Text of the booklet "J.S.Bach
OBOENWERKE, volume 3 / ALEXEI UTKIN / HERMITAGE ORCHESTRA"
Each of J.-S. Bach's immortal
creations has its own particular story. Scrutiny of the
composer's surviving manuscripts lets us not only to understand
better his well-known classical masterpieces but also to
try to restore those compositions which artistic conceptions
hadn't been worked out by Bach himself…
We got only nine bars, not written out in full, left from
the last composition of the large Leipzig manuscript dated
by the end of the 1730-s, presenting the autograph of Bach's
solo clavier concertos (BWV 1052 - 1059). This material
coincides with the music of the introduction (the "Sinfonia")
for the first part of the ecclesiastical cantata BWV 35
("Spirit and Soul Become Confused", 1726). Bach
seems just to approach creation of the clavier concerto
BWV 1059 by way of adapting some former orchestra piece,
that (like many other instrumental pieces of Bach's Leipzig
cantatas) in its turn might have been "a paraphrase"
of the quick tempo movement of one of the composer's lost
instrumental concertos written during the Kothen period.
Restoring the hypothetical Kothen original (or maybe carrying
out the unaccomplished composer's intention to create a
new composition on the base of his ecclesiastical cantatas'
music), the present-day experts and musicians use another,
D-minor, "Sinfonia" from the same 35-th cantata
(opening of its second part) as the final, third movement
of the concerto. The question about the source for the music
of the concerto's second movement has no clear answer though
the performers most often appeal to one of the unsurpassed
masterpieces of Bach's oboe music - the slow F-major "opening
Sinfonia" from the BWV 156 cantata ("I Stand With
One Foot in the Grave Now", 1729). The lucid music
of this "Sinfonia" (its A-flat-major version emerges
as the second part of Bach's own BWV 1056 clavier concerto)
is so well and convincingly incorporated in the space between
two perturbed edge parts of the BWV 1059 concerto that one
might believe: the great composer himself could bless liberties
like this in treating his musical heritage.
We can even try to formulate what this imaginary "blessing"
might be. Written in different times and regardless of each
other the 35-th and 156-th cantatas make a single whole
thanks to their common spiritual theme - the fragments of
the New Testament. Both fragments treat of the miracles
done by Jesus Christ: the 35-th cantata - of the healing
of "the deaf man impended in speech" (Mark 7:31-37),
the 156-th - of making a leper clean and of healing a centurion's
servant (Matthew 8:1-13). Bach's cantatas are assigned to
demonstrate that after physical healing ("He even makes
both the deaf hear and the dump speak"; Mark 7:37)
the miracles much more astonishing follow, and they affect
any person. Christ heals and changes the very essence of
a believer penetrating directly into his soul. And the person
meets his/her mortal hour in a blessed unity with Jesus;
the one saved by the divine love is levitating to heaven
to join up with the angels' chorus praising God.
This is the main and greatest miracle of the faith - the
exalted bliss of the Christian passing - that Bach develops
in his introduction to the cantata "I Stand With One
Foot in the Grave Now": the sweet cantilena of the
oboe embodies the endless divine love while the light chords
of the accompanying strings portray the soaring of the soul
that is leaving the earth where it had been suffering so
much. In their own turn the "sinfonias " from
the 35-th cantata (describing external and inner transformation
of a person) express not only utter confusion of a soul
and a mind witnessing the miracles done by God, but also
the firm aspiration for joining up with the Savior. Vigorous,
masterly passages of the first and last parts of the concerto
are powered by strong and resolute rhythms.
Surely, the cherished depths of Bach's religious feelings
are immortalized in the music of the BWV 1059 concerto.
Nevertheless the desire to cognize the sweetness of the
heavenly bliss, though it makes one free from the yoke of
the earthy torments, does not at all exhaust the life-breath
of the composer who appreciated the earthy joys. His orchestral
suites are nearly the most life-asserting genre among Bach's
instrumental works. Two wonderful samples of the kind are
presented in this album, namely - Overtures/Orchestral suites
in B-minor (BWV 1067) and in D-major (BWV 1069).
Life-stories of the both suites are noteworthy. The BWV
1069 Suite is known in two versions. The original (Kothen)
version of the suite - alas ? has been lost. The manuscript
which has survived until nowadays might presumably be dated
by 1729 - the period when Bach entered upon the duties of
the head of the Leipzig musical society (Collegium musicum).
The solemn music of the first part of the composition (written
in the form of a "French Ouverture") had been
used by the composer earlier, in 1725, as the first choral
piece of the Christmas cantata BWV 110.
The 1725 version is by no means an intermediate stage in
the history of the composition. The traditional brilliance
and grandeur of Christmas music had predetermined the sounding
image of the suite in its final edition. Thus it was in
1725 when the parts of three trumpets and timpani (obligatory
attributes of Bach's Christmas music written in Leipzig)
were brought into the "Ouverture" and three oboes'
parts were added (in the full scores of the BWV 1066 and
BWV 1068, following the instrumentation of Kothen practice,
there are only two oboes' parts available). Creating the
brilliant concerto version of this work for the Collegium
musicum ensemble Bach also re-orchestrated in the same manner
the dancing parts having introduced the picturesque juxtapositions
of these groups of instruments: three trumpets ? with timpani,
three oboes ? with three strings (two violins and a viola).
