Concerto for three harpsichords in C major

Concerto for three harpsichords in C major

BWV 1064 performed by Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Siebe Henstra, Menno van Delft and the Netherlands Bach Society
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam

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

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Bach’s most interesting concerto

Bach attracted attention to himself and his sons with this concerto.

The Concert in C major for three harpsichords is Bach’s most interesting concerto, thinks harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen. “It’s such a rich piece that I can work on it for ages. It’s more integrated and contains more conversation than any of Bach’s other concertos”. The harpsichordists nearly always operate as a whole, even playing large parts the same in one hand or even both. Brief solo passages serve more as an effect. It is only in the closing movement that there is scope for true solos: first arpeggios, like in the ‘Brandenburg’ concerto no. 5, then a continuous bass line with jumpy accompaniment, and finally some dramatic chromaticism in the first keyboard. A return of the frivolous triplets brings this virtuoso party to a rather abrupt end. It is remarkable that there is no continuo in the first and third movement; only a ‘bare’ bass line - which is actually quite modern.

Performance material for father and sons
Like nearly all of Bach’s other keyboard concertos, this concerto did not originate as a keyboard work, but was probably originally intended as a concerto for three violins. Prejudices against arranging ignore the fact that Bach deliberately created new versions of existing music. This concerto was probably created in the 1740’s to be played at the Zimmermannsches Kaffeehaus, where the Leipziger Collegium Musicum brought together many musical stars of the day to play concerts of the very highest standard. All eyes were on Bach when he twice led the Collegium for a few years, alongside his cantorship at St Thomas Church. And he also knew that a dazzling concerto for three harpsichords would attract positive attention to himself and his two sons, Carl Philipp Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann, who had not quite left home yet. As his age was preventing him from playing so much violin, Bach’s keyboard career could do with a boost.

Concerto for three harpsichords in C major
harpsichord works
around 1735-1745
Special notes
Probably an arrangement of a concerto for 3 violins (BWV 1064R)

Extra videos

Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Siebe Henstra, Menno van Delft

“Bach brings the virtuosity of the violin to the keyboard.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    22 June 2018
  • Recording date
    15 October 2017
  • Location
    Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam
  • Harpsichord 1
    Bruce Kennedy, 1989 after Michael Mietke
  • Harpsichord 2
    Geert Karman after J.H. Gräbner, 1774
  • Harpsichord 3
    Knud Kauffman, 1977 after Hildebrandt
  • Direction
    Lars Ulrik Mortensen
  • Harpsichordists
    Siebe Henstra (1), Menno van Delft (2), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (3)
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato
  • Violin 2
    Anneke van der Haaften
  • Viola
    Deirdre Dowling
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Double bass
    James Munro
  • Director
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Assistant director
    Stijn Berkhouwer
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Jochem Timmerman, Martin Struijf, Thijs Struick
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot
  • Set technique
    Dennis Hoek
  • 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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