Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Concertos for Violin & Orchestra BWV 1041-1043
General Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Monthly Discussion January 2009: Concertos for Violin & Orchestra, BWV 1041-1043

John Pike wrote (January 3, 2009):
BACH'S VIOLIN CONCERTOS BWV 1041-1043

The music for discussion this month is the three violin concertos BWV 1041-1043. These are:

Concerto in A minor for Violin, Strings and Basso continuo, BWV 1041
Concerto in E major for Violin, Strings and Basso continuo, BWV 1042
Concerto in D minor for Two Violins, Strings and Basso continuo, BWV 1043

Details may be found here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV1041-1043.htm

Previous discussions may be found here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV1041-1043-Gen1.htm

Overview

The Neue Bach Ausgabe Kritische Bericht (NBA VII/2 KB) indicates that the autograph scores for these concertos no longer exist. Although existing parts in Bach's hand confirm that Bach composed these works, what is not clear is whether they were originally composed for violin and the original date of composition.

Certain violin techniques used by the solo violin(s), such as bariolage in the finale of the A minor Concerto, point to the violin as the instrument for which the concertos were originally composed.

In the Oxford Composer Companions guide to Bach (ed. Boyd), Robin Stowall comments: These concertos "are generally thought to have been composed at Cöthen in 1717-23, but autograph material (incomplete) exists only for the A minor and D minor concertos, and Christoph Wolff has suggested the possibility of a later, Leipzig origin for these two works. Bach is believed to have written several more violin concertos at Weimar and Cöthen, and it is likely that many of his harpsichord concertos were arranged from earlier violin versions which have since been lost; thus, the violin concertos in G minor BWV 1056R and D minor BWV 1052R and the D minor Concerto for violin and oboe BWV 1060R are the conjectural originals of works which have come down to us as harpsichord concertos. The Triple Concerto for flute, violin, and harpsichord is also a reworking (c. 1730) derived from BWV 894 (outer movements) and BWV 527 (slow movement), and Brandenburg Concertos nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5 include prominent parts for solo violin (violino piccolo in the case of no. 1)." This article continues with a useful and comprehensive analysis of each of the three concertos, BWV 1041-1043.

In his "JS Bach - A Life in Music", Peter Williams comments "A variety of chamber or instrumental works, including the violin concertos and at least one of the overtures, probably dates in their known form to the years around 1730, some if not all of them new arrangements of older works. It is also reasonable to guess that some of this music was written or arranged for the two oldest Bach sons to play (I suspect that Williams is referring to harpsichord, rather than violin, concertos here), such that there was a "family element" in the Collegium at the time - although in that case, it is odd that the Obituary's worklist does not specifically include the unmatched violin concertos. (Considered more dated than the harpsichord versions?)"

Martin Geck, in his book "Johann Sebastian Bach - Life and Work" states that "on the basis of new examination and analysis of the existing source material, Christoph Wolff put forth the comprehensive thesis that all Bach's orchestral works for which no handwritten versions from Weimar or Koethen exist must have been composed in Leipzig. He argued that the collegium musicum in Leipzig, under Bach's direction from 1729 on, provided ample occasions for such compositions." (This applies to the A minor Concerto and to the D minor double Concerto amongst other works).

Geck continues "This thesis has been modified in the light of further considerations. The existing handwritten copies of the violin concerto in E major BWV 1042 and the overture BWV 1069 were prepared only after Bach's death and thus provide no basis for dating these compositions".

A full list of works performed for the "Ordinaire Concerten" is given in Wolff "Johann Sebastian Bach - The Learned Musician" in Table 10.4 on p. 357, where Wolff also notes "This is not to say that all works for which only Leipzig materials exist were specifically written for the Collegium; some may be of pre-Leipzig origin, others may have been written for a different purpose....".

BWV 1041 was later rearranged as a concerto for harpsichord, BWV 1058 in G minor.
BWV 1042 was later rearranged as a concerto for harpsichord, BWV 1054 in D major.
BWV 1043 was later rearranged as a concerto for 2 harpsichords, BWV 1062 in C minor.

