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Sonatas for Violin & Keyboard BWV 1014-1023
General Discussions - Part 1

BWV 1021 bass line

Thomas Radleff wrote (January 21, 2003):
Wonderful concert last night at the Resonanzen - Vienna´s Alte-Musik-Festival. The only program containing Bach this year: Hiro Kurosaki, violin, and William Christie, harpsichord, playing BWV 1021, 1018, and Händel´s sonatas HWV 361 and 371; and two soli: Partita 1006 (Wow!) and Händel´s 5th Suite (WOW!!). Their Händel CD is out now on Virgin Veritas.

A breathtaking performance of two great artists "keeping the fire alive" at every second - but for me, with all your fine remarks about "ensemble imprecision" in mind, topped with additional suspense. Quite often I had the impression they always tried to surprise and challenge each other with new ideas and nuances in dynamic, tempo... like fence fighters, lovers, or clowns. (And, if I am right, it was mostly Christie who challenged Kurosaki.)

Hiro Kursaki speaks better German than the most Viennese natives do. In one of his humourous introductions he remarked that the b.c. line of BWV 1021 G-major sonata is used in two (or three?) more of Bach´s works.
Does anyone know which ones ?

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 21, 2003):
Thomas Radleff asked:
>>In one of his humorous introductions he remarked that the b.c. line of BWV 1021 G-major sonata is used in two (or three?) more of Bach´s works. Does anyone know which ones ?<<
1. Trio Sonata in G Major for Transverse Flute, Violin and bc BWV 1038 (there are some doubts about Bach's authorship on this one)

2. Sonata in F Major for Violin and Harpsichord BWV 1022

The same bass is used for 3 works: BWV 1021, 1022, and 1038.

Theory has it that this bass was of the type to be rather commonly found in the German figured bass methods available in Bach's time, and was either lifted and then modified by Bach (the upper part(s)) being definitely by Bach, or it may even be that the bass goes back to the circle of musicians and composers around Albinoni.

This information comes from the NBA VI/1 KB.

Hope this helps.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 21, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] In the BWV 1021 version, the figuring is unusual.

- (1) It is uncommonly full, often with three figures in a stack above the bass notes. [Most of the harmonies indicated could be described uniquely with only one or two numerals in a stack, as is more typical, and the player improvises the implied parts not shown by numerals.]

- (2) Reading from top to bottom of these stacks of numerals, the sequence is very strange. Typically in basso continuo, the numerals on the page always go down from highest to lowest, and the player rearranges the chord spacings as he sees fit, according to the needs of the moment: room acoustics, the instrument's resonance, the player's improvisational skill, the soloist's skill (or lack of skill) in projection, the audience's attention (or lack of attention).... But here in BWV 1021, there are stacks such as 3 8 5 and 2 7 4 and 3 5+ 3 and 4 8 6 and 2 # 2 and 4 9 and 7 # 8 and 3 6 and 5 6+ and 7 6 4. Taking these seriously, they appear to indicate exact spacings the right hand should play, with a particular note on top. They also sometimes indicate atypical "harmonies" that are more the confluence of independent contrapuntal parts than normal chords. It goes beyond the usual type of suspensions and other non-harmonic passing material one sees in continuo parts.

That is, this continuo part appears to be a shorthand for a fully-composed keyboard part, and perhaps a didactic exercise (along with being practical music). The figures here indicate some exact voice-leading.

I have here my score from a performance with Jaap Schroeder. At the time, to keep track of those unusually complex stacks of figures, I wrote out a right-hand part: taking seriously the sequence of figures as to the voicing/spacing of chords. Then that elaborate sketch was the basis for further improvisation to make the texture even more like a concertante part (in accordance with reports about Bach's own continuo playing: rich texture, as if he had a fully written-out keyboard part). It worked very well, and was a rich learning experience in the process.

At the moment, I can't think of any Bach continuo parts that have more complex figures than this piece, except some of the B Minor Mass. A difference (a huge practical difference) is: in the B Minor Mass the figures often describe the complex non-harmonic stuff that is already going on in the notated parts, and it is not essential that the keyboard player duplicate all of it, as it is already being played or sung. (The continuo part functions more as a conductor's shorthand, really, describing the harmony at any given moment, like a short score for one who is charged with keeping the ensemble basically together.) Here in the sonata BWV 1021, by contrast, the figures describe what the keyboard player must play since there is no one else there: only the violin solo plus continuo.

=====

By contrast, BWV 1022 and 1038 are more obviously the "same" piece as one another, except for reinstrumentation and transposition.

BWV 1021 stands apart from both of these, having a completely different solo part and different harmonies. The only thing in common here is the bass line itself.

Incidentally, these three works also have somewhat different character indications on the four movements:

1021: Adagio, Vivace, Largo, Presto
1022: (nothing), Allegro e presto, Adagio, Presto
1038: Largo, Vivace, Adagio, Presto

(Sources may differ, too, in some of those indications; the main point is, BWV 1021 is more dissimilar than similar.)

=====

It's fun and profitable to reuse bass lines. A few years ago as an experiment I composed a new short piece using the bass and the harmonies of the B minor flute sonata, second movement: a nice little thing in D major. This became an improvisation vehicle for trumpet and organ, but would work with any solo instrument, or as a keyboard solo. Whatever. Practical music, however one wants to arrange it. And every time I've played it for flautists, they have never (yet) recognized the source until I told them.

Do soloists know the bass lines of the works they play? It seems not. :) The closest is that the piece sounds very vaguely familiar, but unplaceable....

