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Ingrid Matthews and Byron Schenkman are both regular EMV collaborators and frequent guests at festivals all over North America. Their cumulative experience has been gained over a lifetime of study and collaboration. This performance is Bach at its most intimate.
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SONATA 6 IN G MAJOR
Allegro (cembalo solo)
SONATA 1 IN B MINOR
SUITE IN C MINOR
“French Suite no. 2” for solo harpsichord
SONATA 2 IN A MAJOR
Andante un poco
Sonatas for violin and keyboard at the beginning of the eighteenth century almost always featured the violin as a solo instrument with continuo accompaniment for the keyboard. By the end of the century this had completely turned upside down with the popularity of keyboard sonatas accompanied by a violin. In between, a few composers in the circle of the Bach family tried something different: three-part sonatas for violin, harpsichord right hand, and harpsichord left hand. They started by composing trio-sonatas for flute, violin, and continuo that could be performed alternatively as duos for “obbligato” harpsichord and violin. For the latter the harpsichordist would simply take over the flute part with the right hand and play the continuo part with the left hand. In his magnificent set of six sonatas for harpsichord and violin, J. S. Bach skipped the trio-sonata version and went directly to writing for violin with obbligato harpsichord. However the trio-sonata texture remains throughout most of the movements, with demonstration after demonstration of Bach’s unsurpassable counterpoint.
This is one of the few sets of instrumental music which Bach actually conceived as a set. He worked on the set for several years and made numerous revisions, especially of the Sonata in G Major, BWV 1019. The final version of this sonata has an almost palindromic form, starting and ending with joyful allegro movements in da capo form (ABA), with through-composed laments for the second and fourth movements, and a robust central harpsichord solo in rounded binary form.
The first movement of the Sonata in B Minor, BWV 1014, is one of the few movements to depart from the ubiquitous three-part texture of the set. Bach gives large chords to the harpsichord and then imitates them with double-stops for the violin. The cyclic nature of this sonata can be heard most clearly in the surprising use of the “Neopolitan” (flat II) chord near the ends of the first and last movements.
As a keyboard player, Bach was steeped in the fashionable and influential harpsichord music of the French court of Louis XIV. Although Bach never traveled as far as France, he assimilated that musical language through keyboard suites by French composers and through suites in the French style by German composers of earlier generations. Bach composed three sets of six suites each for the keyboard. The so-called “French Suites” (not Bach’s title) are the most intimate of the three sets. These are highly stylized dance suites, more suitable for listening than for dancing.
The Sonata in A Major, BWV 1015, is all three-voice, all the time. Bach is at his most clever in the third movement, a literal canon between the violin and the harpsichord right hand. In other words the harpsichordist plays exactly the same notes as the violinist, just one bar later. Bach is at his funniest in the last movement, which has written-in “wrong entrances” for both instruments.
– Byron Shenkman
Ingrid Matthews, violin
Ingrid Matthews has long been established as one of the leading baroque violinists of her generation. She founded the Seattle Baroque Orchestra with Byron Schenkman in 1992, and served as Music Director until stepping down from that position in 2013.
Matthews won first prize in the 1989 Erwin Bodky International Competition for Early Music, and since that time has performed extensively around the world with numerous period-instrument ensembles. She has served as concertmaster for orchestras such as the New York Collegium, the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, and Musica Angelica (Los Angeles); and has appeared as a guest director and soloist with many others including the New York Collegium, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Magnolia Baroque Festival Orchestra (Winston-Salem, NC), New Trinity Baroque (Atlanta), the Bach Sinfonia (Washington DC), Les Idees Heureuses (Montreal), the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, and the Victoria Symphony. For close to a decade she was first violinist of the ensemble La Luna, which specialized in 17th-century music, touring and recording to great critical acclaim.
Matthews has won international critical acclaim for a discography ranging from the earliest solo violin repertoire through the Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach. The latter recording was named by Third Ear’s Classical Music Listening Companion as “the finest complete set of these works,” and the critic for American Record Guide writes “this superb recording is my top recommendation for this music… on either modern or period instruments.” Ingrid Matthews is currently on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She is a graduate of Indiana University, where she studied with Josef Gingold and Stanley Ritchie.
Ingrid Matthews is also known as Ingrid Matthews Olson. A passionate life-long interest in the visual arts has led her to amass an eclectic training in various techniques, and her paintings have been shown in group and solo exhibitions in Seattle and elsewhere.
Byron Schenkman, harpsichord
Byron Schenkman has recorded more than thirty CDs of 17th– and 18th-century repertoire, including recordings on historical instruments from the National Music Museum, Vermillion, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A recipient of the Erwin Bodky Award from the Cambridge Society for Early Music “for outstanding achievement in the field of early music,” he was voted “Best Classical Instrumentalist” by the readers of Seattle Weekly, and his piano playing has been described in The New York Times as “sparkling,” “elegant,” and “insightful.”
He has been a featured guest with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston, the Daedalus Quartet, Les Enfants d’Orphée, the Northwest Sinfonietta, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra. He was also founding co-director of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra with violinist Ingrid Matthews. In 2013, he launched Byron Schenkman & Friends, a Baroque and Classical chamber music series at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. Schenkman is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and received his master’s degree with honors in performance from the Indiana University School of Music. He currently teaches at Seattle University and has been a guest lecturer in harpsichord and fortepiano at Indiana University.