1717: Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor

SATURDAY, March 20, 2021 – 1:35 AM

Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor (BWV 1041) – Sato, Netherlands Bach Society

The Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041,may have been composed at Köthen in 1717–23, but the only autograph source to survive are parts Bach copied out in Leipzig around 1730 from a now lost score or draft. So any date given is at best a guess.

This performance just appeared about a day ago although apparently it was made in May of 2019, almost two years ago. This group, with Sato, seems to have both an old sound and a very new one. Obviously the music is from almost 300 years ago, but the way these people play is anything but ancient sounding. It is so vital and alive. During the pandemic any recorded music is a gift in a time when so many performers are still wearing masks.

1st movement: Allegro, in A minor

The opening movement is in ritornello form. This means that there is a main section that comes back in fragments in both the solo violin and orchestral parts.

2nd movement: Andante, in C major

In the Andante second movement, Bach uses an insistent pattern in the ostinato bass part that is repeated constantly in the movement.

3rd movement:. Allegro assai, in A minor

In the final movement Bach relies on bariolage figures for striking acoustic effects. The meter and rhythm are those of a gigue.

But what in heaven’s names is a “bariolage figure”?

Bariolage (Fr., “odd mixture of colours”) is a technique performed by stringed instruments whereby there is a rapid alternation in the playing of open and stopped strings. Usually the figure involves a static note (the open string) and a changing note on a separate, almost always adjacent string

As always there is a question of when Bach first wrote things, and for what instrument or instruments. He frequently transcribed his own music many ways, and we don’t know which of many versions came first. His Clavier Concerto in G minor, BWV 1058 is an arrangement of this concerto with harpsichord and in a different key.

1 thought on “1717: Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor

  1. This group never ceases to amaze. Lots of energy and enthusiasm. They appear to really enjoy what they do. I like the smile on Sato’s face as he plays.

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