Why does nobody like Bach Concerto No 1. in A minor Mvt 3?

March 4, 2018, 9:30 AM · A bunch of people at my school are just learning the Bach Concerto No 1 in A minor, mvt 3. A couple people played the 2nd movement, but nobody played the 3rd. I suppose the 3rd movement is less fancy and easier than the 1st movement, but even so, why has nobody played it so much?

Replies (24)

March 4, 2018, 10:58 AM · Bach A min concerto, mvmnt 3. It's in 9/8 meter. If Bach were not a stay-at-home German, I would be tempted to call it an Irish Slip Jig.
It's a little dangerous in that, like a slip jig, it can be hard to "feel" beat one. It is frequently done too slow; it should sound like it is in 3, with triplets on each beat. I like it. jq
March 4, 2018, 11:43 AM · "Nobody" and "everybody" are generally overstated. It's the FIRST time I hear "nobody" likes the 3rd mvmt., which is usually learned in order, and even quite fun to play.

It's also not "easier" than the first, IMHO, and might be the "hardest" because of what you have to do musically in it (it also is way faster than the first.) I would argue it's more "fancy" as well, though I dislike comparing movements, since all are "meant" to be played as an unified work.

Hope you enjoy the work, in case you are learning it or playing it soon.

March 4, 2018, 11:45 AM · I also think it is the hardest part of the concerto. So, Violin Kiddu, by all means, if you feel like it, go for that part and bring it convincingly!
March 4, 2018, 12:10 PM · I love the third movement! It's possible that people aren't learning it because it's harder than the first, which is often used as a pedagogical step for early intermediate students. Maybe, too, it's not in the Suzuki book with the first movement, and some students who learn Bach a minor are still doing Suzuki? Regardless, I agree--great conclusion to a terrific concerto. I find the second and third movements more enjoyable than the first, actually. (Similar to Bach Double)
March 4, 2018, 12:55 PM · It might be the RCM syndrome where the syllabus only asks for the Mvmt 1 and 2 of concertos, thus many would omit the 3rd, which takes out an entire chunk of technical studies (i.e. the Bruch)
March 4, 2018, 1:10 PM · This is the first I've heard that "nobody" likes the 3rd movement of Bach a minor. It's been my experience that more of my students prefer it than prefer the 1st. It's a lot of fun to play!
March 4, 2018, 8:19 PM · @Everyone yeah I like it a lot! But it seems to me a lot of people I know looked at it and was like, "Oh, triplets. Boring".
March 4, 2018, 11:27 PM · It's Bach, what's not to like? If it's "boring" maybe the fault lies with them. It is the music of God.
Edited: March 5, 2018, 2:46 AM · The third movement of A minor is just about the best there is! I vividly remember a snippet of it in an Itzhak Perlman documentary in the 1980s, the fast runs building to that massive dominant 7th chord at bar 89!!! If not actually the reason I started playing violin, it was certainly what made me want to keep playing! :) It made a real impression on me
March 5, 2018, 9:27 AM · Because of frame shifting and string crossing which should be something new for the students!
March 5, 2018, 9:34 AM · I'll bet people don't like it because they can't play the barriolage section in tune.
Edited: March 5, 2018, 10:40 AM · Some months ago I saw a great Baroque performance of this violin concerto on Youtube, performed by Enrico Onofri with Il Giardino Armonico. I made a note of the link at the time,

I've just keyed in that link to have another look and listen, only to get this notice on the screen:

"Bach Violin Concerto BWV 10..." The YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement.

Rats! and thrice Rats!

However, the 1st movement only of the A minor performed by the same ensemble can be seen here as part of a mix,
Unfortunately, it is not a particularly good quality recording, looking as if was videoed from a television screen with background hum. A copyright infringement of the original before YT terminated it? My recollection of the terminated original is that its video quality was very good, as the Giardino Armonico videos generally are.

[Edit added Mar 5, 2018: A further search on YouTube reveals that a number of videos by Il Giardino Armonico have been removed, possibly because others have been infringing copyright in those videos, although there can be other, non-copyright, reasons for removal.]

March 5, 2018, 11:10 AM · There is detailed explanation here of why a YT account may be terminated:


Edited: March 5, 2018, 3:15 PM · I love the third movement. However, it seems like at the time one does the first and second movement, the third is quite a jump (at tempo it's definitely harder than the others) and doesn't makes sense necessarily to do next compared to some other pieces, and then later you only come back to it if you want to personally.
Edited: March 6, 2018, 3:28 PM · I find it harder than the first movement.

BTW, the bariolage section is suppose to accompany the orcherstra, and it is hard to make the lower strings sing high up without the steel E shrieking.

