Johann Sebastian Bach

Toccata for keyboard in D major, BWV 912 (BC L143)

    Description by Nemesio Valle

    Johann Sebastian Bach explored a wide variety of compositional models in the formative years before and during his first major tenure in Weimar (which began in 1708); this Toccata in D major is an excellent example of such experimentation. Falling loosely into the North German toccata style, it in fact embodies a potpourri of formal types. An early copy of the work confirms that it was intended for the organ, even though no pedal parts are in evidence. In fact, the Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 532 for organ is remarkably similar in structure to this work, and, given Bach's propensity to reuse and recycle, probably was a reworking of sorts.

    Like most toccatas, this one has several sections. The piece opens with brilliant yet almost crude scale and chordal passages, more idiomatic to the organ than to the harpsichord. The scales are interrupted by a rather jarring arpeggio which leads into a tremolo (rather atypical for Bach). This concludes and proceeds into a rather cheerful allegro. Though never modulating away from D major for long, the arrangement of voices and registers sustains this section until its end. The ensuing adagio passage is recitative-like in character until a dramatic interruption of descending scales, which remind the listener of the less structured opening. This section continues without pause into a fugue, which begins in F sharp minor. Unlike most of Bach's fugues, this one states the subject and countersubject simultaneously from the beginning. Certainly the most mature passage of this work, the fugue hints at many unusual harmonic regions and utilizes dense chromaticism throughout its development. This fugue proceeds, again without pause, into a freely composed quasi-improvisatory section, which explodes into a fast scalar passage with dramatic harmonic implications. Finally, without pause again, the piece bursts into a second, rather quaint, fugue for the end. Although it has a subject, it serves more as a harmonic grounding rather than a melody. Indeed, the piece is more of a vehicle for virtuosity than a display of compositional proficiency.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Toccata
    2. Adagio
    3. Fugue

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Nimbus NI 5946/47
    2017 Musica Omnia / Musica Omnia MO 0512
    2016 Nimbus NI 5939
    2016 Erato 557841
    2016 Piano Classics PCL 0099
    2016 Cybele SACD 031517
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Archive / Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Muso mu 007
    2013 Atoll ACD 509
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 002894791915
    2012 Sony Classical 88697962572
    2012 Virgin Classics
    2012 Genuin GEN 12250
    2012 Victor Elmaleh Collection VEC 104
    2012 Sony Classical 88725411882
    2012 Camerata Records CAM 99058
    2011 Priory Records PRCD 1035
    2011 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099909632
    2011 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT 111002
    2011 Paradizo 0009
    2010 Hyperion 4442135
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2010 Dynamic 658
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926506
    2009 Erato
    2009 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099969319
    2009 Document 231569
    2009 Sony Classical Essential Classics 7572432
    2009 Ramée 0903
    2008 Lyrichord 8062
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4778049
    2008 Harmonia Mundi 901960
    2008 Corona Classic Collection 0000462CCC
    2007 TransArt 142
    2007 Tuxedo Music TUXCD 1035
    2007 Metier 2001
    2007 Sony Music Distribution 88697148452
    2007 Cascade Records 2100
    2007 Cambria 1159
    2007 Classical Records 88
    2006 Doremi Records 7740
    2006 Brilliant 99697
    2006 Brilliant 93102
    2006 Wildboar 9501
    2006 Globe 5150
    2006 Arbiter ARBITER146
    2005 Brilliant Classics 92217
    2005 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT050501
    2005 Musicaphon 56871
    2005 Sony Classical Essential Classics 518509
    2005 Naïve V 5006
    2004 Calico Classics 1022
    2004 Alpha Productions 027
    2004 Deux-Elles 1017
    2004 INA Memoire Vive 036
    2004 INA Memoire Vive 17
    2003 Aca Digital 20076
    2002 Live Classics 402
    2002 Hyperion 67310
    2002 Claves 502011
    2002 Teldec 81237
    2002 Sony Classical 87762
    2002 Sony Classical Essential Classics 87762
    2002 Pearl 0170
    2002 Maestro Celebre 052179
    2001 Haenssler 92568
    2001 Naïve 8818
    2001 Legacy CJH005
    2001 NM Classics 98015
    2000 Angel Records 67210
    2000 Haenssler 92104
    2000 Harmonia Mundi 911707
    2000 Equilibrium 19
    2000 Sony Music Distribution 60278
    2000 Lyrichord 8041
    2000 Cembal d'amour 112
    1999 Teldec 25705
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Teldec 3984-25715-2
    1999 Wildboar 9402
    1999 Mandala 4936
    1999 Virgin 45322
    1999 Sony Classical 64226
    1999 Urania 119
    1998 Sony Music Distribution 60375
    1998 Concord 42051
    1997 Point Classics 265029
    1996 Vox 7520
    1995 Astree Auvidis 8565
    1995 Madacy 3637
    1995 Curb / Curb Classic Collection 78018
    1995 Madacy 9102
    1995 Madacy 56432
    1995 Madacy 7630
    1994 World Famous Masterpieces 1004
    1994 Sony Classical 52612
    1994 Naxos 8550708
    1994 VAI Audio 1041
    1994 Madacy 5438
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 439672
    1993 Dorian 90115
    1993 Pearl 9489
    1992 Hungaroton 11690
    1992 Bridge 9005
    1988 Otello 1012
    Marston 52036
    Pearl 9376
    Brilliant 93102-VOL2
    Brilliant 99702
    Brilliant 93102/41
    Arkay Records 6125
    Musica Rediviva MRCD009
    Kontrapunkt 32012
    Analekta 3004
    Musique d'Or 1043
    Magic Talent 48004
    RCA Victor
    Koch 7046
    Naxos 550708
    Brilliant 99702/18
    Pilz 160178
    Cascade Records 2134
    Nimbus 5669
    EMI Music Distribution 54319
    Koch International Cl 7046
    Minneapolis Guitar Quartet
    Pearl 16
    Cascade Records 2126
    Pearl 0169
    Wanda Paik
    History 205219
    Arkay Records 6132
    Madacy 4576
    Madacy 56433
    Solstice Records SO 065