BACH, J.S.: Inventions and Sinfonias, BWV 772-801

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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)

Inventions Nos. 1 -15, BWV 772 - 786

Sinfonias Nos. 1 -15, BWV 787 - 801

Johann Sebastian Bach was born at Eisenach in 1685 into afamily of musicians. The early death of his parents left him in the care of his eldestbrother Johann Christoph, organist in Ohrdruf, where he remained for five years, untilbecoming a pupil at the Michaelisschule in L??neburg in 1700. Three years later he wasappointed court musician in Weimar, but a few months later moved to Arnstadt as organistat the Neuekirche. In 1707 he moved to a similar position at the Blasiuskirche inM??hlhausen, where he married his cousin Maria Barbara. The following year broughtappointment to Weimar as organist and chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst, one of thetwo rulers of the Duchy. In 1714 he was promoted to the position of Konzertmeister,consolidating still further his position as an authority on the construction of the organand his reputation as a performer. In 1717 he left the service of the Duke, who brieflyhad him imprisoned for his temerity in trying to leave Weimar, and took a more congenialposition as Kapellmeister to the young Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen. Here he was ableto concentrate on secular music, since the Pietist practices of the court obviated theneed for elaborate church music. It was only the marriage of the Prince to a woman withoutmusical interests that induced Bach to seek employment elsewhere. In 1723 he signed acontract with the Leipzig authorities as Thomaskantor, with teaching responsibilities atthe Thomasschule, some of which could be delegated, and the charge of music in theprincipal city churches. By 1729 he had also taken the direction of the universitycollegium musicum, a society established earlier in the century by Telemann, godfather ofBach's fifth child, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and the Leipzig city council's first choice asThomaskantor. Bach remained in Leipzig as Thomaskantor until his death in 1750. Hisearlier years involved him in the composition of a quantity of church music, while thedemands of the collegium musicum were met by the re-arrangement of earlier instrumentalconcertos for one or more harpsichords. He continued to write extensively for the keyboardand to collect and edit his earlier compositions, particularly in the four volumes of his Clavier??bung.

Bach's Inventions and Sinfoniaswere written about the year 1723 in Cothen, included in a collection of piecesdesigned for the education of his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, later employed asan organist in Dresden and then in Halle, before his final years in Berlin. It has beensuggested that Bach derived the title Invention, for the fifteen two-part compositions, BWV 772 - BWV 786, from the work of the Italian priestand composer Bonporti, a set of Invenzioni for violin and keyboard published in 1712 andknown to Bach. The term, however, was not new to Bonporti, as it occurs from the sixteenthcentury onwards to describe a variety of instrumental compositions. Originally Bach usedthe title Praeambulum for the first set ofpieces and Fantasia for the three-part Sinfonias, BWV787 - 801. While in The Well-Tempered Clavier,the 48 Preludes and Fugues, Bach used allpossible keys, major and minor, in the Inventions

and Sinfonias he avoids keys with more thanfour sharps or flats.

The first four Inventions, in C major,C minor, D major and D minor, and Invention No.8 in F major, open with a direct imitationof the upper part an octave lower, the opening subject providing the basis of the Invention. InventionsNos. 5, 6 and 7 have both partsstarting simultaneously. No.5, in E flat major, is based on the opening figure in theupper part, and No.6, in E major, each half repeated, makes use of syncopation betweenupper and lower parts, the second section opening with a transposed inversion of theopening. In No.7, in E minor, the lower part continues in imitation of the upper, while inNo.9, in F minor both parts start at the same time, the lower later imitating the upper.

The compound rhythm subject of No.10, in G major, has imitation at an interval of acompound fourth in the lower part. The remaining Inventions have both parts startingsimultaneously, with No. 14, in B flat major, offering rhythms of greater elaboration, attimes in consonant intervals between upper and lower parts, moving together.

The fifteen Sinfonias, BWV 787- BWV 801, using the same keys asthe two- part Inventions, and often knownthemselves as Three-Part Inventions, arefugal in texture, although in each of them two parts start together, to be followed by thethird voice.