March 6, 2018, 3:23 PM · In Bach's time they would have been using a gut E which doesn't shriek. Perhaps the answer today, with synthetic strings, is to use a low-tension steel E?
March 6, 2018, 3:33 PM · The repeated quarter-eighth E's are a feature of the orchestral parts, but they should not stick out like a sore thumb.

Perhaps Mr Warchal's Amber E would be better than nowt?

Edited: March 6, 2018, 4:37 PM · "Less fancy and easier" isn't the reason. Harder ... significantly harder if played at a tempo that will give the piece it's jig feel ... is a more likely reason. The tricky bowings toward the bottom of the first page, shifts near the top of the second page, and the barriolage make this a tough piece. There is a reason this concerto is book 7, and the third movement is the reason.

By the way I once heard a young girl perform this movement at a competition. She was a good student, well prepared. But she was playing a fractional instrument (3/4) and she was entirely covered by the pianist even with the lid closed. If you perform this piece with piano, consider using a piano reduction *other* than the Suzuki edition. The Suzuki edition is very busy. Consider using the "Frustrated Accompanist" edition instead. There are reasons to use such "simplified" editions other than low skill level.

March 7, 2018, 6:29 AM · Yes, I play it at rather high speed, if that's what you're all asking.
Edited: March 7, 2018, 9:04 AM · Joel Quivey pointed out a few days ago the metrical resemblance between the 3rd movement of the Bach A minor and the Irish slip jig, both in 9/8, and the problem in that metre in bringing out the first beat of the bar.

I suggest it might be useful before tackling the Bach to play through a few Irish slip jigs to get an idea of the speed involved and the accentuation. The Irish slip jig is obviously simpler and technically easier than a concerto movement, but don't be fooled by that because it is quite capable of having its own little moments.

I also suggest it may be useful for a beginner to learn some Irish jigs and reels as a supplement to technical exercises so as to give life and meaning to the techniques being taught in the exercises.

Here are four Irish slip jig tunes from thesession.org. The sheet music can be read on screen and downloaded:

The Foxhunter's Slip Jig https://thesession.org/tunes/482
An Phis Fhliuch https://thesession.org/tunes/879
The Kid On The Mountain https://thesession.org/tunes/52
Drops of Brandy https://thesession.org/tunes/388

Edited: March 7, 2018, 10:42 AM · Are you kidding? It's actually a lot harder technically, rhythmically and musically than the first movement. Perhaps the reason is that their teachers didn't want to bother - it takes some work to truly get the rhythms, explain and execute the bariolage properly, etc. But it's a rockin' fun piece!
Edited: March 7, 2018, 4:38 PM · Another piece in the classical canon that really sounds like lively Irish music is the first movement of Vivaldi's chamber concerto in G, RV151 "Alla Rustica", a title that says it all. The 60-bar first movement is a Presto 9/8, the firsts and seconds playing in unison. It wouldn't be too difficult to make an arrangement which could pass as an Irish slip jig, and I think I may very well do that and try it out in a session sometime.

My chamber orchestra, Bristol Chamber Orchestra directed by Dennis Simons, will be giving a concert next week in which the "Alla Rustica" is played as an overture, followed by Marcello's Violin Concerto in D, soloist Dennis Simons.

March 10, 2018, 3:32 PM · I love the third movement and even chose it as an audition piece for a local festival a few years ago. I really like how you can make it move forward with a fantastic rhythm.
March 10, 2018, 10:13 PM · Students not liking a piece usually equates to harder, not easier.

How many kids do you know who like doing the harder thing? It’s rare.

That level of competitiveness doesn’t usually show up until later.

The 3rd movement is by far the toughest technically of the three. It is the hardest to play at tempo and also a very exposed piece. One missed note in the long runs can make it sound like mush. One mistake, can put you out on a limb.

Also, it takes a long time for most students to learn to play this movement expressively and even longer to learn proper baroque style IMO (and even though at one time, I was an overbaroqued Suzuki student and having had the privilege of studying with Dan Foster.)

I’m trying to recall... I think Suzuki originally had the 2nd movement earlier than the 1st and 3rd, and the 1st and 3rd were consecutive. But the new revisions may be different. A lot of traditional teachers use it too as a baroque student standard. Rarely do I hear young players play it with much sound that resembles baroque.

A good accompanist should never be overpowering the soloist, no matter how small. They accompany, not solo. I know I’m stating the obvious but some accompanists, for lack of better words, fear not having their skill shine. In one of Zander’s Masterclass series he tasks an accompanist to play appropriately for the young violinist she was accompanying.

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