1710s in Music

Reviews of music composed in the 1710s.


1. Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suites BWV 1007-1012 (10/10)

(Some of these were written in the 1720s, but what can you do?)

These remain the definitive works for solo cello, in my eyes. I don’t think they have ever been equaled, let alone surpassed. I am a cello fan and these pieces are probably on my Desert Island list (the Casals recording) and I really can’t imagine life without them since I first heard them.


2. Johann Sebastian Bach: Preludes and Fugues of the 1710s BWV 531-5367? (10/10)

These are fundamental works for organ. They are, along with his other organ works, in many ways the basis for all future organ works. (I guess they really are. I don’t know what else would be.)

Absolutely essential stuff.


3. Johann Sebastian Bach: The English Suites BWV 806-811 (9/10)

Bach’s first keyboard suites are pretty incredible, featuring that baroque complexity he was known for, and a sense of progression that I’m sure was foreign to previous keyboard pieces. I have never heard these on a proper early 1700s instrument so I don’t know what Gould did to them on the recording I have heard (I’m sure it was idiosyncratic!) but the only reason I don’t rate these higher is I would say that much if not all of the keyboard music Bach wrote later is noticeably superior.


4. Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto in D minor BWV 974 (9/10)

This is a keyboard concerto based on Marcello’s oboe concerto. It’s a testament to Bach’s abilities that he could take others’ works for other instruments and make them sound as if they were supposed to be originally composed for his instrument. Incredible.


5. Georg Frideric Handel: Water Music (9/10)

I have heard parts of Water Music so many times that it’s hard to appreciate it. However, this oneĀ  performance I heard is so idiosyncratic (perhaps the better word might be authentic, I don’t know) that it is almost like rediscovering the work, hearing it for the first time. And so I find that I kind of like it in a way I never would have expected with such an overexposed piece of music.


6. Johann Sebastian Bach: “Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major” BWV 564 (8/10)

One of Bach’s early organ works; it’s quite famous (I think) but it’s far from my favourite of his pieces, even for organ.


7. Giuseppe Torelli: Trumpet Sinfonia in D major, G. 9 (7/10)

The oldest trumpet concerto I’ve heard to date, the Torelli (sometimes called a “sinfonia”) is, from it’s opening notes, of its time. Torelli was apparently the composer for the trumpet of the Baroque era, writing something like 30 pieces for the trumpet. It’s fine music, but it’s understandable to me why Torelli isn’t remembered like other composers. Also, the trumpet passages are rather sparse compared to the later efforts in the genre.

It’s pretty short too.

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