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bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings (Read 3942 times)

Offline kwtam338

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bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
« on: September 07, 2006, 05:06:55 PM »
Hi

I am learning Bach's 2 & 3 part inventions and would like to listen to some more recordings. Anyone got any recommendations? I already have:
- Gould
- Hewett

Thanks in advance.

Sheet music to download and print: Sinfonias by Bach



Sheet music to download and print: Inventions by Bach



Offline kitty on the keys

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #1 on: September 08, 2006, 03:14:45 AM »
there is one by Schiff-----does some "interesting " things. there are others, but u have the Hewitt. Happy learning!

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Offline robertp

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #2 on: September 08, 2006, 08:14:06 PM »
I'd collect a few. Gould is quirky but consistently interesting. Ditto Schiff. Hewitt is mainstream and correct, but doesn't grab me. Serkin is mainstream and correct but does grab me. Opinions will vary, yours included, so that's why it's worth having several.
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Offline bernhard

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #3 on: September 08, 2006, 08:42:20 PM »
For something truly different (and yet very compelling once you get used to the ideas), try Wolfgang Rubsam (Naxos).

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline kwtam338

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #4 on: September 09, 2006, 02:37:54 PM »
Thanks very much for all your suggestions. But I found only Nikolaeva's in the local CD shop. And so I have three sets altogether. I have been listening to them over the past few days. I've also read the opinions of our fellow forum members.

I must say I like Gould's far better than the others ... simply because Gould's style is most pleasing to the ear. And I am struggling over a few questions:

1) Many people believe there's a "correct" way to play Baroque music. And that one gets respect for playing Baroque music the correct way. Deviating from the correct way is seen as bad taste. Assuming that this viewpoint is right, how do we advance music? How do we create new styles?

2) Isn't it a purpose of music to please the ear? If so, what's wrong with Gould who brought new life to works such as the Goldberg?

3) If we insist on following the tradition, then why do we play Baroque music on instruments such as the modern piano? Bach could not have imagined that one day there would be such an instrument and therefore wrote music for it in advance!

I don't mean to challenge anybody. And if anyone feels offended, my sincere apologies.

Offline robertp

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #5 on: September 09, 2006, 04:49:48 PM »
Enormous questions, so some brief thoughts. Even giving an inadequate answer would make a horribly long posting. This because I've pondered them, read on them, all in extensis. Thus:

1. Many people are wrong if they claim there is one, and only one way, to play any given ornament or articulate any given passage. When we look at the treatises from the period we see substantial variations.  You have to decide on a per case basis; I often do a lot of reading, both in the treatises but also modern scholarship on the subject. It usually gives a range of choices.

2.  I don't think there's anything wrong at all with GG. His Goldbergs have given me no end of pleasure. And while my view of the Inventions differs from his, it's consistently interesting.

3. Aaaah, people give serious blood on this one. If music gives you pleasure on Instrument X, that's the big point. For me, personally, Bach on the piano is preferable, whether for playing or listening. And I can find ample justification for that. For others, the harpsichord, and they can find ample justification for that too.
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Offline bernhard

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #6 on: September 12, 2006, 02:13:04 AM »

1) Many people believe there's a "correct" way to play Baroque music. And that one gets respect for playing Baroque music the correct way. Deviating from the correct way is seen as bad taste. Assuming that this viewpoint is right, how do we advance music? How do we create new styles?


Rather than a “correct way” there is a range of principles that should be followed when playing Baroque music. Many of these principles have been discovered fairly recently (mostly from the 1950s). Baroque music – contrary to Romantic music, for instance -  is not a living tradition. It died a long time ago, so we con only make educated guesses as to what it should be like. It is a bit like being able to read and write a dead language, but having no idea how it was actually pronounced.

At the same time, even though there is a range of "correct" interpretations, there is also much that has just been shown to be incorrect. So it is not completely subjective and up to one´s taste.

