Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) 6 Three-Part Preludes and Fugues
K. 404a Nos. 4 - 6 edited by Johann Nepomuk David [str]
The "Six Three-Part Preludes and Fugues" are regarded as a unique testimony to Mozart's profound interest in the works of Bach.
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The "Six Three-Part Preludes and Fugues" are regarded as a unique testimony to Mozart's profound interest in the works of Bach. Or was it a brilliant contemporary of his who arranged the two preludes and five fugues by Johann Sebastian, and one fugue by Wilhelm Friedemann for string trio and supplemented the collection with further preludes? The new editions put the music text of Johann Nepomuk David's edition of the parts to the test, especially the editor's practical arrangement, which reflected the performance style of his time. These new editions go one step further, also in a performance-practical sense. The publication of the score and (orchestral) parts also enables string orchestras to play this piece for the first time – an instrumental possibility that is perfectly legitimate, both musically and historically. It is a fascinating addition to the repertoire that one can recommend to every chamber orchestra.
Adagio Mozart's arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach, Adagio e dolce from the Sonata for Organ III BWV 527
Fuga Mozart's arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach, Contrapunctus 8 from the Art of Fugue BWV 1080
Largo Mozart's arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach, Largo from the Sonata for Organ II BWV 526
Fuga Mozart's arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach, Allegro from the Sonata for Organ II BWV 526
Adagio by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Fuga Mozart's arrangement of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Fuga in F minor Falk No. 31/8
The publication of this new edition of the Six Three-Part Preludes and Fugues K. 404a coincides with the Mozart anniversary year 2006. The work consists of six pairs of pieces that each forms a unit. Mozart is believed to have formed the pairs himself and arranged them for string trio, in addition to having composed four of the preludes. The other two preludes and five fugues are from Johann Sebastian Bach, and one fugue stems from his son Wilhelm Friedemann.
It is to Johann Nepomuk David that we owe the first edition in parts (Edition Breitkopf 5678/79) of this work. Published in 1938, it introduced this unique document of Mozart’s (or one of his gifted contemporaries?) intense study of Bach’s music to a broad public for the first time. Our new edition goes onestep further than David’s in an important performance-practical aspect: the publication within Breitkopf’s Partitur- und Orchesterbibliothek allows a performance with string orchestra for the first time as well. Historically, one can legitimate this choice of medium with Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C minor K. 546, a comparable work of similar character, whose autograph contains an indication concerning the playing of the bass part by Violoncelli [!] and Contra Basso. The Six Three-Part Preludes and Fugues K. 404a were most likely a by-product of the matinees given by Baron Gottfried van Swieten in Vienna. “I go every Sunday at twelve o’clock to Baron van Swieten,” wrote Mozart to his father in April 1782, ”where nothing is played but Handel and Bach. I am presently collecting thefugues of Bach – not only of Sebastian, but also of Emanuel and Friedemann.“ In spite of the chamber-musical framework of these matinees, there is no reason to dismiss the possibility of a performance of these pieces by a larger ensemble.
In addition to the source from the library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna (GDM, IX 1062), which David used for his edition, we have also consulted a copy from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (shelfmark Ms. ms. Bach P 228) for this new edition. Unfortunately, when subjected to a close comparison, this source proved to be even less reliable than the Viennese one. Though it gives the impression of being a professional copy, it contains so many errors and dubious details that only one thing is certain: neither one of the surviving sources stems directly from an autograph score by Mozart. It is possible that they were scored from individual parts. This is suggested by the dynamic markings and articulations, which are sometimes incomplete, sometimes overly abundant, often contradictory, and most often inconsistent. Particularly untypical of Mozart is the use of dolce for mf or p. Moreover, Mozart’s arrangements of the pieces by Johann Sebastian and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach are based on an unmistakably questionable source, perhaps the only one that was accessible at that time. They diverge quite considerably from the original music text. In his edition, David regarded these discrepancies as a ”fundamental distortion of Bach’soriginal” and decided to borrow “the original Bach version in such cases.“ Indeed, the divergences in Mozart’s arrangement are no doubt attributable more to his questionable source than to his creative fantasy. We have thus retained David’s basic editorial decision to adapt the divergent passages of Mozart’s arrangement to Bach’s original music text. We did, however, eschew David’s interpretative markings, which reflect the performance style of his time.
It would most likely be unwarranted, however, to deny Mozart’s authorship of K. 404a on account of its dubious transmission, as has repeatedly occurred in Mozart scholarship. Recent investigations, such as Yo Tomita’s 1996 study A new light shed on the origin of Mozart’s KV 404a and 405 through the recent source study of J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier II, show that the question of authorship is still open. Alfred Einstein’s comment, found in the sixth edition of the Köchel Catalogue, that “the invention and stylistic feeling“ support the claim that Mozart actually was the arranger and composer of these pieces, is thus valid down to the present day.
The publisher would like to extend his thanks to the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz for putting copies of the sources at his disposal.
Wiesbaden, Fall 2005
Christian Rudolf Riedel