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No longer a Bach virgin

Discussion in 'Repertoire' started by pianolady, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    My teacher has assigned me my first Bach prelude/fugue from WTC bk 1 (he's in for a lot of work!)
    So do any of you Bach-o-philes (?) have advice or suggestions for someone about to take the plunge?
     
  2. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    good luck, you'll need it!
     
  3. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    You don't need luck. Everything what is needed you have already, and more!

    Take that book, close your eyes, leave through the pages, stop anywhere and take that couple. You will never draw a blank. :lol:

    Maybe you would like that beautiful slow b sharp minor pair? Plenty of sharps is nothing what would shock you.
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I don’t think I have that one in my book. Is there one of those BMW thingys for it?

    The one I’m starting is 855 in E-minor. Just so happens that it is right in the middle of my book, so it opens up almost automatically.

    The Prelude doesn’t seem too hard, but of course that’s probably a misconception because of all the nuances and technical exactness that I keep hearing you all talk about. Guess I’ll see what you mean as I get more into it. We didn't have time to get into it at my lesson yesterday, and my next lesson is two weeks from now, so I'm on my own until then. The fugue is two voices and only two pages long, which my teacher thought would be good for me to start with – less to manage, maybe? I only played through the first page of it, which took forever.

    Olaf, I listened to your recording of this one here and think you played it nicely. Yikes, that Presto part goes so fast! And I think you have reverb on the recording (?) so I’m not sure if you used any pedal or not. I know there is a lot of varying opinions on pedaling. My teacher’s opinion is that it’s okay to use the pedal sparingly (just tapping it lightly every now and then to enhance some colors.) So out of curiosity, I played through the Prelude with a lot of pedal, and I like it better that way. Guess I’ll have to get out of my romantic music mode for these.
     
  5. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sorry, I misunderstood you - I thought you asked for a suggestion which couple to choose!

    My e-minor pair recording is probably the weakest of my WTC items, especially the prelude is rather uneven. The fugue was for me also not easy to play, even if it has only 2 voices.

    Bach and pedal is of course an endless theme. The keyboards Bach used, were all much more percussive but also clearer or brighter in sound as ourday's piano. Also the organ construction - they used in baroque time a construction where the registers did melt, but the notes are very separated. Romantic organs do melt the notes but not the registers (different principal construction of the organ wind channel). So to me all baroque music has in common that different sound scheme. I really do think the music is composed to suit that different sound. So I would use the pedal more frugal, and in future I for sure will take much more care to articulate not only legato, instead all the shades towards staccato too.
    Of course taste differs, and why not play Bach in romantic manner. See the Barenboim takes on WTC1 and WTC2, that may sound well too - plenty of pedal and romantic style. Bach can take that all, I think.
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Don't you just love when someone makes special attention to one of your recordings that you don't think is that great? Unfortunately, it happens to me all too often. :(
    But you sound just fine to me on this one. :)
     
  7. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    My only advice is...get others' advice. :lol:
     
  8. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    omg....you're a Bach virgin? For real??

    I was just thinking a few hours ago that I really can no longer pretend that I love Chopin more than Bach. I used to think that I did (obviously). I guess Bach just seemed to me to be less passionate, or some such related term. But the more I get into Bach (which I have been progressively doing since I was in high school) the more absolutely enthralled I become with him. So, I love Bach and Chopin equally. :D

    I'm willing to bet that you've got that same view of Bach that I've discarded, and I promise, after you dig into him, you'll begin to discard it as well. It takes a bit to get used to, being sparing on the pedal (I still have to fight using it too much at times) but once you get used to that only sparing pedal, it frees you up to play in the percussive style that Bach obviously intended, with percussive variation on the longer notes (such as the eighth notes in a piece that mainly uses eighths and sixteenths).

    All of the PS recordings of the WTC I/10 set are good, but I especially enjoyed the Grant recording (Prelude and Fugue), though perhaps he took the beginning of the prelude a bit too slow (I say 'perhaps', because that tempo does two good things: it makes for a nice contrast with the presto, and it of course makes it easier to be graceful and musical with the ornamentation and such). The presto section in particular was excellent, as was the fugue.

    Yeah, two voices is less to manage - your set is the only set with a two-voice fugue - but I wouldn't say it's the easiest fugue, even though it usually is labeled as the easiest of the fugues because of the fact that it only has two voices. There are some that are slower and I think easier.

    :lol: :roll: You shouldn't tease her like that!

    I wouldn't suggest getting out of that "mode" at all. Yeah, you're going to have to trim down the pedal, likely. But remember, pedal is okay as long as you're not muddying anything up, or watering down percussive opportunities. And keep that "romantic mode"! Bach and Chopin are very similar in many respects, and there's nothing I hate more than a dry, static interpretation of Bach. Just because his music is mathematically perfect does not mean that it should be played merely mathematically.

