Thursday, October 30, 2014

Refining the Bach G major cello suite

About a week ago, I was offered the opportunity to play a solo piece on a concert that is taking place next weekend. It's a series featuring chamber music, basically just for fun -- no one is paid, and there's no admission charge. Since this is something that doesn't happen to me that often, I said yes, and my suggestion of the first Bach suite as my repertoire was met with enthusiasm.

I've performed it before, in its entirety and in bits and pieces here and there (I remember playing the prelude for a fashion show once!) and didn't think it would be such a big deal to put it together. But naturally, the more I have delved into the piece the pickier I have gotten about how well I want to play it.

The bowings especially have made me think hard. There are slurs marked in the original copies of the piece (there is no manuscript in Bach's hand), but they are not consistent and often seem erroneous -- grouping notes or adding articulations in odd places. This invites experimentation, and with every cellist doing it differently, there's no one right way.

So I've been going through each movement trying to decide exactly how I want to play it. In recent years, in contrast to the rather gluey Romantic interpretations of the past, many cellists have "gone for Baroque" with it (sorry) -- using lighter bowing, faster tempos, and crisper articulation. My explorations are a little more in this direction.

It's a bit daunting, in the sense that I realize how slapdashedly I've been playing it all this time. But at the same time, it's fun because I do have the time to work on this now, and I much more master of the tools required (mostly patience, awareness, and trust in my abilities).

1 comment:

maikaljj said...

I thought haven’t read such distinctive material anywhere else