Exploring Tradition and Performance Strategies with J.S Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor for Solo Violin

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Högskolan för scen och musik

Abstract: In this project, issues surrounding the performance of early music are explored through the lens of academic research, comparative study and practical investigations. How can a violinist find their perfect interpretation of Bach? Is there such thing as a ‘happy medium’, when performance is enlivened by historical information but not restricted? Comparing recordings from a baroque specialist, a twentieth century virtuosic master and a modern mainstream performer enables one to experience the polarities of interpretation of Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor for solo violin, and learn from specific aspects of each performance such as vibrato, rubato and ornamentation. Learning from, analysing and imitating the interpretations of these superb violinists has opened doors to diverse playing styles and led to a considered interpretation of Adagio, the first movement of this sonata. Generalised ‘results’ and techniques explored in this project can be applied to other works of early music and further to more recent works: value remains in a well-considered and ‘informed’ interpretation.

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