All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Concerto in D minor

BWV 596 performed by Leo van Doeselaar
St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg

This piece is unusual in the fact that Bach notated the registration instructions himself.

Incomparable things

It is immediately clear that this is not the usual Bach

There is an incredibly long prelude at the opening of this piece on a single obsessively repeated note. It is immediately clear that this is not the usual Bach. This Concerto in D minor is an organ version of a concerto for two violins and orchestra from Antonio Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) L’Estro Armonico, a collection that was published in 1711 by the Amsterdam music publisher Estienne Roger. Vivaldi’s music was popular throughout Europe, and Germany was no exception. During his years at the court in Weimar, Bach made a series of arrangements of Italian concerto music for organ and harpsichord, including six concertos by Vivaldi.
Although the precise function of these arrangements is unclear, they are linked to a penchant for Italian music in Weimar. On 8 July 1713, Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar returned home after studying at Utrecht University for two years. The prince was a talented violinist and composer himself, and probably took back a large pile of brand-new music from the Low Countries. One month earlier, one of Bach’s pupils wrote that he wanted to stay in Weimar, as on the prince’s return he “would be able to hear lots of fine Italian and French music” (“kunte also noch manche schöne Italienische und Frantzösische music hören”). Moreover, Bach himself would undoubtedly be playing “incomparable things” (“unvergleichliche Sachen”) on the renovated organ in the castle chapel. This concerto provides both opportunities at once. On a manuscript in Bach’s own hand, the composer noted down the instructions for the registration of the piece himself. From the tense opening, via the bitter-sweet melodious middle movement, to the exciting final movement, the organist and organ could freshen up Weimar with an incomparable Italian breeze.


BWV
596

Title
Concerto in D minor

genre
organ work (concerto)

Year
1714-17

City
Weimar

special notes
An arrangement of Vivaldi’s Concerto in D minor from L’Estro Armonico, opus III no. 11. Up to 1911, it was thought to be a concerto by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.

Cast & Crew

release date 21 August 2015
recording date 21 October 2014
LOCATION St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg
Organ Various builders between the 15th and 19th century. Restoration: Flentrop 2013.
ORGANIST Leo van Doeselaar
PRODUCER Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Jan Van den Bossche
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Sal Kroonenberg
CAMERA ASSISTANTS Andreas Grotevent, Lucas Lütz
MUSIC PRODUCTION, EDITING AND MIX Holger Schlegel
FILM EDITOR Jasper Verkaart
interview Onno van Ameijde
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Vadim Dukart, Andreas Fischer

Vocal Texts

Original

Translation

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