Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Play Bach's Two Part Inventions - Part 2

Learn how to approach the Invention No. 8 by Johann Sebastian Bach

In this second video of a 3-part series, Robert approaches the Invention No. 8 in F major from the Two Part Inventions by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Released on January 6, 2016

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Video Transcription

Hi and welcome to I'm your host Robert Estrin with a continuing series on how to approach the Bach two part inventions monumental works that are accessible to students in a moderate level of achievement. This is so great because the music is wonderful and yet you find concert artists revisiting these scores and bringing much to them because there's great depth to these short pieces.

We're going to do the number eight, the F major invention and the subject and the counter subject are so well delineated that you're going to hear. The subject is simply this. Not much to it now what's the counter subject. So you can hear right away there's a complete different in the sound. You want to accentuate that difference with the phrasing. Notice how I played the subject staccato and the counter subject legato. This really helps to delineate the counter points, you can hear all the parts clearly they don't meld together.

Quite the contrary think about this the piano was really in its total infancy Bach didn't really write for the piano. So the keyboard instrumentalist at the time didn't really have the a sensitivity to dynamics in such. So it was really necessary to phrase the parts differently so you could hear them distinctly from one another. This is what it sounds like put together following through with this staccato subject and the legato counter subject.

You can go through the entire piece and this way you can hear both lines clearly there's never more then two lines going on at any point and you can hear each one distinctly. Imagine if you played it and you played everything with the same phrasing. It loses something doesn't it because it all melds together and that's exactly what you don't want in Bach. You want to hear each individual part so be sure to phrase, exaggerate your phrasing.

Now as you play further into the piece you can indeed have dynamics. For example, right at the point where it goes to next you can you come down to piano you can give it architecture with dynamics. But use the phrasing to bring out the counterpoint and you'll have a very satisfying performance that you can do whatever you want to with it. That's the beauty of these inventions. They are very open to interpretation in regards to dynamics and, yes, phrasing. As long as you delineate subject from counter subject you're going to have a great performance of Bach.

Thanks so much for joining me Robert Estrin here at
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Thomas on July 4, 2019 @3:30 am PST
Danke, wieder was gelernt von Robert
Robert Estrin - host, on July 4, 2019 @11:11 am PST
It is my pleasure!
(Es ist mir ein Vergnügen!)
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