Bach: Organ Works Vol. 4, Third Part of the Clavier-Übung

Edited by Manfred Tessmer, updated edition by Christoph Wolff.
Urtext of the New Bach Edition. Bärenreiter (BA 5264), 2015. xvii + 99pp. £18.50.

This is based on Neue Bach-Ausgabe of 1969, Series 4 (organ works), no. 4. The changes are not particularly significant, but there are various improvements or changes. The comparison is with Breitkopf, vol. 6 (EB 8806), which contains Clavierübung, the Schübler Chorales and the Canonische Veränderungen; the edition was published in 2010, so the differences between the two editions are likely to be few. EB has 156 pages including 16 pages of editorial comments priced below £20.00, which is a good value with the other two items.

Bä takes 99 pages of music, with no subsequent editorial commentaries. EB’s introduction is more readable and interesting than Bä. Bä includes eight chorales on two pages with unreduced notes and text. The musical layout is sometimes confusing. The opening Praeludium per Organo pleno  is mostly on two staves; if there is third one, it is sometimes in alto clef. Both editors, however, tend to expand to three lines. The titles are less pedantic here than in the 1969 edition. There is some advantage in the two-stave range, in that there is more flexibility when the division of the middle part may well make readers assume that the modern notation is genuine. The main source was produced by two musical engravers. Sadly, Bach’s manuscript has vanished and editors have no clear choice of correcting between the sources. Luckily the variants are fairly trivial.

Will Bärenreiter follow Breitkopf’s lead and start including additional material in a CD? EB offers far more information but with lower prices.

Clifford Bartlett