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Aria and Presto (1732)

arranged for Baroque orchestra by Mark Starr
 from Bach's Prelude in E minor, Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1)

Johann Sebastian Bach

link to biography of Johann Sebastian Bach

A demo recording of this arrangement -- realized with digital musical sounds -- will begin to play automatically upon opening this page.  The audio may take from a few seconds up to a minute to load -- depending on the speed of your internet connection.  If you do not wish hear it, please click on the STOP button (or PAUSE button) on the media player, below.  Also, you may wish to adjust your volume control to a more comfortable level.

If you would like to download a copy of this audio demo in wma format (playable with Windows Media Player and other media players,) please right-click on this link: here; and then select "Save Target As..." Copies of this wma file may be freely distributed not-for-profit and unaltered.


The full score of this arrangement for Baroque orchestra is available for perusal, audition, purchase, downloading and printing on the website www.sibeliusmusiccom.  To jump to an online display of the sheet music online, please click on the following link:

link to sheet music online of Mark Starr's orchestral arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Aria and Presto

To display the score on a computer screen -- while listening to a synchronized MIDI performance of the music -- one must first download Sibelius' web music viewer, called Scorch.  Scorch is available free-of-charge on the sibeliusmusic.com website. (Just click on the green button marked Get Scorch)

To rent the instrumental parts for a public performance and/or commercial recording, please click on the link Contact Noteworthy in the left-hand column.

Many of Bach's harpsichord works were conceived in terms of instruments other than the harpsichord. Some were conceived in orchestral terms, possibly on paper (as early sketches,) but more likely only in the composer's inner ear.

The E minor Prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier is a case in point. It begins with an aria whose solo line perfectly matches the range of the oboe, and whose sostenuto character can only be expressed by a wind or stringed instrument, and not by a harpsichord (with its percussive character and short-lived tones.) At one point in the very slow arioso section that openins this prelude, one note in the melody is tied for more than two full bars. Just imagine a harpsichord sustaining that one note for five or six seconds!

This arrangement is scored for a typical Baroque orchestra such as Bach used often in his cantatas (for example, Ich habe Genuch) consisting of a solo oboe, string orchestra and harpsichord continuo.

duration: 3 minutes