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#1516652 - 09/16/10 02:57 PM Re: BACH DYNAMICS [Re: Gerard12]
Feminicricket Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Gerard12
I was taught to articulate individual lines in Bach in a manner that is similar to what many organists and some hrpschrd-ists do, I believe.

I'm pretty strict on this - much to the consternation of the lazier students who just want to imitate what Angela Hewitt, or even Glenn Gould, does.

But without convincing articulation, it just doesn't sound like Bach to me. Regardless of whatever dynamic scheme you throw on top of it.

As a pianist/teacher, I disagree with much of what the aforementioned artists do in Bach. But yet as a listener - after much struggle to ignore preconceptions - I find what they do to be engaging (and in the case of Ms. Hewitt, really beautiful).

Articulate in what way? non-legato with raised fingers, very seperated but not staccato?
LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.

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#1521011 - 09/23/10 10:11 AM Re: BACH DYNAMICS [Re: Feminicricket]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 787
Loc: South Carolina
I guess I'm not a very good poster,, 'cause everytime someone asks a question about a post, my work schedule becomes insane and I disappear into the non-virtual world......

A blanket staccato, non-legato, or semi-detached doesn't work for me. But varying degrees of separation does. And that's despite the fact that it tries
one's patience to practice, leaving one to wonder if it's worth the effort to work on something that is so subtle........

Anyway, this stuff can be gleamed from any of the kybrd treatises of the 18th cent (CPE Bach, Turk, etc....) not to mention books by Rosenblum and Rosalyn Tureck. I don't know how much of this stuff comes to me filtered through my teachers' tastes and prejudices- and the following is heavily
generalized - but a few highlights are:

Separation before and after ties.

Melodic intervals of a 2nd are legato - end of motivic groups, slurs excepted.

Melodic intervals of a 3rd and larger are separated, but the degree of separation become longer as the interval grows. For me, this works for notes that climb upward, but downward ones rarely sound convincing. And if you're working with slower tempi or longer note values you need to use your own sense of taste.

I could go on and on......I trust that you get the idea. There are a few who dismiss stuff like this as being old fashioned, despite the scholarly lineage.

I think it's a good place to start. Where you end up is up to you.

Edited by Gerard12 (09/23/10 10:37 AM)
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

#1600390 - 01/18/11 09:52 PM Re: BACH DYNAMICS [Re: Feminicricket]
Mike86 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 92
Correct me if I'm mistaken, but no one has mentioned Bach's fondness for the Clavichord, an instrument that, though quiet, is capable of much dynamic refinement. It is also capable of a vibrato effect. I cannot imagine old Bach just playing on one dynamic plane as he approached climaxes, dissonances and certain cadences.

On the other hand, someone mentioned that the organ is capable of dynamic changes through the use of stop pulling. In historically informed performances these days, it is customary not to add extra stops during the course of a movement. It has to do with the movement in question having one particular Affect that it is trying to convey. However, there are some pieces where adding stops seems de rigueur, e.g. the St. Ann Fugue with it's tripartite design. Bach's organs had no Swell division, so there was no gradual opening of the shutters to create pp to ff.

I realize these 2 foregoing paragraphs seems to contradict each other as to how to approach Bach on the modern piano. I accept playing Bach on the piano as a sort of transcription, since the piano does things differently than the organ or harpsichord. So I am inclined to use touches of pedal here and there to create a better legato line, and use varied dynamics, within reason. I also may use an inverted mordent rather than a trill at times, since the piano action is heavier, making ornaments a bit harder to execute.

My 2 cents.


#1600527 - 01/19/11 02:50 AM Re: BACH DYNAMICS [Re: Feminicricket]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.

#1600532 - 01/19/11 03:19 AM Re: BACH DYNAMICS [Re: Feminicricket]
AZNpiano Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 6922
Loc: Orange County, CA
I recently asked a student of mine to compare/contrast several recordings of the same Bach piece. It's interesting to know how each artist took his own tempo, made his own articulation choices, and added (or not added) dynamics.

In particular, the Gould recording had the least amount of dynamic contrast (and it was played the fastest), so I concluded that Gould was content to let the music's forward momentum speak for itself, while other artists were interested in bringing out the different layers/aspects of the music via dynamics.

But this is what makes playing Baroque music alive and FUN!
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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