This document is a masterpiece of spontaneity that brings us into the creative process of the most gifted musician. It was probably written in improvisation on the two sides of a reused sheet music. The sheet was later separated into two parts, presumably to facilitate its use.
The musical writing is easy but the creative impulse just missed to overflow the surface of the paper. The sheet is signed and titled in a poor French "Prelude (Fuga, Allegro) pour la Luth ô Cembal". The manuscript is complete of its three movements.
This music was composed for a solo instrument. The BWV classes it amidst the works for lute but Christie's catalog observes that this opus was not fully compatible with the lutes of its time.
It was probably intended for a Lautenwerk, an instrument similar to a harpsichord whose metal strings were replaced with gut strings plucked by quills. The mellow tone of a Lautenwerk supports a fast and playful music. The allegro of BWV998 can be danced.
BWV998 may be dated around 1740, at a time when Bach confronted the Lautenwerk with the lute for his friends. He owned two Lautenwerk. Besides his skilled hands, this instrument was never popular and disappeared almost completely. The Lautenwerck page in Wikipedia offers a recording of BWV998 on a recreated Lautenwerk.
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