So far I could distinguish three types of available editions of the Bach S&P:
- editions done by violinists (famous or less famous).
Using these editions means very often using someone's personal solutions or at least it means one needs knowledge of the particular performance tradition the editing violinist is coming from and this performance tradition may not be very much 'in fashion' now.
- 'critical' editions.
In fact I know of only one such edition (Heugel). It is an edition that provides notes on how to play according to the conventions of the time (period Baroque playing).
- so-called 'urtexts' such as Bärenreiter and Henle.
I myself have Henle, and I regret having spent so much money on it (I don't know how much, but definitely five times more than a copy of the manuscript, which you can get for 10 pounds). You see, how much brains does it actually take to create an 'urtext' edition (in fact this is a contradictio in terminis) of the Bach S&P? Bach's manuscript is entirely preserved and very neatly written. It really isn't that difficult to copy that. There are however places in the manuscript that are ambiguous. The pity is with an Urtext edition that we are not presented with this ambiguity and that the editor mostly has chosen just one possible reading.
To just prove you how much money Henle made with less than the minimal amount of brains: On the last page of the Editor's notes it says: "Bach wrote out the g-minor sonata BWV 1001 in g dorian, i.e. with only one flat. We have notated the piece in modern g minor with a key signature of two flats." You flip over the page and there you find the g minor sonata, printed with only one flat at the key signature!
Anyway, this is not really the point. I'm just wondering: wouldn't it be more useful if we all started using the manuscript? Any objections against that?
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