One performance of it is at http://www.mp3.com/hlduo called "Improvisation on a bass by Bach". Is it recognizable?

 

Gould/Laredo's violin sonatas; Gould in KdF 13; big hands

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 5, 2004):
** CONTENT ALERT: 5 Bach CDs, and some "[hand]size matters" issues, included in a somewhat drifting posting below! & Gould-fans, be forewarned, some tough but serious questions about the hero...some conjecture why he didn't play all of the Art of Fugue! **

On February 5, 2004 Juozas Rimas wrote:
>I'd like to read your opinion's on Gould/Laredo's violin sonatas. <
It's certainly interesting, for the reason you mentioned: the 2-layered effect of "Gould's usual peculiar playing and Laredo's ordinary violin on top of it" in your words. [As for the way they disdained the Italianate elements of the music, don't get me started.]

Personally, I'm more fond of the similar set where Gould and Leonard Rose played the three sonatas 1027-1029. Rose (on cello) adapted his own playing to participate in Gould's pointillistic approach, and IMO that's even more interesting than having merely "ordinary" string-playing in there.

Also worth hearing is Gould's television performance of the C minor sonata 1017, with Yehudi Menuhin.

=====

And the A-major English Suite 806, from the November 23 1967 radio broadcast (was published on Music and Arts CD 272)...more freewheeling performance than the 1973 one in the familiar studio set. His tonal control in the 1967 performance is delicately rounded, his delivery so serene (especially in the courantes): attractive on its own terms. An effective way to play some of this, although it suppresses all the French character of the dance....

That's the same broadcast that had some of the Art of Fugue excerpts.

=====

Both in that Music & Arts issue, and tSony "Art of Fugue" disc 52595, Gould plays only half of Contrapunctus 13: leaving out the mirror-inversion second part. Does anyone here happen to know (from an aircheck or whatever): did he really play/attempt both parts in that 1967 broadcast, maybe have a "train wreck" that's edited out of the CD issues? Or did he set out to play only that first half?

The clues: in the half he does play, he starts with a very cautious tempo, runs into technical problems smudging several of the notes, breaks the 10ths in bars 20 and 42-43, and the whole performance rushes (unusual for Gould, who generally sounds much better in control of his tempos than here). [Rushing is often a sign of nervousness in keyboard players; and I can vouch that Cp 13 is especially conducive to it, as some parts are relatively easy and then it suddenly turns into a minefield of shifts and stretches..."deer in the headlights" terror...the hardest thing about playing this is not to rush!] And the mirror-version is even more difficult to play than this, especially at bars 48, 58-59, and 62.

So I'm wondering, did Gould bag that mirrored version on the spot, or give it a go that didn't work out, or just (playing it safe for live radio) set out to play only half from the beginning? Contrapunctus 13 is technically the most difficult part of the Art of Fugue. How big were Gould's hands? One needs to play 10ths comfortably to get the notes here and in Cp 12; and Gould didn't play 12 at all. (Since Gould didn't use pedal in Bach, there's no good way to fake some of these passages, as can be done in later repertoire pedalling through rough spots.) (*)

There I go again, offending Gould-fans who believe the hero never had technical difficulties........ But Cp 12 and Cp 13 are real &%&!$#s to play, mostly because of the wide stretches.

=====

And this evidence in the music supports the legend that Bach himself had unusually large hands. Another spot I mentioned recently, on another list: D minor English Suite's Allemande, last bar...the right hand has to be able to reach A-F#-A-D, taking over the holding of that low A after the left hand has just played it. That takes a pretty big right hand, and pull the elbow all the way in against the body, and lean to the left!

(*) Some harpsichordists don't play Cp 12 or 13 either, due to the hand-size problem (inside information, from asking around, not just a guess!): on recordings these are frequently done with overdubs, or by bringing in a second player. And, it's a convenient excuse to arrange even more of the movements for two players: an assistant coming in for some small bits, anyway, might as well give him/her more to do.

Horrors...Bach himself writing sexist and discriminatory music, that only male keyboard players with larger than average hands can reach?! But then again, some of his other instrumental and vocal music is also so doggedly
difficult that it takes years of work, if it can be performed at all. Performers are "only" human. Bach's music is outstanding, pedagogically, for stretching the possibilities: forcing performers to develop techniques that at first seem impossible.

 

Andrew Manze's Bach violin sonatas

Steven Guy wrote (September 24, 2004):
I am interested in reading people's opinions of the Andrew Manze recording of Bach's sonatas for violin, harpsichord and bass viol. I bought a copy in Borders the other day for $14 (Aus) - this is less than half the price of a single disc! I already have the Reinhard Goebel / Musica Antiqua recording (in the 5 CD Complete Chamber Music of Bach set on ARCHIV) and I enjoy it. However, I have most of Andrew Manze's other recordings - music of Schmelzer, Tartini, Biber, Pandolfi and Rebel - and I thought that this recording would be good.

I have listened to the first disc so far and I like Manze's sound. How do you feel about his interpretations of Bach?

Donald Satz wrote (September 24, 2004):
[To Steven Guy] I don't think highly of the interpretations for two reasons. First, I find that the use of the gamba in the first two sonatas ruins the balances among voices. Second, Manze has a tendency to go 'soft' at times when I want much stronger projection. I realize that just about all reviews of the set were glowing, but I feel that I wasted my music money on Manze. I have about 15 versions of the Violin Sonatas, and the Manze is the only one I haven't kept - gave it to my daughter who likes it a lot.

