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Posted on Thu, Jul 11 2019 01:36
by littlewierdo
Joined on Sun, Apr 24 2016, Posts 214

I have been diving into some of the history around Bach, specifically, his two little books that are often attributed to Bach having written, but in fact, recent evidence is suggesting that many of these pieces found in these two books may not have in fact been written by Bach. One piece in particular, Minuet in G, which was copied as two different pieces, were meant to be performed together. Recently discovered however (I believe in 1996), Minuet in G was found in another less well known composers book of writings and is now widely considered to not have been written by Bach at all, but by Christian Petzold.

It is widely believed that this simple little harpsichord piece was copied down into a notebook by Bachs wife, among many other pieces that Bach's wife found intriguing. These two little notebooks are commonly referred to as the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, of which there were two. Anna heard this piece while visiting Christian Petzold and jotted down both minuets as separate pieces, which is also peculiar, because this was originally composed as one piece.

Minuet in G Major is a rather simplistic piece, most piano players are very familar with it as it is one of the first pieces any classical pianist will learn to play. The second, Minuet in G Minor is less known.

Looking around high and low, I was unable to find any historically accurate recordings of this piece, so I set about doing what is in my opinion, the most historically accurate recording of this entire minuet.

Minuet, literally translated, means dance, and that is the first characteristic of this piece, it is in an upbeat, 3/4 time signature, and it is significantly faster than many recordings I have heard. The second characteristic of this piece is the order in which the piece was meant to be played. It was considered evil (as in demonic) during this era to end any piece with a minor and as such, the structure of this piece was to be played in such a way that the major minuet needed to be played at the end of ending the minor minuet. The structure is as follows; the major minuet was to be played with repeats for section A and section B, followed by the minor minuet with repeats of section A and B, and finally the major minuet again without repeats. A third characteristic is there was meant to be a subtle tempo variance between each piece. As such, I have taken the liberty of interpreting the tempo, as at this time in the Baroque era, specific tempos were not used. In this recording, the major minuet is played at a tempo of 130, the minor minuet at a tempo of 120, and the reprise of the major minuet played at a faster 140 bpm. The final notable characteristic of this piece is that each repeated section, there was meant to be a "flare" added to specific notes. Today, we call this a trill. This flare or trill was not meant to be played on every repeat, only on the second playthrough of each section.

There are two other aspects to this recording that I think deserve mention. First, this was written for a harpsichord and as such, this recording is done with the special edition harpsichord. I may purchase the full harpsichord library just for this piece, but right now, this is what I have to work with, so it is what I used, and in my opinion, it sounds great. I used MIRx, the Konzerthus Mozartsaal reverb for this as it offered a nice but not over the top warm sound. I used the Cembalo (another word for harpsichord) EQ preset made available in Ensemble 7's Equalizuer pro to both dampen the thudding heard in the original harpsichord and to provide a slightly brighter sound.

There is one other notable aspect of this recording that may be troubling to some, there is no ritardando until the very end of the piece. As this was meant to be played as one piece, this is how I believe it was meant to be heard. Each minuet runs right into the next.

This is 4 minutes in length.

Minuet in G

The second piece, Musette in D Major, is another piece in Anna's notebook. This is more of an experimental recording of this piece that I think people will find a unique approach. Musette literally translated, means bagpipes. As it turns out, this could be referring to either a Musette bagpipe, which is a special type of bagpipe where instead of blowing air into a bag, a billow is placed under the left arm of the player and the player pumps the billow to fill the bag with air, or, it could be referring to a musette accordion, which is an accordion that is played by pumping air into a bag that produced sound as keys were pressed on the accordion. What aloit of people are not likely aware of is that bagpipes can actually be played without the drone (the low, single notes we often hear with bagpipe music). In fact, the bag can even be removed from the pipes and it can be played similar to how a recorder is played. I believe this piece was intended for bagpipes, not an accordion, because historically, the musette accordion was not invented until several decades after this piece was written, so this piece utilizes the Uilean bagpipes, which is the most similar to a musette bagpipe that I could find.

The bass line is played using the special edition harpsichord with the same MIRx Konzerthus Concert Hall, with the Cembalo preset from Ensemble Pro 7 to both make the harpsichord sound a little more bright and to remove the thud heard in the default lower tones heard in the original soundfont.

This is just shy of 1 minute in length.

Musette in D Major

If you like these and want to use them for some purpose, including teaching or as samples, the only thing I ask is that you let me know what you plan on using them for. I find it incredibly disappointing that no attempt at any historically accurate recordings of these pieces do not exist...

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