Andras Schiff, known for playing Bach “purely” without pedal, encourages piano students to indulge J.S. as actors cultivate Shakespeare. It’s our daily “bread,” he insists. Regardless of his mixed metaphor, I concur that studying the works of Johann Sebastian Bach builds a solid foundation for exploring music of all historical eras. And to pore over the master’s ingenious counterpoint through Inventions, Fugues, Partitas, French and English Suites, etc. is a compulsory universe of education and enlightenment.
Having begun to explore the opening Allemande of J.S. Bach’s French Suite No. 5 in G, BWV 816, I found myself immersed in a step-by-step, voice parceled analysis, before permuting treble and bass; treble and alto or tenor as applied, and finally combining three voices. I tracked harmonic movement, sequences, cadences, scoped out balance of voices, dynamics and shadings. It was a riveting, introspective journey that kept me firmly grounded and on task—requiring the same type of discipline that Schiff applied to absorbing Shakespeare’s great body of works.
In the realm of a French Suite:
In my two videos below, I reveal a beginning learning process that encompasses many elements and grows by increment.
Play through Allemande followed by my study suggestions.
As William Shakespeare well said, “If Music be the Food of Love, Play On!”