Wait, the Bach Double has three movements? Yes it does!
I remember having this revelation as a student - having learned both parts for the first movement of Bach's Concerto in D minor for two violins, aka the "Bach Double." How exciting, two more movements to learn!
Many, many violinists learn to play this piece - the first movement appears in the Suzuki violin books - the second violin part at the end of Book 4 and the first violin part at the end of Book 5. The other two movements are not in the Suzuki sequence, but I certainly still consider them an important part of a violinist's essential diet!
The Bach Double is on my mind because I went to a colleague's house yesterday for a "Bach Double Party" in which about a dozen kids of all ages plus a few of their parents celebrated the wonderful first movement of this piece by playing it a whole bunch of different ways: slow, fast, with tiny Twinkle bows, all-pizzicato... This brought me so much joy, proving that yes, I am thoroughly a geek for Bach, and particularly for this piece.
Can I possibly choose a favorite, among the three movements of the Bach Double? They almost feel like three separate pieces.
The first movement is the one is most frequently taught, learned and played. Certainly, it's the one I know the best, after years of teaching it. I've been carrying it around in my head since I was young, and I've had at least a few occasions in which a gathering of violinists has spontaneously burst into this movement of the Bach Double, playing it by memory just for fun. It's a great way to make a new friend! This movement is almost a musical "meme" for violinists.
The second movement is some of the most beautiful music ever created. It's perfect to play in nearly any situation that calls for seven minutes of musical tranquility - a wedding, a funeral, and anything in between.
But the third movement - could it be my favorite? Probably the least well-known of the three, it is also arguably the most exciting and challenging. It's a piece with attitude, and it is complex enough to keep all players constantly on the ball.
For this week I'd like to explore the question: what is your favorite movement of the Bach Double? And if you don't know all the movements (or even if you do!), I have assembled videos below so that you can have a listen, before you vote! Please participate in the vote, and then share your thoughts on the Bach Double. Feel free to talk about learning the piece, or various performances you have heard, or what you like about the particular movements.
Here we have violinists Janine Jansen and Leonidas Kavakos performing the first movement of the Bach Double at the Verbier Festival in 2014:
II. Largo, ma non tanto
From 2012, violinists Simone Porter and Yoonbe Kim perform the second movement of the Bach Double with pianist Sarah Yong at a benefit concert at the Colburn School for Center Stage Strings music camp.
I had to share this version of the third movement performed by violinist Anne Sophie Mutter, because it is so smokin' fast! (Compare this tempo to this performance also by two great violinists - much slower, still sounds great). Mutter is performing with violinist Wei Lu and the Mutter Virtuosi in Carnegie Hall in 2014. This is cued up to the third movement, but you can back up the video to hear the full version, in which she performs each movement with a different member from the ensemble (Nancy Zhou in movement 1, and Ye-Eun Choi in movement 2.)
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