm pattern: this must obviously be all legato since it was in order to create an effect of density that the composer wrote as he did (see e.g. bars 23/24).

Three ornament symbols appear in the score of this prelude. Two of them indicate mordents (see L: bars 21 and 43). As both are preceded by an appoggiatura, they commence on the main note and contain only a single three-note shake. The third ornament, the trill in bar 26, also begins on the main note with a sixteenth-note, followed by seven thirty-second-note-pairs (the last of which is the suffix A#-B#).

 

II/9.1.4 What is happening in this prelude

The first eight bars are dominated by the theme and its answer on the dominant. The theme consists of three and a half bars (see bars 1-43 ). Harmonically, a tonic pedal is followed by a short brushing of the dominant chord (bar 33 ) before the tonic is reinstated. After a four-sixteenth-note link establishing the dominant as a new center of reference (see bars 43-5d), the theme recurs a fifth higher, with its upper and middle voices inverted. (Note that there is no immediate modulation. The B major of bars 5/6 is still the dominant of E major; B major as a new tonic is only truly established after the F#7 chord in the second half of bar 7 (see bar 7 beat 3: F#-A#-C#-E).

Thematically, the most prominent features are the quaver-upbeat to a weak beat (see e.g. bar 1: U upbeat to beat 2, M upbeat to beat 3) and the "turn" figure (see e.g. U: bars 1/2, 2/3, 4; M: bars 2, 3, 4; L: bar 3). With regard to texture, the theme involves two voices in free imitation (see bars 1-4: U imitated by M; bars 5-8: M imitated by U) and a third voice sustaining a pedal to which it returns after a short-lived attempt to take part in the polyphonic play of the other two voices.

At the beginning of the prelude's second half, the theme can be heard in the original order of voices but with slight modifications. The lower-voice notes B#-C# in bars 26/27 interrupt the pedal-note effect (without influencing the main outline of this voice), while U: bars 26/27 and M: bar 28 contain different curves which, however, set out from analogous notes and end in the "turn" figure on the expected pitch. This statement of the theme modulates from B major to C#.

The "turn" figure alone recurs in several other instances; these include the preparation for the first section-ending cadence (see "turn" in U: bar 16, M: bars 16/17), the preparation for the concluding phrase of the prelude (see "turn" in L: bar 50, U: bar 50), and the beginning of two motives (see "turn" in U: bar 35 with imitation in M: bar 36, and in U: bar 37 with two sequences in bars 38 and 39). Furthermore, L: bars 3-4d can be recognized in L: bars 40/41.

Besides the theme, there are nine motives or figures which, since they all recur, deserve attention. They are of varying extension (two bars long, one bar, or shorter) and display different textures.

M1

appears in U: bars 9-11d. Its distinctive features are, rhythmically, the three syncopations; melodically, the broken diminished-seventh chord (beat 2) and the diminished-seventh interval at the end. This motive is accompanied by a contrapuntal line (see M: bars 9-11d).

Dynamically, the motive itself may contain two climaxes. The smaller one falls on the first syncopation on bar 93 and, after the relaxation up to A# (see bar 102), is followed by a stronger buildup through the second broken chord until the final powerful diminished-seventh interval. The contrapuntal companion reaches the moment of greatest tension on its syncopation (i.e. the tied note), thus describing a single curve.

M1 recurs immediately. As in the theme before, the imitation is set harmonically one fifth up from its original position (see L: bars 11-13d). The companion is shortened and simplified (see M: bars 11/12), while the third voice (L bars 9-11 G#-F# corresponds with U: bars 11-13: D#-C#) appears much more elaborate.

M2

is also first presented in the upper voice (see U: bars 13-14d). Its metric organization and melodic design are very straightforward and create a simple one-bar tension-increase, in which the climax falls on the final downbeat note.

M2 is imitated twice (see M: bars 14-15d, L: bars 15-16d). Harmonically, the imitations move backwards in the circle of fifths (bar 14d = B major, bar 15d: E7, bar 16d: A7). This motive has no steady companion.

M3

appears after the B major cadence. It consists of a two-part complementary pattern of one-bar length (see U+M: bars 18-19d). With only a small adjustment in the initial interval, the complementary motive is sequenced twice in descending direction (see bars 19-20d, 20-21d). Noteworthy is the fact that the original motive as well as its two sequences are accompanied by a pedal note in jumping octaves.

