Recorded July 12-15, 2010, Beaches Presbyterian Church, Toronto
Producer: Chantal Rémillard
Engineer: Ron Searles
Editing: Lucas Harris
Booklet Design: Heather Holbrook
Photography (booklet): Chris Fisher
Photography (musicians): Scarlet O’Neill
Lutes used in the recording:
13-course Baroque lute by Michael Schreiner (Toronto, 2006) after Jauch
13-course Baroque lute by Michael Schreiner (Toronto, 2001) after Frei (tracks 12 & 13)
Thanks to the staff of Beaches Presbyterian Church.
Special thanks to Joan Robinson for her instigation of and support for this project.
Program Notes (by Lucas Harris):
J.S. Bach’s sonata in A major BWV 1025 is perhaps the least known of his works for violin and harpsichord. Until recently, one of the only places to find a score was in Volume 9 of the Bach Gesellschaft Edition of 1860. It has been avoided partly because it stands stylistically apart from Bach’s other works in a way that is difficult to pinpoint, and also perhaps because of its length: seven movements, lasting over half an hour. It wasn’t until quite recently that the mystery of BWV 1025 was finally solved: it turns out that the harpsichord part of this work, taken on its own, is based upon a late sonata for solo lute by Bach’s friend from Dresden, the lutenist Silvius Leopold Weiss. It seems that Bach made an arrangement of Weiss’s Sonata 47 for the harpsichord and then added an extra violin part to it.
The original title page says (in the handwriting of J.S. Bach’s son Johann Christoph Friedrich) ‘Trio für Clavier mit Begl. Einer Violine,’ or ‘Trio for keyboard with violin accompaniment.’ The work is called a trio not because it requires three musicians, but rather because of its three-part texture which also appears in Bach’s other sonatas for harpsichord and violin (or flute, gamba, etc.) One part is taken by the violin, and the other two by the right and left hands of the harpsichordist. Because Weiss’s lute solos are often in two parts (melody and bass), the addition of Bach’s violin part in BWV 1025 achieves this same trio texture. The fact that the violin part was added last also helps to explain the description of the violin part as ‘accompaniment,’ although keyboard sonatas with an accompanimental violin part did exist at the time.
There is other evidence of a warm friendship between Bach and Weiss. The two men probably met in Dresden, since Bach had frequent contact with the Dresden court orchestra which employed Weiss. Bach also visited Dresden often after 1733 when his son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach accepted an organ post there. In 1739 there are also documented visits of Weiss at the Bach family home in Leipzig, and one posthumous source tells us that Weiss even ‘competed in playing fantasies and fugues’ with Bach. One imagines that the two men got along quite well, considering how much they had in common: they were the same age, both had stable jobs (Bach worked in Leipzig for his last 27 years, Weiss in Dresden for his last 40), and both continued to write in the Baroque style which had become somewhat conservative by the end of their careers.
BWV 1025 can also be done as a violin & lute duo, as we try to show in this recording. Bach kept Weiss’s A major tonality, so if the lutenist reads from Weiss’s lute tablature and the violinist from Bach’s score, at first it seems to basically work. The lute sounds an octave lower than the harpsichord would, but this doesn’t seem to present a problem once you put a mute on the violin to even out the balance (Geneviève’s violin has a leather mute on throughout the entire recording).
However, once one begins to study the work, it becomes apparent that Bach’s transcription of Weiss’s sonata is not as straightforward as it first seems. Some passages contain changed accidentals, extra ornamentation, added bass notes, and a few passages seem almost completely rewritten. This leaves the lutenist with a dilemma: should one basically play Weiss’s tablature, making alterations only when there is a noticeable clash with the violin part? Or, to the other extreme, should one play as many of Bach’s changes as is possible or practical on the lute?
We experimented in both directions and made choices based on many factors. It would be tedious to list all of our decisions here, but a few details are worth mentioning: I have made a lute arrangement of the Fantasia’s harpsichord part, since this new opening movement was added by Bach (Weiss’s suite has only six movements, beginning with the Entrée). We play the Rondeau’s main theme first in the lute solo version, adding the violin part on the repetition: this gives the listener the fun of comparing Weiss’s original with Bach’s refashioning. We did the same for both sections of the Sarabande, but because Bach did more tinkering with Weiss’s material in this movement, on the repeats you’ll hear the lute play what amounts to a new transcription of his harpsichord part.
