Friday, February 15, 2008

Lessons with Tamara Loring

I had my first lesson with harpsichordist, Tamara Loring on Thursday, February 7. We will be studying the French Suite of Bach in E Major together. I will have to learn to think in Baroque --- which on the piano is not easy. From an earlier posting you may remember that I have had some trouble with the Polonaise from the E Major French Suite. Not the notes, but the affect I hope to effect with my playing. Tamara told me to go Bach's Notebook for Anna Magdalena and play through all of the Polonaises. Perhaps then I'd be more familiar with the form and that would help me realize the E Major Polonaise more fully. Right now, I'm just not hearing it as a dance piece with military roots and overtones.

No. 8A (all of the numbering is from the Henle edition of the Notebook) I found the first two F Major Polonaises rather ornate - so many trills, mordents and the like. How military is that? The second Polonaise, No. 8B, was more fun to play - especially the sequence for the right hand in the B section.

No. 10 in g minor is lovely. I remember studying this one when I was a child. I began to feel the rhythmic drive of the traditional Polonaise in this one. The eighth note followed by two sixteenths is not obscured with ornamentation. I could make this a pompous military tribute easily.

No. 17 - another one in g minor. Does the key of g minor suggest a Polonaise? The traditional rhythm is prevalent in this one, making it easy for me to feel the dance rhythm. This one is in ABA form - a new twist. Usually the Polonaise is in binary (AB) form.

No. 19 again in g minor is beautiful and soulful. It's mood, perhaps, reflects an unsuccessful outing for the troops. I have played this Polonaise before. I even arranged it for the organ and played it as an offertory when I was a church organist. This Polonaise has the same rhythmic figure as the E Major - two sixteenths followed by a eighth.

No. 24 in d minor has a lot of ornamentation, but it didn't bother me. Since this is the sixth Polonaise that I've played today, I think I might be beginning to understand the Polonaise form. Now the embellished beats seem to add color and nuance and not obscure the rhythm as I thought before.

No. 28 - in G Major sounds very regal. I could image this played in the court of a Polish King to celebrate a triumph. The eighth note followed by two sixteenths is back. That traditional Polonaise rhythm suggests to me a grand procession.

Back again to the E Major Polonaise in the French Suite. The other rhythm of the two sixteenths followed by the eighth does make me wonder if it means it is different from the more traditional rhythm of an eighth followed by two sixteenths. Or since that difference is so slight, it might not mean a thing. I would think that the dance steps would be different depending on where in the beat the eighth note falls. I'll be musing on that for awhile.

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