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Violin Concerto in G minor BWV 1056 R

Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)

Arcangelo

Arcangelo

Composer
Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)
Composition Year
(1714-1729)
Artists
Arcangelo (Sophie Gent, James Toll [violins], Rebecca Jones [viola], Sarah McMahon [cello], Tim Amherst [bass], David Miller [lute], Jonathan Cohen [harpsichord,director]), Alina Ibragimova [violin]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

During Bach’s long reign at Leipzig from 1723 to his death, his main responsibility was as Cantor et Director Musices to St Thomas Church and School, where he acted as composer, musical director and teacher. In addition to this from 1729 he also took on the directorship of the weekly Collegium Musicum concerts in the famous Zimmermann’s Coffeehouse. This renowned concert series had developed out of the seventeenth century practice of musically active university students forming their own private musical societies in order to put on concerts. Bach’s Collegium had been founded in 1701 by Telemann as a twenty-year-old student. The Collegium’s collaboration with Zimmermann’s gave the series a significant boost as his hall had the space for substantial ensembles on stage and an audience of 150.

These concerts were not just an amusing hobby, quite the contrary they were the first serious concerts held in Leipzig and mark the beginning of the civic concert programme that led eventually to the Leipzig Gewandhaus Concerts that continue to this day. Bach now was responsible, in addition to his regular church music obligations, for preparing and carrying out this weekly series of two-hour concerts throughout the year. It was undoubtedly for these concerts that Bach put together his series of six harpsichord concertos, arranging for his own instrument from earlier works.

It had not needed great scholarship to see that three of these concertos were arrangements of known pre-existing works. Then, given that so many of Bach’s manuscripts and autographs have been lost, it did not demand a great leap of imagination to wonder about the missing scores that were the originals of the remaining arrangements. Thus was born the ‘R’ concerto, namely the reconstruction of a lost solo concerto, one of which opens today’s Coffee Concert.

The original Violin Concerto is thought to date from Bach’s last years in Weimar, but to complicate the story even further, he only used the two outer movements. For the lovely slow movement he borrowed from the cantata BWV 156 Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe, which dates from 1729. The reconstruction sticks with this plan, which is not as outrageous as it looks, for Bach continually borrowed from himself to create new works. However it does show the hypothetical character of the reconstruction, hopefully offset by the immense gain of another violin concerto that is mostly by Bach.

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Violin Concerto in G minor BWV 1056 R

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)
Performance date: Saturday 27th June 2015
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)
Work Title Violin Concerto in G minor BWV 1056 R
Composition Year (1714-1729)
Artist(s) Arcangelo (Sophie Gent, James Toll [violins], Rebecca Jones [viola], Sarah McMahon [cello], Tim Amherst [bass], David Miller [lute], Jonathan Cohen [harpsichord,director]), Alina Ibragimova [violin]
Performance Date Saturday 27th June 2015
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:09:04
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Small Mixed Ensemble
Instrumentation vn (2vn,va,vc, db, lute, hpd)
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

During Bach’s long reign at Leipzig from 1723 to his death, his main responsibility was as Cantor et Director Musices to St Thomas Church and School, where he acted as composer, musical director and teacher. In addition to this from 1729 he also took on the directorship of the weekly Collegium Musicum concerts in the famous Zimmermann’s Coffeehouse. This renowned concert series had developed out of the seventeenth century practice of musically active university students forming their own private musical societies in order to put on concerts. Bach’s Collegium had been founded in 1701 by Telemann as a twenty-year-old student. The Collegium’s collaboration with Zimmermann’s gave the series a significant boost as his hall had the space for substantial ensembles on stage and an audience of 150.

These concerts were not just an amusing hobby, quite the contrary they were the first serious concerts held in Leipzig and mark the beginning of the civic concert programme that led eventually to the Leipzig Gewandhaus Concerts that continue to this day. Bach now was responsible, in addition to his regular church music obligations, for preparing and carrying out this weekly series of two-hour concerts throughout the year. It was undoubtedly for these concerts that Bach put together his series of six harpsichord concertos, arranging for his own instrument from earlier works.

It had not needed great scholarship to see that three of these concertos were arrangements of known pre-existing works. Then, given that so many of Bach’s manuscripts and autographs have been lost, it did not demand a great leap of imagination to wonder about the missing scores that were the originals of the remaining arrangements. Thus was born the ‘R’ concerto, namely the reconstruction of a lost solo concerto, one of which opens today’s Coffee Concert.

The original Violin Concerto is thought to date from Bach’s last years in Weimar, but to complicate the story even further, he only used the two outer movements. For the lovely slow movement he borrowed from the cantata BWV 156 Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe, which dates from 1729. The reconstruction sticks with this plan, which is not as outrageous as it looks, for Bach continually borrowed from himself to create new works. However it does show the hypothetical character of the reconstruction, hopefully offset by the immense gain of another violin concerto that is mostly by Bach.