David Ezra Okonsar | J.S. Bach: The Complete English Suiten 1,2, 3, Vol. 1

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J.S. Bach: The Complete English Suiten 1,2, 3, Vol. 1

by David Ezra Okonsar

The Complete English Suites (BWV 806-811) by Johann Sebastian Bach Volume 1, Suites 1 to 3 (BWV 806-807-808)
Genre: Classical: Bach
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  Song Share Time Download
1. English Suite No. 1 in A Major, BWV 806: I. Prelude
1:28 $0.99
2. English Suite No. 1 in A Major, BWV 806: II. Allemande
5:58 $0.99
3. English Suite No. 1 in A Major, BWV 806: III. Courante I-II (2 Doubles)
9:11 $0.99
4. English Suite No. 1 in A Major, BWV 806: IV. Sarabande
5:11 $0.99
5. English Suite No. 1 in A Major, BWV 806: V. Bourrée I-II
5:36 $0.99
6. English Suite No. 1 in A Major, BWV 806: VI. Gigue
3:04 $0.99
7. English Suite No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 807: I. Prelude
5:13 $0.99
8. English Suite No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 807: II. Allemande
4:05 $0.99
9. English Suite No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 807: III. Courante
2:02 $0.99
10. English Suite No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 807: IV. Sarabande
4:25 $0.99
11. English Suite No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 807: V. Bourrée I-II
5:16 $0.99
12. English Suite No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 807: VI. Gigue
3:25 $0.99
13. English Suite No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 808: I. Prelude
3:03 $0.99
14. English Suite No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 808: II. Allemande
4:04 $0.99
15. English Suite No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 808: III. Courante
3:02 $0.99
16. English Suite No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 808: IV. Sarabande
4:57 $0.99
17. English Suite No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 808: V. Gavotte I-II
3:54 $0.99
18. English Suite No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 808: VI. Gigue
2:56 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The precise composition dates for the six English Suites, BWV 806-811, is not known. It is commonly agreed on that Bach did start working on them quite early, probably in Leipzig around 1715 and finished them up in Cöthen, around 1717-1723.

The most astonishing pieces of those suites are the Preludes. They are full featured Concerto movements displaying outstanding inventiveness, brilliant keyboard écriture in flourished imitation style.

According to Norbert Dufourcq, those Preludes which open each Suite are added afterwards. English Suites are quite different from each other. This may be because they were composed over a long period of time and also because they are made of some pieces composed on different occasions.

The origins of the title "English" Suites is also obscure. Bach did not leave any clear information regarding that titling. J. N. Forkel, in his historical study claims that the suites are dedicated "to a rich Englishman".

Karl Geiringer affirms that in composing those Suites, Bach was studying the works of Charles Dieupart (1670-1740), a French harpsichordist whose career was entirely made in England. J. S. Bach did (hand) copy the F minor Suite of Dieupart and "re-used" the Gigue in A major of the same composer as a base for the Prelude of the first English Suite in A major.

It should be noted that while the French Suites did contain many "French" elements: typical dance forms and characteristic rhythms, the English ones are devoid of anything that can be said to be "English".

The English Suites are more developed and more tricky to perform than the French Suites. They have a more noticeable "concertant" and virtuoso character.

English Suites are organized around the traditional Suite series: Allemande; Courante; Sarabande and Gigue but include other forms as Passepied, Bourrée, Gavotte and Menuets.

English Suite N.I in A Major, BWV 806

The Prelude which opens the first suite is rather a short one when compared to others of the series. Starting with a Toccata style free arpeggio opening, it evolves within a monothematic Gigue-style imitative setting.

The Allemande evokes a lute-like style with many arpeggiated chords spelled out in precise rhythms. A solemn Allemande which evolves in two and three voice settings.

Two Courantes is rather unusual and this first Suite is the only one which has not only two Courantes but has also the second one followed by a couple of "doubles" i.e. variations. Both are French style Courantes, very fluid and with a wandering melodic line shifting from one voice to another.

Majestic chords introduce the noble Sarabande. The monothematic piece has in the middle section an improvisation-like development.

Bourrées I and II: the A major first one has a souple and sinuous line elaborated in the imitation style. The second one in A Minor is more austere. The contrary motion in its two voices and the motivic inversions are to be noted.

The final Gigue is entirely made up of two voices in imitation. A brisk and joyful movement in both its two sections, the second one being in inverse setting.

English Suite N.II in A Minor, BWV 807

A full featured concerto movement opens the second Suite with its brilliant Prelude. With two motives, the first one energetic and vigorous, like a tutti while the second one sounds like a solo violin part. All aspects of a concerto are here, even the short cadenza which concludes the movement.

Calm and expressive, the Allemande is fully in imitation-style. Each of the two parts has its own theme, the second one is exposed six times shifting between voices.

Both the Courante and the Sarabandes are noticeably in the French style. Very souple and improvisatory, the Sarabande has a "double" (variation) where the ornaments are explicitly notated.

Bach uses extended pedal tones in both Bourrées. The first is a vivacious dance and the second is more restrained.

The Suite ends, as usual, with a brilliant Gigue as a Finale. This particular one seems close to the Italian style with a monothematic setting.

English Suite N.III in G Minor, BWV 808

The numerous keyboard transcriptions of Vivaldi's violin concertos Bach did in Weimar, seem to be the basis for the extensive concerto-like Prelude which begins this third Suite. With many analogies to the upcoming "Italian Concerto" (BWV 971) this precursor piece is also set on the contrasts between the tuttis (forte) and the solos (piano), although not explicitly notated here as they are in the Italian Concerto.

A calm Allemande with an expressive and developed bass line which carries motives that will jump to other voices follows the exuberant Prelude.

The Courante is again in the French style. Souple, elegant and light in its textures.

The most expressive and highly developed Sarabande, which has its own "double", appears as the center of gravity of the entire Suite. An extremely rich harmonic écriture where numerous enharmonic settings enhance the expressiveness.

The Gavottes I and II (Gavotte II is also named "Musette" in some editions) bring joy and lightness after the deep and tragic Sarabande. The charming simple Musette makes the B part in the A-B-A form in this scherzo-like movement.

The Finale is a strong and brilliant Gigue in a fugato form which opposes the straight and inverted themes all throughout.



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