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Irma Issakadze Johann Sebastian Bach: Six Partitas OC 781 2 CD
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Format2 Audio CD
Ordering NumberOC 781
Barcode4260034867819
labelOehmsClassics
Release date07.02.2011
salesrank10124
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Bach, Johann Sebastian

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      Description hide

      Johann Sebastian Bach

      Six Partitas for Keyboard BWV 825–830
      (Clavierübung Teil I)

      Irma Issakadze, piano

      Irma Issakadze debuted on OehmsClassics with a highly praised recording of the Goldberg Variations. The pianist, who lives in Munich, began her remarkable career in her home country of Georgia, where she performed her first public concert at nine with nothing less than Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. She continued her training with Ludwig Hoffmann in Munich and Vladimir Krainev in Hanover.

      In the Six Partitas for Keyboard, which – just as the Goldberg Variations – are part of the “ClavierÜbungen”, Bach has expanded the traditional suitemodel by adding movements that are not dance forms, e.g. “Burlesca”, “Scherzo” or “Aria”. More and more, the sequence of dance movements in Bach’s works becomes a cycle of character pieces. The success of the Six Partitas was immense. Musicologist Johann Nikolaus Forkel, also Bach’s first biographer, wrote: “This work caused a great sensation in the musical world when it was published; no one had ever seen or heard such superb compositions for keyboard before.”

      The new examination of an old model
      The Six Partitas BWV 825–830 by Johann Sebastian Bach.


      It is subject to discussion whether the Six Partitas BWV 825–830 written for keyboard mark the culmination of Johann Sebastian Bach’s engagement with the suite form; surely the Six Suites for Cello Solo BWV 1007–1012 must be considered as well. At the very least. Nevertheless, the Six Partitas certainly do represent a high point. With these pieces, Bach not only revolutionized the piano suite genre as it was understood at that time: In actual fact, Bach interrogates the nearly 200-yearold suite model in this work, in order to take it apart, confront it with his own inventions and define it with a new spirit.

      With the original title “Clavier Übung bestehend in Präludien, Allemanden, Couranten, Sarabanden, Giguen, Menuetten und anderen Galanterien; denen Liebhabern zur Gemüths Ergoetzung verfertigt” (Keyboard exercises consisting of preludes, allemandes, courantes, sarabandes, gigues, minuets and other gallantries, prepared for the soul’s delight of music-lovers) all six partitas were published in 1731 (the first had already been published in 1726). Before Bach, Johann Kuhnau had already used the term “Clavier Übung”, but whether Bach knowingly paid homage to his predecessor as cantor of St. Thomas in Leipzig remains ambiguous. However, it is certain that, while the title “Clavier-Übung” suggests tutorial literature, it was still not used in the 18th Century in the same sense as the later Etudes: With the Six Partitas, Bach did not create didactic piano exercises, but works of the highest creative niveau that must be performed by a player possessing supreme technical skill.

      The degree to which Bach breaks with the traditional suite model in the Six Partitas is revealed most poignantly in the intermediate movements. The menuet and the passepied appear in only two partitas, however, there are also notable titles such as “Tempo di Minuetto” or “Tempo di Gavotta” along with “Rondeaux”, “Capriccio”, “Burlesca”, “Scherzo” and “Aria” (or “Air”). Bach’s movement toward the free character piece is ultimately revealed in the titles of these movements. And even when Bach retains the original name of a dance movement, it undergoes noticeable changes in its form and content.

      A particularly prominent example of this is the sarabande. It only appears in its original form and function in the first partita. The irregular prelude in the sarabande from the final partita alone is conspicuous; in addition, the Sarabande in E minor increasingly becomes an instrumental recitative. And in the remaining partitas? In these, the sarabande is a place for reflection, collection and contemplation – similar to the Suites for Cello Solo. The sarabande also grows to embody the spiritual and intellectual heart which holds the key to an inner understanding of the works.

      The search for a new understanding of the old suite form is expressed as early as the opening movement. In the French Suites BWV 812–817, there are no preludes, whereas the English Suites BWV 806–811 each begin with a “Prélude”. It is not so with the Six Partitas: They begin with a “Prelude”, a “Sinfonia” (with Andante and Fugue), a “Fantasia” (similar to an Invention), an “Overture”, a “Praeambulum” (an Italian concert piece, synonymous with prelude) and finally with a “Toccata”.

      These terms from French and Italian musical tradition alone reveal the extent to which Bach refers to new influences in his Six Partitas by merging and converting the French and Italian styles of the suite. In this sense, the disputed comment from Albert Schweitzer where he characterizes the Six Partitas as “German Suites” is not so far-fetched; at least with them the process of obtaining the new from the old became known and to a certain extent defined (of course without recognizing that they are not suites in the traditional sense). In any case - the Partita BWV 825 was the first creation that Bach released for printing. When all six partitas were released, he called them: “Opus I”.

