BWV 526

BWV 526

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Sonata No. 2 in C minor

BWV 526 performed by Bernard Winsemius
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

Does this typical chamber music make sense on an organ, Bernard Winsemius asks himself.

Concerto for a one-man band

All the typical elements of a solo concerto bundled into a new genre

Seated at his instrument, the organist may have the means at his disposal – but does he also have the mastery? This is a pertinent question in the case of Bach’s demanding organ sonatas, with their three fully autonomous parts in two keyboards and pedal. This second sonata, which comes first in one of the sources, is the model for numbers 5 and 6: an Allegro opening with alternating tutti and solo passages, and a closing fugue – here with two themes: one classical and the other very surprising and modern. For this sonata, Bach probably transcribed existing trio sonatas, but these originals have unfortunately been lost. 

Six sonatas, BWV 525-530
Around 1727-1730, Bach introduced a new organ genre: the trio sonata. This type of sonata –with two melodic instruments and bass, or a soloist and keyboard – had long been a fixture in Baroque chamber music, but the three parts had never been heard before on one instrument. Through clever registration, it is possible to attain a wealth of sounds on the organ, but this is merely the beginning, as the six sonatas are regarded as extremely difficult. Schweitzer, for instance, says that “those who have practiced these sonatas thoroughly will not actually encounter any more problems in either the old or the modern organ literature. [...] He has achieved absolute precision in his playing – the ultimate condition of the true art of organ-playing. In this complicated trio piece, even the smallest irregularity can be heard with terrifying clarity”.
Biographer Forkel remarked that Bach wrote the collection (or transcribed it from earlier material) for the studies of Wilhelm Friedemann, whom he “thus trained to be the great organist he later became”. Maybe this context is also the reason he adds galant touches to the Italian concerto style here and there, inspired by the operas in Dresden of which Friedemann was apparently a great fan. The sonatas remained influential for a long time, also on the young Mendelssohn, for example. Notwithstanding its chamber music origins, this is out-and-out keyboard music, with a unique interaction between both hands. The almost endless variation of form makes the collection a world of its own.


Sonata No. 2 in c minor

organ work

six sonates



Cast & Crew

release date 30 January 2015
recording date 25 June 2014
LOCATION Walloon Church, Amsterdam
ORGANIST Bernard Winsemius
Organ Christian Müller, 1734
PRODUCER Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Jan Van den Bossche
DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY Sal Kroonenberg, Ruben van den Broeke
Grip Antoine Petiet
FILM EDITOR Dylan Glyn Jones
COLORIST Jef Grosfeld
PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS Marco Meijdam, Zoë de Wilde

Vocal Texts




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