Now, for the way to advance music, you already answered it in your next question: you create a new style! The way to advance music is not to play music of the past in a way that is fundamentally incorrect, but to compose new music. That has always been the case, even in Baroque times. J.S. Bach’s sons were not over impressed by their father’s style, so they invented the classical style. Beethoven was not happy with the classical style, so he invented romanticism. Even Liszt got tired of romantic music after a while and invented modern music.

Quote
2) Isn't it a purpose of music to please the ear? If so, what's wrong with Gould who brought new life to works such as the Goldberg?

This is perhaps the most important difference between Baroque music and the music which came afterwards. No, the purpose of music is not to please the ear or to entertain the audience – although in many cases it will display these side effects.

Music which has at its core the sole purpose of entertaining and pleasing the ear will have very little quality and last very little. We are talking pop music here. Of course there is nothing wrong with that. Except when you realise what is music´s true function and true potential. Then it becomes very wrong indeed. It is like finding a Ferrari stored in a barn into some farm. Then the farm tells you that a visitor left it there and never came back for it. Then he tells you that he is harnessing it to his horses and using it to carry manure. "What is wrong with that?" the farmer may ask to your great horror. :o

No, music is a language (or if prefer to be accurate, language is a music). As such its true purpose is to model the world in order to make it understandable to oneself and in order to communicate this model of the world to others. And this particular model goes beyond what ordinary language can model. So music is for speaking of things that cannot be spoken, to enlarge the limits of communication, to talk to oneself about that which cannot be talked about.

The Baroque musicians understood this very deeply, but such understanding has all but been lost. Music is no more a speech. :'(

Or to put it in another way, imagine that you speak no Russian, but you overhear a conversation in Russian. You may find the sounds very beautiful and pleasing to the ear. And there is nothing wrong with that. But you will be missing the essence of Russian if you start believing that the whole purpose of that conversation is to please the ear. There is a meaning to the sounds, but it can only be conveyed to those who know the language.

Quote
3) If we insist on following the tradition, then why do we play Baroque music on instruments such as the modern piano? Bach could not have imagined that one day there would be such an instrument and therefore wrote music for it in advance!

Unfortunately, as I said, the tradition has been lost. At great pains researchers have been trying to recover it. Some of it has indeed been recovered, but much remains unknown, and sadly may never be known. There is no problem in playing Baroque music in whatever instrument, once you understand its essence, once you master its grammar, once you understand its speech. You will then be able to “speak” and convey its message. Unfortunately this is not what Gould (or Richter) did. I suggest you listen to Rosalyn Tureck, Angela Hewitt and Wolfgang Rubsam (you are in for a huge surprise with this one) to have a taste of what proper playing of Bach’s music is like.

Of course, I like Gould very much, just like I love Vitor Borge. But they are not playing it properly.

These threads also talk about this issue:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4736.msg44774.html#msg44774
(how to play inventions – Escher picture – Example: Invention 4 – Analogy with the game of chess)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2632.msg22640.html#msg22640
(pedalling in Bach preludes and fugues)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2585.msg23066.html#msg23066
(unorthodox selection for competition – Rosen’s quote on Bach – Rosalyn Tureck wisdom and discussion of Baroque performance)
]
http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3219.msg28310.html#msg28310
(how to interpret Bach at the piano: as a harpsichord?)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4912.msg46590.html#msg46590
(Books on the interpretation of Bach)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #7 on: September 12, 2006, 02:23:45 AM »


2.  I don't think there's anything wrong at all with GG. His Goldbergs have given me no end of pleasure. And while my view of the Inventions differs from his, it's consistently interesting.

