The Lute Music of J.S. Bach - Vol. 1

Eduardo Egüez - Lute

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The Lute Music of J.S. Bach - Vol. 1

Eduardo Egüez - Lute
Volume one of two on which the Argentinean Lutenist plays the music of J. S. Bach. This 96 kHz recording was produced in October, 1999, over a period of three days in the Cathedral of the Convento Dell`Annunziata, Rovato, situated on a mountain overlooking an immense valley in the district of Brescia, Italia. The atmosphere there is amazing and when we weren't recording or having espresso in the town below, we were enjoying the company of the priests with which we ate our two main meals.
Preludio, Fuga and Allegro in E flat major(BWV 998)
Suite in G minor (BWV 995)
1. Prelude - "Tres Viste," 2. Allemande, 3. Courante,
4. Sarabande, 5. Gavotte 1, 6. Gavotte 2 en Rondeau, 7. Gigue
Partita in C minor (BWV 997)
1. Praelude, 2. Fuga, 3. Sarabande, 4. Gigue, 5. Double

MA would like to thank Maestro Marco Mencoboni whose role as musical director was invaluable for the success of the project. MA would also like to thank Paolo and Ricardo Mencoboni as well. Marco Mencoboni and his brothers have their own label called: E lucevan le Stelle and while they have not set up their own web site, we strongly recommend their recordings which are also recorded with one pair of high voltage Bruel and Kjaer microphones in churches and other large spaces in Italia. You can email Marco for more information. Be sure to tell him you heard about E lucevan le Stellefrom MA!

250 Years of Life after Death

translation from the Spanish: Betina Rodriguez Fos


July 28th 1750, after having lived 65 five years, Johanna Sebastian Bach dies in Leipzig, without leaving any will. The last heir of a tradition which had started more than two hundred years before, J. S. Bach, a passionate Lutheran, who rarely showed himself to the Europa Galante, had left an invaluable artistic heritage which was divided shortly after his death. His two eldest sons Wilhem Friedmann and Carl Phillip Emanuel equally distributed books of music, music scores and manuscripts, while the rest of the inheritance was subdivided on the 11th of November of that same year, in line with a preexisting inventory.

The great bulk of copies and autographs which had been craftily produced within a real "family laboratory" (both Anna Magdalena Bach and close and distant relatives had worked intimately with the "pater familias") were maintained for a considerable time by the brothers and although Carl Phillip Emanuel's inheritance was kept almost undamaged, the part kept by "Bach de Halle" did not survive to the same degree. The somewhat eccentric personality Wilhem Friedmann had, drove him to part with many of the manuscripts, be it for singular generosity to his students and friends, or later for economic reasons. This is why the autograph of the first book of Das Wohitemperierte Klavier or the Klavierbüchlein that Johann Sebastian had prepared for Wilhem, to name just some cases, went to "'Other hands", many of them famous collectors.

Very different was, on the other hand, the fate of the inheritance that Carl Phillip Emanuel received. The catalogue published in Hamburg in 1790 by Gottlieb Friedrich Schniebes (Verzeichniss des musikalischen Nachlasses Des vestorbenen Capellmeisters Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach) is a testimony to the abundant bulk which the musician had fervently conserved until his death, After being in hands of relevant figures of the times, Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Felix's father), Carl Friedrich Zelter (Founder of the Berliner Singakademie and Goethe's friend), Georg Pölchau, Princess Anne Amelia of Prussia (sister of Frederic The Great and Kimberger's student) among many others, the manuscripts were finally handed over to the Königliche Bibliothek in Berlin.

It is difficult to risk establishing the reasons why, after Johann Sebastian's death, both the figure of the genius and his music did not enjoy the privilege which we would have desired today. With the change of generation, the gallant aesthetic of the moment was oriented more to a philosophy like the one which would later give birth to Sturm und Drang rather than to the complicated Stilo Antico of Bach's. During his life, comments, controversy and arguments demonstrated a significantly divided opinion among his contemporaries who tended to consider him an excellently- improvised technician in counterpoint, virtuous in keyboard playing and improvisation, but at the same time skillful, anti-natural and reactionary to a quite predominant style to which he did not even belong to. The indifferent commentary which Johann Matheson gave in Das beschützte Orchestre (Hamburg, 1717) "I have seen from Weimar"s famous organist, Mr. J. S. Bach, things which both for the church and for keyboard instruments have been conceived in such a way that his person should be highly considered", or Birnbaum's defense in Bach's favour against Scheibe's sayings, are just some examples of the conceptually different critical apparatus to the one of our times; comprehensible may be from an appropriate hermeneutic approach.

