Denis Petrunin performs Bach’s “Chaccone in d minor”

March 11, 2011 9:43 pm in Concert by Web Team

“Chaconne” from Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach was written during the period 1717–1723 and some scholars suggest it was written in memory of Bach’s first wife, Maria Barbara Bach. The partita contains five movements:

  1. Allemanda
  2. Corrente
  3. Sarabanda
  4. Giga
  5. Ciaccona

A strong common theme is shared between the first four movements. While the first four movements reflect the standard German baroque dance suite, the overall dark character of the partita is enhanced by the monumental Ciaccona (commonly known as Chaconne in French) which closes the work.

This ciaccona is considered a pinnacle of the solo violin repertoire in that it covers every aspect of violin-playing known during Bach’s time and thus it is among the most difficult pieces to play for that instrument. Since Bach’s time, several transcriptions of the piece have been made for other instruments, particularly for the piano by Ferruccio Busoni and Alexander Siloti and piano/left-hand by Brahms, and for full orchestra by Leopold Stokowski and Joachim Raff.

Johannes Brahms, in a letter to Clara Schumann, said about the Ciaccona:

On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.

You can download a score of the full Partita at the International Music Score Library Project.

Bach’s “Chaccone”, performed by Denis Petrunin on solo marimba
Recorded 6/14/2010 at Yale University

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Denis Petrunin earned his Artist Diploma and Master of Music degrees at the Yale School of Music under the instruction of Professor Robert van Sice. Mr. Petrunin held the position of Co-Principal Timpanist of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra (Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra) in Moscow, Russia during the 2007 – 2008 concert season.

Mr. Petrunin’s percussive activity covers solo, chamber, and orchestral areas. He has appeared on the stages of Carnegie, Avery Fisher, and other prestigious music halls throughout the United States, Russia, Bulgaria, Great Britain, and Spain. Originally from Moscow, Russia, Denis has been playing music since the age of five.  He started his musical education by graduating from The Gnessins School of Music and earning his Bachelor’s degree from The Curtis Institute of Music under the guidance of Don Liuzzi and the late Michael Bookspan.

Mr. Petrunin has been a participant of several festivals and masterclasses, including the Cloyd Duff timpani masterclass, the Zeltsman Marimba Festival, the RoundTop  music festival and the annual Homecoming chamber music festival in Moscow.
Several of his performances have been broadcast on WHYY radio (Philadelphia, PA). His awards include the Avedis Zildjian Percussion Scholarship, PASIC 2009 Chamber Competition Winner, and the Spivakov Foundation Scholarship.

Mr. Petrunin has appeared as a soloist with the Gnessins Virtuosos Orchestra, the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, “The Seasons” Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and the Curtis Chamber Ensemble.

He has performed under the batons of Christoph Eschenbach, Sir Simon Rattle, David Zinman, Otto Werner Mueller, Charles Dutoit, Yakov Kreizberg, Sir Roger Norrington, Rosen Milanov, Vladimir Yurovsky, Yuri Bashmet, and more.
As well as being an active performer, Mr. Petrunin also enjoys teaching. His concert repertoire combines classical, contemporary solo and chamber music, as well as his own arrangements. The primary goals of his music career are to increase the popularity of percussion instruments, make the listener familiar with contemporary repertoire, and perform works written by living composers.
Currently Denis resides in Moscow, Russia, with his wife, violinist Anastasia Petrunina.  His recent activities include several commission projects as well as collaborating with Anastasia as a duo and teaching at the private music school.