Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sharing Henryk Szeryng's Bach


I guess it must have been 16 years ago, around the time I first started playing the violin, that I bought Henryk Szeryng's edition of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas because I loved the way he played them (you can listen to the first movement of the E-major Partita, as well as a lot of other music, on his My Space Page!).

I love his (hypothetical) My Space friends: they're my kind of people. Of course Szeryng was well known for being a really arrogant person: the kind of artist who is best left as a personal mystery. I appreciate Marcel Harvey's comments over at the J.S. Bach Homepage concerning Szeryng's Bach recordings, and I would imagine that many of his 1877 MySpace friends are personally better off never having known the man. In most cases he either died before these friends were born or was born after they died.

But I digress . . .

When I first started working on the Sonata and Partitas I was baffled by Szeryng's choices of fingerings. I simply couldn't do most of them, so I crossed out his fingerings, and replaced them with my own. Recently, after taking some time off practicing the Sonatas and Partitas (including many years of just not practicing the violin in favor of practicing the viola), and devoting at least an hour a day of the past three years to Sevcik, Szeryng's fingerings are magical. They make it possible for me to play in tune, be comfortable, and be expressive. I'm going to take a huge eraser and wipe the whole book clean.

Now leave this post and spend some time listening to the fantastic recordings on Szeryng's My Space page!

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