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Partitas BWV 825-830
General Discussions - Part 3 (2003)

Continue from Part 2

BWV 830 (partita #6)

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 8, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Yes, I have played his earlier works that have more obvious "splash" to them: the Chromatic F&F, the toccatas, the Capriccio in Bb, the "Piece d'Orgue" 572, the G minor fantasia 542, the chorale preludes that have the Zwischenspiel breaks, Brandenburg 5 and the other concertos, and the E minor partita #6 (yes, an early work). >
Juozas Rimas wrote:
< Is there reliable information on how old JSB was when he wrote the BWV 830 partita? At least its gigue sounds to be anything but obvious or shallow. The sarabande and the middle part of its toccata are to me an example of amazing depth achieved with minimal means. >
There are versions of the partita #6 and partita #3 in the Anna Magdalena Bach book from 1725: compiled when Bach was only 40. I agree with you, that sarabande and that middle (contrapuntal) section of the toccata are extraordinary.

 

Keyboard partitas 4+6 with the movements resequenced

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 17, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>> A good example here is in Bach's keyboard partitas #4 and #6. He published these himself, at his own expense, and it's quite clear what he actually did...those publications still exist.
But, it's been argued (convincingly, IMO) that the movements might well be played (and intended by Bach) in a different sequence! Namely, the Air and Aria should be played after their respective Sarabandes [at the traditional place for optional movements in suites], rather than before them [where they appear in Bach's prints]. In such a theory, why would Bach do this, putting the movements in a sequence he didn't necessarily intend them to be played? The answer is simple and elegant: to avoid page-turns within movements. The Aria and Air fill up otherwise blank space on a page before the Sarabande, and the player would "know" to finish the Courante, turn a page, play the Sarabande (the normally-expected movement after a Courante), turn back, play the Aria/Air, turn forward, continue with the next movement after the Sarabande.
And why would Bach be so stingy with pages? Because publication was horribly expensive. The book of Partitas cost as much to the consumer as the acquisition of a harpsichord.
A performer who has never heard of any of this will simply go blithely through the book in published sequence, perhaps not even noticing that the Sarabandes are in unexpected places. A performer who has heard of this will at least seriously consider swapping the movements around: both because it (arguably) sounds better in the context of the suite as a whole, and because it is (arguably) closer to Bach's intentions.
Brad Lehman
(and yes, I do swap the movements around in this manner) <<
Johan van Veen wrote:
< I can understand the arguments. But how can one exclude the possibility that Bach would like to do something different, for whatever reason?
I suppose the argument would be: this was convention, therefore Bach didn't need to specify his intentions. If he would like the movements to be played in an 'unconventional' order, he would have stated so.
My question is: do you know any recordings which follow this theory? I have the recordings by Leonhardt, Ross, Belder, Weiss, Pinnock and Suzuki, and all are playing these Partitas as they have been published. Didn't they know, or did they have differend ideas? >
Edward Parmentier, Robert Woolley, and Siegbert Rampe are three harpsichordists who move the Air/Aria to be after the Sarabandes in their recorded sets.

I don't know if Blandine Verlet in her Astree remake also does so; I wouldn't be surprised if she did. (I know she did not in her first set, on Philips.)

Obviously, for anybody who plays them in the published sequence, we don't know if they simply didn't know about the theory, or if they deliberately chose not to do it. The published paper about this theory is fairly recent: 1982. (Karel Louwenaar, in the Journal of the Southeast Historical Keyboard Society.)

I don't think that anybody is trying to exclude the old way as "wrong"....

 

Partitas

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 13, 2003):
Johan van Veen wrote:
< (...) Have you heard Masaaki Suzuki's recording of the Partita's by any chance? If you have what do you think? >
Nope, haven't heard it. With at least 21 other recordings of them here, variously on harpsichord, clavichord, piano, and organ(!), I haven't got around to hearing or buying Suzuki's.

< BTW: Your mail is dated October 12, 2003. I know there is a time difference between the US and the Netherlands, but I didn't know it was this much ;) >
Good point. It's been corrected. That was written from a computer whose clock was having trouble...or will have trouble a month from now. :)

Kirk McElhearn wrote (September 13, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>> (...) Have you heard Masaaki Suzuki's recording of the Partita's by any chance? If you have what do you think? <<
I think they're extraordinary - right up there with the Parmentier and Pinnock recordings.

