Santa Fe Pro Musica’s holiday celebration continues with Santa Fe Pro Musica’s presentation of The Brandenburg Concertos at the historic St. Francis Auditorium. Among the most performed of Bach’s compositions, the six Brandenburg Concertos have left a lasting influence on chamber music and on those who appreciate the playful side of Bach’s genius.
The Brandenburg Concertos
Santa Fe Pro Musica Orchestra and Soloists
Thomas O’Connor, conductor
Performances are on Tuesday, December 29 and Wednesday, December 30 at 6pm both evenings at the St. Francis Auditorium (inside the New Mexico Museum of Art).
Holiday Subscription Package: Save 10% when you buy tickets to both A Baroque Christmas and The Brandenburg Concertos. The Holiday Package is available exclusively through the Santa Fe Pro Musica Box Office: (505) 988-4640, (800) 960-6680 or online at www.santafepromusica.com. These go quickly, so call today!
Santa Fe Pro Musica presents all six of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos featuring the Santa Fe Pro Musica Orchestra and Soloists on both Tuesday, December 29 and Wednesday, December 30 at 6pm in the St. Francis Auditorium inside the New Mexico Museum of Art.
WHAT: The Brandenburg Concertos performed by the Santa Fe Pro Musica Orchestra & Soloists, Thomas O’Connor, conductor
WHEN: Tuesday, December 29 at 6pm Wednesday, December 30 at 6pm
WHERE: St. Francis Auditorium (at the New Mexico Museum of Art) 107 West Palace Ave. Santa Fe, NM 87501
TICKETS: $20, $35, $48, $69 at the Santa Fe Pro Musica Box Office (505) 988-4640, ext. 1000, Tickets Santa Fe at The Lensic (505) 988-1234, or online at www.santafepromusica.com. Discounts for students, teachers, groups, and families are available exclusively through the Santa Fe Pro Musica Box Office.
Meet the Music: Thomas O’Connor, Santa Fe Pro Musica Conductor and Music Director, presents a “behind the scenes” discussion of the music, one hour prior to each concert in the St. Francis Auditorium – Free to ticket holders. Learn more about the music you love!
About the Program
J. S. BACH’s Brandenburg Concertos, BWV 1046-1051, will be performed in the following order:
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in D Major, BWV 1049
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat Major, BWV 1051
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047
About the Composer
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
The Brandenburg Concertos are recognized as supreme examples of Baroque instrumental music; “a kaleidoscopic treasure.”
In 1721, J. S. Bach sent a set of six concertos to Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg. The collection, neatly copied in Bach’s handwriting, was titled Concerts avec plusieurs instruments (Concertos with several instruments). The Margrave shelved them in his library where they remained untouched. The concertos were rediscovered in the Berlin Imperial Library during the 19th century and published in 1850. The popular name Brandenburg Concertos was bestowed in 1873 by Philipp Spitta from his biography J. S. Bach.
Presumably, Bach selected the six Brandenburg Concertos from concertos he had written earlier, predating his meeting with the Margrave. They probably do not reflect the specific instrumentation of the ensembles available either to the Margrave or Bach’s employer at that time, the Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen. 18th century protocol would have required Bach, while in the employ of Prince Leopold, to obtain formal permission for dedicating such a work to another sovereign. It’s hard to imagine Bach could have dedicated music to the Margrave that was originally written for the Prince, especially if the Prince considered the music his property! The selection criteria appear to favor extreme diversity. All the orchestral families are included: brass (trumpet and French horn), woodwinds (oboe, flute, bassoon), strings (violin, viola, cello, viola da gamba), and harpsichord. The only instrument lacking a solo role is the bass. The modest title, Concertos with several instruments, does not begin to suggest the degree of innovation exhibited. Every one of the six concertos remains unparalleled in its instrumental and musical creativity.
About the Music
The Brandenburg Concertos are in the style of the concerto grosso, one of the most popular instrumental forms of the Baroque period, featuring a group of solo instruments (concertino) supported by a larger group of string instruments (ripieno) with basso continuo (harpsichord and a bass instrument reinforcing the bass line).
In concert order:
Concerto No. 3 is scored for three violins, three violas, three cellos, plus continuo, but without ripieno. Throughout the two fast movements, Bach combines and recombines the three trios of instruments, having them echo and contrast with each other. The Adagio is a single measure connecting the two fast movements. It is conjectured that Bach’s intention was not the insertion of an additional contrasting movement, but an opportunity for the harpsichordist or first violinist to provide a brief improvisation.
Concerto No. 4 is scored for a trio of solo violin and two flutes, supported by the ripieno (string orchestra). Within the solo group, the violin is the most virtuosic participant, investing the music with the texture of a solo concerto. The flutes most often work in tandem, intoning their parallel motifs in consonant thirds and sixths, and can be considered a solo unit rather than separate soloists.
Concerto No. 1 features a rich array of instruments in an eleven-part score: two French horns, three oboes, one bassoon, solo violin and ripieno (string orchestra). Both Allegro movements are characterized by vigorous interplay among the solo instruments and the orchestra. The solo violin and oboe lead in the Adagio. In the closing dances, four repetitions of the Minuet surround a trio for woodwinds, a Polish dance for strings, and another trio for horns and oboes.
Concerto No. 6 is scored for two contrasting but low-register formations: two violas and cello (the “modern” four-string instruments) and two violas da gamba and violin (the “old-fashioned” six-string instruments), but without ripieno. The unusual sonority created by the exclusive use of middle and low register strings results in a dark and mellifluous sound. Concerto No. 5 consists of solo violin, flute, and harpsichord – the most fashionable chamber music combination at that time – and ripieno (string orchestra). As the concerto begins, all three soloists share equally, but the harpsichord becomes increasingly dominant and finally bursts into an extended solo cadenza, fully constructed by Bach. In the second movement, only the soloists play, with the violin and flute frequently paired in contrast to the harpsichord. Bach begins the third movement with only the soloists, gradually bringing in the ripieno one section at a time, reestablishing its concerto nature.
Concerto No. 2 is for high-voiced instruments: trumpet, flute, oboe and violin. In the outer movements, all four soloists share the same material with no idiosyncratic differentiation between instruments. The Andante is scored for solo flute, oboe, violin and continuo. The outer movements have the energy of Vivaldi, however the brilliant fugal writing of the last Allegro is distinctively Bach.
About Santa Fe Pro Musica
Santa Fe Pro Musica, founded in 1980, is a non-profit performing arts organization dedicated to inspiring and educating audiences of all ages through the performance of great music. Pro Musica performs a varied repertoire, covering four centuries of music on modern and baroque instruments, including works for chamber orchestra, small ensemble and large-scale works for orchestra and chorus.
In 2008, Pro Musica’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (chamber arrangement by Schoenberg) was nominated for a GRAMMY® award in the classical category of Best Classical Album/Small Ensemble. In August of 2012, Santa Fe Pro Musica Recordings produced a CD of Conrad Tao, pianist, performing Mozart Piano Concertos No. 17 and No. 25 and in 2013 produced a CD of music by Britten and Vaughan Williams.
In addition to gaining national recognition over its 33 years for its artistry in performance, Santa Fe Pro Musica offers some of the most distinguished educational opportunities in northern New Mexico, reaching thousands of students every year with a Youth Concert series, a team-building, ensemble-training program, and a master class series featuring student ensembles working with world-class musicians.
Santa Fe Pro Musica sincerely thanks their media sponsor and lodging partners for their support of The Brandenburg Concertos:
The 2015-2016 Season is partially funded by the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, the 1% Lodgers Tax, and New Mexico Arts (a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs).