Johann Sebastian Bach

Sarabanda in d minor, from the Partita #2 for unaccompanied violin,
by Johann Sebastian Bach

Excerpt from Devil's Trill by Gerald Elias

"As soon as Yumi began to play the Sarabanda, Jacobus recognized that a subtle but sublime change in Yumi’s playing since he had so recently chastised her for lack of understanding of that same piece.  Her tempo was not so slow as to be static, nor so fast as to be impersonal, nor so strict as to sound academic.  The phrases were suggestively contoured without becoming obvious; the quality of sound, while appropriately dark, wove through an endless metamorphosis of color.  The vibrato was alive without bringing attention to itself and was used as an expressive device as well, and the occasional chords and trills were elegantly executed within the context of the music.  And of course it was immaculately in tune.
Jacobus, accustomed to having students progress quickly, was dumbfounded by such a compelling, polished personal performance.  He was riveted, unaware of anything else but the music—his own definition of a great performance.
If this had been a real concert, the audience would not have applauded when Yumi finished.  As the final note vanished seamlessly into silence, the audience would have been too spellbound.  Indeed, it was several moments before anyone stirred."


Music from Devil's Trill
Johann Sebastian Bach - Sarabanda

Sarabanda in d minor, from the Partita #2
for unaccompanied violin
performed by Gerald Elias


The six sonatas for unaccompanied violin by Johann Sebastian Bach are the Bible for violinists.  Any young violinist with the hope of making his mark in music must learn these pieces inside out.  So it is not surprising that Yumi Shinagawa would play a movement from one of these sonatas, in her case the Sarabanda from the Partita in D Minor, at one of her first lessons with Daniel Jacobus. 

It’s also not surprising that as a talented but immature musician, she could play the Sarabanda with excellent technical skill but little understanding, which is why Jacobus raked her over the coals and told her to go home and do some studying.

That she did, and her next performance of the piece, for Victoria Jablonski on the Carnegie Hall stage, richly evoked the dark sensuousness of the music, resulting not only in Jacobus’s undying admiration, but in unforeseen tragic events.