Trio sonata in G major

Trio sonata in G major

BWV 1038 performed by Marten Root, Shunske Sato,
Mieneke van der Velden, Benjamin Alard
Paushuize, Utrecht

  • Menu
  • 1. Largo
  • 2. Vivace
  • 3. Adagio
  • 4. Presto

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Instrumental music for a coffee house

Bach used the collegium musicum for experimenting

When Bach got the opportunity to take over the leadership of the most important collegium musicum in Leipzig, in 1729, he did so without a moment’s hesitation. The weekly concerts by the student music association in the coffee house of Gottfried Zimmermann gave him exactly the artistic elbow room he lacked in his post as cantor. There, for over ten years, Bach presented mainly chamber music to an educated audience, experimenting to his heart’s content with new instrumental genres. He was able to push forward his pupils (and of course his own sons) as soloists, who then got the chance to shine.

With one or two exceptions, there is no record of what exactly was performed at the 500 or so concerts. But the dating of the scores gives reason to believe that many sonatas, concertos and suites were created in this period. The Trio sonata in G major for transverse flute, violin and basso continuo (scores of which exist in Bach’s own hand) was most probably performed at such a coffee house concert. Despite the lack of a name on the score, the four-movement sonata with alternate slow and fast movements is regarded by Bach researchers as an authentic work by the master.

Yet there is something remarkable about the piece. Whereas in this period Bach enthusiastically highlighted the harpsichord as a solo instrument, this sonata has an ordinary continuo part. What’s more, the part displays great similarities to that of the Violin sonata, BWV 1021. As the authenticity of that piece has been ascertained, while its melody line is totally different to that of BWV 1038, one might conclude that this concerns an exercise in composition for a pupil. This assumption is further confirmed by the fact that the violin part of 1038 has to be performed ‘scordatura’, or with some strings tuned differently. The advantage of this tuning is not obvious in this piece. However, the different tuning does affect the sound, as violinist Shunske Sato explains in the interview.

Sonata in G major
viola da gamba, harpsichord, traverso, violin
chamber music
Special notes
The violin sonata in G major, BWV 1021, from ca. 1720, has a similar bass part. The violin sonata in F major, BWV 1022, is an arrangement of BWV 1038 from the period 1732-35 and has a solo part for harpsichord.

Extra videos

Violinist Shunske Sato

“This trio sonata was written for ‘scordatura’ violin – a violin that has been 'mistuned’. What effect does this alternative tuning have on the piece? Shunske Sato tells us.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    24 July 2015
  • Recording date
    1 March 2015
  • Location
    Paushuize, Utrecht
  • Traverso
    Marten Root
  • Violin
    Shunske Sato
  • Viola da gamba
    Mieneke van der Velden
  • Harpsichord
    Benjamin Alard
  • 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

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