Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 308 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Jaco, and he writes:
Thank you for your daily posts - it is really an inspiration!
I really like Bach's Toccata in d (Dorian). It is a piece that feels like it has perpetual motion - something always keeps moving in it. It is quite a difficult piece to master, but I decided to learn it. The edition I am playing from is the new 2012 urtext Breitkopf & Hartel edition. It indicates a trill in measure 29 on the top e in the RH (please see below). However, it does not indicate when this trill should stop. The note is held on for another 2 measures. When should that trill stop? I don't know how to play the RH in measure 30 if trill has to continue, since a lower voice starts with that hand halfway through measure 30.
Another question - I know the piece has to be played articulate legato. However, it does sound quite nice if the first 2 semiquavers on the motive on beat 1 and 3 are slurred (played legato). I have heard it on some recordings as well. Would this be considered acceptable to do?
Looking forward to your reply!
V: So, in measure 30, on the second half of that measure right hand, 16th notes enter. And, if you were to continue this trill, it would be impossible to play double-16th notes in the left hand in parallel 6ths, Ausra. What do you think?
A: Well, unless you would use the 5th and 4th finger to make the trill.
V: Oh, that’s...that’s torture!
A: It is! Or maybe you could play those 16th notes with your left hand.
V: But you see, can many people play double-parallel-6ths in that tempo? In the really fast tempo?
A: I don’t think so. But it would be so nice, you know, to have that trill until the measure 31 where you have those chords in a cadence.
V: At least in the middle of 30, when the right hand enters with 16ths, too. But, you say you would try to play it with the left hand, right? Both voices that move in 16th notes.
A: That’s one of the possibilities.
V: Technically, it could be done,
A: Yes, it could be done…
V: Because the distance between those two parts is not more than one octave. So, technically, if you are good with your left hand, it could be done, but, in reality, not too many people can do this. Yes? So then, you sacrifice something.
A: Well, yes, but in general, while using the sense of your mind, I think you would stop playing that trill when the second voice in the right hand enters.
V: That’s what I’m thinking, too.
A: In the middle of the measure 30.
V: That’s right.
A: Is it measure 30? Yes.
V: Okay, so that’s our solution, and I think Jaco feels that way, too, because it’s impossible, really, to play perfectly the long trill and both voices in the left hand, unless you are a virtuoso.
A: I think that’s what Bach meant, to play the trill until the 16ths enter in the right hand.
V: What about playing a short trill, just like four or five notes?
A: I don’t think it will work in this piece. Could you go back to the score, please? ...because, as Jaco already said, it’s perpetual motion in this piece, and this starts right away with both hands, and pedal comes in here, and then you have the trill in the right hand, and if you want to play it or you do it very short, then I don’t think it will do good for that sense of motoric movement.
V: I just have to double-check the older edition from the 19th century, from 1861, Bach-Gesellschaft-Ausgabe. What does it say? If it’s a long trill or a short trill….it might be something different. And sometimes 19th century solutions are better than 21st century solutions.
A: Well, it’s good to know more ways than one, you know? And to check more editions.
V: Okay. Let’s see...we’re looking now, and trying to find… this trill is in parentheses in Bach-Gesellschaft-Ausgabe on which our version with fingering and pedaling is based! So you could play it, or you could not play it, I guess.
A: I would play it, because if you would just hold that long note…
V: True.. So then, Jaco has another question. He writes: “I know the piece has to be played articulate legato. However, it does sound quite nice if the first two semiquavers on the motive on beat one and three are slurred—played legato. I have heard it on some recordings as well. Would this be considered acceptable to do?” That’s a very fast tempo, and…
A: It is!
V: in such a fast tempo,
A: It might sound legato.
A: Actually, I don’t believe that somebody on purpose played those two semiquavers legato. I think it’s just a feeling you get when it’s played in a fast tempo. And because you have to emphasize the strong beat, that’s why it sounds legato, too.
V: Because you make the first note longer.
A: Longer. That’s right. But, somehow to try on purpose to play it legato, I wouldn’t do it.
V: Plus maybe the acoustics environment will make it sound legato.
V: But the organist probably would still play with articulation. It’s different from what the organist does and what the listeners hear
A: That’s right.
V: Interesting piece!
A: Because, if you play legato on purpose, then you might get a mess, or your listeners might hear a mess.
V: I played this piece many years ago, when I was still a student, and I struggled with playing it in an even manner, because it’s a motoric piece, like a toccata, and after a while, after a few pages, it gets quite difficult, just like in Vivaldi-Bach Concerto, D minor, the last movement.
A: And it’s like C minor Prelude from Well Tempered Clavier, the first volume also very motoric.
V: Yes. Organists have to develop good patience while working on this piece, otherwise, we can lose a sense of meter!
A: True, and I think it would be a crucial point in a toccata if you would lose your sense of motion—that sense of meter. Your toccata would be lost to it.
V: I wonder how Jaco is practicing the fugue. He doesn’t say anything. Because, the fugue is, I think, more complex!
V: With so much canonic motion.
A: Yes, because the toccata, there, is not much of polyphonic devices, but fugue is another thing…
V: And, sometimes the fingering is tricky. That’s why we made fingering and pedaling for both toccata and fugue, of D Dorian, and hopefully people can practice efficiently using our score, too. Okay guys, thank you, Jaco, for this wonderful question, and others, please keep sending us your feedback and your stories. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen!
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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