Bach E Major Partita
So I just finished my first run-through of Preludio (tripping, stumbling, falling on the way).
I think I died and ascended to heaven.
Well...maybe not the "died" part.
Also, I'm not really sure I'm going to heaven.
Anyway, it feels pretty good.
What happened to you?
Congrats. I remember practising this piece during a hot summer in my grandparents' town in Poland. I'd spend hours and hours in their automotive garage chipping away at it.
My initial thought in my first run-through was, "Yes! Here we go"! lol
That was a favorite warm-up of Jacques Thibaud-- and was then referenced in Ysaye's Sonata #2, which was dedicated to Thibaud.
Hard to remember. I think I was six years old at the time, just using that as a break between the Tchaikovsky and the Sibelius concertos.
I recently dug the Preludio out and tried to play it through. The section Paul mentions did not go smoothly and I tried to practice it a bit. When I was a teenager and was making my first stab at it I had virtually no trouble with the passage. Which seems to confirm Paul's first hypothesis.
One thing I have decided might be true about the value of Rodney Friend's practicing in 5ths-- apart from all its contribution to posture, hand position, etc., it has the value of more or less removing harmony and tonality from your understanding of the music while you work on it.
The first movement of Ysaye Sonata No 2 is a dollar store version of the prelude, but it's been patched up with virtuoso techniques and Dies Irae.
I didn't have trouble with the string crossings as a teenager and didn't have trouble with them after "returning" in my 40s--except--maybe playing them too fast! I do find that the piece is tough on my left hand in a way that didn't bother me as a teenager.
All these horror stories about losing your technique as you age... I'm scared mom.
Mike--I think the problem for us is trying to regain something after "losing" it because we didn't touch the instrument for 20, 30 years. If you don't quit, you probably won't lose much until--maybe your 70s?
Thank you for all the replies.
I've been "afraid" to go back to the Preludio of the 3rd Partita for the past 10 years. There was a time, before my 50th birthday the bariolage section was sort of part of my daily warmup, but that was over 35 years ago. I could play the movement at "speed," but I had trouble with that part if I went too slowly. I know I should have tried, then I might have the guts to try it again now.
I agree with Andrew about the salon books. For example the Op. 26 romance by Svendsen. Nobody would know that existed if it weren't in "37 pieces you love to play."
Bach's usage of one piece of music in two separate and unrelated works is not uncommon in his immense output. As has been mentioned, the opening sinfonia of Cantata "Wir danken dir" BWV 29 has an organ obbligato (in D) that is virtually identical to the E maj violin prelude. On a 2-manual keyboard that has got to be great fun to play! Bach presumably chose to place this cantata movement in the key of D in order to accommodate the woodwind instruments in his church band.
J, I wonder if Bach was writing with his own abilities in mind, or if he was writing beyond his abilities on the violin. I was under the impression that the partitas and sonatas were not being widely performed in his day.
When he showed them to his friends, instead of taking out a violin, he played them on a harpsichord. Also, as indicated by the relatively low difficulty of most Baroque music, the technical knowledge and capabilities of violinists must have been lesser. This makes me think that they were too difficult for him.
"the relatively low difficulty of most Baroque music" - I must disagree! Check out Heinrich Biber's "Mystery Sonatas," Tartini's "Devil's Trill" and there are many more, and these are just the works that survived for 300 years. I think there were real virtuosos in the Baroque period.
I agree with Mike that the S&P's were most likely to be too difficult for him. One doesn't hear the word "virtuoso" associated with Bach, like one does wirh Beethoven, Mozart, Sarasate et al. But I also agree with Laurie, there was most probably a number of musicians who could play Bach's S&P's very well at the time
2 examples =/= the majority. There is a distinct difference between the words most and all, which you missed out on. Virtuoso Baroque music that can be still considered technically hard today is in the minority compared to the legions of easier ones (Bach violin concertos, Vivaldi concertos, technical difficulty of a lot of movements from the sonatas and partitas (look at the Henle rankings if you don't take my word), technical difficulty of Handel sonatas, and it goes on to an enumerable degree). Also, relatively. I didn't say this, but I had romantic concertos and sonatas in mind when I said this, which compared to standard Baroque concerto and sonata repertoire stands as true.
I had technical difficulties in mind because I am arguing about if Bach could play his music, and technique is the criteria that I hypothesize that he couldn't meet. I don't doubt that Bach was musically capable. So, the part about how Mozart is the most difficult, and the argument of every piece requiring great technique to play well isn't what I am considering. It does take a true virtuoso to play music with artistic sense and style regardless of the pure technical requirements of the piece.
I have encountered the theory that Bach wrote the 6 solo works for Johann Georg Pisendel, a violinist with whom Bach was acquainted. Pisendel himself left behind one sonata for solo violin in a-minor. Rachel Barton Pine has a video on youtube with it.
I read something that Tedi Papavrami talked about delving into Bach after plowing through all the Paganini Caprices (and he really has a virtuoso technique), and he said that the Bach really challenged his bow arm technique and made him totally rethink it.
It's quite amazing the amount of collective knowledge this forum has.
Oh yeah, that cadenza to his 22nd or something violin concerto, and many more I presume. I retract my original statement.