Still trying to master this one - not easy for me. Sigh
However, to stay on topic, my favourite chaconne is Hahn's.
Chaconne Partita #2 - Hilary Hahn
I hope it can do the same for others on occasion, as we begin our journey through perhaps the most uncertain year in the history of our species.
Ouch, come on let's be a little more optimistic. 2023 is going to be a much better year. Putin will enjoy the same fate as Saddam Hussein. Inflation will be brought under control. Stock markets will recover. No nuclear bombs will be released. Trump will take over as CEO of Twitter. Musk will climb aboard a rocket and head to Mars. Enjoy 2023!
Tired of THE Chaconne, you say?
I'll have you know, Bruce, that it is not merely naughty. It is irreverent.
You deserve to be punished appropriately. You deserve to be flagellated with your expensive bow.
Tired of THE Chaconne????
HoW DAre yOu geT tiRed Of ThE rATher lOnG PieCe oF solO vIoLin muSic We hAve All heArd a MiLlion tiMes???!!!
These are some of my favorite alternative formats for the Chaconne. Brahms wrote a version for piano, the left hand only. (Read what he wrote about it to Clara, he was a real fan of Bach.) Unlike the uber Romantic Busoni adaptation, this is stark in its simplicity and maintains much of the original character. Laurie wrote a nice article about this here with a friend performing it once; my favorite is a recording of Daniil Trifonov at Verbier, who is a bona fide superstar these days:
Next is a transcription by cellist Laszlo Varga for four cellos. Even with lots of help the cello 1 part is really really tough!
But in all seriousness, I think it also has to do with the way many violinists are exposed to the chaconne. Our first exposure to the solo Bach is often that partita's first movement. That Chaconne, tends to be the one movement we avoid until years later. Consequently, there is stigma ( not really the right word - something that is big and scary that we fear to a certain extent) attached to it.
When I returned to violin after my 28 year hiatus, my wife wanted me to pull out that first movement which I'd played too much in my youth. I resisted and started work on the double of partita #1 instead. Until then, I don't think I knew the rest of the solo Bach particularly well. However, while learning the other movements of that Partita, I was listening alot to the complete set of Sonatas and Partitas. It was only then that I really discovered the Fuga in each Sonata. They are somehow more appealing to me than the chaconne.
The idea that stuck was his approach to the opening. Instead of doing the early-20c USSR thing of making it as grand as possible (THIS IS A MASTERPIECE, GUYS!), he played an incisive mezzo-piano, simply marking the dance rhythm. From there, each variation piled just a little more onto it.
I don't know if I would like the whole performance today, but it provided much food for thought.
Bach is indeed a great consolation, which doesn't end with the Chaconne.
I have listened to performances of the Chaconne as saxophone solo and ensemble, clarinet solo and ensemble, guitar, orchestra, and piano. Of those I was most pleasantly surprised by a solo clarinet version, but for me its home remains the violin, and a rhetorical rather than mannerist performance style.
I wish you a happy eventual return to the Chaconne in the future!
Thank you for asking your question. I should not have used the word "rhetorical", as at best it carries a lot of baggage in current usage, and even in the most neutral or historical sense it doesn't exclusively evoke my intended meaning, as of course "rhetorical" style can easily be manneristic. I was led into using the word through positive and, in retrospect, rather haphazard associations with HIP.
But what I'm really getting at is something I haven't found a precise word for: an approach to performing music that relates directly to the way emotion comes through in the more expressive instances of normal speech. Think of a performance that struck you as sounding like someone was telling a story, in which you didn't notice the "performance practice", you noticed the meaning of the music's story.
The easy foil for that is mannerism, the elevation of rules of thumb and conventions to an exaggerated style, to something that has taken on a life of its own. Choose your own example of bombastic exaggerated performance for this.
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Thank you for posting this. In my mind and heart I feel that is the way the Bach Chaconne is supposed to be! I anticipated every phrase and every not correctly (those that were not too fast for me to actually hear).
From the first line, that recording took me back 66 years to when I was working on it trying to "break" the rhythm in sensible ways, but sort of afraid to try too hard to do that. Now there seem to be natural places to do that, and I think Menuhin did it almost exactly "my way."
For many years, now, I have known it would it would be sacrilegious for me to even attempt to to try it ever again. But maybe a New Year's resolution would give me courage. I'll think on it tonight.
Nice fiddle he had those years!