Dynamically, the initial figure (U: F#-B-A#-B) represents a dynamic increase which is followed, in both voices in conjunction, by a relaxation until the next downbeat. On a larger scale, the descending sequences cause an overall diminuendo throughout bars 18-20. Interestingly, the third sequence omits the upper-voice resolution. Instead, the lower-voice B turns into an appoggiatura to A# (see bar 211), thus linking this motive to the next one.

M4

is even shorter. Its leader in the lower voice consists of eight sixteenth-notes (see L: bars 21-22d), sequenced twice in descending order. The upper and middle voices accompany the ascent of this motive with two metrically accented and harmonically active double notes, while the descent is matched with the passive gesture of a note repetition in the upper voice alone. To observe these details in the accompanying voices is essential since they emphasize the metric grouping of two-quarter-note length – see the climaxes in L: bars 213, 222 and 231 – in other words, a conspicuous hemiola pattern, reminiscent again of the style used in Baroque courante movements.


The prelude's first half is rounded off by a cadential close (12 bars) with abundant syncopation and, in the final bar, the elaborate key confirmation typical for allemandes and courantes.

M5

follows the restatement of the theme at the beginning of the prelude's second half (see U: bars 29-30d, sequenced in bars 30-31d). It effectively combines features of several motives previously heard:

-

the first four sixteenth-notes are reminiscent of the opening of M3;

-

the following eight sixteenth-notes are almost identical to those in M2;

-

the middle-voice indirect pedal recalls the accompaniment of M3;

-

the metrically fixed, harmonically active upper-voice notes place the originally hemiolic accompaniment of M4 into a non-hemiolic pattern.

Like M2, this motive describes a simple dynamic rise. The climaxes in each statement are enhanced by the accompaniment, so that this motive appears almost homophonic.

M6

is launched after the one-bar cadential close which, with the downbeat of bar 32, establishes the relative minor key. This motive consists exclusively of stepwise motion which describes a long curve in sixteenth-notes (A to A) followed by a shorter one in thirty-second-notes (B to B). From its original position in the middle voice, M6 moves to the upper voice where it is subsequently sequenced (see U: bars 33-34d, 34-35d). The sequence of the accompaniment (compare L: bars 32/33 with 33/34) suggests a contrapuntal voice, but later recurrences of the motive reveal that only the final four-eighth-note descent is characteristic while the two initial notes may be changed or omitted. (See the recurrences of M6 in U: bars 41-42d, M: bars 42-43d.)

M7

is introduced in U: bars 35-36d and imitated in M: bars 36-37d. This motive can be rendered particularly charming if the hidden two-part content of the final eight sixteenth-notes is emphasized: the motive thus presents itself as an initial "turn" (see U bar 351: C#-B-A#-B) answered by its spaced-out retrograde in higher register (see U bars 352-36d: A--B--A-G#). The climax falls, at least in this interpretation, on the highest pitch on beat 3.

M8

is another motive to commence with the "turn" figure from the theme (see bars 37-38d, sequenced in bars 38/39 and 39/40). This motive involves all three voices; the leading upper voice is complemented by the middle voice, while the lower voice creates a contrapuntal contrast with its descending scale. M8 contains four syncopations in each bar, namely in L: on the second eighth-note, U: the fourth eighth-note, M: beat 3, U: the sixth eighth-note.

After the link from the end of the theme (see bars 40-41d) and recurrences of M6 (see bars 41-43d), M4 (see bars 43-45m), part of the cadential close which ended the first half of the prelude (see bars 45m-46d), and M3 (see bars 46-49d), bar 49 brings forth a one-bar preparation for yet another cadential close on the tonic (see bars 50-51d). The very last four-bar phrase of the piece presents

M9

in bars 51-52d (see in U: the ornamented E major chord, complemented in M by four descending sixteenth-notes). Together with its two sequences, M9 represents the chords of the final cadence spread over a final tonic pedal: bar 51 =I, bar 52=IV, bar 53=V9, bar 54=I. The texture is gradually expanded from the original three voices to four (bars 51/52), five (bars 52/53) and six (bar 54). Due to the original shape of the motive, the climax falls each time on beat 3, followed by a relaxation to the next downbeat.

 
To sum up:

The first half of the prelude consists of the theme and four motives. The structurally most prominent features are gradually shortened phrase lengths and a sweeping harmonic curve through five steps of the circle of fifths and back.

theme

(4+4 bars)

E7

B

M1

(2+2 bars)

F#

C#

M2

(1+1+1 bars)

B

E7

A7

cadence

(1+1 bars)

E7

B

M3

(1+1+1 bars)

B

M4

(2/3+2/3+2/3 b.)

