Attempts to analyse polyphonic textures from a score can result in controversially different conclusions. By drawing on questions which arise from analysing Russian/Soviet piano transcriptions of works of J. S. Bach this study demonstrates how some conclusions made about polyphonic texture from a score are effectively descriptions of an imagined performance by the analyst. Many factors defined in a performance influence the analyst’s decision to note the presence of polyphonic features such as inferred melodies. The value of realising that an analyst is effectively an analyst-performer becomes particularly evident when attempting to analyse Bach transcriptions.
Aside from discussing analytical methods, the underlying aim of this study is to draw attention to the extensive tradition of Russian/Soviet piano transcriptions of works of J. S. Bach which spans from the first half of the 19th century to today and includes over 250 transcriptions by dozens of transcribers. The relevant scores and texts were either accessed from libraries and archives in Russia or sourced online. Most of these materials have not been previously been engaged with in English-language studies. The re-discovery of Russian/Soviet Bach transcriptions and associated literature will benefit professional musicians, students, and the wider audience.