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Bach Partita 6

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by felipesarro, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    You can't imagine how afraid I'm for this evaluation...
    Bach is challenging to play, and there must be some aficcionados where who have better knowledge about him than me...

    In my approach, I chose a unique pulse for all movements. That's because the dances themselves do not have too much connexion with each other, despite the key (and some few motifs). So a unique pulse for all of them is a way to make each dance sound as really belonging to this set and no one else.

    Bach - BWV 830 - Partita No.6 in E minor - 1: Toccata ( 10:05 )
    Bach - BWV 830 - Partita No.6 in E minor - 2: Allemande ( 03:43 )
    Bach - BWV 830 - Partita No.6 in E minor - 3: Courante ( 05:11 )
    Bach - BWV 830 - Partita No.6 in E minor - 4: Air ( 01:23 )
    Bach - BWV 830 - Partita No.6 in E minor - 5: Sarabande ( 07:15 )
    Bach - BWV 830 - Partita No.6 in E minor - 6: Tempo di Gavotta ( 01:56 )
    Bach - BWV 830 - Partita No.6 in E minor - 7: Gigue ( 06:23 )
     
  2. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Can't wait to listen to this! No headphones at the moment, and I'm in the hotel lobby which has loud music, but I started listening to your Courante for the tempo. That's about how fast I play it, and my teacher loves it at that tempo, but our resident baroque performance practice expert (also one of the piano faculty who sits on my juries) told me it was too fast. :( Something about CPE Bach saying that the "little notes" are a warning to not take the tempo too fast...
     
  3. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    really? I thought one would say my version was too slow...
    anyway... I do not have much choices, once I chose a unique pulse for all the movements. The toccata is the only one I think the tempo is adequate and shouldn't change. So all the others are fractions or multiples of that pulse...
    this doesn't leave me too much possibilities for the courante... hehe
     
  4. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hey Felipe,

    Overall, this is a courageous effort and it sounds really good. You have control and a nice flow.
    I have two reservations though. First, your forte touch, especially on single notes, is too much forte, stressing. And second, my humble opinion would be to play it some more time to give yourself the chance to hear all details. Polyphonic music is as good as what the player hears. It's evident that some things are not quite clear yet. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to work on it because of mistakes or stuff like this. No, I just mean to play it, to let it settle inside your head. I think you'll be amazed with the difference if you play it honestly for, say a month more.
     
  5. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    thanks, Pantelis!

    I myself can't identify so many passages where polyphony is not clear, but there are always my limitations. hehe
    There is at least one passage in the toccata which I can't play better (regarding polyphony), and I have tried to.

    yeah... since you said, I think the forte touch is problem I have to re-think while playing Bach...

    anyway...
    as you always make nice comments about my recordings, so probably these reservations you said are really alarming! hehe
    I will consider them.
     
  6. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    This toccata, the fugue that is, is probably one of the most difficult fugues as far as making the polyphony clear that I've ever played. And it's not as if I've played a great number of Bach fugues...but I am still struggling with it, experimenting with articulation in an attempt to bring out the subjects properly (I'm playing the partita for a recital in the fall). I thought the gigue would be much more difficult, but it turned out to be a lot easier, and great fun to work on. The toccata is the most difficult movement to play pianistically, by far, I think.

    Okay...I'm going back to my hotel now so I can listen. :lol:
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    These are up on the site.
     
  8. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Yay, a proper listen now! It took me a while to get to this post because I don't have my personal scores with me, so I had to add measure numbers to my PDF, which is more difficult than it should be, lol. I uploaded the numbered version to IMSLP in case anyone is interested.

    The first thing that strikes me now that I have proper sound is that your piano sounds a bit on the honky-tonk side. Is that just the recording quality? It's not anything approaching terrible....just a slight thing. One great thing about your piano, though, is that the sustained notes are more audible than normal. Of course, that's partly just holding your finger on the note properly, and articulating properly (which you obviously did), but the decay seems to be slower than normal, which is great for Bach.

    I caught several reading errors of my own while listening to your recording. I should probably listen to recordings of it more often for that reason. :lol: I tend to memorize quickly, and I often make reading errors that don't sound off with the harmony. Anyway, I have a lot of comments, most of which are intended to help me work out how I will perform it at my recital.

