Harpsichord concerto in A major

Harpsichord concerto in A major

BWV 1055 performed by Francesco Corti and the Netherlands Bach Society
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam

  • Menu
  • 1. Allegro
  • 2. Larghetto
  • 3. Allegro ma non tanto

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Reflection of an ideal

The second movement of this concerto is an operatic lamento

It is actually remarkable that researchers know or suspect that Bach wrote earlier versions of nearly all his harpsichord concertos for another solo instrument. It is almost as though Bach consciously chose not to write a concerto directly for harpsichord. Maybe Bach regarded a composition more as an abstract ideal, of which the various versions were concrete reflections, each one highlighting a different aspect. A composition was therefore a virtually infinite source of musical potential.

The basis for this Harpsichord Concerto in A major, BWV 1055, was probably a concerto for oboe d’amore, as suggested by the key and the fact that it is only really the right hand of the harpsichord that plays concertante. Apart from Bach himself, listeners at the time it was written would probably not have known that the solo instrument was originally an oboe. And if you had not read this, you might not have suspected it either.

However, Bach enjoyed playing with the musical knowledge of his audience. Although we do not know whether he occasionally went to the opera (in Dresden for instance), some of his audience would certainly have known. In the second movement of this concerto, the chromatically descending bass line and the slow, rocking rhythm of the strings resemble a lamento from an Italian opera. The harpsichord part is almost vocal in character. Here, Bach uses strategic musical style features to evoke the suggestion in the listener’s mind of yet another version.

The unusual thing about this concerto, says harpsichordist Franceso Corti, is that it is the only harpsichord concerto by Bach to have a second continuo part, so it would certainly have been played by a second harpsichord as well.

Harpsichord Concerto in A major
harpsichord works, orchestral works
between 1733 and 1746
Special notes
Probably an arrangement of a concerto written earlier by Bach for oboe d'amore

Extra videos

Harpsichordist Francesco Corti

“It's not a particularly difficult piece, but it's great fun.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    3 November 2017
  • Recording date
    3 February 2017
  • Location
    Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam
  • Harpsichords
    Bruce Kennedy, 1989 after Michael Mietke and Geert Karman after J.H. Gräbner, 1774
  • Harpsichord and direction
    Francesco Corti
  • Violin
    Shunske Sato, Noyuri Hazama
  • Viola
    Pieter Affourtit
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Double bass
    Hen Goldsobel
  • Harpsichordist
    Siebe Henstra
  • Director
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Jochem Timmerman, Rene Holbrugge, Kenneth Dirkzwager
  • Intern camera
    Klazina Westra
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot
  • Assistant director
    Stijn Berkhouwer
  • Set technique
    Justin Mutsaers
  • Data handling
    Jesper Blok
  • Project manager nep
    Peter Ribbens
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Marco Meijdam
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh

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