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JS Bach: Chaconne

Who hasn’t marvelled at the Chaconne from JS Bach’s first violin partita? At 12-14 minutes depending on the interpretation, this is a majestic composition. And all for a measly solo violin. If you look at the violin score carefully you see that Bach actually wrote extended passages of four-voice harmony. With the limitations of a violin this sounds more vertical (arpeggiated) than horizontal (sustained), but of course this has inspired any number of people to arrange the piece for larger forces. The Busoni piano version is well known, but there are quartet, symphony orchestra, and many other, arrangements.

And now there is an arrangement for 12 recorders SnSSAATTBBGGC.

Obviously, a recorder ensemble arrangement can bring out the polyphony, but it has its own limitations in the range of the individual recorders, much less than of a violin. Therefore, this arrangement does a fair amount of spreading lines over multiple instruments. And this makes it a great test for ensemble playing.

The original 2015 arrangement is available for free on IMSLP, but an improved 2020 revision is for sale on Tablatur.

Chaconne