Work: Concerto for Violin no 2 in E major, BWV 1042
About This Work
This work, along with Bach's other surviving violin concerto, was composed during his stint in the service of the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen. J.N. Forkel, Bach's original biographer, describes the concerto as being "full of an unconquerable
joy of life, that sings in the triumph of the first and last movements." By the time Bach composed this concerto he had long been familiar with Antonio Vivaldi's influential works in the same medium. In the concerto's scintillating and ebullient first movement (Allegro), Bach takes the basic idea of ritornello form (around which Vivaldi's and almost all other Baroque concertos are composed), employs the essential motivic processes involved in that kind of composition, and shapes the whole into a superb da capo-form dialogue between soloist and accompanying ripieno group in which neither has supremacy over the other. While a certain balance between the soloist and the accompaniment is maintained, the basic content of the movement, defined by a powerful arpeggiated triad motif (reminiscent of Vivaldi's violin concerto "Il favorito"), becomes a springboard for continuous invention and subtly virtuosic embellishment. In the central Adagio, a deeply mournful instrumental aria of unique beauty, the violin's intricate musings are woven in and around a quiet ostinato in the bass instruments. The Allegro assai rondo finale is a dance-like movement of an extraordinary exuberance. Each successive contrasting passage exploits the violin's bravura capabilities more and more, until at last the final refrain swoops in on the wings of wild thirty-second notes. The Harpsichord Concerto in D major, BWV 1054, is a transcription made by Bach, probably during the late 1730s, of this E major Violin Concerto.
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