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Question Regarding the Bach Viola da Gamba Sonata no. 2 for Auditions

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by PRUNEFACE, Jul 15, 2012.



    Nov 17, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Many schools ask for a baroque sonata (including Juilliard and Oberlin), and I have chosen Bach's Viola da Gamba Sonata No. 2 (edited by Sankey), and there is a part I am not sure how to address.
    In the second movement (Allegro), there is an octave-up section on the first page. My teacher and another highly qualified professional that I had a sample lesson with have said that when they performed it as part of a recital, they kept it as written without taking it up an octave. I had been practicing it up, but if this isn't a normal or standard thing I will simply play it down.
    Does anyone have any experiences with auditioning or jury-ing this work, past or present?
  2. George Amorim

    George Amorim

    Feb 4, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Dear Pruneface,

    I just saw this post and wanted to toss my two cents in, in case you still need info.

    Assuming that you are referring to the leap down an octave from m. 21 to m. 22 through m.24, the fact is that it is originally written that way for the gamba and most professionals and teachers will ask you to play that way.

    The reason for this leap lies in the fact that the top string on a gamba is D, therefore the notes of m. 22-24 would be "too high", meaning, they would mostly be beyond the fretted notes. The last fretted note on a gamba is A, which in turn makes passages requiring fingering beyond the octave harmonic quite unusual.

    Regarding Mr. Sankey's transcription, I believe that it is a valid alternative for the modern bassist, but when auditioning, one should try to adhere to the known preferences of potential teachers.

    I too was once "asked" to play that way in a master class with a renowned cellist - not the most tactful individual, I must add...many years later I performed for a non-degree recital and played all the way up an octave!

    I hope this helps clarify the issue and good luck!


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