That is probably why Bach, exceptionally so, decided not to include a slow middle movement to this part. After a short transitional cadence Adagio the players in the third movement present themselves in quick succession, showcasing a whirling theme akin to a blustering wind, that picks up again and again and appears to go on without ending. This uninterrupted deluge of notes is of such a grandeur and force that as a listener you ultimately feel there is only one instrument playing in its full splendor — the strings.
The graceful fourth concerto offers a remarkable leading role to the three soloists.
All the time, a virtuoso violin solo boldly sometimes even rampantly tries to escape and break through the structure. However, the winds always respond with due attentiveness, and repeatedly step up as soloists. This results in an exciting, vivacious dialogue between the competing soloists, a dialogue which is nicely structured by the parts in tutti. The middle movement Andante is an intense, nostalgic lament.
Johann Sebastian Bach : Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049: III. Presto
The sad theme of the tutti is continuously repeated by the three soloists as if it were an echo — perhaps a sad memory of a love long lost? Suspiratio sigh figures underline the wistful character of the whole part. During the subsequent Presto, the light-footed ambiance returns in the shape of a whirling fugue, running playfully through all the voices. After the exposition, the solo violin attempts to reclaim a leading role, but is continuously parried by the recorders playing a fugue theme.
But yet again, the fugue valiantly reasserts itself, with the winds continuing in a leading role. At the end, the battle for dominion rears its head once more with snappy staccato chords, but the two recorders lead the fugue to a balanced, final cadence. The three solo parts, violin, traverso and harpsichord, are strongly connected on a harmonic basis, above all by means of a series of attractive dialogues, which showcase a great wealth of varied and well-ornamented motifs in one smooth, flowing motion. The main theme of the first movement shows an ecstatic, exuberant pleasure through open broken triads and a great ambitus more than two octaves.
Particularly exquisite is the way in which, time and again, the soloists make room for the return of the main theme with short, leisurely motifs. The harmonic unity between the three is so intense that near the end, with short, decelerating impulses, the flute and the violin clear the way for an elaborate solo of the harpsichord which launches into a virtuoso interlude with an unrelenting cadence, offering a unique moment in music history — the first great solo cadence.
The slow movement Affettuoso is a beautiful trio for soloists in which the harpsichord takes on the role of the soloist, as well as the continuo part. The three voices engage in an almost perfect dialogue with a short melancholic, loving motif developed down to the minutest of details. An example of perfect interpersonal communication. The third movement Allegro seems to draw directly from the Music of the Spheres and descend upon earth like a light-footed gigue. The violin and the flute launch into a light-flashing, butterfly-like fugue theme which minutes later is adopted by the harpsichord and reaches earth at the start of the shared tutti.
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Marvelous dance music wells up exhibiting a joy that is unburdened of any restriction and seems to go on forever in an unrelenting cadence. In the middle movement something akin to a dissonant counterforce develops the Confutatio of Reason with a new theme in minor. This theme engages in a thrilling battle with the fugue theme which now also appears in minor. Exciting modulations to exotic keys ensue until, after a cadence in B minor, the harpsichord takes swift action with a fierce D major chord after which the A part is repeated as a whole and this superb concerto reaches it conclusion.
In terms of instrumentation, the sixth concerto is the most exceptional of all: two violas, two gambas, a cello and a continuo part. The high strings and the winds are missing and that results in a low, dark musical idiom. The two violas normally intended to fill in the mid-range voices take the lead and engage in a veritable duel with each other. In the first movement, they are fighting a fierce battle for the lead by means of a canon, with the two voices succeeding each other rapidly at the same level to a heavy and a light bar part.
AN 2 | Analekta
To keep everything in check, the other voices do not evolve beyond stiff, enduring repetitive eighths. In the second movement Adagio ma non troppo , the two violas give each other much more space. The result is an interesting dialogue between them. This harmonic rapprochement has its crowning moment in the final movement Allegro where the two violas embrace each other in a peaceful coexistence.
For the first time in the six concerts, the soloists are unanimously playing the same theme. And a theme of surprising beauty and simplicity it is. This warm-blooded melody, like a kind of refrain, keeps returning in a variety of keys, offering a poignant conclusion to the entire cycle.
Kees van Houten was born in Helmond in After a grammar school education, he undertook training in piano- and organ-playing at the Brabant Conservatory in Tilburg. From to , he was the organist of the St Lambert Church in Helmond where, for more than fifty years, he played the historical Robustelly organ. From to , he was head teacher of organ at the Faculty of Music of the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht. Chandos Records is one of the world's premier classical music record companies, best known for its ground breaking search for neglected musical gems.
Renowned for its superb sound quality, Chandos has won many prestigious awards for its natural sound. Item added to order.
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