F#

close

(1½ bars)

––––––––––

= 24 bars

In the second half, the restatement of the theme is followed by four new motives. The presentation of this material takes up only fifteen of the thirty bars of this half (bars 25-39). The remaining nine bars recapitulate earlier material

theme

(4 bars)

B

C#-G#

M5 + cadence

(1+1+1 bars)

M6

(1+1+1 bars)

M7

(1+1 bars)

M8

(1+1+1 bars)

theme-end

(1 bar)

A7

M6

(1+1 bars)

B

M4

(2/3+2/3+2/3 b.)

E

close

(1/2 bar)

E

M3

(1+1+1 bars)

B7

––––––––––

= 24 bars


The remaining six bars contain two cadences in the home key: one simple (bars 49-51d) and one motive-decorated and longer (bars 51-54). This is structurally interesting as it is these six bars which are responsible for the uneven length of the two halves: as the table above demonstrates, bars 1-24 would have found a counterpart of even extension in bars 25-48.

 

 

WTC II/9 in E major – Fugue

 

II/9.2.1 The subject

The beautifully simple curve of this subject leaves no room for doubt about its length or phrase structure. Beginning on the downbeat of the first bar it builds an almost symmetrical arch through six half-note beats before concluding in the middle of bar 2.

The pitch pattern within the subject displays exclusively small intervals: one minor third surrounded by seconds. The rhythmic pattern encompasses the initial whole-note, four half-notes and the final quarter-note. In the course of the fugue Bach adds eighth-notes and syncopated half-notes as well as dotted half-notes and various tied notes. In this context, meter also deserves discussion. The time signature of this fugue is somewhat misleading as we are used to reading the vertically crossed C as two-two time. Here Bach's indication refers to the half-note as the relevant beat, without warning us explicitly that there will be four half-notes – and not just two – in each bar.

The harmonic background of the subject describes a simple progression.

(ex. 32)

 

The dynamic development is a very natural one in which tension is shaped in accordance with harmony – rising from the tonic to the subdominant, falling on the way back to the tonic – as well as with melody – increasing from the keynote through ascending step and skip, and declining with the descending line.

 

II/9.2.2 The statements of the subject

The fugue encompasses thirty-one subject statements in a great variety of shapes and sizes, but nevertheless in strikingly regular order.

(ex. 33)

1

bars 1/2

B

17

bars 26/27

S

2

bars 2-4

T

18

bars 27/28

A

3

bars 4/5

A

19

bars 28/29

T

4

bars 5-7

S

20

bars 28/29

B

5

bars 9/10

A

21

bars 30/31

B

6

bars 9-11

T

22

bars 30-32

A

7

bars 10-12

B

23

bars 30/31

Tvar2

8

bars 11/12

S

24

bars 31/32

Svar2

9

bars 16/17

A

25

bars 31/32

Tvar2

10

bars 17/18

S

26

bars 35/36

A

11

bars 19/20

B

27

bars 35/36

S

12

bars 20/21

T

28

bars 35-37

T

13

bars 23/24

Svar

29

bars 36-38

B

14

bars 23-25

Avar

30

bars 37-39

S

15

bars 25-27

Bvar

31

bars 40/41

B

16

bars 25-27

Tvar

It was stated earlier that the subject is of particularly beautiful simplicity. Looking at the second statement one feels reassured since the answer is real, without any adjustments in the interval pattern. This should, however, not trap performers into believing that this fugue poses an easy task. Bach makes fullest use of almost all modifications which can traditionally occur to a subject. These are the variations:

a)

There is a metric variation which, as the fugue progresses, comes to bear more and more. While the subject was originally conceived with its initial note falling on the downbeat, the shift to a commencement on the middle beat (as in the answer) has a long tradition with subjects of other than full-bar length, and would not in itself be worth mentioning. A quite unusual metrical shift can, however, be observed in bars with varied entries (see below under c) where the subject is shifted one quarter-note.

b)

Two small modifications of length occur. The initial note is shortened to a half-note in bars 9 (A), 35 (A) and 37 (S); on another occasion, the final note is suspended and extended to a keynote / leading-note / keynote formula in T: bars 21/22. (The final note also comes in many different values. As this does not influence the perception of the subject, it is not listed here.)

c)

