Partita in B-flat major, BWV 825, movement 1-4
In this masterclass, Michel Béroff is accompanied by Chinese student, Xinyao Lyu, who is interpreting a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach, First Partita BWV 825. The six Partitas for keyboard are the last set of suites that Bach composed, and are the most technically demanding of the three. Professor Béroff asks Xinyao Lyu to start playing with no aforementioned indication. He then gives us a brief history of dances and indications. At the time of Bach, little to no indications were actually written on the piece. Interpretation was left to the good taste (or bad taste) of the musician. He therefore encourages his student to explore more freely the piece while exercising, giving her tips to insure polyphonic parts are always precisely heard.
How to use pedals without hearing them,
How to exercise on the piano to approach harpsichord sounds,
To pay attention to basses and cadence,
To project intimacy where needed,
The importance of articulation.
J.S. Bach’s Partita in B-flat Major, composed in 1725 and published the following year, is the first of six partitas written for solo keyboard. They were intended as practice pieces or exercises, yet still had great depth and emotion, and were touted as some of the finest works for keyboard of the time. The B-flat Partita is a suite consisting of short Baroque dance movements: Praeludium, Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, Menuet I, Menuet II, and Gigue. The suite overall has a cheery disposition, beginning with a highly ornamented introduction. The Allemande is an elegant dance marked by steady sixteenths, while the Corrente is a fast-paced, lilting movement in triple meter. The beautiful Sarabande sounds reflective and improvisatory, serving as the heart of the piece. The Menuets provide a stately, graceful interlude before the piece concludes with the lively, leaping Gigue.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Michel Béroff’s feedback and comments.
He won, in 1967, the first prize at the first international Olivier Messiaen piano competition
Michel Beroff was born in France in 1950. After graduating from the Paris conservatoire in 1966, he won the following year the first prize at the first international Olivier Messiaen piano competition. He has been since considered one of the most outstanding interpreter of Messiaen’s music. He then went on to play with the most prestigious orchestras around the world under the direction of such conductors as Abbado, Barenboim, Bernstein, Boulez, Dohnanyi, Dorati, Dutoit, Eschenbach, Gielen, Inbal, Jochum, Leinsdorf, Masur, Ozawa, Previn, Rostropovitch, Sinopoli, Solti, Tennsted, Tilson-Thomas, Zinman. As a chamber music partner , he has been very active playing with Martha Argerich , Barbara Hendricks Jean- Philippe Collard, Augustin Dumay, Pierre Amoyal, Lynn Harrell.
As a conductor, Michel Beroff has been conducting the chamber orchestra de la Scala de Milano, the Russian state Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Orchestre National de Lille, the Cannes chamber orchestra, the Berkeley symphony, the Montréal youth orchestra.
Professor Emeritus at the Paris Conservatoire, where he taught for 25 years, Michel Béroff is giving regular master classes in many countries, including Japan, China, USA, Italy, Germany and France.
Exclusive EMI artist for over 25 years, Michel Beroff has published more than 50 recordings ; among them the complete works for piano and orchestra from Liszt, Prokofieff and Stravinsky , conducted by Seiji Ozawa and Kurt Masur. For Deutsche Grammophon, he has recorded Ravel’s left hand concerto with the LSO and Claudio Abbado. His latest recordings include the complete piano music from Debussy. Michel Beroff has been awarded five times the “Grand Prix du Disque”.
As a publisher, he participated for Wiener Urtext , to a new edition of Debussy’s piano music. For the japanese network NHK, he realized, in 2006, a serie of fifteen master-classes on french music.
As a jury member, he has been serving in many important piano competitions, including Tchaikovsky, Van Cliburn, Leeds, Clara Haskil, Rubinstein, and Marguerite Long competitions, among others. Many of his students have won top prizes at international competitions ; the latest one is SeongJin CHO, who won the Chopin competition in Warsaw.
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.