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Bach Series

Ben Dollman Baroque Violin

BACH Nº 16
Ben Dollman performs the Largo and Allegro assai  from JS Bach's Sonata No. 3 in C major for solo violin, BWV 1005

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PROGRAM NOTES

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

SONATA NO. 3 IN C MAJOR, BWV 1005
Largo and Allegro assai

When piecing together the events of Johann Sebastian Bach’s life, historians and Baroque musicophiles alike often refer to the exchange of letters between Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Nikolaus Forkel that would become the foundation of JS Bach’s first biography.

Little did CPE Bach or Forkel know that future generations would come to venerate both the memory and music of Johann Sebastian. Indeed, judging from their discussions regarding the value and cost of the late composer’s hand-copied manuscripts, the now underwhelming figures mentioned in the letters pale in comparison with today’s estimations of their value:

Quote
… My late father’s portrait costs nothing. The music by him you received you may return at your convenience since I do not need it so urgently. There are no more copies to be had of the things of my father’s that were engraved; even the plates are no longer in existence. What I have – namely, the First and Third Parts [of the Clavier -Übung] – I shall be glad to let you have, bound, for copying, or even for purchase. The material of both of them used to cost 6 thlr. If you do not wish to copy them, I will let you have both parts, cleanly bound and in very good condition, for 8 thlr. I have the manuscript for the deceased, and I can get along with that, and you have the copy he used to have for his own use. But you must not feel any compunction about it…
CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, HAMBURG, AUGUST 9, 1774

The attention to detail and time required to copy, by hand, the large collections of JS Bach’s music cannot be underestimated. On its own, the Sonata No. 3 in C major remains one of the most ambitious in scale and scope of the entire collection of sonatas and partitas for solo violin. Except for the monumental chaconne at the end of the Partita No. 2 in D minor, no other movement compares to the fugue that directly precedes both the Largo and Allegro assai performed here by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Principal Second Violin, Ben Dollman.

 

WHAT TO LISTEN FOR

Throughout his collection of sonatas and partitas, Bach regularly exploits the open strings available to enable his polyphonic writing. However, for this Largo in the key of F major – a stark change of key from the preceding fugue in C major and the only such example across all six sonatas and partitas – here Johann Sebastian uses the open strings more sparingly. By having their fingers depressed on the fingerboard, the player produces a more controlled and clean sound, lending this movement to a more peaceful, calming, and subtle expression of emotion akin to the expected Baroque affect of F major.

In many ways, the Allegro assai  that directly follows the Largo could not be any more distinct – energetic, sprightly and briming with rapid passagework. Ben Dollman in his interview for Brandenburg One describes this finale as being “full of exuberance”. It is a clear and strong return to C major, masterfully evolving from the simplest of beginnings, the first five notes of the ascending C major scale.

Program Notes: Joanna Butler & Hugh Ronzani, 2021
Image Credit: Steven Godbee, 2020


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BEN DOLLMAN

Ben Dollman is one of Australia’s leading performers on Baroque violin, having held the position of Principal Second Baroque Violin in the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra for over fifteen years.

Studies in early violin began at Indiana University with the Australian Baroque violinist Stanley Ritchie. Upon returning to Australia, Ben was mentored by Lucinda Moon and invited to become a regular member of the Brandenburg in 1999.

He has performed as soloist and concertmaster on several occasions and is a featured soloist on two ARIA award-winning albums for Best Classical Album. In 2015 he was the recipient of a Brandenburg Foundation Study Grant to undertake extensive professional development work in Europe.

Based in Adelaide, he has been a leading performer in the South Australian chamber music and orchestral scene for many years with Adelaide Baroque, Ensemble Galante and has been a regular guest with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Ben also makes regular appearances in Victoria for Evergreen Ensemble and Melbourne Baroque Orchestra. Within Australia and internationally, he is a member of the theatrical musical duo 'Dual Aura' with Danish recorder player Monica Schmidt Andersen.

He also holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, and maintains a strong interest in how Arts Practice can influence issues of social importance such as environmental awareness.

View an interview with Ben Dollman here

 

Biography: Ben Dollman, 2021

Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019

BAROQUE VIOLIN

My violin is an old instrument with a very chequered history! We do not know its origins for sure, but the best guess is it comes from the north of Italy around Milan, from perhaps the 1780s. It has had a rough time though, and has been smashed and put back together, possibly more than once! Nevertheless, I feel very lucky to play it because the sound is still beautiful and resonant – quite amazing what can be done with instruments and what can endure through all those years.

 

Instrument Notes: Ben Dollman, 2021

Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019

FROM THE MANUSCRIPT

The image above of the Largo from Sonata No. 3 in C major comes from the 1720 autograph manuscript of Bach’s collection of sonatas and partitas for solo violin. The manuscript is currently held in the Berlin State Library.

Image Credit: Berlin State Library

FROM THE MANUSCRIPT

The opening excerpt above of the Allegro from Sonata No. 3 in C major comes from the 1720 autograph manuscript of Bach’s collection of sonatas and partitas for solo violin. The manuscript is currently held in the Berlin State Library.

Image Credit: Berlin State Library

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

Born 21 March 1685 in Eisenach
Died 28 July 1750 in Leipzig
Childhood (1685–1703)
Weimar, Arnstadt, and Mühlhausen (1703–1708)
Return to Weimar (1708–1717)
Köthen (1717–1723)
Leipzig (1723–1750)

Image Credit: Berlin State Library 

FROM OUR PRESENTING PARTNER APA GROUP

APA is proud to support the Brandenburg Bach Series. Arts and entertainment are important to Australia’s diverse culture and economy. During the COVID-19 pandemic these sectors and the artists, musicians, creatives and makers at its core, have been particularly hard hit. Innovation like this online series of recitals is evidence of their innovation and resilience. It will sustain and broaden audiences for this music long into the future.

Image Credit: Katelyn Jane-Dunn, 2020

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