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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:02 am 
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Bach liked to play on his clavichord at night, as far as I know. I don't know the exact term of that instrument, but it must be an instrument with very low volume, but the possibility to change dynamics


I went to a presentation last year where a man brought his own clavichord and played several pieces. He warned us to be very quiet because the instrument was hard to hear. They had to get someone to turn the air conditioners off and nobody could move a muscle without overpowering the soft delicate sound of the clavichord. The man playing it was able to increase the dynamics only the tiniest amount. So Bach probably played on his clavichord at night because that's when his family was asleep and quiet.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:16 am 
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I went to a presentation last year where a man brought his own clavichord and played several pieces. He warned us to be very quiet because the instrument was hard to hear. They had to get someone to turn the air conditioners off and nobody could move a muscle without overpowering the soft delicate sound of the clavichord. The man playing it was able to increase the dynamics only the tiniest amount. So Bach probably played on his clavichord at night because that's when his family was asleep and quiet.


Yes, he played in the bedroom where his wife slept (more or less). But I have read that he loved to play on this instrument also because of its dynamic capabilities (and not only because it is such a quiet instrument). So my point is only, he had a keyboard what whas capable to get dynamics out, he liked to play on it and he composed inventions what should be played "foremost cantabile". So the presumption is not too far he liked to play the inventions with dyamics, if possible in order to simulate that cantabile style.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 7:32 pm 
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DarthDidious wrote:
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With this it is shown a distinct art to the lovers of the piano (clavier), mostover the students eager to learn, not only to play with 2, but with further progress to play with 3 different voices properly. Foremost the purpose is to get a cantabile art of playing in order to get a stronge taste of the composition.


Sounds pretty proud to me, JSB knew about the little jewels...
Since Bach used the word cantabile together with "foremost" I am pretty sure that he wished to put lots of expression into the playing. However, regardless what the composer liked, the other thing is what the interpret likes - both should be respected.



My feelings exactly. Bach himself wrote the 2 and 3 part inventions with the intent to develop a cantabile style. In my view this makes a dynamically restricted interpretation of Bach completely out of the question.

Of course everyone is free to interpret any given work however they wish, but how you choose to interpret it may not necassarily be interesting for the audience to hear, and when you're performing you can't just ignore the audience's feelings. You've got to make them enjoy the music too. Bach is boring when played with flat dynamics and with little or no expression.


It is very interesting that you, in the last sentence, state that you know how interpretations will affect the entire mankind. I am sure you mean rather that "Bach is, according to my view, boring"...etc. Anyway, I am quite against trying to play something in the way that the audience would like to have it served. The simple reason is that it would probably have you to go for a safe version. So to speak, as we are used to hear it. That is, according to my view, even more boring than an attempt (failed or not) to create a new perspective. Second, I see no reasons for trying to perfectly match how the composer intended his work to be played. That will only support the pianist who is most easy to program and who can play in a computer like manner. Circus artists more than musicians and there are just too many of them at this time.

The perfect example of someone who definitely did not play Bach as Bach played his own work, was Gould. One of the most extreme example is probably his -81 Goldberg Variations where he plays slow, still with the knowledge that Bach himself was an extreme virtouso and played his own compositions very fast. This recording happends to be one of the most (if not most) loved Bach interpretation ever. For what reasons? Probably many, but I believe it foremost is for its beautiful articulations.

What I try to preach is that one must try to create a version of a certain piece that you believe in yourself and feel happy about. Our ideas about music rely on many things and probably things connected to your own life. My idea is not your idea and one must not like each others ideas. But go from there to say that something is wrong, then you take a step right out in the blue...

But from playing the LH detached and RH legato and then invert the pattern in the repeat for each part (that should be pretty obvious), I am trying to add a gloomy or melancolique side of the invention. My pictured idea of this invention is a young girl, perhaps not even 10 years old, running over a meadow, playing a selfinvented game, half-singing (this invention of course) and taking steps in between in melody of the legato (the detached keys are her steps). She is in her own world and dreams and does not notice much of the world outsite. But is she happy? No, the game is just the young girls escape from the vandals of her own age.


But back to the discussions how Bach intended his works to be played, and in particular his Inventions (as this happends to be the evolved topic of my recording). So to speak, how did he play them himself?

First of all, as Chris also says, we cannot perfectly understand what Bach meant by "Cantabile" in his time. There are many people who have tried and there is also a dedicated page for the topic at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Cantabile-Bach.htm A couple of interesting things from it:
Quote:
Dreyfus, Laurence: Bach and the Patterns of Invention Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1996. p.1

I find Bach's invitation, almost insistence, on arriving at a 'cantabile' manner of playing of the above collection of works both striking and important for indicating how Bach himself wished these pieces to be realized auditorily. In light of the serious difficulties facing musicologists employing stylistic analysis of ancient music (as opposed to very successful structural analysis), it makes sense to re-claim the term "style" to refer to the manner in which works are realized by the musician in performance and to merge it with an aesthetic consideration for what may be termed "stylistically informed performance practice". Generally speaking, aside from JS Bach's keyboard pieces in the French style, his intentions for the auditory realization of his mid-period works on stringed clavier instruments were likely to be in the polished, cosmopolitan (Italian) cantabile style of the time, a style which is well documented and taught by the music aesthetician J.J. Quantz in his treatise on playing the flute. Bach does not mention this style himself, probably for the reason that it was a mainstream performance practice, and aside from a natural antipathy toward higher-paid foreign musicians, but mostly out of natural German self-respect, he would never want or need mention it on the title pages of his publications."


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Quote:
Steven Foss wrote (November 17, 2005):
[To Jack Botelho] Cantabile manner of playing is open to interpretation, the cantabile means Singing. Was he referring to a form of articulation rather than an Italian way of playing?

Does it also mean legato?

Why did K P E refer to his (and to his Father) playing of melodies to be like "a string of pearls," each note seperate, with a distinct beginning and end before the next note. (As opposed to overplaying, note release the note until after the next note had sounded, as mentioned by Richard Troeger in his book on Keyboard Intrepretation)

Although Glen Gould over did the non legato style of playing Bach, the overlegato or 19th century style of Piano legato is somewhat out of place in the Preludes and Fantasias (which would be renamed Inventions and Sinfonias when collected). The Cantabile style of playing maybe only very slightly non legato touch, as I have yet to see Italian keyboard works in Bach's form. The String of Pearls works very well for delineating both inner voices while allowing outer held voices to be more audible.

Did we get any wiser? Well, Bach probably meant Italian Cantabile playing. Polished, smooth and singing so the importance is articulation rather than dynamics.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 7:17 am 
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Thanks for your investigation and citations on Bach's cantabile playing, Robert!

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Did we get any wiser? Well, Bach probably meant Italian Cantabile playing. Polished, smooth and singing so the importance is articulation rather than dynamics.


Bach used some keyboard instruments which were not capable to deliver dynamics. All the expression beside the rhythm must be done via articulation. Like on cembalo or organ (let's take register changes and keyboard switches out of discussion here).
But at night he played on his clavichord and liked it because of the dynamic capabilities. So he used dynamics if he could. On piano, we can use it even much more than on the clavichord.
Of course one can limit the expression to articulation, but if a keyboard is capable to deliver dynamics, Bach used it too. So the dynamics, not only the articulation seemed to be of importance too for Bach, if possible.

The other question of course, the one thing is what the composer had in mind, the other what the interpret does. I agree fully with Robert, it is the freedom of the interpret to do what he/she likes. And also the freedom of the listener to comment accordingly, of course.

And I realize too, that the label "cantabile" can have different meanings. For sure I would not like to listen to an invention in the Chopin style with tons of rubato, exxagerations, pedal (over)use. Barenboim goes dangerous near with this in his WTC1 recording, for my taste.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 7:52 pm 
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I agree to what you say but for with Barenboim's WTK which I have never heard.

Anyway, I uploaded another version of the Invention and really took my freedom to make a rather unusual version this time. I do not expect all of you to agree or like it...but I do ;).

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:16 pm 
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I am not convinced this is an improvement on the original version. Yes it has more contrast and things to catch the ear now, but it seems to be trying a bit too hard now, possessed with a sort of Gould-like determination to be different. All the same, very well done save for one or two weak moments in the RH. The 'female pirouettes' seem a bit more heavy-handed than before.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:52 pm 
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I do not pretend that I am not a Gould fan, nor that this interpretation has nothing to do with him, but it is actually an advice from my piano teacher to explore a slow version (really slow) of this invention. I mean, all the basic interpretations have been done already. And it feels right to me, at least yet but you can expect me to re-record many of the inventions...perhaps even several times. I will not let them go until I have a complete set I am really happy about.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:18 am 
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I love to play the same Bach piece a dozen times in a row, each time playing it very differently than the previous.


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