Bach's Works for Solo Violin: Style, Structure, Performance

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Oxford University Press, 1999 - Music - 186 pages
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J. S. Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin have been central to the violin repertoire since the mid-eighteenth century. This engaging volume is the first comprehensive exploration of the place of these works within Bach's music: it focuses on their structural and stylistic features as they have been perceived since their creation. Joel Lester, a highly regarded scholar, teacher, violinist, and administrator, combines an analytical study, a full historical guide, and an insightful introduction to Bach's style. Individual movements are related to comparable movements by Bach in other media and are differentiated from superficially similar works from later eras.

Lester employs descriptions of historical and contemporary recordings, as well as accounts of nineteenth-century performances and commentaries on historical editions, to explore these works as they evolved through the centuries. Wherever possible, he uses analytic tools culled from eighteenth-century ideas, key notions originally developed for the specific purpose of describing the repertoire under consideration. Beginning with an overview of the solo violin music's place within Bach's oeuvre, this study takes the Sonata No. 1 in G minor as the paradigm of Bach's compositional strategy, examining each movement in detail before enlarging the discussion to cover parallel and contrasting features of the A-minor and C-minor sonatas. Next, a chapter is devoted to the three partitas and their roots in various dance-music traditions. The book concludes with a summary of form, style, and rhetoric in Bach's music, in which Lester muses on these masterpieces with an overall command of the music, criticism, and history of the 1700s that is quite rare among scholars.

A novel and unprecedented investigation of a particular portion of Bach's accomplishment and a particular aspect of his universal appeal, Bach's Works for Solo Violin will help violinists, students, scholars, and other listeners develop a deeper personal involvement with these wonderful pieces.
 

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Contents

The History of Bachs SoloViolin Works
3
The Historical Setting
6
Bachs Score
11
The Transmission of Bachs Sonatas and Partitas
19
The Gminor Adagio
25
One Type of Bach Prelude
26
The Gminor Adagio as a Prelude
33
The Adagios Rhetorical Shape
39
The Siciliana of the Gminor Sonata
87
Bachs ParallelSection Movements
89
The Structure of the Siciliana
95
A Questionable Note and Some Thoughts on Ornamentation
101
The Third Movements of the Other SoloViolin Sonatas
105
The Gminor Presto
108
Baroque versus Later Metrics
115
Binary Form and vs? Increasing Levels of Activity
123

Performance Considerations
47
Notes on the Autograph Score
49
Performing the Rhythmic Notations
50
The Other Prelude Movements in the SoloViolin Works
51
The Gminor Fuga
56
The Sections of the Gminor Fuga
58
Other Aspects of Heightening Activity in the Fuga
63
The Fugal Exposition
71
The EighteenthCentury Arrangements
74
The Aminor and Cmajor Fugas
84
Performance Issues in the Gminor Presto
136
The Finales to the Aminor and Cmajor Sonatas
137
The Partitas
139
The Dance Types
149
The Chaconne
151
Closing Thoughts
157
Notes
163
Works Cited
175
Index
183
Copyright

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About the author (1999)


Joel Lester is the Dean of the Mannes College of Music. He has been active in many areas of music education, scholarship, and performance for three decades. The author of several books, he is a former editor of Music Theory Spectrum.

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