Saturday, May 30, 2020

memorising Bach

In month three of my Plague Year Bach Project I have managed to memorise a complete movement of the cello suites for the first time, namely the gigue 1.6. Of the two previous movements I've learned to play, the bourrees 3.5 and the minuets 1.5 I picked a favourite (the first bourree and the second minuet) and memorised that completely, but the other one only in parts.

Memorising still is the hardest part, although it is getting a little easier as I learn the language of the suites and recognise recurring patterns more readily. I'm hoping that I can keep up memorising with the next movements at the rate of one a month. Looking for help I found a video by pianist Tiffany Poon showing how she's struggling to memorise a pair of bourrees from one of the harpsichord suites. Which is kind of reassuring to know, and she does pull cute faces when things go wrong, but she doesn't reveal a magic recipe on how to do it.

So, I'm now moving on backwards through the first suite, which brings me to the sarabande 1.4, with a little help from the usual sources:

The video of Patrycja Likos is a helpful starting point as she plays the movements very straight and the fingerings are clearly visible at all times.

For a slightly more engaging performance and more artistic videography, try this recording from Denise Djokic.

And then consider the helpful hints from Inbal Segev. She's done a short tutorial (or two in some cases) for every single movement.

I'm also adding these videos to my youtube playlist "cello repertoire".


I now also have the CD with Inbal Segev's recording of the complete suites, and have been listening to the first and third suite a lot. I like the arrangement of odd numbers on one CD and even numbers on the other, you always know where to find what you're looking for, and I feel it makes a surprising amount of sense musically. (As the suites 4-6 are longer than 1-3, they wouldn't fit on two CDs in numerical order.)

Here's my materials collection:



The Siblin book I've reviewed here.

The studies book includes quite a few artistic choices that I don't agree with, but I still find it helpful to play through some of the studies to get a different angle on the notes I'm learning, as well as for fluency practice.






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