The liner notes by Andrew Manze to his recordings of these works are worth reading. Commenting on 1041, 1058 and 1043, 1062, he says "These later versions are important in that they can shed new light on the violin originals, when used with discrimination. The performances presented here incorporate a few inconspicuous though telling details from these arrangements, which could perhaps be described as Bach's second thoughts".

Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041

The watermark of the Violino Concertino part, which is autograph, dates from 1729 until the end of 1731 and, by dating some of the other original parts in this incomplete set, parts by various copyists, the best date to be assigned is 1730 (Gloeckner). There are 6 original parts (SBB St 145) and the autograph Violino Concertino part , SBB P252: 13-27. The BWV Kleine Ausgabe comments "The widely held assumption of composition in Koethen is neither excluded nor proven by the source circumstances".

The autograph score of BWV 1058, which is the harpsichord concerto arrangement of BWV 1041, was completed between 1738 and 1740.

Among the problematical issues discussed in the NBA KB, is the fact that the 2nd violin part, copied by an unknown copyist, shows the most errors that Bach needed to correct and of these the most common error was that of notating the part a second (interval) too low, possibly indicating that the part was being copied from an original score/part that was in G minor instead of A minor.

In his book "JS Bach - A Life in Music", Peter Williams compares and contrasts the concertos of Bach with Italian concertos, such as those by Vivaldi. He comments that "The imitation, the harmonic tension, the purposeful bass line - even the moments when the violin engages in traditional string effects are peculiar to JS Bach. At one point in the finale of the A minor Concerto there is a persistent, grinding open e' string effect inherited from earlier composers (the so called "bariolage") but infinitely more original, almost distracting the ear from the effortless imitation below and the splendid effect of recapitulation when the soloist joins in for the theme at the end."

Concerto in E major, BWV 1042

In this instance, both original score and all of the original parts have been lost. The oldest copy is one from 1760 by Johann Friedrich Hering (SBB P252:1-13) who seems to have been a copyist whom CPE Bach employed in Berlin. It is not known whether the latter directed the former to make this copy. The BWV Kleine Ausgabe comments "The widely held assumption of composition in Koethen is neither excluded nor proven by the source circumstances".

Fortunately again, we have Bach's own transcription of this concerto for harpsichord as BWV 1054 in D major. The autograph score of the latter was probably completed between 1738 and 1740.

In the Baerenreiter edition of this concerto (BA5190a), based on the Neue Bach Ausgabe (NBA), Peter Wollny comments: "To judge from its style, the E major Concerto probably originated during Bach's tenure as court chapel-master in Coethen (1718-1723). In particular, the invention and manipulation of the themes in the first movement recalls some of the compositional principles worked out in the Brandenburg Concertos. The first movement opens with a concise triadic motif followed by a series ocontrasting and developing ideas. One minor, but telling feature of the tight interrelation of tutti and soloist is the brief interjections of the violin in the introductory ritornello. The initial motifs are developed and contrapuntally combined in many different ways throughout the movement without detracting from the tunefulness and euphony of the composition. The second movement allows an expansive melodic lament in the violin to unfold above an almost ostinato bass theme, while the third, a dance-like rondo, returns to the mood of the opening.

"The present edition of the concerto is based on a handwritten score commissioned by the Berlin musician Johann Friedrich Hering in 1760. This manuscript was evidently based on a lost original source probably owned at that time by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Although the musical text handed down to us in this source poses no major editorial difficulties, there are many problems associated with the articulation marks. The placement of slurs is extraordinarily sloppy and can only rarely be pinpointed with any degree of accuracy. Moreover, the conflicting handling of parallel passages gives rise to many contradictions that resist clarification and rarely allow us to guess Bach's intentions."

In the liner notes to his recording, Andrew Manze compares BWV 1042 and 1054, and comments "Apart from revealing some straightforward copying errors, comparison of the 2 versions (1042 and 1054) suggests that Bach rewrote certain passages in the outer movements to a degree that goes far beyond the demands of mere rearrangement. Having made these alterations to the score he then proceeded to change some of them yet again, using a short form of tabulature under the relevant staves, and it is this third and final stage which harpsichordists play today. Over the years most violinists have read Hering's version (the copyist of an unknown original 10 years after Bach's death): for this recording, however, Bach's second or third thoughts were preferred to Hering where they seemed to be idiomatic improvements."

Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043

The score is not extant and only 3 parts of the 'original' set have come down to us. Of these, only the Violino 1 Concertino and the Violino 2 Concertino parts are autograph from 1730-31 (Gloeckner); the continuo part is not. All the remaining parts of this Leipzig set are missing. There may possibly have been an earlier Cöthen set of parts as well. Other source: New parts, Biblioteka Jagiellonska Krakow, St 148. The BWV Kleine Ausgabe comments "The widely held assumption of composition in Koethen finds a certain support in the "dorian" notation; it is ultimately, however, neither excluded nor proven by the source findings".

Again, there is an autograph transcription of this concerto for 2 harpsichords as BWV 1062.

A number of Bach scholars believe the origin of BWV 1043 to be linked to Bach's activities with the Leipzig Collegium musicum and the latest date for the origin of this music being c. 1730.

In the Baerenreiter edition of this concerto (BA5188a), based on the Neue Bach Ausgabe (NBA), Peter Wollny comments: "Thanks above all to its inspired and melodious middle movement, the D minor Concerto for Two Violins is one of Bach's most highly esteemed works. The customary label "double concerto" is not entirely appropriate, for the work is in fact a group concerto in which Bach has largely brought about an equal-voiced congregation of all the participating instruments and has blurred the contrast between ritornello and episode. Indeed, this modification of the concerto principle is already suggested by the original wording of the work's title, "Concerto a 6".

"The dating of the D minor Concerto is controversial. If earlier scholars unanimously placed Bach's concertos in his Coethen period (1718-1723), more recent studies of the sources have revealed that the original parts for BWV 1043 (the autograph score is lost) were not written out until some time around 1730, ie in conjunction with his assumption of the leadership of Leipzig's Collegium Musicum. Hence, the work may well have originated at this time. Further evidence for this postulate is the maturity of the style and the highly sophisticated workmanship of each movement, this seeming more in keeping with Bach's compositional technique of 1730 than that of 1720. At the time, the piece must have occasioned a considerable stir in Bach's musical circles. His second-oldest son, Carl Philipp Emanuel, already organized a performance as early as 1735 with the Collegium Musicum he directed in Frankfurt an der Oder.

"For the purposes of the present edition we have availed ourselves of the two instrumental parts in Bach's own hand - "Violino 1 Concertino" and "Violino 2 Concertino" - and an original but non-autograph continuo part. The sole source for the string ripieno is a supplementary set of parts written out by an unknown copyist at the request of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach around 1735, since which time they have been preserved along with the original parts. While the two autograph solo parts are extremely fastidious in their articulation and dynamic markings, the non-autograph parts lack the requisite accuracy in this respect."

Recordings

Some of the recordings I have are:

Hahn, Kahane, LA Chamber orch. On DG.
Manze, Podger, AAM. Harmonia Mundi France
Heifetz, Friedman, New Symphony Orch. of London, RCA Victor Red Seal (BWV 1043 only)
Grumiaux, Krebbers, Les Soloistes Romands, cond. Arpad Gerecz
Oistrakh, Menuhin, Orchestre de Chambre de la RTF, cond. Pierre Capdevielle (BWV 1043 only on DVD, EMI classics)

I hope to post my comments on these later this month.

Bibliography

"Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach" [Oxford University Press, 1999]
Baerenreiter Edition, BA 5189a (A minor concerto), BA 5190a (E major concerto), and BA 5188a (D minor concerto), all based on the Urtext of the NBA by Dietrich Kilian
BWV Kleine Ausgabe
Liner notes to recording on Harmonia Mundi France by Andrew Manze, Rachel Podger and AAM.
Christoph Wolff "Johann Sebastian Bach - The Learned Musician"
Martin Geck "Johann Sebastian Bach - Life and Work"
Peter Williams "JS Bach - A Life in Music"

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (January 4, 2009):
[To John Pike] Thank you John for this.

I have a question.

