Bach’s Violin and Harpsichord Sonata No.5

Carl Philippe Emmanuel Bach wrote of the Six Sonatas for Harpsichord and Violin as “these are the best works by my beloved father. They sound excellent and still give me much pleasure, even through over 50 years have passed.” Almost 300 years have passed now and they still give one of the most exquisite musical pleasure one can ever think of.

These sonatas are collected into a unit of six (BWV1014-1019), like all Bach’s instrumental chamber works and were composed in Cöthen, probably around 1719-20 [1]. They are part of a large set of sonatas and partitas written for many instruments (Sonatas and Partitas for violin, the English Suites, Partitas for harpsichord, Cello Suites). Their standard structure, like all sonatas, follows the pattern slow-fast-slow-fast in tempo (the last sonata though offers an interesting exception to the rule). Continue reading “Bach’s Violin and Harpsichord Sonata No.5”

Bach’s six Sonatas and Partitas for solo Violin: sonata No.3 in C major

… When Bach asked a violin to sound like a harpsichord.

The Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin (BWV 1001–1006) are a set of six works composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. They consist of three ‘church’ sonatas and three partitas (i.e., suites) completed by 1720, during the same period that also produced the Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello and the Brandenburg Concertos [2].

JS Bach is famous for his lack of consideration of the human factor while composing, he was extremely demanding on his performers.. writing, for instance, cantatas where people were hardly allowed to breathe. Luckily, there has always been extremely talented musicians who brilliantly performed his pieces, to our great joy. The likes of Glenn Gould for the piano (harpsichord) pieces, Pablo Casals for the cello and Joseph Joachim for his (partial) recording of these sonatas, that were largely ignored before him, in 1903. The first recording of the complete set came 30 years later by Yehudi Menuhin [2]. Continue reading “Bach’s six Sonatas and Partitas for solo Violin: sonata No.3 in C major”

Corelli’s Madness Variations

La Folía (madness, in Spanish) is one of the oldest European musical themes. The first published composition dates back to 1672, and it is believed that the roots of the theme originate from a 16th century Portuguese dance. The dance was related to fertility and was very fast. The name “folia” is most likely due to the fast pace, the noise and the crazy nature of the dance (dancers carrying men, in women’s clothing, on their shoulders). Numerous composers throughout the time (including Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Bach, Liszt and Rachmaninov) have used it in their work. Continue reading “Corelli’s Madness Variations”