After the emotional turmoil of the Allemande, the Courante almost seems like light relief. Bach doesn’t let the drama become too serious by alternating sublimity with joviality. So the Prelude, Courante, Gavotte II and Gigue are lighter-hearted, in contrast with the elevated mood of the Allemande and Sarabande and the courtly Gavotte I. I suppose our job as performers is to bring that out.
The main problem I had today was that the Courante, as the least evilly difficult movement in a horrendously difficult suite, was the one I’d practised the least. I’d only just scraped it into memorization from the Beisswenger edition before transferring my attentions to the Anna Magdalena Bach manuscript, an enlarged copy of which sits on a music stand out of the frame of the camera. Having bragged before about my memorization skills, it pains me to report that I occasionally had flashes of panic that I was about to have a memory lapse. I’d turn my glance to the score, and then I’d have an alto clef lapse. How terribly embarrassing.
The only take I could use was the third one because of the alto clef vs. brain problem. I think it needs a faster tempo, more bounce, cleaner runs, and cleaner intonation. And more consistent use of vibrato (consistent, not constant, that is).
Today’s practice list: D major Courante, Sarabande, Gavottes I & II, Gigue.