Partita 2 Gigue Speed
My daughter is playing this, and always wants to go faster.
She has grown up listening to HH version on CD, which goes at a pretty fast pace, but I have heard her critiqued for this. Where would you set the metronome?
It is learned, really asking about performance speed.
You can watch some videos of people performing the gigue (the dance, not the piece by Bach) to find a historic tempo for the piece.
I say let her play it fast as long as it's clean and musical. Listen to Gidon Kremer, Victoria Mullova, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Gil Shaham, Maxim Vengerov. All on YouTube. Mutter and Shaham seem to be going a little faster, Vengerov a little slower, but it might just seem that way (i.e., I might not have been listening intently enough). Mutter puts in a few tasty vibrato notes, I really like that. But my favorite overall is Kremer.
Gigue is by definition a fast piece. It has it's roots in Irish Jig (hence the name), so speed is ok...
Do you mean HH is criticized for playing it fast, or your daughter is criticized for playing it fast? If the latter, then she needs to slow down. If the former, then I am impressed that your daughter is at the level she can worry that the nit-picky critiques made of the superstars might be relevant to her own playing. I just started working on this and I find it very difficult to play slowly--and I need to, at this stage--so I sympathize with your daughter! However, if she is playing it cleanly, why not play it fast?
What I've read is that the Bach partita movements were inspired by dances or that the dance titles reflect their general character, but they were not written to be practical dance music.
The parent here has heard the criticism of HH, but not a player and no point of
There's a youtube video of HH playing the gigue when she was 15 years old as an encore after her German debut (where she played the Beethoven concerto). She definitely plays it fast.
Imagine a skipping motion-- LEFT, left; RIGHT, right, etc. A good tempo will be slow enough allow a player to make the correct sense of movement on the third 1/8-note, but not so slow that your imaginary dancer has to defy gravity. That may not come down to exactly one tempo, but should set limits on the range.
I agree with J Ray. Since this piece has been recorded by nearly everyone, it's a good thing for a student to listen to one a couple of times and pick out a couple of musical things you like, and a couple maybe you don't like. Then, next day, do the same with another player.
My daughter too performed this piece last year and i believe her playing was on the faster side also. Not as fast as Hahn's said performance though.
"I say let her play it fast as long as it's clean and musical."
Thanks for the responses. She is playing excellently in practice, but bobbled a couple notes in performance. Speed on top of speed because of nerves I think. So just trying to encourage her to let up on the gas pedal. Yes, really up to her and her teacher, just looking for thoughts here.
I won't give a metronome number - "I don't need a metronome to tell me how fast I want to do it" -anon. The audience needs to hear all the notes. The opening two measures need to sound like it is in 4/4 (or 2/4) with a triplet inside each beat. I'll vote for the Milstein clip, and I also like the little pauses done by early music specialist Podger. Be careful about dancing tempos, the typical Irish jig tempo would be too fast, dancers have just as many opinions as musicians, and an abstract piece of music with a dance title would not be used at a dance. I am thinking also of the Mozart and Haydn Minuets in the symphonies and quartets.
Make it dance! If it has the feel of a dance, the actual metronome marking is less important. If it sounds like a stressful race, it’s probably too fast.
As everyone said, make sure to bring out the dance aspect. I think it’s more helpful when playing the Gigue to feel it in 2 rather than 6. A good way to choose a tempo is to go to the middle of the movement or to a hard spot and see what kind of tempo you’d play it at, then go back to the beginning of the movement and use that tempo.
Thanks, she performed today, a tad slower, and nailed it.
Sometimes a piece can sound more energetic with clarity instead of sheer speed. So backing down a notch can be the answer.
Scott's and Laurie's points are good. The metronome was not invented until Beethoven's time, so you cannot rely on any metronome markings, and even tempo words like Allegro or Andante had only relative meanings until the advent of the metronome. However, as my teacher kept telling me, the movements in the Bach Partitas are from dance, so you need to keep that in mind. Dance movements from the Baroque period had different speeds depending on the kind of dance, so we again can only treat the titles, e.g., Gigue, Sarabande, Chaconne, as having relative rather than absolute speeds. However, the ones that are faster should probably have a certain bounciness to them. Ultimately, however, you simply have to find a speed and technique for the dance movement at issue that makes it work for you. Good luck!
@Scott, Perlman once (allegedly) said, when asked how he plays so fast, that he doesn't actually play faster than anyone else. He just plays it more cleanly and people think it's faster.
People also hook because they don't like doing 3+1 or 2+1 slurs, which require you to be comfortable at the frog. And we know how many students are comfortable at the frog...
I agree, Scott. Sometimes 2+1 slurs at the frog can give an exaggerated sense of local rhythm (especially if you're lifting on the upstroke) and make it harder for the player to express the longer line. Of course, one should be able to overcome that too. Lots of things should be possible with more control.
A lot of editing reflects someone's discomfort with something. Just look at all the 19th century editions that avoid the even positions, or that use a harmonic for a long high note that should be vibrated. Sometimes a hooked bowing is just the ticket, but sometimes it can suck the life out of an articulation.
It's interesting to see the diversity of perspectives on this piece and that many seem to characterize it as a dance. It's difficult to entirely lose such a great piece of music, though we seem to try, so it's not surprising that there are such differences and love or appreciation of it in various forms. (There are even electric guitar solos playing it, which I find appropriate.)
Unfortunately I'd have to say there's not much interpretation in his rendition. It's just fast, period. There's no phrasing, no emphasis on important notes. I like much of Perlman's playing, but frankly there are performers out there who are doing a much better job with period performance, and who are thinking about what they are doing rather than just pressing the button et Voila--out comes the way they learned it when they were 15.
I had the same impression as Scott when I first heard Perlman's album of "childhood" concertos. I thought, "Oh good, we're finally going to hear what's possible with these pieces." But they sound as if he just blew through them. They're very emotionless.
And granted, some of those concertos don't give the player much to work with.
"Is that the absolute truth or your interpretation of his interpretation vs others'? I say it's more the latter, and that a statement like "there's not much interpretation" is indefensible."
I don't know if I've every tried Applebees, but guessing what it probably is, I don't know if I'd lump Perlman's performance at that level. I'll grant that it wasn't his best, and neither is it my favourite. But a point I was trying to make was that it was substantially different from some others, and still conveyed to me some of what I find missing in other performances. Filet mignon can work without HP sauce.
I wasn't lumping Perlman with Applebees. Just saying that our tastes change.