Kola Owolabi performs Corelli, Concerto in F Major, Opus 6, No. 2

Author: SMND

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Concerto in F major, Opus 6 No. 2
Arranged for organ by Kola Owolabi 

Performed on the Paul Fritts organ, 2004 (II/34)
DeBartolo Performing Arts Center
University of Notre Dame

Kola Owolabi, organ
Daniel Stein, audio and video recording

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) became acquainted with instrumental concertos by Italian composers such as Antonio Vivaldi, during his years in Weimar from 1708-1717.  Bach made keyboard arrangements of 21 instrumental concertos – 5 for solo organ and 16 for harpsichord.  Through these pieces Bach learned to compose in ritornello form, which he then featured in his own preludes and fugues, instrumental chamber music and cantatas, for the rest of his career.  A comparison of Bach’s concerto arrangements with the original models shows his great ingenuity in revoicing instrumental parts to make them idiomatic for the keyboard.  Bach then stamped his own personality on these works by filling in harmonies that would have been played by the continuo, embellishing contrapuntal details, and replacing fast repeated notes with keyboard figuration.  

“I have drawn inspiration from the concerto arrangements by J. S. Bach in my arrangement of Corelli, Concerto in F Major, Opus 6, No. 2.  It has been an interesting challenging to solve details of harmony and fugal writing, voice crossings between violin parts, and other particularities of idiomatic string playing to create a piece that sounds like it could have been originally written for the organ.  Corelli’s 12 Concertos, Opus 6, became well-known all over Europe, within a short period after their publication in Amsterdam in 1714.  Today they are performed mainly by baroque chamber ensembles playing on historical instruments.  It is my hope that my new arrangement will give me many more opportunities to perform this elegant music, and bring it to audiences who might not frequently hear it performed in the original version for strings and continuo.” – Kola Owolabi