Suite in A minor

Suite in A minor

BWV 513 performed by Menno van Delft
at the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam

  • Menu
  • 1. Fantasia
  • 2. Allemande
  • 3. Corrente
  • 4. Sarabande
  • 5. Burlesca
  • 6. Scherzo
  • 7. Gigue

Behind the music

Story
Story
Extra videos
Extra videos
Credits
Credits

Light-hearted

From the living room out into the world.

In his essay on playing keyboard instruments, Johann Sebastian’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel also wrote about the clavichord. The large wing-shaped harpsichord was “usually used for loud music”, whereas the clavichord was for “playing alone”. One of the characteristics of a good clavichord was that it should allow people “both to press the keys firmly and to stroke them, so as to produce all sorts of forte and piano sounds clearly and distinctly”.

The origins of this Suite in A minor lie in “playing alone” in a homely setting, as it is the opening work of the second book of music Bach compiled for his wife Anna Magdalena, in 1725. It is the ideal context for a clavichord. The music itself is also looser in form than usual. Not only does the work begin with a Fantasia, but later on there is an unusual Burlesca (from the Italian bulare: making fun of, mocking), with big leaps for the left hand, which is followed by a Scherzo (from the Italian scherzare: fooling around, joking). So, light-hearted fun for at home.

Later, the Suite in A minor, BWV 827, was published as the third of Bach’s set of six partitas (another word for suites). The second and third partita had already been announced in an advertisement in a Leipzig newspaper, in September 1727. Copies could be bought not just from Bach himself, but also from fellow musicians in Dresden, Halle, Lüneburg, Wolfenbüttel, Neurenberg and Augsburg. So it was not just music for his own living room, but also work he wanted to present to the wider world.

Thanks to modern recording technology, the clavichord has gained a new role. Menno van Delft – performing in Huis Bartolotti with no audience – can play as softly as he wants and still reach a wide audience. So although the clavichord may still be mainly for “playing alone”, nowadays we can all listen in from our own living rooms.

BWV
827
Title
Suite (Partita) in A minor
Instrument
Clavichord
Genre
harpsichord works
Serie
Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach, Clavier-Übung I, II, IV
Year
1725-1731 (but earlier, as it is in Notenbüchlein)
City
Leipzig

Extra videos

Clavichordist Menno van Delft

“My own conclusion is that most of the Partitas, including this Third Partita, come into their own best on the clavichord because of its flexibility.”

Vocal texs

Original

Translation

Credits

  • Release date
    7 October 2021
  • Recording date
    12 May 2018
  • Location
    Bartolotti House, Amsterdam
  • Harpsichordist
    Menno van Delft
  • Director, camera and lights
    Gijs Besseling
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera, lights
    Nina Badoux
  • Camera and lighting assistant
    Eline Eestermans
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • Supported by
    Stichting Elise Mathilde Fonds
Help us to complete All of Bach Help us to complete All of Bach

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!