Violin Sonata No. 3 in E major
BWV 1016 performed by Shunske Sato and Menno van Delft
Behind the music
A love duet
Bach fans the flames between harpsichord and violin
“Sie machen mir viel Vergnügen, ohngeacht sie über 50 Jahre alt sind”, said Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel in 1774. He was sending Bach’s six sonatas for violin and harpsichord, BWV 1014-1019, to Johann Nikolaus Forkel, who was writing a biography of father Bach. Carl Philipp Emanuel continued, “es sind einige Adagii darin, die man heut zu Tage nicht sangbarer setzen kann”. If any Adagio deserves the label ‘melodious’, then it is the third movement of the Sonata in E major. Incidentally, Carl Philipp Emanuel referred to Bach’s six sonatas as “Clavier trios”, as the violin and the right hand of the harpsichord are equal partners, while the left hand plays a separate bass part – so they are real trio sonatas.
Apparently, Bach himself also derived great pleasure from the collection of six, as he kept tinkering with them from his Köthen years (1717-1723) right up to his death, even when he was making chamber music with his Collegium Musicum in Leipzig.
In the slow opening section of the Sonata in E major, the harpsichord still has an accompanying role (although a very beautiful one, full of elegant modulations), but in the Allegro the players are already exchanging thematic material enthusiastically. The deservedly famous Adagio could almost be a classical passacaglia, if it were not for the fact that the violin soon takes on the ‘accompanying’ chords and leaves plenty of room for the harpsichord. This makes the musical entanglement complete, and the musical partners curve sensually around one another. The exuberant last movement gives a display based on two themes: at the beginning and end a flashy roller coaster of quick runs, and in the middle a more lyrical line of swaying triplets.
- Sonata in E major
- Harpsichord, Violin
- chamber music
- Release date
- 15 July 2016
- Recording date
- 17 October 2015
- Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
- Shunske Sato
- Menno van Delft
- Geert Karman naar J.H. Gräbner, 1774
- Film director and editor
- Dick Kuijs
- Music production, editing and mix
- Everett Porter
- Martine Rozema, Caroline Nutbey
- Studio assistent
- Marijn Kooy
- Tim Groot
- Producer concert
- Imke Deters
- Jessie Verbrugh
- Gijs Besseling, Kasper Koudenburg
Help us to complete All of Bach
There are still many recordings to be made before the whole of Bach’s oeuvre is online. And we can’t complete the task without the financial support of our patrons. Please help us to complete the musical heritage of Bach, by supporting us with a donation!