>In his "JS Bach - A Life in Music", Peter Williams comments ...... It is also reasonable to guess that some of this music was written or arranged for the two oldest Bach sons to play (I suspect that Williams is referring to harpsichord, rather than violin, concertos here),<
Is it possible that J.S. Bach played these concertos himself. We read so much of his incredible virtuosity on the organ and harpsichord. I have not heard as much about his violin playing.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (January 4, 2009):
Once somewhat tired of them, Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan conquered me to these concertos again. I recommend. http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/hnum/2331621

John Pike wrote (January 4, 2009):
[To Nessie Russell] An interesting question, Anne. I would have to speculate here. During my reading in preparation for this introduction, I came across speculation as to the soloists in the original performances. Bach's own name was not mentioned but that is not to say that he didn't. I strongly suspect that he was capable of performing the solo violin part in all his own works, including these concertos, the demanding solo violin parts in the Brandenburg concertos, the solo violin works and the violin and obligato harpsichord sonatas, all of which are technically and musically demanding. Doug has recently mentioned on list that Bach often led vocal works from the violin and we know that he was employed as a violinist early in his career. Both the first and last movements of the E major concerto have been set for grade VIII violin in this country in the past, and both this concerto, the double concerto and the first two movements of the A minor concerto should be well in the grasp of a violinist of that standard. The bsection in the finale of the A minor concerto is a bit beyond that level but no doubt Bach could handle it.

Martin Spaink wrote (January 5, 2009):
Without going over to the archives, I seem to remember having read in Forkel that Bach, when directing small ensembles (like these concertos) he alledgedlly preferred playing the viola, thus being more in the middle of the harmony.

Apart from the well known fact that a position as a violinist was one of his first paid jobs and the obvious display of deep inside knowledge that is witnessed by his violin scores, in the autograph of the E-maj. partita BWV 1006 we can find a fingering indication, which is a strong indication that he played it himself.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 5, 2009):
Martin Spaink wrote:
>Without going over to the archives, I seem to remember having read in Forkel that Bach, when directing small ensembles (like these concertos) he alledgedlly preferred playing the viola, thus being more in the middle of the harmony.<
Also from memory, I recall hearing that Mozart like to play the viola line in his string quartets. I did not hear that from Mozart.

I did hear from a violinist friend, that she misses her youthful opportunities to play the <inner parts>, she is now typecast as a concertmaster. Concertmistress? Help me out her with the female preference, Jean or anyone. I will not be using any portion of <homo sapiens> again, on BCML, anytime soon.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 5, 2009):
Anne (Nessie) Russell asked:
"Is it possible that J.S. Bach played these concertos himself. We read so much of his incredible virtuosity on the organ and harpsichord. I have not heard as much about his violin playing."
An interesting anectode I found while working on the section "Bach & Other Composers":

"Additional evidence of Bach's involvement in instrumental chamber music may be found in the performing parts for the Concerto in G major for 2 violins and orchestra by Georg Philipp Telemann, jointly copied by Bach and the violinist Johann Georg Pisendel, a student of Vivaldi's and later concertmaster at the Dresden court. Pisendel traveled through Weimar in 1709, when from all appearances he and Bach performed this concerto with the court capelle. Telemann, then capellmeister at the neighboring court of Saxe-Eisenach, may well have participated in such a performance, or Bach and Pisendel could have played the work with the Eisenach capelle as well."
Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician (W.W. Norton & Company, 2000), p. 134

So, if J.S. Bach played the solo violin part in a Telemann work, it would be reasonable to assume that he played the solo violin part in his own concertos as well.

John Pike wrote (January 5, 2009):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< So, if J.S. Bach played the solo violin part in a Telemann work, it would be reasonable to assume that he played the solo violin part in his own concertos as well. >
A great pity we can't literally "enjoy" the experience of Bach playing the violin.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 5, 2009):
John Pike wrote:
< A great pity we can't literally "enjoy" the experience of Bach playing the violin. >
Or the organ. Or the Harpsichord. Or the viola. Or singing. Or (most probably) the 'cello or gamba.

Of such stuff are dreams made!

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 5, 2009):
[To John Pike & Julian Mincham] Such discussions are making me sad.