      The effect of the Six Partitas must have been immense, or at least that is what a comment from Johann Nikolaus Forkel suggests. “In its time, this work caused a great stir in the musical world”, writes the first Bach biographer, organist and co-founder of historical musicology. “Such excellent clavier compositions had never been seen or heard before.” And it was probably due to the success of this Clavier-Übung that Bach composed more collections for keyboard instruments. A second part of the Clavier-Übung followed in 1735 and included the Italian Concerto BWV 971 and the Overture in the French Style BWV 831. The third part was released in 1739 and included Chorale Preludes (BWV 669-689) and the Prelude and Fugue BWV 552. Not least of all, the Goldberg Variations BWV 988 were also originally titled Clavier-Übung when they were first published in 1741.

      Florian Olters
      Translation: tolingo translations

      Tracklist hide

      hide CD 1
      • Partita No. 1 in B-fl at major BWV 825
        • 1.Praeludium01:43
        • 2.Allemande03:15
        • 3.Corrente02:56
        • 4.Sarabande05:50
        • 5.Menuet I01:04
        • 6.Menuet II00:40
        • 7.Giga01:39
      • Partita No. 1 in B-fl at major BWV 825
        • 1.Praeludium01:43
        • 2.Allemande03:15
        • 3.Corrente02:56
        • 4.Sarabande05:50
        • 5.Menuet I01:04
        • 6.Menuet II00:40
        • 7.Giga01:39
      • Partita No. 3 in A minor BWV 827
        • 8.Fantasia02:38
        • 9.Allemande04:22
        • 10.Corrente02:40
        • 11.Sarabande06:13
        • 12.Burlesca02:14
        • 13.Scherzo01:07
        • 14.Gigue02:56
      • Partita No. 3 in A minor BWV 827
        • 8.Fantasia02:38
        • 9.Allemande04:22
        • 10.Corrente02:40
        • 11.Sarabande06:13
        • 12.Burlesca02:14
        • 13.Scherzo01:07
        • 14.Gigue02:56
      • Partita No. 4 in D major BWV 828
        • 15.Ouverture05:30
        • 16.Allemande10.31
        • 17.Courante03:31
        • 18.Aria02:03
        • 19.Sarabande06:38
        • 20.Menuet01:19
        • 21.Gigue03:20
      • Partita No. 4 in D major BWV 828
        • 15.Ouverture05:30
        • 16.Allemande10.31
        • 17.Courante03:31
        • 18.Aria02:03
        • 19.Sarabande06:38
        • 20.Menuet01:19
        • 21.Gigue03:20
      • Total:02:03:16
      more CD 2
      • Partita No. 2 in C minor BWV 826
        • 1.Sinfonia.Grave adagio – Andante – Allegro04:49
        • 2.Allemande02:34
        • 3.Courante02:34
        • 4.Sarabande03:20
        • 5.Rondeaux01:17
        • 6.Capriccio03:18
      • Partita No. 2 in C minor BWV 826
        • 1.Sinfonia.Grave adagio – Andante – Allegro04:49
        • 2.Allemande02:34
        • 3.Courante02:34
        • 4.Sarabande03:20
        • 5.Rondeaux01:17
        • 6.Capriccio03:18
      • Partita No. 5 in G major BWV 829
        • 7.Praeambulum02:00
        • 8.Allemande05:14
        • 9.Corrente01:36
        • 10.Sarabande05:19
        • 11.Tempo di Minuetto01:24
        • 12.Passepied02:24
        • 13.Gigue03:39
      • Partita No. 5 in G major BWV 829
        • 7.Praeambulum02:00
        • 8.Allemande05:14
        • 9.Corrente01:36
        • 10.Sarabande05:19
        • 11.Tempo di Minuetto01:24
        • 12.Passepied02:24
        • 13.Gigue03:39
      • Partita No. 6 in E minor BWV 830
        • 14.Toccata08:42
        • 15.Allemanda04:23
        • 16.Corrente04:46
        • 17.Air02:06
        • 18.Sarabande06:53
        • 19.Tempo di Gavotta02:46
        • 20.Gigue05:57
      • Partita No. 6 in E minor BWV 830
        • 14.Toccata08:42
        • 15.Allemanda04:23
        • 16.Corrente04:46
        • 17.Air02:06
        • 18.Sarabande06:53
        • 19.Tempo di Gavotta02:46
        • 20.Gigue05:57
      • Total:02:30:02