Uri Golomb wrote (September 13, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>> (...) Have you heard Masaaki Suzuki's recording of the Partita's by any chance? If you have what do you think? <<
I seem to recall that, a while back, Johan -- who started this thread -- wrote rather negatively of Suzuki's partitas (Johan -- do correct me if I'm wrong). In either case, I agree with Kirk's highly positive assessment. (For what it's worth: I am on "middle ground" regarding Pinnock: I enjoyed his performances more than Bradley Lehman has, but they're not at the very top of my list; and I must admit that I have yet to hear the Parmentier version, so I cannot say how the Suzuki compares with that in my own experience). I wrote a review of the Suzuki partitas for Goldberg, which was somewhat ambivalent: I gave the recording five stars, which looks like -- and is -- an outright recommendation; but my opening statement was: "This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking set. Its individualism will not, however, be to all tastes." I actually did express a few reservations, particularly having to do with a loss of continuity in some places; despite which, I found the performances utterly compelling. My general characterisation (again, from the same review): "expansive tempi; varied approaches to registration, rhythm and phrasing, giving each section a unique interpretation; improvisatory freedom; and rhythmic flexibility, which sometimes compromises continuity and momentum."

Johann van Veen wrote (September 15, 2003):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< I seem to recall that, a while back, Johan -- who started this thread -- wrote rather negatively of Suzuki's partitas (Johan -- do correct me if I'm wrong). In either case, I agree with Kirk's highly positive assessment. (For what it's worth: I am on "middle ground" regarding Pinnock: I enjoyed his performances more than Bradley Lehman has, but they're not at the very top of my list; and I must admit that I have yet to hear the Parmentier version, so I cannot say how the Suzuki compares with that in my own experience). >
No, you are right. I have heard it but I was disappointed. It is different from Pinnock's, but I would call it 'better. I will listen to it once again if I have the time, but my impression after hearing it was that is was just too straightforward. It is what Brad would call 'equipollent'.

< I wrote a review of the Suzuki partitas for Goldberg, which was somewhat ambivalent: I gave the recording five stars, which looks like -- and is -- an outright recommendation; but my opening statement was: "This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking set. Its individualism will not, however, be to all tastes." I actually did express a few reservations, particularly having to do with a loss of continuity in some places; despite which, I found the performances utterly compelling. My general characterisation (again, from the same review): "expansive te; varied approaches to registration, rhythm and phrasing, giving each section a unique interpretation; improvisatory freedom; and rhythmic flexibility, which sometimes compromises continuity and momentum." >
I can't remember having heard any rhythmic flexibility. One of my criticisms was the equal treatment of the notes, no real 'speaking' articulation. I have the same problems with Suzuki's recordings of the cantatas. Many people seem to like them a lot, but I find them pretty boring and unimaginative. Suzuki's recordings are too smooth, without any sharp edges. They all sound beautiful, but that is not always a positive thing.

 

Continue on Part 4

Partitas BWV 825-830: Details
Recordings:
1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Partitas - P. Anderszewski [McElhearn] | Partitas - P. Anderszewski [Satz] | Partitas - L. Corolan & I. Kipnis | Partitas - F. Kempf | Partitas - E. Feller 1 | Partitas - E. Parmentier | Partitas - A. Rangell | GV & Partitas - K. Richter | Partitas - B. Roberts | Partitas - S. Ross | Partitas - C. Rousset | Partitas - S. Sager | Partitas - C. Sheppard [Morrison] | Partitas - C. Sheppard [Satz] | Partitas - J.L. Steuerman | Partitas - M. Suzuki [McElhearn] | Partitas - M. Suzuki [Henderson] | Partitas - C. Tiberghien | Partitas - R. Troeger | Partitas - B. Verlet | Partitas - K. Weiss | Rübsam - Part 2 | Rübsam - Part 3
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 Part 4 | MD: Partita No. 1 in B flat major BWV 825
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
Partitas - P. Anderszewski | Partitas - V. Dondysh | Partitas - played R. Goode
|
Partitas - R. Kirkpatrick | Partitas - A. Rangell | Partitas - S. Ross | Partitas - A. Schiff | Partitas - M. Suzuki | Partitas - B. Verlet | Partitas - K. Weiss | Partitas - R. Woolley | Partitas - Z. Xiao-Mei

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Last update: July 12, 2010 21:04:20