One melodic variant gains prominence, particularly since it is imitated in all voices: the subject's second note is split into two quarter-notes, filling the gap of the minor-third interval with a stepwise ascent. In the same variant, the note on the climax is prolonged by a tie. The following descent then also comes in quarter-notes and matches the ascent very symmetrically (see bars 23/24: S/A; bars 25/26: B/T).

d)

The subject appears with all its notes reduced to half of their duration. This diminution is found in bars 26-29: S, A, T, B, and in bars 30/31: B.

e)

The diminished version of the subject (as in d) is turned upside down, its first note shortened (as in b) and, on top of all this, the first interval is enlarged. This second variation occurs in T: bars 30-31m, S: bar 31-32d, T: bars 31-32m, and in S: bars 35-36d.

f)

Finally among the modifications, the two statements which conclude the fugue are extended: their final notes do not find harmonic resolution, so the descent in half-notes continues (see bars 37-42: S, B).

g)

Strettos appear frequently, between statements in original rhythm, between diminutions, and in a mixture of both. The follow-up entry may chase the leader at a very short distance, thus creating an extended overlapping (see e.g. bars 9-11), or start only after the climax (see e.g. bars 16/17, 19/20). Chain strettos, in which a third entry overlaps with the second while sharing with the first only a single note, appear twice in this fugue and involve all four voices (see bars 10-12 and 35-38: A/T/B/S).

h)

While parallel statements are not used, transitory parallels of subject segments do occur, particularly in the context of the diminished entries, and serve to heighten the tension (see in bars 28/29: A with T; bar 29: T with B).

 

II.9.2.3 The counter-subjects

Had the various modifications of the subject already provided a rather complex picture, further color is added by a number of regular counter-subjects.

CS1

is introduced in the bass against the answer. It commences, however, only after a little buffer or link, the inverted-mordent figure followed by two jumps (see B: bars 2m-3d). The jumps, major third down and perfect fourth up, recur several times in the course of the fugue, jointly or separately. The counter-subject thus begins on a weak beat with an ascending tetrachord. Its ending comes in two versions: a syncopated, flattened suspension (as in bars 3/4) with belated final resolution (G#) and a closing-formula (as in bar 5) with the penultimate note as leading-note resolving, on time and upwards, into the keynote. The first counter-subject recurs as a companion to the subject in bars 4/5 and 6/7, varied and "late", in bars 11/12, varied yet "on time" in relation to the subject statement in the alto in bars 31/32; and regularly again in bars 36/37, 37/38, 38/39 and 40/41. The last two entries are extended in keeping with that of the subject. Variations of the counter-subject are also used as episode material; see below.

CS2

is first presented in bars 16/17 (tenor). It begins likewise on a weak beat and contains, after the initial fourth leap, two syncopations and two inverted-mordent figures before a final three-note descent. This counter-subject recurs, with variations which include a widening of the initial leap to a perfect fifth, only in A: bars 17-19 and S: bars 19/20; it is thus only of local importance. In bar 17, where it sounds as a companion to the second entry in a stretto, it changes its position (entering a half-note late) and its initial interval (to a fifth).

CS3

appears closely linked to CS2; they only ever materialize together. The third counter-subject is introduced in bars 16/17 (bass). It consists of four ascending semitones in a short-long, short-long rhythm pattern, and a concluding keynote / leading-note / keynote figure which recalls the ending of the first counter-subject. Its recurrences coincide with those of CS2: bars 17-19 (T) and bars 19/20 (A).


The following sketches demonstrate the dynamic design in the confrontation of, on the one hand, the subject with CS1

(ex. 34)

 

and, on the other hand, the subject with its later companions C2 + CS3

(ex. 35).

.

 

II/9.2.4 The episodes

There are six subject-free passages in this fugue.

E1

bars 7 (quarter-note 2) - 9d

E4

bars 29 (quarter-note 7) - 30m*

E2

bars 12 (quarter-note 6) - 16d*

E5

bars 32 (quarter-note 6) - 35d

E3

bars 22d - 23d*

E6

bars 42 (eighth-note F#) - 43

(* These episode endings overlap with the beginning of the next subject statement.)

 The material of these episodes can be traced back to three different origins.

-

First, there are variations of CS1. These may remain rhythmically faithful to the model – this is the case at the end of E1 where the tenor presents a hardly disguised version; or they may feature more significant rhythmic changes – this occurs in E2 where the "rocking fourth" is stretched to quarter-notes. Finally, the quotation from this counter-subject can also be shortened in the middle – this happens in the three-part bass sequence of bars 31-34. (This latter, however, is a special case; the CS1 variation begins against the subject and only its sequences reach into the episode.)

