Somehwere in literature I've seen this Prelude and Fugue pair actually referred to as a double fugue and justly so.. The cruciform melody foreshadows the main subject of the Fugue. The rounded descending motifs are related to the second subject of the Fugue. The stark upwards leap of fourth ties in the third subject of the Fugue. There is even a hidden Dies Irae, if one wants to look close enough. To each their own interpretation, but I cannot play this Prelude and Fugue without the distinctive idea of the human voice divulging its confession, before the fugue leads it through its penance.
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In a very rounded form, Bach opens and closes the fugue in three statements of the subject in three voices and one more statement of the theme. The middle of the fugue is developed through reduction of three voice texture into two lines, by subsequent rather than concurrent interaction of the voices. As we look forward to the fourth prelude and fugue, which features 5 contrapuntal lines, the third set has struck a frustrating bone in my body.. It has suddenly occured to me that we are talking about vocal lines written for a very percussive instrument. Moreover, imitation and canon are at the heart of writing multi-voice fugues, which by definition reduces them back to a single subject accompanied by some counter-line. Will 5 voices make any difference to our minds?
What if somebody told you that there is a note you didn't know about, an entire tonality you never heard or used? That is what C# tonality was like during Bach's time - seldom heard until the Well Tempered Tuning.
And to introduce it well to the listener, Bach makes the scale ever more prominent. He first passes through the C# M scale, then the relative minor, then shows off an exrecise in modulating to the Major scale on the Dominant, before he makes a full return to the tonic scale. Honestly, all this erudite in tonality makes it sound so Mozartean and Classical..
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