Eleven of the Sinfonias open in otherwise standard fugal form, anaccompanied subject is followed by an answer in another part and a later entry of thesubject in a third part. Sinfonia No.2, in C minor, andNo.15 in B mino have only two entries, andthese at the octave, while No.5, in E flat major, uses two upper parts in imitativecounterpoint over a repeated bass figure. The Sinfonias,in spite of their apparent clarity of texture and simplicity, conceal technicalcontrapuntal devices often of some considerable ingenuity.

In the early summer of 1720 Bachaccompanied his patron, Prince Leopold, to the Bohemian spa town of Carlsbad (KarlovaVary). On his return to Cothen he found that his wife Maria Barbara, mother of his foursurviving children, had died. Nine months later he married Anna Magdalena Wilcke, daughterof the court trumpeter at Weissenfels and, like her predecessor, a singer. In 1722 Bachprovided for his new wife a little book of keyboard pieces, a compilation that includedfive of the so-called French Suites. Three years later a second collection began, a largermusical family album that included compositions by others, including Carl Philipp EmanuelBach, third surviving child of Bach's first marriage.

The three Minuets, BWV Anh. 114 -116, form a unity inthemselves. The first, the best known of all these little pieces, leads to a related Gminor Minuet, followed by a third Minuet that is a variant of the first. The Polish dance, the Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 119,is followed here by a D major March, BWV Anh. 122

and a second G minor Polonaise, BWV Anh. 125,by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The Musette, BWV Anh. 126,a dance that takes its name from the French shepherd bagpipe, retains an imitation of thebagpipe drone. The present excerpts end with a transparently simple D minor Minuet.

Janos Sebestyen

Janos Sebestyen was born in Budapestin 1931 and studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music. In 1971 he established theharpsichord department of the Academy, which he has headed since that date. His career asa performer and teacher has taken him as far afield as Japan, his reputation increased byhis very successful recordings for a number of record companies, both in Hungary andabroad. A number of important awards in Hungary have added distinction, including in 1984the title Cavali?¿re of the Italian Republic for services to music.

Item number 8550679
Barcode 4891030506794
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Baroque
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Sebestyen, Janos
Sebestyen, Janos
Producers Toth, Ibolya
Toth, Ibolya
Disc: 1
Minuet in D minor, BWV Anh. 132
1 No. 1 in C major, BWV 772
2 No. 2 in C minor, BWV 773
3 No. 3 in D major, BWV 774
4 No. 4 in D minor, BWV 775
5 No. 5 in E flat major, BWV 776
6 No. 6 in E major, BWV 777
7 No. 7 in E minor, BWV 778
8 No. 8 in F major, BWV 779
9 No. 9 in F minor, BWV 780
10 No. 10 in G major, BWV 781
11 No. 11 in G minor, BWV 782
12 No 12 in A major, BWV 783
13 No. 13 in A minor, BWV 784
14 No. 14 in B flat major, BWV 785
15 No. 15 in B minor, BWV 786
16 No. 1 in C major, BWV 787
17 No. 2 in C minor, BWV 788
18 No. 3 in D major, BWV 789
19 No. 4 in D minor, BWV 790
20 No. 5 in E flat major, BWV 791
21 No. 6 in E major, BWV 792
22 No. 7 in E minor, BWV 793
23 No. 8 in F major, BWV 794
24 No. 9 in F minor, BWV 795
25 No. 10 in G major, BWV 796
26 No. 11 in G minor, BWV 797
27 No. 12 in A major, BWV 798
28 No. 13 in A minor, BWV 799
29 No. 14 in B flat major, BWV 800
30 No. 15 in B minor, BWV 801
31 Minuet in G major, BWV Anh 114
32 Minuet in G minor, BWV Anh. 115
33 Minuet In G Major, BWV Anh. 116
34 Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 119
35 March in D major, BWV Anh. 122
36 Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 125
37 Musette in D major, BWV Anh. 126
38 Minuet in D minor, BWV Anh. 132
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