Bach C P E - Allegro in G
Interpreting the Music
Teaching & Learning the Piece
CPE Bach: Allegro, H 328
• G major
• Bold march character
• Small hands can play, but requires agility
• Some very wide leaps
This piece will appeal to many with its uncomplicated cheerfulness. A diligent student who practises patiently to overcome technical problems will have great fun performing this. However, it does require hard work at slow speed to prevent the player losing fluency at its many jumps and changes of direction.
Articulation: in C P E Bach’s day staccato was usually notated as a wedge rather than a dot above/below the note head. There is no need to differentiate the way you play staccato indicated by either wedges or dots (which are editorial). As well as the articulation that is marked, consider slightly detaching LH crotchets (e.g. in bar 1) and unslurred quavers (e.g. in bar 5). A suggested articulation for bars 3-4 RH is to play the quavers lightly detached and the semiquavers more legato (this can apply to other bars where the same rhythms are found); any choices of slurring and detaching for particular phrases need to be used consistently in analogous places, so that the listener can recognise the similarities.
A source of potential trouble will be the very large leaps in bars 4, 12 and 16. The LH leap in bar 4 is the least troublesome, as the player has more time to prepare, and the LH is arriving at the G just vacated by the RH. The RH leaps in 12 and 16 are quicker, and further complicated by the LH playing F sharp immediately afterwards. This calls for consistent LH fingering (2 on G in both cases) to ensure the music proceeds confidently after the leap. At the earliest note-learning stage, the student should work to overcome these hazards so that it does not become a trip-up point later.
Reassure your student that because the LH does not need to move out of place, they can give virtually all their attention to the RH jump. At slow speed this is easily achieved as long as they know the destination before leaving the top note. “Find middle D with your eyes, then go straight there with your thumb!” Once the accuracy is established, they will also need to work on arriving without a bump, and with some poise. A tiny break or breath is permissible to prevent any sense of an inflexible pulse rushing the music on.
The RH in bar 5 could be fingered in two ways: start with 5, 4, 3, 2 or start with 3, 2, 1, 2. The fingering could be adjusted in bar 11 to match the subsequent repeat an octave down.
The ornament in bar 9 has a suggested realisation of two triplets, which can easily be measured into the music by counting. Ornaments can always be omitted if they are interrupting the flow, but it is stylistically better to attempt something, even if it is a simplified version with fewer notes.
As this music exists in piano and wind ensemble versions, dynamics can be as expressive as the player wishes. Imagining the contrasts between the different instruments can help.
Although the CPE Bach work is currently unavailable as a recording, this piece by Mozart has similar scoring and can be used to introduce your student to the sounds involved.
For an effective performance, think of the suggested Alla Marcia tempo marking, which gives the music a sense of strength and confidence. Allegro means “lively” so the military connotations of Alla Marcia should not lead to a mechanical style of playing. There is an exuberance to the writing which a confident and well-prepared player will convey to full advantage.