The Prelude and Fugue in D major is one of Bach’s most joyous organ works. Trumpeting pedal scales and manual fanfares introduce the exuberant Prelude, which is structured in several sections of contrasting character. A more structured, steady “Alla breve” section follows the bravura of the opening. In the alla breve, short melodic themes venture through harmonic sequences while paired with a steadily flowing accompaniment. A dramatic recitative closes the Prelude, featuring daring chord progressions recalling a style often found in organ works of the 17th century Italian and North German composers called “durezze e ligature” (discords and suspensions).
The fugue theme is constructed from two repeating patterns, which are relentless in their rhythmic energy and whimsical in their character. Though we now know him as a great composer, during J.S. Bach’s own time he was widely revered as one of the greatest organists of his time, and his prowess for playing the pedals led one contemporary witness to remark that his feet flew across the pedals “as if they had wings.” The writing for pedals is particularly virtuosic in the D major Fugue, Bach challenging his own instrumental skill and coordination through his composition. To contact Ken Cowan Click here
Click the below to watch the video of Ken Cowan playing Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D Major