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The first movement is loosely based on the type of da capo form associated with sonatas. But here there is also an overall sense of dramatic intensification during the course of the movement, and the return of the opening section is modified with new gestures and some unexpected turns of event. The two cadential chords constituting the second movement (‘Adagio’) certainly do not refer to a piece that has since been lost since they come on the middle of a page in the presentation autograph. Perhaps, given the complexity and intensity of the movements on either side, they should be played precisely as they stand, as if the slow movement has simply vaporised. Or perhaps, in the manner of Handel’s later organ concertos, they signify a solo improvisation. There is certainly a sense throughout the collection that Bach played on the expectations and conventions of concerto writing, and here is an opportunity to render this movement in a number of different ways.
The third movement is, unusually for Bach’s finales, a piece in binary form with each of the two halves repeated. Here there is a definite element of virtuosity, but transferred from the customary soloist to the entire ensemble. Never again in the history of the concerto has there been such a piece that maintains the dazzle of the concerto idiom without profiling a single soloist.
from notes by John Butt © 2013
|Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos|
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