The career of Johann Sebastian Bach, the most illustrious of a prolific musical family, falls neatly into three unequal parts. Born in 1685 in Eisenach, from the age of ten Bach lived and studied music with his eider brother in Ohrdruf, after the death of both his parents. After a series of appointments as organist and briefly as a court musician, he became, in 1708, court organist and chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar, the eider of the two brothers who jointly ruled the duchy. In 1714 he was promoted to the position of Konzertmeister to the Duke, but in 1717, after a brief period of imprisonment for his temerity in seeking to leave the Duke's service, he abandoned Weimar to become Court Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-C�then, a position he held unti11723. From then until his death in 1750 he lived in Leipzig, where he was Thomaskantor, with responsibility for the music of the five principal city churches, in 1729 assuming direction of the university collegium musicum, founded by Telemann in 1702.
At Weimar Bach had been principally employed as an organist, and his compositions of the period include a considerable amount written for the instrument on which he was recognised as a virtuoso performer. At C�then, where Pietist traditions dominated the court, he had no church duties, and was responsible rather for court music. The period brought the composition of a number of instrumental works. The final 27 years of Bach's life brought a variety of preoccupations, and while his official employment necessitated the provision of church music, he was able to provide music for the university collegium musicum and to write or re-arrange a number of important works for the keyboard.
It seems almost too simple to suggest that Bach's concertos fall into three corresponding groups. Nevertheless at Weimar he arranged for solo harpsichord a number of concertos by Italian composers, as well as concertos by the young prince Johann Ernst. At C�then he wrote his violin concertos and the set he dedicated in 1721 to the Margrave of Brandenburg. In Leipzig he arranged or composed a number of concertos for solo harpsichords, exploring a new form of concerto that was to assume the greatest importance as the century progressed.
The University collegium musicum in Leipzig met on Friday evenings at Gottfried Zimmermann's coffee-house or in summer in his garden outside the city. Bach took over direction of the group in 1729 and seems to have continued in that position until as late as 1744. Compositions for the collegium musicum, which involved students and professional musicians, presumably include the Coffee Cantata, and the various concertos for one or more harpsichords, with strings.
The fourth of Bach's Clavier Concertos, the Concerto in A major, BWV 1055, is thought to be an arrangement of a lost concerto for oboe d'amore, an instrument pitched a minor third lower than the ordinary oboe, developed around the year 1720. It has been argued that the original concerto must, therefore, belong to Bach's Leipzig rather than his C�then period. It has otherwise been suggested that the concerto was once a violin concerto. It opens with a lively theme, based on the tonic arpeggio. The slow movement is an embellished aria over a repeated bass pattern and is followed the brilliant descending scale that introduces the concluding Allegro.
The Clavier Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056, has outer movements that are thought once to have formed part of an Oboe Concerto. The vigorous figuration of the first movement gives way to a slow movement aria that itself leads without a break to a final movement, in which much use is made of an echoed figure, in alternations of loud and soft.
The Concerto for Clavier in F major, BWV 1057, which uses an additional two recorders in its orchestra, is a re-working of the fourth of the Brandenburg Concertos, BWV 1049 in G major, originally scored for solo violin, two recorders, strings and basso continuo. The original concerto is again from Bach's period spent as Hofkapellmeister at C�then. The cheerful first movement, with its decorative opening figuration for recorders, is succeeded by a minor key slow movement and a fugal finale.
Bach's Clavier Concerto in G minor, BWV 1058, was arranged by the composer from one of his two surviving C�then violin concertos, the Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041, now transposed down a tone. Its first movement follows the usual ritornello pattern, its opening theme re-appearing during the course of the movement. There is a finely spun slow movement aria and a lively triple-metre conclusion.
Chang Hae Won
Chang Hae Won was born in Korea in the city of Seoul and started to play the piano at the age of six, completing her professional studies at Ewha University in Seoul in 1963. From 1964 until 1968 she studied at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule with Professor Leopolder on a German government scholarship and was awarded her diploma as a concert pianist. On her return to Korea she was appointed professor of piano at her old university.
In Korea Chang Hae Won won various prizes, including first prize in the 1960 Korean National Piano Competition. Her career as a concert pianist began three years earlier, in 1957, when she played Beethoven's C minor Piano Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then she has enjoyed a busy career as a teacher and as a performer in Korea, in other Asian countries, in America and in Europe, with annual concert tours and engagements at home and abroad. She has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras and in recitals with Ruggiero Ricci, Christian Ferras, Renata Tebaldi, Franco Corelli, Aaron Rosand, Andre Navarra and others. She has performed as a soloist at numerous music festivals, including the Paris Chateau de Breteuil Festival, the National Music Festival in Korea and the festival for the opening of the Sejong Cultural Centre and of the Goethe-lnstitut in Seoul. She has served on the Vienna da Motta Competition jury in Lisbon. In 1985 she was acclaimed by the Music Critics' Circle of Korea as Musician of the Year, and won high praise in the German press for her technical accomplishment and musicianship. Her recordings for Naxos and Marco Polo included piano works by Piern�, Scarlatti's sonatas, concertos by Hummel and other piano music.
The Camerata Cassovia is the chamber ensemble of the CSSR State Philharmonic Orchestra which is based in the Eastern Slovakian town of Košice. The orchestra was founded in 1968 and has toured widely within Europe and the Far East.
Robert Stankovsky was born in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, in 1964, and after a childhood spent in the study of the piano, recorder, oboe and clarinet, turned his attention, at the age of fourteen, to conducting, graduating in this and in piano at the Bratislava Conservatory with the title of best graduate of the year. Stankovsky is regarded as one of the best conductors of the younger generation in Czechoslovakia. For Marco Polo Stankovsky has recorded symphonies by Rubinstein and Miaskovsky in addition to orchestral works by Dvorak and Smetana.
Reviewsit is difficult to imagine a more satisfying pair of discs of this repertoire - Daily Telegraph (UK)