Orchestra Roster and Program Notes for
January 17 and 18, 2004 Musica Bella Concerts

Concerts Nos. 10 and 11

Conductor: Phillip Gaskill

Saturday & Sunday, January 17 & 18, 2004
Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (1/17), Our Lady of Good Counsel (1/18)
Bach: Concerto for Oboe, Violin, and Strings, BWV 1060
Daniel Fierer, oboe; Uli Speth, violin
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, BWV 1050
Dominic Eckersley, cembalo; Shoji Mizumoto, flute; Gregory Singer, violin
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, BWV 1051
Stephanie Griffin and David Wallace, violas
Bach: Double Concerto for Two Violins and Strings, BWV 1043
Gregory Singer and Hope Singer, violins

Click on a musician’s name to see his/her bio and photo.

Katie Crouch
Michelle Des Roches
Catherine Mandelbaum
Gregory Singer*
Hope Singer*
Uli Speth, concertmaster*

Stephanie Griffin*
David Wallace*

Dale Dyer
Anahit Harutyunyan-Gaskill*
Bass Viola da Gamba
James Blachly
Marie Dalby

Mark Wade

Shoji Mizumoto*

Daniel Fierer*

Dominic Eckersley*

Manager   Anahit Harutyunyan-Gaskill
Assistant Manager   Thomas Crane
Stage Manager   Shoji Mizumoto
Associate Music Director/Associate Conductor   Harry J. Marenstein
Music Director/Conductor   Phillip Gaskill


Please click on the soloists’ names immediately above to go to their individual biographies and photos. Really, though, in a baroque chamber-orchestra concert like this with two string players on a part at most, everybody is a soloist!


Born into a musical family, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) received his earliest instruction from his father. After his father’s death in 1695, Bach moved to Ohrdruf, where he lived and studied organ with his older brother Johann Christoph. Bach’s first permanent positions were as organist in Arnstadt (1703-1707) and Mühlhausen (1707-1708). During these years, he performed, composed, taught, and developed an interest in organ building. From 1708-1717 he was employed by Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar, first as court organist, and, after 1714, as Kapellmeister. During this period, he composed many of his best organ compositions; in his capacity as Kapellmeister, he was also expected to produce a cantata each month.
      Bach’s next position, as Music Director for the Prince Leopold of Cöthen (1717-1723), involved entirely different activities. Since the court chapel was Calvinist, there was no need for church compositions. His new works were primarily for instrumental solo or ensemble, to be used as court entertainment or for instruction. Among the important compositions at Cöthen were the first volume of Das wohltemperirte Clavier (The Well-Tempered Clavier), the “French” and “English” Suites for harpsichord, and most of the sonatas and suites for other instruments. And it is from this period that the majority of the works we are performing this afternoon were written.
      In 1723, Bach was appointed cantor at the St. Thomas Church and School, and Director of Music for Leipzig, positions which he retained for the rest of his career. His official duties included the responsibility of overseeing the music in the four principal churches of the city, and organizing other musical events sponsored by the municipal council. In 1729-1737 and 1739-1741, he was director of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum. Although no specific programs for these concerts have survived, Bach apparently revived and performed many of his instrumental compositions from Cöthen, wrote new works (e.g., secular cantatas), and conducted pieces by other composers. He was named “Hofkomponist” (court composer) in Dresden in 1736.
      During Bach’s last decade (the 1740s), he completed or revised several large-scale projects which he had started earlier: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. II; a manuscript collection of chorale preludes, and the B minor Mass. Other works include Musikalische Opfer (Musical Offering), the canonic variations for organ on “Vom Himmel hoch,” and Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue). In the 1740s, Bach made various journeys, most notably to the court of Frederick the Great in 1747.
—Adapted from BachCentral.Net
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Although written at different times between 1713 and 1721, and composed in several different formats ranging from orchestral works to concertos to chamber music, the six Brandenburg Concertos were formally presented as a set in 1721 by Bach. The original title reads: “Six concertos with several instruments dedicated to His Royal Highness Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, etc., by his very humble and obedient servant Johann Sebastian Bach, orchestral conductor of His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen.” In Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 (BWV 1050), we find essentially a concerto grosso for harpsichord, ripieno flute and violin, and accompaniment. It is worth noting that Bach specifies the modern transverse flute be used, and not the recorder, which is an older type of flute still in common use during the early 18th century; it should also be noted that the transverse flutes of the era were constructed of wood, not metal as used today. Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 (BWV 1051), scored originally for a sextet of two viole da braccio, two viole da gamba, ’cello, and bass, is much more reminiscent of a chamber symphony, with its lack of solo voices. It is interesting that the violin, though continually growing in importance as a voice in the instrumental repertoire of the Baroque era, was still not considered an obligatory voice in all orchestral works using strings.

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The Concerto for Two Violins, BWV 1043, also known as the “Double” Concerto, features imitative writing between the two solo instruments. In the case of the first two movements, the theme is presented by one solo voice, then re-presented by the other solo voice in the dominant key, as in a fugue or many of Bach’s keyboard inventions. The third movement involves overlapping entrances, or stretti, with some passages being played together at the interval of a sixth. The accompaniment is different for each movement: the first follows Baroque concerto grosso convention with the accompagnato parts alternating between playing with and accompanying the solo voices; in the second movement, the accompaniment exists almost exclusively to flesh out harmonies, fulfilling the role as a large harpsichord; and for the finale, the accompanying voices follow the lead of the soloists with overlapping entrances and rhythmic fragments that complete the dialogue between the solo violins.

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The Concerto for Oboe, Violin, and Strings, BWV 1060, the only work of today’s concert from the Leipzig years, has a bit of a checkered past. The only surviving version in Bach’s hand is as a concerto for two harpsichords, which he arranged from its original orchestration. That he did this is certainly not unusual: it was quite common during Bach’s time to arrange the same work for several different instruments, in several different keys (there is also a double-harpsichord version of the double violin concerto, for example). The version of this concerto that we hear today is thus really a reconstruction. As Bach, when he made the two-harpsichord version, significantly elaborated original oboe and violin passages based on the polyphonic capabilities of the keyboard, the reconstructed solo parts for the oboe and violin are really only an approximation of what Bach might have originally written. The result, however, is so successful, and the source material so compelling, that this reconstruction has taken on a well-deserved popularity of its own.

—Notes by Harry J. Marenstein