Bach & Stravinsky
featuring Anne-Marie McDermott
February 4th, 2022
Guest Artist Bio
In a career that has spanned over 25 years, American pianist Anne-Marie McDermott has played concertos, recitals, and chamber music in hundreds of cities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. The breadth of her repertoire matches that of her instrument, spanning from Bach, Haydn, and Beethoven to Rachmaninoff, Prokoviev, and Scriabin to works by today’s most influential composers — Aaron Jay Kernis, Steven Hartke, Joan Tower, and Charles Wuorinen, among them. As an Artistic Director, Ms. McDermott leads the Ocean Reef Chamber Music Festival in Florida and the Avila Chamber Music Celebration in Curacao.
Beginning with the 2011 season, she is also the Artistic Director of the Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado. Anne-Marie has been an Artist Member of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1995. Ms. McDermott’s passions have recently coalesced in several important projects that are indicative both of her popularity and the range of her musical interests: the presentation of The Complete Prokoviev Piano Sonatas and Chamber Music as part of the Lincoln Center Festival; The Chamber Music of Shostakovich at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s Piano Sonata No. 6; and the performance and recording of Gershwin’s Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra with the Dallas Symphony (2008, Bridge Records). The latter was named Editor’s Choice by Gramophone.
About her critically acclaimed recording of the Complete Prokoviev Piano Sonatas (2009, Bridge Records), Gramophone wrote “we have waited a long time for an American pianist of this stature.”
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) Brandenburg Concerto no. 3 BWV 1048
Composed for violins, violas and cellos (divided into three parts,) bass and continuo
As is a familiar tale for musicians and composers, Johann Sebastian Bach spent years of his career in pursuit of employment opportunities. We tend to associate Bach primarily as a kapellmeister and composer of liturgical music, but in 1721 Bach packaged up six works, each for a different virtuosic ensemble, to the Margrave of Brandenburg. It is safe to reason that Bach was seeking employment from the Margrave by sending him these works.
While Bach’s efforts were not fruitful (there isn’t any indication that the Margrave ever responded to Bach’s inquiry) and the concertos sat forgotten until their publication in 1849, the six Brandenburg Concertos have gone on to be regarded as one of the most important bodies of work in Baroque music.
Of the Brandenburg concertos, the third is the most frequently performed. This may be because the demands on the individual instrumentalists is not as strenuous as other concertos, or it may simply be because of the the near-perfect nature of the work’s construction, coupled with its immediate appeal to the listener.
The first movement begins majestically, with each instrument group playing a separate figure. While there is some variation on this throughout the movement, by and large, Bach treats the three instrument groups as units throughout this movement.
For the second movement, Bach merely indicates a single, cadential chord change to be played by the musicians. It is commonly understood that Bach’s intention was for either a solo violin or keyboard to improvise a melody over this cadence, which would then, inevitably, lead us into the third movement.
The final movement is a rousing and virtuosic display that offers each individual voice the opportunity to have its moment in the sun. It is said that Bach led the debut performance of this concerto from the first viola chair, which should please violists everywhere to know, as Bach gave the first viola part the culminating melodic moment near the end of the movement.