    Toccata- I really liked your interpretation of the opening. It was fairly strict as far as tempo goes, though, and I was taught that tempo should be fairly free in toccatas? (Obviously not too free, but not so strict either?) You're not the only one that plays it that way, though, and I'm not trying to make a criticism, but rather asking for your own expertise on the subject (I have little expertise when it comes to baroque performance practice).

    I really like the fact that you play the fugue slow enough to do the ornaments in the thicker polyphony, where they aren't marked. The first time I played it, I didn't, and I notice that most people don't play the subject ornaments throughout (for an understandable reason - it's already difficult even without the ornaments throughout! Especially in places like mms. 46-48 ). Gould was the first pianist I heard play it that way. That was after my first performance of it, and ever since I've wanted to play it that way, and I'm trying to re-work it with the ornaments included. Though I think it's even better if you can do the ornaments on the subject fragments, such as at mms. 51-52, 60-63, 78-81, etc., especially because it's otherwise so difficult to make the polyphony clear in those spots.

    Another performance practice question - I noticed that sometimes you play dotted-8th/16th groups like double-dotted-8th/32nd instead (in mms. 8 and 20, 104 and 108 ). Is this something that is understood in performance practice, perhaps a matter of taste? Or is your score actually marked with 32nd notes? I'm using the Bach-Gesellschaft edition, so it wouldn't surprise me if there are mistakes in it, though it's generally a fairly sturdy edition.

    In my score, in m. 50, the soprano moves down to F# after the 2nd D in the alto voice, and you hang on to the G there, delaying the move down to F natural accordingly. Is that an edition problem, or a reading error?

    Also, I appreciate little things like the suspension of the dominant pedal in m. 69.

    Allemande - Not too many comments on this one, as it's a very good performance. In measure 4, do you have a mordent marked on that last E in the soprano? I have a regular...um...not sure what it's called, but the same sort of trill used in the fugue of the toccata. It doesn't make much difference, but I'm asking for reasons of my own performance again. If it should be a mordent, I'll add that to my list of reading errors/edition differences. :D

    In m. 7, my edition looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    ...and you repeat that E in the alto on the 4th beat with the A# in the soprano, on that final 32nd, both times. Is that an edition difference?

    Also, in m. 19, my edition looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    On the 4th beat in the alto, it has a 16th note for that F# and a 32nd for the A# in the soprano, but you play them together as 32nd notes. Edition difference or reading error?

    Courante - Now that I can hear the recording properly, I realize I do take the this a bit faster - probably at about 174 to the eighth note. Something like that. Something sounds funny in m. 96 - are you playing B-flats there? I'm in an internet cafe listening on headphones, where the music is slightly not as loud as in my hotel lobby, but still loud enough that I'm having difficulty picking out exactly what you're playing there. :lol: Great job on this one - a very clean performance of a tricky piece. I do a lot of things differently stylistically, but I don't find comments on interpretation issues to be all that helpful, so I'll refrain from commenting. :D

    Air - Almost nothing to say about this one, except that I think it would sound better if you didn't pedal on the run in the 2nd ending of the B section - it came out blurry. Great job on this one.

    Sarabande - In m. 11, my edition looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    With the 32nd notes even in the soprano on the 3rd beat, and you play the first two as 64th notes. Edition difference or reading error?

    In places like mms. 20-21 in the soprano, you seem to play the 64th notes like triplets rather than regular 64th notes. Is this a performance practice thing, or is my ear being too nitpicky?

    In m. 23 the second time around you make an error in the LH, but I'm sure you're aware of it as you played it correctly the first time.

    In m. 28, I would suggest being more strict with the rhythm. I'm not sure if you were employing rubato or just having trouble with the rhythm, but seeing as how it's probably one of the trickiest bits rhythmically in the entire partita, I'd guess the latter, and I'd venture to say that the former is probably a bad idea in this particular spot (always a bad idea to use rubato in the bits where it might be considered cheating :lol:).

    In m. 30 (and I recall specifically asking about this the last time someone submitted this movement), my edition looks like so:

    [​IMG]

    ...with a 16th note at the end of beat 3 in the soprano. You play a 32nd note and the last person who submitted it played a 32nd note also. Edition difference? I've gotten rather attached to playing it as a 16th note, just for the contrast from previous rhythms, which makes a nice stark intro to the climax that follows IMO.

