Bach arr. Liszt BWV 543

Posted by: slava_richter

Bach arr. Liszt BWV 543 - 11/14/12 10:56 AM

I really love the Bach’s organ prelude and fugue in A-minor, BWV 543. I think the fugue is one of Bach finest. A while back I discovered that Liszt made an arrangement of it for piano and I’ve decided to learn it. I read through the prelude and it’s straight forward enough. The fugue gets a bit nasty with a couple of long passages in double-sixths in the right hand. Much easier when you can hold the pedal with your feet and play the sixths using both hands smile I think Liszt did a wonderful job of creating very honest, direct transcriptions of Bach’s organ preludes and fugues – no bravura here, unless you count the doubled base-line in octaves as bravura, but I think it’s a very legitimate doubling that aims to capture the overwhelming sound of the pedal line.

Anyway, I wanted to know if anyone has played this work (or even know of the transcription) and what their experiences were with it. I’m really surprised more pianists don’t play the Liszt organ transcriptions, as opposed to all the Busoni transcriptions that are common. I think these are much more honest transcriptions (not that I have anything against the Busoni transcriptions, I think they’re great).
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Bach arr. Liszt BWV 543 - 11/14/12 12:21 PM

Originally Posted By: slava_richter
Much easier when you can hold the pedal with your feet...
Is there another way of holding the pedal I'm not aware of? laugh
Posted by: slava_richter

Re: Bach arr. Liszt BWV 543 - 11/14/12 01:33 PM

Sorry, I meant the pedal on the organ. But yes, there is no other way to hold the pedals on the organ or piano wink

But what about the piece? Have you played it? Anyone?
Posted by: MarkH

Re: Bach arr. Liszt BWV 543 - 11/14/12 03:07 PM

I'm not sure which section you're referring to in the fugue where you could hold the pedal tone with the damper pedal and play the 6ths with both hands - there isn't really any spot in the fugue where the pedal tones stay constant for long enough. However, in the prelude, you can grab that constant A pedal tone with the sostenuto foot pedal before the piece even begins, and then you're set.

I haven't yet played this piece, but it's on my list of works to do soon, and I really like it. My impression is the A minor P&F and the G minor F&F are not that rarely performed - I've seen them both listed occasionally in programs at amateur competitions - but the other 5 P&Fs that Liszt did are almost never played. The A minor really IS the best one, but the others are all very good as well.

Best of luck to you!
Posted by: slava_richter

Re: Bach arr. Liszt BWV 543 - 11/14/12 03:29 PM

Yes, you're right Mark, the base isn't held during those passages in sixths. I just meant that when playing it on the organ, you would play the (moving) base line with the feet, and the soprano and alto lines with the hands, separated a sixth apart.

I agree that the a-minor is the best one!
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Bach arr. Liszt BWV 543 - 11/14/12 05:18 PM

I prefer the fantasie und fuge in g-minor, but I agree that Liszt noy only paved the way/set the example for Busoni, he even did a better job in the organ-piano department, Busoni's will hold the violin-piano ministry.