-

A second component which also derives from the counter-subjects consists of an ascending perfect fourth and an inverted-mordent figure. In reversed order, these components were the first to contrast the subject, in what was called the "buffer" (bars 2/3). Later, they characterize CS2. Within the subject-free passages, they appear prominently in E1 where they are distributed between complementing voices (see bar 7: fourth in T + B, mordent in A + S; see also bar 34: S + T).

-

Finally, descending scales play an important role in the episodes of this fugue. Together with the various closing-formulas, they actually facilitate the orientation of the listener.

See

E1 bars 8/9:

descent in S, formula in T.

E2 bars 15/16:

descent in T, formula in S.

E3 bars 22/23:

descent in S + A, formula in S + B.

E4 bars 29/30:

formula in S + B.

E5 bars 34/35:

formula in S + B.

The only subject-free passage which does not feature either of these components is the final 12-bar cadence.


The dynamic gesture within these components is very distinct and shapes the episodes significantly:

-

the CS1-variation forms a dynamic curve;

-

the ascending fourth leaps raise the tension;

-

the inverted-mordent figures sustain the tension;

-

the descending scales and closing-formulas release the tension.


It is thus obvious from the above list that all episodes end with a release of tension. E1 and E2 begin with an active portion – in the first case because of the sequencing fourths, in the second case last but not least because of the four-part imitation which is quite unusual for an episode and gives this one particular weight. In E5, the gradual buildup through the ascending sequences of the CS1-variation begins already under the umbrella of the preceding subject statement. E3 and E6 create nothing more than a cadential close. Only in E4 is the harmonic close not only diverted into an interrupted cadence (see bar 30m: C# minor instead of E major), but also overlaps significantly with the beginning of the following bass statement.

 

II/9.2.5 Character, tempo, articulation, ornament realization

The basic character of this fugue is undoubtedly calm. The meter, however, and, by extension, the tempo pose a little problem. This is due to the time signature which, as has already been mentioned , appears in conflict with the amount of time values in each bar. As the slashed C (alla breve) usually stands for 2/2 time, performers find themselves wondering whether the information here – in bars encompassing two full-note durations (whole-notes) each – should be read "only two beats in a bar" or rather "count half-notes".

An evidence which may help here can be found in Bach's Partita No.6 in E minor. Its gigue appears, in the final version which performers would use today, written with double-duration bars, while the time signature is a slashed full circle. That this unusual metrical indication must be read as a 2/1 (= "count two whole-note beats in each bar") is well supported by the corresponding time signature found in the earlier version of this partita, included in Bach's Notebook for Anna Magdalena. There, all note values of this gigue are written in double speed (eighth-notes appear as sixteenth-notes etc.) so that each bar contains four quarter-notes. The matching time signature is alla breve which unquestionably means "count two beats in each bar".

As it is most unlikely that the final version of the Gigue with its augmented note values was not meant to retain this metric order, one may be permitted to deduce that the slashed circle stands for "two beats in a bar of eight quarter-notes" and, by implication, the slashed C in the equally long bars of the E major fugue from WTC Book II should be read as "count half-notes", i.e. "four beats to the bar". This interpretation also works well with the straightforward feeling most routined performers give when confronted with such a time signature: "slashed means fast". The four half-note beats can indeed be understood as rather swift, while on the other hand, "fast" tempo for the half-bars would be incompatible both with the eighth-notes and, more importantly, with the spirit of this fugue.

The relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue is most convincing when larger units, not smaller beats, are chosen to establish proportion. A good solution is

one bar

corresponds with

half a bar

in the prelude

in the fugue

(Approximate metronome settings: prelude beats = 100, fugue beats = 66.)

 The articulation in this fugue is primarily legato. Non legato applies only to those quarter-notes or half-notes which form cadential-bass patterns or consecutive jumps (see e.g. B bars 2/3: D#-B-E; T + B bars 7/8; etc.).

Ornaments do not appear in this fugue.

 

II/9.2.6 The design of the fugue

The structure of this composition is determined by the introduction of new transformations of the primary material. The concluding quality of all episodes except E4 supports this concept. There are five sections in the E major fugue.

-

The first section comprises four subject statements in ascending order followed by E1. It concludes on the downbeat of bar 9 with a harmonic resolution into B major, after a bar-long dominant pedal. Except for the unaccompanied first statement, all subject entries feature CS1 in the voice which had previously presented the subject.

