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Bach help


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#1 KiwiMusicMum

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 05:49

My daughter has decided to play the JS Bach sonata as part of her LRSM alto sax programme. She has started the research for the VV and knows it’s not actually by JS Bach, but might be by CPE or someone else. So she doesn’t know how to research it. She’s trying to work out who *she* thinks composed it, but even scholars can’t agree. She really is unsure how to proceed with her research, let alone what to put on her programme notes when she gets that far. What would you advise?
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#2 BadStrad

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 09:56

Why not just say that there are questions about who composed it? She could then talk about the elements that are similar to JS Bach's style (or whoever). As long as her performance fits what she's written.
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#3 Invidia

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 11:19

:agree:

 

This kind of sentence would probably lead the examiner to ask about it in the Viva and she could elaborate then!

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#4 Clovis

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 16:40

Is there an editorial intro in the score that might help? My edition of the Bach flute sonatas has an interesting discussion of No.2, which is possibly by CPE rather than JS. At the end of the day no one will ever know who wrote it, so there's no 'right' answer, just individual hunches. Being by one composer or the other doesn't alter the quality of the music, just the historical background.

 

A familiarity with the arguments for and against is what your daughter needs, and she doesn't have to make a big thing of it unless it's an aspect of the piece that she particularly wants to highlight in the notes. In which case, as Invidia says, it may come up in the viva.


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#5 Hildegard

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 11:10

It's presumably BWV 1020 - originally in G minor for violin and continuo? I'd certainly mention that it is now frequently ascribed to Bach's son, CPE, and that it has been arranged for a number of instruments, including flute as well as saxophone. The original accompaniment is for basso continuo - so only the bass line is authentic, the rest of the accompaniment being the work of a modern editor, and hence there are differences in the accompaniment according to which edition is used. This might give rise to discussion about the nature of basso continuo and figured bass in Baroque music. There is also the interesting point of how well the music sounds on an instrument (the saxophone) that was unknown in the lifetime of either JS or CPE Bach, as well as being accompanied by an instrument (the piano) that neither Bach would have expected (they would have most likely expected harpsichord and cello).

 

The structure is also important, and very typical of the late Baroque solo sonata: three movements (fast-slow-fast) with the outer movements in the minor and the middle movement in a related major key (the submediant).

 

The stylistic differences between JS and CPE Bach are interesting, but probably a little advanced for this level, especially as this sonata was probably written in 1734, making it a very early work for CPE (i.e. it's in a late Baroque style, like the music of his dad, rather than in CPE's later, pre-classical empfindsamer Stil).


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#6 KiwiMusicMum

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Posted 25 May 2020 - 09:49

Thanks. It’s apparently an oboe or flute sonata. Not a violin one, although some early references have it as violin. Not even that is agreed and we have read a lot about the possibility that it might be CPE but quite possibly by another Bach, but not JS. So I wonder how much she will be asked about stylistic elements and what *she* thinks. Fortunately she’s pretty good at analysis and enjoys it! It’s just such an enormous topic and she could get asked such a wide group of questions and she likes to be well-prepared. So we are wondering at what point she should stop. Any other tips for LRSM prep? Her DipARBSM viva was about 25 mins and she really enjoyed herself.
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#7 drdavidlee

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Posted 27 May 2020 - 13:10

As an amateur organist and a professional scientific researcher, a research without a concrete answer can already be valuable enough. A comparison with other works by CPE Bach AND quoting examples to argue against looks like a good, stimulating study with enough insight into the style.


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#8 Hildegard

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Posted 30 May 2020 - 07:44

Thanks. It’s apparently an oboe or flute sonata. Not a violin one, although some early references have it as violin.

It's very difficult to be certain unless there is evidence from the range (e.g. that the original descends below middle C, in which case it must have been for violin). The fact of the matter is that at the time, works of this sort were typically published as suitable for a variety of instruments in order to maximise sales. For instance, Handel's Op.1 solo sonatas, were published in 1730 (so exactly contemporaneous with the work in question) as suitable for flute, oboe or violin (with basso continuo). This is, perhaps, yet another aspect of music of the period that your daughter might be prepared to discuss - and, of course, it is a good argument for playing the work on the sax if composers of the age weren't bothered about which instrument is used for the solo part! - or was it that they were "not bothered" or was it that they were more interested in "maximising sales" ? :rolleyes:

 

PS Nearly forgot: it may be important to remember that because a basso continuo accompaniment generally requires two players (one of a chordal instrument, the other of a bass instrument), the number of performers need for a baroque sonata is more than the description might suggest. Thus, a trio sonata needs four players, a solo sonata needs three. Life is never simple!


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#9 EllieD

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Posted 21 June 2020 - 07:54

or was it that they were "not bothered" or was it that they were more interested in "maximising sales" ? :rolleyes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neither probably - I suspect the notion that a particular piece must be written for and played on a particular instrument or instruments is a fairly modern one. Back then, things weren't so standardised. Just think of all the repertoire for "keyboard", for example. Even two flutes, say, made in two different countries could have been very different from each other in terms of the sound produced. The music that was written then was designed to sound good on different instruments as the composer was thinking that at the time. A sax can definitely bring a new dimension to baroque music and I am sure the composer would have been interested to hear it.


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