Next Monday I’m recording a Bach cd of his third cello suite at Wadenhoe Church. The music is so happy in spirit that however fed up you may be feeling it usually has an uplifting effect. It’s in the uncomplicated key of C major and has a certain virility and confidence that makes it a joy to play, despite its technical challenges. You can link to our cd page here:
I’m not an early music specialist but I’ve been reading musicologist Robert Donington’s book A Performer’s Guide to Baroque Music which has some interesting things to say:
” When a virtuoso cellist conveys a sense of undue strain in Bach’s unaccompanied suites by too massive a sonority and too heavy an articulation, this is not from any unsuitablity in his noble instrument; it is because he is applying a mental concept which, powerful and impressive though it may be, does not really lie within the baroque boundaries of style and is not really matched to the implications of the music.”
” The baroque performer was meant to set his stamp on the music. Reverence for the written text can be a virtue, but was no part of the baroque attitude. A text left deliberately incomplete was not meant to be exactly established but imaginatively realised. Options left open by the composer cannot be tied down to any exact intention: the intention was that they should remain the performer’s options.
Fab Mr Donington
Quoting sentences out of context is a bit like the dodgy practice of manipulating phrases from the bible to make your point. But one interesting aspect of the book is that Mr Donington believes that baroque performers were trained in a completely different way from modern performers and that improvisation in concerts and creatively altering music you were going to play was the norm. This must have given players a wonderful sense of freedom which would be hard to regain today. Perhaps the main point though is just to enjoy it. You can buy the book by clicking here: