Friday, June 23, 2006

ARCHIVE  •  2006  •  SUN 18  •  MON 19  •  WED 21  •  FRI 23  •  SUN 25

Sherman Library & Gardens, Central Patio Room, 8 p.m.

Music in the Gardens II

David Shostac, flute
Clayton Haslop, violin
Timothy Landauer, violoncello
Gabriel Arregui, harpsichord

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Trio Sonata in B flat, BWV 1015

Allegro assai
Andante un poco

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011
for solo violoncello


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Sonata No. 6 in G minor
for flute and harpsichord



Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001
for solo violin


Christoph Graupner (1683-1760)
Trio Sonata in B flat

Allegro – Adagio – Presto

The application of “modern” instruments in the service of Baroque music needs no justification when the proficiency and the stylistic interpretations are in the hands of the four virtuosos who have returned to us year after year for this Gardens concert. Bach, Handel and Graupner surely never heard finer and more dedicated performances of their music.


Johann Sebastian Bach must have composed more trio sonatas than those left to us with that formal designation. Musicologists, somewhat in the manner of forensic scientists, occasionally have examined his solo sonatas (violin or viola da gamba with written-out harpsichord parts) to see a clear indication that the keyboardist’s right hand has been given linear statements that originally must have been for a high solo line instrument such as flute, violin or oboe. Thus a “reconstruction” of a trio sonata can be made for two melody instruments with a basso continuo line for violoncello with “figures” (intervallic numbers) from which a harpsichordist knows the harmonies above the bass line and adds imaginative musical conversation with the other instruments.

Previous Festival concerts have presented the known trio sonatas. This Trio Sonata in B flat has been derived from BWV 1015, known to us as a sonata for violin and harpsichord. In this reconstruction, we hear melodic imitation between the flute and violin in all four movements, with the bass part joining thematically in the first two movements and indulging in unrelenting 16th note figurations in the third. The fourth movement’s balance between treble and bass lines presents the strongest argument for its origins as a trio sonata. BACK


Bach’s output for unaccompanied violoncello numbers six suites written, along with the violin sonatas and most of his chamber and concerto music, during his pre- Leipzig years in C÷then. This Baroque suite of four basic dance movements, whose names reflect their French stylizations, begins with a Prelude and inserts a Gavotte before the Gigue. The dances traditionally fall into bipartite form, the first half moving from the home key to the key of the dominant or to the relative minor or major, and the second half reversing that procedure.

One’s ear often hears two different lines, high alternating with low, when actually only one note is being played at any given time, and Bach’s way with double stopping creates chords that sound fuller than is expected from a basically “single line” instrument. The solo violoncello and violin suites and sonatas are monuments of our musical inheritance. BACK


Handel composed sonatas for flute, recorder, oboe, violin and viola da gamba (with basso continuo), borrowing themes as needed from his own works. The sonata in G minor, for flute and harpsichord, seems to offer three slow movements before the final Presto, but the Andante’s charming character in three-quarter time nicely separates the Larghetto, with its smooth singing line, from the slower Adagio. The Presto takes the theme of the Andante and alters it rhythmically. Handel’s instrumental music contrasts with that of Bach in its seeming intent to minimize intellectual challenges in favor of masterly created and irresistible charms. BACK


Bach’s solo violin sonata in G minor begins with a very free Adagio in which a melodic line is spun out over a chordal underpinning, alternating between stately and intimate expressions. The fugue offers Bach’s expected contrapuntal complexities, while the melody of the Sicilienne (a gentle dance that originated in Sicily) flows gracefully within its lilting 6/8 rhythm. The concluding Presto rips along with a continuous flow of 16ths , the player here finding and clarifying the harmonies hidden within the cascades of notes. BACK


Christoph Graupner, born in Saxony, resided from 1696 to 1704 in Leipzig, where he studied music at the Thomasschule with Kuhnau, Bach’s predecessor there, and enjoyed the acquaintance of Telemann who directed Leipzig’s Collegium Musicum (later Bach’s assignment). After working briefly in Hamburg as an opera harpsichordist and composer, he was hired by Ernst Ludwig, Landgrave of Hessen- Darmstadt, remaining in Darmstadt’s musically illustrious court until his death. When Graupner applied for the position of Cantor in Leipzig on Telemann’s withdrawal in 1722, Darmstadt’s Ernst Ludwig retained him by increasing his salary, leaving Leipzig’s City Council grudgingly to settle on J.S. Bach.

A new edition of the Trio Sonata in B flat was created for performance here last year from the original Darmstadt manuscript, but postponed for technical reasons, thus making its debut this evening. An extraordinarily sweet and brief introductory movement leads to an energetic fugue movement that suddenly slows before leaping into a triple-meter Presto. A moderately moving Andante concludes very slowly in order to contrast vividly with the Presto finale that engages the three strings in nearly canonic imitation. BACK

Notes by Burton Karson


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