Performers of BWV 1042 are faced with the exasperating problem that the piece does not survive in any sources from the composer’s lifetime. Most modern editions are based on a copy of an unknown original made by S. Hering in 1760, ten years after Bach’s death. Thankfully, there is a transcription for harpsichord and strings (BWV 1054 in D major) from the late 1730s, for which an original autograph survives, and it is this arguably more representative version which we have consulted.
BWV 1054 is clearly much more than a simple transcription: the frequent alterations and extensive rewriting point towards a more complete and refined ideal of the piece. We felt that the sheer beauty and inventiveness of these alterations were simply too good to ignore and, after discussions with Bach scholar Professor Christoph Wolff, were encouraged to apply them with discretion to BWV 1042. Notice, for example, the brilliant scale passages that link the ritornello and solo statements in the 1st movement; or the myriad of arpeggio and broken-chord realizations; the elegant Lombard rhythms in the slow movement or indeed a whole host of appoggiaturas, mordents, filled-in intervals, trills and turns.
Furthermore, we opted for a varied continuo group that pays homage to the colour of 17th Century continuo ‘bands’, with harpsichord, organ, theorbo and archlute used interchangeably depending on the character. The harpsichord for the recording is based on a brass-strung model on which Bach is believed to have performed Brandenburg 5. After consulting some of the composer’s more extensively prepared scores – including the fair copy of the Brandenburg Concertos – it was decided that a 16 foot pitch would be a flexible and selectively used colour. Our solution was to allow solo passages to be accompanied by keyboard, lute and 8 foot bowed bass only, and to reintroduce 16 foot pitch for added richness and grandeur in the tuttis.
Kristian Bezuidenhout, Daniel Hope
St Paul’s Church, Deptford, London, 10/2005
Recording Producer: John West
Recording Engineer: Mike Hatch
Assistant Engineer: Andrew Mellor
Recording Editor: John West
Mixed and mastered at Floating Earthback to overview