In the process of practising Bach's G maj allemande from the cello suite. I am having trouble with having enough bow for the run of semiquavers in the first full bar of it. I have a Peters edition (Rowland-Jones), and I am doing all the slurs in it. By the time I get to that section, I only have about 1/4 of the bow to use.
Does anyone have any suggestions?
Thanks in advance!
Go to a different edition and you may well find different bowings! This can be a problem with modern editions (19th c and onwards) of baroque music, because the editors put in bowings that they believe are suitable, which may not always be appropriate for the genre.
@Jake - from your post, it appears that you are playing this piece on viola. I also have the Rowland-Jones edition for viola. Trevor's point is a good one; it is always good to have a look at whatever edition seems to be closest to the autograph.
See if you can find an actual copy of the autograph and take that as your guide to slurring. You don't have to follow the vagaries of another performer (and it may just be an editor).
@Elise - there is no autograph. That's part of the problem. I think Rowland-Jones sticks fairly closely to what would be considered the urtext, and the bowing in his edition makes sense to me. If you look at Anna M.'s copy on IMSLP, the bowing of the seven notes slurred in Rowland-Jones version is three and then four. That makes it easier in some ways if Jake wants to follow that bowing but leaves you doing an up bow on the down beat of the next measure.
Eons ago, I think I played from a Henle or Baerenreiter edition that was thoughtfully close to the sources, to the extent possible. It might end up being a cleaner platform onto which you can transfer your own fingerings and bowings.
I think I read somewhere (may even well have been here) that R-J's edition is the closest we violists can get to a Urtext edition of these. But thanks Tom and Trevor, I'll take a look. I would ask my teacher, but I'm not seeing her again until just before Christmas (so a little while yet).
Thanks Tom - then surely you can do whatever you think sounds best (and that is within the style of the composer/period). i.e. don't sweat it!
And remember that slurs represent phrasing as often as they do bowings...
Jake - good luck! You need to do what works for you, be that R-J's bowing, Anna M.'s or something else. None of this is sacred. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that a bowing that works for cellists may not work as well for viola. It is possible R-J's choice of bowings work better for viola than Anna M.'s. I do not play cello, so I can't speak to that.
When playing a cello the lowest-pitch string is closest to the bow hand, unlike viola & violin where the highest string is closest to the bow hand.
@Andrew - that's interesting. Can you please take a look at Anna M.'s copy at the measure in question and let us know how, if at all, a cellist would bow the last eight 16th notes differently from a violist?
My viola teacher
Each time I play one of these piece I make up the bowing as the muse takes me. JSB doesn't seem to mind.
@Steve, @Andrew H. - Notwithstanding what the A-415 crowd thinks, as one of my teachers once said about playing Bach or any of the baroque composers, those composers could not possibly object to anything that made their piece sound beautiful. So, I agree that one should feel free to depart from the bowings. Indeed, with Beethoven, I find that a lot of his bowings are not very good.
I guess Bach was a string expert and Beethoven was not so much.
Tom, I think that teacher of yours was correct. So is Steve.
The Baerenreiter seems OK to me.
@Andrew V. - interesting. It is different from both R-J and Anna. I misread Anna, and she divides the last eight notes into two four-note slurs. The main thing about all three of the bowings is that you do the downbeat in the next measure on a down bow, which is normal and consistent with the baroque practice.
I think Andrew's comments about which string is nearest the hand is a very insightful one. I had not considered that before but it must be a factor for any viola transcriptions of cello music. I have the Arsenault edition of the Bach Cello Suites Nos. 1-4 for violin. They are great pieces. I bet some of the movements would sound great on the oboe.
"how does Barenreiter bow that measure?"
@Gordon - thanks. It is certainly a sensible way to do the bowing.
Martin Jarvis is a useful person to look up on the Cello Suites (He was misreported as regards theories about adultery)
@John - so what does he say?
Paul the biggest difference is how one bows a bass-to-treble chord.
Coincidentally, I've been comparing the BWV1006 Gigue - Baerenreiter with Szerying.
In all of this, it is worth finding out the range of what Bach might have expected people to do in response to his instructions. Without that, you have no chance of getting into his creative process, which would be a real shame.
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