Enter The Fadolín – Behind the Tracks – Bach Tracks

Yesterday I started writing a series of “Behind The Tracks” posts about my new album “Enter The Fadolín“, currently in pre-order at Bandcamp, starting with the album’s final track, “Slava“.

Working backwards again, the penultimate track on the album is one of the most famous pieces of music in the world, the Prelude in C major from J.S. Bach’s monumental Book One of the “Well Tempered Clavier”.

There are actually two Bach tracks on the album – the Prelude (hear it above) and the less familiar Chromatic Fantasy (hear it below).

Though Bach wrote a trove of incredible music for many string instruments of his day (violins, violas, cellos, gambas), he didn’t encounter a fadolín — he wrote for instruments with six strings, but not with this tuning. When I first acquired a fadolín, I tried to play Bach’s Cello Suites — but as they were written with a four or five string cello in mind, they didn’t use the whole range of the fadolín..

And then I remembered hearing a classmate play an arrangement of Bach’s “Chromatic Fantasy” by Zoltán Kodály in a masterclass at Juilliard for my future teacher Samuel Rhodes. But Kodály’s arrangement seemed to stretch the viola’s limits, it seemed somehow gasping for air. I never learned it on viola, despite several attempts — but when the pandemic began in March 2020, I remembered that performance, and looked for a way to adapt the “Chromatic Fantasy” for the fadolín, from Bach’s original version for the keyboard. This arrangement took a long time to solidify on paper, to find the right sound and pacing for the fadolín, and it continues to evolve now in performance. Here’s a live performance that I posted on social media on December 31 2020 — it sounds different from the version on the album, and it would sound quite different if I were to play it live for you today.

Why is the WTC Prelude here? The answer is very simple — we were visiting some friends and the sheet music for this Prelude was looking at me from their piano. As I attempted to play the prelude on the fadolín, I realized that it fits the range almost perfectly — only in the final bars did I have to change the octave for the bottom pedal notes. It also presented a great challenge to play evenly across the range.

Both of these pieces were written in the early 1720s — three hundred years later, Bach’s music continues to challenge, heal and inspire every day. Even though Bach never encountered a fadolín, his music is foundational to the instrument and I’m so grateful for it.



Pre-order and listen to “Enter The Fadolín”, download the sheet music or order a handmade autographed CD-R, exclusively on Bandcamp.

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