Concerto for Organ in A minor (after Vivaldi), BWV 593 – Arrangement of Vivaldi’s Concerto Op. 3, No. 6 for 2 violins and bass continue, RV 522
It was in the early 1710s, in the middle of his days in Weimar, that J.S. Bach first became acquainted with Antonio Vivaldi’s remarkable instrumental concertos; they would prove to have a tremendous influence not only upon Bach’s own instrumental concertos, but also upon his style as a whole. One of the ways that Bach learned and absorbed new music was by making adaptations and transcriptions of it. So he did with many Vivaldi concertos during his Weimar residency, recrafting them, along with concertos by other composers, into series of concertos for harpsichord and for organ (in both cases without orchestral accompaniment). Bach’s Concerto for organ No. 2 in A minor, BWV 593, is an arrangement — or a condensation and refinement — of Vivaldi’s famous Concerto for two violins in A minor, RV 522, No. 8 — from the volume L’estro armonico, Op.3, which first appeared in print in Amsterdam in 1711.
Manifestly, the reduction of a concerto for two soloists, strings, and basso continuo to a work for just two hands and pedals is a process that requires some alteration of the music. But Bach goes beyond simple necessity, and in fact tightens and enriches the very contrapuntal fabric of his source piece. BWV 593 is in three movements, the second of which Bach gives to the manuals alone.