JS Bach Chaconne from Partita in D minor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbX3frq3Qyo would someone here be willing to do a video de-construction of this piece because I don't get it...
What is it about this piece you don't get? (Heifetz would not be my first choice performance of this piece.)
This is certanly no autididact piece.
Discussed at some length throughout Steinhardt's Violin Dreams.
God damn I need my pratise mute now. Wanted to go to bed and you start me thinking about the chaconne. It is such a wonderful piece (that I dont play on performance level).
To me, Nathan Milstein's live recording in 1968 is the most moving performance of this masterpiece. Luckily the video is on YouTube.
With modern tuning, I like James Ehnes.
Heifetz's Chaconne is very disappointing, to say the least.
Menuhin, on the other hand...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RATaKVXsjgQ
Also,IMHO I don't see the slightest appeal for Gitlis' version either.
Ah, Bach Chaconne, the reason for practicing the violin! In addition to the above good recommendations, do take a look at these non-violin versions as well.
I did not manage to find Rachel Podger's Chaconne either, however her Bach renditions are usually very interesting (though many of them are not in A=440)
The chaconne is on the album of the complete solo bach recordings, indeed not at a=440.
I also love this Viktoria Mullova's performance:
Those "bad" old performances can certainly sound good. I tend to dislike how modern performance practice looks down on the older generation as if they intentionally wanted to "tear down" Bach, Mozart, and others. Also wonder if Bach himself would hate these "outdated" performances as much as the "modern" audience can do, or if he would really prefer Bach modern performance practice as truly "authentic."
I actually like the Heifetz recordings, (but not the concertos), and Enesco's majestic and heart-rending versions, but not Szigeti's brutal hackings..
I agree that Bach is not Heifetz's strong suit, although for me, the Heifetz Zigeunerweisen is the definitive recording and don't even bother me with any others. (Except possibly Sarasate's own.)
Some people say Podger sets the standard for Bach S&P, I tend to agree.
Adrian's characterization of Szigeti's Chaconne as "brutal hackings" reflects more on his own limited musical appreciation than it does on Szigeti's performance--the most noble rendition of the Chaconne on record.
I remember Arnold Steinhardt telling me he enjoyed Heifetz's Bach. Casals once said, the greatest performance of Bach he ever heard was by a gypsy violinist. To suggest there's one right way to play Bach is ludicrous. I think lots of people today mistake articulation markings in the score for bowings. Where does it say that one has to play Bach in first position with no vibrato? I'd rather hear the Chaconne played with feeling like Heifetz does, than some 'historically informed' performance of Bach today.
This piece has many pieces in it, which one you see depends on you, but its not the only one.
@Adrian, Suk's interpretation is marvellous, thanks for bringing it up!
If someone of you is interested in a wonderful recording my old teacher Lara Lev has a cd of all Bach Sonatas and Partitas on amazon. I was really impressed especially from the Ciaconna, which I heard her playing live and it was memorable to say the least. She played all Bach works in one concert that evening and the Ciaconna was the Mount Everest! So big! Good technique with historically informed elements (she told me to listen to Podger) and a burning emotional fire for Bach! The recording is like a live concert. Recorded in Finland.
I agree with Marc Marschall that we are way beyond the belief that there is only one way of playing any piece. The greater a piece is, the more interpretations we'll hear. In the end, which interpretation speaks to you is a matter of understanding and personal taste.
Szeryng is the best on solo Bach, on this point there can be no dissent, although the earlier the recording it seems the better.
Just listened to Podger and Menuhin's recordings on the Tube this morning - what an amazing contrast.
"Szeryng is the best on solo Bach, on this point there can be no dissent, although the earlier the recording it seems the better."
I'm just listening to Szeryng's recording for the first time. Remarkable clarity and nuance in the passagework and personally I like the "freer" approach to arpeggiation - I think it's completely appropriate for some of the arpeggios to blur into being chords at points.
My go-to recording is Hilary Hahn's, but it hasn't been mentioned here yet. It seems to have a nice balance between romantic and period performance to me.
I love the sheer humanity of Menuhin's playing. His 1972 recording moves me in ways that more technically flawless performances don't. I do also have a soft spot for Szeryng, as those are the recordings I grew up with. And I'll out in a plug for his edition of the Sonatas and Partitas. I think I spent most of a cross-country plane ride just reading his notes and the music.
Chris, that's a link to the extremely rare live recording, which is the earliest Chaconne recording from him that seems to exist--very cool. My violin teacher gave me a copy sourced from a recording he found in Hungary in the late eighties; I had never heard of it before. I find there's more energy in this than all the others, but maybe it could be said he's a little smoother on some of those chords in the earlier of his two studio releases.