"The chorus" of the brass wind instruments is
not however sounding continuously, it only accents, underlines
by bright dotted-line strokes the moments of the highest
triumph and rejoicing. (It must be noted that this peculiarity
was caused by practical reasons as well: trumpets' and timpani'
parts were intended to be performed by invited city musicians
who were not always easily available).
The music of the "French Ouverture" opening the
BWV 1069 suite is an impressive example of the sacred and
secular beginnings penetrating each other in Bach's works.
Within the 110-th cantata the slow stately part richly ornamented
with triumphant sounds of the trumpets and timpani reminds
of the greatest of Kings descending onto the earth. The
voices that enter into the following, quick tempo polyphonic
movement repeat again and again the words of the Holy Write:
"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue
with singing…The Lord has done great things for us, and
we are glad" (Psalms, 126:2-3).
In the dancing parts of the suite one can find a variety
of exquisite acoustic effects - the alternative dances are
certainly to be mentioned here at the first place: the second
Bourree (whereas the tender minor melody of oboes is opposed
to the background of a brilliant bassoon's solo, Bach was
such a magnificent master of) and the second Menuet (its'
opening stands out against an unexpected entering of the
strings in a low register). However the dominating mood
is rejoicing ? noisy though not void of grace. It's noteworthy
that the quick tempo part of the overture has obvious resemblance
to a Jig - the last of the "obligatory" dances
in any classical suite. A feeling of sincere, ingenious
gaiety is a sheer consequence of Bach's easily brilliant
interpretation of traditional dancing forms. The naturally
playful atmosphere is created by introducing an abundance
of various syncopated rhythms into practically all the dances.
The final "Jolly Festivity" (Rejouissance) demonstrates
in all their splendor all the witty inventions made by the
composer within the suite.
Even though everything in this mortal world has its ending
the festivity doesn't want to be ended. The BWV 1067 suite,
this work of genius, reproduces the very set of feelings
that often springs up in a person's soul next day after
having had a good time at a ball. This is the most chamber
of all the Bach's "ouvertures". Along with the
regular string group a traverse-flute takes part in its
performance. It either duplicates the first violin's part
or stands forward with its own vivid and masterly solos.
The charming music of the BWV 1067 suite reminds of the
great French flutist P.G. Buffardin. Bach's meeting with
him inspired the great composers' best flute compositions.
But if the large flute sonatas BWV 1030 and BWV 1032 represented
transcriptions of some earlier works, the B-minor suite
was created especially for Buffardin counting on his matchless
skills. The fluent character of figurations in the flutist's
part and domination of light transparent music texture proves
the credit of this assumption.
The oboe transcription of the suite presented in this album
requires from the soloist not only highest technical skills
but also extraordinary delicacy in performing the flute
part. The entrance of the oboe as a new "protagonist"
of the composition lends melodiousness and homogeneity to
the sounding of the ensemble which plunges the listeners
into a more serious lyrical mood.
The great composer interprets the traditional genre of a
dancing suite with amazing easiness. The habitual character
of separate parts and of the composition as a whole turns
out to be completely transformed by the inspired fantasy
of the master. In the construction of the suite Bach ? as
far as possible ? uses the principles characteristic of
a concerto cycles. But if "Italianization" of
the quick tempo part of the opening "French Ouverture"
(based on the collation of vigorous fugal tutti with the
exquisite solo episodes) is a common characteristic of all
the Bach's suites, singling out the lyrical centre in the
form of a Rondo and a Sarabanda is a daring innovation which
leads to re-comprehension of the genre and makes its concept
The simple melodious Rondo, very French by its spirit, reminds
us the miniatures of F. Couperin the Great; it presents
one of those fragile and graceful "knick-knacks"
which happen to be so dear to our hearts. The lyricism of
Sarabanda on the contrary is marked with Italian power and
The final dancing parts of the suite - memoirs of the festivity
gone by - is an excellent reason to be immersed into poetical
nostalgia. Among the variety of Bach's brilliant innovations
the duplicate of the Polonaise must be noted apart as a
discovery of genius: at the background of the melody going
into the bass' part with its ritually proud rhythm exquisitely
gentle masterly passages of the soloist are being heard.
And the famous "'Joke" (Badinerie) requires the
truly acrobatic manual dexterity. According to some contemporaries,
P.G. Buffardin was remarkable for his special skill in performing
quick tempo and showy pieces.
As a matter of fact the new transcription of the work presented
on this disk is a true musical contest of the kind that
used to be so popular in Bach's times - a challenge launched
by a modern virtuoso to famous P.G. Buffardin.
Roman Nassonov, translated by Irina Doronina
Text of the booklet "J.S.Bach
OBOENWERKE, volume 3 / ALEXEI UTKIN / HERMITAGE ORCHESTRA"