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5 pieces of advice for playing Bach by violinist Lisa Batiashvili

The artist shares her ideas about performing works of the great Baroque composer

Friday, 25 July 2014

There is no single correct way to interpret Bach
One needs to spend some time thinking about how to interpret Bach. I have played his music through the years – thought a lot about phrasing, articulation and vibrato. As a student I learned to play it one way, while my recent recording reflects my interpretation now. And I know it will change again. Bach is an endless path.

Approach his works with a clear idea of your sound
Everyone needs to find their own approach and language in Bach’s music. I'm trying not to be too dogmatic or theoretical about it, but I think one needs to play with imagination and hear the sound one wants to produce. And it is important that each note speaks, and that the sound remains flexible and transparent.

Never settle for a forced tone
Everything needs to come from the ear. If chords in solo Bach sound forced, I have to try a different technique to break them, or experiment with different bows or strings. In the Baroque era, players never played on three strings at the same time – it wasn't possible with the Baroque bow. Now we have to find a middle way to break chords – not to limit the old style, but as a way of making them sound as soft and clear as possible, and at the same time natural and organic on modern bows and instruments.

You can pair Bach’s works with just about anything in concert
I can imagine a lot of works that go well with Bach. In the case of my forthcoming concert at the Bristol Porms we have chosen Piazzolla, as I love his works and it is a nice piece to close the concert!

Choose your acoustic well
Of course a church is the most inspiring and obvious place for Bach’s music. Hearing the sound come back to you really helps to find the right freedom in this music. I also like to play Bach in good chamber music halls.

Lisa Batiashvili performs Bach concertos and works of Piazzolla at 'Bach Night' at the Bristol Proms on Monday 28 July 2014. Her new album, 'Bach', is out on Deutsche Grammophon on 25 August 2014.

Photo: Sammy Hart / DG

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