July 8, 2011

William Kanengiser masterclass notes, part 3

Continuing on from my notes from a masterclass given by William Kanengiser in San Jose, back in 2007 or 2008.

The next student played the Prelude from Bach's Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro BWV 998. Some of Kanengiser's comments reiterate ones I have already mentioned, but I will include them again.

  • Dynamics are important, but be careful how you use them. Think like a storyteller. When you want to change dynamics, you can't lose the thread of the story. 
  • Bach's music is often ambiguous about whether it's one voice or multiple voices. The 998 prelude is a good example, as are the cello suites (as written for cello). You should get familiar with the implied lines as well as the literal ones, for cues to the overall shape of the piece.
  • Take cues for dynamics from the harmony.
  • The bass accents should follow the pulse of the rhythm. It's important to convey the rhythm in the bass as well as the upper voices. Don't be lazy about any voice. 
  • The phrasing of pieces is influenced by harmonic modulations. This is especially true in Bach, as it modulates so much. Get to know the harmony!
The penultimate performer also played Bach, the Gavottes from Cello suite no. 5. Feedback focused on structure and phrasing:
  • Ritards in music are like punctuation in writing. Phrases are like sentences. Pieces in a suite are like chapters in a book. Make it all fit together. 
  • Breath - in suites, you need just the right amount of time to convey the separation but also the relations. The tempi need to feel related. 
  • You need to feel sense of cut-time in gavottes.
My notes for the final performer are a little more lengthy so they will wait for now.

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