Johan Sebastian Bach lived in the late 1600s and early 1700s and was one of the greatest composers of the baroque era. The performance I attended was of Bach’s violin sonata 2 and 3 and violin partitas 2 and 3 for solo violin. The performance was done by German violinist Christian Tetzlaff at Alize Tully Hall in the Lincoln Center in New York City.
The Sonatas consist of four movements each, while the partitas varied in the number of movements, with the 2nd partita having 5 movements and the 3rd partita having 7 movements. The concert began with Bach’s 2nd sonata for solo violin in A minor, and the first movement was called grave. This movement had a slow tempo with various parts that had fast rhythms. The next movement played was called a fugue, and this movement amazed me in how a violin can play so many different voices and how Bach could compose such a piece for a single violin. The part starts with a theme and then repeats over itself in a new key. The movement then moves on to several tunes with beautiful harmony building up to chord. At one point the melody was played with loud dynamics and then repeated again more quietly making a nice contrast. The next movement was Adante…… Again in this movement the violin with a slow tempo is used to make the entire piece sound like there are two violins playing at once. This is achieved by the different rhythms played on the 2 string and the intricate counterpoint. The next movement was the Allegro which is first played in a loud melody and is then repeated quietly. This continues through the entire movement …………….
The next piece performed was Bach’s partita number two for violin in D minor. The first movement is Allemanda, in this movement the voices speak back and forth to each other as if two people were playing to each other, and is played at a slow tempo. The second movement is much more upbeat and has a faster tempo and many triplets causing great rhythms. This movement has the structure of two parts that are repeated. The next movement is a Sarabanda, which is slow and ancient. The harmonies in this piece were really moving, stirring emotions of sadness and strength. The next movement is a Giga ……with a fast tempo that has voices talking back and forth and seems to keep moving forward. The next movement is the Ciaccona and is the longest movement in the partita, and the last movement of all the sonatas and partitas. It starts with chords and then plays a melody while keeping the chords from the beginning, and builds towards a more rhythmic part which becomes really fast. In the middle there are beautiful …….that have melody in them. It then restates the intro and moves to a major key, and there are many other parts. One part at the end of the movement was very thrilling, it was arpegious across all four strings with unique harmonies that caused a strong feeling of awe.
The intermission came next, and then the concert continued with Bach sonata number 3 in C major and was Adagio. This movement started with a unique rhythm, playing the melody in a rhythm of long note short note throughout most of the movement. It builds from a simple pattern without harmony and then adds two, three, and four note harmonies using the full potential of the violin. The next part is a Fuge which sounds similar to (London bridge is falling down), this piece has many harmonies and is as complete as the Fuge from the previous sonata. This movement had two parts that really stood out to me; when the violin twice rotated between open strings ……….a note between each note in the melody. During this part I could see the bow going back and forth really fast. The next movement was Largo, which was a slow part similar to the Sarabanda being played with a beautiful harmony. The last part of this sonata was Allegro Assai, this part is very fast and played in a very high pitch. In this part there are many voices, and there are parts that are played loud and then are repeated quietly.
The final piece of the performance was Bach violin partita 3 in E major preludio. This part was very fast with very even timing throughout with a lot of back and forth between the same notes throughout the movement. The next movement was Loure, which was in 6/4 time with some trills and longer notes. The following movement was Gavotte en Rondeau which has a fast theme repeated many times throughout the part. This was the most upbeat part of the entire performance, and was very exciting. The next two parts were Menuets I and II, which are very similar with the first one being royal and the second part being quiet and timid. The next movement Bourree was faster in 2/2 time, the notes were very even in time and very easy to listen to. The last part is Giga and is in 6/8 time, this is fast played single notes without much harmony.
I went to this concert as a perceptive listener because I really enjoy violin, and I really enjoyed the concert. I see myself going back to many more of these concerts in the future. After hearing Bach being played by a professional, I have come to the conclusion that Bach is a genius.