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Bachcast 57: Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538

The 'Dorian' Toccata and Fugue for organ gets its name from the absence of a key signature in the score. In the first movement, Bach sets off with a strong theme that gets treated similarly to the theme from a concerto, bouncing between "ripieno" and "concerto" textures. Likewise, he employs harmonic progressions in similarity to Venetian composers' practice in concertos from strings. It's a powerful opening that is counterbalanced with a slower-moving fugue theme. The fugue and countersubjects introduce the opportunity for some real dissonance which Bach eventually breaks out of pure harmony with and rhythmically drives the whole idea home at the end.

The two featured performances on this episode come from:

  • Leo Van Doeselaar (Etcetera)
  • Ton Koopman (Teldec Das Alte Werk)

I also share an earlier clip of Koopman from his recording on the Archiv Produktion label, (p) 1984.

Bachcast 56: Partita no. 3 for violin, BWV 1006/1006a