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Early / Reinhard, American Festival Of Microtonal Music Ensemble


Release Date: 07/26/2005 
Label:  Pitch   Catalog #: 200202   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachJohann Michael BachAndreas Werckmeister
Performer:  Rebecca Pechefsky
Conductor:  Johnny Reinhard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Festival of Microtonal Music EnsembleDouglas Frank Chorale
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) needs little introduction to international audiences, however it is questionable that modern audiences hear his works the way he intended them to be heard. Evidence has been mounting that Johann Sebastian composed all his works in Andreas Werckmeister's preferred chromatic temperament III tuning (published in 1681 throughout Germany). This temperament served as the standard organ temperament in all the major Bach cities. The Arnstadt organ, built by master organ builder Wender, was prescribed for Werckmeister tuning according to a description of Wender's preferences given by Leipzig's Kuhnau. The Muhlhausen organ, again built by Wender, was tuned by Bach's predecessor, Ahle, a personal friend of Read more Werckmeister's. Buxtehude, another of Werckmeister's good friends, was a strong advocate for this tuning in Lübeck. In addition, Bach's cousin Walther studied with Werckmeister in Halberstadt and praised this master in his 1732 Musikalisches Lexikon, the first German language encyclopedia of music.

In Werckmeister III tuning there are 39 different melodic intervals produced at six cents apart (1200 cents to the octave).

Werckmeister Preferred Chromatic (Werckmeister III):
C 0
C# 90 (same as Db)
D 192
Eb 294 (same as D#) E 390
F 498
F# 588 (same as Gb)
G 696
Ab 792 (same as G#)
A 888
A# 996 (same as Bb)
B 1092

Brandenberg Concerto #2 is part of the set of six pre-symphonic works by J.S. Bach composed in the Anhalt-Koethen period, most likely intended for performance in the Castle Mirror Room ("Schloss Spiegel Salle"). Only in this room can an alto recorder balance with a trumpet, for the acoustics are miraculous. This performance is of an encore presentation of an AFMM concert, repeated at the audience's insistence.

Johann Sebastian Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II, is as clear a microtonal masterpiece as can be imagined. Each key in both major and minor is treated to full compositional focus in 2 complete sets, written over 20 years apart. The tuning now called Werckmeister III was well established in J.S. Bach's homeland of Thuringia. In it, each key is intervallically different from the next. The more diatonic keys are the closest to "just" intonation (pure intervals) with the more chromatic keys down right Pythagorean (a tuning that foregoes pure thirds in favor of perfect fifths). There is good representation of various meantone tunings and a practical mirror of conventional 12-tone equal temperament. Each of the Preludes and Fugues heard here was chosen specifically to highlight these differences in key character.

Harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky has been performing microtonally at AFMM concerts for many years now, as well as throughout the New York metropolitan area and across the nation.

Andreas Werckmeister (1645-1706) is credited for describing the "circle" of 12 major and minor keys through "well temperament" for the first time in history. Born in Benneckenstein, Thuringia, he lived his entire life in the Harz Mountain region, although he frequently traveled throughout the German lands. In Quedlinburg, Werckmeister published 9 books dealing with musical theory, theology, composition, and organ building. Bach owned a copy of Werckmeister's Orgel-Probe, which was a diagnostic tool for organ building (1681), in his personal library (according to Bach scholar Christoph Wolff). Werckmeister's most important treatise is Muscalische Temperatur (Musical Temperament), which remains untranslated in published form.

The score copy of Werckmeister's Christmas Cantata, Wo Ist Der Neugeborne König Der Juden, was made by the composer's contemporary Johann Georg Nattermann, cantor in Bosenrode after 1715. At the center of the Cantata, which is symmetrical in form, is a sequence of four arias, each separated by a short ritornello. Preceding and following the group of arias is a chorale for solo alto. The cantata is framed by the opening chorus, the principal movement, which is repeated at the conclusion. The opening chorus is preceded by an instrumental sonata, which serves to establish the character and tonality of the cantata. This is accomplished, in part, through the presentation of motivic material used in the opening chorus. Much like an organ intonazione, the sonata also serves the function of giving the choir its pitches. The ritornello, similar in character to the sonata, but much shorter, also makes use of motivic material found in the opening chorus.

According to the work's modern editor, John Eric Floreen, "The movements of this cantata all begin and end in C major, but include movement to the dominant, subdominant, mediant, or submediant tonal levels. While Werckmeister's well-known theoretical works on tuning systems represented significant advances and opened new doors in the realm of harmonic relationships, including the possibility of movement through the complete circle of fifths, this cantata is conservative in matters of harmonic progressions.
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Works on This Recording

1. Brandenburg Concerto no 2 in F major, BWV 1047 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Johnny Reinhard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1718; ?Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Live  American Festival Microtonal Music/Pitch 
Length: 12 Minutes 18 Secs. 
2. Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2: Prelude and Fugue no 6 in D minor, BWV 875 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Rebecca Pechefsky (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1742; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 53 Secs. 
3. Ach, bleib bei uns Herr Jesu Christ by Johann Michael Bach
Conductor:  Johnny Reinhard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Douglas Frank Chorale,  American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Germany 
Venue:  Live  American Festival Microtonal Music/Pitch 
Length: 7 Minutes 2 Secs. 
4. Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Prelude and Fugue no 8 in E flat minor, BWV 853 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Rebecca Pechefsky (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1722; Cöthen, Germany 
Length: 8 Minutes 2 Secs. 
5. Wo ist der Neugeborne König Der Juden by Andreas Werckmeister
Conductor:  Johnny Reinhard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Douglas Frank Chorale,  American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Live  American Festival Microtonal Music/Pitch 
Length: 12 Minutes 18 Secs. 
6. Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2: Prelude and Fugue no 11 in F major, BWV 880 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Rebecca Pechefsky (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1742; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 0 Secs. 
7. Brandenburg Concerto no 5 in D major, BWV 1050 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Johnny Reinhard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720-1721; ?Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Live  American Festival Microtonal Music/Pitch 
Length: 21 Minutes 32 Secs. 

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