Johann Sebastian Bach

Toccata for keyboard in E minor, BWV 914 (BC L145, 163)

    Description by Nemesio Valle

    Several pieces in Johann Sebastian Bach's output have gone almost entirely unperformed. This Toccata in e minor is among the best represented of all of the manualiter (or hands only) toccatas that Bach wrote, but still few people know it. Most likely originally written in Bach's earliest period (before 1708), this work is an excellent example of how Bach learned to compose; it is clear that the piece underwent some stylistic revision. The opening is reminiscent of some of Bach's organ works with rather pompous statements in the bass in contrast with what occurs in the upper voices. This section is relatively understated in comparison with the other six toccatas, all of which begin with scalar and arpeggiated passages which display the performers virtuosity. This is followed by a fugato-like passage which is highly chromatic and harmonically unstable. It is not unlike many of the other second sections in the other toccatas, except in its greater contrapuntal strictness. The following movement, an adagio, is marked by the term "Praeludium" in one of the manuscripts. This leads some scholars to believe that this section, along with the following fugue, comprised the original work and that the two preceding movements were later additions. In any event, this section is highly fantasia-like, with each chord receiving almost excessive embellishment. The final movement, an extended fugue, is one of the most enigmatic for Bach scholars, for its subject is identical to an anonymous fugue found in an earlier Italian manuscript. Additionally, the work also has a number of nearly similar similarities which show that Bach knew the work well when he composed (or perhaps, recomposed) his own. Such "plagiarism" was in fact a form of flattery in the Baroque period. However, Bach "improved" upon the earlier fugue, using a greater range of harmonic areas, more idiomatic keyboard writing (the other, though written for keyboard seems more appropriate for violin in many respects) and a richer melodic texture.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Hyperion CDA 68244
    2019 Harmonia Mundi HMM 90245356
    2019 Passacaille PAS 1058
    2018 SWR Music SWR 19052CD
    2017 Nimbus NI 5946/47
    2017 Musica Omnia / Musica Omnia MO 0512
    2016 Erato 557841
    2016 Piano Classics PCL 0099
    2016 Analekta ANL 29128
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Ars Produktion ARS 38172
    2015 Archive / Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Ameson AMN 1325
    2014 Muso mu 007
    2014 Divine Art DDA 25122
    2013 Verso VRS 2125
    2013 Early-Music.com EMCCD 7775
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 002894791915
    2012 Edition HERA HERA 2125
    2012 Virgin Classics
    2012 Genuin GEN 12250
    2012 Victor Elmaleh Collection VEC 104
    2012 Sony Classical 88725411882
    2012 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2012 Camerata Records CAM 99058
    2012 Delos DE 3419
    2012 World Music Network
    2011 New Cull Records
    2011 Passacaille PAS 970
    2011 Alpha Productions ALPHA 889
    2011 Toccata Classics TOCC 0111
    2011 Documents / Membran 232868
    2011 Stradivarius 33868
    2011 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099909632
    2011 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT 111002
    2011 Music Rough Guides / World Music Network RGNET 1241 CD
    2010 Hyperion 4442135
    2010 Steinway & Sons 30001
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2010 NCA 60209
    2010 Dynamic 658
    2010 MSR Classics 1302
    2010 Alpha Productions 149
    2009 Erato
    2009 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099969319
    2009 Document 231569
    2009 Ramée 0903
    2009 Sony Classical Essential Classics 741729
    2008 Lyrichord 8062
    2008 Sony Music Distribution 714773
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 714846
    2008 Harmonia Mundi 901960
    2008 Corona Classic Collection 0000462CCC
    2007 TransArt 142
    2007 Metier 2001
    2007 Cascade Records 2100
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Globe Records 5150
    2006 Decca / Universal
    2006 Accent 24170
    2005 Brilliant Classics 92217
    2005 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT050501
    2005 Sony Classical Essential Classics 518509
    2004 Winter & Winter 9101052
    2004 INA Memoire Vive 036
    2004 INA Memoire Vive 17
    2003 Cascavelle 3061
    2003 Pearl 202
    2002 Hyperion 67310
    2002 Claves 502011
    2002 Teldec 81237
    2002 Sony Classical 87763
    2002 Sony Classical Essential Classics 87763
    2002 Cambria 1133
    2002 Loft Recordings 1009
    2001 Haenssler 92568
    2001 Naïve 8818
    2001 Orfeo 547011
    2001 NM Classics 98015
    2000 Calliope 9277
    2000 Wildboar 9902
    2000 Haenssler 92104
    2000 Virgin 45284
    2000 Sony Music Distribution 60278
    2000 Lyrichord 8041
    2000 Cambria 1118
    1999 Teldec 25705
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Teldec 3984-25715-2
    1999 Wildboar 9402
    1999 Mandala 4936
    1999 Sony Classical 64226
    1999 VAI Audio 1185
    1999 Nimbus 5606
    1997 Concord / Concord Jazz 42047
    1997 Point Classics 265029
    1997 Chandos 0608
    1996 Connoisseur Society 4207
    1996 Vox 7520
    1996 Stradivarius 13602
    1995 Astree Auvidis 8565
    1995 Curb / Curb Classic Collection 78018
    1995 Music & Arts CD-859
    1994 Sony Classical 52612
    1994 Naxos 8550708
    1993 Dorian 90115
    1990 Nonesuch 79132
    1990 CBS Records 42527
    Atoll 2024
    Brilliant 93102-VOL2
    Brilliant 99702
    Brilliant 93102/41
    Kontrapunkt 32012
    Ligia 104081
    Naxos 550708
    Brilliant 99702/18
    Cascade Records 2134
    Pilz 160178
    Hyun Michelle Kim
    Arabesque 6804
    Philips 416141
    Rob Digital 0058
    Elisabeth Wright
    Russian Compact Disc (RCD) 16338
    MiClaire