Bach Prelude and Fugue in A minor

I first read through the A minor Prelude and Fugue on 12th June, 2018; I’d studied all the other preludes and fugues in Book 1 apart from the B flat minor beforehand, and had already started on my recording project. This nearly made me give up! For some reason I decided to record the amount of time I spent learning the A minor. Most of the others were committed to memory in about ten weeks, working on a new one for about half an hour a day, 4 or 5 days a week. The prelude was easy, memorised in about two and a half hours; when I play it, I’m reminded of the comment made about the last movement of Chopin’s Sonata in B flat minor, the wind blowing over the graves. Very cheery. The fugue nearly defeated me. By 17th July I had spent 10 hours and 40 minutes trying to learn it. The subject is three bars long, 31 notes in common time – and the 4-voiced fugue lasts for six pages, 87 bars, so it wasn’t going to be one of the quicker ones to learn. In the end I spent about 40 hours working on it the first time, stretching over 4 months (with a necessary holiday in the middle); even then, when I returned to it at the beginning of December 2019 it seemed like a new piece. Another 20 hours was spent before I felt ready to record it – and it lasts for less than six minutes! So far this is the only time I have used the third pedal in Bach: to hold down the bass A which appears 4½ bars before the end, tied throughout the last bars. Choosing the best time to use this pedal was another challenge.