Suite No. 3 in C Major, part 2
In this masterclass, Professor Nathan Braude works with student Otoha Tabata on Bach’s third cello suite, performed on viola. He reminds the student and the audience that even when we focus on small details, we must never forget the larger picture. In the Sarabande, he helps Tabata find a tempo that matches its role in the greater context of the work. Braude also encourages her to make clear decisions regarding the harmonies. She must decide which note in any given chord is the most important and then also decide which chords correspond to which moods or sound colors, to provide more contrast. Through bow management, he helps her find more resonance in the chords.
In the Bourrées, they work on structuring the phrasing, especially through the lens of speech patterns such as question and answer. Additionally, Braude helps Tabata capture the tempo, spirit, and character of this piece.
Choosing the right tempo for each movement.
Using the harmony to create different, contrasting colors.
Prioritizing certain notes or beats.
Emphasizing surprising or climactic moments.
Structuring the phrases.
J.S. Bach composed his six suites for solo cello during his time as Kapellmeister in Cöthen between 1717-23. Today they are still considered some of the greatest and most challenging works ever written for the instrument. Like its counterparts, the third suite contains six Baroque dance movements. Each movement is in the key of C major, which gives the piece a cheerful quality as well as extra resonance that comes from the frequent use of double stops and open strings. Throughout the piece, Bach strategically hints at the underlying harmonies through the use of pedal notes and broken chords. The prelude is in A-B-A-C form, passing back and forth between scalar and chordal passages in long streams of sixteenth notes. The allemande is stately in tempo, though quick ornamental runs make it feel more upbeat. 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, briefly exploring the minor mode. Full of leaps, the lively gigue brings the suite to an animated conclusion.
There is a big danger when we start working so much in detail that we forget the big picture.
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.