The G-minor <i>Presto</i>

Joel Lester

in Bach's Works for Solo Violin

Published in print October 1999 | ISBN: 9780195120974
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865406 | DOI:
The G-minor Presto

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The continuous sixteenth notes of the Presto may seem akin to later composers' perpetual-motion movements. But whereas later instances (such as Paganini's) have a swift and supple surface overlying a bel canto texture, the rhythms and metric hierarchy of Bach's Presto create a vibrant rhythm that articulates many cross rhythms. This recurrent feature of Bach's style versus later styles affects all sorts of textures—exemplified by the differences between the C-major Prelude in the Well-Tempered Clavier and Gounod's Ave Maria (that adds a melody to that prelude), and the differences between Bach's orchestration of his E-major Preludio and Robert Schumann's accompaniment to the same movement. Parallel-section construction with heightening activity offers deeper insights into Bach's two-part movements than later notions of “binary form”.

Keywords: perpetual motion; rhythm; metric hierarchy; parallel sections; heightening activity; binary form; Paganini; Moto perpetuo; Gounod; Ave Maria; Robert Schumann; accompaniments

Chapter.  9620 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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