Johann Sebastian Bach

Sonata for violin & continuo in E minor, BWV 1023

    Description by James Reel

    Most of Bach's accompanied violin sonatas -- distinct from the six great solo sonatas and partitas -- pair the instrument with harpsichord alone, and cast the violin in a supporting role. Two, however, put the violin front and center, supported by a continuo of keyboard and viola da gamba. Of those two, this E minor work is the second, longer, and more emotionally complex of the two (the other being BWV 1021). BWV 1023, unlike any of Bach's other accompanied violin works, falls into only three movements, not four. The first, however, breaks into two sections, both slow. The prelude seems to cry out for organ accompaniment, with its expressive, toccata-like violin line spinning out over a pedal note. This music evokes the earlier violin sonatas of Biber, but also has hints of the famous Prelude from the Partita (BWV 1006). This soon gives way to the more conventional Adagio ma non tanto, which gives the impression of a chorale from one of Bach's cantatas spun out into a somewhat more ornate violin line. The Allemanda is the first of the work's two dance movements -- another feature this sonata has in common with the partitas; dances are excluded from all of Bach's other accompanied violin sonatas, which follow the more abstract slow-fast-slow-fast church sonata format. It is followed by a more intricate, but structurally more compact, Gigue. The challenge in each of these two movements is for the violinist to provide a sense of strong rhythmic movement while maintaining an essentially lyrical line.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Preludio
    2. Adagio ma non tanto
    3. Allemande
    4. Gigue

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Oehms Classics OC 019
    2017 Centaur Records CRC 3527
    2016 Archiv Produktion 4795384
    2016 Oehms Classics OC 013
    2015 Aeolus Music AE 10236
    2015 Proprius Music PRCD 2056
    2013 Centaur Records CRC 3211
    2013 Cedille Records CDR 1002
    2012 Centaur Records 3183
    2012 Naxos 8572741
    2012 Alpha / Alpha Productions ALPHA 161
    2011 Eloquentia EL 1131
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Cedille Records 114
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Decca
    2009 Decca 4781149
    2008 Analekta 220167
    2007 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946383765
    2007 Cascade Records 2100
    2006 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946374378
    2006 EMI Music Distribution
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2006 Analekta 29830
    2006 Marquis Classics 83110
    2005 Harmonia Mundi 2907364/65
    2005 Brilliant Classics 92215
    2005 Parlophone
    2004 Alpha Productions 8
    2003 Gaudeamus CDGAU345
    2002 Archiv Produktion 471656
    2002 Archiv Produktion
    2000 GSP Recordings 2206
    2000 Harmonia Mundi 907250/51
    2000 Angel Records 61650
    2000 Haenssler 92123
    2000 Meridian Records 84420
    1999 Teldec 25705
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Teldec 3984-25716-2
    1999 Philips 426452
    1998 Hyperion 22025
    1997 Chandos CHAN0603
    1997 Harmonia Mundi 1907084
    1996 Sony Classical 67196
    1996 Sony Classical 68361
    1996 Orion 7811
    1996 Philips 454011
    1995 Centaur Records 2198
    1995 Archiv Produktion 447713
    1995 Gallo 694
    1994 Symposium 1079
    1992 ASV 107
    1992 Naxos 550194
    Brilliant 93102-VOL1
    Brilliant 99701
    MDG 3091074
    Channel Classics 14798
    Brilliant 99701/23
    Brilliant 93102/23
    RCA 60563
    Cascade Records 2128