The concluding bars of the Chaconne are engraved on Szeryng's headstone.
I don't know if it's allowed to confess this on a Violin forum, but I'm a little addicted to Grimaud's piano performance of Busoni's piano version:
George, that is great, thank you.
OK folks, I'll be incredibly self-promoting and draw your attention to my own recording of the entire D minor Partita and other works - significant clips of which may found on my website in the CD section - http://rkviolin.com
For the Chaconne, I think Hilary Hahn is still my favorite, with other contenders including Grumiaux and Szeryng, among many others.
Chris: "I think it's completely appropriate for some of the arpeggios to blur into being chords at points."
Taking a look at beginning and end, much as Szigeti did in his book On the Violin:
My favorite is Josef Suk, for all the bach partitas/sonatas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkjnRP6ZTtI
"Adrian's characterization of Szigeti's Chaconne as "brutal hackings" reflects more on his own limited musical appreciation than it does on Szigeti's performance--the most noble rendition of the Chaconne on record."
I have to agree with Adrian. He sometimes creates a noise like a tree directly before falling, a woody cracking. This does take some of the magic, although I love other parts of the recording this always kind of feels like someone tipping on my shoulder and I have to get into it again. The variation on the arpegi on the other hand is great.
Szigeti suffered from tremors in both hands in the last years of his career. That he made these late recordings is almost miraculous. To describe them as "brutal hackings" is really offensive.
Generally, there is a modern tendency to accept the newest and latest as "best". Vivaldi "can't be played" anymore with modern instruments. Solo Bach is barely tolerated with a modern setup, and only if played in "pseudo baroque" style (authentic baroque violin and bow preferred, of course.) The more extreme in this camp will never accept the older players' musically honest tribute to Bach as worthy of their "I know better" ears. While it's totally fine to prefer these HIP tendencies, I don't think even HIP performers generally wish for us to forget these great performances of the past or deem them as necessary aberrations.
Not too long ago the mainstream was often quite hostile nasty towards early music — Zukerman calling it "sh!t" in a major publication comes to mind — and it's interesting to see the pendulum of public taste and opinion slowly swinging the other way.
I agree. Yo-Yo Ma's recordings of the 'cello suites have a bounce and airy lyrism which remind me of the best HIP renderings.
Ron, I am duly humbled. I have many of Szigeti's recordings, including the fabulous live ones with Bartok at the piano: 2nd sonata, 1st Rhapsody, Contrasts (with Benny Goodman), Debussy's Sonata, and Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata. Not to mention the Bach "Double" with Flesch, Bloch's Concerto, Beethoven and Brahms Concertos. I find him a fine violinist, and a great musician.
HIP is valid-just not "the one way" to play Bach. It has changed throughout the years due to more scholarship. What used to be HIP may not be so anymore. In short, it's about music-making, more than scholarship, though I admire the latter-be slave to the music more than treatises, even if those should not necessarily be ignored.
HIP is certainly an interesting development in playing Baroque pieces and it enriches our ears and minds. On the other hand, more often than not, I find the "ultra orthodox" attitude by HIP enthusiasts not just annoying, but also detrimental to serving the audience who just want to enjoy good classical music.
I note that treatises are not always written by the composers of the music we play....
Adrian — true...take JS Bach and Wolfgang Mozart for example. They never wrote treatises themselves. But wouldn't one want to read his son CPE Bach's True Art of Keyboard Playing, someone who learned everything from his father, or read Leopold Mozart's Treatise of Fundamental of Violin Playing, when he was Wolfi's only teacher? And then there are the huge trove of Mozart's own letters...so incredibly revealing about improvisation, style, and taste and everything else.
And to OP's inquiry...it's a rather broad question that people have written entire books on, not sure what exactly you're looking for...
I just listen to the Szigeti recording, because I wanted to know what you are talking about as you talked about "brutal hackings".
I think his double stops would sound fine with a less closely placed mic. His use of portamento is not to my taste, though. Without that I think I would like it a great deal.
Great music making by the Maestro. Guess I'll have to disagree with "new and latest is always best" line of thought-even if older is also not necessarily "best" either. These artists knew what they were doing, whether their performances matches current day taste or otherwise.
Re: my "brutal hackings", words which were certainly ill chosen. I too returned to the discs, particularly the Chaconne and the G minor fugue, and compared them with Enescu's: two mighty artists at the end of their respective careers, both with searing and powerful lyricism.