& FUGUE IN D-MINOR - Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750 100
seconds MP3 sample (788k)
originally for the baroque organ, this piece is universally considered
to be among the most sublime achievements of musical composition. Since
the organ can be considered to be an ancestor of the music synthesizer,
the Toccata and Fugue in D-minor is a natural choice to open the Baroque
Sounds album. The word 'toccata' comes from the Italian 'toccare' -
to touch - and signifies a piece in which the fingers travel at such
a speed over the keys that they are merely touched rather than fully
depressed. A toccata is a impressive 'show off' piece, often used as
a prelude to a fugue, as in this case. The fugue itself is perhaps the
most disciplined form of music ever conceived. Depending entirely on
counterpoint as its essence, the word comes from the Italian 'fuga',
meaning flight. It is this sense of chasing that characterises this
unique musical form. Originally fugues were written for voices, but
J S Bach raised this form to its highest achievement in this, perhaps
the most famous of all organ pieces.
SECONDA PER TROMBETTA SOLA - Giovanni Bonaventura Viviani 1638-c.1690
seconds MP3 sample. (783k)
is known of Viviani's life and works. This rare sonata, probably written
for St. Mark's in Venice, is perhaps one of the most beautiful minor
works of the baroque. 'Trombetta' literally means little trumpet and
the sonata, originally written to be accompanied by organ or harpsichord
is here performed in more orchestrated form, using string derived sounds
on the synthesizer as well as the solo trumpet. Such re-orchestrations
were common in this period, when music depended less on colouration
and more on content and availability of players. These 5 short movements
give a fascinating insight into the superb inspirational quality of
even the lesser-known baroque composers.
ON THE G-STRING [from Suite No.3 in D] - J S Bach 75
seconds MP3 sample. (876k)
of the most easily accessible and best loved of all J S Bach's compositions,
the Air on the G-string is performed as often as not as a work in its
own right, rather than as part of the suite. Hundreds of arrangements
have been made of it and it remains an archetypal piece of music to
this day. Richard Hill performs a futuristic version of the Air, with
contemporary and imaginative synthesizer sounds being answered by conventional
FOR HIS MAJESTY'S SACKBUTS & CORNETTS - Matthew Locke 1630-1677
81 seconds MP3 sound sample-647k
friend of Samuel Pepys and Henry Purcell and 'Composer in Ordinary'
to Charles II, Matthew Locke is one of England's lesser-known baroque
composers. His music for sackbuts and cornets was written to celebrate
the coronation of Charles II in 1661. The sackbut is a forerunner of
the modern trombone and the cornett was an instrument with an ivory
cup mouthpiece and finger holes instead of valves. The original alto
part, the third voice, was lost from halfway through the 2nd of the
6 pieces, so Richard Hill created a new one in the style of the period.
A combination of brass-like sounds are used to recreate the atmosphere
of this rarely heard work, noticeable for its use of the contemporary
and secular dance forms of the time.
CONCERTO NO.3 IN G [1st Mvt] - J S Bach 40
seconds MP3 sample. (473k)
fascinating work, one of 6 concertos completed in 1721 for the Margrave
Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg. It is not known if the concertos were
ever performed during Bach's lifetime - the music remained part of a
job lot until it turned up eventually in the Royal Library in Berlin.
The work is interesting in the way it treats the string parts as single
instruments in many places, unlike the large, lush sections of strings
to which we are used today. This gives the piece a wonderful, earthy
power, which illuminates the dynamism and energy of baroque music to
VI PIAN'E FORTE a8 - Giovanni Gabrieli 1557-1612 100
seconds MP3 sample (793k)
marvellously evocative piece, written for the echoing acoustics of St.
Mark's Venice in 1597, at the very beginning of the emergence of the
baroque style. Yet its use of antiphony, the call and response technique,
which sounds so lovely in a cathedral setting, marks this work as almost
a precursor of modern stereophonic sound. Here the music synthesizer
has a chance to display its mastery of perspective in this musical dialogue
between two brass choirs. A concept some 400 years old, recreated by
today's computer technology.
FOR TWO VIOLINS IN D-MINOR [2nd Mvt] - J S Bach 100
seconds MP3 sample (792k)
to have been written soon after his arrival in Leipzig, where J S Bach
spent the last 30 years of his life, the slow movement of the Concerto
for Two Violins in D-minor is one of those stunning jewels of composition
which Bach, perhaps more than any other composer, seemed to be able
to create with consummate ease. Its simple, scalic main theme is wonderfully
transported through some startling and beautiful harmonic development
and the two solo instruments create a magical dialogue with each other,
which is unsurpassed by all but the greatest of classical compositions.
HORSES BRANLE 54
seconds MP3 sample. (663k)
baroque music owes its style and form to that of secular dance music.
Throughout this period the branle, an earthy French dance, remained
popular both in France and in England. At the courts of Louis XIV, Charles
II and at many aristocratic balls, the branle was a much-indulged entertainment.
The dance is of rustic origin and indeed is still performed today by
folk bands at barn dances. We end BAROQUE SOUNDS by paying tribute to
baroque folk music, with a rumbustious recreation of the sound and atmosphere
of this venerable party piece.
Mandala design series 'Worlds Within Worlds' by Gabrielle Uncles.