Norwegian Chamber Orchestra

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (Photo by Mona Ødegaard)

Friday, July 08, 2016

Johann Sebastian Bach: Partita No.2 in C minor, BWV 826 – Martha Argerich

Argentine classical pianist Martha Argerich, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of all time, performs Johann Sebastian Bach's Partita No.2 in C minor, BWV 826. Recorded at Verbier Festival 2008, Switzerland.


While this partita and the four that followed appeared after 1726, all were written during that year, a year that saw publication of the B flat major piece first. Bach published a new partita each year until 1731, when all six appeared together. Each of these works consists of dances – typically an Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue – and other pieces, forming a whole that could just as easily have been called a suite. They generally show Bach's lighter side, though there is a fair share of serious music here, too. All the partitas have seven movements except for this C minor effort, which comprises six. Another unusual aspect is its exclusion of a Gigue at the close, where Bach substituted a Rondeau and Capriccio.

This suite opens with a Sinfonia which, speaking of serious music, achieves a depth of expression to rival much of Bach's more profound keyboard music. It is in three sections, the first ponderous and dramatic, the succeeding two having progressively faster tempos. The theme in the second section has a soothing serenity in its animated nonchalance, while the final part is lively and light in its variant of this theme, and brims with Bach's deft counterpoint and rhythmic subtlety.

The Allemande that follows is somewhat subdued but features an undercurrent of contrapuntal activity with many delicious details that often come refreshingly to the foreground. The remaining four numbers are much shorter and lighter in expressive content. Best among them may be the ensuing Courante, a sunny, graceful piece whose contrapuntal elements seem to blend rather than conjure, imply rather than articulate.

The ensuing Sarabande is slow, almost hymn-like in its solemn yet soothing manner. The lively Rondeau that follows is jumpy and full of playfulness, while the closing Capriccio is meatier, both in its muscular first section and in the inversion of material from the opening that comes in the latter half. It is also quite a challenging finale for the performer.

This partita will have a duration of about 15 minutes, excluding repeats, a longer one than the slighter first, third, and fifth, but shorter than the fourth and sixth partitas.

Source: Robert Cummings  (

Η διάσημη Αργεντινή πιανίστρια Μάρθα Άργκεριχ ερμηνεύει την Παρτίτα αρ. 2 σε Ντο ελάσσονα, BWV 826, του Γιόχαν Σεμπάστιαν Μπαχ. Το ρεσιτάλ δόθηκε στην Ελβετία το 2008, στο πλαίσιο του Φεστιβάλ του Βερμπιέρ.


Από τις εκατοντάδες των έργων του Γιόχαν Σεμπάστιαν Μπαχ ελάχιστα μόνο εξεδόθησαν κατά την διάρκεια της ζωής του, μεταξύ των οποίων δεσπόζουν τα τέσσερα τεύχη των Klavierübungen. Ο όρος αυτός (Clavir-Übung, σύμφωνα με την ιστορική ορθογραφία της εποχής του Μπαχ) σημαίνει «άσκηση για πληκτροφόρο» και προσδιορίζει τη βασική σκοπιμότητα της εκδόσεως, που δεν είναι βεβαίως άλλη από την παιδαγωγική διάσταση των περιλαμβανομένων σε αυτήν κομματιών. Πριν τον Μπαχ, μάλιστα, ο ίδιος όρος είχε χρησιμοποιηθεί από τον προκάτοχό του στη θέση του κάντορος του Αγίου Θωμά της Λειψίας, Γιόχαν Κούναου (Johann Kuhnau, 1660-1722) σε δύο τεύχη που περιείχαν από 7 σονάτες για πληκτροφόρο το καθένα.

Το πρώτο λοιπόν τεύχος των «Ασκήσεων για πληκτροφόρο» του Μπαχ εξεδόθη το 1731 στη Λειψία ως το υπ' αριθμόν έργο 1 του συνθέτη και περιελάμβανε 6 παρτίτες, δηλαδή σουίτες χορών ή κατά την έκφραση του συνθέτη «Πρελούδια, Allemanden, Couranten, Sarabanden, Giguen, Μενουέττα και άλλα κομψοτεχνήματα». Αν θεωρήσουμε ως πιθανό πρότυπο τις εκδόσεις του Κούναου, τότε η παρούσα συλλογή θα έπρεπε ίσως να περιλαμβάνει 7 παρτίτες, κάθε μία σε διαφορετική τονικότητα. Σε κάθε περίπτωση πάντως, γνωρίζουμε ότι οι παρτίτες αυτές δημοσιεύονταν καταρχάς ξεχωριστά και μάλιστα στην πλειονότητά τους λίγο μετά τη σύνθεσή τους: η πρώτη το 1726, οι δύο επόμενες το 1727, η τέταρτη το 1728, η πέμπτη το 1730 και τελικά μόνον η έκτη εμφανίσθηκε για πρώτη φορά στη συνολική επανέκδοση του 1731, αν και μαζί με την τρίτη εντοπίζεται ήδη σε μια πρώτη εκδοχή στο υπ' αριθμόν 2 «Μικρό βιβλίο για πληκτροφόρο για την Anna Magdalena Bach» (Klavierbüchlein II für A. M. Bach) – τη δεύτερη σύζυγο του συνθέτη – του 1725.

