Foundational Ideas of FiddleQuest

Bach revisited

I grew up listening to the Bach Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin. Several of these pieces are ‘standards’ for the advanced violinist.

Whenever I would listen to these pieces played at concerts or on recordings, they would be played with such grandiosity and seriousness that the pieces never appealed to me.

It seemed to me that because the violinists were alone on this piece of music without any support from piano or orchestra, they felt compelled to make up for the deficit by exaggerating their own sound.

I felt like I was watching a peacock doing a mating dance.

One day I was listening to Chris Thile, the mandolin player from Nickle Creek and Punch Brothers, on Spotify and his recording of the Sonata №1 in G minor comes on unexpectedly. I was mesmerized.

He played the piece with such finesse and grace, such a lack of grandiosity, that I couldn’t quit listening. For the rest of the day I listened to his album “Chris Thile plays Bach Partitas.”

For some reason I hear these pieces in a way that draws me towards them. It appeals to my desire to music that is a little understated. That is, it doesn’t reveal everything but makes you lean forward and develops your curiosity.

No one would describe Bach’s Partitas as humble. But that is they sounded when I listened to Chris Thile play these pieces.

At long last, I want to learn these tunes…and try to replicate the feeling I get when I hear Chris Thile play them.