BWV 1052r

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Violin Concerto in D minor

BWV 1052r performed by Shunske Sato and the Netherlands Bach Society
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

"I'm forced to concede Bach was pretty outrageous."

The many lives of a masterpiece

Back in time to the source of a harpsichord concerto.

Just imagine Bach’s excitement when Vivaldi’s famous violin concertos eventually reached Thüringen. As a violinist himself, and apparently one of the better ones, he must intuitively have recognised the potential of the fashionable genre. He decided to experiment with it himself and to astonish people. This violin marvel – the Violin Concerto in D minor – immediately became such a technical challenge that few soloists were able to tackle it. Too few, probably, as not a shred of it has survived. The concerto played here is a modern reconstruction, based on a harpsichord concerto written much later by Bach, but which is presumed to originate from a violin concerto. Maybe Bach’s children and students, who were keyboard players, had no interest in an ‘unplayable’ violin piece.

Always up-to-the-minute, Bach adapted easily to his circumstances, just like the Dutch masters in the Gallery of Honour in the Rijksmuseum. No matter whether the customer wants a flamboyant painting of the civic guard, a mildly erotic biblical scene or an intimate still life, a craftsman always delivers to order – to those who can pay. Likewise the practical Bach, who sometimes rewrote successes from the past, if possible. Ideas abound as to how a challenging violin concerto became a harpsichord concerto. What first springs to mind might be the Leipziger Collegium Musicum, where Bach often played harpsichord solos, or maybe a visit to Dresden, where he undoubtedly wanted to make a musical impression. Musicologist Christoph Wolff suspects there was also an organ version, which Bach may have played in Dresden, in 1724. This could explain how some parts of this concerto turn up a few years later in cantatas 146 and 188. And there are even those who voice the opinion that the arrangement (or even the work itself) is not by Bach’s hand!

Whatever the case, Bach was clearly proud of this music. The final keyboard version from 1738, which survives in a score written by Bach himself, opens a set of concertos. This manuscript follows the same lines as all the keyboard collections compiled by Bach in the autumn of his life. They were intended to preserve his work for posterity and may also have been made with the market in mind.


Violin Concerto in D minor (reconstruction)




Special notes
This is a reconstruction of the presumed original form of the harpsichord concerto in D minor, BWV 1052. Bach also used the first and second movement of this concerto in the cantata Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal, BWV 146.

Cast & Crew

release date 12 July 2019
recording date 11 May 2018
location Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Harpsichord Johannes Ruckers, 1640
conductor and violin Shunske Sato
violin 1 Anneke van Haaften
violin 2 Lucia Giraudo
viola Femke Huizinga
cello Lucia Swarts
double bass James Munro
harpsichordist Richard Egarr
Director and editor Bas Wielenga
music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
music edit and mix Guido Tichelman
camera Ramon de Boer, Tim van der Voort, Bart Krimp
lights Zen Bloot, Henry Rodgers
camera-assistant/grip Robin Noort
assistant director Ferenc Soeteman
set technique Alex de Gier
data handling Kira Falticeau
project manager Videobrix Peter Hazenberg
interview Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
producer concert Imke Deters
producer film Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts




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