Idenstam and Rydberg’s idea for Allegro Assai in a polska metre (mentioned earlier) is the influence behind my wish to play the Double in 9/8 pols time.[1] It also solves some technical problems on my instrument. The reason is probably that in 9/8, the slightly prolonged first beat of each measure – and thus the slightly delayed second half of each measure – changes the constant flurry of sixteenth-notes over five and six frets, which the top line arpeggios over the descending bass line constitute in Koonce’s and other editions.

In rehearsal:

A conflict of musical coherence arises, however, when one bears in mind that the Double is – as the title clearly states – meant as a double-time variation on the Gigue. At Strømdal’s suggestion, I went back to the Gigue (the movement that is the foundation for the doubling) and introduced the 9/8 pols rhythm here as well, anticipating the Double to come.

In rehearsal:

As shown in the following film clip, where I connect the opening measures of the Gigue and the Double, the two movements are now playable in the same tempo, albeit with a different form of liveliness than common performance practice dictates:

I think the performance-specific reason why this works for me is as I mentioned above: the first beat of each measure allows the left hand to remain at rest for a brief moment, a physical as well as musical trait that is common in pols music from Scandinavia – I’m accustomed to projecting rhythm in this fashion. One may also hypothesise along historical and geopolitical lines why this alteration may work: Bach lived and worked in an area periodically named Poland, from which the words pols and polska are derived. Bach may have been surrounded by dance rhythms that are more or less close to the most common one in the music I usually play: pols or polska.[2]

[2] Christoph Wolff writes, ‘We learn [. . .] about the gala style in which the first anniversary of the Saxon elector Friedrich August II’s accession as king of Poland was celebrated on October 5, 1734, with the presentation of the cantata “Presie dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen”, BWV 215, in the presence of the royal couple.’ Christoph Wolff, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000). E-book.