Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor is a staple of the flute repertoire, appears in books 2, 5, and 6 of the Suzuki Flute series, and is simply a spectacularly beautiful and often recorded work for flute. Since virtually all of my students play at least portions of the B Minor Suite – most will play first play the Minuet and Polonaise in Suzuki Book 2 – and since interpretations of this piece vary widely, listening to a wide variety of interpretations of this piece is strongly recommended. The greater the variety of experience of high quality playing of this piece, the greater will be the student’s breadth of awareness and ability to both play with a high level of quality AND grow as a musician who understands the breadth of options and choices that they can begin to make for themselves, that mark each performer as a unique individual who also deeply understands the soul of the composer. To that end – or at least the beginning of the journey to that end – I humbly present to you a few possibilities of listening material that I find worth recommending. If you have others you enjoy, please do link them in the comments section below!
Here’s a lovely video (right) from The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, with a wooden flute designed to be contemporary with the time that Bach would have been composing. The Polonaise begins at 13:27, and the Minuet at 16:42.
And just the Polonaise on this one from Cuore Barocco (right), again with Baroque period instruments. Note how the length of notes – particularly the shortened length of the first notes of each section changes the feel very slightly – makes me think of the stateliness of European aristocratic royalty in a slightly different way than the others do.
Emmanuel Pahud (left) is more and more often a first choice for me in first comparisons. The Polonaise that’s found in Suzuki Book 2 can be found at 12:50, and the Minuet that also appears in Book 2 follows immediately after at 16:02. Note the length and emphasis on the appoggiaturas, as well as the choices to include trills.
Note how different Galway’s interpretation of the Minuet (left) is from the others – note the legato style contrasted with a light staccato in subsequent sections. Again, note the variety of lengths of the appoggiaturas, and compare this with the others in specific portions. Note the difference in tonal intensity and color as compared with the previous recordings. (This recording includes only two movements – the Minuet and Badinerie).
How many differences do you notice? Either specific examples of the comments I’ve already made – or anything else you notice? Please do leave notes in the comments section for anything you find! AND if you find more good videos of Bach Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, please do leave the link in the comments as well!