Johann Sebastian Bach

Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067

    Description by John Keillor

    In is unknown when exactly Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his Suite for Orchestra No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067. It is a vibrant and fast-paced work, leaning towards the entertainment side of pure music. This suite is one of four such works that the composer wrote in his lifetime. Bach was not even slightly opposed to writing music for more money or power, but was less forthcoming with light music; he did not like it much. All of the lighter music he wrote was never published, including these overtures. (Telemann, the most famous composer working in Germany at the time, wrote over 130 surviving suites for orchestra, and probably wrote over 1000 in his lifetime.) These works were good for business, but Bach was more comfortable writing church music or works featuring striking fugal challenges. This suite gave him a chance to write for transverse flute, which had just begun to be in fashion. These four works are fine examples of a lighter style and display some of the interesting ways that Bach would use to approach the festive side of music making. The suite is a form derived from a collection of French ballets and operas. They usually begin with an overture, regal and poised, followed by a collection of dances. French music and culture was the rage for much of Germany and other European countries. However, Bach's ear seems to have been more easily fixed on Italy. The music of Vivaldi and the Scarlattis (father and son) are constantly asserting themselves in Bach's music. He seems to have been attracted to the Italian brilliance of harmony, and the way they could make speedy ostinatos inject more excitement into an already lively beat. It was simply the most visceral music in Europe at the time, and when Bach added it to anything, sparks flew. In his Suite for Orchestra No. 2 one can hear Vivaldi's concerto style in the Sarabande and the Minuet. Nothing is turgid about this piece. It was probably written around 1720, certainly before 1723, when he began work at Leipzig. He was usually too busy to write much secular music, unless it was of very high quality. Listeners should not shy away from these orchestral suites because they are not aching with the profundity of Art of Fugue; they are simply charming, summery pieces.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture
    2. Lentement
    3. Rondeau
    4. Sarabande
    5. Bourrée 1
    6. Bourrée 2
    7. Polonaise
    8. Double
    9. Menuet
    10. Badinerie

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Harmonia Mundi HMM 90233536
    2018 Alpha 358
    2018 MMG MCD 10008
    2018 Accent ACC 24341
    2018 Arcana A 452
    2018 Accent ACC 24352
    2018 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 17019
    2017 Pentatone Classics / PentaTone Classics PTC 5186593
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16010
    2017 Naxos 8503293
    2016 Archiv Produktion 0002894795814
    2016 Archiv Produktion 4795384
    2016 Erato 0190295974947
    2016 Linn Records BKD 158
    2016 Haenssler / Haenssler Classic / Hänssler Classic HC 16006
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88985321742
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 Menuetto Classics
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646019311
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    2014 Decca B002180802
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    2013 Erato
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