I'd say that anyone who loves the Wispelwey Cello Suites would swoon over the Manze.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 25, 2004):
[To Steven Guy] I like his phrasing and his sprezzatura (the casual-sounding looseness of his delivery). Ditto for the playing of Egarr and ter Linden. Bravo for all that! And I'm glad to have this set, among others. But I frankly have trouble listening to it anymore. The choice of a grossly wrong keyboard temperament (wrong for this music, not wrong for 17th century French music) has caused Manze to have to tune his open strings too strangely to compensate; and then both instruments have so many intonation problems resulting from the adventurous notes that Bach deployed...it makes me cringe more than I'd like to. The music does not have to sound like that much of an intonation struggle!

I hope that's not too discouraging. I still think it's an important set to hear, and a steal at that price! But, I've done some things to my brain that make me really hypersensitive to intonation issues and expectations, and impatient with sloppy results. A few days ago I was listening to some favorite old Milstein/Pommers recordings of Mozart sonatas, and the intonation there bugged me too (for different reasons...mostly in hearing Milstein play much too sharp in his melodic inflections). I had somebody's Froberger recording on yesterday and it made me so angry I almost ripped the disc out of the player to throw it at the wall: wonderful playing, but totally incompetent tuning for the music. Last month I listened to about half of the Blandine Rannou set of Bach English Suites in a shop, and ended up leaving it there instead of buying it (even though I enjoyed the playing), again because the intonation bothered me too much..... Toto, we are NOT in Kansas anymore. sigh

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 30, 2004):
<< I am interested in reading people's opinions of the Andrew Manze recording of Bach's sonatas for violin, harpsichord and bass viol. >>
< I like his phrasing and his sprezzatura (the casual-sounding looseness of his delivery). Ditto for the playing of Egarr and ter Linden. Bravo for all that! And I'm glad to have this set, among others. But I frankly have trouble listening to it anymore. >
Thanks to the discussion here, I've spent more time with the set this week, determined to get all the way through it. My earlier complaints about intonation problems should be confined to the first disc (sonatas 1014-18) and the last sonata on disc 2 (1024).

The rest of disc 2 (sonatas 1019, 1019alt, 1021, and 1023), i.e. the pieces in G major and E minor, works out nicely enough. That is to say: those sonatas stay closer to the keys that sound good in the harpsichord temperament they've set up for the sessions...and therefore the performance isn't so much of a struggle. Brilliant and relaxed playing, the high point of the set, IMO.

And I like those options of being able to reconstruct any of three versions of 1019 by picking different movements and reprogramming the CD player. (Some of those refugee movements are also found in the E minor keyboard partita and Anna Magdalena's book.)

Manze's reconstruction of the 565 toccata/fugue as a violin solo is an excellent filler...although the packaging really should say "A Minor" instead of "D Minor" more prominently, rather than mentioning the transposition only in passing in Manze's program notes. Rather disorienting to see "D Minor" on the box and then hear the piece start with a high E. I'd like to hear Manze play this arrangement again sometime, back in D minor, using a viola.

 

Choice of instruments for BWV 1014 -1019

Teri Noel Towe wrote (October 9, 2004):
Garbriel Jackson wrote (October 9, 2004:
Sonatas for viola da gam
<< On John Holloway and Davitt Moroney's recording of violin sonatas (Virgin Veritas) they use an organ in the two sonatas with continuo (BWV 1021 and 1023) but harpischord in the violin and keyboard sonatas (BWV1014-1019) >>
Charles Francis wrote:
< Thank you for this! Samples can be found at:
http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000031WJF
I am not unsurprised that a keyboard player of Moroney's stature should step outside the box. Moreover Disk 1, Number 5, for example, has obvious advantages on the organ. Of course, the same can also be said for certain pieces of the Well Tempered Clavier. >
Doesn't the title page of the autograph source for the so-called Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas, BWV 1014 - 1019, specify "concertato" harpsichord and violin, with optional viola da gamba?

Charles Francis wrote (October 9, 2004):
[To Teri Noel Towe] Indeed, Bach wrote "Cembalo Certato". But if I may suggest a possible (re)interpretation here (I think of Rifkin and the Entwurf), might not the "Cembalo Certato" indicate a pragmatic performance option, rather than Bach's optimum? I imagine organ availability outside of religious institutions would be a constraint, while it would be difficult to justify including these works in a religious service. Accordingly, the need to combine a keyboard instrument with a sustaining base note, would lead Bach to the pragmatic option of combining harpsichord and viola da gamba. Moreover, following this pragmatic approach , Bach even caters for the possibility that a viola da gamba player may not be available. I do not know Moroney's thinking here, but one imagines his performance choice was informed by musical considerations rather than historical limitations.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (October 9, 2004):
Chrales Francis wrote:
"I do not know Moroney's thinking here, but one imagines his performance choice was informed by musical considerations rather than historical limitations."
He doesn't use an organ in the sonatas BWV1014-1019 that Teri was referring to.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 9, 2004):
<< On John Holloway and Davitt Moroney's recording of violin sonatas (Virgin Veritas) they use an organ in the two sonatas with continuo (BWV 1021 and 1023) but harpischord in the violin and keyboard sonatas (BWV1014-1019) >>
Charles Fransic wrote:
> I do not know Moroney's thinking here, <
Indeed not.

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with Moroney's thinking about that instrumentation, whatever it might be; merely pointing out that non-musicians and non-scholars in music are not well placed to guess Moroney's thinking either.

