Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Play Bach's Two Part Inventions - Part 3

Learn how to approach the Invention No. 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach

In this third video, Robert approaches the Invention No. 4 in D minor from the Two Part Inventions by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Released on February 3, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin, and this is with the continuing series on how to approach Bach's Two-Part Inventions. These are wonderful pieces. You know, I studied Two-Part Inventions when I was a child, and yet, revisiting them is always a great pleasure, and while advanced and intermediate students can play Bach, so can seasoned professionals. It's great to have a wealth of top-notch music available to students who are not yet on an advanced level, yet this music, you'll gain so much from studying it.

So we talked about how to delineate subject from counter-subject, and that's really the lesson on these pieces, is because you want to be able to hear both parts distinct from one another. One hand is playing a subject while the other hand is playing the counter-subject, and vice versa. Sometimes, both hands are playing subjects or counter-subjects. So how do you bring them out? It's with the phrasing.

So now we have No. 4, the D minor, and I'm going to show you the subject and show you the counter-subject so you can hear for yourself.

So you have that nice legato sixteenth notes as the subject, and the counter-subject...

And here, once again, you can hear how by delineating the phrasing, playing the sixteenth note subject legato and the eighth note counter-subject staccato, you can hear every note beautifully. Listen to how it works together.

Now, once again, as you continue on, you can do your own dynamic scheme. You can try many different things, but the key is delineating with the phrasing so you can hear the individual lines and how they interplay. It's absolutely beautiful, brilliant writing on Bach's part.

Now the Two-Part Inventions are a great way to get exposed to Baroque music and counterpoint in general because after you leave the Two-Part Inventions and you study other pieces of Bach, you're going to have three-, four-, even five-voice fugues. So you'd better get used to finding out how to delineate two parts, one from the other, if you're going to approach three, four or more voices happening simultaneously because remember, with counterpoint, and in fugues in particular, you're not playing melody and harmony, you're playing simultaneous melodies. And the secret, and the trick is to be able to bring them all out so the listener can follow any one or several at the same time with their ears, and it's only possible by having different quality of sound to them, which you can achieve with your phrasing.

Thanks so much for joining me, and look forward to more videos on many different works. I'm Robert Estrin, here with
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Ken Cory * VSM MEMBER * on August 7, 2019 @5:02 am PST
The main thing I noticed is that you play the C# with the thumb in the first measure. That way, almost every statement of the subject uses the same fingering. Brilliant.
Robert - host, on August 8, 2019 @4:48 pm PST
So glad this helps you!
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