Feedback please - Bach Allemande

July 22, 2020, 2:45 PM · So I recorded the Allemande from Partita 2 this evening, for fun. I'd be interested in peoples' feedback:

My self-assessment of it is:
*I'm pleased with the voicing and expression - won't be to everyone's taste, and it could be finessed more, I think the tempo could be more controlled in parts, but it has some musicality
*Intonation is frustratingly close to being right - no howlers, some imperfections
*Tone is also frustratingly close to being good - but there are moments where it doesn't click

Replies (19)

July 22, 2020, 3:42 PM · Very Nice!
Edited: July 22, 2020, 7:25 PM · Nice job Chris. Nice articulation and phrasing. I really like the economy of movement in your left hand. I wonder if you might try to get a thicker or rounder sound by playing more in the middle section of the bow and perhaps use a slower bow speed to stay in that zone (so you don’t move as quickly to the tip). But that’s a stylistic choice (you could also experiment playing closer to the bridge too to get a fuller sound). Nice video too!
July 22, 2020, 7:54 PM · Can't see it because it asks for a FB login and I've suspended my account. Must we assume or require that the whole world be on FB?
Edited: July 23, 2020, 4:53 AM · Hello, Chris. Very musical performance. I particularly enjoyed your variation in dynamics, and your risk taking in exploring softer shading where the harmony suggests this (especially the last couple of lines). Your own assessment of expression, intonation and tone are accurate - it was a technically very able performance.

I personally wouldn't double dot the opening semiquaver (you make it a demi-semiquaver). Bar 8 and 11 sound a little heavy, I would try and lighten your up bows to make it dance a little more. You break up some of Bach's long slurs, eg bar 9 and 10. I appreciate they are difficult to pull off with the original bowing, however it is essentially here Bach writing a crescendo (the sixteen note slur will sound noticeably softer than the eight note slur if you follow the bowing). In my opinion the easy option of splitting these long slurs into groups of four destroys Bach's overarching phrase structure.

Explore other ways of spreading the A major chord in bar 16. The 2,2 split sounded a bit abrupt; a softer chord spread might be more appropriate to the style and character.

Notes - Bar 14 check you are playing B natural (it might have just been an intonation slip). Bar 20 and 21 watch that you carry the E flat accidental through the bars - you played two E natural half way though bar 20 and 21.

July 23, 2020, 5:54 AM · Not being a Fakebook member make it difficult for me to see your performance and it is disappointing not to be able to view this version of a Bach piece.
July 23, 2020, 7:40 AM · Thanks for the feedback!

Hmmm - it didn't occur to me that Facebook wouldn't let you see it if you weren't logged in to Facebook. Let me see if I can upload it somewhere else as well.

July 23, 2020, 7:45 AM · ok, here we go, it's on Youtube:

July 23, 2020, 7:52 AM ·
Thanks for posting! Nice work.

I agree with the suggestion to play more in the middle of the bow. Also, your bow looks over-tightened to me - the stick is almost straight- is the camber okay?

Personally, I would suggest learning to play the triplets in measures 2 and 3 evenly. You tend to speed up the second triplet each time.

July 23, 2020, 7:58 AM · Chris, that was really tastefully played, nice intonation, dynamics, overall style. Beautifully done.

A few details:

(1) Even if you are not playing forte, bring your bow away from the fingerboard. I think you want your opening phrases to be more secure and lush. In other words, what Raymond wrote. This is a good piece to work toward a very focused, middle-of-the-road detache sound with smooth bow changes.

(2) At 0:40 to 0:55 and again at 1:05 maybe experiment with some hooked bowings to even out your distribution a little. Bow distribution is critical to getting the most out of the music in Bach. Even Hilary Hahn, who obviously performed about 30 seconds of your piece (LOL!) re-examines her bowing choices.

(3) At 1:30 you're building the excitement of the piece toward the double bar, but you're also starting to really engage your right shoulder in some histrionics. It's a common tendency. Keep your cool and let your bow do the talking, just bring closer to the frog, closer to the bridge, and your violin will sing.

