Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I’ve been told that the the Saraband is the dance of seduction. Is it named for the person who danced it first - Sara or Zara - as some claim? Was it danced in a harem in Moorish Spain? Regardless, by the Baroque era in Spain it was considered a dance of ill-repute. Certainly in Bach’s E Major suite it appears to live up to its reputation. Bach teases a melody of rising and falling notes out of the most elaborate ornamentation; the turns - a soft caress; the slides and rolled chords evoke stroking; the appoggiaturas- tension, anticipation; and trills over several beats suggest the sensuality of a master at the height of his powers. Underneath it all is the driving pulse of the triple meter - accentuating the second beat. Despite all this masterful music making, the piece feels sad...haunted...maybe by the remembrance of a past love...not forgotten, but relived in every note.

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