#Classical365: 20 – Well Tempered Clavier (I) – Prelude & Fugue 1 in C Major BWV 846

Busy day that started off badly with a stupidly long delay at Hither Green station waiting for a train. Three cancelled in an hour, two delayed, seven staff on the station platform unable to provide assistance or direction, and one sarccy customer services chap on the phone only able to take down personal details and a brief description of my complaint. Seems so rotten we have to pay for a service that is so flaky. There were moments when I caught myself wondering whether life would be a little better out of the rat race. Stupid. I am turning into a cliche, if I haven’t already become one.

I’ve been obsessing a little about a comment made about me (and to me) last week which has, rather disappointingly, had an impact on nearly every interaction I’ve had since with other people. It made heavy weather of the afternoon. Turned what was already into a busy, noisy afternoon into one which felt like I was having to wade through treacle to get to the end. I need to feel like I’m coasting towards the end of the day or – preferably – that time has run away with me and that there’s nothing left to do but go home. The rather tiresome neuroticism meant time was taken up with unnecessary reflection. Usually helpful. On this occasion, it just got in the way.

Time had run out. The prospect of listening and then writing seemed like yet another thing which absolutely had to be done. Sat down on the train and pondered what to listen to in the now fifteen minutes I had remaining before I got home.

Bach. Keyboard music. Well Tempered Clavier.

It’s episodic – there are two sets of 24 pairs to get through – no each episode is short. Pick the Glen Gould recordings and there’s the added mystic of his murmurings on the recording too. Evocative. Music written for musicians wanting to uncover the heart of music itself. Small intense bursts of exquisite beauty played on one instrument by one person. Incredibly intimate expressions of the purist form of music, transcending its seemingly mechanical foundations.

Perfect as it was for the journey home, I ended up listening to it in the nth a few times. I can’t get my head around the idea of only listening to the first prelude and fugue in isolation. I’m so tied into thinking in three movement structures, that two movements throw me off course. If you don’t pause the playback quick enough at the end of the first prelude, you’ll steam into the next prelude in c minor. That stark contrast – the incremental key – is as arresting and addictive as the first gin and tonic. Bittersweet. Begging you to cling on for more, and more and more, until you’re bingeing on Bach and listening to the whole lot.

I’ll store them. Listen to them only when I’m pushed for time or so stressed I need a quick restorative escape.

I shall listening to the next one on Thursday. I know it.

I was listening to JS Bach’s Prelude and Fugue No.1 in C Major BWV 846 played by Glen Gould on Spotify.

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