This year marks the 290th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043, also known as the Double Violin Concerto. It remains one of the most famous works by the Baroque composer.
Bach adopts the three-movement format favored during his time. The three tempo of the three movements are fast, slow, and fast (vivace, largo ma non tanto, allegro), the same format used by his contemporary, Antonio Vivaldi. But Bach was never content just to copy; his inventiveness shines through his entire work.
The Concerto opens with a vivacious ritornello that presents the main theme. Soon the solo violins gracefully enter and the theme is repeated several more times to separate the solo passages. Next, comes the glorious second movement, considered as one of the jewels of Bach’s entire musical output. Here, the second violin introduces the solo theme, then accompanies the first violin as it enters with the theme. This partnership extends throughout the movement, each violin taking turns to spin Bach’s glorious melodic lines. The final movement is again lively and full of rhythmic drive. Here, the soloists show sudden bursts of triplets and break out of the orchestral texture to launch their own soaring melodies. The orchestra’s vigorous tuttis punctuate the movement and bring it to a rousing close.
Arabella Steinbacher & Akiko Suwanai – J.S.Bach The Concerto for Two Violins, Strings and Continuo in D Minor, BWV 1043. Performed at the Auditorium du Louvre, Paris (15.31 mins)