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Listening Corner Launch!
December 1, 2014
Welcome to the first selection in our Listening Corner which is going to be a regular weekly feature. We begin, as is appropriate with a selection from early in the modern era which includes mainly the last 300 years of music history. Following the Renaissance of 1450 to 1600, which was a period when there was a lot of renewed interest in music and the arts, a number of composers began to write music that is still played regularly today.
Brandenburg Concerto #3 (1721) by J. S. Bach – Third Movement (Click here to access a performance by Tafelmusik)
Perhaps the most important musician of the Baroque era of 1600 to 1750 is today’s featured composer. Johann Sebastien Bach, who lived from 1685 to 1750, wrote six concertos which he dedicated to the Margrave of Brandenburg in 1721. These special selections feature groups of solo instruments accompanied by a small string orchestra. In this third concerto, there are three solo violinists, and in this performance, members of Toronto’s internationally famous Baroque orchestra called Tafelmusik are the performers. These musicians specialize in performing music from the Baroque era, and they even perform on older versions of these string instruments to make the music sound more authentically from that period of history.
Here are some interesting details to notice about this piece:
The entire concerto is in three sections called “Movements”, but today’s selection is only the third and last movement of the concerto
The third movement has a very fast tempo
The opening notes of the third movement are repeated in imitation by each of the three solo violinists somewhat like a round
The beat and rhythm of this movement are constant all the way through which is a characteristic of this era.
This third movement is organized in two sections, and each section is repeated
There are only string instruments in this piece (members of the violin family which include violin, viola, cello, and bass), but no woodwinds, brass, or percussion
The only other instrument is the harpsichord, which was the most common keyboard instrument of the era. It’s an ancestor of the modern piano and it was used during the Baroque period before orchestras had a conductor, to help hold the performers together.
As you listen, think about the following questions. Post a reply, or talk to your teacher about it this week.
What did you like most about the music? Post a reply here or talk to your teacher about it this week.
Click here to access a performance by Tafelmusik or copy and paste this link into your web browser (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPM31x5zMOk). You can also go to www.youtube.com and search J. S. Bach – Brandenburg Concerto #3 in G – 3rd Mov’t – Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Toronto 2009).