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My Daily Bach

Episode 8: Violin Concerto No. 2 BWV 1042: Allegro

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Each weekday during November, WQXR offers a free, daily download of a noteworthy Bach recording. Today: The first movement of the Violin Concerto No. 2 of Bach.

Album Details:
Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major, BWV 1042: I. Allegro
Janine Jansen, violin
Ad hoc chamber ensemble
J.S. Bach: Violin Concertos
Decca 19301

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One of the composing techniques that was used a lot in the Baroque era is something called ritornello. Italian for “little return” ritornello is a big part of Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2. The theme has everybody playing it together and it makes little returns throughout the movement. As host Jeff Spurgeon noted in his commentary, if you think of a dinner party that starts out with everyone together on the same topic, and then somebody – the soloist – makes a big speech. Well, that IS the soloist’s job, after all. The conversation continues, but the main topic returns again and again, maybe from a different angle – say, a new key or a minor mode. But this is a party of friends, so they’ll make sure to be back in the same good place they started when the evening is over.

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