My personal guess is that it has something to do with the adventurous spirit that John Holloway displayed also in his set of the Biber Rosary Sonatas, with variegated instrumentation in the accompaniment. I played hpsi in a masterclass led by Holloway, soon after he'd finished that set, and I remember he told the class that he'd recommend Goebel's also-new set of those Biber sonatas ahead of his own. At the time I thought he was simply being modest in his self-deprecating sort of way, from his other remarks in that class; clearly, Holloway is a master of his material and both those recordings are excellent. I confess that about half my own thoughts that evening were, "My God, I'm sitting here playing a duo with John Holloway!" as he demonstrated various violin techniques to the class and expected me to accompany him instinctively, improvising the figured bass in performance without any rehearsal. Nice guy and excellent musician, radiates bonhomie, and very easy to play with. As I recall, my playing didn't detract from his presentation, and he seemed pleased enough with the way it went.

The keyboard bench is a good place from which to observe these master musicians up close, thinking without expressing words, and I reckon that the skilled and thoughtful Moroney probably also did some of that moment-to-moment reaction to Holloway in his work with him. (Much better to assume that, than to assume the opposite!) Whatever sounds good, give it a go and see what happens. Musicianship is informed by such techniques, and more.

Jan Hanford wrote (October 9, 2004):
Bradley Lehmanwrote:
< I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with Moroney's thinking about that instrumentation, whatever it might be; merely pointing out that non-musicians and non-scholars in music are not well placed to guess Moroney's thinking either.
My personal guess is that ... >
If only you, with your "professional expertise", are entitled to an opinion then we may as well change the name of this list to the "Brad Lehman Academics-Only List. Resume Required."

Everyone is entitled to a guess. Everyone.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (October 9, 2004):
Jan Hanford writes:
"If only you, with your "professional expertise", are entitled to an opinion then we may as well change the name of this list to the "Brad Lehman Academics-Only List. Resume Required."
Everyone is entitled to a guess. Everyone."
He didn't say he was the only person entitled to an opinion. As for everyone being entitled to a guess, given some of the ludicrous (and arguably libellous) 'guesses' about performers' motives for making the decisions they have made are regularly offered here, certainly not everyone is entitled to have their guesses taken seriously.

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 9, 2004):
Jan Hanford wrote:
< If only you, with your "professional expertise", are entitled to an opinion (...) >
Who's said that? If you don't like reading my opinions, fine; I thought I'd already been banned to your e-mail filter's Buzz-Off regions anyway, a month ago, according to an auto-reply I got when trying to send an off-list
question to you. So, what's the problem?

Everybody's entitled to an opinion. Of course! And I'd venture the further opinion that any guesswork based on actually playing these pieces of music and knowing the performers, i.e. practical guesswork, is probably more likely to be reasonable than is guesswork based only on wishful thinking and armchair quarterbacking.

It's one thing to buy a pile of CDs and books and then guess what are all the motivations in that work, from only a consumer's perspective of liking some things and disliking others. It's quite another thing altogether to do the work of performing/arranging/improvising/recording/producing, with a lot more invested in the outcome than merely one's disposable income. Choices have to be made, all over the place, and consumers really
don't know the half of it; they only know the half of their own pleasure or displeasure with the results.

Customers are right about what they like, and what they feel is meaningful, of course; but they're not necessarily right about matters that go beyond their own personal taste. Musicianship (i.e. respectful service of the music) is a lot more complicated than merely kowtowing to the entitlement foibles of consumers. So is scholarship. Musicianship and scholarship are not democracies (or even corrupt democracies) where the consumers with the most votes and loudest voices get to decide what is truth. Consumer opinions are vitally important to listen to, of course: as one input among many others!

If you're not willing to listen to "professional expertise", whether it's on recordings or in concerts or in discussions, fine, that's anybody's prerogative to disregard whatever they don't fancy. Get out there and play the music yourself, then, put yourself on the line with those musical and practical decisions, in public. That's (arguably!) a better way to experience it anyway, than sitting around listening to other people do it! I believe that music is something to do, not primarily something to buy.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 9, 2004):
Jan Hanford wrote:
>>Everyone is entitled to a guess. Everyone.<<
Here is a 'guess' (I'm not 'scared' to use this type of punctuation) based upon the research of the NBA editors, whose credentials and musicological methodology are frequently questioned by a certain vociferous, pedigreed member of these Bach lists:

For BWV 1014-1019, the normally reliable sources (autograph score and/ororiginal parts as well as any copy made directly under Bach's supervision) are non-existent. The primary copies/manuscripts, designated by the NBA as sources are

'A' {Mus. Ms. Bach P 229] by J. Ch. Altnickol may have been undertaken between 1748 and 1758. The title page was added later (date unknown by an unknown individual.) It begins this way "Sechs Trios | für Clavier und die Violine | Hm. Ad. Ed. Cm Fm Gd. [the key of each piece is given] | von | Johann Sebastian Bach...| Von der Hand seines Schwiegersohnes und Schülers | des Naumburgischen Organisten Altnicol."

The first sonata, in Altnickol's hand, carries the title: "Sonata 1 a Violino solo e Cembalo Concertato" Otherwise each sonata has only the simple title: “Sonata II” etc.

‘B’ [Mus. Ms. Bach P426], a score copied by an unknown hand, a copy that once belonged to the collection by Grasnik. This has the title: “Sei Sonate | al Cembalo | e | Violino obligato | composte | da | Giov: Sebast: Bach” Each sonata has only the simple title “Sonata 1”, “Sonata 2”, etc. and only before the 1st sonata are the instruments indicated as “Violino oblg.” And “Cembalo”

‘C’ a score listed as belonging to collection “Weyses samling” in the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark. C. E. F. Weyse (1774-1842) was a student of J. A. P. Schulz while the latter was active in Copenhagen from 1787-1795. This score was probably based on sources coming from the circle around Kirnberger in Berlin.

