Bach - Orchestral Suite no. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066 (c. 1725)
While I was looking up the general history of this work, I saw that historians believe Bach had written more orchestral music, but it has since been lost to time. I think about vignettes of people using sheet music for the lost St. Luke Passion as wrapping paper for fish at the market. While we can feel sad at the idea of how much music has been lost to time, we can at least be happy and thankful for the music we do have. Even though there are only four orchestral suites today, they are all wonderful. It is possible that they were written as entertainment music for meetings at coffee houses. This suite is for a trio of winds acting as soloists - two oboes, and a bassoon - with strings and continuo. As usual it opens with an Overture, indicating this suite is in the French style, and so the dances will be the popular French forms of the time. The overture starts with a grand, un-pretentious and graceful opening. Following the French form, we get a contrapuntal middle section that is woven together more dense than the sonorities would make you expect. The opening theme makes me think of something organic, like ocean waves swaying, while the fugal part makes me think of machinery. The courante is stately and pleasant, omitting the winds, and the main patterns repeat in subtle ways among the strings. The two gavottes are charming, the second has some light musical comedy by opening with what sounds like hunting horns from the strings. It carries an autumnal bacchanalia feel. The forlane keeps the melody in the winds while the strings play an ostinato in the low registers. The two minuets are more relaxed than the previous dances, the first one casually grows and subsides, the second has a bit more of a pep in its step. The first bourree is fun, and the second contrasts with a charming minor-key section on the winds. The passepied has some pretty string writing alongside the oboes, taking the suite to a graceful close.
3. Gavotte I/II
5. Menuet I/II
6. Bourrée I/II