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8.550245 - BACH, J.S.: Orchestral Suites Nos. 3-5, BWV 1068-1070
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Ouverture (Suite) No.3 in D major, BWV 1068 Ouverture
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.
Suite No.3 in D major is scored for three trumpets, timpani and oboes, with the usual strings and continuo. The opening French Ouverture, with its characteristic solemn introduction and following fugue is followed by an Air, played by strings and continuo, a movement later popularised in an arrangement by the 19th century violinist August Wilhelmj as "Air on the G string", which in its original form it is certainly not. The pair of Gavottes are played in alternation, followed by a Bourrée and a lively Gigue, the most frequent conclusion to any set of dances.
The fourth of Bach's orchestral Suites, also in the key of D major, is scored for three trumpets and timpani, three oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo. After the compound rhythm of the fugal section of the Ouverture and are turn to the slower music of the opening comes a pair of Bourrées, played in alternation, a Gavotte, and a pair of Menuets, with the second played by strings and continuo alone. The Suite ends with a cheerful movement bearing the title Rèjouissance, which proclaims both its character and the French provenance of the whole form, adopted and translated by Bach into suitable German musical terms.
The fifth orchestral suite in G minor is generally thought to be spurious. It is scored for strings and continuo and consists of five movements, including the unusual Torneo and a final Capriccio. The work is characteristic enough of its period, a time when compositions of this kind were enormously popular, as evident in the repertoire of Bach's own Collegium musicium in Leipzig, and in the prolific output of Telemann, 127 of whose orchestral suites survive.
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