Book Review

Book cover image  
CD Sheet Music:
Bach Complete Works for Organ
Bach Works for keyboard and Four-Part Chorales

CD Sheet Music, LLC


These two CDs contain PDF files of most of J.S. Bach's works for organ and keyboard. The organ CD includes all of his famous major organ works such as Toccata and Fugue in D Minor along with Chorale Preludes and The Art of the Fugue. Of course, not every organ work by Bach is included. A companion CD is the Works for keyboard and Four-Part Chorales which includes most of Bach's works traditionally played on the piano, with the conspicuous exception of the Harpsichord Concertos (BWV 1052-1058). The complete Well-Tempered Clavier, French and English suites, Partitas, and Goldberg Variations are all included.

The PDF files can be copied to your hard disk and printed out as needed, so the CD works in Windows, Mac OS and Linux. For some unknown reason, however, printing from Linux is extremely slow. The advantage of printed sheets is that, unlike with a bound book, the pages will not turn by themselves while you are trying to play. (Of course, a gust of wind could be a problem. Luckily, all the pages are numbered, and most have the title on every page).

The quality of the PDF files is somewhat variable. The files are 1-bit thresholded images from a scanner. While most of the printouts are clear and readable, others (such as the Partitas) require a great deal of manual fixing up--for example, accidentals and note stems are sometimes too faint to read. For example, here is an enlargement of a few notes from the Goldberg Variations in the "piano" CD:
goldberg variations
The image above is an unprocessed screen dump, not a scan from a printout, so the jagged curves and missing lines are in the original. Bear in mind too that the print size from most printers will be only 8x10 inches, which can make reading it very hard on your eyes. Finally, especially for a beginner, the notes will seem very dense and close together. In contrast, the files on the Bach Cantatas CD (J.S. Bach: The Complete Church Cantatas) are larger and much easier to read. Despite these minor problems, however, these two CDs are a tremendous convenience and highly recommended, as long as you're aware they're not perfect.

December 14, 2004 Back