Duet for Two Violas in G Major
Duet for Two Violas in G Major
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
In this viola masterclass, Isabel Charisius helps her two students, Fabian Aschwanden and Gregor Bugar navigate through Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's Duet for Two Violas.
Produced by the Saline royale Academy
Violin master Isabel Charisius and her students, Gregor and Fabian, focus on working together as a unit to create a fuller sound in order to accomplish a masterful performance of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's Duet for Two Violas. Charisius warns her students against becoming too centered on oneself and forgetting that they are part of a collaborative experience. Due to the strings crossing into each other with separating flows of the melody, Charisius instructs them to synchronize on the 16th notes and concentrate on keeping to the tempo to achieve a more unified sound.
Playing as a unit.
Practicing as if there is an audience.
Playing with your full body.
Making a more vertical impact.
Know who is leading and who is accompanying.
W.F. Bach composed his three viola duets in Berlin around 1775. Interestingly, no other members of the Bach family wrote compositions for two violas. Though the duets were written later in the composer’s career, they remain traditionally Baroque in style, excluding some of the more modern techniques that began to appear in viola compositions, such as double or triple stops. They also have relatively simple textures and conventional forms. The G Major duet is in three movements: Allegro, Lamento, and Presto.
The cheerful first movement makes extensive use of imitative writing. The second and third movements are both fugues. The slow second movement is a unique double fugue, introducing both fugal subjects simultaneously, each in different voices. The third movement is the most technically demanding; though short, its dance-like nature provides a lighthearted, satisfying conclusion to the piece.
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 Isabel Charisius’s feedback and comments.
The prize winners were selected by a jury comprising (Alban Berg Quartet), 1983 to mark the 50th anniversary of Banff Centre.
Isabel Charisius is one of the finest violists and chamber musicians of her generation. As a member of the legendary Alban Berg Quartet, and a regular soloist with leading orchestras, Charisius has appeared regularly at the most prestigious venues in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.
She enjoys working in projects with distinguished string quartets, various ensembles and many renowned soloists in international venues. She is frequently invited as a jury member to prestigious international competitions.
For many years, Charisius has been dedicated to developing the journeys of new generations of musicians. She is an internationally recognized teacher of viola and chamber music. Her prolific teaching activity at the Universities of Cologne and Lucerne as well as a wide range of masterclasses at some of the most prestigious institutions, has produced a large community of alumni. Her students can be found among the winners of international competitions, and many of them are members of the world’s finest ensembles and orchestras.
Isabel Charisius plays the extraordinary viola «ABQ» by Laurentius Storioni (1780).
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach was perhaps mostly known for being J.S Bach’s eldest son, but he built a career of his own as a composer and musician. Born in Weimar in 1710, he received a thorough musical education under the supervision of his father. He took up the position of organist at the St. Sophia's Church in Dresden in 1733, and remained a well-established organist throughout his life. He moved to Halle in 1746 after accepting an organist position.
In 1751, he married Dorothea Elisabeth Georgi. The couple had three children, with only one of them reaching adulthood. Wilhelm Friedemann was very unhappy in Halle and tried to leave, but could not. The family’s financial situation became dire when they left the town without any job prospects. He worked for the court of Princess Anna Amalia, but fell out of favor. With this, he began teaching again to support his family. He died in 1784 in Berlin, where he was living. Wilhelm Friedemann Bach had quite a troubled life and many writers and biographers think it was because of the changing society and his difficult personality. As a composer, he leaves a legacy consisting of many church cantatas and instrumental works, of which the most notable are the fugues, polonaises, fantasias for clavier, and the duets for two flutes.
Photo credit: Dr. Martin Falck-Leipzig : C. F. Kahnt Nachfolger