Notes and Editorial Reviews
Music too has thriller potential. It is with a master sleuth’s methods that Gertrud Schilde has probed the enigmatic and monumental Ciaccona from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita in D minor and uncovered spectacular evidence in the form of a whole series of traditional chorale melodies hidden away in its intricate compositional design. On this eye-opener of an album the enterprising violinist teams up with the Northern German Chamber Choir to present her revealing discoveries. Martin Luther’s consoling Easter hymn “Christ lag in Todesbanden” runs like a red thread through the work. The chorales, from “Jesu, deine Passion” through “Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt” to “Jesu, meine Freude,” deal with the double theme of death and resurrection.
This is surely no coincidence. Bach penned this work not too long after the death of his first wife. It was not until he returned from an official trip to Karlsbad that he learned of this tragic event- when his beloved wife already lay in her grave. It is not thus surprising that traces of Maria Barbara are encountered in the Ciaccona. However, Bach would not have been Bach if he had not avoided obvious allusions, preferring instead to use a subtly encoded numerical mysticism. Again and again his wife’s name can be deciphered; the year of her death can be found as well as the names of their children. In this way the Ciaccona occupying a central and special place in the cycle of three sonatas and three partitas for violin solo becomes a magnificent memorial tribute to his late wife. Read less
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