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8.550244 - BACH, J.S.: Orchestral Suites Nos. 1 and 2, BWV 1066-1067
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Suite in G minor
Prelude in B minor (arranged Leopold Stokowski from The Well- Tempered Clavier Book I No.24)
Siciliano (arranged J. Dvorak from Violin Sonata in C minor BWV 1017)
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (arranged by Granville Bantock from Chorale Variation BWV 140)
Bach's early career was as an organist and as an expert on the construction of the instrument. In 1717, however, he moved to Coethen as Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Coethen and there was able to devote more time to the composition and performance of instrumental music, largely through the Pietist leanings of the court and a consequent diminution of church music. It seems probable that the first and fourth of the four orchestral suites or Ouvertures were written during this period. It has been suggested that the second and third were written during Bach's final period of 27 years in Leipzig. While his official responsibilities there were with church music, he was involved too with the secular repertoire of the University Collegium Musicum, founded by Telemann. The two suites may well have been written for that ensemble and it has been suggested that the flute part of the second suite was designed for the French flautist Buffardin, who had met Bach's younger brother in Constantinople and was, in any case, employed in Dresden at the court of Augustus II, overlord of Leipzig.
The first Ouverture or Suite, in the key of C major, is scored for two oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo. The opening Ouverture, in French style, follows the strongly marked rhythm of the introduction with the customary fugue, in which the solo woodwind instruments have their own moments of solitary prominence, in contrast to the strings and continuo. The first of the dances is a Courante, not paired, as it usually is, with an Allemande. Of the following dances, which include an example of the less usual Italian forlana, adopted into the French court tradition, four are played alternatively, with a second dance framed by are petition of the first of the pair. The second Gavotte allows a fuller part to the solo woodwind instruments, while the second Menuet is for strings and continuo and the second Bourrée for wind only. The Suite ends with two passepieds, a faster version of the Minuet, with rhythmic features that had, by the 18th century, become characteristic. Suite No.2 in B minor is very much in the French style, as were many compositions of this kind in Germany in the first half of the eighteenth century, when French national taste predominated. The Ouverture is in the style developed under Lully in France, a solemn introduction in marked rhythm leading to a more rapid fugal section, ending with are turn to the solemnity of the opening. A lively Rondeau follows and a stately Sarabande. The two Bourrées are played in alternation, followed by a Polonaise and succeeding variation by the flute. The Suite ends with a Minuet and a Badinerie, a light-hearted and brilliant conclusion.
The music of Bach has proved a continuing temptation to arrangers. The nineteenth century composer Joachim Raff, one-time assistant to Liszt in Weimar and from 1877 director of the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, made an orchestral arrangement of the third of the six so-called English Suites, written for keyboard either in Weimar about the year 1715 or in the immediately following year in Cöthen. There is, of course, nothing particularly English about the Suites, the third of which opens with an elaborate Prelude before proceeding to the dances usual in dance suites of the period. Raff's arrangement was made in 1874, the year in which he made a piano arrangement of the first three orchestral suites.
The conductor Leopold Stokowski is well known for his orchestral arrangements of Bach, here of the twenty-fourth Prelude of Book I of the 48 Preludes and Fugues. This is followed by J. Dvorak's arrangement of the first movement of Bach's C minor Sonata for violin and harpsichord and by the English composer Granville Bantock's Chorale Variation on Bach's Wachet auf, written shortly after the 1914-18 war.
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