BACH, Cantata No. 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake a Voice Is Calling Us; 1731), Seventh Movement: Chorale - 1:27
Listen for the homophonic texture of four voice parts, with the chorale melody in the top voice. Notice that the orchestra duplicates the four voices and does not have melodies of its own.
BACH, Cantata No. 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake a Voice Is Calling Us; 1731), Fourth Movement: Tenor Chorale - 4:12
Listen for the polyphonic texture of two contrasting melodies set against each other: a chorale melody in long notes sung by tenors, and a dancelike melody in shorter notes played by violins and violas.
BACH, Cantata No. 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake a Voice Is Calling Us; 1731), First Movement: Chorus and Orchestra - 6:05
Listen for the dotted rhythms (long-short, long-short) and syncopations in the opening orchestral ritornello. Notice the polyphonic texture of three simultaneous layers of sound: choral phrases in long notes in the soprano, imitative dialogue in shorter notes in three lower voices, and the orchestra playing in even shorter notes.
BACH, Suite No. 3 in D Major (1729–1731), Fifth Movement: Gigue - 2:29
The suite concludes with a rollicking gigue in 6/8 time, which is also in the form A A B B. Here, Bach’s manner is simple and direct. Listen for the splendid effect when timpani and trumpets periodically join the rest of the orchestra.
BACH, Suite No. 3 in D Major (1729–1731), Fourth Movement: Bourrée - 1:06
The bourrée is an even livelier dance, also in duple meter; it is the shortest movement of the suite. Its form is A A B B. Section A uses the full orchestra, including trumpets and timpani. Section B is three times as long as section A and alternates loud tutti passages with softer passages for strings and oboes.
BACH, Suite No. 3 in D Major (1729–1731), Second Movement: Air - 3:50
The second movement, the air, contains one of Bach’s best-loved melodies. It is scored for only strings and continuo and is serene and lyrical, in contrast to the majestic and then bustling French overture. The title suggests that the movement is written in the style of an Italian aria. Like the opening movement, the air is not related to dance. It is in A A B B form, with the B section twice as long as the A section.
BACH, Fugue in C Minor, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (c. 1722) - 1:35
Quadruple meter, C minor, Harpsichord
Listen for the announcement of the minor-key fugue subject, followed by polyphonic imitation of the subject in the highest voice and in the lowest voice. Notice the final presentation of the subject over a longheld bass tone and contrasting major chord that ends the fugue.
BACH, Prelude in C Minor, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I; c. 1722 - 1:46
Quadruple meter, C minor, Harpsichord
Listen for the perpetual rhythmic motion of continuous running notes that are heard almost throughout. Notice the distinctive tone color of the harpsichord, in which strings are plucked by a set of plectra controlled by a keyboard.
VIVALDI, La Primavera (Spring), Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra, Op. 8, No. 1 from The Four Seasons (1725), Third Movement: Danza pastorale - 3:30
To the festive sounds of country bagpipes,
Dance nymphs and shepherds in their beloved fields,
When spring appears in all its brilliance.
Like the first movement, the concluding Danza pastorale, in E major, alternates between tutti and solo sections. The playful ritornello theme suggests nymphs and shepherds dancing in the fields.
VIVALDI, La Primavera (Spring), Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra, Op. 8, No. 1 from The Four Seasons (1725), Second Movement: Largo e pianissimo sempre - 2:23
And then, on a pleasant meadow covered with flowers,
Lulled by the soft murmuring of leaves and branches,
The goatherd sleeps, his faithful dog at his side.
The peaceful slow movement, in C sharp minor, is much quieter than the energetic opening movement. It uses only the solo violin and the orchestral violins and violas.
VIVALDI, La Primavera (Spring), Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra, Op. 8, No. 1 from The Four Seasons (1725), First Movement: Allegro - 3:34
Ritornello form, quadruple meter, E major Solo violin, string orchestra, harpsichord (basso continuo)
Listen for the musical imitations of bird song in the first solo section (1.b.), murmuring streams in the second solo section (2.b.), and thunder and lightning in the third solo section (3.b.).
MONTEVERDI, Recitative: Tu se’ morta (You are dead) from Orfeo (Orpheus; 1607) - 2:54
Listen for the speechlike character of the recitative, and the homophonic texture of the recitative and its basso continuo accompaniment. Notice the effect of word painting on the low tone for abissi (abysses) and the high tone for stelle (stars).
BACH, Organ Fugue in G Minor (Little Fugue); c. 1709 - 4:04
Fugue, quadruple meter, G minor
Listen for the announcement of the fugue subject in the highest voice, followed by polyphonic imitation of the subject in successively lower voices. Notice when the subject is presented in a major key, instead of a minor key.
BACH, Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; c. 1721, First Movement: Allegro - 9:59
Ritornello form, duple meter, D major
Flute, violin, harpsichord (solo group); string orchestra, continuo (tutti)
Listen for the contrast in tone color between the tutti sections for strings and the solo sections, which feature imitation between flute and violin. Notice the virtuosic solo section for harpsichord alone near the end of the movement.
GIOVANNI GABRIELI, Plaudite (1597) - 2:48
Giovanni Gabrieli’s spectacular polychoral motet Plaudite was intended for a joyful ceremony at St. Mark’s Cathedral. Its Latin text calls for praise of God. The motet is written for a large vocal and instrumental ensemble of twelve voice parts divided into three choirs, or performing groups, that contrast in register. It has one low choir, one choir in a middle register, and one high choir.
Listen for the different tone colors of the 3 different choirs.
The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!