Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bach & Rainbows

While the recital world appeared stuck with colors to find meaning in the Well Tempered Clavier, we should be reminded research exists that has explored "the symbolism of motives (characteristic repeated melodic cells) that exist in all Bach's works and that keep their fixed meaning. The role of motives-symbols varies in different genres but they always help to understand a deeper meaning of the piece."

"The analysis of preludes and fugues from Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" illustrates the method of motives-symbols of Boleslav Yavorsky (1877-1942), Russian musicologist, pianist and pedagogue and his concept of Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" can be read as a summary of images and events from the Holy Scriptures" says Vera Nosina, professor at the Gnesins Academy of Music in Moscow.

Here is the Prelude & Fugue in A Minor BWV 889, Book II to illustrate this research. One can compare the intensity of the Fugue derived from the associative image of "Christ assault" as opposed to the cute same pair BWV 889 played under a rainbow...

Recently, a comment about articulation and symbolism in Bach's clavier music we left on John Terauds' blog Musical Toronto caught the former Toronto Star music critic's interest and became a full post.

He wrote: "Vancouver-based pianist Svetlana Ponomarëva replied to one of my earlier posts with a link to an instructional video she has created as a companion to a Bach teaching manual. In her approach, she suggests the keyboard player should follow the articulation of a Baroque violinist to make the music sound right.
Hearing Ponomarëva explain it, this suggestion makes an awful lot of sense. The results she gets at the piano are at once clean, crisp and very musical."

Thank you indeed!

Back in 2008 I gave a recital/presentation about articulation in Bach's clavier music at Showcase Piano in Vancouver. Malcolm Parry from the Vancouver Sun wrote an informative article "The well-informed clavier" about the short book on Bach's articulation by Svetlana Gordeevtseva we translated into English and published, "Touching A Mystery" .

As a result, in March 2009, I was invited by the BCRMTA Vancouver chapter to give the same presentation at Hycroft Manor. The reception was warm despite the snowy morning... And when told about part two on symbolism, their interest was such that they wanted to book another event featuring both Articulation & Symbolism presentations in the Fall. However when time to set it up arrived, no one replied and I never heard from them since! We probably touched on another mystery...

The presentation was ultimately held in November 2009 at Tom Lee Music Hall and generated an enthusiastic response while it was dutifully ignored by the power to be in town. I have since then played Bach a few times to appreciative audiences. So when a renowned critic from Toronto finds my playing "clean, crisp and very musical", I can only feel like... under a rainbow!