I very much agree with everything you said (I too prefer Bach on the piano), however ( to the great displeasure of DaJake ;D possibly) I must say that I find much that is wrong with Gould (e.g. his detached - almost staccatto - right hand notes on the prelude 1 of WTC1 for which there is no justification on musical grounds). Interesting? Certainly. Has he given me much pleaure with his idiossincratic playing? No doubt. But then the same could be said of the  creationist ideas that  the earth was created 6000 years ago, and dinossaurs never existed. I find such ideas interesting and they give me great merriment. But correct? Hardly.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline kwtam338

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #8 on: September 12, 2006, 03:17:37 PM »
I just listened to Wolfgang Rubsam on Amazon (link below):

http://www.amazon.com/J-S-Bach-Inventions-Sinfonias-Complete/dp/B000001419/sr=1-8/qid=1158072733/ref=sr_1_8/104-2590567-8191104?ie=UTF8&s=music

The guy changes the tempo at will. Lots of legato. Sounds very romantic. This is so different from what a lot of people are trying to tell me - no pedal, detached notes, little dynamics .... So, I am completely confused.

... there is a range of principles that should be followed when playing Baroque music.

Bernard, please could you let us know what the principles are or where we can find some information?

Thanks and best regards

PS - By the way, Bernard, I am afraid I do not fully agree with you. We have different fundamental assumptions. I still believe a very important purpose of music is to please the ear, it's not a side effect. Different people enjoy music for different reasons. Maybe there's something noble in music, but it does not matter to people like me, who simply listen for pleasure.

Offline mephisto

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #9 on: September 12, 2006, 04:03:56 PM »
I very much agree with everything you said (I too prefer Bach on the piano), however ( to the great displeasure of DaJake ;D possibly) I must say that I find much that is wrong with Gould (e.g. his detached - almost staccatto - right hand notes on the prelude 1 of WTC1 for which there is no justification on musical grounds). Interesting? Certainly. Has he given me much pleaure with his idiossincratic playing? No doubt. But then the same could be said of the  creationist ideas that  the earth was created 6000 years ago, and dinossaurs never existed. I find such ideas interesting and they give me great merriment. But correct? Hardly.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

IMO, Gould`s Bach is both the worst and the best.

The video of him playing the 2nd mwt the d minor concerto is the best Bach playing of all time.

Offline gonzalo

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #10 on: September 17, 2006, 02:36:25 PM »
I just listened to Wolfgang Rubsam on Amazon (link below):

http://www.amazon.com/J-S-Bach-Inventions-Sinfonias-Complete/dp/B000001419/sr=1-8/qid=1158072733/ref=sr_1_8/104-2590567-8191104?ie=UTF8&s=music

The guy changes the tempo at will. Lots of legato. Sounds very romantic. This is so different from what a lot of people are trying to tell me - no pedal, detached notes, little dynamics .... So, I am completely confused.


I know why Bernhard chose this. The example is with Scarlatti , not Bach, but it's about baroque in general:

I also disagree that Baroque music should be played metronomically. The metronome had not even been invented! The Baroque had many interesting similarities with the Romantic period. They both thrived on excess (The Classic period – and what could be more symptomatic – brought us the metronome, and was a reaction against baroque excesses). I find impossible to believe that Scarlatti would play his lyric sonatas (e.g. K 213, K69, K208, K27) with a rigid, mechanical pulse. There is no evidence to suggest it, and the most compelling argument is the music itself. Play any of these sonatas metronomically and the music will sound dead, if there is any music in it at all. Moreover Scarlatti was an accomplished keyboard improviser, which again goes against the idea of a rigid pulse. In fact, since – on the harpsichord – you cannot accent notes dynamically, rhythmic accents must have been the current practice, right after embellishment. Unfortunately we have no recordings of the period, so at the end of the day it is all speculation.

I guess that if Romanticism had rubato, and it's like Baroque (believe me it has a lot of similarities, not only in music), then we can apply rubato to Baroque music. Again this is just speculation.

Take care,
Gonzalo.
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Offline gonzalo

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #11 on: September 17, 2006, 02:43:36 PM »
I know why Bernhard chose this. The example is with Scarlatti , not Bach, but it's about baroque in general:

I also disagree that Baroque music should be played metronomically. The metronome had not even been invented! The Baroque had many interesting similarities with the Romantic period. They both thrived on excess (The Classic period – and what could be more symptomatic – brought us the metronome, and was a reaction against baroque excesses). I find impossible to believe that Scarlatti would play his lyric sonatas (e.g. K 213, K69, K208, K27) with a rigid, mechanical pulse. There is no evidence to suggest it, and the most compelling argument is the music itself. Play any of these sonatas metronomically and the music will sound dead, if there is any music in it at all. Moreover Scarlatti was an accomplished keyboard improviser, which again goes against the idea of a rigid pulse. In fact, since – on the harpsichord – you cannot accent notes dynamically, rhythmic accents must have been the current practice, right after embellishment. Unfortunately we have no recordings of the period, so at the end of the day it is all speculation.

I guess that if Romanticism had rubato, and it's like Baroque (believe me it has a lot of similarities, not only in music), then we can apply rubato to Baroque music. Again this is just speculation.

Take care,
Gonzalo.

And that's why I disagree with Rosalyn Tureck's playing. She forget's what Baroque means sometimes. Baroque comes from the portugese and it means and irregularly shaped stone. Rosalyn Tureck's playing is so perfect that that stone turns into a perfect and thoroughly worked pearl. She may say "Just follow the score"  and imply that the music itself is Baroque but she might be wrong. ( or maybe I 'm wrong).

Take care,
Gonzalo
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Offline Mayla

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #12 on: September 17, 2006, 03:14:36 PM »
.
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Offline pianowolfi

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #13 on: September 17, 2006, 04:57:23 PM »
Im right now listening to Rubsam's samples and to me it sounds very baroque. What he uses is the principle of 'notes inégales' (uneven notes) which is very common in baroque music and tought by many schools of ancient music. Listen to harpsichord recordings by f.e. Kenneth Gilbert (I have the toccatas and chromatic f+f.). Here, prelude and fugue in c#minor, ex no. 4
http://www.amazon.com/J-S-Bach-Well-Tempered-Clavier-2/dp/B0000057CG/sr=1-1/qid=1158511819/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-6583549-9992761?ie=UTF8&s=music

Greetings

Pianowolfi

Offline kwtam338

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #14 on: September 18, 2006, 03:08:22 PM »
Im right now listening to Rubsam's samples and to me it sounds very baroque. What he uses is the principle of 'notes in嶲ales' (uneven notes) which is very common in baroque music and tought by many schools of ancient music. Listen to harpsichord recordings by f.e. Kenneth Gilbert (I have the toccatas and chromatic f+f.). Here, prelude and fugue in c#minor, ex no. 4
http://www.amazon.com/J-S-Bach-Well-Tempered-Clavier-2/dp/B0000057CG/sr=1-1/qid=1158511819/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-6583549-9992761?ie=UTF8&s=music

Greetings

Pianowolfi

I suppose you are right, I found the following on Wiki:

In music, notes inégales (French: unequal notes) refers to a performance practice, mainly from the Baroque and Classical music eras, in which notes with equal written time values are performed with unequal durations, usually as alternating long and short. The practice was especially prevalent in France in the 17th and 18th centuries, with appearances in other European countries at the same time; and it reappeared as the standard performance practice in the 20th century in jazz.

Full link here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notes_in%C3%A9gales

Very informative stuff ... and excellent posts by all of you.

Thank you.

Offline gonzalo

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #15 on: September 23, 2006, 04:30:52 PM »
Here is a quote by Nikolas Harnoncourt:

"I like to say that music prior to 1800 speaks, while subsequent music paints. The former must be understood, since anything which is spoken presupposes understanding, while the latter ... should be felt"


Take care,
Gonzalo.
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Offline cmg

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #16 on: September 23, 2006, 07:29:56 PM »
I've long since left music school and am pursuing a profession other than music.  But I practice three hours on work days and six hours on weekend days and holidays.  The Baroque performance style debate raged when I was in school with the camps then divided into "dry" Bach and "wet" Bach.  None of this furor ever made much sense to me.  My teacher, Herman Godes, a student of Gieseking and Casadesus, used to dismiss the controversy by saying that "Bach is the most Romantic composer of all," i.e. there's feeling even behind the most complicated of languages.  It seems to me that when approaching Bach you simply have to keep the lines clear, crisp, distinct (which means pedalling must be highly skilled and controlled) and rhythmic distortions BEYOND commonsensical, musicianly "rubato" shoud be avoided.  Clarity leading to maximum expressiveness is the goal, isn't it?

