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J.S Bach's transcriptions of A.Vivaldi's Italian concertos from the Venetian era

The program of this recording is particularly interesting: it is the first time that it has been possible to compare the Italian concertos of the Venetian period with the transcriptions that J.S.BACH made of them and which, as we know, marked a moment in the history of music.

Concerto for violin and orchestra in G major

The third concerto of this collection, in G major for violin and a string orchestra, seems to illustrate wonderfully what Saint-Saënsreplied once to J.G.Prod’homme, on the nature of the concerto: «Asforthe concerto, this genre, claimed as inferior, has the superiority of allowing the artist to reveal his personality. The solo of a concerto is a role that should be conceived and rendered as a dramatic character.»

Concerto forfour violins and orchestre in B mineur

The Estro Armonico contains three concertos for four soloist violins; two of the concertos also include a part for the cello. In spite of the number of soloists, one is not dealing with a concertino, but individual pieces which form a quadruple concerto. The most famous of the three is the last one in B minor No 10, which was transcribed by BACH and shows the richness of the original partition and the admiration of the transcriber. One can well understand that this wonderful page inspired the cantor and that it became so popular

Concerto for harpsichord in F major

Playing with fervour (and virtuosity) on the instrument that is polyphonic by excellence because itrepresentsthe ideal means of expression for the polyphonic sod contrapuntalstyle that reached its apogee during hislifetime, BACH was naturally brought to transpose his favourite works to his favourite instrument.

Concerto for four harpsichords and orchestra in A minor

It is unfortunate that we have no chronological information on the date of BACH’S transcription of the concerto forfour violins by VIVALDI. The date that is most often given in the literature dedicated to the work of the cantor (1730-1733) is only a hypothesis without any real foundation. It is certain that BACH heard the concertos Estro armonico during his stay at Weimar and therefore before they were published in engraved form. It is also nice to think that he wrote the concertosforseveral harpsichords (two, three and four) in orderto play them with his eldestsons as soon as they were capable of assuring a soloist part. BACH did much more than just a transcription: he created a new work. We owe the invention of the concerto for keyboard, unless someone can prove otherwise, to BACH.

Carl de Nys

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