Johann Sebastian Bach
Prelude and Fugue XXII:

Arranged by Jim Tranquilla

Four tenor, one bass trombone

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2019

Score and parts


Considered by many to be one of the most important keyboard works in the history of Western tonal music, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier written in 1722 is a collection of 24 preludes and fugues in each major and minor key. Jim Tranquilla has transcribed the B-flat minor prelude and fugue from the first book (1722) for five trombones. Both the prelude and fugue from this set are well known for their abundance of non-chord tones, chromaticism, and harmonic tension and also for many famous quasi-romantic interpretations. Aside from being set an octave lower to accommodate range considerations, Tranquilla’s arrangement is almost identical to the original.

The top three trombone parts are written in tenor clef with the first part playing up to d-flat² at the end of the fugue. The lowest part was clearly intended to be played on bass trombone and spans down to EE-flat. The parts are well edited to include dynamics, fermatas, and rehearsal letters. There are no indications of where to breathe, how to phrase, and minimal articulations are included in either movement. While some ensembles might appreciate the freedom of interpretation this allows, others might find that it necessitates extra rehearsal time. Jim Tranquilla’s arrangement will surely find its place next to many of the other classic trombone ensemble transcriptions of J.S. Bach’s great keyboard music.

Reviewer: Greg Strohman
Review Published April 22, 2020