Even though it seems impossible, within the fifty years of history which separate Bach's death from the beginning of the dazzling XIX century, a tremendous number of works belonging to the monumental bulk of manuscripts were published: a prelude, a series of fugues, a chorale and an organ sonata, apart from scanty pieces collected from some essays. Nevertheless, in some areas a slow Renaissance of Bach's art was awakening. A new taste for the antique, an interest for small and large treasures of the past, which Romanticism was starting to inherit from the Enlightenment; rationalism encouraged among other things the collection of musical manuscripts, mainly those of the Kanto. Biographies, dictionaries with important sections dedicated to Bach and History books (the famous Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik by Forkel, in which he is compared to Ockeghem) enriched the musical world, while catalogues from famous publishing houses in Leipzig, Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna offered a conspicuous number of manuscripts in the market. On the other hand the Thomasschule, especially with the figure of Christian Friedrich Penzel, helped to preserve the tradition of its previous Thomaskantor's church music.

During this time the figure of the Austrian baron Gottfried Bernhard van Swieten had a decisive role in the total recovery of Bach's music. As a diplomat, van Swieten visited Berlin in 1770 and there, frequenting Frederick II's court, he received lessons from Marpurg and Kirnberger and became immensely interested in Carl Phillip Emanuel's music. He wrote in a diplomatic letter: "Among other things he (Frederick II) speaks to me of music and of a great organ player named Bach, who stayed during for a while in Berlin. This artist is gifted with tremendous talent, superior to what I have ever heard or imagined, in reference to depth of harmonic knowledge and strength of performance. Nevertheless, those that knew his father believe that his son is still no equal; the king agrees with this and to prove it, a person sings to me of a chromatic fugue which he had given to old Bach and in front of him he improvised a fugue in 3, then in 4 and finally in 6 obbligatto voice".

When he finished his diplomatic mission, van Swieten, who felt great admiration for Johann Sebastian Bach, returned to Vienna where he devoted himself to the organization of periodical musical encounters generally frequented by the local nobility. One of the visitors in these "polyphonic" meetings was young Mozart, whose musical compositions began to reflect the influence of both Bach's and Händel's strict counterpoint. The fact that the Viennese world was invaded by a strong taste for strict polyphony allowed, not only Mozart but also other musicians to get interested in Bach's technique through compositions, arrangements or complex fugue transcriptions: Beethoven himself transcribed for a quintet of bows the fugue 22 of Das Wohltemperierte Wavier. Haydn, on the other hand, acquired some manuscripts, among them the "mass in C minor" (BWV 232) from an unknown copyist.

The beginning of the Ottocento surprises us with a monograph on Bach's life and work by the famous author Johann Nikolaus Forkel (with an inscription to baron van Sweiten) and almost contemporary the edition of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier published by Nägeli in Zurich and Simrock in Bonn which definitely opened the way to many other publishing enterprises. Publications on one side and concert activities on the other (the famous Matthäus-Passion of March 10th 1829 conducted by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy), reached their highest point with the creation of a Bach-Gesellschaft, just in the middle of the XIX century. This society published Bach's "omnia" opera, based on existing music; a tremendous work which took it more than half a century to complete. In a parallel way and following Forkel's tradition, two great masterpieces also contributed to the biographic study of the Kantor: "Johann Sebastian Bach" (Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig, 1873/1879) by Phillip Spitta and "J. S. Bach, le musician poète" (Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig, 1905) by Albert Schweitzer.

Neue Bachgesellschaft's creation on January 27th 1900, apart from marking the beginning of the XX century, meant that BACH'S name was changing to another stage in its evolution. It not only greatly increased the research on the life and work of the German genius but it also started with the organization of annual events called Bachfeste, created the Bach Jarbuch, concentrated in publishing research on the musician and his world and encouraged the activity in the Bachhaus in Eisenach, his home town.