    If you want a good example of the heavy pedal interpretation of Bach, and also some romanticism in Bach, listen to Hawley's recording of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor. I don't know that I would use nearly so much pedal with that one in spots, because he does allow it to get a bit muddy in some of those chromatic passages, but overall, I really like his interpretation, and you can definitely get a feel for Romantic Bach from this one. ;)

    You say that as if they are available for free somewhere. :lol: Or am I misreading you? (I probably am. Oh well.) I've only heard Barenboim on the Beethoven Sonatas, and that's been a while. They've got his complete set of those in our music library.
     
  9. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Excuse me, I am sorry - however what I wrote was honest . Yes, I like if someone comments kindly a recording of mine. It was only so, yesterday I listened again to that recording after you wrote the comment, and felt a need to rework again on it: The (my) problem in that prelude is, that during the ornaments in the RH, I did not get it managed that the LH 16th remain really evenly on plenty much spots - no real idependance of both hands. But maybe that's the challenge old Bach gave his pupils and us in order to grow with that, I dunno.
    Also the fugue - I agree with Terez, it is absolutely not the easiest one. It has "only" two voices, but they are tricky combined. Especially I like those bars, in which one hand plays 8th, the other 16th notes and vice versa - that eludes to switch the phrasing in both voices accordingly.

    That's absolutely my opinion too. And I agree with you too reagarding that otherwise "romantic mode" in Bach. Playing in a more percussive style does not mean that it is played without feeling.

    For me, the main difference between the composing style of the late baroque time and the following music styles, that most of Bach's work are polyphonic works - different voices which play along.
    That's why I think all what helps to ease the perception of the following up of the different voices serves the music. A pedal tends to blurr the voices, also an enduring legato throughout a piece. Thereas a tasteful articulation and if possible, independant treatment of the voices helps for the perception.

    @Terez: Sorry, I have the Barenboim recording only on CDs, as far as I know they are not available for free. I mentioned that only, because I can imagine that Monica would like that playing style since it is a bit "Chopin-like". It is not really my taste however. My favorites are the recordings from Richter and Schiff for the WTC, both are availabe for free (if you can read Cyrillic:lol:) .
     
  10. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I have had one of my favorite fugues on my mind all week, and I have been playing it some, though I should be spending my time on my current repertoire and my Bach project! Anyway, it is the fugue from the Sinfonia of the C Minor Partita (the fugue is the third distinctive section of that piece, to the end, and tbh this recording really makes me want to make my own, because I interpret it very differently). It is only a two-voice fugue, and nowhere near easy. The five-voice fugue from the WTC I-22 in B-flat Minor was much easier. :lol:
     
  11. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sad but true – Oh, my first teacher gave me the books like Mozart’s little minuets and Bach’s shorter pieces. To me it wasn’t all that exciting and I hardly practiced back then because it all came pretty easily (not so anymore :( ) and besides, I wanted to be outside chasing butterflies or lightning bugs. My poor teacher had a dickens of a time getting me to sit still for anything longer than two pages, but when we came to my first Chopin waltz, everything changed. She was so happy that I finally expressed a passion for something that we kept to more romantic style music. And my next teacher steered me back into Mozart sonatas and wanted to get me into Bach (he even had his own harpsichord in his studio and that I played but wasn’t crazy about – too tinny sounding), but I was too busy being a teenager to be interested in learning any preludes and fugues. Now that I’m taking lessons again from a concert pianist with a doctorate degree in performing and piano pedagogy, I’m like starting all over again. The bad part is that I have a lot of ‘undoing bad habits’ to do. The good part is that I have a lot of “doing things the right way” to work on. So hence – it’s back to Bach. Like you said, maybe he will grow on me, now that I’m giving him a chance.



    Ok, I know I’m not the brightest light bulb on the Christmas tree, and someone right now is probably calling me a ‘stupido’. My dad is very smart regarding music and you should see the look he gives me sometimes when I say something so totally off or wrong. It’s that blank stare with the eyebrows raised that says, “How can you be my offspring?” But anyway, what I’m leading to is this: Is there such a thing as b-sharp minor, or is that the joke, and is there a prelude and fugue in this key?
    Terez, you know how we talked about going back to school? Yes, I really need it, but from your other post regarding your Bach project, I don’t think I could get through all of that. And that’s just one of your classes, right?

    Olaf, I think what I said here came off incorrectly. I didn’t intend to make it sound sarcastic – only that I understand how you feel, because I have many recordings up here that I’m embarrassed about and cringe to myself when one of them is mentioned. Sorry if I upset you. It’s beautiful weather in Naperville these days so I’m going to get myself off the computer today (keep myself out of trouble) and do some gardening – maybe chase a few butterflies while I’m at it. I’m glad to know your and Terez’s opinions about pedaling. Last night again, I played the prelude with a lot of pedal and really like it that way. I don’t think my teacher will, though.
     
  12. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    That's the joke - there is no such key as b-sharp minor or major. Of course, B# is enharmonically the same note as C. The key of b-sharp minor would go like this: B# - C## - D# - E# - F## - G# - A# - B#. Since we can't have double sharps in key signatures, we just call it C Minor. ;) B-sharp major would be even worse...

