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Violin Concerto in A minor BMV 1041

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

Alina Ibragimova (photo credit: Eva Vermandel)

Alina Ibragimova (photo credit: Eva Vermandel)

Composer
Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)
Composition Year
1717-1723
Work Movements
1. Allegro moderato
2. Andante
3. Allegro assai
Artists
Alina Ibragimova [violin], Arcangelo (Sophie Gent, James Toll [violins], Rebecca Jones [viola], Sarah McMahon [cello], Tim Amherst [bass], David Miller [lute], Jonathan Cohen [harpsichord,director]) [baroque ensemble]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

Perhaps some of J.S. Bach's most recognisable works, the solo violin concertos are a frequent favorite of violinists due to their deeply dramatic atmosphere and potential for conveying the full gamut of the instrument's qualities. In both concertos Bach remains true to the three movement form of the baroque concerto best exemplified in the work of Vivaldi. This stylistic stance reflects Bach's deep understanding of Vivaldi's concertos, painstakingly obtained through his practice of condensing entire orchestral and solo parts into compact transcriptions for solo harpsichord performance. Built upon the bedrock of this severe pedagogical exercise, the violin concertos retain many formal similarities to the concertos of Vivaldi and Corelli, yet in Bach's hands these formal vessels are filled by a singularly detailed approach to harmonic texture. Here everything is meticulously mapped, and the improvised elements of the continuo evident in the work of many Baroque composers is absent. It is perhaps this propensity of Bach to sculpt every possible contour of the music that marks his compositional style as a pinnacle of aesthetic stratification; the reified culmination of the Baroque.

The first Allegro Moderato movement is built around a tense melodic theme and a fearsomely steady continuo section, its latent tension compounded by the wistfully urgent passages of the solo violin. The tone is tragic and severe yet continuously exciting, the listener being constantly propelled through perennially unfolding harmonic textures and partial reiterations of the initial melody.

The second Andante movement is a tranquil and majestic meditation, the plaintive melody cutting gracefully through the luxurious accompaniment. Replete with fleeting moments of both melancholy dissonance and gentle uplifting sentiments, our attention is held on a hairs breadth until the final ebb of the ostinato bass pattern.

The third Allegro Assai movement is characterised by a stormy burgeoning, the solo violin embarking on a headlong melodic unfolding, its flight periodically punctuated by fragmented reiterations of the tutti section. A snarling crescendo of bariolage bowing on the solo violin leads us into the final tempestuous ritornello that concludes the concerto. In these last bars the themes of the movement are tied into some all-too-few stunning moments of dark, beautiful concision. 

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Violin Concerto in A minor BMV 1041

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 A minor BMV 1041
Composition Year 1717-1723
Work Movements 1. Allegro moderato
2. Andante
3. Allegro assai
Artist(s) Alina Ibragimova [violin], Arcangelo (Sophie Gent, James Toll [violins], Rebecca Jones [viola], Sarah McMahon [cello], Tim Amherst [bass], David Miller [lute], Jonathan Cohen [harpsichord,director]) [baroque ensemble]
Performance Date Saturday 27th June 2015
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:11:58
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

Perhaps some of J.S. Bach's most recognisable works, the solo violin concertos are a frequent favorite of violinists due to their deeply dramatic atmosphere and potential for conveying the full gamut of the instrument's qualities. In both concertos Bach remains true to the three movement form of the baroque concerto best exemplified in the work of Vivaldi. This stylistic stance reflects Bach's deep understanding of Vivaldi's concertos, painstakingly obtained through his practice of condensing entire orchestral and solo parts into compact transcriptions for solo harpsichord performance. Built upon the bedrock of this severe pedagogical exercise, the violin concertos retain many formal similarities to the concertos of Vivaldi and Corelli, yet in Bach's hands these formal vessels are filled by a singularly detailed approach to harmonic texture. Here everything is meticulously mapped, and the improvised elements of the continuo evident in the work of many Baroque composers is absent. It is perhaps this propensity of Bach to sculpt every possible contour of the music that marks his compositional style as a pinnacle of aesthetic stratification; the reified culmination of the Baroque.

The first Allegro Moderato movement is built around a tense melodic theme and a fearsomely steady continuo section, its latent tension compounded by the wistfully urgent passages of the solo violin. The tone is tragic and severe yet continuously exciting, the listener being constantly propelled through perennially unfolding harmonic textures and partial reiterations of the initial melody.

The second Andante movement is a tranquil and majestic meditation, the plaintive melody cutting gracefully through the luxurious accompaniment. Replete with fleeting moments of both melancholy dissonance and gentle uplifting sentiments, our attention is held on a hairs breadth until the final ebb of the ostinato bass pattern.

The third Allegro Assai movement is characterised by a stormy burgeoning, the solo violin embarking on a headlong melodic unfolding, its flight periodically punctuated by fragmented reiterations of the tutti section. A snarling crescendo of bariolage bowing on the solo violin leads us into the final tempestuous ritornello that concludes the concerto. In these last bars the themes of the movement are tied into some all-too-few stunning moments of dark, beautiful concision.