Johann Sebastian Bach

French Suite, for keyboard No. 1 in D minor, BWV 812 (BC L19)

    Description by Blair Johnston

    J.S. Bach's six French Suites for harpsichord, BWV 812-817 are, in truth, no more French in design than his six English Suites, BWV 806-811 are English. While the possibility remains that an extra-musical association led to the adoption the title, the name is more likely than not simply one of music history's peculiarities. The shapes of these suites are quite German as a whole, and they show no more international influence -- French, Italian, or otherwise -- than does the bulk of the very cosmopolitan Bach's harpsichord music. The first of them, the French Suite No.1 in D minor, BWV 812, found its first home, along with four of the other French Suites, in the composer's Clavierbüchlein for Anna Magdalena Bach.

    BWV 812 is a work in six movements, each of which begins and ends in the frame key of D minor. The usual opening threesome of allemande/courante/sarabande is present. The Allemande is the usual serious, steady essay in two halves; the Courante is of the French rather than the quicker Italian type, as indicated by the choice of 3/2 rather than 3/4 meter (one might point out that Bach's use of the French courante species is by no means exclusive to the French Suites); and the Sarabande is a particularly dense and unadorned example of its breed, as compared especially with those of Suites Nos. 2, 3, and 5. A pair of minuets -- very possibly meant to be played as a single three-part da capo movement -- fill slots four and five, and a fugal gigue in three voices makes up for the plainness of the Sarabande by being the most ornate of all the French Suite gigues; here, one must certainly allow that Bach was emulating French gigue models.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allemande
    2. Courante
    3. Sarabande
    4. Menuet 1
    5. Menuet 2
    6. Gigue

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2019
    Divine Art
    DDA 25190
    2018
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMX 290892037
    2018
    Skarbo
    DSK 1171
    2017
    Stradivarius
    STR 37082
    2017
    Decca
    4832150
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295849818
    2017
    Alpha
    328
    2017
    Accentus
    ACC 30404
    2017
    ECM New Series
    2016
    Erato
    557841
    2016
    Resonus Classics
    10163
    2016
    Delphian
    DCD 34166
    2016
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMU 90758384
    2016
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    PH 14043
    2016
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4796565
    2016
    Oehms Classics
    OC 1835
    2015
    Sony Classical
    88875032222
    2015
    Sony Classical
    88875049962
    2015
    Nimbus Alliance
    NI 6314
    2015
    Solo Musica
    SM 223
    2014
    Steinway & Sons
    STNS 30046
    2014
    Christophorus
    CHR 77392
    2013
    Dynamic
    CDS 75712
    2012
    Ars Produktion
    ARS 38115
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88697962572
    2012
    Passacaille
    PAS 984
    2012
    Alba
    ABCD 346
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88725411892
    2012
    Music & Arts
    MA 1268
    2011
    Naïve
    OP 30530
    2011
    Camerata Records
    CMCD 1511920
    2011
    Warner Classics
    2564672352
    2011
    Warner Classics
    672351
    2011
    Zig Zag Territoires
    ZZT 111002
    2010
    Hyperion
    4442135
    2010
    Brilliant Classics
    94050
    2010
    Naïve
    AM196
    2010
    Decca
    2009
    Arts Music
    47738
    2009
    Sony Classical Essential Classics
    7572432
    2009
    Denon Records
    00795041941565
    2009
    Lyrichord
    8066
    2008
    Virgin Classics
    TOCE-56137
    2008
    Berlin Classics
    0002032
    2008
    Bridge
    9281
    2008
    Decca
    466736
    2007
    Apex
    2007
    Tuxedo Music
    TUXCD 1035
    2007
    Virgin Classics
    0946385787
    2007
    Brilliant Classics
    93322
    2007
    ECM New Series
    437 955-2
    2007
    Cascade Records
    2100
    2006
    Marquis Classics
    81343
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    93102
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    99697
    2006
    EMI Music Distribution
    76933
    2006
    Alba
    136
    2006
    Aeolus Music
    10084
    2005
    Brilliant Classics
    92217
    2005
    Ambroisie / Naïve
    AMB 9960
    2005
    Sony Classical Essential Classics
    518509
    2004
    GM Recordings
    2075
    2003
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4744602
    2003
    Zig Zag Territoires
    20401
    2003
    BIS
    1113/4
    2003
    Music & Arts
    MACD1124
    2003
    Guild
    7258/9
    2002
    Sony Classical Essential Classics
    87764
    2002
    Sony Classical
    87764
    2001
    Classical Express
    3957042
    2001
    Teldec
    81242
    2001
    Purchase Records
    1575
    2000
    Opus 111
    30/258
    2000
    Haenssler
    92136
    2000
    Angel Records
    61653
    2000
    Haenssler
    92114
    2000
    ECM / Universal Distribution
    437955
    1999
    Teldec
    25705
    1999
    Teldec
    25704
    1999
    Haenssler
    92135
    1999
    Harmonia Mundi
    2908078/83
    1999
    Various Artists
    Teldec
    3984-25714-2
    1996
    Collins Records
    13712
    1996
    Kontrapunkt
    32103
    1996
    EMI Music Distribution
    569479-2
    1996
    Concord Concerto
    42031
    1996
    Decca
    452279
    1995
    Sony Classical
    52609
    1995
    Hyperion
    67121
    1994
    BIS
    589
    1994
    Naxos
    550709
    1994
    Signum UK
    4200
    1993
    Decca
    433313
    1993
    ECM
    20001
    1991
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMU90 7042
    Brilliant
    93102-VOL2
    Brilliant
    99702
    Brilliant
    93102/39
    Digital Concerto
    708
    CBS Records
    42267
    Brilliant
    99702/16
    Nimbus
    5744/5
    Cascade Records
    2113
    Cascade Records
    2132
    P&P Classica
    Archiv Produktion
    000303002
    Erato
    92135