All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Violin Sonata No. 3 in E major

BWV 1016 performed by Shunske Sato and Menno van Delft
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

Shunske Sato on BWV 1016

A love duet

Bach fans the flames between harpsichord and violin

“Sie machen mir viel Vergnügen, ohngeacht sie über 50 Jahre alt sind”, said Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel in 1774. He was sending Bach’s six sonatas for violin and harpsichord, BWV 1014-1019, to Johann Nikolaus Forkel, who was writing a biography of father Bach. Carl Philipp Emanuel continued, “es sind einige Adagii darin, die man heut zu Tage nicht sangbarer setzen kann”. If any Adagio deserves the label ‘melodious’, then it is the third movement of the Sonata in E major. Incidentally, Carl Philipp Emanuel referred to Bach’s six sonatas as “Clavier trios”, as the violin and the right hand of the harpsichord are equal partners, while the left hand plays a separate bass part – so they are real trio sonatas.

Apparently, Bach himself also derived great pleasure from the collection of six, as he kept tinkering with them from his Köthen years (1717-1723) right up to his death, even when he was making chamber music with his Collegium Musicum in Leipzig.

In the slow opening section of the Sonata in E major, the harpsichord still has an accompanying role (although a very beautiful one, full of elegant modulations), but in the Allegro the players are already exchanging thematic material enthusiastically. The deservedly famous Adagio could almost be a classical passacaglia, if it were not for the fact that the violin soon takes on the ‘accompanying’ chords and leaves plenty of room for the harpsichord. This makes the musical entanglement complete, and the musical partners curve sensually around one another. The exuberant last movement gives a display based on two themes: at the beginning and end a flashy roller coaster of quick runs, and in the middle a more lyrical line of swaying triplets.


BWV
1016

Title
Sonata in E major

genre
chamber music (violin sonata)

series
six sonatas

year
1717-1723

City
Köthen

Cast & Crew

release date 15 July 2016
recording date 17 October 2015
location Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
violin Shunske Sato
harpsichordist Menno van Delft
Film director and editor Dick Kuijs
Music production, editing and mix Everett Porter
Camera Martine Rozema, Caroline Nutbey
Studio assistent Marijn Kooy
GAFFER Tim Groot
Producer concert Imke Deters
Producer Jessie Verbrugh
Interview Gijs Besseling, Kasper Koudenburg

Vocal Texts

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Translation

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