Relative difficulty of the movements of Bach Sonata 1

June 6, 2018, 1:09 AM · Violinmasterclass lists the entire Sonata as level 7, are all of the movements level 7 difficulty or just the Fugue and maybe the Adagio?

Replies (13)

June 6, 2018, 4:40 AM · Fugue is trickiest. As for the others, it depends on whether you have the most trouble with counting (or listening to harmonic rhythm), playing double-stops, or rapid passage work.
June 6, 2018, 5:04 AM · I think the fugue is the most difficult (it's a fugue!).

Personally I think the Adagio is technically easier than the last 2 movements, because it's less ceaselessly one thing... however it's also much deeper music so there is more to get to grips with!

June 6, 2018, 7:56 AM · Fugue is the hardest; Adagio is the second hardest. The Adagio is very difficult to count properly. Yes, it has an improvisatory style but one must understand the rhythm before making artistic choices. Drives me crazy to hear students play it who so clearly have no idea how the actual rhythm goes. And then to perform it in the proper style is quite difficult.
June 6, 2018, 8:07 AM · I’m mainly interested in the presto, how hard would it be if it was played at an allegro tempo.
June 6, 2018, 8:33 AM · The presto is the easiest movement in my opinion. It lies extremely well on the violin.
June 6, 2018, 5:34 PM · Probably the Adagio is easiest on a purely technical basis, but as Mary Ellen notes you really have to work out the rhythm and ornamentation -- and once you figure it out, then your musical challenge has only just begun.

Maybe the presto is the easiest if you don't play it presto, but at speed, there are a couple of very tough spots with string crossings and awkward fingerings, and it's a moto perpetuo so you have to have your tempo absolutely steady and there is no break in the stream of notes.

The Siciliana -- one of my favorite pieces in unaccompanied Bach, a small masterpiece. But I think a lot of people would agree it's measure for measure harder than Chaconne, very thorny left and right hand challenges. Some of the intervals are very hard to consistently get in tune, and to bow the chords clearly but lightly and get the right dance feel to it ... anyway it's a gorgeous little thing but it's a bear.

That leaves the fugue, which is at least the shortest of the three fugues, but it's still a Bach fugue. Bowing challenges are considerable.

June 6, 2018, 7:17 PM · Well my teacher asked me to find a piece to work on for my next recital and since I already have a slow piece, Salut D'Amour, she said I need a more lively piece. Although my level is far below general Bach S&P's, I thought the presto didn't sound too out of reach if I played it at a slower tempo. She also gave me Kreutzer 7 to work on this week so I thought the presto would compliment all the string crossing work I'm doing.
June 6, 2018, 7:48 PM · Yeah the third movement of one of the hardest of all to play well.

What level of difficulty are you looking for in a "lively" piece? Fiocco Allegro level? Czardas level? Waxman level (just kidding)?

Maybe buy the Kriesler collection and try Prelude and Allegro or something like that.

June 6, 2018, 8:32 PM · If you're looking at solo Bach, the Gigue from the d minor partita (#2) is much easier than the Presto from the g minor.
June 6, 2018, 8:42 PM · In general, I don't think it's a good idea to learn any piece that you can't play at a reasonable performance tempo (i.e., within the range of normal interpretation). Choose something easier.
June 6, 2018, 9:07 PM · the gigue is one of my favorites as well, ill ask her about it
June 7, 2018, 8:44 PM · The fugue, out of the 3 Bach wrote, probably sits in the middle. The counterpoint is much more trickier, albeit the shortest.

If you want to learn an entire sonata, start with the A minor. Not that it's significantly easier, but I think it'll be relatively more comfortable compared to G/C.

June 7, 2018, 10:17 PM · I do not think the OP is at the level of a Bach solo sonata.

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