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Johann Sebastian Bach

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784) was the oldest son of J.S. Bach and, like many of his younger siblings, became a talented keyboard player and composer. In 1720, his father began work on the Clavier-Büchlein, a collection of instructive keyboard works written for Wilhelm Friedemann that contains, among others things, the Inventions (15) (BWV 772-86) and Sinfonias (15) (BWV 787-801). It also includes this Fugue in C major, a lively work whose appreciable technical challenges suggest the considerable keyboard skills young Wilhelm Friedemann must already have possessed in his early teens. The work opens with a rapid, repeating figure of four notes that Bach expands on, seeming to obtain the highest yield from not necessarily promising material. The music hurries about, accruing lively contrapuntal elements along its busy path. Its pacing is breathless and its mood joyous, if a bit harried. As it proceeds, it takes on greater complexity, but rarely is the four-note motif presented at the outset not heard. The piece lasts only about a minute-and-a-quarter -- or should, when played at the proper tempo. Despite its brevity, this little fugue offers substantial rewards for the listener.