Dorset, 30th October – 2nd November 1990
Sound Engineer: Brad Michel
Edited: Sound Mirror, Jamaica Plain,
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J.S. Bach (1685-1750) brought out his six keyboard Partitas in 1731 under the title Clavier-Übung. This was the first work that he published himself, and he had issued one each year from 1726 onward. Clavier-Übung or Keyboard Practices should not be understood only in the pedagogic sense as a work for students’ practice, but rather in the musical sense as a composition for keyboard.
Bach’s son Wilhelm Friedmann once remarked that galanteries such as the movements of these Partitas are neither “objectively mathematical” nor simply “playful” music. They are to be brought to life by the performer “as an innately musical person who has it in him through a plastic, cantabile style”.
Bach demands an extraordinarily elastic and expressive touch, yet gives few directions in this respect, since the many degrees and styles of legato and staccato that he envisaged could barely be represented by mere graphic symbols. The performer therefore has to sense “the finest and best ideas” from the internal evidence of the music itself.
The rendering of these Partitas also demands a deep feeling for Bach’s polyphonic musical language in melody and form; an understanding that the ornaments must be executed as a living expression of the delicate inner emotional agitation of the melody, and above all, that the awakening to life of Bach’s music carries infinite possibilities for “pleasurable diversion”.