Easiest 4th movt among the 3 Bach sonatas??

March 18, 2019, 8:24 AM ·

I was just wondering if I would like to learn a 4th movement from one of the 3 bach solo sonatas, which would be the easiest technically and musically?


Replies (19)

March 18, 2019, 8:36 AM · Probably G minor, followed very closely by A minor. C major 4th mvt is by far the most difficult.
March 18, 2019, 10:22 AM · Let's see. That'd be the G minor Presto, the A minor Allegro, or the C major Allegro Assai.

I'd pick the G minor Presto, which I think is moderately easier than the A minor Allegro. (I haven't played the C major.)

March 18, 2019, 4:51 PM · Agree with the previous posters, although I am not really sure how much more difficult the C major one is. I have not played it in a while. However, all three are a lot less difficult than some of the other sonata movements.
March 18, 2019, 6:36 PM · The c major allegro would be the easiest in my opinion.
March 18, 2019, 9:38 PM · None of these should ever be associated with the word "easiest." I think I would vote the A minor as the least daunting, but it takes a really terrific violinist to master it.

I'd vote the C major allegro assai as the most fun to work on. It's a great string crossing exercise. It takes quite a bit of time to figure it out -- you really have to work it measure by measure. But it sounds so cool when you can play it -- it's a wonderful showpiece with a tremendous soaring climax.

March 19, 2019, 7:47 PM · Thanks everybody for your responses!

Thomas, I'm just curious, what do you mean when you say that it takes a realy terrific violinist to master the A minor one?

March 19, 2019, 8:45 PM · The A minor Allegro is absolutely the most accessible of the 3 movements you're asking about...hence, it continues to be popular as a go-to encore following concerti performances.

Good luck!

March 20, 2019, 9:16 AM · I'm not Thomas but I assume he is making a distinction between learning a piece and mastering it.
Edited: March 20, 2019, 6:13 PM · Joel, re the A minor, I mean maybe it may seem easier than the C major allegro assai but as you get into it, it's no bargain. Bach always throws in something awkward and taxing. For the A minor it's those fast 8th/16ths which (at least for me) are a very difficult right-hand left-hand coordination challenge. For the G minor presto it's a lot of notes that do not lie well combined with awkward string crossings.

The C major is the hardest of the three but I think it's also the most fun of the three. I'd encourage you to spend some time with all three and then return to them again and again, month after month, year after year. Bach is probably the ultimate measuring stick.

March 20, 2019, 1:57 PM · I would disagree... The C major 4th mvt has a lot of nasty 5ths and other annoyingly difficult passages. I would say that unlike the G minor and A minor, unless you are near soloist level, it's impossible to play the C major perfectly in tune. Of course the A minor is difficult for bow strokes, but I think that difficulty can be solved using a brute force metronome+rhythms practice regime, whereas the C major requires excellent 5ths playing (especially at the end), an intricate skill which I believe more than 95% of violinists will never attain in their lifetimes.

That said, it's a fantastic piece so you should still play it eventually :)

March 21, 2019, 8:17 AM · Thanks once again for the help and advice.

I discussed with my teacher and it was between the G minor presto and A miinor allegro, so we eventually settled on the latter.

Since James mentioned "a brute force metronome + practice regime", is there any advice on how to productively and efficiently practice the piece? Thanks!

March 21, 2019, 9:44 AM · It's very important when you are learning a piece at a slow tempo to use only the amount of bow and the part of the bow that you will eventually be using when playing in tempo.
March 22, 2019, 1:46 AM · Oh I see, thanks Mary!
Edited: March 22, 2019, 3:57 PM · I would recommend getting a copy of Bach's manuscript (available on imslp.org:
https://imslp.org/wiki/6_Violin_Sonatas_and_Partitas,_BWV_1001-1006_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian))-- even the best 'Urtext' editions have questionable choices about Bach's placements of slurs.
March 23, 2019, 10:20 AM · Thanks a lot Guglielmus!
March 23, 2019, 2:17 PM · Thomas - what 8ths are in the A minor allegro? Confused by this comment...
Edited: March 23, 2019, 11:32 PM · The g minor has a lot of string crossings so it's a bit more right hand than usual. Many players I came across have even-ness issues with the notes because their string crossing game is not there. A minor would probably be the easiest to begin with.
March 23, 2019, 11:18 PM · Andrew I think he meant 16th and 32nd notes
March 24, 2019, 4:26 PM · By the way, I was speaking generally about slurring in the Bach S&P's-- not about the slurring for the a minor Allegro in particular.

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