Rudy Apffel, piano
Variations and Adaptations for
J S BACH
For me there are three features of the music of JS Bach that are the source of its universal appeal to musicians and non-musicians alike and its unique value in a ballet pianist’s repertory: melody, rhythm and contrapuntal texture. A fourth feature is of course Bach’s splendid harmonic language, but that’s less relevant to ballet class than melody and rhythm. As for counterpoint, ballet pianists have to be cautious and not let the music get too complicated and potentially confusing. That caution has always been convenient for me since I find most of Bach’s counterpoint very challenging. When I was searching Bach to build class repertory my interest was primarily melody and rhythm with counterpoint that is relatively simple.
A lot of my Bach arrangements are more or less straightforward transcriptions. I’m excluding those from this album; what I offer here are variations and adaptations that go beyond transcription. That said, I need to make a special note of my two “Fandango” variation sets on the bwv 1067 Polonaise (tracks 32 and 33). Neither variation set is part of the repertory I play for class.
I originally created the four variations of track 33 for a Centre track on Vol 7 of my Music For Ballet Class series, and I scored them for piano duet not so that I could perform them with a partner but so that I could record them by means of overdubbing. I put the top part on a single staff not because I thought it could be played with one hand but because it was more convenient to work with in the recording session (and in the overdubbing I used two hands to play the top staff). The arrangement is virtual piano duet, not practical.
For this album I created a solo piano version (track 32) of the original duet. This solo version isn’t part of my class repertory either for the simple reason that it’s far too difficult for me to play at the desired tempo (the quarter @150). I’m including these two tracks in this album to make the audio available to teachers who might like the piece to choreograph to and to make the score available to fellow accompanists who might be interested to see my ideas on the page.
Concerning my scores. As mentioned in my introduction to this library I’ve provided no tempo, dynamic or expression markings in my scores. My recorded performance is an ad hoc indication of tempo, dynamic and expression for each arrangement which all interested musicians are free to emulate or ignore. Also, I usually don’t notate ornaments I play in my performances; I’m very much a subscriber to the idea that in Baroque music, and especially in the music of Bach, ornaments may be left to the taste and mood of the performer.
As I explained in my introduction to this library I organize my ballet class repertory in three broad categories: Adagio, 3/4 and 2/4. These categories are subdivided into “Short,” “Long” and “Extended.”
The playlist of this album orders my Bach arrangements by the bwv catalog number, but I provide an index that orders the arrangements by Adagio, 3/4 and 2/4, and, within those categories, orders them by tempo and length. I’ve given a descriptive title to each arrangement meant to suggest its relevance to ballet class. I’ve named some of them after certain steps and combinations in ballet class. Those names are meant to be loosely descriptive, not prescriptive.
The index links each arrangement to a pdf of the piano score.
Index by Category
(click the title to go to piano score pdf)