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Gabrielian's Bach Remix

Tanya Gabrielian
courtesy of the artist
Tanya Gabrielian

On the program:

Suite in E, BWV 1006a: III. Gavotte en Rondeu - Elizabeth Farr, lute-harpsichord

Cantata BWV 97 In allen meinen Taten (translation) - Sandrine Piau, soprano; Bogna Bartosz, alto; James Gilchrist, tenor; Klaus Mertens, bass; Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, Ton Koopman, conductor

Violin Sonata No. 3 in C, BWV 1005 (trans. Bach, Saint-Saëns, and Cardelús) - Violin Sonata No. 3 in C, BWV 1005


Throughout his life as a musician, J.S. Bach never hesitated to take a good musical idea from one setting and transplant it into another.  And that’s partly why other composers have, over the centuries, been inspired to do the same with Bach’s music, as in this transcription by Camille Saint-Saens. 

Pianist Tanya Gabrielian took that idea one step further.  This performance of Bach’s Third Violin Sonata reflects the imagination of not just one transcriber, but three, including Bach himself. 

Three dynamic voices, illuminating one violin sonata  through the playing of Tanya Gabrielian, are coming up on The Bach Hour.

Hello, I'm Brian McCreath;  welcome to The Bach Hour from Classical Radio Boston WCRB, a part of WGBH.  Tanya Gabrielian’s personal history with Bach is one that’s consistent with many others’ experience, yet it’s no less profound.  At a time when the challenges she faced seemed all but insurmountable, it was Bach’s music that led the way forward towards hope.  And that hope comes through in a performance you’ll hear later in the hour.

Also on the program today is the Cantata No. 97, In allen meinen Taten, or “In all my actions.”  And you’ll find a link to a translation of that piece from Boston’s Emmanuel Music when you visit us online at Classical WCRB dot org, where you can hear this program again on demand.  Again, that’s at Classical WCRB dot org.

Here is a short fugue Bach himself transcribed from its original form, played by Elizabeth Farr on what was apparently one of the composer’s favorite instruments, the lautenwerk, or lute-harpsichord.  This is the Gavotte en Rondeau, written originally for the Third Violin Partita, here on The Bach Hour.

[MUSIC – BWV 1000]

In the midst of composing, teaching, and performing, J.S. Bach was also an enthusiast of technology, especially when applied to musical instruments.  This Gavotte from Bach’s Violin Partita No. 3, performed by Elizabeth Farr, was performed on an instrument called the lautenwerk, or lute-harpsichord.  Essentially a keyboard instrument made to imitate the sound of a lute, not a single example has survived the centuries.  But we do know Bach owned at least one lautenwerk, the specifications of which were used to build the instrument you just heard.

Unlike most of Bach’s cantatas, it’s unclear what the occasion was for the Cantata No. 97.  The best guess seems to be that it was written for a wedding, and it certainly has the feel of both solemnity and celebration.

It’s built on a chorale and text Bach’s audience would have known well.  In allen meinen Taten translates as “In all my actions,” continuing with, “I take counsel from the Highest, who owns and is capable of everything.”  It’s a hymn of praise to the Divine, with each of the nine movements a setting of a verse of the chorale.  

It begins with an Overture, the chorale embedded in the texture, followed by a solo for the bass in, more or less, the character of a gigue.  

Then the tenor soloist is joined by a solo violin for a beautiful aria with a text that translates as “I trust His grace, which protects me from all harm.”


It’s a warm affirmation of the believer’s relationship with the Divine.  And the alto soloist confirms that relationship, but with a slightly darker aria that might represent a bit of doubt for the believer.  


Doubts are cast aside, though, in a duet for the soprano and bass soloists, followed by further confirmation from the soprano soloist before the cantata ends with a final chorale.

Remember, you can find a translation of the text for this piece when you start at our website, Classical WCRB dot org.

Here is Bach’s Cantata No. 97, in a performance featuring soprano Sandrine Piau, alto Bogna Bartosz, tenor James Gilchrist, and bass Klaus Mertens.  Ton Koopman leads the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, here on The Bach Hour.

[MUSIC – BWV 97]

Bach’s Cantata No. 97, In allen meinen Taten, or “In all my actions,” in a performance by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir and conductor Ton Koopman.  The soloists included soprano Sandrine Piau, alto Bogna Bartosz, tenor James Gilchrist, and bass Klaus Mertens.

Coming up, pianist Tanya Gabrielian draws in a virtual round table of voices to create a unique take on a Bach violin sonata. 

You’re listening to The Bach Hour, from WCRB, online at Classical WCRB dot org.


Welcome back to The Bach Hour, from Classical Radio Boston, WCRB.  I’m Brian McCreath.

When pianist Tanya Gabrielian was in college, she suffered an accident that kept her in the hospital for weeks.  And through the pain of recovery, she kept her mind occupied by listening to music by Bach.  And by listening for its own sake, without trying to also practice the music, she experienced a sort of re-awakening to music in general, propelling her forward into her life as a musician.  She recalls that story as part of her notes for a recording she calls “Remix,” which includes music Bach wrote for solo string instruments transcribed for the piano.  And from that recording, here is Bach’s Third Violin Sonata, with movements that take the term “remix” to heart.  The second and third movements are transcriptions by Saint-Saens, and the fourth is by contemporary Spanish composer Arturo Cardelús.  And it all begins with a first movement transcribed for keyboard by … Bach himself.  This is Tanya Gabrielian, here on The Bach Hour.

[MUSIC - BWV 1005]

Made up of keyboard transcriptions by Saint-Saens, Arturo Cardelús, and the original composer himself, that was Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 3, performed by Tanya Gabrielian.

Remember, if you’d like to hear this program on demand, just visit us online at Classical WCRB dot org.

Thank you for joining me today, and thanks also to audio engineer Antonio Oliart Ros.  I’m Brian McCreath, and I’ll hope to have your company again next week here on The Bach Hour.