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All Bach Recital at 2012 Los Angeles Bach Festival on Saturday October 20

October 6, 2012

It will be my 3rd year, performing at LA Bach Festival, and I am looking forward for the opportunity. The program includes Aria variata in A minor BWV 989, Partita No. 1 BWV 825, Italian Concerto BWV 971, and French Overture BWV 831. Below is the program note I wrote for the concert. I hope you can join me!

The venue
First Congregational Church of Los Angeles
540 S. Commonwealth Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

The date and time
Saturday October 20 at 8pm

The ticket info

The contact person and the number
Jade lin Hornbaker
(213) 355-5241

The Italian Concerto, BWV 971 and the French Overture, BWV 831, were published together in 1735 as the second part of Bach’s Clavierübung, a series of publications of keyboard music. (The Goldberg Variations, which I performed at the 2011 LA Bach Festival, was published as the fourth part of the Clavierübung.)  By the winter of 1736/7, the work was reprinted, reflecting its wide distribution and popularity. In the second volume, Bach brings together two different and very popular genres: the Italian concerto form, and French Overture-Suite, the latter featuring an opening overture succeeded by a sequence of dance-like movements. Italian and French musical styles were the two most important influences in German music at that time. In the Italian Concerto and the French Overture, Bach demonstrates his craftsmanship to combine those influences and to make them his own. The concept of writing a concerto without orchestra seems unusual in our time, but it was not in Bach’s time. The concerto grosso form, in which several solo instruments (concertino) are set off against the larger group (tutti or ripieno or simply concerto grosso), was very popular. The concertino parts became larger and larger, and the solo parts finally became independent. This new kind of concerto form – solo concerto – gained a wide popularity in Europe.

The scale of the French Overture is grander than any other keyboard suite by J. S. Bach.  The dotted rhythms in the opening movement, the Overture, indicates a strong French taste. The following dances are not in the conventional order; three of them are arranged in pairs in contrasting styles, the dotted-rhythm Gigue seems lively enough to end the suite, but Bach added a chordal and vigorous Echo to finish.

The first part of Clavierübung, in 1731, consists of 6 partitas. Partita No. 1 in B flat major, featured on tonight’s program, was printed in 1726 as op. 1. The Partita follows the usual format of the Baroque dance suite, with the  principle movements being the allemande, courante, sarabande, and gigue. In addition, other movements are inserted in between those movements.

The Aria Variata “alla Maniera Italiana” first appeared in the Andreas Bach Book, a collection of keyboard works compiled by J. C. Bach, J. S. Bach’s oldest brother, for Christoph’s  youngest son, Andreas Bach. A set of ten variations on an original theme, the Aria Variata, like the Goldberg Variations, features a return of the theme at the end. And like the Goldberg Variations, the Aria Variata uses not the theme for variations, but the harmonic structure of the theme as the foundation of the variations. The aria is a chorale-like, expressive theme, while the variations are full of virtuosic technical demands, showing the young Bach’s flamboyance.