I think Rubsam's Bach is beautiful and elegant.  A good example of personality infusing a composer's work.  Is that Romanticism?  No, I think it's just being human.  If we approached Bach without our own distinct personalities then his music would be reduced to standardized interpretations.  Which, by the way, I think is the goal of most performers who are afraid of being criticized for being stylistically incorrect. 
Current repertoire:  "Come to Jesus" (in whole-notes)

Offline gonzalo

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #17 on: September 23, 2006, 08:32:13 PM »
I think Rubsam's Bach is beautiful and elegant.  A good example of personality infusing a composer's work.  Is that Romanticism?  No, I think it's just being human.  If we approached Bach without our own distinct personalities then his music would be reduced to standardized interpretations.  Which, by the way, I think is the goal of most performers who are afraid of being criticized for being stylistically incorrect. 

Answering your question "Is that Romanticism?" I answer "It's Baroque". During that time you were expected to improvise your own music and to play other composer's ones. And you had to add ornaments, thus influencing the other composer's composition and thus making it personal.
The same happened with dynamics, articulation, etc. That's why most scores only contained notes and nothing else.
As the Baroque was coming to a close, many composers started resenting the liberties performers were taking in their free ornamentation, and most notably J. S. Bach, G. Handel and F. Couperin started writing their own ornaments on their compositions – a fact much resented by performers (“who do these composers think they are! The nerve of it, telling us how to play the music!”).
Wolfgang Rubsam's interpretation might as well be one of a Baroque performer.

Take care,
Gonzalo.
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Offline cmg

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #18 on: September 23, 2006, 08:50:54 PM »
Great insight.  Thanks, Gonzalo.
Current repertoire:  "Come to Jesus" (in whole-notes)

Offline kwtam338

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #19 on: September 24, 2006, 08:48:24 AM »
I think Rubsam's Bach is beautiful and elegant.?A good example of personality infusing a composer's work.?Is that Romanticism??No, I think it's just being human.?If we approached Bach without our own distinct personalities then his music would be reduced to standardized interpretations.?Which, by the way, I think is the goal of most performers who are afraid of being criticized for being stylistically incorrect.?

I think this attitude is far better than that of insisting on rules, styles, principles, etc. Very well said.

Thank you.

Offline gonzalo

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Re: bach 2 & 3 part inventions - recordings
«Reply #20 on: September 25, 2006, 09:16:06 PM »
I think this attitude is far better than that of insisting on rules, styles, principles, etc. Very well said.

Thank you.


I don't want this thread to die. I'd like to see other people's opinion. I have another Harnoncourt Quote:

"We all know how a foreign language is learned. By analogy, Baroque music is for us a foreign language, since we obviously do not live in the Baroque period. Therefore, as in the case of a foreign language, we must learn vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation—musical articulation, the theory of harmony, the theory of phrasing and accentuation. The simple application of these theories to the performance of music by no means implies that we are making music; this is simply spelling in tones. Even if the spelling is well and correctly done, we can only create music when we no longer need to think of grammar and vocabulary, when we no longer translate, but simply speak, in short, when it becomes our own natural speech. This is our goal. We must, therefore, learn the 'grammar' of old music. Unfortunately, uninformed musicians often undertake this task, for we constantly hear musicians who have only mastered the grammar of music, but, like linguistics professors with dust in their veins, simply translate music. However, we cannot blame the rules for this unhappy outcome, since we cannot do without them."

Take care,
Gonzalo
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