Masterclass on Bach's Trio Sonatas

The 19th of October was my second day in Tokyo, and that evidently made me wake up at 3:30 a.m.. After a hot bath and a cup of tea I went to bed again at 4:30 a.m. to wake up at 6:30, as my train to Tanashi left at 7:30.

All importance at the beginning in Tokyo goes to finding your way right.

Thank God I was at the gate of the Nishi Tokyo Church at 8:30 for the rehearsal.

My program of the mini concert:

J.C.Bach / Trio on "Aus tiefer Not"
J.V.Ootmaessen / Exercise No.58 from "The Trio Playing"
N. de Grigny / Trio from Gloria
C.H. Rinck / Trio No.2
J.S. Bach / Triosonata No.3 (Andante-Adagio e dolce-Vivace)

But it was with lessons on the Trio Sonatas of Bach that we started the day,
organized by the Bluebelle-no-mori, the association for friendly organ events.

10:00~10:45 / Ms Akimoto
the 2nd movement of the 4th Sonata

- Use articulations to express the character of the piece
- Construct by tightening the conversation between phrases
- Promptly respond when right hand asks left hand
- Go without too much importance when cadence
- Think if notes are melodically independent or just part of an arpeggio
- Care about the angle of the knees and the use of the legs in the pedaling

I found the lesson already very rich in a way so that all the basic concerns in the trio playing came out. Thank you Ms Akimoto!

10:45~11:30 / Ms Urushibata
the 1st movement of the 3rd Sonata

- Play decisively the main theme in soprano which influence the character of the whole movement
- Keep up with the tempo (not to slow down)
- Play cadence simply
- Use parts flexibly in the legs to articulate better

She had well prepared the fast movement but we cleaned out the details. That allowed us to approach better the music. We were touching the essential of the Bach playing already on the second lesson today : to keep the attention of the audience by rapid and fluent tempo maintaining the clarity of each note, phrase and harmony. Keep going, she is on the good way!

We had here an early lunch break, where we could feel more close by talking over our lunch boxes. When I saw my watch I had to play my mini concert in fifteen minutes!

As you would have noticed, the program is all TRIOS.
I choose pieces from different countries and times.

I just had a difficulty in not regarding the precedent lessons' tempo choices in the last piece. As I have started not in my tempo it became impossible to get the far fetched notes. I had to excuse myself at the end and I replayed it. Luckily there I could play at ease, if not I would have had to go home abandoning my two other students!

13:45~14:30 Ms Miura
the 2nd movement of the 3rd Sonata

She was the only person I knew before. When she said to me a trio of Bach would be too difficult for her, I told her that there were some approachable slow movements. As soon as I said it, she took a music and started to practice - it was two weeks before the lesson. And she learnt it perfectly, although she could have just learn the first half if too long. She is a working mother... bravo!

- Push the tempo a wee bit to obtain a spontaneous development of phrases
- Clarify if the note wants accent or not
- If not, even when it falls on the strong beat, learn to play it with no accent
- Touch the new note immediately after the release of the preceding note (no wast in finger movement)
- Phrase better the pedal

One by one, we get used to do those things. The difficulty arrives when you must do more than one thing at a time : right hand do the point 3, left hand do the point 4, in all playing the pedal. She bravely confronted the conflict and we got through certainly. As sensitive as she is, I expect she has got the grip of it.

14:30~15:15 Ms Shiina
the 3rd Sonata

- Conclude phrases in various ways
- Lengthen as long as a quaver as written or shorten as it needs to be
- Use of the hipbone and the knees for even more fluent pedaling
- Improve what is already well played to suite better the musical argument

This person had already a solid playing. Her love for the piece was felt through the playing, and she had a good general touch in the hands.
She would enjoy herself in playing the three movements of the same Sonata. And there are more, Bach has written six Sonatas!

There were questions when the lessons had ended, and it was a very interesting exchanges too. Unfortunately that part of the masterclass was not recorded and I can't remember the details as it was 9 months ago.

I am very grateful that they gave me the chance to hold this opportunity and I most enjoyed the experience!