One of my Skype students, well versed in technology, asked for a brush-up on the use of a rolling wrist forward motion as pertained to Bach’s Invention 1. While many pianists favor a more articulated approach to Baroque era music, I’ve leaned toward realizing intrinsic shapes, curves, and a unique choreography for each and every composition I study.
When Seymour Bernstein alluded to a “choreography” of motions as applied to the piano, I no longer felt isolated in my thinking about playing our instrument in the cosmos of grace and fluidity. In particular, the “undulating wrist,” a prominent feature of Seymour’s series, “You and the Piano,” provided a springboard for my own ideas in this universe of artful physical expression.
The relevance of the supple wrist, to Bach’s Invention 1, therefore, seems clear with its many loops and curves embedded in phrases. And as the curvy subject overlaps itself in the bass, a player must not forget how he shaped it in the treble.
Finally, when the pianist arrives at a series of 4 notes, in step-wise ascent that are LONGER note values than those contained in the first 4 of the Subject, then the motion forward with the wrist is slower, reflecting the composer’s AUGMENTATION. (These subject-derived notes are slowed down as they’re transposed to different keys)
As I reeled off a video in the wee hours of the morning, I depressed the soft pedal, and played with one dynamic lest I be evicted from my new Berkeley apartment for exceeding volume levels at an ungodly hour.
In retrospect, I could have mimed it, though it would be difficult to follow the music along.
Seymour Bernstein: You and the Piano (the undulating wrist)