    Also, in m. 32, my edition looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    With attention to the soprano on the 3rd beat, you play D#-E-F#-E-F#, first of all, and this says D#-E-D#-E-F#. Also, you go to a G on the last 32nd note rather than an F# the first time, but the second time you don't so I'll assume that's an error...but as for the first issue...edition difference or reading error?

    Last question - in m. 35, I have a long ornament marked on beat 3 in the alto (or tenor, if you prefer) rather than a turn. Edition difference?

    Gavotte - This is the only movement I haven't worked up yet.

    I have wondered about the proper way to treat the 16th notes in this one, because of issues that arise such as in m. 6, but I don't think I've heard all of the 16th notes altered to match the general treatment of m. 6 (meaning the groups of 2 16ths and 1 8th, rather than the dotted-8th/16th groups, which I have been told are supposed to be played as quarter/8ths in triplet to match with the triplets). Is this a performance practice thing I'm not aware of? Because I have asked about m. 6 before, and I notice most performances treat the 16ths that way, but only in spots like that.

    Gigue - In m. 33, I have D natural rather than D# in the soprano. Edition difference?

    Also, in m. 44, the D# isn't changed to D natural until beat (half note) 3 in my edition - is it changed earlier to natural in yours?

    _________________________________________________________

    Sorry for the longwinded review. :lol:

    Overall, a very good solid performance. The only thing I would nitpick overall is that there isn't much contrast on the repeats, but that is something I struggle with myself, so I really don't have any room to talk. Great job! :D
     
  9. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    Hi, Terez!
    At first, thanks for taking your time to listen to my recording. hehehe

    Well...
    you pointed out lots of MY reading errors... :oops:
    My editions is Urtext. (for Bach, my teacher doesn't allow me to use any other edition except the Urtext)

    I'll make a resume of all my reading erros:

    Toccata: m50
    Allemande: m7
    Courante: m96
    Sarabande: m11, m30, m32
    Gigue: m33, m44


    Now I'll make a resume of differences of edition:

    Allemande: m4 (yes, a mordent)
    Sarabande: m35


    Now, where you're nitpicking (haha):

    Sarabande: mms 20-21


    About rhythm... in my edition, there are comments about them and how they should be played.
    I'll transcribe them:

    Allemande: m19
    "The sixteenth note after the dotted eighth, which in the composer's copy is exactly over the last thirty-second note of the lower voice, is to be struck simultaneously with the latter."

    Gavotte:
    "In the composer's copy, the sixteenth notes after the dotted eights are apparently written deliberately exactly below or above the last eighth note of the triplet. They are to be struck simultaneously."

    Toccata: mms 8, 20, 104, 108
    I myself did this because I liked the way it sounded... and my teacher haven't complained...
    If a toccata should have a "free tempo", so maybe I can use this argument for playing this way... hehehe.

    Sarabande: m28
    I did rubato intentionally for both musical and technical reasons (yes, it's even difficult to read that measure...). My mistake if it sounded bad... :oops:


    Now about style:

    I used to play it in a much freer way, but then my teacher told me not to do this. Probably the reason is only that he didn't like it this way...
    I don't know what would be more "baroque" in style.


    At first, I was playing this fugue in slow tempo (because I like it this way) and WITHOUT ORNAMENTS. then my teacher said I should play the ornaments everytime the theme appears. but he told me not to play them if they are fragmented... then there would be a contrast between exposition and divertimento.


    I really don't know if I am allowed to do that, but I like it. hehe
    I like it so much, that even if someone said I shouldn't do it, I would do it even so! hehe


    I tried to make a "pastel" sound... sorry if sounded bad. :oops:


    I refused to add any other ornament to the repeats in this difficult work! hehe
    Anyway... I'm not good at it. If I did that, it would sound artificial.


    After all these reading errors, you have courage to say that?
    hahaha


    Well, I don't know. I'm terrible about choosing how to record... then what to do with the raw material... (reverb, equalizing, etc.)
    But usually I do a little equalizing which smooths the sound and boost the bass. but I don't do it when I record Bach...
    with Bach, I leave the sound the way it was recorded.


    Thanks again, Terez!
     
