Performing solo Bach

September 21, 2019, 4:24 AM · When performing part of a Bach partita, would it be appropriate to just play a slow movement, or should you have a fast movement after it?

I'm planning a recital and wondering whether it would be a faux pas just to perform the first movement of one of them. I can't see my teacher for another two weeks as she's away and would like to hear your opinions.

Replies (6)

Edited: September 21, 2019, 4:53 AM · Gemma even if you had asked your teacher, it would still have been fine to ask our opinions too! I know, you were just trying to avoid the dreaded one-liner "ask your teacher" :-) Anyway, my opinion is that these movement can certainly stand on themselves, and I don't see who you could offend by doing what you are wondering about.
September 21, 2019, 10:30 AM · It depends entirely on the level of the student recital. A high school student, sure, there's no reason to avoid playing only one movement (unless it ends on a dominant, like the first movements of the second and third sonatas, which sound funny unresolved). An optional recital, you can do whatever you want.

For a conservatory senior recital, it's better to do a complete work or at the very least, an adagio and fugue. When I was a student at IU, senior and master's recitals had very specific requirements: the Adagio (or Grave) and Fugue of a solo Bach sonata, a complete concerto with piano accompaniment (both Bach and concerto to be performed by memory), and a violin/piano sonata.

September 21, 2019, 2:28 PM · For some, you want to play the pair -- for instance, a dance movement and its double.
September 22, 2019, 3:46 PM · I think we should be more tolerant here. The idea that only a whole piece will do is fairly new. In earlier times (Spohr's for example) they would not hesitate to program only a movement or two out of a symphony or a sonata, maybe followed by an aria from some opera, then by a quartet (not necessarily complete either) etc.
Edited: September 22, 2019, 7:05 PM · I think you should play a selection of pieces that you play well, and try not to worry too much about the vagaries and vicissitudes of "proper" recital programming. You'll likely have a nice contrasting selection just because you've been working on a variety of material.

I agree with Lydia that the movements (e.g., in the B Minor Partita) that have corresponding Doubles are very charming when played as a pair. However, it should also be understood WHY they are charming -- because the harmonic structures of the two pieces are matched. The audience member who can actually discern that by listening alone is very rare (but you can help them by writing about it in your program notes). And the violinist who can bring that harmonic correspondence to life is rarer still. In the end, the real reason they're charming boils down to the fact that they are in the same key and because the second one is faster than the first. If that's what you want then you can pick any two movements from any of the Bach S&P so long as you pick one slow one and one fast. For example, Loure and Praeludio from the E Major Partita, or Sarabande and Giga from the D Minor.

September 22, 2019, 9:52 PM · I think there are no rules. Just be true to yourself, entertain your audience, and have a nicely balanced program. One movt. of Bach is totally fine.


Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Joshua Bell and the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Joshua Bell and the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition
Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Violin Lab

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Subscribe