Bach’s Orchestral Suite is lovely – it’s the most challenging and complex piece I’ve worked on to date, and I can feel my playing slowly growing into it. While I’ve been working on it for close to two months now, it was only in this week’s lesson that we began to talk about phrasing and musicality. Getting the technique together enough to play the notes in a row is one thing, making them sound like music versus notes in a row is another.
There’s a theme that repeats often, an up-bow low note followed by a down-bow high note adorned with a grace note. It happens all over the music, but it’s especially prominent right at the beginning. Playing them with emphasis and being exactly in tune are essential to making them sound good. Similarly, there are sections with many slurs across strings, and being in tune is a major challenge. Moving quickly from D to D# and back to D in two separate slurs of four notes that are adjacent to one another is tricky.
Fingering challenges also abound – one other moment has me using my third finger (ring) where my second (middle) has previously done the work due to the second needing to stay behind on another string for the sake of timing; a similar moment is necessary with the second finger at another spot in the music. Finally, there are the double stops. After all is said and done and I’ve moved on to the next piece, I think the double stops will remain something that will just need to improve over a very long time. Playing two strings at once evenly takes some getting used to.
Though it’s called a Gavotte, I’m thinking of it like a sonata or something. There are shifts in mood, it’s really two gavottes anyway, and it’s just far more complicated than anything I’ve done so far. To call this one “Gavotte” like so many of the other pieces I play are called “Gavotte” seems to cheat this Bach Orchestral Suite a little bit!
Thanks for reading.