Partita no. 2 in C minor

Partita no. 2 in C minor

BWV 826 performed by Mark Edwards
Philharmonie, Haarlem

  • Menu
  • 1. Praeludium
  • 2. Allemande
  • 3. Corrente
  • 4. Sarabande
  • 5. Menuet I
  • 6. Menuet II

Behind the music


Bach as a lighting technician

In this partita, Bach keeps showing you a different scene

The ambitious, tricky Partita No. 2 opens with an equally ambitious Sinfonia. Here, Bach initially uses the dotted-note, stately rhythms of the French overture – padam, padam, padam. This form was invented at the French court, ninety years before the publication of Bach’s partitas, by composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, who opened his operas with it, as well as the aristocratic ballets de cour, in which the Sun King and his courtiers danced. In the eighteenth century, the characteristic rhythm had wormed its way into all sorts of music, including the keyboard genre in which Bach made his works widely known: the Suite, called ‘Partita’ in Italian.

Bach’s overture is exceptionally dark and weighty. Like shadows, the minor chords are cast over the listener. But then it seems almost as if Bach forgets the genre in which he is composing. The massive opening chords melt away and a more cautious line, accompanied by a running bass, starts to spin out - before this line too dies down after a through-composed cadenza, and a two-part fugue starts to hum, too quick to be able to follow it mentally, with sequences that lead us almost efficiently to the final cadence. Then suddenly the earlier dotted rhythm returns: the final chord.

In the space of a few minutes, we have to adjust three times in order to follow Bach, and in the subsequent movements, too, Bach keeps us alert. Bach is like a lighting technician. By placing a spotlight here and a colour filter there, he keeps showing you a different scene in his Partita No. 2.

Partita no. 2 in C minor
harpsichord works
Clavier-Übung I, II, IV, Six keyboard partitas
ca. 1725-1731

With support from

The Miller Family Charitable Foundation

Extra videos

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    28 March 2024
  • Recording date
    3 June 2021
  • Location
    Philharmonie, Haarlem
  • Harpsichordist
    Mark Edwards
  • Harpsichord
    Bruce Kennedy, 1989 after Michael Mietke
  • Director, camera
    Robin van Erven Dorens
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Onno van der Wal
  • Lights
    Ernst-Jan Thieme
  • Best boy
    Jordi Kooij
  • Data handling
    Stefan Ebels
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With support from
    The Miller Family Charitable Foundation

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!