Bach, Johann Sebastian Suite no. 2 in B minor BWV1067 arranged for string quartet
Bach, Johann Sebastian Suite no. 2 in B minor BWV1067
arranged for string quartet by Margaret Faultless
Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘Overtures’, or Orchestral Suites as they are now known, have their origins in dance suites that were popular in the 1600s. The word ‘orchestral’ suggests a large ensemble of players but in Bach’s time they would have been performed by only a few (or even single) string players on each part. They were not conceived as a set, and were likely partially written while Bach was working in the court at Cöthen (1717–23) and then later when he assumed the role of director of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig in 1729. The suites follow the pattern of a French Overture followed by dance movements, each with their own distinctive character.
FE1067 Suite no. 2 in B minor BWV 1067
The suite in B minor BWV1067 for solo flute and strings was probably written after Bach took up the directorship of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig in 1729. Perhaps more than any of the other suites it effortlessly blends the French and Italian styles. The solo flute often plays in unison with the first violin, breaking away for solo episodes. It also plays in a higher octave in the Polonaise, before a florid variation (double) in which the melody of the Polonaise is played by the cello, miraculously transformed into the bass line. In another example of Bach’s mastery of form, there is a strict canon between the top and bottom lines of the Sarabande, and despite its formal brilliance, the very essence of the dance is captured with sublime grace. The suite is also famous for the virtuosic and playful Badinerie, a dance that is a variant of a gigue both in its character and dance steps. There is some historical evidence that this suite existed in a (lost) version for solo violin and strings and this new arrangement is a variation of that instrumentation, giving the solo flute material to the first violin, with adapted middle parts providing the harmony and counterpoint.
score & parts £15