Ancient Music

  • Bach: Musical Offering BWV 1079

  • CD 0198
    • Release
    • 1991
    • CD
    • 1
    • EAN
    • 7619931019826

Bach

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One of the few triumphs which J.S Bach enjoyed in his later years was his visit in 1747 to the court of Frederick the Great in Potsdam, where Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel had been in service since 1740. King Frederick, himself an avid flutist, had gathered some of Europe’s finest musicians to his court and himself often performed in the daily evening concerts. The king was also apparently well-aware of the older Bach’s reputation and expressed his wishes to meet and hear the famed virtuoso. During his visit Bach was presented with a theme by the king on which he was to improvise.

Bach felt that he had by no means exhausted all the possibilities of the “royal” theme in his improvisation in Potsdam. Shortly upon his return to Leipzig he therefore employed this theme as the basis for a collection of thirteen compositions for chamber ensemble which he dedicated to the king as the Musical Offering. Bach’s delight in complicated canonic devices, puzzles and acrostics finds full expression in these works. Nine of the ten canons were not written out in full score but were notated with hints for performers to interpret and solve. The title of one, quaerendo invenietis, provocatively states “seek and ye shall find”. Moreover, although clearly intended for instrumental performance, Bach had only specified the instrumentation for a few of the movements. The theme is employed and varied distinctly in each of the movements.

Mark Manion

__________
Deutsch

Zu den spärlichen Erfolgen, die Bach gegen Ende seines Lebens noch vergönnt waren, gehört sein Besuch am Hof Friedrichs II. in Potsdam. Dem Monarchen war der weitverbreitete Ruf des «alten Bach» nicht entgangen: Er äusserte den Wunsch, den berühmten Musiker persönlich kennenzulernen und spielen zu hören. Bei dieser Gelegenheit trug der König seinem Gast ein von ihm selbst verfasstes Thema vor, und stellte Bach die Aufgabe, darüber zu improvisieren.

Kurz nach seiner Rückkehr nach Leipzig, benutzte Bach dieses Thema als Grundmotiv für eine Reihe von 13 Kammer-musikstücken. Die komplexe Struktur und architektonische Einheit des Musikalischen Opfers stellen das Werk ebenbürtig den anderen grandiosen Variations-Schöpfungen Bachs zur Seite – wenn es nicht sogar als deren Krönung angesehen werden darf.

Bach: Musical Offering BWV 1079
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