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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67451/2
Recording details: August 2002
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: September 2003
Total duration: 31 minutes 5 seconds

English Suite No 6 in D minor, BWV811

Prelude  [7'23]
Allemande  [4'49]
Courante  [2'51]
Sarabande  [8'09]
Gavotte I and II  [4'29]
Gigue  [3'24]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
It often happens that a work we have lived with for a long time remains a favourite, and this, for me, is the case with the English Suite No 6 in D minor, BWV811. Perhaps it is the powerful and imposing impact made by the Prelude, coupled with the wildness of the Gigue that makes this such a successful work in concert performance. There is also the poise and poetry of the Sarabande and the perfection of the Gavottes that is totally inspired. It is one of those works by Bach that gives the interpreter the greatest scope for emotional involvement. The Prelude is in two parts, in fact resembling a Prelude and Fugue. The opening unfolds over a pedal point to establish a firm grounding for what is to follow. It gives us no hint of the turbulence to come, except for the semiquavers in bars 27 and 28. Then the Allegro bursts forth, and sweeps us along in a kind of moto perpetuo. The invertible counterpoint already shows itself after only eleven bars. It is the longest of the Preludes, but never loses its sense of direction for a second. The Allemande is calm with a theme that is unusually long (two and a half bars). Some false relations (C naturals and C sharps occurring very close to each other) make the expression even more intense. The lyrical element is carried over into the Courante which has long phrases over a walking bass.

The Sarabande is in 3/2 time, denoting a slower tempo than usual. It is in two distinct parts: the initial statement which is slightly bare and can certainly be ornamented on the repeats, and then a fully written-out double which should be played afterwards. It is written in the style brisé made famous by the seventeenth-century lutenists (simply meaning that the arpeggiation is written out as an integral part of the line). Here a certain amount of rubato seems not only possible but desirable, especially in the second strain. It is a perfect example of how the harmonic content dictates the emotional response. The two Gavottes are linked melodically, with the theme of the second one being a direct quote of the first except in the major mode. The walking bass we encounter in the Courante is present again in Gavotte I, but changes register to the upper parts for part of the second section. Gavotte II is yet another musette, heard in the distance.

The set of English Suites is brought to a magnificent conclusion with the D minor Gigue—a masterpiece of ingenuity and virtuosity. The contrapuntal energy of the Prelude is now renewed in full force for a fugue that is completely demonic. It is written in 12/16 time, so should be brisk. The pedal-point effect of the Prelude is apparent in the fugue subject and in the long trills which must be played simultaneously (not an easy feat!). The quavers should be spiky and insistent, yet always follow the line. The syncopations caused by the ties are there for extra effect. This fugue is a perfect example of ‘mirror’ writing, which was taken a step further by Bach in his Art of Fugue. The first seven bars of the second section are, to take just one example, an exact inversion of the first seven bars of the beginning of the Gigue. We don’t need to know this to feel its tremendous power, but when we analyse what is there, it becomes all the more remarkable.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2003

Other albums featuring this work
'Bach: Angela Hewitt plays Bach' (CDS44421/35)
Bach: Angela Hewitt plays Bach
MP3 £45.00FLAC £45.00ALAC £45.00Buy by post £50.00 CDS44421/35  15CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Bach: The English Suites' (SACDA67451/2)
Bach: The English Suites
This album is not yet available for download SACDA67451/2  2CDs Super-Audio CD — Deleted  
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