The performance practice of Bach s keyboard works is a topic that has been researched and studied at great length, and has elicited much debate amongst authorities on the subject. While performing Bach on the piano is widely accepted today, it is crucial to realise that the modern piano is not an instrument with which Bach was familiar when he composed his keyboard music.
In recent times, many performances and recordings of Bach s works are performed on the piano, which offers many more interpretive possibilities (such as dynamic gradations, a variety of tonal quality, and the use of the sustaining pedal). Some artists who declare allegiance to the early music movement attempt to emulate Bach s original intention , and therefore perform his keyboard works either on the harpsichord or in an unpianistic manner on the piano. The early music movement, along with the concept of authenticity, and the subsequent move away from the pursuit of this ideal in the postmodernist era, have been debated extensively (Fabian 2003: xiv). By studying existing literature on these topics, and by analysing select recordings of Bach s English Suite No 4 in F Major (BWV 809) by well-respected pianists, I explore some of these contentious issues of Bach interpretation and performance practice.
This research aims to examine changes in the performance practice of Bach s English Suite No 4 in F Major (BWV 809) over the past four decades, spanning the time from when Glenn Gould recorded the English Suites in the early 1970s up until the present day, including recordings by Murray Perahia (1999), András Schiff (2003), and myself (2013). These performers are chosen for very specific reasons related to their range of stylistic approaches.
The principal rationale of this research is not to provide solutions or answers to any questions, but rather to debate the issue of the varying performance styles of Bach. Interpretations of Bach s keyboard music have and will continue to evolve, and it would be an impossible and uninformed task to try and establish a correct performance practice.
Mini Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2016.