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.