Already Series Eight of Music in New Malden is drawing to a close. This season has ranged across a wider repertoire than previously, including a piano sonata by Michael Tippett, baroque violin duos, yet another Mozart piano concerto in an arrangement for fortepiano and classical winds, and a semi-staged seventeenth-century opera!
Series 8 ends with Bach on Sunday 12 June at 3pm.
Bach’s six French Suites for solo harpsichord were written during the early 1720s – probably as a musical gift for his second wife, Anna Magdalena. Many manuscripts survive, transmitting somewhat different versions; Bach continued revising the suites over several years, adding and subtracting movements and refining the texts. Bach did not compose these suites as ‘concert music’ in the sense that we understand that term today; rather, they were for domestic use, whether as teaching material or else for listening to in an intimate setting. The earliest reference to them as ‘French’ suites dates from about 12 years after Bach’s death. Each suite is structured around four typical baroque dance-types: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue – to which other dances are sometimes added.
Three suites will be played by MiNM co-founder, John Irving on a harpsichord made by Andrew Garlick (2000), copied from a Flemish single-manual instrument by Andreas Ruckers dating from the mid-17th century. This was a type of instrument well known to Bach; its tonal characteristics are well-suited to the delicacy of the French Suites.