Performance-practice issues of the Chaconne from Partita II, BWV 1004, by Johann Sebastian Bach
de los Santos, Carmelo
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The Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1001-1006, by Johann Sebastian Bach pose tremendous problems for violinists, on modern and period instruments alike. The main problem, which generations of violinists have been trying to solve, lies in the nature of the instrument. Due to the shape of the bridge, it is physically impossible to execute most of the chordal passages as Bach notated them. Two other problems arose during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Bowings changed in response to the modifications made to the structure of the violin and the bow in the early nineteenth century. New fingerings were necessitated by the introduction of steel strings in the early twentieth century and also resulted from the highly Romantic style of playing by the virtuosos of that time. Further problems concern cadential trills, vibrato, and tempo. The Chaconne from Partita II, BWV 1004, shares with the other movements of the Sonatas and Partitas similar problems, and it also presents problems peculiar to itself, such as the rearticulation of the eighth notes in the first eight measures. Another example concerns the arpeggio passages in measures 89-120 and measures 201-8. Bach indicated how to start the first passage by writing out how it should be performed, but this indication cannot be carried out for the entire passage. In this document I examine the performance traditions of the past as revealed by editions, treatises, recordings, and secondary sources. I evaluate the solutions presented by the different sources and offer suggestions on how to resolve the various problems.