Of J.S. Bach’s children that survived into adulthood, four became composers whose music we still perform. While their musical facility reflects their father’s influence, each son had a very different path of travel, employment, and development of their musical voice. Johann Christian’s Chromatic Fugue on B-A-C-H pays homage to the serious, contrapuntal style of the past, but usually, the Bach sons write in the galant style of their own generation, characterized by simplicity and immediacy of appeal. The closeness of the Bachs sometimes complicates the attribution of their music. The Orchestral Suite in G minor, BWV 1070, once thought to be by father Johann Sebastian, was more likely written by Wilhelm Friedemann. The Cello Sonata in A Major of Johann Christoph Friedrich seems liberated, natural, and comprehensible when played on a cello fit with a fifth string whereas the Cello Concerto in A minor of his older brother, Carl Philipp Emanuel fits well on the more popular 4-string instrument. Each work demonstrates the language of Sensibility (Empfindsamkeit): intimate, sensitive, and subjective. In their music, emotions are fleeting and instantaneous and, above all, the beauty of melody is emphasized.
This concert is generously supported in memory of Vic Baker
WILHELM FRIEDEMANN BACH (1710-1784)
BWV 1070 Suite for orchestra in g minor
Larghetto – Un poco allegro
JOHANN CHRISTOPH FRIEDRICH BACH (1732-1795)
Sonata for cello and basso continuo in A major
Tempo di Minuetto
JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735-1782)
Chromatic Fugue on B-A-C-H in F major for keyboard solo
CARL PHILLIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1788)
Concerto for violoncello, strings, and basso continuo in A minor, [H. 432]
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The four sons of Johann Sebastian Bach had long careers as professional musicians, each unique in their musical output and personal character. In his lifetime, the eldest son (and sometimes named favourite?), Wilhelm Friedmann Bach (1710-1784), achieved some measure of success through official posts in Dresden and Halle as an organist and built a reputation as a brilliant improviser. The end of his life was spent in Berlin somewhat floundering as a performer, barely active as a composer. The royal courts of mid-eighteenth century Berlin were lively crossroads for some of the greatest musicians of the time. Court musicians and visitors were famous virtuosos performing music full of expressivity and fantasy. It is in this context that the second-eldest, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach (1714-1788), found a thriving career as a keyboard player and composer before succeeding his godfather, Telemann, as Kapellmeister in Hamburg. Emmanuel Bach kept in close contact with his two half-brothers, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795), longtime Konzertmeister of the Bückeburg Hofkapelle, and the youngest of the four, Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782), who is known for his career in London but first moved to Berlin to study and live with his brother after the death of their father, Johann Sebastian, in 1750.
His half-brother Johann Christoph Friedrich’s Cello Sonata in A Major also exhibits many hallmarks of the Galant and also the correlated Empfindsamer stil, calling for various changes in dynamic, both abrupt and subtle, at the service of beautiful melodies and expressive fantasy. Friedrich’s close association with his brother, Carl Philipp Emmanuel, is evidenced by the printing of the sonata in the latter’s Musikalisches Vierlerley of 1770, a kind of subscription-based publication of various chamber works from well-known composers such as Graun, Fasch, and Kirnberger. This Sonata in A Major follows the Slow-Fast-Fast form which O’Loghlin calls the “Berlin sonata schema” in which the opening movement is long and substantial and ends with a cadenza. The five-string cello particularly supports passagework using a pedal on the open E-string. Indeed, many mid-18th century sonatas for cello seem liberated, natural, and comprehensible when played on an instrument fitted with a fifth string, even if this instrument was not named in the score. The most famous example of 18th-century music that expressly calls for a 5-string cello is J.S. Bach’s sixth suite.
- Elinor Frey
Elinor Frey, Cello
Elinor Frey is a leading Canadian-American cellist and researcher who specializes in early music and new music. Her acclaimed CDs on the Belgian label Passacaille – most of which are world premiere recordings – include La voce del violoncello (2013), Berlin Sonatas (2015) with Lorenzo Ghielmi on fortepiano, Fiorè (2017), which features soprano Suzie LeBlanc, and Giuseppe Clemente Dall’Abaco: Cello Sonatas (2020) which received a Diapason d’Or. Her current release is Antonio Vandini: Complete Works, a project in collaboration with Marc Vanscheeuwijck. Her critical edition of Dall’Abaco Sonatas is published in collaboration with Walhall Editions.
Frey’s album of new works for Baroque cello, titled Guided By Voices, was released on the Analekta label in 2019. In recent seasons she has performed throughout N. America and Europe, as well as with her quartet, Pallade Musica. Recipient of a US-Italy Fulbright Fellowship, Frey holds degrees from McGill, Mannes, and Juilliard. She teaches early cello at the University of Montréal, lectures at McGill University, and is a Visiting Fellow in Music at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. Frey was awarded Québec’s Opus Prize for “Performer of the Year” in 2021.
Pacific Baroque Orchestra
The Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO) is recognized as one of Canada’s most exciting and innovative ensembles performing “early music for modern ears”. PBO brings the music of the past up to date by performing with cutting-edge style and enthusiasm. Formed in 1990, the orchestra quickly established itself as a force in Vancouver’s burgeoning music scene with the ongoing support of Early Music Vancouver.
In 2009, PBO welcomed Alexander Weimann as Artistic Director. His imaginative programming and expert leadership have drawn in many new concertgoers, and his creativity and engaging musicianship have carved out a unique and vital place in the cultural landscape of Vancouver.
PBO regularly joins forces with internationally celebrated Canadian guest artists, providing performance opportunities for Canadian musicians while exposing West Coast audiences to a spectacular variety of talent. The Orchestra has also toured BC, the northern United States and across Canada. Their 2019 East Coast Canadian tour with Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin showcased the rarely-heard opera arias of 18th century Russia, culminating in a critically acclaimed album “Nuit Blanches” released by Atma Classique. The musicians of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra have been at the core of many large-scale productions by Early Music Vancouver in recent years, including many summer festival performances led by Alexander Weimann.
Alexander Weimann, Music Director
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, and as frequent guest with Cantus Cölln, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Gesualdo Consort and Tafelmusik, he now focuses on his activities as Music Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver, Music Director of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, and regular guest conductor of ensembles including the Victoria Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montreal and the Portland Baroque Orchestra.
Weimann was born in 1965 in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology (with a summa con laude thesis on Bach’s secco recitatives), theatre, mediæval Latin, and jazz piano, supported by a variety of federal scholarships. From 1990 to 1995, Weimann taught music theory, improvisation, and Jazz at the Munich Musikhochschule. Since 1998, he has been giving master classes in harpsichord and historical performance practice at institutions such as Lunds University in Malmö and the Bremen Musikhochschule, and at North American universities such as The University of California in Berkeley, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, McGill University, Université de Montréal, and Mount Allison in New Brunswick. Since 2007, he has conducted several acclaimed opera productions at the Amherst Early Music Festival. He now teaches at the University of British Columbia and directs the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme there.
A multiple JUNO and GRAMMY nominee, Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. Highlights include an Opus and JUNO award-winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with soprano Karina Gauvin, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion with Les Voix Baroques/Arion Baroque Orchestra, a JUNO nominated recording of Handel’s Orlando with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra that was also awarded a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award, and most recently, the JUNO-nominated album Nuit Blanches with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Karina Gauvin.