J.S. Bach: Adagio from Violin Sonata No. 5 for Solo Piano


Downloadable Score

This is an excerpt from J.S. Bach’s Sonata No. 5 for violin and keyboard. Why do I feel this Adagio is a good match for solo piano? As always when I choose to adapt something, I primarily do it because I think the music is exceptionally beautiful and I want to play it by myself, without having to put together my music stand and wait for a violinist to show up. I also try to make Bach transcriptions which foster piano technique skills – after all, Bach himself wrote dozens of shorter keyboard compositions for the same purpose. This Adagio revealed great potential as an exercise for the left hand and the entire left arm, hence the unusual layout: 1 staff on top for the right hand and 2 staves below for the left. The right hand sustains the harmonic intervals of the violin part while the left hand takes over the entire keyboard part of the juxtaposed groupings – melodic fragments on top and arpeggios at the bottom. The pianist gets to cultivate finger agility and a beautiful cantabile in the left hand and to keep crossing it over the right one – the necessarily slow tempo makes it easy to monitor the sound quality and the muscle relaxation.

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