Partita no. 5 in G major

Partita no. 5 in G major

BWV 829 performed by Elina Albach
Philharmonie, Haarlem

  • Menu
  • 1. Praeambulum
  • 2. Allemande
  • 3. Courante
  • 4. Sarabande
  • 5. Tempo di minuetta
  • 6. Passepied
  • 7. Gigue

Behind the music


Which fingering should you use?

A Sarabande like a carillon

This fifth partita of the set of six begins with a movement that Bach called Praeambulum. It is actually a fantasia, a quasi improvised entrée that revolves mainly around simple scales and chords. The unusual title and the musical content make it seem like the start of a musical teaching method. After all, the practice of playing scales also has a history. In Bach’s day, fingering traditionally did not use the thumb, so keyboard players played and phrased scales differently to pianists today. However, this tradition was already changing at the time Bach was composing, and the scales in the first movement of this Partita in G major appear to ask the keyboard player: which fingering should you use?

After the Praeambulum, the other movements demand attention for other aspects of the keyboard player’s fingers. For instance, the Allemande has evenly phrased triplets, and the Corrente and the Tempo di minuetta are studies in broken chords. Moreover, only the slow Sarabande is completely three-part. The Tempo di minuetto is even practically monophonic – no wonder that Robert Schumann used this as teaching material for his daughter Marie. At the end, in the Gigue, a full three-part development returns. And Bach pulls out all the stops for this closing section. After the simplicity of the earlier movements, the Gigue gradually assumes the guise of a three-part fugue with two themes.

It would be interesting to know how keyboard players and composers played this partita through the ages. We know that Johannes Brahms bought a copy of the original edition of this Partita no. 5 in November 1855. And we know how Béla Bartók played the Praeambulum from a recording. But unfortunately, we do not know their fingering. So what does harpsichordist Elina Albach do in our recording? We filmed it from above, so that you get a good view. Another fun fact: this Sarabande always reminds Elina Albach of a carillon, so she chose her registers accordingly. And right after the final chord of her recording, we hear the carillon of the Grote Kerk, in Haarlem.

Partita no. 5 in G major
harpsichord works
Clavier-Übung I, II, IV, Six keyboard partitas
ca. 1725-1731

With support from

Dr. van Wijk-Bos

Extra videos

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    18 August 2022
  • Recording date
    2 June 2021
  • Location
    Philharmonie, Haarlem
  • Harpsichordist
    Elina Albach
  • Harpsichord
    Markus Krebs, 2009 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
    Dr. van Wijk-Bos
  • In memory of
    her beloved late husband A. David Bos, who now sings with the heavenly choirs and in his lifetime was a profound admirer of classical music, in particular of J.S. 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!