Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Johann Sebastian Bach

Through the first three movements of this third work in the set, Bach follows his standard operating procedure for the French Suites. The first movement, as always, is an Allemande, or German dance; here it's played Allegro moderato and based almost entirely on a little opening gesture of four sixteenth notes that echo back and forth from right hand to left, slowly arching up and down the scale. The cells of the motif, when linked together, gradually become more ornate, and the left hand provides full-fledged canonic imitation. The Allemande's second section is very similar to the first, except that the motif is reversed: the intervals descending where they used to rise, and vice versa. The Courante, Allegro vivace, essentially lifts the basic motif from the Allemande and knocks it into triple meter. The Sarabande, an Andantino, also derives its melody from the same few notes, but now spreads them through a longer, more lyrical theme; again, this dance falls into two distinct but closely related sections. Bach tries something new with the fourth movement, an Anglaise or English dance in 4/4 (in some editions this appears as the next-to-last movement, picking up as it does a chord from the second Minuet). This piece evokes an English country dance, or perhaps a hornpipe. The first of the two Minuets (Bach now reverting to his typical pattern) is an exercise in turning a B minor chord into a series of arpeggios that constitute a motoric (but not too fast) melody. The second Minuet stretches out its melodic material more, but subjects it to a three-voice treatment. The movement ends with a reprise of the first Minuet. Finally (unless the Anglaise is played here) comes the customary Gigue, another nod to the English, again employing arpeggios, but now in a more forceful manner.