In my Jazz days I remember a discussion one Friday afternoon about the subject: "if you could, in what year would you like to be and why?" My immediate answer was: 1961 in New York, hearing Trane and Dolphy Quintet at the Vanguard, Mingus and Dolphy Quartet, Dolphy and Little Quintet at the Five Spot, Ornette and Don Cherry, Miles Davis Quintet, the Jazz Messengers with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter... should I continue?

I started to listen to Jazz music around 1966, too late to be in New York in 1961, too late to be in Leipzig during the years 1723-1750, and, I'm afraid, too early to enjoy from the invention of the time-machine which enables you moving back in time (:-

Julian Mincham wrote (January 5, 2009):
[To Aryeh Oron] yes I guess we all have these moments of nostalgia and regret at lost opportunities. One of my greatest was missing one of Arthur Rubenstein's last recitals because i was working.I guess the difference is bewtwen those events that we could have attended but, for some reason didn't, and those (like the playing or direction of JSB) for which it was never a possibility.

On the jazz side Aryeh, i would have given anything to have been at a gig where Art Tatum or Errol Garner played live! Imaging telling that to the young turks ?today.

HOWEVER--it is possible that Art actually drove past a house that I latterly lived in. He came to England in the late 1930s (1938 I think, from memory) and did a TV gigue, not preserved, ?from Alexander Palace North London.?45 years later I bought and lived in a house jusr around the corner. I still like to think that Art was actually driven?down the road past that house!

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (January 5, 2009):
Bach playing the violin

Thanks to all who responded to my question about Bach playing the violin. I think we can assume that any instrument he played was played well. I also remember reading somewhere that he preferred the viola.

Stephen Benson wrote (January 5, 2009):
Nessie Russell wrote:
> I also remember reading somewhere that he preferred the viola. <
Confirmed under the entry "violin family" in the Oxford Composer Companions J. S. Bach, according to which, "C. P. E. Bach wrote of his father, in a letter of 1774, that the instrument he most liked to play was the viola, 'balancing its forte and piano.' "

Julian Mincham wrote (January 6, 2009):
In response to John's request for comment upon the violin concerti, the only two things that I have to say about them are as follows:

1 it always seemed slightly odd to me that whilst Bach transcribed various movements from the keyboard and Brandenburg concerti for use as sinfonias for the later cantatas, he seems not to have called upon the violin concerti for this purpose.

2 On a somewhat more technical note, Bach seems to have been experimenting with the relationships of micro and macro structures in the construction of some of the outer movements in these concerti i.e. the first movement of the double begins with a complete fugal exposition--but the keys of the entries are not as expected (tonic and dominant ) since the subdominant G minor, is used for the penultimate entry i.e. he uses Dm, Am, and Gm. A trifle odd until you notice that the four structural keys of the movement are, indeed Dm, Am, Gm and Dm. Furthermore, these keys may be viewed as two pairs in that A is the dominant of D and D the dominant of G----D__A and? G___D. ?This means that he can recycle much of the music of the first half into the second half of the movement---cunning, intense and economical. It also means that he is previewing the overall tonal structure of the movement in the opening ritornello. He does something similar (though not identical) by introducing C maj as a key for one fugal entry in the ritornello of the last movement of the Am concerto.

Clearly Bach was still experimenting with large scale?structures in these works as he had been in the Brandenburgs--not forgetting that whilst he often?combined structures from different basic musical forms in new and innovative ways, ?he was not adverse to using the simpler patterns where appropriate. The last movement of the E maj is a simple rondo.

Also it's worth noting that? the first movement of the double is relentlessly minor, a fact that has a great bearing on its character. True, it migrates through such keys as F maj but it never settles in them? with a major structural cadence. It's rare for Bach to construct a large outer movement in this way.

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (January 6, 2009):
I began listening to these works today. The E+, BWV 1042, is one of my favourite Bach compositions. I have played it as the harpsichord concerto BWV 1054.

The recording I have is by the violinist Giles Colliard. His playing in the outer movements is lively. Hisslow movement in my opinion captures the mood of the piece.

