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Von Gott Will Ich Nicht Lassen From The '18' - Tempo


BWV651
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the versions on Itunes take between 3:14 and 4:19 with an outlier of the piano version at 6:06.

The organ versions feel a bit fast to me and the piano performance seemed more the tempo I would choose (though a 30 second preview is not enough for a well-considered opionion). The consolatory nature of the text, the suspensions and chromatic harmony suggest something a bit slower, but who am I to disagree with the professionals.

Any views?

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Follow your instincts! :)

 

Fast performances of this piece do nothing for the music at all. Obviously those who play it fast think it works that way, but I wonder why. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I really don't agree. The manual parts of this piece are a wonderful filigree of semiquavers and demisemiquavers. In general with Bach, the shorter the note values he used the slower the speed he intended. It's not an invariable rule by any means, but as a rule of thumb it's valid enough. Think of the arabesque chorale preludes littered with demisemiquavers and then of those alla breve Fugues and Preludes written mainly in minims and crotchets which (IIRC) always have a cut C time signature indicating a two in a bar pulse. As you obviously appreciate, the counterpoint of BWV 658 generates a lot of subtle harmonic effects. These are lost, or at least greatly diminished, at speed.

 

The performance here indicates the speed I think it should go. (Click on the link below the pale green bar, but note the file is 2.61 mb.) It's only me on my toaster I'm afraid. If I don't manage to hold the attention for the whole 5' 40" - and I'm fairly sure I don't - I think that's down to the performance being just a bit too rigid; I don't believe the speed is at fault. (It also really needed more subtle articulation, but with my toaster that's rather like trying to take a dead sheep for a walk.) However, feel free to fire at will - I have broad shoulders. :ph34r:

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the versions on Itunes take between 3:14 and 4:19 with an outlier of the piano version at 6:06.

Hans Fagius (whom I like in general) is faster still at 3'06"; but I prefer something nearer to Vox's speed, I think. Martin Souter at 5'14" feels about right to me.

 

Paul

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I am sorry that this did not generate more discussion. Did I weigh in too heavily perhaps? It isn't because everyone agrees with me, that's for sure! Given that most performers seem to prefer a fast speed, that is how most people will be used to hearing it and in my experience it is far easier to adjust to hearing a piece played faster than you are used to than it is to something played slower. So I wouldn't expect many, if any, who already know the piece to like my performance. And that's fine - it doesn't worry me a bit.

 

As I have mentioned before, whilst I know what I like, I much prefer to try to understand interpretations that are not to my taste rather than to dismiss them out of hand. However, this is a case where I have some difficulty. Some performers make it sound like a dance and I can see why that might appeal, but that's as far as I can get. So what is the attraction of the faster speed? Is it to do with the text? I am greatly hampered by having almost no German, but as far as I can make out the text of this hymn can be read as either reflective or extrovert as one wishes. Am I way off? But in any case, arguments based on the tenor of the text are unfortunately not as helpful as they ought to be. Although Ziegler reported that Bach had taught him to play chorale preludes according to the Affekt of the words, one can, it seems, always get round inconvenient cases by claiming, "Of course, in this piece Bach was specifically setting the words of verse X."

 

So... let's hear the case for the prosecution.

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