New Arrangements for the Pioneer Consort. Vol. 1 // 24th November 2010 //
New Arrangements for the Pioneer Consort. Vol. 1
The first recollection I have of hearing the Sinfonia to Cantata No. 29 by Bach was on a Columbia Record Club selection sent to my parent’s home in 1969: SWITCHED-ON BACH by Wendy (Walter back then… ) Carlos and Benjamin Folkman.
My head spun with the changing colors of the MOOG synthesizer, and the beauty of the unfamiliar timbres. I did not have the words to describe the sounds until much later when I learned about sine, square, and triangle waves. All these years later, my attention perks up when I hear the Moog in some musical texture.
The Sinfonia was the opening track on the record, and to my ears the most exciting, although the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 was a tour-de-force as well. I wore out the grooves playing it over and over. I keep two copies in my record collection in case one wears out.
When Chris Devine, our violinist played me the Praeludium from the E-Major Partita for solo violin, I asked if he had heard the Sinfonia version. I had played a version for two guitars arranged by Matanya Ophee and thought that a version for the trio would be a great show piece for Chris.
Bach transposed the work down a whole step, setting the the violin part in exact transposition for organ in D. He then added a chamber orchestra of three trumpets, tympani, oboes, and strings. The piece took on a rather regal, fanfare quality.
Setting this for our trio, I moved the key back to E, the original violin key, since Chris had it memorized. The cello was given the organ’s left hand and pedal. I chose to set the trumpet and string parts on my Banjar (my seven string classical banjo). The trumpet figures retained the great barking blasts, the string lines had good clarity, and the timbre of the banjar in general gives the piece the sort of “what’s that?” quality I felt when hearing the Carlos setting.
The work was premiered last summer in Vermont, and we are including it and two other non-holiday works on our New England Noel tour this year. We’ll get around to recording this and other new pieces next year.