I have some tracks left on EMusic this month and would like to hear of other performances which are worth buying.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 6, 2009):
Nessie Russell wrote:
< I began listening to these works today. The E+, BWV 1042, is one of my favourite Bach compositions. I have played it as the harpsichord concerto BWV 1054.
The recording I have is by the violinist Giles Colliard. His playing in the outer movements is lively. His slow movement in my opinion captures the mood of the piece.
I have some tracks left on EMusic this month and would like to hear of other performances which are worth buying. >
My favorites remain Kuijken/Petite Bande, and Manze/Podger/AAM. Manze's comes as a half-price disc with a free catalog. Kuijken's might be out of print; grab it if you see it.

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (January 7, 2009):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>My favorites remain Kuijken/Petite Bande, and Manze/Podger/ AAM. Manze's comes as a half-price disc with a free catalog. Kuijken's might be out of print; grab it if you see it.<
I am listening to and enjoying the Andrew Manze recording right now. Thanks for the recommendation.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 7, 2009):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>My favorites remain Kuijken/Petite Bande, and Manze/Podger/AAM. Manze's comes as a half-price disc with a free catalog. Kuijken's might be out of print; grab it if you see it.<
Kuijken appears to out of print, from on-line sources, pricey used copies available.

I always enjoy, and frequently make use of Brads recording recommendations. In fact, that is how we first <met> on BCML, a Ricercar bargain via Berkshire, (cds by the bushel). Up until then, I thought that BRO was <my little secret>. Silly me.

Peter Bright wrote (January 7, 2009):
[Toi Nessie Russell] I also rate the Manze/Podger recording very highly. The most disappointing recent version for me was the Suzuki/BCJ recording - regular group members will know how highly I rate his cantata series, but many of his purely orchestral Bach interpretations seem to lack energy, rhythmic verve and panache - at least in my book...

John Pike wrote (January 7, 2009):
[To Bradley Lehman] So far I have listened to Manze/Podger and Grumiaux. I like both very much. Manze's performance has great vitality in the faster movements and depth in the slower ones. His pairing with Podger for BWV 1043 and 1060R is very satisfying. I very much enjoy his ornamentation, which enhances the overall Affekt of each movement.

I also love the Grumiaux recording. He has a beautiful tone and he shapes the music wonderfully. The slow movement of BWV 1043 is achingly beautiful. In some ways I think performances of the slower movements in these concertos are the most discrimating between different violinists. I remember one professional performance in Bristol of BWV 1043, where the slow movement left me bored to tears. All the notes were right, sure, but it lacked any soul. That's not a problem at all with any of the violinists in the recordings above...they all play with great feeling.

Some violinists play the slow movement of BWV 1042 very slowly, almost like a funeral march or Elegy, but Bach has written it in 3/4, and it needs to keep moving. The problem then is to do that without taking out the heart of the music. That's harder said than done!

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 7, 2009):
BWV 1041-3, BWV 1001-6, Menuhin

William D. Kasimer wrote (February 3, 2004):
< What would be your recommendations of the JSB violin concertos on the non-Baroque violin? >
Grumiaux, on Philips 420 700-2.
Peter Bright wrote (February 3, 2004):
[To William D. Kasimer] Yes, this is one I'd almost forgotten about - but it's wonderful. How do list members rate Yehudi Menuhin in these works (and the solo sonatas and partitas)?
Bit of a time lag in the cybersphere, Peter? I do not see that anyone ever responded to your question. I previously overstated the completeness of the ongoing Yehudi Menuhin Orgy(r) at www.whrb.org. It is only 25 hours (ongoing through midnight tonight, 0500 UT), not nearly complete. A side benefit of college radio is that we can often simply phone up and get an answer to a question. One of the producers of the show estimated that complete recorded Menuhin would be more like 80 to 90 hours. Nonetheless, 25 hours is a pretty enjoyable introduction!

