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Bartok's edition of The Well Tempered Clavier (Read 7394 times)

Offline kchi

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Bartok's edition of The Well Tempered Clavier
« on: December 19, 2012, 10:42:21 PM »
While doing some online shopping, I stumbled across an edition of the WTC edited by Bartok:

http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/Well-Tempered-Clavier-Volume-1-BWV-846-869/4993006

This seems quite interesting. Has anyone had any experience with this edition?



Offline andhow04

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Re: Bartok's edition of The Well Tempered Clavier
«Reply #1 on: December 19, 2012, 11:59:14 PM »
haha. is this strange timing?  last year, in june 2011, i was in NYC and found at a used book-store both volumes of the Bartok edition for sale. i bought them because i had never seen it in print before, not even my conservatory library had it, and they had many obscure things.

since then i was inspired to learn and record the entire WTC. you can find my recoridngs, which i posted here, by going to my Audition Room Index link in my signature.  i learned them all in bartok's order, just because i wanted to be surprised by whatever one came next (i never looked ahead until i recorded the one i was working one).

the bartok is supposedly arranged for the benefit of students, while he was teaching in Hungary, in order of difficulty.  there is a lengthy intro and some other text, but it's in Hungarian and I can't read it, and haven't had it translated yet.  i have a lot of thoughts on this edition.

one, if it is arranged by difficulty, it is possibly arranged by compositional difficulty above piano technique.  the first fugue, G major Book II, is quite tricky; the last one he rates as "most difficult" is B major Book II, which technically is really not hard to play.  for me, the hardest ones technically are b-flat minor Book II, and a minor Book I.  however undoubtedly the compositional aspects get more complex as you go forward. G major Book II, the first one in his set, is really simple from a fugal point of view.

two, i think he never really completed the project.  i say that because a lot of preludes & fugues are marked up with extensive expression marks, and have footnotes at the end, but as you get dfurther into it, there is less and less editorial markings.  also the fact that B major book II is at the end makes me think he probably didn't even get around to ordering all of them.

three, the most interesting and for me useful part of this edition was his insight into bach's meter, which should not be surprising considering Bartok's art. in several of the preludes and fugues that he edited, he editorially adds meter changes in the piece to show how bach's phrasing stretched over seemingly irregular periods of time, but always came out right in the end. this inspired me to go in-depth with the preludes and fugues he didn't mark, and find more subtle changes of meter that add so much to interpretation. i can give you some examples if you want.

i need to get the text translated to find out his real goal and thoughts.  i have to say, i don't find it an essential edition, unless yo ucollect editions of WTC. i think the Busoni on the whole is more insightful, but this one has something to add.

i hope you go over to audition room and listen to some of my WTC recordings, it was a project a year in the making - i just finished last week.

Offline kchi

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Re: Bartok's edition of The Well Tempered Clavier
«Reply #2 on: December 20, 2012, 04:07:38 AM »
haha. is this strange timing?  last year, in june 2011, i was in NYC and found at a used book-store both volumes of the Bartok edition for sale. i bought them because i had never seen it in print before, not even my conservatory library had it, and they had many obscure things.

since then i was inspired to learn and record the entire WTC. you can find my recoridngs, which i posted here, by going to my Audition Room Index link in my signature.  i learned them all in bartok's order, just because i wanted to be surprised by whatever one came next (i never looked ahead until i recorded the one i was working one).

the bartok is supposedly arranged for the benefit of students, while he was teaching in Hungary, in order of difficulty.  there is a lengthy intro and some other text, but it's in Hungarian and I can't read it, and haven't had it translated yet.  i have a lot of thoughts on this edition.

one, if it is arranged by difficulty, it is possibly arranged by compositional difficulty above piano technique.  the first fugue, G major Book II, is quite tricky; the last one he rates as "most difficult" is B major Book II, which technically is really not hard to play.  for me, the hardest ones technically are b-flat minor Book II, and a minor Book I.  however undoubtedly the compositional aspects get more complex as you go forward. G major Book II, the first one in his set, is really simple from a fugal point of view.

two, i think he never really completed the project.  i say that because a lot of preludes & fugues are marked up with extensive expression marks, and have footnotes at the end, but as you get dfurther into it, there is less and less editorial markings.  also the fact that B major book II is at the end makes me think he probably didn't even get around to ordering all of them.

three, the most interesting and for me useful part of this edition was his insight into bach's meter, which should not be surprising considering Bartok's art. in several of the preludes and fugues that he edited, he editorially adds meter changes in the piece to show how bach's phrasing stretched over seemingly irregular periods of time, but always came out right in the end. this inspired me to go in-depth with the preludes and fugues he didn't mark, and find more subtle changes of meter that add so much to interpretation. i can give you some examples if you want.

i need to get the text translated to find out his real goal and thoughts.  i have to say, i don't find it an essential edition, unless yo ucollect editions of WTC. i think the Busoni on the whole is more insightful, but this one has something to add.

i hope you go over to audition room and listen to some of my WTC recordings, it was a project a year in the making - i just finished last week.


Thanks for the insight. I may consider purchasing the book for my library. I listened to some of your WTC recordings, and especially liked your interpretation of the G minor prelude from book I. The way you handled the trills was fantastic. I'll be sure to listen to more of your recordings in the near future.

Offline richard black

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Re: Bartok's edition of The Well Tempered Clavier
«Reply #3 on: December 21, 2012, 10:11:20 PM »
Thanks for the heads-up on this! May have to buy it...
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