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14 Canons BWV 1087
General Discussions

The 14 Canons BWV 1087 - Discography

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 29, 2006):
In 1974 a published copy of the Goldberg Variations BWV 988, first owned by Bach himself, was discovered in private possession in France. Accompanying the manuscript, in Bach's hand, there was attached a single page with 14 Canons on the first eight bass notes from the Aria of the Goldberg Variations. The discovery of the hitherto unknown manuscript was immediately hailed as the most important addition of a Bach source in recent decades. Among those canons, the 11th and the 13th are a sort of first version of BWV 1077 and BWV 1076, which is included in the famous portrait of Bach painted by Elias Gottlob Haussmann in 1746. All 14 Canons first appeared in print published by Bärenreiter in 1976, and the NBA assigned this group a collective number of BWV 1087.

The 14 Canons are a late contrapuntal work, composed most probably after 1745. They are delightful to hear, but they are important also for other reasons. They represent a germinal stage of the mature variations that is highly instructive as to compositional processes that Bach may have used. This canon cycle bridges the gap between the canons of the Goldberg Variations BWV 988 (1741-1742) and the more esoteric canons of the Musical Offering BWV 1079 (1747). Finally, the enigmatic notations of the 14 Canons represent Bach's affinity for musical riddles and cryptographic symbols.
[The above two paragraphs are quoted from Timothy A. Smith's study Fourteen Canons on the First Eight Notes of the Goldberg Ground (BWV 1087]

Following previous discographies of Bach's non-vocal works, I have added now a comprehensive discography of the 14 Canons BWV 1087. As previously, I have used every possible source I could find, including web-catalogues, web-stores, web-magazines, and other websites, as well as various printed catalogues and my personal collection.

Since no recording of the 14 Canons was possible before 1976, I compiled all the known recordings into a single page. You can find them all through the main page of BWV 1087 at the BCW:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV1087.htm
This page includes as usual internal links to reviews & discussions, as well as external links to other pages about this work. The intro above is based on the info found in some of the eternal pages.

There is an open question about the premiere recording of this work. Yuji Takahashi, who recorded them on synthesizer in October 1976, claims to be the first. According to AMG, Casals' recording in an arrangement by Rudolf Serkin from the Marlboro Festival of 1975 was the first. Other sources say it was the 1976 festival. Another recording, by the duo-harpsichordists Junghanns & Tracey, was recorded in 1975 according to J.S. Bach Home Page. Since I do not have at my disposal either of these recordings I cannot check and verify the claimed facts.

I have found 15 complete recordings of the 14 Canons. I am not aware of any recording of individual canons from BWV 1087. If you are aware of a recording of the 14 Canons not listed in the discography, or if you find an error or missing information, please inform me, either through the BRML or to my personal e-mail address.

Last, I would like to share with you a personal experience. Yesterday I attended a concert of the Goldberg Variations, played on piano by Wang Xiaohan. Before the concert Prof. Arie Vardi gave a lecture about the GV, in which the 14 Canons were briefly mentioned. After the pianist finished playing the GV, he was called to give an encore. He chose to play Ravel's Pavane rather than the 14 Canons. Maybe it is only me who cannot hear Ravel after the spiritual experience of the GV. Shouldn't it become the norm to play the 14 Canons after the GV as an encore? I wonder.

Enjoy and Happy New Year to you all,

David Hitchin wrote (December 29, 2006):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< .... Last, I would like to share with you a personal experience. Yesterday I attended a concert of the Goldberg Variations, played on piano by Wang Xiaohan. Before the concert Prof. Arie Vardi gave a lecture about the GV, in which the 14 Canons were briefly mentioned. After the pianist finished playing the GV, he was called to give an encore. He chose to play Ravel's Pavane rather than the 14 Canons. Maybe it is only me who cannot hear Ravel after the spiritual experience of the GV. Shouldn't it become the norm to play the 14 Canons after the GV as an encore? I wonder. >
I suspect that he didn't have enough hands for this to be possible in a live performance. Keyboard performances normally require a second keyboard and player, or else some of the parts to be pre-recorded and dubbed.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 29, 2006):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV1087.htm
There is an open question about the premiere recording of this work. Yuji Takahashi, who recorded them on synthesizer in October 1976, claims to be the first. According to AMG, Casals' recording in an arrangement by Rudolf Serkin from the Marlboro Festival of 1975 was the first. Other sources say it was the 1976 festival. Another recording, by the duo-harpsichordists Junghans, & Tracey, was recorded in 1975 according to J.S. Bach Home Page. Since I do not have at my disposal either of these recordings I cannot check and verify the claimed facts. >
I have the Marlboro recording and will check its date.

But, your list is missing another early one (late 1970s, I believe) and it will cause most of the list to be renumbered.... The missing one is by Jörg Ewald Dähler and several other harpsichordists, on a Claves LP (Switzerland). The disc also includes the concertos for three and four harpsichords, with the same several harpsichordists plus one string player per part, and the canons are the filler at the end of one of the sides. I'll check that too, but it will be a few days before I'm able to do so.

As for an encore after the Goldbergs: it seems to me that either the set of canons or the Ravel Pavane would provide yet too much G major, after we've already spent an hour or more in mostly G major. :) When I played the Goldbergs in concert, way too long ago, I used the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue as foil there, to provide contrast of both style and key.

Nessie Russell wrote (December 29, 2006):
Aryeh Oron asked:
> Last, I would like to share with you a personal experience. Yesterday I attended a concert of the Goldberg Variations, played on piano by Wang Xiaohan. Before the concert Prof. Arie Vardi gave a lecture about the GV, in which the 14 Canons were briefly mentioned. After the pianist finished playing the GV, he was called to give an encore. He chose to play Ravel's Pavane rather than the 14 Canons. Maybe it is only me who cannot hear Ravel after the spiritual experience of the GV. Shouldn't it become the norm to play the 14 Canons after the GV as an encore? I wonder. <
I suppose it would depend on what instrument was used for the Goldbergs. Perhaps a Ravel composition is an appropriate encore for a pianist. I doubt too many concert pianists have the 14 Canons in their repertoire.

What was your impression of Wang Xiaohan?

David Lewis wrote (December 16, 2006):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< According to AMG, Casals' recording in an arrangement by Rudolf Serkin from the Marlboro Festival of 1975 was the first. Other sosay it was the 1976 festival. >
I am the author of the AMG piece. Indeed, the recording is from the 1976 festival, and I have changed it so that in time the correct date will show up. I'm pretty sure the original article, as submitted back in my days as a freelance, had a 1976 date also, but sometimes such small errors get copyedited into existence.

I have also removed the claim that the Marlboro recording was the first made of BWV 1087, but bear in mind that the liner notes for the original Marlboro Recording Society issue on LP were written by Christoph Wolff, who also edited the score. So, if not the absolute first recording, it might be the "first authorized."

 

Canons BWV 1072-1078, BWV 1086: Details | Recordings | General Discussions
14 Canons BWV 1087: Details | Recordings | General Discussions
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
GV - R. Egarr [Lehman] | GV - R. Egarr [Satz] | GV - R. Egarr [Bright]
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
GV - R. Egarr | GV - C. Frisch

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Last update: ýMay 3, 2008 ý22:16:03