Please enjoy these recordings of the first four movements of the J.S. Bach Partita for Unaccompanied Violin in D Minor, No. 2.
Composed in the early 1700's, there are six unaccompanied works written by Bach for the violin. Each work is comprised of multiple movements, which was the style at the time these wonderful pieces were composed. I'm posting four of the five movements which together make a complete work. Even 300 years after composition, the complexity, technical difficulty, and sheer musical genius of these pieces make them remain the bread and butter of the violin repertoire.
The Allemanda was the very first unaccompanied Bach I ever learned. My childhood teacher, BIll Hunt, patiently took me through each measure to show me how attentively crafted music could really be. I am indebted to him for his guidance as a mentor in both music and life.
I thought it would be fun to share this Dec. 2009 performance with you -- it is performance of Piazzolla's Le Grand Tango with my dear friend, pianist Oomi Banchinda Laothai. Banchinda is now at the University of Minnesota, working toward her doctorate in piano. I'm hopeful we can get a chance to work together again, and soon! (Who knows, maybe it will be sooner than we think? wink wink)
Banchinda also arranged a beautiful Thai song, "Home," which you can hear on the media page. Thanks so much for listening!
Ok, so the idea of an 'annual' commission went out of the window just a little -- I blame life for getting in the way. However, I've been waiting for an opportunity to have another work written, and for several reasons, now seems like the right time for something new.
I've spent this past year enjoying a new and amazing miracle (my daughter), all while observing the new balance of life and work. The joys and sacrifices have gone both ways. During this extremely happy time, my heart burns for those who have suffered such uncountable loss, either at home (like those in the south who are so often stricken by tornados and floods) or abroad (like those in Japan who experienced the devastation of earthquakes and tsunami). And the loss is ongoing.
Sometimes it can feel wrong to have so much joy in my heart when others have so little. We all have joys and sorrows -- it doesn't have to take a natural disaster to bring sadness and loss into one's life, and believe me, I've had my share of both. Yet, this time, as I experience for myself the complexities of grappling with such mixed emotion, I look at my little one, at the news screen, and back at my daughter and realize there is something bittersweet. Something stretching my heart -- I realize that these things come hand in hand. I need to grieve life in order to celebrate it. I need to celebrate in order to grieve.
I want to live alongside with my brothers in the world (known and unknown). I choose to do it through my craft because that is what I've got. I want to express the heart -- joys and sufferings -- of humanity with my own heart and abilities, however frail.
This is why in June of this year, I chose to commission a new work. For some reason it was obvious from inception that Jeremy Allen should write the work.
As with the last commission, Mercury Retrograde (for string quartet), I haven't given Jeremy too many parameters for the new piece, because I want to see what he comes up with on his own... I already know I love what he does. However, I do know that the piece will be for solo violin and I'll see the final draft sometime in December 2011. Unlike MR, this new piece will be one movement. I've given Jeremy a few words to think about as he writes: the stages of grief, seasons, and a book from the Bible, Ecclesiastes.
I've got the first two pages on my stand right now, and I look forward to sharing those and more with you in the coming weeks.
I'm Erica Ward, formerly