The title page states: “Sechs Sonaten | für | Cembalo concert: und Violino | von | J. Seb: Bach.” Otherwise only the designations “Sonata 1” etc. are found within the manuscript.

‘D’ [Am. B. 61] a copy of the score by an unknown copyist. The manuscript originally came from the library of Princess Anna Amalie of Prussia. Its title is “VI Sonata [sic] | Cembalo concertato | e | Violino concertato | dal Sigr. | Giovanni Sebastian Bach” The sonata titles in sequence are “Sonata 1” etc. And before each staff of Sonata 1 are the designations: “Violino” for the violin, “Cembalo” for the right hand and “Fundamento” for the left hand of the keyboard part.

‘E’ [Mus. Ms. Bach St. 162] a set of parts only without a title cover. The harpsichord part is complete, but the violin part is not. At the top of the harpsichord part is the title: “Sei Sounate [sic] | á | Cembalo certato è | Violino Solo, col | Baßo per Viola da Gamba accompagnata | se piace | composte | da |Giov: Sebast: Bach.” In another hand at the side of the page in German script: “NB. Diese Trio hat er vor seinem Ende componiert” [NB. These trios he composed before his death.] On the back of this sheet, at beginning of the harpsichord part, there is the following title: “Sonata 1 a Violino solo e Cembalo certato di J. S. Bach.” The other sonatas are numbered in sequence “Sonata 2,” etc. The violin part in incomplete, containing only sonatas 1 – 4. It is barely readable. No extra title page is present, but only the one beginning with Sonata 1: “Sonata Violino solo del Sign. Bach.” The 4th sonata does not even have the word ‘Sonata.’

Three different copyists were involved in creating these copies. Bach’s handwriting is recognizable in mvts. 3 – 5 of the 6th sonata and represents the ‘middle’ version of the 6th sonata, which can no longer be reconstructed completely because the violin part for this is missing. All the remaining movements of the harpsichord part are copied by an insecure hand with many errors and corrections. The violin part shows a delicate hand with few errors even worth mentioning. These parts were in the possession of Franz Hauser for many years before they were sold to the BB. (Staatsbibliothek Berlin) in 1904.

‘F’ [Mus. Ms. Bach st. 463-468] a set of parts that come from the estate of C. P. E. Bach, whose handwriting is discernable in some of the titles. There is no cover title, only the special titles for each part, however the harpsichord part has an ‘outer’ and an ‘inner’ title as follows:

Outer title: “Hmoll | No. 1 | Trio | furs obligate Clavier und eine Violine | von | J. S. B (in the case of the other sonatas, the full name ‘Bach’ was included.”

Inner title: “Sonata 1 pro Cembalo ex. H {natural sign follows}” Then, once more before the staff: “Sonata.”

The violin part has the title “Sonata 1 mo [sic] | ex H {natural sign follows}” and above this “Violino.”

The 4th sonata is an exception to the above. The outer title for the harpsichord part is missing, while the inner title has “Cembalo” to which was added: “obligato, con Violino | di | J. S. Bach.”

The outer titles for the harpsichord part for Sonatas 1 – 3, 5, 6 and the addition to Sonata 4 are in C. P. E. Bach’s handwriting.

‘G’ [Mus. Ms. Bach St. 403] , only the harpsichord part without the violin part.

The main title is “Sounate [sic] | a | Cembalo concertato | Violino Solo | Basso per Viola da Gamba | accompagn: Se piace | Composte | da | Giov: Sebast: Bach.” Over the 1st sonata is the title : “Sonata I Cembalo Certato e Violino Solo di J. S. Bach” and otherwise “Sonata II,” etc..

Forkel, in his Bach biography, already described these compositions as having been composed and completed in Cöthen. However, Bach did undertake some revisions and corrections at later times. According to the investigation of the NBA editors, the manuscripts can be placed into a chronological order as follows:

1st stage, the Cöthen, original version stage found in manuscripts C and D, most noticeable in the 5th and 6th sonatas. The other sonatas do not show such major changes at any other point in time.

The 2nd stage of development is represented in the incomplete manuscript E. The latter still shows an overall agreement in regard to Sonata 5 with the manuscripts C and D, but in the 6th Sonata in E, there is a completely new structure which includes several new movements. It is not known when Bach did this nor why. It is probable that this major change took place in the early Leipzig years, but even this particular organization of this sonata did not remain fixed: later, in 1731, Bach took two of the new movements and placed them into the 6th Partita [Part 1 of the ‘Clavierübung’] as the “Courente” and the “Gavotte.” Perhaps he removed these two ‘suite’-like mvts. so as to return the original composition back to its purer sonata form. The date for this can not be determined.

The 3rd stage of development can be found in manuscripts A, B, F, G. Here we can find the ‘oldest,’ ‘original’ copy of the 6th sonata in its form without the ‘suite’ mvts. that had once been included.

Many parallels (perhaps dependence upon the same source, because the same errors can be noticed as well) are found within the manuscript groups C and D, on the one hand and B and F on the other.

