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Triple Concerto in A minor, BWV1044

'Bach: Keyboard Concertos' (CDA30003)
Bach: Keyboard Concertos
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'Bach: Keyboard Concertos' (CDA67607/8)
Bach: Keyboard Concertos
'Bach: The Keyboard Concertos, Vol. 1' (CDA67307)
Bach: The Keyboard Concertos, Vol. 1
'Bach: The Keyboard Concertos, Vol. 1' (SACDA67307)
Bach: The Keyboard Concertos, Vol. 1
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Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Adagio ma non tanto e dolce
Movement 3: Tempo di alla breve

Triple Concerto in A minor, BWV1044
The Triple Concerto in A minor, BWV1044 uses the same solo group as does the Brandenburg Concerto No 5 (keyboard, flute and violin). It is, however, totally different in many ways, the first being that the keyboard part (with the exception of the cadenza of the Brandenburg) is far more present and is easily the most prominent of the three solo instruments in the outer movements. Perhaps this is because those movements originated as a solo keyboard work, the Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV894. It makes a fascinating study to compare the two versions to see how effortlessly he turned a solo prelude into an imposing concerto movement. It also is a clue to how we should conceive and interpret many of his solo pieces in orchestral terms. This long movement is driven forward with the use of triplets, dotted notes and pizzicatos.

The second movement is a transcription of the middle movement of the Trio Sonata in D minor, BWV527 for organ. Originally in F major, it is set here in C major. It is almost in the style galant of his son, C P E Bach, although the chromaticisms give him away, as do the amazing shifts in tonality. The dialogue between the three soloists is continuous, but finally comes to rest on the dominant of A minor (the same type of cadence is used at the end of the slow movement of the F minor Concerto). To the original tempo marking of Adagio Bach adds ma non tanto which should serve as a warning not to take it too slowly.

In the solo harpsichord version, the last movement was a fugal moto perpetuo that simply allowed the soloist to show off. With the addition of the orchestra and other soloists, however, Bach produces a work of amazing impact and religious fervour. The swirling triplets of the keyboard part are introduced, interrupted, and finally concluded by a rousing chorus written in alla breve time and reminiscent of the stile antico (Renaissance polyphony). Throughout, everyone but the keyboard player sticks with subject material from this introduction, which is really a variation of the harmonic outline of the fugal subject. Outbursts of quite ferocious chords from the orchestra seem like a condemnation of the sinners. The climax comes with a cadenza for keyboard written over a long pedal point. The final tutti has two different endings in various editions: either major or minor. We have opted for the feeling of hope and salvation that the major mode implies.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2005

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