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The prelude (preludium) in E Flat Major BWV 998 by J.S. Bach, performed on the harpsichord by JungHae Kim. Live, 4K UHD video from the Voices of Music Celebration of Bach concert, September, 2015.
The streaming semiquavers of BWV 998 and BWV 999 provide a rich tapestry of sound; Bach uses this device to great effect in several of his preludes as well as the Allemande in A Minor for flute (see these works here on our channel). By arbitrarily ignoring the title “Pour le luth o Cembal[o],” the Wikipedia article dismisses the possibility that Bach wrote solo music for lute. In fact, these works have at their compositional center the style luthé–a style of music that influenced music of all kinds in the baroque period. Both BWV 998 and BWV 999 can be played on the lute, but also sound superb on the harpsichord, clavichord and lautenwerck.
Double manual harpsichord by John Phillips, after Johann Heinrich Gräbner, Dresden, 1722.
About the harpsichord made by John Phillips:
Throughout his long career, J. S. Bach would have been intimately familiar with the so-called “middle German” harpsichords made locally in Thuringia and Saxony. Three of these instruments survive which were made during Bach’s lifetime, and, of these, two instruments were built by members of the Gräbner family in Dresden, who for five generations from the 17th through the 19th centuries built and repaired organs, harpsichords, clavichords, and eventually pianos.
The instrument used in tonight’s concert is based on the 1722 Johann Heinrich Gräbner preserved in the Villa Bertramka in Prague; this instrument is the earliest of four surviving Gräbner harpsichords: the 1722 Gräbner is a very good example of the large, middle-German style from Bach’s time. It is even possible that Bach met J. H. Gräbner, as the latter was the official court tuner when Bach journeyed to Dresden to match musical skills with Louis Marchand in 1717. One of Gräbner’s sons, Christian Heinrich, later studied organ with Bach in Leipzig.
Special thanks to Peter and Cynthia Hibbard for the use of the harpsichord in our Bach concert.
Harpsichordist JungHae Kim’s playing has been described as “gallant and regal” (La Folia), “supple…impressive” (New York Arts), emotionally exquisite, warm, and inviting. Ms. Kim holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Harpsichord Performance from Peabody Conservatory, and a Master’s Degree in Historical Performance (Harpsichord) from Oberlin Conservatory. She completed her studies with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam on a Haskell Scholarship, and holds an Advanced Degree in Harpsichord Performance from Amsterdam’s Sweelinck Conservatorium. Ms. Kim has performed in concert throughout United States, Europe and in Asia as a soloist and with numerous fine historical instrument ensembles including American Baroque, Brandywine Baroque, Musica Angelica, Music’s ReCreation, Musica Glorifica, and Ensemble Mirable. Visit JungHae’s website at:
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