Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/771
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� � ��It is possible that Bach adopted this form as affording opportunities for rhythmic experiments; he certainly carried it to great lengths, such as giving the right hand a passage in 3-2 and the left in 6-4
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�� ��but the result is not on the whole very success- ful. In most cases the French Courantes are the least interesting movement of his Suites, and as contrasts to the Allemande do not compare favourably with the Italian Courante. As an element of contrast the crossing of the time is rather theoretical than real, and the necessity of keeping the time moderate in order to make it intelligible brings the strong beats and the average quickness of the shortest notes, as well as the full spread of the bar too near to those of the Allemande ; and in the general effect of the Suite these externals tell more strongly than the abstract restlessness of crossing rhythms. It is possible however that the French Courante has one advantage over the Italian ; that inas- much as the latter has more stability in itself, it calls less for a succeeding movement, and presents less perfectly the aspect of a link in the chain than of a movement which might as well stand alone. There is a slight touch of uneasiness about the French Courante which as a step towards the Sarabande is very appropriate. In this latter movement, which is of Spanish or possibly Moorish origin, the rhythmic principle is very pronounced, and at the same time simple. Its external aspect is chiefly the strong emphasis on the second beat of a bar of three in slow time, as is clearly illustrated in Handel's Sarabande in the G minor Suite, in his ' Lascia ch'io pianga,' and in the Sarabande of Bach's F major Suite Anglaise. This is an obvious source of contrast with both the preceding members of the suite, since in both Allemande and Courante there is no pronounced and persistent rhythm, and the pace, though not necessarily quick, scarcely ever comes within the range of motion or style characteristic of definitely slow movements. There is also a further and equally important element of contrast. The first two numbers are characterised in a con- siderable proportion of instances by a similar free motion of parts. The process of carrying on the figures is sometimes knit by a kind of free imitation, but however desirable it may be theoretically to regard them so, they cannot
��fairly be described as movements of imitation (Nackahmungsatze). The process is rather that of free figuration of two or three parts, giving in general a contrapuntal effect to the whole. In the Sarabande the peculiar rhythmic character puts both systematic imitation and regular con- trapuntal motion equally out of the question. Consequently as a rule a more decidedly har- monic style obtains ; the chords are fuller, and move more simultaneously as blocks of harmony. The character of the finest examples is necessarily very pliable, and varies between free melody with simple accompanying harmony, such as those in Bach's Suites Anglaises in F and D minor, Handel's Suites in G minor and E minor; examples in which the prominent melodic features are distributed successively without regularity between the parts, as in those in the Suites Anglaises in G minor and A minor, the Suite Fran9aise in B minor, the Partita in Bb, and several of Couperin's ; and a few examples in which a figure or characteristic mode of motion is made to prevail almost throughout, as in the Suite Fran9aise in Eb. The general effect of the sarabandes is noble and serious, and the music is more concentrated than in any other member of the group of movements. It is thus in various respects the central point of the suite in posi- tion ; in musical interest and unique quality ; and in the fact, as observed and curiously commented on by Nottebohm, that the preceding movements generally tend to solidity and the succeeding movements to lightness and gaiety. The order is in this respect somewhat similar to that of average sonatas, and seems to be the art-expo- sition of the same ideas of form from the point of view of the musical sense, though differently carried out as far as the actual manner and material of the movements are concerned.
In the most concise examples of the Suite the Sarabande is followed by the final Gigue ; but it is so common with all the most notable writers of suites to interpolate other movements, that it may be well to notice them first. These ap- pear to have been called by the older writers Galanterien, and more lately Intermezzi ; and seem to have been regarded as a sort of concession to popular taste. But in any way they answer the purposes of form exceedingly well. A very great variety of dances is introduced at this point. The most familiar are tie Gavottes, Bourrees, Minuets, and Passepieds. But besides these the most distinguished writers introduced Loures, Polonaises, movements called Arias, and other less familiar forms. Their character on the average is especially light and simple, and in the dance numbers it is remarkable that they always preserve their dance character more decidedly and obviously than any other mem- ber of the group. It is not possible to describe them all in detail, as they are too numerous, but their aspect in the group is for the most part similar, and is analogous to that of the Scherzo or Minuet and Trio in the modern sonata. They evidently strengthen the balance on either side of the sarabande both in quality and amount.