About this Recording
8.550422 - BACH, J.S.: Piano Concertos, Vol. 1 (BWV 1052-1054)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)

Piano (Clavier) Concerto No.1 in D Minor, BWV 1052
Piano (Clavier) Concerto No.2 in E Major, BWV 1053
Piano (Clavier) Concerto No.3 in D Major, BWV 1054

The career of Johann Sebastian Bach, the most illustrious of a prolific musical family, falls neatly into three unequal parts. Born in 1685 in Eisenach, from the age of ten Bach lived and studied music with his elder brother in Ohrdruf, after the death of both his parents. After a series of appointments as organist, he became, in 1708, court organist and chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar, the elder of the two brothers who jointly ruled the duchy. In 1714 he was promoted to the position of Konzertmeister to the Duke, but in 1717 left Weimar to become Court Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen, a position he held until 1723. From then until his death in 1750 he lived in Leipzig, where he was Thomaskantor, with responsibility for the music of the five principal city churches, in 1729 assuming direction of the university Collegium Musicum.

At Weimar Bach had been principally employed as an organist, and his compositions of the period include a considerable amount written for the instrument on which he was recognised as a virtuoso performer. At Cöthen, where Pietist traditions dominated the court, he had no church duties, and was responsible rather for court music. The period brought the composition of a number of instrumental works.

The final 27 years of Bach's life brought a variety of preoccupations, and while his official employment necessitated the provision of church music, he was able to provide music for the university Collegium Musicum and to write or re-arrange a number of important works for the keyboard.

It seems almost too simple to suggest that Bach's concertos fall into three corresponding groups. Nevertheless at Weimar he arranged for solo harpsichord a number of concertos by Italian composers, as well as concertos by the young prince Johann Ernst. At Cöthen he wrote his violin concertos and the set he dedicated in 1721 to the Margrave of Brandenburg. In Leipzig he arranged or composed a number of concertos for solo harpsichords, exploring a new form of concerto that was to assume the greatest importance as the century progressed.

The University collegium musicum in Leipzig met on Friday evenings at Gottfried Zimmermann's coffee-house or in summer in his garden outside the city. Bach took over direction of the group in 1729 and seems to have continued in that position until as late as 1744. Compositions for the collegium musicum, which involved students and professional musicians, presumably include the Coffee Cantata, and the various concertos for one or more harpsichords, with strings.

The Clavier Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052, is believed to be based on an earlier violin concerto, a supposition supported by some of the figuration. Music from the concerto appeared in 1728 as the introductory sinfonia to Cantata No.188, Ich habe meine Zuversicht, and the first two movements, the second with an added choral part, were used about the same time for the Easter Cantata No.146, Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal. The concerto boasts an energetic first movement, a heart-felt G minor aria, over a repeated bass pattern in the slow movement and a virtuoso final Allegro.

The second of Bach's Clavier Concertos, the Concerto in E major, BWV 1053, is generally supposed to be derived from an earlier concerto for oboe. A brief introduction with the whole orchestra is followed by the first of a number of solo passages for the keyboard. The slow movement is a Siciliano, in origin a gentle pastoral dance, here embellished by the soloist, who provides a busy initial accompaniment, leading to the opening cross-rhythms of the rapid last movement, with its recurrent refrain based on the rising notes of the major triad.

The Clavier Concerto in D major, BWV 1054, is a re-arrangement of the E major Violin Concerto, BWV 1042, now transposed down a tone and in other ways adapted to the new solo instrument. The vivid first movement opens with the three rising notes of the major triad, a pattern that recurs as the music makes its way through remoter keys. The slow movement is in the form of an aria, over a ground bass, doubled by the keyboard instrument. The concerto ends with a rapid triple-metre movement.

Chang Hae Won
Chang Hae Won was born in Korea in the city of Seoul and started to play the piano at the age of six, completing her professional studies at Ewha University in Seoul in 1963. From 1964 until1968 she studied at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule with Professor Leopolder on a German government scholarship and was awarded her diploma as a concert pianist. On her return to Korea she was appointed professor of piano at her old university.

In Korea Chang Hae Won won various prizes, including first prize in the 1960 Korean National Piano Competition. Her career as a concert pianist began three years earlier, in 1957, when she played Beethoven's C minor Piano Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then she has enjoyed a busy career as a teacher and as a performer in Korea, in other Asian countries, in America and in Europe, with annual concert tours and engagements at home and abroad. She has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras and in recitals with Ruggiero Ricci, Christian Ferras, Renata Tebaldi, Franco Corelli, Aaron Rosand, Andre Navarra and others. She has performed as a soloist at numerous music festivals, including the Paris Chateau de Breteuil Festival, the National Music Festival in Korea and the festival for the opening of the Sejong Cultural Centre and of the Goethe-lnstitut in Seoul. She has served on the Vianna da Motta Competition jury in Lisbon. In 1985 she was acclaimed by the Music Critics' Circle of Korea as Musician of the Year, and won high praise in the German press for her technical accomplishment and musicianship. Her recordings for Naxos and Marco Polo included piano works by Pierne, Scarlatti's sonatas, concertos by Hummel and other piano music.

Camerata Cassovia
The Camerata Cassovia is the chamber ensemble of the CSSR State Philharmonic Orchestra which is based in the Eastern Slovakian town of Košice. The orchestra was founded in 1968 and has toured widely within Europe and the Far East.

Robert Stankovsky
Robert Stankovsky was born in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, in 1964, and after a childhood spent in the study of the piano, recorder, oboe and clarinet, turned his attention, at the age of fourteen, to conducting, graduating in this and in piano at the Bratislava Conservatory with the title of best graduate of the year. Stankovsky is regarded as one of the best conductors of the younger generation in Czechoslovakia. For Marco Polo Stankovsky has recorded symphonies by Rubinstein and Miaskovsky in addition to orchestral works by Dvorak and Smetana.

Close the window