All that is by way of explaining that neither Bach Violin Concertos nor Cantatas (as conductor) are included. There will be Menuhin conducting a Bach oboe concerto later this evening, ca. 10 PM EST (0300 UT). More relevant to Peter, as I wrote yesterday, the program opened with the youthful Menuhin playing the Bach sonatas and partitas, BWV 1001-6. I was not able to listen carefully, but an overall impression is sweetness of tone, and youthful energy. Becasue of the recording date (1934-36) these would have to be considered historic recordings, but with excellent sound, to my ears. I have not yet taken the time to determine if he recorded them again. I have the Henryk Szering set on LP, which I would listen to again for comparison and/or contrast, before deciding to add the Menuhin to my already overflowing library (it would be a library, if only I had a librarian). Absent that caveat, I would not hesitate to buy the Menuhin CDs that I heard on the air.

In some off-list chat, violinist John Pike commented favorably on the Menuhin performance, as well. I hope that is right, John, correct and/or elaborate at your pleasure.

Re Grumiaux: I have never regretted owning any of his performances, and I have gone to considerable effort to seek out two, back in the LP era, specifically the Grumiaux versions of the Schubert Quintet and the Mozart Trio Divertimento. Both of these came highly recommended as the best by musicians I respect. I do not regret the effort I put into acquiring them, perhaps they are now more readily available on CD reissue.

More, re Menuhin: new to me, and material I will definitely seek out - jazz performances, including duets with French legend Stephane Grapelli (sp?). A standout for me - a version of the song <The Continental>, with a bridge that sounded like <If I Only Had a Brain>, the Tin Mans song from <The Wizard of Os>. I wrote that mostly so I dont forget, but insights from musicians invited, especially any Oz wizards who are reading this far.

As I close, Menuhin playing viola on the Bartók Concerto.

John Pike wrote (January 5, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] I'd agree with all that.

Grumiaux is superb in the Bach violin concertos and in a very wide repertoire, although I am less keen on his Bach solo works. I have a lot of his recordings on Philips and they are of an (almost) uniformly very high standard, especially in Mozart. My favourite violinist for both Bach and Mozart is Julia Fischer. OT - some other violinists I rate highly are Nigel Kennedy (esp. Vivaldi and Elgar), Hilary Hahn, Perlman, Zukerman and, on baroque violin, Manze, Podger, and several players who are more commonly heard in ensembles (eg English baroque soloists).

I think Menuhin was superb at his peak but he probably carried on playing too long. I heard him play the 3 Brahms sonatas with his son on piano at the Royal festival Hall in London many years ago (as a medical student) and it was a deeply felt performance that I will never forget. I also heard him playing the Bach A minor concerto in the proms when I was a child. His technique then was no longer his own brilliant best (even though this was several years before the Brahms performances), bit was a privilege to hear him live, nevertheless.

Peter Bright wrote (January 8, 2009):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Such discussions are making me sad.
In my Jazz days I remember a discussion one Friday afternoon about the subject: "if you could, in what year would you like to be and why?" My immediate answer was: 1961 in New York, hearing Trane and Dolphy Quintet at the Vanguard, Mingus and Dolphy Quartet, Dolphy and Little Quintet at the Five Spot, Ornette and Don Cherry, Miles Davis Quintet, the Jazz Messengers with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter... should I continue? >
Hi Aryeh, as you know, we share a love of jazz - and your comments really got me thinking. I'm with you on all of this - but would add witnessing Monk and other pioneers at Minton's Playhouse in the 1940s and Sonny Rollins at his peak in the '50s. I'd also have loved to have been able to witness first hand Bob Dylan's 1966 UK tour with the Band (but who knows, perhaps I would also be screaming Judas and storming out in protest along with the other 'folkies'). It is so often the case that real genius is only recognised in hindsight (think Bill Evans' Village Vanguard recordings in which half the audience seem to be chatting over some of the most sublime music ever recorded...).

 

Julia Fischer's Bach Violin Concertos

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (May 16, 2009):
Somebody wrote:
< Never question the Master!
(Yes, we all love JSB dearly!)
Re: Bach "vexed", was it TNT, aka "the Laughing Cavalier?" >
yes, TNT and the one time Laughing are the same person.

 

Concertos for Violin & Orchestra BWV 1041-1043: Details
Recordings:
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Review: The Concerto Album by Lara St. John | Violin concertos by Elizabeth Wallfisch
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | MD - Concerto D Minor for two Violins, BWV 1043

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: June 21, 2009 17:53:42