A musical offering
Thursday 18 October, 7.30 pm
St John’s Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HA
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Musical Offering (BWV 1079) is a late work that both looks back to the tradition in which he was grounded and forward to the music of his sons. The concert opens with a sonata by Buxtehude, Bach’s admired elder: we hear the ‘stylus phantasticus’ in full flight, with its unpredictable structures and sometimes startling improvisatory freedoms. The fashionable flute features in the Paris quartets by Telemann, Bach’s close contemporary. No. 6 in E minor is in the French galant style – a succession of character pieces, culminating in a wonderful chaconne. The Musical Offering is often taken to be a disjointed collection of fragments, dominated by the culminating, beautiful trio sonata. This performance treats the work as an essay in the musical rhetoric in which Bach was immersed. The succession of canons and fugues become a speech – a musical oration, in which factual statements are then elaborated on and developed in argumentative sections, interspersed with charming passages that may seduce the listener. The sonata then gives free rein to the whole spectrum of emotions. The work concludes with a final, calming ‘perpetual canon’. This is a chance to hear Bach’s famous piece with fresh ears.
Dieterich Buxtehude (c. 1637–1707): Sonata no. 6 in D minor for violin, viola da gamba, and basso continuo
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767): Paris Quartet no. 6 in E minor for flute, violin, viola da gamba, and basso continuo
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750): The Musical Offering, BWV 1079
(Marion Moonen flute, Nicolette Moonen violin, Reiko Ichise viola da gamba, Silas Wollston harpsichord)