Simply… Philharmonic! Project 3: The Same But Different – Inspirations–Transformations

12 February 2019, 7 p.m.
Warsaw Philharmonic (Concert Hall)


Jerzy Semkow Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra
Adam Banaszak |conductor

Johann Sebastian Bach / Anton Webern
 Ricercar a 6 from Musikalisches Opfer, BWV 1079
Johann Sebastian Bach / Leopold Stokowski Chorale Komm, süsser Tod, BWV 478
Johann Sebastian Bach / Leopold Stokowski Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578
Johann Sebastian Bach / Leopold Stokowski Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 582
Johann Sebastian Bach / Leopold Stokowski Air from the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068
Johannes Brahms Hungarian Dances Nos 1-5, 17-21
Antonín Dvořák Slavonic Dances, Op. 46 Nos 1-4

In today’s world early music has become the domain of period ensembles (once identified by the awfully sounding name of ‘historically informed performance practice’) and orchestral transcriptions of works by Johann Sebastian Bach may be seen as an anachronism. On the other hand, however, they are a document of the time when they were created, and testify to a certain important moment in music history. Great conductors – and Leopold Stokowski was undoubtedly one of them – transcribed Bach and other composers for orchestra for various possible artistic reasons. Stokowski’s transcriptions of nearly 40 works of the Leipzig cantor demonstrate his love and in‑ depth understanding of that music. Apparently he began with the aria “Es ist vollbracht” from St John Passion (transcribed in the summer of 1914). Bach’s first organ work that he rewrote for orchestra was the great Passacaglia in C Minor BWV 582, ending with a Fugue. He first conducted it in February 1922 and recorded seven years later with the Philadelphia Orchestra, with which he scored his greatest triumphs.
Brahms’s Hungarian Dances and Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances belong to a different sphere of music, less ambitious, conceived rather as noble entertainment. Brahms’s piano miniatures, completed in 1869, proved both popular and profitable, and each of them was soon adapted for other instruments and for orchestra. Brahms himself set only three of these pieces for symphony ensemble (Nos 1, 3 and 10), while Antonín Dvořák transcribed two (Nos 17 and 21). His Slavonic Dances (also for piano four hands) clearly follow Brahms’s example. The first series (Opus 46) was published in 1878. Soon afterwards, at the publisher’s request, Dvořák also created their symphonic versions.

Marcin Majchrowski

Organiser: Warsaw Philharmonic