Written by The Weekend Vote
Published: November 7, 2014 at 5:55 PM [UTC]
I still remember being a student and trying to pick out the first movement of Bach's Concerto in D minor for Two Violins by ear, before I was ready to play it. Most violin students play the first movement at some point; I was not a Suzuki student but I studied both the Violin 1 and Violin 2 first-movement parts, which also appear in Suzuki Books 4 and 5. Once I could play one part, I was always happy to find someone who could play the other, so we could launch into a duet before rehearsal, etc. It's alway fun to instigate a spontaneous Bach Double!
In the early days, that piece was a little hard to put together, and I can remember that getting to the end without a train wreck was a major victory. Many years later, after playing it with so many students on so many occasions, it's pretty solidly wired for me! But it never gets old, and I'm still game for the ride. Ask me to play that piece with you, I'll happily oblige.
What's too bad is that not everyone plays all three movements! In fact, students are sometimes surprised to learn that there is more to it than that ubiquitous first movement. The second movement is one of the most beautiful slow movements written for violin(s), and the last movement is a rollicking ride. I have a few students studying the last movement now, and playing the duet with each (so that they can play it easily with each other) is one of the most enjoyable parts of my week!
Which movement do you most enjoy, in the Bach Double? You can answer from a playing standpoint, a wanting-to-play standpoint, or a listening standpoint.
I've put together some Youtubes for your listening pleasure, to help you vote:
Here we have husband-and-wife team Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony, from SWINGING BACH 2000 Live from the Marketplace in Leipzig:
2. Largo, ma non tanto
This movement would be gorgeous played on any instrument, but I thought you might enjoy this period-instrument version with Carla Moore and Cynthia Miller Freivogel, solo baroque violins, with Voices of Music:
Here's a performance with a lot of spark by sister-brother team Lara St. John and Scott St. John; they are playing with the New York Bach Ensemble:
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And just for fun -- those Time for Three guys! Nick Kendall, Zach De Pue and Ranaan Meyer play their jazzed-up version of the Bach Double first movement:
The second movement is gorgeous, and the third movement is just ridiculously fun. I've read through both of them for fun. :) Unfortunately, I haven't found anyone with whom to work up the full thing. Would love to do all three movements on my senior recital, though, simply because this piece is amazing and has been one of my favorite pieces forever (and it'd be a good excuse to get to play the other two movements...). I have a year and a half to talk a friend or one of my teachers (past/present) into doing it with me... :)
Also: Speaking of the 2nd movement, have you ever heard 2Cellos do it? I know, I know, it's a violin piece... I was a bit upset that they did it, but then I listened to it, and it's far too gorgeous to be angry with them! (And hey, turnabout's fair play, we've stolen a bunch from the cello repertoire. :) Actually, some of my favorite Suzuki songs were originally for cello. My cellist friends chuckle when I say that...) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj4ST5Dsmdc
The second movement is very lovely but is rather disproportionately long. I realize I'm criticizing the work of the greatest composer ever, but maybe he did not intend the slow tempos that one often hears. Ma non tanto!!
I had never really looked at the third movement, but recently a friend persuaded me to try it with her (with my wife playing the continuo on her cello). Complicated and challenging - and definitely worth putting more time into.
Like you, I welcome any excuse to suck someone into playing it.
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