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Reconstructing a Bach Fugue: 25 studies on Bach's Fugue No.2 in C minor Paperback – May 27, 2011
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About the Author
Composer and Pianist Ariel J. Ramos has been performing, teaching piano and working with independent filmmakers for more than 20 years. He is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston. Ariel Ramos started his career as a pianist. In 1997 he moved to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. In 2000 he founded DreamTracks, Music for Film and Multimedia. He is now established in Florida composing music for film, TV and chamber music, arranging from small to large ensembles and performing jazz, latin and chamber music in the area. He is an experienced piano, theory and composition teacher.
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Sounds like a pretty ambitious goal for one slender volume. How well is it met? The exercises for the Bach C minor Fugue, the subject of this book, start with basic things like the C minor scale in different forms and proceed through short pieces that work out various ramifications of musical materials contained in Bach's Fugue. Playing through them, I couldn't help feeling as a pianist who has both performed and taught this fugue that any student who plays easily and fluently enough to learn these studies quickly would be better off practicing fragments of the real piece. (Yes, the studies incorporate "fragments of the real piece," but there is also quite a bit of filler material in them (chords, etc.) that has nothing to do with Bach's composition.) Conversely, a student whose reading and technical ability are limited enough so that these studies would present a real challenge probably shouldn't be playing this particular Bach fugue anyway. This is not to say that there aren't some useful ideas presented in these studies. Based on the evidence of his web site Ariel J. Ramos, the author, is a reputable film and video game composer. They could, however, easily be condensed into one or two pages of preface or endnotes.
To say that a student "will have [all] the required knowledge and technique" is an exaggeration to say the least--basic questions like tempo, dynamics and articulation, all essential to projecting the musical essence of the piece, are not addressed. What really put me off about this particular volume, though, is the poor editing: it is full of misspellings, misplaced commas, and typographical errors, at least one of them really embarrassing. At its current price tag--more than some copies of the entire WTC that I've purchased--"Reconstructing a Bach Fugue" is not something I can recommend.