When nothing more could be thought of, Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig unexpectedly published in 1959 a thematic catalogue of the composer's world: Thematischsystematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV), directed by Wolfgang Schemer and curiously not alongside with the Neue Bachgesellscaft's activities. Schieder's catalogue, the research made and published by Alfred Durr, Wilhem Werker and Werner Neumann, contemporarily to the new methodologies of investigation related to a modem philology helped the creation of a new organization, the Neue Bach Ausgabe Sämtlicher Werke, which foresaw the problem of elaborating a new and definite chronology of Bach's output and a new edition which would include not only the music but also a philological and detailed research of his works. The machinery started working in 1955 with the publishing of a first volume accompanied by a critical research paper, (Kritischer Bericht) and in that way the publications were introduced successively until the end of the 1970's. The tremendous work of this society is, even today, an authorized reference.

The last fifty years of the XX century witnessed excessive multiplication in regards to editions, transcriptions, articles, essays, treaties, concertos, records and the like. In part due to the retrospective boom of a whole purist current dedicated to recreate early music, taking into account the concepts of originality and authenticity and in part due to the proliferation of modern communication media.

If the music of the "integral serialism" was proud of a strong interpretative "univocity", Bach's music on the other hand resisted the most heterogenic interpretations, a situation which perhaps no other composer has ever survived so victoriously

The year 2000 commemorates two hundred and fifty years of HIS story: Two Hundred and Fifty Years of Life After Death.

The familiarity between Johann Sebastian Bach and the lute adds up to a series of queries that two hundred and fifty years have not yet found an answer to. In spite of the critical apparatus which goes from the edition of the Neue Bach Ausgabe up to the modem computer based arguments, passing through articles by famous investigators such as H. Neemann, W. Tappert, H. Radke, H.J. Schulze, among others, the problem remains in the speculative supposition domain. The principal issue which gives rise to the investigation is that we do not know to this day, of "a" lute, with a determined tuning, with which the whole lute corpus could be interpreted in the pre-established keys.

Thanks to abundant documents, we know that between the Kantor and the lute players of his world - J. C. Weyrauch, J. L. Krebs, R. Straube, J. C. Gleditsch, J. Kropffgangs, or the famous S. L. Weiss - the relationship was close; we know that a pair of lutes owned by Bach were included in his inventory and we also know of his relationship with the Lautenwerk (keyboard instrument with gut strings) backing up the theory that his lute works were originally conceived for this instrument.

Nevertheless, these considerations, together with another great quantity (deserving much detailed research) do not allow us to conclude that Bach definitely played the lute, and if so, to what degree of proficiency, that he gave lessons (as commonly thought) and that his works were "originally" written for a specific type of lute, or that they are adaptations of his works composed for other instruments.

The music in this recording was transcribed for lute from the following manuscripts:

1) "J. S. Bach, Prelude pour la Luth. ò Cèmbal" (BWV 998). (Autograph) Ueno-Gakuen, Tokyo.

2) "Pièces pour la luth à Monsieur Schouster par J. S. Bach" (BWV 995). (Autograph) Bibliothèque Royale, Brüssel. Sig: II. 4085

3) "Praeludium & Fuga. Per il Clavicembalo. dal Joh. Seb. Bach" ( BWV 997). (Unknown copyist from the second half of the XVIII century) Staatsbibliothek PreuBischer Kulturbesitz Berlin. Sig: Mus. ms. Bach 7 an P 286.


 Eduardo Egüez Biography


1959, Buenos Aires.


-Miguel Angel Girollet (guitar).

-Eduardo Fernandez (guitar).

-School of Arts and musical Sciences of the Catholic University of Argentina (composition).

-Hopkinson Smith, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (lute diploma,1995).

Currently one of the principal representatives of the new generation of lute players.

Has given numerous concerts as a soloist in Austria, Argentina, Chile, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Uruguay, etc with excellent reviews from knowledgable critics and a warm reception by the public.

Has been awarded several prizes in important international contests such as "Promociones Musicales" (Buenos Aires, 1984), "Circulo Guitarristico Argentino" (Buenos Aires, 1984), "28° Concours International de Guitare" (Radio France, Paris, 1986), "V Concurso Internacional de Guitarra" (Madrid, 1989).


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The Lute Music of J.S. Bach - Vol. 1

Eduardo Egüez - Lute

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