Saturday, April 04, 2020

stay home play Bach

It may be months before people can go out and play music together (before then we could perhaps launch street orchestras with one parking space per person?), so it's a good time to study JS Bach's unaccompanied works which are a bit like playing chess against yourself, as there are various voices, or solo plus accompaniment, all to be played by one person with one instrument.

In the last two years I found my way through JSB's partita for flute and also his son's response, CPE Bach's sonata for unaccompanied flute, also in a minor. So now, faced with the complete lack of ensemble opportunities, I'm tackling the cello suites, which are a somewhat bigger mountain to climb. I started with the bourrees from the 3rd suite (movt. 3.5), and got the hang of them in a month. (So at one movement per month, the suites will keep me challenged for three years, by which time it will hopefully be safe to play in ensembles again.)

Next stop: the minuets from the first suite (movt. 1.5). I understand this is one of the easiest movements (it has been an exam piece for ABRSM grade 6 at one point). Not sure in which order to proceed after that, but in a forum I've seen a cello teacher suggesting to go through the first suite back to front, so I might do that. Helped by the fact that the second-hand copy of the score I bought at a charity shop for £ 1.50 has fingerings and annotations pencilled in for the entire first suite as well as for movt 3.5. So far these markings have worked very well for me, so I am very grateful to the previous owner for this help.

Recordings and tutorials:

Complete first suite on soundcloud by Mischa Maisky.

Denise Djokic performs the minuets (2012)

Patrycja Likos version is a useful starting point as she performs it straight and the the fingerings are very clearly visible at all times.

Inbal Segev's musings on the first minuet

Inbal Segev's musings on the second minuet
(funny that this has just under half as many views as the video for the first minuet)

The nyckelharpa version

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