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ClassicsOnline Home » BACH, J.S.: Orchestral Suites Nos. 3-5, BWV 1068-1070
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Ouverture (Suite) No.3 in D major, BWV 1068 Ouverture
Ouverture (Suite) No.4 in D major, BWV 1069
Ouverture (Suite) in G minor, BWV 1070
Bach's early career was as an organist and as an expert on the
construction of the instrument. In 1717, however, he moved to Coethen as Kapellmeister to
Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Coethen and there was able to devote more time to the composition
and performance of instrumental music, largely through the Pietist leanings of the court
and a consequent diminution of church music. It seems probable that the first and fourth
of the four orchestral suites or Ouvertures were written during this period. It has been
suggested that the second and third were written during Bach's final period of 27 years in
Leipzig. While his official responsibilities there were with church music, he was involved
too with the secular repertoire of the University Collegium Musicum, founded by Telemann.
Suite No.3 in D major is
scored for three trumpets, timpani and oboes, with the usual strings and continuo. The
opening French Ouverture, with its characteristic solemn introduction and following fugue
is followed by an Air, played by strings and continuo, a movement later popularised in an
arrangement by the 19th century violinist August Wilhelmj as "Air on the G
string", which in its original form it is certainly not. The pair of Gavottes are
played in alternation, followed by a Bourrée and a lively Gigue, the most frequent
conclusion to any set of dances.
The fourth of Bach's orchestral Suites, also in the key of D
major, is scored for three trumpets and timpani, three oboes, bassoon, strings and
continuo. After the compound rhythm of the fugal section of the Ouverture and are turn to
the slower music of the opening comes a pair of Bourrées, played in alternation, a
Gavotte, and a pair of Menuets, with the second played by strings and continuo alone. The
Suite ends with a cheerful movement bearing the title Rèjouissance,
which proclaims both its character and the French provenance of the whole form, adopted
and translated by Bach into suitable German musical terms.
The fifth orchestral suite in G minor is generally thought to
be spurious. It is scored for strings and continuo and consists of five movements,
including the unusual Torneo and a final Capriccio. The work is characteristic enough of
its period, a time when compositions of this kind were enormously popular, as evident in
the repertoire of Bach's own Collegium musicium in Leipzig, and in the prolific output of
Telemann, 127 of whose orchestral suites survive.
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in 1983 by members of the
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamber orchestra and then as an orchestra
large enough to tackle the standard classical repertoire. Based in Bratislava, its name
drawn from the ancient name still preserved in the Academia Istropolitana, the historic
university established in the Slovak and one-time Hungarian capital by Matthias Corvinus,
the orchestra works principally in the recording studio. Recordings by the orchestra on
the Naxos label include The Best of Baroque Music, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, fifteen
each of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies as well as works by Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann.
The Czech conductor and composer Jaroslav Dvorák was born in
southern Bohemia in 1939 and studied composition and conducting at the Prague
Conservatory. In 1962 he moved to Pilsen as a conductor and radio producer and in 1967
returned to Prague to work as a recording supervisor for Supraphon. In the capital he
founded the Chorea Bohemica ensemble and in 1975 the chamber orchestra Musica Bohemica. In
Czechoslovakia he is well known for his arrangements of Bohemian folk music, while his
electro-acoustic opera Raab was awarded
first prize at the International Composer's Competition in Geneva.
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