It’s March now, and I realised the other day that for most of 2017 all I have practised have been Bach Suites. It’s been completely fabulous, you know. When I went to study with Robert Cohen, my teacher in London, it was all I did with him for at least a year. No studies – just Bach. It was fabulous then – and it’s been fabulous now. (Too many fabulouses. Sorry.)
I’ve had to play them all differently, due to the programs they were in. One has been to link with the spoken word. So I found myself playing really freely. Speaking each phrase – where was I going? What was I saying here? One suite was with a percussionist. I practised that with a metronome. No rhythmic freedom there at all! It was very challenging to work around the problems of string crossings and being a melody-maker and a bass line with no real rhythmic changes. And the third one was with a painter. I had to be really dramatic and full of different colours for her to respond.
It’s been a great way to start the year for me. Ironed out lots of holes in my technique. And I’ve come to an excellent conclusion. None of these suites suffered. They didn’t change. And all of them held up to what I was doing. And each of them were enjoyed by the audiences I played them to. Herr Bach, you are really truly very excellent. Thank you for these suites. Thank you for your genius. You were one extraordinary man.