The NBA has included the following additions/variants to the regular set:

1. BWV 1018a, Sonata V, 3rd mvt. harpsichord part from manuscripts C, D, E
2. BWV 1019a, Sonata VI, 3rd mvt. in manuscripts C, D
3. BWV 1019, Sonata VI, 4th mvt. in manuscripts C, D, E
4. BWV 1019, Sonata VI, 3rd mvt. in manuscript E
5. BWV 1019, Sonata VI, 5th mvt. in manuscript E

Here is the problematical chronology of Sonata 6 in G major:

1st Version as found in C and D
a) Presto G major 4/4
b) Largo E minor ¾
c) ‘Cantabile ma un poco Adagio’ G major 6/8
d) Adagio B minor 4/4
a) Presto G major 4/4 (‘ab Initio repetat. et claudat.’ = same a mvt. 1)

2nd Version as found in ‘E’ (but the violin part is missing)
a) Vivace G major 4/4
b) Largo E minor ¾
e) Cembalo solo E minor 3/8
d) Adagio B mino 4/4
f) Violin solo with bc. G minor
a) Vivace G major 4/4 (same repetition indicated)

3rd Version in A, B, F, G
a) Allegro G major 4/4
b) Largo E minor ¾
g) Cembalo solo E minor 4/4
h) Adagio B minor 4/4
i) Allegro G major 6/8

Summary:

Nowhere is there any justification given for a performance using an organ or even a ‘chest’ organ, but the trio nature of these sonatas (with the addition of a viola da ganba) seems to be rather well documented, although not confirmed directly in Bach’s hand. Based upon all the information above, an organ, even a small one, would not comply with the evidence given. But then, from another standpoint where ‘everything goebecause we are disseminating Bach’s music’ even a keyboard synthesizer is a good possibility. Such performances, however, should not lay any claim to authenticity, even implied, but are certainly permitted to do anything they want in order to present Bach in yet another way.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (October 9, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
"Nowhere is there any justification given for a performance using an organ or even a ‘chest’ organ, but the trio nature of these sonatas (with the addition of a viola da ganba) seems to be rather well documented, although not confirmed directly in Bach’s hand. Based upon all the information above, an organ, even a small one, would not comply with the evidence given."
What a shame!!! all Thomas Braatz's hard work to 'prove' that Davitt Moroney was wrong to use a chamber organ in these sonatas was a waste of time - as has already been pointed out twice, it was in two sonatas other than these 6 that the chamber organ was employed.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (October 9, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
"Here is a 'guess' (I'm not 'scared' to use this type of punctuation) based upon the research of the NBA editors, whose credentials and musicological methodology are frequently questioned by a certain vociferous, pedigreed member of these Bach lists"
It's horriby depressing. A list member enjoys the use of a chamber organ rather than a harpsichord in some Bach sonatas and enquires as to the existence of other recordings of instrumental sonatas that make the same choice of
keyboard instrument. I offer the (hopefully useful) information that in his recording with John Holloway, Davitt Moroney uses a chamber organ in two sonatas with continuo (BWV1021 and 1023). Thomas Braatz then decides to weigh in with a lengthy diatribe concluding that Moroney was wrong to use a chamber organ in BWV1014-1019 which, in point of fact, he didn't. That pleasure and delight in a performance of Bach's music has been stamped on with all the ferocity that is Mr Braatz's stock-in-trade when it comes to attacking musicians.

Charles Francis wrote (October 9, 2004):
Gabriel Jackson wrote:
< What a shame!!! all Thomas Braatz's hard work to 'prove' that Davitt Moroney was wrong to use a chamber organ in these sonatas was a waste of time - as has already been pointed out twice, it was in two sonatas other than these 6 that the chamber organ was employed. >
I actually assumed that the intent of Mr. Braatz was to validate the impectable scholarship of the great master, Moroney. But obviously we all see the world in different ways, some more negatively than others.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (October 9, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
"I actually assumed that the intent of Mr. Braatz was to validate the impectable scholarship of the great master, Moroney."
Of course you did!

Davitt Moroney needs to have his work validated by Thomas Braatz does he? You're having a laugh (as we say in South London).....

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 10, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
< But obviously we all see the world in different ways, some more negatively than others. >
Indeed. I must publicly thank Mr Thomas Braatz and Mr Charles Francis for demonstrating the negative end of that continuum, to an extent I had never dreamed possible before joining these lists. Thank you, gentlemen, for
expanding my horizons.

Meanwhile, the music is more interesting.

John Pike wrote (October 27, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman, in response to his message from October 9, 2004] Agreed. it's the same in my job. A patient is entitled to an opinion about whether they like a particular doctor or whether they FEEL they have been treated well. But most patients do not know, most of the time, what went through a doctor's mind in embarking on a particular management. They simply do not know for certain whether they have received good treatment.

 

Bach Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas complete BWV 1014-1022, Grumiaux and Jaccottet

John Pike wrote (August 9, 2005):
I have been listening to these recordings. Apart from the well known 6 sonatas for violin and harpsichord, BWV 1014-1019, this recording includes the alternative movements of the G major sonata, as BWV 1019a, which are very nice, and sonatas for violin and basso continuo in G major and E minor. There are also sonatas in G minor and F major.

Grumiaux is in top form. The tone and all round musicianship are breathtaking. I know little about harpsichord playing, but it seems to me that Jaccottet is also very good here. A viola da Gamba/cello is also included in the last few sonatas but does not play a prominent role; I was just focussing on Grumiaux's wonderful playing all the time.

Highly recommended.

Peter Bright wrote (August 9, 2005):
[To John Pike] I also vouch for this recording - Grumiaux brings tremendous feeling and warmth to the pieces. The adagio from BVW 1014 and the andante un poco from BWV 1015 are especially sublime. The only other recording I have heard which comes close (although it is very different) is the Trevor Pinnock and Rachel Podger set on Channel Classics (2000).

