Interpretation of the first movement of the Bach Partita in D minor
Recently I have been working on the first movement of the Bach partita and am not sure how I should interoperate it. Currently, I approach it with a more gentle delicate approach using no vibrato and smooth phrasing. However, all the recording seem to play it a little more bluntly and louder. As it is baroque is this acceptable?
I would favor a more full-throated approach.
You can do whatever you want up to a point. No dynamics or ideal interpretation would have ever been standardized in the period. Of course playing it like Tchaikovsky is inappropriate. Understanding it structurally and harmonically will inform your phrasing. but, things like vibrato and dynamics and color are up to interpretation.
I ultimately based my take on this (Allemande) on Chapter 18 (pg.98) of Joseph Szigeti's book "Szigeti on the Violin." It is dated, sure, it is not Baroque but it is one way I like it.
If played with a modern setup etc, I would suppose some “deviations” are acceptable. I really like listening to new approaches, like Andrew said, they can be really motivating. On the other hand If played with a baroque violin, lower tuning, proper strings for the baroque era, that would be something different...just my thoughts....
Gut strings tuned to A=415hz, baroque bow and hold with baroque fingerboard, don’t forget the powdered wigs.
I phrase and play the Allemande as if it is a conversation between a man and a woman.
I find social distancing during this pandemic gives me an opportunity to practice more "freely" than ever before. Previously, for the past 60 years, I have been playing in one or more ensembles every week, I had to practice rhythmically with consistent tempos. Being free of that responsibility, I can now "open up" and experiment with rhythmic variations and find new ways to play more expressively - even BACH!
Ben, although I suspect baroque setup isn't one of the options on the table right now, anyone who finds potential value in that direction should not let childishly snide comments about it slow them down. :-)
Personally I prefer a more intimate, reflective approach to the Allemande. To my mind the opening note is a question, and there is a lot of doubt and uncertainty in the answer.
My favorite interpretation https://youtu.be/qtyTaE7LvVs?t=61
Maestro Zander's masterclass is worth watching:
I find the Perlman performance referred to by David Duarte really sloppy!
I recommend Bach's violin interpretations by MIRIAM FRIED.
I like Szeryng and Grumiaux for older players. Julia Fischer has a great one for contemporary players. I find Hilary Hahn's interpretation and a lot of younger violinists to be ponderous and to not hold together structurally.
@jean What do you mean with sloppy? In what aspect?
sloppy as in "sloppy" :-)
Sloppy in what? Tempo? Bow control? Intonation?
I find that it is impossible to completely separate equipment, style, and technique. Trying to copy the sound of the authentic-practice recordings with the standard modern violin will be frustrating. There is more inertia with the modern violin and strings, which requires a more forceful approach to playing. If you have an extra, quality violin, a compromise would be to use all gut strings, including the E, either plain or wrapped. Contrary to the advertisements of some string manufacturers, gut strings are not slow in response, but are more flexible, faster, need less force to start them sounding.
I'm glad you aked this - I find the Allemande EXTREMELY difficult to interpret. Amazingly, it's a set piece for ABRSM exams.
I love playing the Allemande. I've incorporated Allemande and Presto (G minor) as part of my warm-up routine when I practice. When I was learning S&P, my favorite violinists that I listened to were Rachel Podger and Uto Ughi. I now play my own interpretation of S&P (which is somewhat similar to both Rachel and Uto). I never tire of playing S&P.
All depends on the player frankly, although my experience with the Allemande was not unlike an intimate conversation between two people. The intricacy of Bach (at the risk of sounding like a fangirl :) ) lies in the voice-like inflections while playing, which is generally what appeals to me most in his music.