Belgian baroque ensemble Il Gardellino performs Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in c minor, BWV 1060R. Soloist (oboe): Marcel Ponseele. While the existing score is in the form of a concerto for harpsichord and strings (BWV 1060), Bach scholars believe it to be a transcription of a lost double concerto in D minor; a reconstructed arrangement of this concerto for two violins or violin and oboe is classified as BWV 1060R.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060R
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060R, is a fascinating piece of music that showcases Bach’s mastery in baroque composition. This concerto, like many of Bach’s works, has an intriguing history and reflects the musical practices of the Baroque period.
Originally, scholars believed that this concerto was composed in the 1730s when Bach was in Leipzig, involved with the Collegium Musicum, an ensemble that performed weekly concerts. However, more recent research suggests that Bach may have composed it earlier, during his time in Cöthen, between 1717 and 1723. This time was significant in Bach’s life as he had more freedom to compose instrumental music, being in a court rather than a church setting.
The concerto is known today in its form for violin and oboe, but this is actually a reconstruction. The original music for this concerto is lost; what survives is a later arrangement Bach made for two harpsichords and orchestra (BWV 1060), which was common practice at the time. Scholars have reconstructed the original version, assuming it was for violin and oboe, based on the idiomatic writing in the harpsichord parts and the typical Baroque practice of adapting compositions for different instruments.
Bach’s skill in counterpoint and fugal writing is evident in this concerto. He weaves the two solo instruments together, creating a dialogue that is both intricate and harmonious. The choice of violin and oboe is particularly interesting. The violin, with its bright and agile tone, contrasts beautifully with the more mellow and lyrical oboe, creating a rich tapestry of sound.
The concerto for violin and oboe is a fine example of the concerto grosso form, where the interplay between the soloists and the larger ensemble is a key feature. The concerto grosso was a popular form in the Baroque era, and Bach’s work in this genre is noted for its complexity and beauty.
The stylistic elements of the concerto are characteristic of the late Baroque period. It features a basso continuo, a harmonic structure that provides the framework for the piece and is typical of the era’s music. The harmonic language of the concerto is complex, yet it remains expressive and emotive, a testament to Bach’s ability to balance technical skill with emotional depth.
The subtle and masterful way in which the solo instruments blend with the orchestra marks this out as one of the most mature works of Bach’s years at Köthen. The second movement is a cantabile for the solo instruments with orchestral accompaniment. Cantabile is an Italian word, that means literally “singable” or “song-like”. In instrumental music, it is a particular style of playing designed to imitate the human voice.
Founded in 1988, the Belgian baroque ensemble Il Gardellino borrows its name from Antonio Vivaldi’s concerto “Il Gardellino” (R90) for flute, oboe, violin, bassoon, and basso continuo. The core of the ensemble consists of Marcel Ponseele (oboe), Jan De Winne (traverso), Shalev Ad-El (harpsichord), Ryo Terakado (violin), Mika Akiha (viola) and Hervé Douchy (violoncello).
For concerts or recordings, they are joined by renowned musicians such as François Fernandez (violin and viola), Vittorio Ghielmi (viola da gamba), and several other wind players. All of them enjoy a considerable reputation in the world of historical performances.
They are leaders – and sometimes even co-founders – of ensembles such as the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, La Petite Bande, L’Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, and Collegium Vocale. Having spent many years in authentic practice, they master all the subtleties at their fingertips. However, as assembled in il Gardellino, they aim to make a difference and create something at the cutting edge.
While upholding Bach’s works and especially his spirit as their guide, at the same time they wish to put him into a contrastive perspective. They juxtapose his works with those of his contemporaries whose repertoire is too often neglected. They play with our own contemporaries in the fields of contemporary music, jazz, world music, etc. During their tours, they invite writers, philosophers, cinematographers, or video makers and weave a dialogue with other forms of artistic expression.
Having already accomplished some pioneering performances with jazz musicians (while playing on their period instruments of course), they plan future programs along more traditional lines which will include sacred vocal music as well as opera. After having performed and been highly praised at many festivals and concert halls in Europe, il Gardellino has been recently enjoying an ever-increasing success in the United States, Israel, South America, and Japan.
Many CDs have been and will further be recorded for the labels Accent, Klara, and Passacaille.
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- Telemann: Concerto for Traverso and Recorder in E minor, TWV 52:e1 [Bremer Barockorchester] - February 26, 2024
- Rachmaninoff: The Bells [Kolokola] [Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Groot Omroepkoor, Karina Canellakis] - February 25, 2024