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Bach Series

Mikaela Oberg Baroque Flute

BACH Nº 7
Mikaela Oberg performs the Corrente from JS Bach's Partita in A minor for solo flute, BWV 1013

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PROGRAM NOTES

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

PARTITA IN A MINOR FOR SOLO FLUTE, BWV 1013
Corrente

During the Baroque period composers were mostly writing music with specific performers in mind, often musicians with whom they were working directly. While JS Bach was in Weimar for the second time, we know that he met and worked with the pre-eminent flute virtuoso Pierre-Gabriel Buffardin during a visit to Dresden. Buffardin’s connection with Bach extended beyond the Dresden visit however, he had given flute lessons to Johann Sebastian’s older brother Johann Jacob whom he had met in Constantinople in 1711.

Buffardin’s influence on the flute music of the Baroque period was considerable. Among his most famous pupils was Johann Joachim Quantz, who reportedly said that his teacher’s special skill was in the playing of very quick pieces. Quantz went on to become the most famous player in Germany and flute teacher to Frederick the Great and, aside from composing hundreds of flute sonatas and concertos, Quantz also wrote the treatise On Playing the Flute, which is still cited regularly even today.

JS Bach’s visit to Dresden was later reciprocated by Buffardin, who visited Johann Sebastian and his family when they were in Leipzig. Unfortunately, given the dearth of original sources, we cannot be certain if Bach wrote his Partita in A minor for the great flautist, however, the virtuosity and fast-flowing passages throughout the music indicates that only a player of considerable skill would have been able to perform the work.

Mikaela Oberg is not the first Oberg to play with the Brandenburg, her father Howard Oberg was the orchestra’s original flute and recorder player. Having grown up in a musical family, the Baroque flute and recorder repertoire is in Mikaela’s blood:

Quote
Despite a wealth of gorgeous flute parts across his music, JS Bach’s Partita is one of a small number of solo repertoire for the flute from this period, and the only solo work for the flute by Bach himself. It is a well-loved piece in both flute and recorder players’ repertoire, comprising 4 dance movements: Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande and Bourée Anglaise. These movements are difficult yet rewarding to perform, they require a large amount of stamina and use the full range of the flute. The Allemande even ends on a fiendishly difficult high A – the highest note on the 1-keyed flute. Yet, as usual with JS Bach, it is his treatment of harmony, weaving melodies and accompaniment together, that makes this work so special and a treat to play.
MIKAELA OBERG

WHAT TO LISTEN FOR
Corrente is Italian for ‘flowing’ and as a dance form was very popular from the late sixteenth to mid-eighteenth century. As the second movement in Bach’s Partita in A minor, it expectedly follows the opening Allemande and the fast passages of fluid semiquavers in triple-meter are punctuated by graceful yet acrobatic leaps.

Ever a master of harmony, here with just one flute JS Bach exploits subtle pauses at the end of phrases, not only allowing the player space for breath but also to mark important harmonic progressions.

 

Program Notes: Joanna Butler & Hugh Ronzani, 2020
Image Credit: Katelyn-Jane Dunn, 2020

 


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MIKAELA OBERG

Born into a musical family in Sydney, Mikaela began her studies on the recorder and flute at an early age. She completed a double degree in performance and music education at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2007 where she also began her studies on the Baroque flute with Melissa Farrow.

In 2010, Mikaela left for postgraduate studies at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague where she further specialised in historical flutes with Barthold Kuijken. During this time, she performed in The Netherlands and further abroad including with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century under the leadership of Frans Bruggen.

Mikaela returned to Australia in 2014 and has had the great pleasure performing historically informed programs with a variety of local and nationally based ensembles.

View an interview with Mikaela here.

Biography: Mikaela Oberg, 2020
Image Credit: Robert Catto, 2018

BAROQUE FLUTE

In this recording, I play an eighteenth-century model flute by German maker Fridtjof Aurin. This flute is a copy of an original by Turin maker Carlo Palanca from around 1750. I ordered this flute from Aurin in 2014 after travelling to his workshop in Dusseldorf to play the different models he offers and decided on this flute for its warmth of tone and agility across the full register.

Particularly appreciating the different tone colours possible from this instrument, I chose to have it made in Grenadilla for the rich tone it produces across the low notes, the quick responsiveness to different articulations and the stability of the timber in Sydney’s humid weather (some of my beautiful boxwood flutes have not fared so well, unfortunately). This is a flute well-suited to a range of Baroque and early classical repertoire and is made at the low ‘Baroque’ pitch of A=415.

Instrument Notes: Mikaela Oberg, 2020
Image Credit: Katelyn Jane-Dunn, 2020

FROM THE MANUSCRIPT

The image above of the Corrente from Partita in A minor for solo flute, BWV 1013, comes from a manuscript copied by Bernhard Christian Kayser ca.1722-1723. The manuscript is 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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