John Pike wrote (August 9, 2005):
[To Peter Bright] Yes, I have Pinnock and Podger as well.....excellent. I am very impressed with Podger all round. I heard her play some solo violin music in Bristol as part of the Bath festival a few years ago...magical.

Peter Bright wrote (August 9, 2005):
[To John Pike] I met her once at a party in London - must have been around '89-'90. We went to her flat to discuss music. I think she must have been at the Guildhall then because her flat was close by and I think she was still studying... She was a really very nice person - a pity we never stayed in touch... Unfortunately at the time I knew next to nothing about classical music...

Robert Sherman wrote (August 9, 2005):
[To Peter Bright] As one of the most anti-HIP members of this list, I must say that nevertheless Podger's Bach is far more satisfying than any other I've heard.

Far superior to the "in your face" products of Heifetz, Milstein et al.

Philip Peters wrote (August 9, 2005):
[To Robert Sherman] If you like Podger/Pinnock you might want to give Van Dael/Van Asperen a spin. My personal favourite (ast this point, these things change) is Carmignola/Marcon. It won't be long before Carmnignola's long awaited solo sonatas and partitas will be on the market. I can hardly wait.

Robert Brodie wrote (August 10, 2005):
[To Philip Peters] I'll second the vote for Van Dael/Van Asperen, and as a special bonus, at least for US based people, Naxos is selling the cd's for $6.99. A steal!

Donald Satz wrote (August 10, 2005):
[To Robert Brodie] Van Dael is great, so is Podger, but my favorite of Blumenstock/Butt on Harmonia Mundi is now available for the price of just one premium priced cd.

Atilla Kárpáti wrote (August 14, 2005):
[To Donald Satz] hello everybody, this is my first post here, so i hope i do everything alright.

after reading your opinions about different interpretations of the sonatas for harpsichord and violin by bach, i tried to find those recordings and listened to most of them. but even if many of the recordings/interpretations
are quite convincing and inspired, i would like to recommend you a recording, which is still, after listening to recordings by people like podger and biondi, my favorite.

try to listen to the recording of the austrian musician benjamin schmid and anthony spiri on harpsichord. the label is arte nova.

please let me know your opinions

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (August 14, 2005):
[To Attila Kárpáti] Welcome to the list.

Could you develop your opinion, and tell us why this version has your preference ?

I listened to a couple of samples on the Internet: Amazon.de
some tempi disturbed me, but the phrasing of the violin sounds quite "classical"... Too much reverb to my taste concerning the recording quality... But it were only samples of course.

Another recording by Schmid and Spiri appears under a different label (Oehms): Amazon.de
Is it a re-issue of the Arte Nova, or is it a different recording? (I couldn't listen to the samples of the Oehms recording in order to compare.) Looking forward to your comments.

Atilla Kárpáti wrote (August 14, 2005):
[To Paul Dirmeikis] hello, thanks for welcoming me on the list.

first of all thank you for pointing at the two different releases of the same recordings, it was a mistake by me. i own the oehms recording, and as far as i could find out, the only difference is the the arrangement of the
sonatas on the two discs.

concerning the interpretation i have to admit, that, as a listener and also as violin player, i am quite new to 'historically informed performances'. the first recording i owned, was the one with glenn gould and jaime laredo, which i really love, but maybe more because of my love for gould.

the schmid/spiri recording was my first 'historical' recording i ever listened to, so that was kind of a wow-experience to me. i like the tempi, although sometimes they seem a little bit to kind (? -> 'brav' in german).

schmid's way of playing, his technique is like a feather in the wind, it seems to me. the intonation is always clear and perfect. very small vibrato, and his bowing technique is the finest i have heard so far. he puts himself and his personality totally behind the music, he is there to serve it totally.

the only negative aspect of his interpretation in my opinion is, that sometimes it sounds a little bit too distanced.

in addition to the six sonatas bwv 1014-1019 the recording also contains the recordings of bwv 1019/1021 (+ cello), also my absolute favorite interpretations of this two jewels.

interesting, although a 'historical' recording in my eyes, is the 'normal' tuning.

hope i could give you some information on my views, sorry for my bad english, i am a hungarian living in austria, so better get used to it...

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (August 14, 2005):
[To Attila Kárpáti] Thank you for developing your appreciation about this recording. Your comments are interesting, moreover coming from a violin player. They give me reasons to a second and real chance to listening to this recording, and not to be satisfied with my first impressions to the samples.
(Don't apologize for your English which is very good)

Robert Brodie wrote (August 15, 2005):
[To Attila Kárpáti] Thank you, I will, and if it beats Van Asperen and Daal I will be eternally grateful.

 

BWV 1014 - 1019 with organ

Tigger wrote (July 16, 2007):
I have just discovered a recording of the BWV 1014-1019 sonatas for violin & harpsichord performed with organ instead of harpsichord.
http://www4.fnac.com/Shelf/article.aspx?PRID=1828712&Mn=2&Ra=-29&To=0&Nu=1&Fr=0

I had previousy known these only in the Grumiaux/Jaccottet/Mermoud recording, in which they are interpreted as violin sonatas with harpsichord accompaniment (following Forkel). The 'et orgue' performance is justified in the inset booklet by reference to the earliest extant manuscript copy, so has some authority.

