Practising Bach’s Partitas and Sonatas for Solo Violin

This work from Johann Sebastian Bach is a staple for every violinist.  I have been playing and learning these pieces since I can remember.  

Even though most of the music is composed only in the first position, it is ever so challenging with the half position changes and use of second and even fourth positions. It has to be also stylistic sound meaning that Bach hardly wrote any expression to it. So one can have a wider room for interpretation. 

Unlike many other conventional pieces where identifying a theme and phrase after another would be more obvious due to the changing rhythms in the composition, in Bach’s composition like many other Barouque Era pieces have more or less the same rhythm throughout with little rests in between. Here is the Fugue from the second Sonata in A minor that I am currently working on to see what I mean about this:

The phrases occur in almost repetition and you can play each phrase with a different zest and feel but of course not too much so that the piece does not sound comical but tasteful. 

The preceding Grave (alike to the First sonata in G minor-Adagio) had its different challenges with the semiquavers and  demisemiquavers (16th and 32nd notes), every beat had to be calculated in an ever so precise manner to add up to the 4/4 timing, not too late or early.  I don’t find such similar type of practise in other genre of violin Repertoire. 

I love in these pieces, that there is so much room for interpretation.  They are like Bible verses where they can be digested again and again always in a different angle to be explored. 

The quality of it being a solo violin performance without any accompaniment is that not only rhythmically precise, the intonation has to be also ever so precise. On the whole, I have certainly improved much of my playing in harmonic intervals (double, triple and quadruple stops) because of practising these. I feel like whenever I practise, I’m like a conductor, conducting a choir (being in alto section in church choir at a young age has given me an advantage to be sensitive to this), always listening to the precision of the weight of notes and that they sound accurately in tune and controlling my speed of the bow to execute the exact sound that I want to achieve for every note. -the polyphonic texture certainly does come alive!

I love it! And if I could, I could go on for hours practising Bach. 🙂

A tip on practise would be to conquer Bach in short phrases or sections. In every piece of this work, be really disciplined not to move on to the next section till it is really 120 per cent precisely executed. As you would find sections thereafter easier and easier to play. 

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