Zach, Jan

Concerto for Cembalo and String Orchestra

Art.-Nr.: 1856 Kategorie:

14,00 

Jan Zach

Concerto for Cembalo and String Orchestra

(baptized 13 November 1699 – 24 May 1773)

Preface
Biographical information on Czech composer Jan Zach is sparse and sometimes inconsistent. Some sources list his date of birth as 1699 and others claim it is 1713. Some say he was the son of a farmer and innkeeper, and others state that his father was a wheelwright. He worked as a church organist in Prague from 1724 until 1740, and although his level of success and reason for leaving the city remains ambiguous, we know that he temporarily settled in Germany, where he composed numerous secular and sacred works. After 1756, he travelled extensively throughout Europe and was a frequent visitor to Stams Abbey, where many of his music scores remain. Sources agree that Zach had an eccentric personality, which often led to personal and professional problems, and seems to have prompted his geographic instability. During his travels, Zach earned his living by composing and teaching, and would have been exposed to a wide variety of European musical styles that encapsulate the transition from the Baroque to Galant eras in which he lived. The Harpsichord Concerto in C minor (K C17) exemplifies this transition.

The three movements of the piece follow the typical fast – slow – fast format of galant concerti, which had roots in the operatic overture structure of Alessandro Scarlatti. Throughout the harpsichord concerto, the bass lines alternate between the learned thoroughbass style and the harmonically static, repeated eighth notes typical of the Classical era. In the first movement, an Allegro Spiritoso, the harmonic minor tonality and austere melody of the opening ritornello quickly turns more galant in nature with the entrance of a sweeter second theme. The melodic content often consists of light flourishes in groupings of two or four measures, and the diatonic sequences are short and plain. Still, a Baroque style emerges in the keyboard part with complex, chromatic, and virtuosic patterns. In the G minor Andante movement, an A-flat passing note in the third and fourth measures creates an exotic and particularly somber tone that hints at the Phrygian mode—perhaps a remnant of the Czech folk music of his youth. Later in the movement, counterpoint writing in the harpsichord demonstrates Zach‘s proficiency with the learned style that more famous composers such as Mozart would soon grapple with in their own keyboard concertos. The playful third movement, Tempo di Minuetto, features upbeat and tricky passages for the harpsichord, then proceeds to exchange short, tuneful phrases with the orchestra.

The only surviving manuscript of this concerto originated in the convent of Cistercian Nuns in Heggback, Swabia, in South Germany. That copy is probably from 1770 although the Baroque influence on this piece relative to Zach’s later concerti indicates that the work may have been composed earlier in his career. It is our good fortune that Zach grew up in the rich musical environment of Bohemia, travelled extensively, and prolifically composed. His compositions, such as this Harpsichord Concerto in C minor, provide unique insight to the comingling of Baroque and Galant musical styles during the mid-eighteenth century.

The only surviving manuscript of this concerto originated in the convent of Cistercian Nuns in Heggback, Swabia, in South Germany. That copy is probably from 1770 although the Baroque influence on this piece relative to Zach’s later concerti indicates that the work may have been composed earlier in his career. It is our good fortune that Zach grew up in the rich musical environment of Bohemia, travelled extensively, and prolifically composed. His compositions, such as this Harpsichord Concerto in C minor, provide unique insight to the comingling of Baroque and Galant musical styles during the mid-eighteenth century.

Gabe Evens,2016

For performance material please contact Alcor, Kassel. Reprint of a copy from the Musikbibliothek der Münchner Stadtbibliothek, Munich.

Partitur Nr.

1856

Edition

Repertoire Explorer

Genre

Solo Instrument(e) & Orchester

Format

210 x 297 mm

Druck

Reprint

Seiten

28

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