On these discs, the orgue part is given equal prominence with the violon, and the music emerges as fully-fledged trio sonatas - a completely different and, to me, astonishing revelation. Some might find it a travesty, so what are opinions of this on this site ? \

Believe me, you cannot remain indifferent to this interpretation - you will either love it or hate it. For me it is magical...

John Pike wrote (July 16, 2007):
[To Tigger] I don't know this recording but it sounds like an interesting and easily defensible approach.

I have been listening recently to Jaap ter Linden's and Steven Isserlis' recordings of the Cello suites, just a few BWV numbers away. I am thoroughly enjoying them, especially ter Linden on Baroque cello....very beautiful playing throughout. The last sonata, which I think he must play on the 5 string instrument for which it was intended (an Amati in this case case I think) is superb.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 16, 2007):
Tigger wrote:
>>I have just discovered a recording of the BWV 1014-1019 sonatas for violin & harpsichord performed with organ instead of harpsichord....I had previousy known these only in the Grumiaux/Jaccottet/Mermoud recording, in which they are interpreted as violin sonatas with harpsichord accompaniment (following Forkel). The 'et orgue' performance is justified in the inset booklet by reference to the earliest extant manuscript copy, so has some authority.<<
Actually, little or no authority and the designation for violin and harpsichord does not follow Forkel but rather documentary evidence that has nothing to do with Forkel. This is what the NBA KB VI/1 pp. 137ff can tell us about this: There is no true autograph copy of the score nor of the violin part (only scraps: mvts. 3-5 of the harpsichord part for the 6th sonata are actually in Bach's handwriting). We next have to assume reasonably that the title on top of the 1st page of the harpsichord part (Sonata 1) was written under Bach's direction: "Sonata 1 a Violino solo e Cembalo certato di J. S. Bach." This appears to be Bach's actual/normal manner for designating a title for his composition. The cover page written later, perhaps much later, in contrast, states: "Sei Sounate [sic] à Cembalo certato è Violino Solo, col Baßo per Viola da Gamba accompagnata se piace composte da Giov: Sebast: Bach." The latter is not in Bach's handwriting, nor is the notation: "N.B. Diese Trio hat er vor seinem Ende componiert [sic]".

The earliest complete copy of the score for all 6 sonatas was that by Johann Christoph Alnikol (or Altnickol) (1719-1759), Bach's son-in-law. It could not have been copied before 1748 and not after 1759, the year of his death. The title over the 1st page of the manuscript (the only title in Altnickol's handwriting) is "Sonata 1 a Violino Solo e Cembalo Concertato". A cover page added later (after Altnickol's death), (it is difficult to determine how much later, but it could have been decades later possibly before C. P. E. Bach's death, in whose possession this manuscript copy was), begins: "Sechs Trios für Clavier und die Violine.." As anyone who understands a bit of German knows, 'Clavier/Klavier' can mean any keyboard instrument, but did Bach, for instance, indicate with his title: "Das Wohltemperirte Clavier" that his first choice of instrument for these compositions would be the organ?

The other 3 or 4 copies from the latter half of the 18th century have very similar titles referring to "Violino Solo/Concertato" as well as "Cembalo concertato/obligato" with the latter designation standing before the former in each case. It would appear from this that the harpsichord was the preferred instrument used in performances of this music during Bach's lifetime and in the half century which followed his death.

>>On these discs, the orgue part is given equal prominence with the violon, and the music emerges as fully-fledged trio sonatas - a completely different and, to me, astonishing revelation. Some might find it a travesty, so what are opinions of this on this site? Believe me, you cannot remain indifferent to this interpretation - you will either love it or hate it. For me it is magical...<<
Bach's music can be successfully performed in many different ways. Sometimes the possibilities seem inexhaustible and the music virtually indestructible because it is so flexible and universal. Certainly a performance with violin and organ offers a unique perspective which can enhance certain aspects of the music while possibly losing some others.

It becomes a different matter, however, when someone writing the inset booklet to a recording such as this carelessly and inaccurately cites "the earliest extant manuscript copy" as providing the authority upon which a present-day choice of instruments (violin & organ) rests.

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 17, 2007):
< I have just discovered a recording of the BWV 1014-1019 sonatas for violin & harpsichord performed with organ instead of harpsichord.
http://www4.fnac.com/Shelf/article.aspx?PRID=1828712&Mn=2&Ra=-29&To=0&Nu=1&Fr=0 >
For some concerts this autumn a colleague and I are working on BWV 1030 (the B minor flute sonata, but in its earlier G minor version), playing it on Baroque violin and harpsichord. But for one of the concerts we'll be doing it with organ because a harpsichord won't be available. An interesting switch here: it's of course usually for wind instrument (either flute or oboe) plus plucked strings (the two hands on harpsichord), but we're doing it with bowed string on the top line and the other two lines on wind (organ).

As for the pedigree of performing this sonata with violin, as its likely original version ahead of Bach's transposition for flute: there are references to this in the footnotes of Joshua Rifkin's newest book-length article, 2007. That article is about the B minor flute suite being originally in A minor and for violin instead of flute.

Don't miss the classic 1990 recording of the three viola da gamba sonatas, BWV 1027-1029, with Anner Bylsma playing violoncello piccolo and Bob van Asperen playing organ!

 

Continue on Part 2

Sonatas for Violin & Keyboard BWV 1014-1023: Details
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Carmignola & Marcon | Comberti & Tilney | Ngai & Watchorn [Satz] | Ngai & Watchorn [McElhearn] | Ronez & Kubitschek | Standage & Ad-El
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2

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Last update: ýDecember 22, 2008 ý01:26:44