The A minor Fantasia and Fugue
, BWV944, is a kettle of fish. Here we really have a case of a free fantasia and a brilliant, virtuoso fugue. It appears in the so-called Andreas Bach Book
– a collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century keyboard works by many composers, including J S Bach, put together by Bach’s oldest brother and former keyboard teacher, Johann Christoph Bach. Andreas Bach (1713–1779) was the latter’s youngest son. Many later sources only give the fugue without the fantasia. Mind you, it is hardly a fantasia, simply ten bars of chords marked ‘arpeggio’ with no indication given as to how they should be played. Bach used this notation in the first versions of the Preludes in C major (Book I) and C sharp major (Book II) of The Well-Tempered Clavier
. With both he ultimately did something quite magical. Taking the C sharp major Prelude as my inspiration (but without Bach’s genius, for sure!), I have concocted a figuration that at least stays faithful to the harmonies he outlined. This is, however, only a brief warming-up for what is to come: the whirlwind, moto perpetuo fugue gives us no time to dally. It is long so it needs to move if we aren’t to lose interest. Two pedal points help to build up the excitement, along with stabbing crotchets. The end comes so suddenly that we are almost taken aback; but that must have been what Bach wanted as the last chord is written as a crotchet followed by rests. No long drawn-out ending here.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2004