The hidden messages in Bach’s solo partita in D minor
J. S. Bach
Antti Tikkanen, violin
Olga Heikkilä, soprano
Teppo Lampela, countertenor
Simo Mäkinen, tenor
Sampo Haapaniemi, bass
Johann Sebastian Bach is known for being a musical encoder, whose work is filled up with number symbolism and hidden spiritual messages. Bach’s theological cryptography can be detected in not only his vocal works, but also in the instrumental music. The Artistic Director of the Finnish Baroque Orchestra, Antti Tikkanen, and a FiBO Singers quartet are venturing intimately into Bach’s music and persona by deconstructing his iconic violin partita in D minor. The concert is based on a record published in 2001 by violinist Cristoph Poppen and Hilliard Ensemble, who in turn draw from the discoveries made by Helga Thoene in the partita, and especially in its Ciaccona.
The title of the concert, Morimur, “We die” in Latin, refers to a popular gravestone inscription from Bach’s era. The verse symbolises the holy trinity that Bach continually repeats in his work: “We are born from God / We die in the Christ / We resurrect in the Holy Spirit”.
Helga Thoene has found symbols of the holy trinity especially in the Ciaccona. In the beginning of the piece, the name of Bach’s first wife Maria Barbara is encoded in the melody. Thoene argues that the Ciaccona is a memorial for the wife who died shortly before the piece was finished. The theory is supported by the numerous references to hymns that build the themes of death and resurrection in the partita in D minor.
Bach repeatedly used chorale melodies in his work. Luther’s Easter hymn Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ lay in death’s bonds), in which agony turns into hope, predominates the partita in D minor as a sort of motto. Further, many of Bach’s favourite chorales appear in the piece, like Jesu meine Freude and Auf meinen lieben Gott. In this concert, the violin partita and its hidden chorales are heard alongside each other and intertwined. The undertow of the partita is brought forward, and the encoded chorales are played in their full glory.
Duration: 1 h 10 min (no intermission)
Ville Komppa will lead a pre-concert discussion and interview the artists at the House of Nobility on November 5th from 5–5.30 pm.