    Of course not - which is why I said he shouldn't tease you like that.

    Yeah, that's just one of my classes, but it's a senior-level class. No worries, Monica. There are a lot of classes you would have to take before a class like that to prepare you, and they're not nearly as hard as they might seem to you now. The first two years at music school are spent on teaching you music theory, starting at the very beginning with how to read bass and treble clefs, key signatures, simple chord structure...you have to start at the beginning because you will have voice majors and percussionists in class with you, and they're freshmen (18 years old and straight out of high school, for the most part), and they know way less about this stuff than you do. Trust me, it would be an absolute breeze for you, Monica. Pianists have it made in music theory, because we are accustomed to reading polyphony, where most other music majors are accustomed only to reading monophonic melodic lines in one clef. Not only are we accustomed to reading complicated polyphony, but we are accustomed to reading two clefs at once!

    Also, music majors have to learn piano. All music majors. I just heard a few of them kvetching about it. :lol: They have to learn it in a class usually with about 20 digital pianos, in a group study type thing. We don't have to do that. ;)

    Also, Monica, that second part of my project might be mind-boggling, but if you look at something like this Anatomy of the Fugue, it becomes much easier to understand. And again, that is a senior level class, and before this class, you are supposed to take two years of music theory, and then also Form & Analysis, and also Counterpoint. I cheated though, because I haven't taken those last two classes yet (they are junior level classes). :lol: I tried to take them this semester, but they were both full, so I took Keyboard Lit instead.
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I sat down at the piano and discovered this myself, but then thought maybe I was missing something. Just give me the ‘stupid-question-of-the-day’ award. :) And who needs school when I have you! :lol:

    Ha, ha, ha – I looked at that Anatomy of the Fugue – Man, there’s a lot of stuff there. Again, way too much for me. I have another one of these internet information sites, this one about Chopin mazurkas - http://www.mazurka.org.uk/

    I don’t understand most of it, but it has nice colorful graphs and pretty triangle things. :lol: What I found funny in a weird way, though, was on the second bullet point, Mazurka Discography, one of the pianists listed is Joyce Hatto. If you recall, there was a big scandal regarding she and her husband making fake recordings. On this particular page, it lists the record companies with the pianists and it says: Con Artist #####. I think “con’ is short for something, but it sure looks strange there.

    Anyway, thanks for all the info.
     
  14. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    :lol: I think it is short for "Concert Artist", because others have "Concert Artist" by their names in the list before her (and I think that's a record label?). But that is funny. :)
     
  15. chopinman0901

    chopinman0901 New Member

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    Wish you the best of luck with playing Bach. He and Mozart (and similar composers - not Beethoven obviously) are two composers I'm not very fond of, no matter how much of their music I play. It's too boring and predictable, but that's only my opinion. I guess I'll always be a Romantic and Impressionist lover.

    I hope you enjoy playing Bach and like his music. Good luck!
     
  16. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    O no, I am the stupid dumb-ass here - I wrote also b-sharp minor/major for that b-flat minor/major pair in my homepage :oops: :oops: :oops:

    Ok, I meant that b-flat minor prelude and fugue. It has 5 flats - for every voice one flat :lol:
    Just counted - if I am right, b-sharp minor would have 9 sharps, b-sharp major would have 12 sharps or so.

    The only excuse I have is that in German the naming is total different:
    English<->German
    B <-> H
    B flat <-> B
    D flat <-> Des
    C sharp <-> Cis

    The advantage of the German naming is that only a German can handle the famous key sequence in a proper way (numerous pieces for that notes were written including from old Bach itself):

    B-A-C-H

    Interesting maybe, for that c sharp major pair with 7 sharps there seems to be another score, coded with d flat major and 5 flats. That's something every Chopin lover will appreciate, since it is one of Chopin's most used keys, so one is more used to that. If anyone has the fugue coded as d flat major instead c sharp major I really would be interested to get a hint for a source to buy that.
     
  17. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Just as an aside, Chopin is quite fond of modulating into keys that have no proper key signature. Like D# major. You don't write pieces in D# major, because that gives you double sharps in the key signature (not allowed!) but Chopin will modulate into those keys without changing signature. :)

    Bach probably does it too, but I'm not as widely familiar with Bach stuff as I am with Chopin stuff.
     
  18. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Speaking of Bach, why is it still "Bach" on the composer side bar in the main site? It should be "Bach J.S." and "Bach C.P" beneath it. :wink:
     
  19. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Putting Bach below his sons, that would you really demand from Chris? I propose instead, putting Bach and Chopin on top of the complete list, and below come the "other" composers, the poor rest. Is also more ergonomic, see the statistics for the most accessed composers. :lol:
     
  20. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    No no! I meant like this:

    Albeniz
    Alkan
    Bach J.S
    Bach C.P (or C.P.E)
    Balakirev

    etc

    I did not imply placing J.S beneath his son, that would be blasphemous :wink: :lol:
     

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