Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D minor BWV1004

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)
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Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)

Performance date: 02/07/2013

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1717-1723

Duration: 00:12:42

Recording Engineer: Damian Chennells, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:Solo

Artists: Vadim Gluzman - [violin]

The Chaconne is the most wonderful,
unfathomable piece of music. On one stave, for a small instrument, the man
writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I
imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite
certain that the excess of excitement and earth shattering experience would
have driven me out of my mind.
Johannes Brahms

most important instrumental works were written during his six years at Cöthen
1717-1723, where he was Kapellmeister for the musical Prince Leopold
Anhalt-Cöthen. For a brief time Cöthen put Bach in a musically ideal situation.
First he was working with an ensemble whose professional core group comprised
some of the finest musicians in that part of the world. Secondly the demands of
his job left him considerable time to pursue his own interests. Thirdly and
most importantly he found himself under the patronage of a supportive and understanding

time at Cöthen was marred by the sudden death of his first wife, Maria Barbara,
in 1720. Bach’s autograph manuscript of the sonatas and partitas is also dated
a close study of the Bach D Minor Partita, the musicologist Helga Thoene has
developed the hypothesis that the piece is encrypted with references to various
Bach chorales, as well as numerological references to passages in the
Bible.  The musical quotations and
insinuations help to link passages in the piece to the lyrics of the chorales,
binding their subjects of death and resurrection to the Partita, as in the
Chaconne which is framed by Bach’s melody from the cantata BWV4.  The text of this Cantata is Martin Luther’s
Easter Hymn Christ Lay in Deaths Bondage
and reference to the lyrics reveals the Chaconne to be a startling homage to
and prayer for his recently deceased wife Maria Barbara.

The Chaconne is a special
type of continuous theme and
31 variations where a somewhat short subject is relentlessly
repeated and varied. The variations are built on a descending ground bass to
the rhythm of a slow dance similar to the Sarabande in simple triple time and
often in a minor key. All of Bach´s genius and musical mastery are found in the
Chaconne and it inspires all manner of superlatives. Certainly when listening
to this music it is sometimes hard to believe what you are hearing, your mind
keeps saying that this cannot be possible. Philipp Spitta, the great Bach
scholar summed it up quite simply as a triumph of spirit over matter.