Pachelbel was an organist and also a leading composer of Protestant church music. Only a handful of his chamber works have survived. The most important are the six Suites for two violins and continuo in which he explored the technique of scordatura (re-tuning the strings to different notes for special effects). This Canon has achieved immense popularity, albeit often in overblown arrangements for massed strings. The three violin parts are in strict counterpoint, each playing exactly the same music at two-bar intervals over 28 repetitions of the bass ostinato. There are just five instruments here—three violins, organ and theorbo, without bowed cello or bass—all that Pachelbel would have required. The Gigue forms a lively conclusion, the folk-fiddling style of the imitative violin writing providing a complete contrast to the more learned style of the Canon.
from notes by Roy Goodman © 1999