Essay on Bach Chaconne D Minor
1828 WordsMay 12th, 20068 Pages
J.S. Bach is quite possibly the most respected composer of any time period. His compositions continue to be performed today because of their untimely beauty as well as the incredible technical ability one gains from playing such works. They not only challenge the performer technically but conceal a wealth of musical complexity which appeals to any musician regardless of their ability because it can be appreciated by individuals on various levels of musical understanding. The Partita no. 2 in d minor is only one of these masterpieces produced by J.S Bach. The partita for solo violin consists of five movements; Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, and Chaconne. The Chaconne is the last of the five movements of the partita and is…show more content…
In the next variation the patter returns to the bass voice. Another substantial alteration to the variation sequence can be found in the twelfth variation in measure forty nine. Here the pattern changes and the C # is not present in the descending pattern. Now it has altered to D, C, B flat, A. This variation also marks the movement of direction in the work where it becomes much more linear. There is a clear difference between where the movement started and the direction in which it has moved. By this point rolled chords are no longer present and it seems as though Bach is writing in a much more linear fashion. These lyrical moving lines continue to press the piece forward until measure eighty nine where the rolled chords return. Coincidentally it is also at this point in which the C# is reintroduced to the reoccurring descending pattern. It is almost as though it is reminiscent of the beginning of the piece but utilizing quarter and eighth note movement rather than quicker dotted rhythms. Not only does Back take a more relaxed approach with the rhythm but he throws a surprise into the twenty third variation. Here for the first time in the movement the bass line is melodic. In the thirty first variation the theme returns, this also marks the half way point in the movement. The return of the theme also leads the piece into the next variation which also sets up direction
Alongside Paganini's 24 Caprices for solo violin and Bach's six cello suites, his Partitas and Sonatas (three apiece) for solo violin stand out among their comparatively few siblings as magnificent music written for an unaccompanied stringed instrument. And while they also represent the zenith of polyphonic writing for a non-keyboard instrument, Bach's sonatas and partitas were also crucially important in the development of violin technique. With their colossal scope, huge technical demands, and musical complexity, and notwithstanding their awesome intellectual intensity, these creations greatly transcended anything that had preceded them, including the Partitas for solo violin by von Westhoff (1696), and various comparable solo works by Biber, Pisendel, and others. It seems most probable that either the Dresden virtuosi Pisendel or Volumier, or even more likely the Cöthen Konzertmeister Spiess, would have been the first players to attempt these exceptionally challenging works, all of which sound as if they were written for an age of instrumental virtuosity that still lay far in the future.
The sonatas are restricted to four movements (slow-fast-slow-fast, as with the early sonata da chiesa), one of which is a fugue. The Partitas are generally more extended, and of unorthodox formal design (as perhaps is implied by their more wide-ranging generic title), and by the more exploratory, improvisatory feel of the music even as they consist of sequences of Baroque dances. The awesome and eloquent Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004, seems for the most part to follow the conventional outline of the Baroque suite, opening with an earnest and purposeful Allemanda unexpectedly free of chordal multiple-stopping. There follow a Corrente and a Sarabanda, whose brief coda furnishes the link with the succeeding Giga.
However, this work concludes with the most labyrinthine and intellectually powerful single movement ever devised for an unaccompanied string instrument. This is Bach's famous Chaconne (originally "Ciaccona"), a colossal arched series of 64 stunning variants upon the stark, open-ended four-measure phrase heard at the beginning. Two monumental outer sections in the minor enclose a major-key central episode, and this great structure encompasses every aspect of violin-playing technique and contrapuntal ingenuity that would have been known in Bach's day. The Chaconne, whose duration exceeds 15 minutes (and is thus longer than the rest of the work put together) is often performed as a free-standing movement and has also been widely transcribed for other instruments.