This Andante from the 2nd sonata is my favorite Bach slow movement (from the violin sonatas/partitas), and my love for it doesn’t stem from any of its many violin recordings, but rather the D minor version performed by the great Rosalyn Tureck on the piano. Bach made the arrangement himself.
I grew up listening to recordings of Tureck (and Wanda Landowska) and their Bach collections. (Fun fact: my father studied with Rosalyn for a while!)
And if you haven’t heard them, that would be my most fervent recommendation yet.
Once I heard Tureck’s recording of this movement, that was it for me. I couldn’t help but shed fat tears each time I listened to it, and that emotion came not only because of her unbelievable touch and sound, phrasing, and sheer beauty of interpretation, but also because I was able to hear three uninterrupted voices and melodies (for example in measures 3-4 and 6-7, for my fellow violinists) most of which isn’t written out in the violin part, because that, unfortunately, physically cannot be done on this instrument.
And the voicing is just. so. gorgeous.
This end result isn’t exactly what my ideal sounds like, and there’s a lot of compromise going on, but it’s finally going in the direction I want, after spending so many soul-flipping hours trying to sound like the piano, and getting the subtle coloring of each harmony and phrase just right.
So I will keep working on it. And for this piece? I’ll probably keep tinkering with it for the rest of my life, and it’s so worth it.
My inspiration for the last movement of this sonata, the Allegro, also comes from Tureck’s interpretation. What attracts me the most about how she plays it, is the lightness, even humor, of its perpetual motion. Though we violinists have the extra hindrance of a bow (don’t worry, I call it a blessing in most other instances), which adds a synchronization problem, I am adamant in creating a similar, effortless feel that is so possible on the piano, especially the way Tureck does it.
Maybe one day…