Movement 1: Prelude
Movement 2: Fugue
Bach’s creative genius flourished during his time as court organist (and later Konzertmeister) to Duke Wilhelm Ernst in Weimar (1708–1717). There he not only composed most of the great organ works, but also transcribed twenty-one concertos (most of them by Vivaldi) for organ and harpsichord. Influences of both these genres can be heard in the A minor prelude and fugue, composed towards the end of his tenure. The prelude, with its opening motive in the right hand immediately repeated by the left, is in concerto style, alternating between tutti and solo passages. Triplets give it constant direction, interrupted only by cadenza-like passages, the last one reminding us of the D minor harpsichord concerto. The gigue fugue is in perpetual motion, never once letting up. The fact that Bach again uses triplets to propel it forward can, if one is not careful, provide for little contrast with the prelude. It is perhaps best to emphasize the difference in time signatures (4/4 for the prelude, 12/16 for the fugue). Would Bach have been able to improvise such a fugue on the spot? I think it most probable, for at that he was unbeatable!
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 1995