Bach solo sonatas and partitas
Is there any historical record of what JS Bach performed from his solo sonatas and partitas?
If not, what sonatas, partitas, or movements do you think he would have performed and why?
I think he would have performed the allegro from the C Major sonata because it is perfectly composed for the violin. There is something very violinistic about it.
"[...]because it is perfectly composed for the violin. There is something very violinistic about it."
Absolutely. It's amazing his understanding of the instrument's capabilities.
It's normal for composers to understand the capabilities and limitations for many instruments, including ones that they don't play, at least at a basic level. The Chaconne, as you all know, is definitely an insanely difficult and long piece, however.
I gotta say though, I'd rather deal with the Chaconne any day before having to work through the fugues in the A minor and C major Sonatas again though. I have nightmares about those! :P
There is no record of who, when, how or where or indeed if.
There are a very few fingerings written in the manuscript. No reason I can think of that those spots were chosen ahead of all others.
I read somewhere that Bach was himself a pretty good violinist.
I don't agree that the C Major fugue (or any of the other fugues) are either "perfectly written for the violin" or "violinistic."
Brahms was the first thing that came to my mind after Ellas comment.
Paul: "... either you play violinistically from bottom to top as we generally do and lose the line, or we do the top-down "donkey cry of destiny" that I find so horrific."
I tend to agree with Gene, up to a point. Back in the days when I tackled these works, I found the chaconne much less intimidating technically than certainly the C major fugue - which I always regarded as a 'finger-breaker', although I played through it quite frequently (or attempted to) for the challenge and because it's such a great piece of music. The challenges in the chaconne I felt were musical rather than technical. Yet the A minor fugue I was able to raise almost to a performable standard (with a lot of teacher input!) - I actually found it technically easier than the chaconne. Each to his or her own. I love the way both Hilary Hahn and Nathan Milstein play the C major fugue particularly - Hahn's chords are so smooth and sound effortless...... amazing!