Pervertimento, S. 66

P.D.Q. Bach

Edited by Prof. Peter Schickele
Duration: 00:09:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

During the 18th century, an evocative title such as the ?Jupiter? Symphony or the ?Ghost? Trio was often given to a piece of music, not by the composer but by someone who had heard the work and referred to it by using a name which indicated the dominant quality he thought the work possessed. Such is the case with the Pervertimento by P.D.Q. Bach (1807-1742)?, the last and least of the great Johann Sebastian Bach?s twenty-odd children, and certainly the oddest of the lot. As a matter of fact, the term ?Pervertimento? is not so much a title as it is an opinion of the people who first played the piece, and it refers not to the moral qualities of the work (which are, however, certainly impeachable), but rather to the perverse character of its musical ideas and form.

The first movement, Allegro Moulto, has a modest virtuoso part for the balloons, and is quickly followed by the second movement, Romanza II (Adagio Sireno), which features a stunning bicycle solo. In the third movement, the Minaret and Trio, we find not only the influence of the Near East (through which P.D.Q. Bach passed after pulling out of his job as a boatman on the Volga River), but also a fine example of P.D.Q.?s writing for the bagpipes. I think it?s safe to say that P.D.Q. Bach was history?s greatest 18th century German composer of music for bagpipes and chamber orchestra. This movement uses only the chanter, or melody-playing part, of the instrument. The following movement, Romanza I (Chi Largo), on the other hand, uses a practice chanter, which is a miniature bagpipe without drones whose tone quality makes up in nasality for what it lacks in decibels. The last movement, Presto Changio, employs all three soloists, and ends with one of the most uplifting cadences in the entire history of music in Western civilization.

The Pervertimento, Schickele No. 66, was written in the middle part of P.D.Q. Bach?s creative life, the Soused Period, of which it is an over-representative work. It has been recorded on the Vanguard album An Hysteric Return: P.D.Q. Bach at Carnegie Hall, so that posterity will be able to hear it as written even if the art of classical bicycle playing, already shamefully neglected, should disappear completely.

Additional Information

Editor Schickele, Prof. Peter
Orchestration Bagpipes, Bicycle, Balloons; Str.