Bach: Bach on Harp
9 movements from the unaccompanied violin works of J S Bach, arranged by James Ellis
This is not the first volume of arrangements of solo violin pieces by JS Bach for performance on the harp. The famous set of studies, published by Marcel Grandjany in the 1930s, have been most influential in the past and there are other arrangements of the E major Suite and the Goldberg Variations. However, this repertoire has not found its way out to the public in idiomatic versions that exploit the distinctive, rich sounds of the harp. This volume sets out to remedy that deficiency and, it is hoped, enrich the harp repertoire as a result. The art of preserving great music in arrangement is always problematic but here sometimes radical recomposition has been necessary. Much of the harmonies implicit in Bach’s original have been made explicit and sometimes counterpoint has been added in order to give a more complete and idiomatic texture. This is especially true in the Chaconne but can also be seen in the Siciliano, the Andante, and the Adagio. Additional filigree is present in the Presto, a work also arranged by Grandjany, although in the present edition this has been rendered more delicate and perhaps more virtuosic. The great fugues in the Sonatas have been avoided as these are less prone to the expansion and ornamentation that is a characteristic of the dance movements and are already so clearly delineated in the original that they admit of less intervention, and offer less scope for the idiomatic recomposition that is a characteristic of these arrangements. While they naturally do not have the mark of absolute authenticity beloved of modern-day purists, these arrangements have been created with Bach’s style to the forefront and with careful avoidance of musical devices that he would not have recognised in his day . We hope therefore that there is a purity about these adaptations that would not have displeased the master .
The Editor of this volume is the distinguished harpist Alison Martin . In truth her role has been much more creative than her title would imply , and the works presented here are a result of real musical partnership . I would like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks for her expertise and warm collaboration over many months.
Harp score: £20
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