The Sonata in G major BWV 1021 is one of Bach’s few sonatas for violin with a basso continuo accompaniment (as opposed to a written out harpsichord part). Whereas Bach usually didn’t have the time to add the figures to many of his works, BWV 1021’s bass line is completely figured. Some have wondered whether Bach’s son Carl Philip Emmanuel added the figures, since some of the rich harmonies they ask for belong to the new pre-classical style of his generation. In accompanying the Adagio, I have decided simplify some of the harmonies with the intention of restoring the work back into J.S. Bach’s baroque style.
It might then seem odd that we include music by Bernhard Joachim Hagen, whose music is in the Empfindsamer Stil (‘sensitive style’) and sounds very much like that of C.P.E. Bach. We couldn’t resist including Hagen partly because he was both a lutenist and a violinist at the court in Bayreuth, and the ‘Sonata à liuto con violino’ in G major is one of the only sonatas he wrote for those two instruments together. In addition, the title of the sonata translates as ‘Lute sonata with a violin,’ making us think of BWV 1025 where the violin is not described as the principal instrument. Hagen does in fact follow the outrageous procedure of giving the melody to the lute! The violin is given an accompanimental part which functions at times like a bass line or a viola part, and at other times like a counter-melody.
For the famous fugue in g minor, BWV 1000, I have started with the contemporary intabulation probably done by the lutenist Johann Christian Weyrauch, making only a few adjustments to passages that seemed to need slight repair or alignment with the more famous violin version (the second movement of BWV 1001).
Our closer is an experiment: in an effort to create more beautiful repertoire for violin and lute, I took inspiration from Bach’s bricolage in creating BWV 1025: I took one of my favourite Weiss Chaconnes for solo lute and wrote a violin part to go with it. It has proved a delightful encore to our live performances, and we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoy playing it.
Lucas Harris began his musical life as a jazz guitarist in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating summa cum laude from Pomona College, he studied for a year in Italy at the Civica scuola di musica di Milano as one of the first Marco Fodella Foundation scholars, and then for a year in Germany at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen. Lucas keeps a busy schedule as a continuo player for dozens of Baroque ensembles across North America. Since 2004 he is based in Toronto where he is a regular with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, having been featured in many programs including the Galileo Project. Lucas teaches each summer at Oberlin Conservatory's Baroque Performance Institute and the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, and has also taught for the International Baroque Institute at Longy and Amherst Early Music. He is a founder of the Toronto Continuo Collective (www.continuo.ca), a weekly class and performing ‘pluck band’ dedicated to learning the art of seventeenth-century accompaniment. Some notable projects include a lute concerto program for CBC radio’s Young Artist Series, a solo recital for the Minnesota Guitar Society, the solo CD Baroque Lute Recital, as well as performances with the Lute Legends Ensemble (with Chinese pipa virtuoso Wen Zhao and oud virtuoso Bassam Bishara). Also a music director and conducting student at the University of Toronto, Lucas led a production of Cavalli’s La Calisto for the Opera Program at Ohio State University, and was guest director with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver. He was praised for his work with Les voix humaines in Montréal: “La révélation du concert est le luthiste torontois Lucas Harris, qui tisse un fil poétique à travers ses interventions infiniment subtiles. La douceur et la patience de son jeu émerveillent.” (Le Devoir)
Geneviève Gilardeau, a native of Québec, studied violin at the Université de Montréal, the Conservatoire du Québec, and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. A member of Québec City’s chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy from 1995-1998, Geneviève became a core member of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in 1999. She has served as concertmistress of the Aradia Baroque Ensemble and works with the Toronto Consort as well as with several Montreal-based ensembles, including Ensemble Masques and Les voix humaines. She was a member of the period-instrument Windermere String Quartet for several seasons, and she now directs the summer chamber music series Beaches Baroque. Geneviève is often featured as a soloist with Tafelmusik, including in concertos by Telemann (in the Earth Day program ‘Forces of Nature’), J.S. Bach (Brandenburg #4), Vivaldi (recorded on Analekta’s Baroque Feast) and Leclair (on CBC’s Mozart Noir). She is forever grateful to her teachers Jean-François Rivest and Jeanne Lamon for their support and for having shared so generously their passion for Baroque music.
Lucas and Geneviève have performed the music on this CD and other works for the Classical Consort HandelFest, the Toronto Piano Salon series, the Lakeside Music series, as a keynote performance for the Great Hearts Academy (Phoenix, AZ), and on their own summer concert series in Toronto, Beaches Baroque. They would like to dedicate the CD to their daughter Daphnée, who listened to them rehearse the music and edit the CD in utero!