Partita No. 6
In this masterclass, Professor Claire-Marie Le Guay and student Laure Cholé are taking on Partita No.6, a piece which is part of a keyboard suite composed in the early 1700s by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Claire-Marie Le Guay first points out that the piece is not easy to translate from harpsichord into piano, because the piano tends to be more powerful and intense.
All throughout the session, Le Guay emphasizes the need for her student to pay attention to her posture, and body and head movement, as well-being aware of her gaze. Laure Chloé is instructed to hold her notes and play them longer to keep up with the harmonic structure without losing its intensity. With this, she is advised to be mindful of where she starts and where she finishes, as well as distinguishing every note while simultaneously respecting the global phrasing of the partita.
Maintaining posture and being aware of one’s body language.
Keeping in mind that Bach composed the piece for harpsichord.
Holding musical phrasing all throughout the piece.
Avoid romanticizing the partita too much.
Varying the articulation.
The Partita No. 6 is part of a group of 6 suites for harpsichord composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and are also called the “German suites”. They were composed over several years, from 1726 to 1731. Bach was at the time at the height of his career. The piece is structured in seven movements: the toccata, the German, the Courante, Air, the Sarabande, Tempo di Gavotta and the Gigue. They are arranged as a logical suite and contain the four traditional dances. The partitas can be especially challenging for pianists, since they were meant to be played on a harpsichord.
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 Claire-Marie Le Guay’s feedback and comments.
First prize winner at International Contest of Chamber Music of Portogruaro in Italy (1990).
Claire-Mairie Le Guay is a highly sought-after solo pianist who has performed with many prestigious conductors and orchestras, including Orchestre de Paris, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the New Japan Philharmonic, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She is a prizewinner of numerous international competitions, including the Victoires de la Musique and the Banque Populaire Foundation. Le Guay has performed recitals at many leading festivals, among them the Festival International de Piano de La Roque d’Anthéron, the MDR Musiksommer, Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Germany, and the Lockenhaus Festival in Austria. Her recordings of Liszt, Schumann, Hadyn, Mozart, and Dutilleux have all been noted and praised by the press such as the Pianiste, Choc de Classica, Diapason, Gramophone, and Mirare. Claire-Marie Le Guay attaches great importance to musical transmission, a passion that has led her to participate in ‘Au coeur d’une oeuvre’ a concert series that took place from 2014-2017 at the Salle Gaveau in Paris, as well as a series of concert-lectures entitled ‘Concerts Guidés’. Since 2012, Le Guay has collaborated with the Opéra de Dijon in presenting various pedagogical projects, and has developed an educational project for families at the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival. In 2015, Claire-Marie Le Guay was appointed Eisenhower Fellow in recognition of her commitment to the popularization and transmission of classical music. She has been a professor at the Académie de Musique Française of the École Normale de Musique de Paris since 2002 and is the Artistic Director of the Festival international de musique de Dinard.
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.