The Full Works Concert - Monday 5 August: J.S. Bach

Great Composers Month on the Full Works Concert continues with pieces showcasing the diverse compositions of J.S. Bach.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was one of classical music's greatest geniuses. He composed towering masterpieces in every major Baroque genre (apart from opera): sonatas, concertos, suites and cantatas, as well as innumerable keyboard, organ and choral works.

Tonight's concert begins with the first of his Brandenburg Concertos. In the spring of 1721, Bach was contemplating changing jobs and, after a chance meeting with the Margrave of Brandenburg, Bach sent him a set of six concertos that he had already written - possibly as a kind of audition. The Margrave appears to have completely ignored the gift and the set were discarded in his library until his death in 1734. They were found in the Brandenburg archives during the 19th century. Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, which we will hear tonight, is the only one with four movements, and prominently features the horns and oboes.

Cellist Jacqueline du Pré plays Bach's Adagio in C major. This piece was originally written for solo organ and later arranged for cello and organ. Du Pre recorded it at the age of 17 in July 1962.

Bach's Orchestral Suite No.2 in B minor features the famous Badinerie - meaning literally 'jesting' in French. It's become a popular show piece for flautists but this version features an oboe replacing the usual solo flute part.

Bach's D major Keyboard Concerto’s first movement opens in a similarly jubilant spirit. The middle movement - in the form of a chaconne - is as serene as the two outer ones are animated. The work ends with an exuberant finale, one of the simplest and most straightforward in any of Bach’s concertos, with the direct appeal of a folk dance.

The Cantata No.140, ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns di stimme’, also known as Sleepers Wake, was composed in Leipzig in 1731. The cantata is scored for three soloists — soprano, tenor and bass.

Tonight's concert ends with the great Yehudi Menuhin playing the Violin Partita No.3 in E major. It was the last work in Bach's set of Six Sonatas and Partitas. The piece has taken on many different guises including a version transcribed by the composer for lute solo and an arrangement of the opening Preludio for solo organ, oboes, trumpets and strings. In 1933 Rachmaninov transcribed, and later recorded, three of the movements for piano.


J.S.Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No.1 in F major
Trevor Pinnock conducts the European Brandenburg Ensemble 

J.S.Bach: Adagio in C major
Cello: Jacqueline du Pre Organ: Roy Jesson 

J.S.Bach: Orchestral Suite No.2 in B minor
Monica Huggett conducts Ensemble Sonnerie

J.S.Bach: Keyboard Concerto in D major
Piano: Angela Hewitt Richard Tognetti conducts the Australian Chamber Orchestra

J.S.Bach: Cantata No.140: ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns di stimme’
Soloists: Ruth Holton, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Michael Chance, Stephen Varcoe
John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists

J.S.Bach: Violin Partita No.3 in E major
Violin: Yehudi Menuhin