Aspects of Baroque Style (III) – How J. S. Bach’s Violin Sonatas Interpreted in the Modern Era

I have listened the 2nd violin sonata from Hilary Hahn, who is very famous and embraced violin soloist now. On the strength of my previous papers, this recording is really contrary to what I tried to explain about the baroque style. Hypothetically, if someone has started to learn about music recently (periods, etc.) and listen to this recording, s/he could easily suppose that this music belongs to the Romantic Period, based on the style that she used.

Hahn does a lot of vibratos on every single note, she did not insist on the contrast phrases carefully -that is one of the most important things to emphasize on- and also use the bow the very opposite of the baroque style. So the sonata loses its originality and becomes something irrelevant to its period, just the harmonies reflect the baroque era, nothing else.

Why she interpreted this sonata like this is controversial. Modern era performers might have been thinking that; how we use the technique “now”, how we play every piece in which style, we should play the baroque pieces in that way too, now is important than the past. In my opinion, this approach may destroy the styles of different periods. We would not transfer the original styles to the other generation which comes beyond us, because they will hear and believe in current interpretations.

            As I have seen, in Turkey, interpretations are not like this irrelevant to the baroque style. Of course, it is not possible to play exactly the same as in the baroque era because of the different structures on the instruments. However, on the strength of my interpretation to these sonatas, it is possible not to lose the basis of the style.

Which interpretation is the true one, not losing the originality, or obey the general style that we have now?


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