Viola da gamba sonata No. 2 in D major

Viola da gamba sonata No. 2 in D major

BWV 1028 performed by
Mieneke van der Velden and Benjamin Alard
Paushuize, Utrecht

  • Menu
  • 1. Adagio
  • 2. Allegro
  • 3. Andante
  • 4. Allegro

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

From father to son

For whom did Bach write this virtuoso gamba part?

From the very first notes, it is clear that Bach wrote this piece for a top-level gambist, as the musical and technical demands are way above average. The harpsichordist, too, must have been a very experienced musician, although we do not have to search long for him, as it is highly likely that Bach performed this part himself. It probably dates from his Leipzig period, especially as the harpsichord takes on both the upper part and the accompaniment, which is the sort of innovation that Bach was trying out in Leipzig. There, he premiered a great deal of instrumental music between 1729 and 1739, at the Café Zimmerman with his collegium musicum, preferably with fellow musicians, pupils and family.

But the question is who could have played the virtuoso gamba part. The leading candidate was long thought to be Christian Ferdinand Abel, a gambist who played in the Köthen ensemble led by Bach between 1717 and 1723. But that was when this sonata was dated considerably earlier. Now that an increasing number of musicologists are becoming convinced that the work was written in Leipzig, this contemporary and good friend of Bach no longer seems to be an option. He succeeded Bach as Kapellmeister in Köthen, where he is presumed to have been buried in 1737, and probably never even went to Leipzig.

It is another case entirely for his fourteen-year-old son Carl Friedrich Abel, a promising gambist who went to study at the Thomasschule in Leipzig in 1737. Under Bach’s wing, he grew into an outstanding musician and composer, and his mentor helped him get a job in 1743 at the prominent court chapel in Dresden. Later, this Abel went to London, where he often worked with Bach’s son Johann Christian. In England, Abel also composed a respectable oeuvre of symphonies and concertos, as well as dozens of wonderful works for gamba.

Although we cannot be certain, Carl Friedrich’s close ties with the Bach family and his great talent make him the ideal candidate performer of this Sonata for gamba in D major.

Sonata for harpsichord and viola da gamba in D major
viola da gamba, harpsichord
chamber music

With support from

The Howell Pack

Extra videos

Gamba player Mieneke van der Velden

“This viola da gamba has a silvery sound.”

Gamba player Mieneke van der Velden

“In this short documentary, gamba player Mieneke van der Velden shows the special characteristics of the viola da gamba and what sets the instrument apart from other string instruments such as the cello or double bass.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    1 April 2016
  • Recording date
    1 March 2015
  • Location
    Paushuize, Utrecht
  • Gamba player
    Mieneke van der Velden
  • Harpsichordist
    Benjamin Alard
  • Viola da gamba
    Antoine Despont, 1617
  • Harpsichord
    Joel Katzmann after Joannes Couchet, ca. 1650
  • Film director and editor
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Music recording producers
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Camera
    Robert M. Berger
  • Camera assistants
    Stef van Wijk, Uriel Matahelumual
  • Grip
    Jeroen de Haan, Thijme de Zoet
  • Gaffer
    Zen Bloot
  • Best boy
    Thomas Jeninga
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Producer concert
    Erik van Lith
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • Acknowledgements
    Lex Martens and Provincie Utrecht
  • With support from
    The Howell Pack

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