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Profound in spirit and monumental in scope, Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo instruments are some of the most profoundly beautiful and exposed solo works ever written. Their formidable technical challenges, are the natural result of the complexity of Bach’s musical ideas and his understanding of the nature of each instrument. The crowning glory is perhaps the immense Chaconne from the Partita in D minor for violin, a set of variations on a theme which makes unprecedented demands on the performer’s expressive and technical abilities.
Supported by Adèle Lafleur
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– THIS PERFORMANCE WILL HAVE NO INTERLUDE –
TRIO SONATA IN G MAJOR (BWV 1038)
for flute, violin, and basso continuo
SONATA IN E MINOR (BWV 1034)
for flute and basso continuo
Adagio ma non tanto
PARTITA NO. 2 IN D MINOR (BWV 1004)
for solo violin
The music on this afternoon’s programme allows a glimpse of Maestro Bach fulfilling his many musical duties, as teacher, director, arts administrator, and virtuoso performer and composer. The Trio Sonata, BWV 1038, is one of only three surviving genuine trio sonatas in Bach’s oeuvre. It dates from the early 1730s, while Bach was working as Kantor in Leipzig and teaching many private students, including Carl Philipp Emmanuel, who was in his late teens at the time. Because the violin and flute parts of this trio bear more stylistic affinity to C.P.E.’s later trio sonatas than to any of his father’s music, several scholars have suggested that BWV 1038 may be the product of a composition assignment. J.S. Bach probably gave his son a copy of the Sonata for Violin and Continuo, BWV 1021, and asked him to compose a trio texture over its bassline, perhaps also providing some musical motives to include in the upper voices. Later, father or son reworked the material again to create the Sonata for Violin and Continuo, BWV 1022. Because the whole Bach family participated in copying music, it can be difficult to determine exactly who contributed to the composition process. Likely, the game of manipulating musical material continued in performance, for the Bachs were master improvisers.
Preparing chamber music like BWV 1038 and the Sonata for Flute and Continuo, BWV 1034 was an important part of Bach’s work in Leipzig. When he assumed the role of music director of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, a concert society of amateur and professional musicians, he became responsible for managing and directing weekly performances – the “ordinaire Concerten” performed at Zimmermann’s Coffee House – and for additional performances during the thrice-yearly city trade fairs. Besides his own compositions and those of his sons, surviving concert programmes, which include music by his cousins, by Handel, Scarlatti, Locatell, Porpora, and Telemann, show his up-to-date, cosmopolitan tastes.
The final piece on the programme is Bach’s profound Violin Partita in D Minor, BWV 1004. Written in 1720 while Bach was Kapellmeister at the princely court in Cöthen, it, and the other sonatas and partitas for solo violin, show Bach as virtuoso, a master of violin-playing, pushing the boundaries of the instrument’s technical and expressive possibilities. The Partita in D Minor, a dance suite, is dominated by its concluding chaconne, one of the most beloved and admired pieces in the violin repertoire. It’s comprehensive catalogue of moods and violin figuration is structured as a stately arch, beginning and ending in D Minor and crowned with a sublime middle section in D Major. Bach composed this work as he grieved the passing of his dear wife Maria Barbara, who tragically fell ill and died while Bach was away, travelling in the Prince’s retinue, making its tremendous dramatic poise all the more remarkable. Johannes Brahms aptly described this masterpiece in a letter to Clara Schumann. “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.”
– Christina Hutten
Tekla Cunningham, violin
Praised as “a consummate musician whose flowing solos and musical gestures are a joy to watch”, and whose performances have been described as “ravishingly beautiful”, “stellar”, “inspired and inspiring”, violinist Tekla Cunningham enjoys a multi-faceted career as a chamber musician, concertmaster, soloist and educator devoted to music of the baroque, classical and romantic eras. She is concertmaster and orchestra director of Pacific MusicWorks, and is an artist-in-residence at the University of Washington. She founded and directs the Whidbey Island Music Festival, now entering its fourteenth season, producing and presenting vibrant period-instrument performances of music from the 17th through 19th centuries, and plays regularly as concertmaster and principal player with the American Bach Soloists in California.
Tekla’s first solo album of Stylus Phantasticus repertoire from Italy and Austria will be released next year – music by Farina, Fonatana, Uccellini to Biber, Schmelzer and Albertini, with an extravagant continuo team of Stephen Stubbs, Maxine Eilander, Williams Skeen, Henry Lebedinsky.
Tekla received her undergraduate degree in History and German Literature at Johns Hopkins University while attending Peabody Conservatory. She studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna Austria with Josef Sivo and Ortwin Ottmaier, and earned a Master’s Degree in violin performance at the San Francisco Conservatory with Ian Swenson.
Soile Stratkauskas, flute
Finnish-born Soile Stratkauskas moved to Victoria, BC, in 2010 and has since established herself as the leading baroque flutist on the Canadian West Coast. She is a member of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and regularly performs in Early Music Vancouver's concerts. Soile completed her undergraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and gained her Master's degree at the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK, where she studied early flutes with Lisa Beznosiuk. Soile has performed with many prominent period instrument orchestras in the UK, including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Gabrieli Consort and Players, and has toured in Europe with these groups. Soile is the founder and artistic director of the Victoria Baroque, which, in addition to maintaining its own series, has given guest performances for Early Music Vancouver, Early Music Society of the Islands, ArtSpring, and the Cowichan Symphony Society. Soile teaches baroque flute at the University of British Columbia as part of Early Music Vancouver's Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme and is the artistic director of the Summer Baroque Intensive Programme at the Victoria Conservatory of Music supported by EMV and Victoria Baroque.
Christina Hutten, harpsichord
Organist and harpsichordist Christina Hutten has presented recitals in Canada, the United States, and Europe. She performs regularly with Pacific Baroque Orchestra and has appeared as concerto soloist with the Okanagan Symphony, the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, and the Arizona State University Chamber Orchestra. Christina is also an enthusiastic teacher. She coaches and coordinates the early music ensembles at the University of British Columbia and has given masterclasses and workshops at institutions including the Victoria Baroque Summer Program, Brandon University, the University of Manitoba, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada’s National Music Centre in Calgary, and the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. Funded by a generous grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, she pursued historical keyboard studies in Europe with Francesco Cera, François Espinasse, and Bernard Winsemius. She participated in the Britten-Pears Programme, led by Andreas Scholl and Tamar Halperin, for which she was awarded the Loewen Prize. Christina obtained a master’s degree in Organ Performance from Arizona State University under the direction of Kimberly Marshall and an Advanced Certificate in Harpsichord Performance from the University of Toronto, where she studied with Charlotte Nediger. She is now a doctoral candidate in musicology at UBC.