Johann Sebastian Bach

Concerto for solo keyboard No. 1 in D major, BWV 972 (BC L189) (after Vivaldi, Op. 3/9)

    Description by Blair Johnston

    When J.S. Bach first got to know the music of Venetian maestro Antonio Vivaldi during the early 1710s or perhaps just a bit earlier, he was significantly impressed by his Italian colleague's flair and style, and skill. Young Duke Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, the nephew of Bach's employer at the time, happened to have a taste for Italian instrumental music, so Bach took it upon himself to adapt several Italian (or Italianate) instrumental concertos -- mostly by Vivaldi, but some from Marcello, and even a bit of young Johann Ernst's own music -- for performance on harpsichord alone (there is also a corresponding and contemporaneous set of such adaptations for solo organ: BWV 592-597). In so doing he both pleased the Duke and began to absorb elements of the new Italian style into his own music-making. The first of the Vivaldi concerto transcriptions is the Concerto for keyboard No. 1 in D major, BWV 972, modeled upon Vivaldi's Concerto for four violins and continuo, Op. 3, No. 9 (RV230).

    Like its source, BWV 972 is in three movements, fast-slow-fast. The first movement, which has no tempo indication but which would have immediately been recognized by contemporary players as an allegro, begins with a handful of separate aristocratic gestures and then gains momentum and spins out continuously until its end. Bach does more than just take the notes of Vivaldi's concerto and condense them onto two staves for one player to play; he thickens the textures considerably (Vivaldi loved lean music, while Bach usually loved full, rich, dense music), adding bits and fleshing out counterpoint along the way. The following Largo (Larghetto in the Vivaldi, and also in some editions of the Bach) pulses with warm eighth notes from start to finish. The tuttis are made from these "simple," homophonic tones, but in the solo passages smaller and more flexible lines are drawn in and around this pulsation. The third movement is a dance-like 3/8 time Allegro that begins with a duet in parallel thirds, and which Bach supplements with several passages of his own, passages not found in the Vivaldi at all.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro
    2. Larghetto
    3. Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Arcana A 443
    2018 BIS BIS 2316
    2018 DUX / Dux Records DUX 1386
    2017 Christophorus CHR 77415
    2016 MV Cremona MVC 009025
    2016 Berlin Classics 0300720BC
    2016 Erato 557841
    2015 Sony Classical 88875050462
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 002894791915
    2013 Summit Records SMT 600
    2013 Warner Classics 5099901916225
    2012 Naxos 8572427
    2011 Passacaille PAS 970
    2011 Move MD3326
    2011 Pro Organo 7246
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2009 Apex 4693254
    2009 Naxos 8572006-07
    2008 Opening Day Recordings ODR 7346
    2008 DA Records / Zebralution
    2008 Nimbus 2515
    2007 Camerata Records 28090
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Wildboar 9501
    2006 Rca Red Seal 67891
    2006 Globe Records 5166
    2006 EMI Classics 7243558047
    2006 Brilliant Classics 92809
    2006 Oehms 542
    2006 Danacord 649
    2005 Brilliant Classics 92217
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Delos 3359
    2005 Delos 3354
    2004 Kitaya, Naoki / Marc Aurel Edition 20019
    2004 Nimbus 5734
    2004 Harmonia Mundi 907329
    2003 Elatus 2564603622
    2003 Christophorus CHR 77262
    2002 Teldec 81268
    2001 Haenssler 92568
    2001 Tactus 672216
    2000 Haenssler 92111
    2000 Agora Musica 241
    1999 Teldec 25705
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Astree 8645
    1999 Hungaroton 31912
    1999 Teldec 3984-25715-2
    1996 Preiser Records 90276
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 66272
    1994 Disques Pierre Verany 730018
    1993 MusicMasters 67097
    1990 ASV 116
    1988 Hyperion 66224
    Fidelio 5005
    Brilliant 93102-VOL2
    Brilliant 99702
    Brilliant 93102/37
    Analekta 3005
    Denon Records 76497
    Divox 29206
    Brilliant 99702/14
    Supraphon 111518
    Accord 220492
    Disques Pierre Verany 787091
    Erato
    Divertimento Records 31021
    Testament 1380
    Fone 9319
    Musical Heritage Society 1410691
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 34048
    Musical Heritage Society 5179971
    Brilliant Classics 93667/12
    Disques Pierre Verany 79801
    Disques Pierre Verany 730025