Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bach: Italian Concerto in F Major, Presto (third movement)

I have played the first two movements of Bach’s Italian Concerto but I have yet to perform the third movement, the Presto section. If you have never listened to any Jacques Loussier you should definitely listen to his jazzy portrayal of some popular Bach pieces on his CD Jacques Loussier Plays Bach Bach. He plays piano and is accompanied by percussion and stand up bass. The first movement of the concerto is in F major and the third movement sounds like it is in the same key. The piece is in two-four with a sort of A-A-B-A section, a long improvisation, and the A-A-B-A section repeated. You could almost call it ternary, but not actually. The A theme is 12 measures ending with a half cadence and then an authentic cadence after it is repeated. The melody goes a little like do-do-up the major scale to sol-sol-sol-fa-mi-re and eventually ends on sol, making it a half cadence. The next twelve measures are the same as the first twelve except for the last few measures that end re-do for a perfect authentic cadence. The next four measures are a new melody which is then played a step higher four the second four measures of the eight bar phrase. The A section repeats, using the second version of A with the authentic cadence. Now is the interesting part where Jacques and his players jazz Bach up to the extreme. The bass walks up and down the scale and the high hat plays a jazzy rhythm while Loussier improves on the Bach melody. In the left hand he often plays start chords while the right hand solos away. Towards the end of the section the piano makes more use of the low bass range with jazzy chords in the right hand. The improve section is ended with an eight measure drum solo, very nice. The piece is finished by repeating the beginning A-A-B-A and the very end has retards in the last few measures.
This piece is such a cool spin on Bach and makes me want to learn to play JAZZ!!! This would be a great way to get someone into classical music as well because it is exciting. I think the percussion adds the most to the song, not overplayed, very tasteful. The drum solo is well deserved after the percussions control throughout the rest of the piece. My favorite part is the improvised section and I like how you can still hear similar chord progressions from the original. Everyone should hear this stuff sometime.

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