(4) At 1:55 to 2:05 there are two or three wrong notes. Check the accidentals in your part.

(5) Depending on the style of playing you're aiming for, dare I suggest maybe a little vibrato?

July 23, 2020, 8:52 AM · I respectfully disagree with the suggestion to add hooked bowing. Baroque music very much makes use of the natural inequality of the down bow and the up bow. Evening out the music by adding hooks for my taste doesn't suit Bach. I'm sure lots of great performers have done it though - it is just my opinion.
July 23, 2020, 9:09 AM · I agree with George about the track of your bowing. I see that you have long arms and I wonder if you favor bowing so close to the fingerboard with all your playing. If so, you might try aiming the scroll of your violin a little more to the left.

This will set up some different problems with adjusting the "aim" of the bow but (you know) practice will overcome these and you will gain additional timbres in your playing.

Joseph Szigeti had an interesting take on this Bach movement if you can find a recording - or read a complete explication in his book.

Edited: July 23, 2020, 11:25 AM · Thanks Chris, certainly nice to listen to and very interesting for me as I am performing this piece coming Sunday!

By the way people who complained about this: the Facebook link *can* be viewed without a facebook account: simply click "Not now" at the bottom of the box.

About "bringing it to life:" I personally like this being played quite a bit faster? Like Paul said, you have the wrong conception of a couple of notes, more of them in the second half of the piece.

You use second position in places but I would use it in even more places, in this piece that is helpful to obtain a more solid tone. I would also bow the piece with a more solid "german" stroke. I am also not such a fan of tapering off before a new voice begins. You can alternatively let the other voice "fall in" as if one voice kind of cuts in the conversation. Just some opinions to take or leave!

July 23, 2020, 3:45 PM · thank you all for the feedback! Will take a day or two to reflect (life is busy at the moment) and reply in more detail.

btw- regarding the bow tension. I looked at the video and went whaaat, why is that so stiff! Probably because I was focusing on everything else. I'd never normally play with the bow that tense.

July 23, 2020, 5:59 PM · Chris if you move your bow from one part of the house to another you can expect it to tighten or loosen itself based on a change in humidity. In youth orchestras the conductor always has to tell the string players to check their bow tension after the first segment of the rehearsal (say, half an hour).
July 23, 2020, 10:01 PM · Hi Chris, thanks for taking the time to post it on YouTube. That said, what I suggest is that you listen to the recording yourself, focusing on the sound, avoiding the video.
July 23, 2020, 11:03 PM · If you listen to the 2nd measure, you have two notes under a slur and then another two notes under a slur, which you seem to be playing (I know some editions might bow it differently), but the notes sound almost detached under the slur, as in they have a bit too much space in between them. I would focus on getting a legato between these slurred notes, which may be helped by you emphasizing the first note (on the beat) a little bit more.

I think there is a bit of that throughout, where you lose a little bit of the momentum by emphasizing notes too equally, which, when they are not on beat, tends to dilute the phrasing.

July 24, 2020, 11:52 AM · Mr. Keating, Thanks for posting a YouTube link to your Bach video and enjoyed it!
Edited: July 24, 2020, 4:55 PM · Your bow is so thigh it hurts.

It's good, but you have room to improve. For me you play in the right part of the bow, it's between the middle and the top, that's the easiest and more natural place to play detaché. If you watch Perlman's recording, you will see that's exactly where he plays it. I think you can achieve a fuller sound, with a better connection between each note leading musical phrases, I think it's too light. Though this is pure detaché technique, not easy for me explain here (especially in english), or for anyone to learn it by himself.
Your "rubato" in 0:13 is very exaggerated and unnatural.

I would play it a tiny bit faster, use vibrato in important notes which you didn't and the shifts to second and third positions that are written in most editions. If you play that light, with "disconnected detaché", everything in the first position and no vibrato, sometimes it sounds like a child. But there were good moments which I liked.

02:04 E flat! That's why it's more comfortable to use 3rd position :)

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