8—The Virtuoso Movements
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77 One word of caution: with the possible exception of the finale of the C-major Sonata , with its constant pedal-like sixteenth-note thread, none of these movements is a moto perpetuo. If one thinks of “presto” as meaning “as fast as possible,” it’s preferable and more effective to translate that as “as fast as the music will tolerate.” By this, I mean that it is very important to punctuate this movement so as to allow the music to breathe. G-Minor Sonata: Presto Inasmuch as the metronome would not be invented for another hundred years, composers had to use other methods of tempo indication. In my opinion, Bach gave a clear signal about tempo in his choice of time signature. His “3 8” indication looks foreign to our eyes when coupled to what is clearly a 6 8 metre. And yet, throughout the movement he alternates long and short bar lines, another unusual but significant practice. The organization of the music in this way indicates a kind of alla breve, with the second 3 8 measure weaker than the first, as it would be had he used 6 8 as his time signature. In 3 8, the basic unit is the eighth-note; in 6 8, it is the half measure, which would suggest a faster tempo. One fairly common error in performance is the “tripletizing” of the sixteenth-notes: chapter eight The Virtuoso Movements 9 25 41 57 69 3 8 &b À Õ À Õ etc. &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œ œœœœœ œœœœœœ œ # œœœœ œ # œ œ b œœœœ œœœœœœ 3 8 3 8 3 8 3 8 3 8 &b À Õ À Õ etc. &b À Õ À Õ À Õ À Õ etc. ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ etc. ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ etc. ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ &b À Õ Õ À Õ Õ À Õ Õ À Õ Õ etc. ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œ œœœœœ œœœœœœ œ # œœœœ œ # œ œ b œœœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œ œœœœœ œ R œ R≈‰ ‰ œ R≈‰ ‰ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œœœ œ œœœœ œ R≈‰ ‰ 78 The Accompaniment in “Unaccompanied” Bach This is obviously incorrect: the metre is 3 8, not 6 16, and besides, it’s impossible to maintain the tripletizing throughout the movement, which results in a bizarre metrical mélange. The metrically correct rendition is: Performing it in this way—being aware of the correct metrical accents and organizing the music as described above—also has the effect of keeping the tempo in check. Half-barring also helps one understand the phrasing: V–I–V–I sequences can be ambiguous: In m. 15, the slur, which is ambiguous in the manuscript, should for violinistic reasons be extended to cover the downbeat A as well. The harmonic motion has a leisurely character throughout the movement—organizing the music in the following way helps to reinforce that perception: 3 8 3 8 3 8 &b À Õ À Õ À Õ À Õ etc. ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ etc. ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ etc. ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ &b À Õ Õ À Õ Õ À Õ Õ À Õ Õ etc. ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œ œœœœœ œ R œ R≈‰ ‰ œ R≈‰ ‰ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœ œ œœœœœ œ R exa  08_04       cresc. f dim. ™™ cresc. f &b ≤ ≥ - À - 0 À - &b À 0 3 1 À À Œ À Œ À Œ À &b À À À À 3 4 3 1 0 À À # # &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ &b ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ œœœ œœ œ œ œ œ # œœ œ œœœ œ n œœ œ # œ œœœœ œœœœ œ œ n œ œœœœœ œœœœ œ œ œ œœœœ œ # œœœœœ œ œ œœœ œ # œ n œ # œœœœ œ œ œœœœ œ n œ œœœœ œ œ œœ œ # œ œ œ œœœ œ # œ n œœ œ # œœœ œœœœœœ œ œœœœœ œ œ œ # œœœ œ # œœœ œ n œ œœœœœœ œj œœ œ œ™ œ œ œ™ œ™ 79 The Virtuoso Movements Articulations play a substantial role in the enlivenment of music: to repeat, always bear in mind that slurs in this music are not to be regarded as bowings but as part of the language and an essential ingredient of the texture and, consequently, should never be altered or omitted for convenience. Beyond this, the manner of their execution is critical, a reflection of the varying degrees of energy. Bach has fairly sprinkled this particular movement with slurs, and where there are none, there is energetic arpeggiation. The virtuosity, then, has less to do with velocity as with the enjoyment and artistic exploitation of the articulations. B-Minor Corrente—Double The Presto tempo marking for this movement is deceptive. Note that Bach no longer uses the half-barring system of the Corrente: this indicates that despite the fast triple pulse of the Double, the quarter-notes of the Corrente’s duple metre actually move at the same speed or even slightly faster. So, there can be little tempo change between the Corrente and its Double, but the effect is a kaleidoscopic blur of notes, a swift improvisation on the harmonic structure. As I remarked in the commentary on the G-minor Presto, one might think of “presto” as meaning “as fast as possible,” which doesn’t necessarily mean technically but, ideally, “as fast as the music will permit.” Rather than focusing on the rapidity of the individual notes, then, enjoy the leisurely flow of the harmonies, with a sense of coasting from one impulse to the next: restez restez restez restez restez restez 3 4 & ## Ω Ω Ω Ω & ## Ω Ω Ω 1 3 0 Ω 2 4 3 2 Ω Ω 0 4 & ## Ω 2 Õ Ω 1 Ω 3 & ## Ω 1 Ω 2 Ω 2 Ω & ## Ω 0 Ω 3 Ω 0 Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω & ## ∑ ∑ 3 2 1 1 3 1 2 0 2 3 & ## 2 3 1 3 1 & ## 0 4 3 1 2 2 3 3 4 3 & ## 0 3 0 0 2...


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