Arts-Scène Diffusion

Jean-Luc Ho


Partitas by J. S. Bach

"...and other gallantries for the recreation of the mind of amateurs".


"In his Partitas - dance suites - Bach takes these forms and pushes their limits, much further than he did with his French and English Suites. This collection of impressive dimensions can be frightening, but it is a very coherent whole that tells a story, from the innocence and graces of the first (dedicated to the birth of the son of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen) to the "instrumental passion" expressed by the sixth". Jean-Luc Ho


The Partitas BWV 825-830 by J.S. Bach

The beautiful title page of the published collection announces that the Partitas will follow the known organization of the instrumental suite, with a succession of "Preludes, Allemandes, Courantes, Gigues, Minuets and other gallantries. However, this formal scheme conceals a constantly renewed invention. For Bach, the innovator, always follows in the footsteps of his elders, as if to better distinguish himself from them while paying them homage. Here he borrows the term "partita" from the Italian and follows the practice of his predecessor Johann Kuhnau by choosing to call his collection "Clavierübung. Bach could also have used the term 'suite' as he had done earlier, but the Partitas are more than a varied palette of dances and 'tastes united'. They tend at once to achieve a synthesis of inherited models and to explore new paths and open up new perspectives. J.N. Forkel, Bach's first biographer, was not mistaken when he wrote in the early years of the nineteenth century that "this publication caused a great stir in the musical world: no such excellent composition for the harpsichord had ever been seen or heard before. [...] in our time, even a young pianist can learn from them, so brilliant, pleasant, expressive and always new are they.

From the juvenile graces of the "Praeludium" that opens the 1st Partita to the somewhat archaic and deceptively joyful gigue that closes the 6th, the 41 miniatures that make up the cycle, so intelligently ordered, trace in the mind of the performer as well as in that of the listener an emotional, poetic and even spiritual constellation that is always to be rediscovered. Thomas Vernet


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