Today I was reading about the Allemande in the Badur-Skoda book – “Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard” and he was talking about the structure in the dance movements of Bach's Suites. Evidently the eight bar sections common for the Baroque period are present in the allemandes and the sarabandes of the French Suites. In many cases --- Badur-Skoda goes on to say --- the whole first sections are in an eight bar structure, and that the performer needs to show this structure by making long phrases. I found this quite interesting. In the E major Allemande, there are three, four bar phrases in the first section. I played all twelve measures in “one breath”. I couldn’t really make it work as I naturally want to "take a breath"* after each four bar section. Also, it increases my tempo, which may not be for the best, as the Courante (the next dance in the Suite) needs to be faster than the Allemande.
*As I'm a pianist I don't really need to take a breath to make a sound, like so many other musicians, but I try to show where I would take a breath as if I were singing the line. It helps a great deal to sing Bach while practicing --- even if it does make me a little self-conscious - what if somewhere hears me!