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Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 (1730)

Arranged By Marsha Schweitzer

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31, 1685, in Eisenach, Germany, and died on July 28, 1750, in Leipzig. The work is scored for oboe, oboe d’amore, English horn, bassoon, strings, and harpsichord.

Complimenting the twelve Messiah movements is a trinity of secular works. Earlier, Handel’s Rodrigo offered a glimpse into earthly temptation and betrayal. Finally, completing the trio of instrumental works is an offertory of two celebrated works by Johann Sebastian Bach.


Just as the popularity of English oratorios became a destiny for Messiah, the orchestral suites, or Overtures, became popular in Germany in the 18th-century. Bach composed four suites, a modest number which posits that if more existed, they are missing, or that the composer was not interested or too busy to focus on the form seriously. 


Taken from the Orchestral Suite No. 3, the well-known Air is another dichotomy of the sacred and secular realms, of the gates of paradise made open. The long sustain of the opening melody, timeless in quality, occupies realms angelic. Interweaving lines in the middle range follow in concert, souls in ascent, while the earthly walking bass below, ruled by the governance of pace and time, trod along, awaiting judgment. © MTF


(Notes by Michael-Thomas Foumai)


Rejoice! From Handel’s Baroque epic comes the greatest story ever told, a Messiah of our time. Journey with Jesus of Nazareth, abiding in voices of prophecy, seraphic declaration, and apostolic revelation. The sacred and secular come together, forging a trinity of the divine-human experience. Temptation and betrayal slither in the Passacaglia from Rodrigo, Bach’s beloved Air from the Orchestral Suite No.3, is a vision of the earthly and eternal. Finally, divine design offers a final parable in the resurrection of Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.


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