BACH Johann Sebastian, Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D minor BWV1004

‘On one stave, for a small instrument, Bach writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.’ This is how Johannes Brahms described Bach’s gigantic Chaconne to his friend Clara Schumann. It is the last movement of Bach’s D minor Partita, composed in about 1720. Probably the greatest single movement ever written for unaccompanied violin, it is an extended set of variations on a short, four-bar idea announced at the start. Bach uses all his ingenuity to create a structure in which unity (the basic theme) and diversity (the astonishingly imaginative variations) are held in perfect balance over a long (256-bar) span. The outer sections are in D minor, while Bach provides tonal variety by modulating to D major for the central section. As Brahms suggested, the result is quite simply one of the marvels of Baroque music.  

Nigel Simeone, 2022 


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