Today on Classical Sunday, I’m featuring a piece for solo violin written as part of a collection, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin BWV 1001-1006, completed in 1720 by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). I’ve previously posted about another work in this series, the Partita for Violin Solo No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002.
The soloist I found playing today’s selection is Jennifer Koh (b. 1976), an American solo violinist born to Korean parents. She is well known for her Bach repertoire, though she is also a frequent performer of contemporary classical music.
Today is somewhat relaxed, as I’m taking the day off the indoor bike trainer, having exceeded my weekly goal by racking up 150 kilometres (93 miles) and, riding particularly hilly virtual routes, 1,670 metres (5,480 feet) of climbing as of yesterday. In addition to researching some music, I had a birthday call and catch-up with a brother, which was good as it had been a while since we’d talked. It’s frigid here in Winnipeg (-24C or -11F), so a walk on the frozen river path is an option later, though that’s a bit daunting…
When deciding on a piece to post today, I chose the second movement, the fuga (or fugue), from the Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001. From what I’ve read and understand, a fugue is a form composed of independent melodic lines or voices where the first voice is introduced playing the main melody, and successive ones join in staggered stages, often in a subject-answer-subject-answer organization. It’s maybe like a telephone conversation between two people, where one makes a statement, the other responds, and back and forth it goes (though, of course, we’re not repeating the same phrases again and again, or at least I hope not… that wouldn’t be very meaningful!). The fuga is complex and, like my general preference in classical music, I find a slower tempo here makes it more accessible and enjoyable than some of the rest of the sonata, as some parts were too cacophonous.
Koh’s recording of the sonata comes from her two-disc album Bach & Beyond, Part 2 (2015). I really like the way she executes the complexity of the fuga in a way that is pleasing to hear.
Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the audio from the Jennifer Koh YouTube topic channel:
With my best wishes,