  10. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    Terez...
    this "last person" is me. it was me who previously submitted an incomplete version of this Partita, with the exact same version of this sarabande...
    hehehe

    I really don't know if this is good for Bach.
    Bach didn't like pianos. He wrote for other keyboard instruments which don't sustain notes as well as piano does...

    Maybe it's a problem. Once I submitted a Sinfonia by Bach (no. 11) and people complained because of the dissonances. There are lots of seconds (sometimes minor seconds) in this Sinfonia and people said it sounded strange...
     
  11. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    No problem - I love the piece, obviously, and your comments have been helpful to me as well. :D

    I am so happy to hear that m. 32 of the Sarabande was indeed an error on your part (and on the part of the other person who submitted it recently), by the Urtext, because I really am attached to it that way. :D And also glad my ear wasn't playing tricks on me in m. 96 of the Courante...


    I'm also sort of attached to that long trill in m. 35 of the Sarabande. :( But thanks for clearing these up - I'm glad there were only two errors in the Bach-Gesellschaft edition - I think my ear is pretty good so I doubt I missed any. :D


    :lol: I thought so...


    Hmmm...interesting...

    I knew this already (sorry if I wasn't clear - I tried to be :( ) but I was referring to the soprano rhythm, such as the first beat of the first measure. I most often hear it played like a triplet.

    Indeed, you may use that argument. :D I was just curious as to whether it was something that is understood in performance practice, or an edition difference.

    hehe, no need to apologize...just be aware that anyone who is familiar with the piece will likely realize that you were having difficulty with that measure, unless you play it with strict rhythm.




    Here is a link that explains toccata performance practice. Toccatas generally exchange improvisatory sections intended to be played without strict tempo, with passages in a more strict tempo (in this case, the fugue is of course strict tempo, and also probably mms. 9-12 and mms. 21-24, though I'm not so sure about this - my teacher suggested playing these measures in particular in strict tempo, but I really don't know what Bach intended). But I think that, other than the fugue section, most of the rest of the toccata should probably be very improvisatory in nature. I am curious as to what Chris would say about this, though - I know he dislikes rubato in Bach, but I wonder how he feels about the improvisatory toccata sections. I should go listen to one of his toccatas (I'm sure he's recorded at least one :lol: - I usually only listen to pieces that I know, unless I have lots of free time).


    In my opinion, the contrast is provided simply by the fact that the subject is fragmented rather than whole, and without ornaments, those fragmented sections seem to be weak, from a compositional standpoint (and definitely difficult to articulate in a way that makes the polyphony clear). But I can understand that you probably have to play it as your teacher tells you. :D


    Allowed? lol...I suppose it depends on your opinions about performance practice. I know that Gould often suspends tones that are not marked to be suspended (and I do it far more often than you did, and always have, even before I heard a recording of the piece, and I was happy to discover that Gould mostly does it in different places). I think it adds character to the piece, and often the practice can augment the polyphony (particularly hidden polyphony, of which Bach was fond).

    For such a large work, your reading errors were honestly few. Here is my list (not too specific, because I will know by looking at the measure what I have been doing wrong):

    So you see, you are not alone in reading something wrong every now and then. :lol:

    Thank you for submitting! :D
     
  12. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Ahhhhh....thank you for clearing that up! :D Now that I have had an exchange with you, I know you, so I won't make that mistake again....

    Hmmm...it wasn't that Bach did not like pianos. He was actually quite interested toward the end of his life in finding a piano that he was satisfied with, but they were a very new invention so this was difficult. Frederick the Great, employer of CPE (I think it was CPE - one of Bach's sons in any case), was hoarding most of the pianos that had been made so far in his palace, and from what I understand, he didn't maintain them properly. In any case, those prototypical pianos were hardly comparable to the modern piano. Also, Bach's instrument of choice was the organ, and the organ of course sustains notes far better than any other keyboard instrument, and I think that his organ writing got him into the habit of writing suspensions for the harpsichord (or perhaps clavichord) that would have decayed before time on those instruments. I suspect Bach would have rather enjoyed a more extended decay on those instruments, and I also suspect he would have loved the expressive potential of the modern piano. He perhaps would have written his music differently for a modern piano, but that does not mean that his keyboard compositions cannot be played pianistically. Also, if he did not want the notes to be suspended (despite the short decay of the harpsichord which he was no doubt aware of), he would not have written it that way, IMO. He certainly had no difficulty being specific with his suspensions/rests, on the whole, so I find it hard to believe that he would have been dissatisfied with a longer decay period in the case of those "impossible" suspensions that he wrote.
     
