BWV 1042

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Violin concerto in E major

BWV 1042 performed by Shunske Sato and the Netherlands Bach Society
Felix Meritis, Amsterdam

"The middle movement is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard."

Vivaldi in Thüringen

A Venetian concerto with an un-Italian twist.

With a triad, Bach lets off a festive opening volley. It could hardly be simpler. He could almost have pinched the catchy motif from his Italian colleague Vivaldi, who was seven years his senior and with whose music he was familiar from Weimar. The Concerto in E major is difficult to date. As so often, we are missing any sources written by Bach himself. Like the Brandenburg concertos, it probably originates from Köthen, a vibrant court where the tone was set by instrumental music. But it could also date from Leipzig, where from 1730 Bach led the local Collegium Musicum, with whom he performed a lot of secular music in the famous Café Zimmermann. Whatever the case may be, we can assume that the scanty couple of surviving violin concertos are merely the tip of the iceberg, and that numerous other orchestral works have been lost or still await discovery.

Bach based the piece on the Venetian concerto model in three movements, but gave it his own twist, as each movement has an un-Italian characteristic. For instance, the Allegro was given an ABA structure, like most of the Baroque arias, whereby the first section returns with great embellishment after a contrasting second section. And like in many of Bach’s arias, the soloist frees himself from the ensemble ‘before his turn’, in brief anticipation of his solo.

Whereas Vivaldi, for example, sometimes restricts his slow sections to a few chords, Bach wrote a long-drawn-out ostinato, with intricate musings by the violin and a free-flowing, melancholy solo melody above a repetitive bass motif. Shunske Sato talks in depth about his experience of this section in the interview.

The final movement resumes the exuberant mood of the opening to the rhythm of a passepied – a three-part Baroque dance. It is a refrain with couplets, a rondo, which is a form seldom seen in concertos. It is perfectly proportioned. The refrain and the couplets consist of sixteen bars, except for the last couplet, which is twice as long. Bach uses this extra space to follow a remote harmonic path, repeating the catchy theme once again, after a breathtaking gap.


Concerto in E major

orchestral work (violin concerto)

before 1730?

Köthen or Leipzig

special notes
Bach arranged this concerto after 1733 for harpsichord, strings and continuo (BWV 1054).

Cast & Crew

release date 25 December 2015
recording date 19 May 2015
Location Felix Meritis, Amsterdam
Violin and direction Shunske Sato
violin 1 Lucia Giraudo
violin 2 Pieter Affourtit
viola Anneke van Haaften
Cello Lucia Swarts
double bass James Munro
harpsichord Siebe Henstra
Film director and editor Lucas van Woerkum
MUSIC RECORDING PRODUCERS Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
CAMERA Robert Berger, Simon Aarden, Maarten van Rossem
GAFFER Zen Bloot, Patrick Galvin
camera assistant Uriel Matahelumual
CONCERT production Erik van Lith
Producer Jessie Verbrugh
interview Onno van Ameijde
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Bach fund of the Netherlands Bach Society, Felix Meritis

Vocal Texts




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