Bach (1685-1750) - Concerto for Oboe, Violin &
it about the music of J. S. Bach? It seems to come with its own, built-in
“personality module”, so that even Percy Grainger's custom-designed “elastic
orchestration” is left floundering when it comes to surviving arrangements
and re-arrangements. What other composer produced music capable of emerging
intact from the tender, and occasionally not-so-tender, ministrations of
the likes of Jaques Loussier, the Swingle Singers and the Moog synthesiser
of Walter (now Wendy, though this is more a political than a surgical re-alignment)
Carlos? More to the point, why pick on Bach? After all, try as they may,
those who venture to make Bach “their own” inevitably find that Bach somehow
reaches out from beyond the grave to make them “his own”.
Bach himself often adapted his music, transforming pieces from one format
to another, a practice continued by others less radical than the aforementioned.
The Concerto in D Minor for Violin, Oboe, Strings and Continuo, BWV
1060 is just one example, being a “reconstruction” of a Concerto
for Two Harpsichords prepared by Max Schneider in the 1930s. Hearing
it, would anyone guess that it wasn't always intended for violin and oboe?
I could argue that the Double Violin Concerto BWV 1043, which shares
the same key signature, is so finely crafted for its equal soli that it
would sound less well if “arranged” for violin and oboe. Yet, if it weren't
so well-known, would I dare to argue that with confidence? I suppose the
point is that Bach generally composed his linear polyphonies in monochrome
so that, like the pictures in a child's colouring book, any remotely sensible
colour-scheme will fit the bill. It doesn't explain why Bach is still Bach
even when it's jazz - that's something to argue about during the interval!
normal baroque manner, the soloists form a concertino that variously emerges
from and blends back into the ripieno of strings and continuo, most obviously
in the rhythmically vigorous allegro movements. The central adagio is altogether
“something else”, a truly ravishing cantilena to rival its more famous
counterpart in BWV 1043.
© Paul Serotsky
29, Carr Street,
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