Tag Archives: Bach

The Chaconne Obsession

I don’t even play violin and I am obsessed with this piece of music. I wonder if it would work on double bass?

I have sought this piece out every chance I could get, ever since hearing Alexander Barantschik of the San Francisco Symphony perform it at a private event many years back. This is the most enigmatic and heartwrenching thing Bach ever wrote.

The Chaconne is the last movement from Bach’s Violin Partita No. in D Minor. The story is that Bach wrote this in memory of his wife who had recently passed away, and whether this is true or not you can hear a fair amount of sorrow, longing, and pain in this music – qualities Bach is not typically known for.

More about this work from an interview with Arnold Stenhardt on NPR.

The New Bach

This is a huge find – to discover a yet-unknown composition by J.S. Bach, simply amazing.

Bach composed the work for a soprano, to be accompanied by strings or a harpsichord, to mark the 52nd birthday of the duke of Saxony-Weimar, for whom he worked as a court organist, the foundation said.

A solo soprano was to sing a 12-verse poem beginning with the duke’s motto, Everything with God and Nothing Without Him, written by Johann Anton Mylius, it said.

The work was Bach’s only known strophic aria, in which several stanzas are set to the same music, and the precise date made it valuable to researchers studying the development of the German composer’s style, the foundation said.

And can I just mention how much I love the Translation Widget from the Tiger Dashboard? I was just sitting here on the couch with my laptop reading the news and I wanted to tell her about the story, but my Mandarin language skills have a ways to go for I can engage in any effective dialogue that is more complex than “Please pass the asparagus”. So just quickly hit F12, type in something translator-friendly, and we were finally able to talk abut discovering a Bach manuscript that was saved from a fire at some historic library in Germany.

Bach Progress

I have made good headway into the Prelude to the Bach Cello Suite No. 3, and just about nailed the Allemande and the Bourrées. The Prelude is the key part of this piece and has the trickiest fingering problem in the middle section. I somehow got it going again and remembered all my old fingerings, so it’s just a matter of athletics at this point – putting the strings down to the fingerboard with enough conviction and getting the strings to respond properly. Really, it’s almost no problem if I play it détaché, but getting the notes to speak when played legato that is my challenge this evening.

I also put some new fingerings into my two Koussevitsky shorts – the Valse Miniature and the Chanson Triste. These seem to help my intonation. Again, it is finding the phrasing with the bow that I need to work on – especially with the Valse. I got this Liben edition with a different bowing than I am used to, and I’m trying it out, but it just sounds so rigid and pedantic this way. I think I’ll go back to my old bowing…

Oh goody – my books shipped from Liben. I ordered a new copy of Simandl’s Gradus Ad Parnassum (or as I call it: Gradus Ad Nauseum), a few other technique books, and a few pieces of music. It’s all replacements for crap I had before but cannot find. I can’t believe how much of my old music is missing, while so much of it is still around and intact. Weird. Well it should be no wonder – I’ve moved like 7 times since I last saw it all…

I think I’ve identified a wolf tone on A at the first harmonic. The open A sounds fine. This first harmonic up just seems to conflict with the motion of the spheres or something. I’ve found a workaround with the way I attack it with the bow, but it’s going to have to get addressed sometime because I don’t want to keep compensating for this note in such a key position.

Overall I am amazed at how quickly I am getting my bass playing back in to shape. Practice is a wonderful thing. I can already tell some things sound much better than before, mostly because my bass was never set up properly before and now it really is much easier to play and better sounding.