  13. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    Sorry.
    There is no indication about it. But if it was intended to be played like triplets, so why the hell would Bach have written this piece that way? wouldn't it be easier changing the time signature to 6/8??
    hehe
     
  14. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    Certainly. It's just that I hadn't reflected that much when I said that...
    hehehe


    That would be the music of Franck or Reger.
    hehehe


    and pedal is an essential part of the piano, so it must be used in Bach (in quite different way, of course)
     
  15. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Well, I think this was a matter of Bach adopting the various national styles that were employed at the time. This style of writing was the French style, where there was a great deal that was understood but not written out exactly, such as notes inégales. From what I understand, the Italians were very disparaging of this French practice, and they believed in writing everything out exactly as it should be played. I sort of agree with the Italians. :lol:
     
  16. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Hmmm, it doesn't look like Chris has recorded any Bach toccatas after all, unless I am missing one in another category (obviously, there are toccatas, such as this one, that are not standalone).
     
  17. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    well... I don't know...
    does this make sense for Bach? (I'm just asking... I don't know.)

    this Partita is not a French Suite (though the partitas are related with the French Overture), and even Bach's French Suites doesn't follow a French manner, according to Wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Suite

    "One usually calls them French Suites because they are written in the French manner." This claim, however, is inaccurate: like Bach's other suites, they follow a largely Italian convention.


    But this is Wikipedia. who believes??
    hehehe


    anyway...
    playing that passage like triplets make it sound less strange. why only 4 measures of the whole gavota would be differently?
     
  18. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Yeah, that's one of the things that my keyboard lit professor pointed out, that the French overture is not really all that French in style, and neither is the Italian concerto all that Italian in style. The wiki link on the notes inégales points out that Bach used notes inégales, but he notated them (an example is the French Overture, Variation 16 of the Goldberg Variations). It's simply the process of unwritten, but understood notes/rhythms, that is distinctly French (though Couperin was an exception, if I remember correctly, even notating his ornaments exactly - strange because Couperin was, in his day, somewhat representative of the actual French style, as he was the court composer for Louis XIV at Versailles). Anyway, Bach undoubtedly intended some unwritten/understood things for his music, but it's not as if he was following a set rule (not that anyone did, really).

    IMO, one of the (many) things that makes Bach great is that he took these various national styles, including the German style, and he made them his own by virtue of simply having written the most impressive compositions of his time (perhaps of all time). I noticed this recently in particular because I had to prepare a lecture on the Goldberg Variations, and one of the things I was asked to concentrate on was the way Bach illustrates his familiarity with those various national styles, and it turned out that the lines between French, Italian, and German styles aren't all that clear in the Goldberg, despite the fact that the Goldberg does indeed illustrate those styles clearly. Does that make sense? :lol:

    So, I'm not really sure if anyone knows for sure how Bach intended the Gavotte to be played, beyond the fact that it's not supposed to be polyrhythmic, as it appears to have been written. I do know that most of what is known about Bach performance practice comes from his sons (I think CPE in particular, who wrote a couple of books).
     
  19. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    my knowledge about Baroque is really small...
    but what I know is that there were lots of stuffs which were not written but was kinda common in that time. anyone would know how to play it, the ornaments and even the tempo. certainly part of these "how to play" were lost.

    but besides that, the performer was supposed to take a little liberty, at least in ornaments, wasn't it?


    Baroque is interesting because at first it seems that you do not have almost any liberty... you can't take rubato and dynamic as in romantic music...
    but once you get inside this world, you see you have many possibilities, much more than in Romantic music.
    see how different Tureck, Gould and Schiff sound... all are authoritative.

    what happens to other periods of music is different. one has to fit the style of the composer, and if you too far from it you'll be considered a bad pianist.
     
  20. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    I just checked what a honky-tonk is.
    I couldn't understand clearly, but it's a bar which used to have an upright piano. the name comes from the mark of the piano which was common in these places... "William Tonk & Bros".

    yes, I play on an upright, so that's why it has a tonk-like sound.
    hehehe

    but mine is a Grotrian-Steinweg, not a Tonk.
     

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