Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude in C minor BWV 999
Note: Narciso Yepes used a half capo tasto at III when he performed this prelude. While avoiding the extended barre of mm. 1-4, this solution (like most six-string guitar editions) makes it impossible to play the correct bass note on page 2, system 4, m. 2 (p. 1, system 6, m. 2 of the Urtext). I prefer to do away with the capo altogether, a solution which opens again other possibilities. One of these is occasionally to fret the bass line on strings 8-10, avoiding disruptive mid-phrase changes of position. Interpretive merits aside, for the advanced ten-string guitarist the result is also a good technical study in extended use of the fingerboard, and for the agility of the right hand thumb (strings 7-10 are used 46 times in this brief composition).
(Clearly I disagree with the assumed “fidelity” of formalist “executions” of the text that “read” literal “intentions” into rests. There are examples in Bach’s music where such textualism results in obvious nonsense, e.g., four one-bar phrases of a single melodic line, with big leaps, instead of one four-bar phrase in steps and two-part counterpoint at the beginning of the Sarabande of BWV 995. Nevertheless I believe in the value of a plurality of different interpretations, so I may well formalize or “rhythmicize” some future performance, just as I may take the tempo slower or quicker, bring out other implied voices, or apply other articulations and dynamics. Why not? For an excellent demonstration of such possibilities in Bach – but not necessarily just in Bach – see this lesson by pianist-composer Emile Naoumoff.)