Suite No. 3 in C Major, 1st movement, part 1
In this masterclass, Professor Nathan Braude works with viola student Otoha Tabata on bow stroke and phrasing in the Prelude from Bach’s third cello suite.
Braude first discusses the imagery he attaches to the opening material and helps Tabata find a tempo and phrasing that will communicate this clearly to the audience. He then explores the topic of bow stroke and how to imitate the sound of a Baroque bow, which was more imperfect than the modern bow. He encourages Tabata to embrace the uneven quality of the bow stroke instead of trying to make every note sound the same. This will also help her play with more inflection, as if she is speaking. In the same vein, the difficulty of bridging together large intervals can be emphasized rather than covered up. Overall, Braude challenges Tabata to be more emphatic in her musical decisions and interpretation, and to take time to enjoy the journey the piece takes her on.
Incorporating and displaying imagery.
Imitating the stroke of the Baroque bow.
Highlighting the intervals rather than hiding them.
Phrasing as though one would speak.
Enjoying the journey of the piece.
Bach’s six cello suites, composed during his time as Kapellmeister in Cöthen between 1717-23, are some of the greatest and most challenging works for solo cello ever written. Like its counterparts, the third suite remains in a single key throughout six dance movements. Because it is in the key of C major, it has a naturally cheerful quality and resonance, and open strings and double stops are frequently incorporated. Bach strategically hints at the underlying harmonies with the use of pedal notes and broken chords. The prelude is in A-B-A-C form, alternating between scalar and chordal passages. The allemande in this suite is unique because it deviates from standard Baroque practice by using three sixteenth notes as an upbeat instead of one. Somehow, the courante maintains an elegance throughout extended virtuosic passages. The emotional core of the piece lies in the sarabande, which is both soulful and dignified. The first bourrée is spirited yet simple, while the second is slightly slower and more lyrical. Full of leaps, the lively final gigue brings the suite to an animated conclusion.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this viola masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Nathan Braude's feedback and comments.
In September 2016, Nathan became the new principal violist of the Gurzenich Orchester, Cologne.
Belgian-Israeli violist Nathan Braude has performed in many of the world's most prestigious concert venues including the Wigmore Hall in London, Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.
Nathan Braude has also appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Brussels Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lille, Orchestra della Svizzera italiana, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen, Limburgs Symfonie Orkest and Solistes Européens Luxembourg. In September 2016, Nathan became the new principal violist at the Gurzenich Orchester, Koln.
Festival appearances include Progretto Martha Argerich in Lugano, Ravinia Festival in Chicago and Festival de Radio France in Montpellier. Since 2010 Nathan regularly performs in duo recitals together with his wife Polina Leschenko.
His début recording for the Fuga Libera label with the complete works for viola, by the Belgian composer Joseph Jongen, has been released to great critical acclaim. Other recordings include the Dvorak piano quartet op.87 released on EMI Classics as part of the Martha Argerich and Friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2012 series, and Brahms horn trio (viola version) for the Warner Classic label.
Nathan Braude plays a viola by Pietro Giovanni Mantegazza (Milano, 1772).
Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in music history. His incredible creative power, technical mastery, and intellect have made a lasting impression not only on classical music but also on many different modern music genres we know today.
Born in 1685 in Eisenach, Germany, Bach was a member of a very well-known family of musicians. At 18-years-old, he began working in Arnstadt where he accompanied hymns at church. His professional career as a musician would follow in Weimar, where he resided from 1708 to 1717. Here, Bach would deepen his theoretical study of composition and write most of his organ works. Moreover, he composed preludes and fugues that would be part of his collection The Well-Tempered Clavier. After building a considerable reputation in Weimar, Bach moved to Köthen to take a new role as Chapel Master. Writing less religious songs and putting more of a focus on chamber music, his compositions from this time would bring Baroque instrumental music to its pinnacle.
From 1723 until his death in 1750, Bach worked in Leipzig. First, as Thomaskantor at the Thomasschule and later as a private tutor and director of the Collegium Musicum. During this time, Bach worked on creating a repertoire of cantatas for church and revised many of his previous compositions. From 1726 onward, his keyboard works were published. His death in 1750 came to mark the end of the Baroque period and the beginning of Classicism. For many years after his passing, Johann Sebastian Bach’s works were buried with him until they resurfaced many years later and celebrated for their musical ingenuity.