skip to Main Content

Music from the Bach family

Rachel Podger (violin) and Corvus Consort (vocal ensemble)

Corvus Consort presents a programme of vocal works by three members of the Bach family, alongside Rachel Podger performing music for solo violin by J. S. Bach.

The programme showcases the incredible musicality of the extensive Bach family by including, as well as the famous Johann Sebastian, music by brothers Johann Michael and Johann Christoph, who were first cousins of Johann Sebastian’s father Johann Ambrosius. Johann Michael was also father-in-law to Johann Sebastian, whose first wife Maria Barbara was Johann Michael’s daughter.

The first half opens with a set of three shorter works: two beautiful settings by Johann Michael Bach frame the motet Ich lasse dich nicht, whose dual 19th-century publication — in 1802 (attributed to J.S Bach) and in 1823 (attributed to J. C. Bach) — has led to much debate over its authorship. Johann Christoph’s authorship is certain, however, for Merk auf mein Herz, the remarkable motet that closes the first half, in which 7 verses from a nativity hymn by Martin Luther are treated to word painting that is often exaggerated and wonderfully vivid. It’s no surprise that Johann Sebastian was such an admirer of his first-cousin-once-removed, famously calling him ‘the profound composer’.

The second half begins and ends with works based on the Lutheran chorale ‘Jesu, meine Freude’. Johann Michael Bach’s Halt, was du hast is on a smaller scale, placing his harmonisation of the chorale melody in the second choir against insistent entries from the first choir with text from the book of Revelation (from which the title is drawn). Johann Sebastian Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude, written at least 30 years later, is perhaps his most famous motet: an epic journey of variations on the chorale melody, interpolated with movements setting biblical text from Romans 8. Its 11 movements are arranged in an ingenious symmetrical structure, containing a carefully-devised mixture of chorales, fugues, and freely-composed trio movements.

In between the choral works, Rachel Podger performs two of Bach’s stunning works for violin, taken from his sets of three church sonatas and three dance-form partitas. All six works are a masterclass in writing for violin, as Bach’s meticulously-constructed lines carve out not only beautiful melodies but also the suggestion of counter-melodies and eloquent harmonic progressions. Written around 1720, the six works weren’t published until 1802, after being (supposedly) rescued from a pile of wrapping paper, and Rachel Podger has been one of their most revered modern exponents.

Rachel Podger is managed worldwide by Percius Management and this collaboration can be booked either through Tashmina Artists or Percius Management.

Johann Michael Bach – Herr, ich warte auf dein Heil
Johann Sebastian Bach – Ich lasse dich nicht, BWV Anh. 159
Johann Michael Bach – Ich weiss das main Erlöser lebt
Johann Sebastian Bach – Sonata No. 1 for solo violin in G minor, BWV 1001
Johann Christoph Bach – Merk auf, mein Herz
Johann Michael Bach – Halt, was du hast
Johann Sebastian Bach – Partita No. 3 for solo violin in E major, BWV 1006
Johann Sebastian Bach – Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227
Back To Top