About this Recording
2.110327 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - ITALY: Lucca / Tivoli / Tuscany / Liguria / Lake Bolsena (NTSC)

A Musical Visit to Italy
With music by Johann Sebastian Bach



Lucca: Villa Mansi

The Baroque Villa Mansi at Monsagrati Alto, near Lucca, was the property of a family that had acquired considerable wealth from the silk trade. The Villa took its present form in the 17th century, with a characteristic façade ornamented with neo-classical statuary. The gardens were designed by Filippo Juvarra.

Music JS Bach: Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042 – I. Allegro

Only three of Bach’s violin concertos survive in their original form, dating from his period as Court Director of Music for the young Prince Leopold at Cöthen between 1717 and 1723. In the latter year he moved to Leipzig for uneasy employment under the city council as Cantor at the Choir School of St Thomas. In Leipzig he was also able, however, to give performances with the University Collegium Musicum, founded there by Telemann, and arranged a number of his earlier concertos for one or more harpsichords, to be played by himself or his sons. The Violin Concerto in E major also survives as a D major Harpsichord Concerto. The first movement of the concerto starts with a triadic figure that is to have continued importance in the movement, as it unfolds.


Tivoli: Hadrian’s Villa

Of Spanish origin, the Emperor Hadrian built for himself a villa at Tibur (Tivoli), eighteen miles or so from Rome, as a retreat from the crowded city. The villa was more than a country retreat. From here Hadrian was able to govern the vast Roman Empire. The villa buildings, in consequence, were designed to provide quarters for the necessary staff of court officials. Built in the second and third decades of the second century AD, Hadrian’s villa still retains examples of Greek-style statuary, including Caryatids, and representations of his beloved Antinous, drowned in the Nile.

Music JS Bach: Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042 – II. Adagio

The second movement of the concerto is a long-drawn aria for the solo violin, over a repeated accompanying bass line.



Arezzo was one of the leading Etruscan cities and later an ally of Rome. Built on a hill, the extensions to the original town retain their walls, and there are buildings of various stages of antiquity in what is, fundamentally, a very ancient settlement, ruled for many years by a Bishop and home to artists, including Vasari.

Music JS Bach: Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042 – III. Allegro assai

The concerto ends in a movement that contrasts solo episodes with the interventions of the full string orchestra.


Liguria: Cinque Terre Landscape

Cinque Terre is the name for the five villages on the Italian Riviera, near Rapallo, famous for their wine and at one time only linked by footpaths.

Music Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 – I. Allegro

Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor was later transcribed by the composer as a Harpsichord Concerto in G minor. It starts with a characteristic figure that is to recur during the movement.


Liguria: Cinque Terre Landscape

The five villages that constitute the Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These are variously seen, among the vine-clad hills that border the rugged coast.

Music JS Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 – II. Andante

As in Bach’s E major Concerto the solo violin offers a long-drawn aria over a repeated accompanying bass pattern.


Tuscany: Chianti

The famous wine of Chianti comes from vines grown on the hills between Florence and Siena.

Music JS Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 – III. Allegro assai

The concerto ends with a movement in triple rhythm, again contrasting the solo instrument with the body of the string orchestra.


Lake Bolsena

Lake Bolsena, near Orvieto, is a lake formed in the crater of an extinct volcano, one of a number of such lakes in the region.

Music JS Bach: Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043 – I. Vivace

Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins is among the best known of all such works. It dates from the composer’s years at Cöthen, but was later arranged by him in Leipzig, transposed to the key of C minor and for two harpsichords and strings.


Lake Bolsena

Lake Bolsena is seen again, with the surrounding countryside, a district of vines and olive-trees.

Music Bach: Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043 – II. Largo ma non tanto

The concerto continues with a slow movement that allows the two solo violins to interweave their melody, over a repeated accompanying pattern in the bass.


Civita Landscape

Civita di Bagnoregio is perched on a cliff-top, its isolation having preserved the old buildings of the settlement that survive. The countryside about what was once an Etruscan town is hilly, with relics of early volcanic activity, and sloping fields of vines and olive-trees.

Music JS Bach: Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043 – III. Allegro

The concerto ends with one soloist in rapid pursuit of the other, in excitingly close juxtaposition.


Chianti Landscape

The sun sets over the hills, lakes and woods of Chianti.

Music JS Bach: Air on the G string, from Suite No 3 in D, BWV 1068

The so-called Air on the G string is in fact a movement from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No 3 in D major, written in Leipzig in about 1730. It was arranged by the violinist August Wilhelmj under the title Air on the G string, transposed to allow the melody to be played on the lowest string of the violin.

Keith Anderson


Takako Nishizaki, Violin; Alexander Jablokov, Violin (BWV1043); Capella Istropolitana cond. Oliver Dohnányi [Naxos 8.550194]

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