Some Bach

October 20, 2019, 6:56 PM · It was time to play some Bach today, so I thought I would share.

Replies (8)

October 20, 2019, 9:32 PM · Thank you, that was a lovely way to start the day!
October 21, 2019, 3:21 AM · Thanks for sharing.
October 21, 2019, 4:07 AM · I love Bach! Any time of the day is a good time to listen to Bach. Any Bach is good Bach. Thank you!
Edited: October 21, 2019, 7:52 AM · Nice playing. Lovely to hear on a Monday morning.

Something I've long noticed about solo Bach is that cellists generally take a LOT more interpretive liberty than violinists. If I brought your performance of that piece to my violin teacher, he would praise my tone and intonation, but he would also ask me to dial down the interpretation.

If you don't mind, there is one aspect that bothered me some. I'm referring to the Prelude from Suite No. 1 in G Major, which appears at the start of the clip. Many of the 16-note figures (measures) conclude with one VERY tenuto (IMO too long) 16th note. I would not do this. It's one thing if you are playing a ritardando at the end of a bar and then emphasizing the first note of the next bar (Maisky does this sparingly, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGQLXRTl3Z0). But in many cases you just hyper-tenuto the last note of the measure (this happens in many measures). You might not realize you're doing this ... it could be an unintended consequence of the way you are bowing the piece, which makes it hard to recover bow and come back to the frog at the start of the next bar. Maisky bows it differently -- he just takes 8 notes to each bow and the result is much more even.

My daughter (now 13) has also learned a fair amount of solo Bach (also on the cello) and I've commented to her about aspects of her interpretation that I don't like. By now it will not surprise you that I'm usually suggesting that she play passages more evenly. She always replies that it's the way her teacher wants it. So partly I'd like to know whether I'm off base regarding the tenuto notes that conclude many of the measures in this performance so that I can better calibrate myself to my daughter's playing. (Partly I'm suggesting that she play it evenly so that she can prove her interpretation is her own and not a byproduct of a technical limitation. I think it's very important for young students to know this.)

October 21, 2019, 7:53 PM · Lovely. Thank you.
October 22, 2019, 5:35 AM · Hi everyone,
Thank you for the remarks, and Paul thank you for taking the time to write. It's fun to share some homemade music on the forum. Paul, I agree with you on the importance of practicing evening, especially to make sure that one's sound is created intentionally and not out of mechanical convenience or accommodation of some technical issue. I think how much liberty we allow ourselves in phrasing and pulse is something we should constantly revisit in our minds. Too much liberty and the train of thought isn't maintained, and when everything is too rigid the music can lack liveliness, imagination, and "listen-ability".

Reminds me of this video:

October 23, 2019, 8:41 AM · Bravo Jacob, that's lovely playing, and I'm sure it reflects many years of hard work and accomplishment.

Some suggestions:

Further reduce the visual clutter in the video. There's nothing wrong with it per se, but solo Bach especially brings to my mind the idea of absence of everything else. Why not make the "homemade music" video itself a work of art?

Intonation is quite good overall in my opinion, but could be improved in (probably difficult) parts. Additional effort focusing on those parts could have a proportionate or greater benefit in the overall impression.

Probably echoing Paul's comments about phrasing and timing - the first movement, which everyone knows, comes across as a bit odd due to the unevenness in the notes.

By all means, take "liberties" where you really feel that that was in the music and serves the voice of Bach, but I think that we in general have an expectation of reduced romanticization in favour of authenticity - of the real kind, not just freezing of history.

Thanks for sharing and braving the cavils. I found it enjoyable.

October 24, 2019, 5:26 PM · Thanks J Ray. My friends and family are constantly giving me a hard time about improving the video background, much to my hardheaded dismay! Glad to hear your comments as well.


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