-

The second section also encompasses one subject statement in each of the four voices followed by a concluding episode (E2). The statements are grouped in two strettos here, with the "follower" entering in both cases on the second note of the statement presented by the "leader". This episode is longer than the first one and much more substantial in material; it thus seems to make up for the shrinking of the section as a result of the stretto overlapping. The section concludes on the downbeat of bar 16 in C# minor (the relative minor to the tonic).

-

The third section contains again four subject statements and an episode. As before, the entries are grouped in two strettos, but the distance in each stretto between "leader" and "follower" is now an entire bar. New contrapuntal material appears with CS2 and CS3. The section closes on the downbeat of bar 23 in F# minor (the relative minor of the subdominant).

-

The fourth section introduces the variation of the subject. This variation is presented in all four voices which are, again, grouped in two strettos. The distance between the entries inside each stretto is smaller than ever before, and both strettos together cover only four bars. Without an episode to separate them, another transformation of the subject is introduced: diminution. The distribution (one diminished statement in each of the four voices) and the structure (two strettos) are not surprising, even less so since these strettos are built by the same pairs of voices as the preceding strettos with the varied subject (see bars 23/24 S+A and bars 25/26 B+T: subject variation; bars 26-28 S+A and bars 28/29 T+B: diminished subject). The distance inside the stretto resembles that of section III – in diminution, of course. After E4 which serves as an interruption without closing, the fifth stretto combines one voice from each of the two groups in a presentation of two different versions of the subject (see bars 30/31 B: diminution, A: original values). The entries in this section could thus be described as presenting two intertwining rounds. There are 4+1 entries of the varied subject and 4+1 entries of the diminution. The redundant stretto which combines the two different shapes is further distinguished by the material surrounding it: it is accompanied by three entries of a diminished and inverted variation of the subject (see bars 30-32: T, S, T) as well as a variation of CS1 which extends, with its sequences, into the subsequent episode. The fourth section thus combines features from all three preceding sections before concluding on bar 35d in G# minor (the relative minor to the dominant).

-

The fifth section presents five subject statements. The first two appear in stretto, at the same distance as heard earlier in section II, while the third and fourth statements overlap only very little. Both the fourth and the fifth statement are extended by a descending scale in half-notes – thus presenting yet another modification of the subject. Four entries of CS1 relate this section to the initial one. E6 concludes the section – and the fugue – in bar 43.


For a sketch showing the design of the fugue, see ex. 36.

 

 

II/9.2.7 The overall dynamic outline of the fugue

Section I contains a fairly strong increase in tension. This depicts the gradual buildup of the four-part ensemble which is enhanced by the ascending order of entries: B T A S. The episode which closes this section brings gradual relaxation.

Section II presents heightened tension. Two strettos not only follow each other closely but, what is more, overlap considerably, thus propelling the thematic intensity upwards. The ensuing episode with its independent motives provides a distinct color contrast and concludes, with a cadential close in the relative minor key, on a particularly soft note.

Section III begins and ends in minor mode. In addition, it introduces new contrapuntal material. The distance at which the participants of each stretto pair follow one another is widened, a fact which adds to the impression of lessened intensity. This section thus combines some features of a second exposition (new material, new mode) with the continuation of the stretto setting of its entries. Ideal would be a color which, while more substantial than that of E2, is yet more subdued than that employed in the two preceding sections. There is no pronounced increase or decrease within the section; only the closing episode provides a relaxation comparable to that at the end of the first section.

Section IV begins even more gently than the previous one. The persistent minor mode, combined with the softening variation of the subject, convert whatever there originally was of an urgent quality into an almost resigned gesture. Yet the next two strettos, made up of the diminished version of the subject, already bring back a degree of fervor. The return, after a short cadence (E4), to the major mode and the subject's original shape and position, continue this trend which is further enhanced by the fact that this original subject statement comes accompanied by its diminished relative, its first counter-subject, as well as two entries of the diminished and inverted version. This particularly long section is thus very eventful and reaches across a broad spectrum of emotions. The closing episode E5 adds a correspondingly extended period of relaxation.

Section V begins similarly to section II. Yet, while the two strettos still overlap, the second pair is almost disentangled (the soprano statement enters in bar 37 only on the second-last note of the bass statement, whereas it had joined in already on the bass-entry's second note in the corresponding bar 11). The sequential descent which follows both this and the final subject statement bring the fugue to a mild ending.