Bach, a Life in Music III
Orchestre des Arts Florissants
After having explored the periods of Arnstadt, Muhlhausen and Weimar, Paul Agnew continues his concert series "Bach, a life in music" by exploring another chapter in the life of the composer: his five years in Köthen.
In 1717, Johann Sebastian Bach became Kapellmeister at the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. A brilliant musician, he had the ambition to contribute to the development of German secular music by making his court a first-class center for music. Circumstances helped him when the new Prussian monarch Frederick William I, who had little interest in the arts, dismissed the artists of the Berlin court. Leopold wasted no time in attracting the excellent musicians who had suddenly become available, and Köthen soon had an instrumental ensemble of a very high standard.
This context was a fertile ground for Bach. Thanks to the quality of the musicians at his disposal and to the liberal nature of the prince, he composed a large number of varied instrumental works in Köthen, of which this program, mainly instrumental, offers a summary.
From Italian concerto for two violins to French overture and concerto grosso, Paul Agnew offers here a panorama of all the instrumental genres that Bach approached in Köthen. He also adds the only surviving cantata from this period, the Serenata "Durchlauchtster Leopold", given in 1722 in honor of the prince's 28th birthday... whose soprano voice is reminiscent of that of Bach's second wife, the prima donna Anna Magdalena Wilcke, whom he married the same year.
And to close the concert in beauty, the musicians in the audience of the Philharmonie de Paris will be exceptionally invited to join the Les Arts Florissants orchestra for an encore!