20 Feb 2020

BACH: Orchestral Suite No 3 In D BWV1068

From Music Alive, 8:01 pm on 20 February 2020

This work contains one of Bach's most famous melodies – it's known widely these days as the "Air on the G-String" but that strictly only applies to a 19th Century arrangement of the tune.

Dancing the Gavotte, by Randulph Caldecott

Dancing the Gavotte, by Randulph Caldecott Photo: Public Domain

It’s thought Bach may have produced more than ten orchestral suites, but we only have four existing, and this Third is possibly the best-known of these.

The genre was a collection of excerpts from French ballets and operas, and the arrangement of the form was an overture followed by a collection of dances ... great entertainment for garden parties, trade fairs and every other sort of celebration.

You're right to recognise the second movement. It was transcribed for strings in the 19th century which made it a party piece playable on only one string of a violin – hence the nickname: ‘Air on the G string’…one of those ‘Classical Hits’.

There are five movements: Overture; Air; Gavotte; Bourée; Gigue.

Recorded by RNZ Concert, Auckland Town Hall, 20 February 2020
Producer: Tim Dodd; Engineer: Adrian Hollay

Other performances from this concert:

BRAHMS: Symphony No 2 In D Op 73