Πηγή: Ιωάννης Φούλιας, 2000

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Partita No.2 in C minor, BWV 826 (1726)

i. Sinfonia [00:42]*
ii. Allemande [05:03]
iii. Courante [09:22]
iv. Sarabande [11:35]
v. Rondeaux [15:06]
vi. Capriccio [16:23]

Martha Argerich, piano

Switzerland, Verbier Festival 2008

Directed by Louise Narboni


* Start time of each part

First publication: Jule 8, 2016 – Last update: January 14, 2018

Martha Argerich was born in 1941 in Buenos Aires. From the age of five, she took piano lessons with Vicenzo Scaramuzza. In 1955 she went to Europe with her family, and received tuition from Friedrich Gulda in Vienna; her teachers also included Nikita Magaloff and Stefan Askenase. Following her first prizes in the piano competitions in Bolzano and Geneva in 1957, she embarked on an intensive programme of concerts. Her victory in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1965 was a decisive step on her path to worldwide recognition.

Martha Argerich rose to fame with her interpretations of the virtuoso piano literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. But she does not regard herself as a specialist in "virtuoso" works – her repertoire ranges from Bach through Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy and Ravel, to Bartók.

Martha Argerich has worked as a concert pianist with many famous conductors. She has also attached great importance to chamber music ever since, at the age of 17, she accompanied the violinist Joseph Szigeti – two generations older than herself. She has toured Europe, America and Japan with Gidon Kremer and Mischa Maisky and has also recorded much of the repertory for four hands and for two pianos with the pianists Nelson Freire, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich, Nicolas Economou and Alexandre Rabinovitch. Martha Argerich has performed at Gidon Kremer's festival in Lockenhaus, at the Munich Piano Summer, the Lucerne Festival and at the Salzburg Festival, where she gave, for instance, a recital with Mischa Maisky in 1993.

She appeared with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic at the 1992 New Year's Eve Concert with Strauss's Burleske and also at the Salzburg Festival at Easter 1993. May 1998 saw the long-awaited musical "summit meeting" between Martha Argerich, Mischa Maisky and Gidon Kremer. On the occasion of a memorial concert for the impresario Reinhard Paulsen, the three artists came together in Japan, where they performed piano trios by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky (recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon). In March 2000 Martha Argerich gave her first great solo appearance in almost 20 years in New York's Carnegie Hall.

Martha Argerich has close ties with Deutsche Grammophon, dating back to 1967. She has recorded prolifically during this period: solo works by Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann; concerto recordings of works by Chopin, Liszt, Ravel and Prokofiev with Claudio Abbado, Beethoven with Giuseppe Sinopoli, and Stravinsky's Les Noces with Leonard Bernstein. Her recording of Shostakovich's First and Haydn's Eleventh Piano Concertos with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn conducted by Jörg Färber was crowned with the Tokyo Record Academy Award in 1995 and that of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the CD Compact Award in 1997.

She has also dedicated herself to chamber music, and has recorded works by Schumann and Chopin with Mstislav Rostropovich, and cello sonatas by both Bach and Beethoven with Mischa Maisky. She has made numerous successful recordings with Gidon Kremer, such as Violin Sonatas by Schumann and works by Bartók, Janácek and Messiaen (Prix Caecilia 1991), and Mendelssohn's Concerto for violin and piano with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Their recording of Prokofiev sonatas and melodies received the 1992 Tokyo Record Academy Award, the Diapason D'Or 1992 and the Edison Award 1993. One of their most outstanding recording achievements was that of the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas (Nos. 1-3: Record Academy Award 1985), which was concluded with the release of the Sonatas Op.47 "Kreutzer" and Op.96 in 1995. Among her more recent releases is the above-mentioned live recording of piano trios by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky with Mischa Maisky and Gidon Kremer.

Martha Argerich takes a great supportive interest in young artists. In September 1999 the first International "Martha Argerich" Piano Competition took place in Buenos Aires – a competition which does not only carry her name but in which she is president of the jury. In November 1999 the second "Martha Argerich Music Festival" took place in southern Japan, with concerts and masterclasses being given not only by Martha Argerich but also by Mischa Maisky and Nelson Freire among others.


More photos

See also

Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto No.1 in E flat major – Martha Argerich, Wiener Philharmoniker, Daniel Barenboim

Sergei Rachmaninov: Suite No.2 for two pianos, Op.17 – Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No.1 in C minor – Martha Argerich, David Guerrier, Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, Gábor Takács-Nagy

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