Johann Sebastian Bach

Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, for organ in C major, BWV 564 (BC J36)

    Description by Blair Johnston

    During his early days as a professional organist, Bach tinkered and toyed with all shapes, sizes, and kinds of non-chorale organ music, eventually perfecting the species of two-part toccata and fugue or prelude and fugue form so well known through such famous examples as the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (ca. 1708). Only a single surviving work bears witness to the composer's passing interest in a three-part subspecies of that form: the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564, which has been attributed both to Bach's years in Weimar (1708-1717) and to the preceding period.

    After a substantial, seemingly improvised (but of course carefully constructed) opening, the Toccata blossoms into wonderfully rich counterpoint in a pseudo-Baroque concerto style; some have heard Vivaldi's influence here, which would indicate a date of about 1713 or shortly thereafter. The Adagio is more often than not performed as a freestanding piece, both by organists and in a famous arrangement for cello. It is at its essence a melody with steadily plodding accompaniment. The Fugue takes up a long, multi-limbed subject with patches of broken triads and the same kind of quick, upper-pedal-point oscillation that characterizes the subject of the famous Fugue in BWV 565. Unlike that more famous work, however, this Fugue has no grandiose cadenza at the end, instead running its course in pure contrapuntal fashion with just slight embellishment at the cadence, followed by a brief coda.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Toccata
    2. Adagio
    3. Fugue

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Arc Music EUCD 2829
    2018 Alba ABCD 424
    2018 Decca
    2018 Leaf Music LM 219
    2017 Azica Records ACD 71314
    2017 First Hand Records FHR 40
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95310BR
    2016 Lawo Classics LWC 1087
    2016 Raven / Raven Records OAR 971
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875032272
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95166BR
    2016 La Dolce Volta LDV 201
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94981BR
    2015 K-Tel 136437
    2015 RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical 88875127202
    2015 MSR Classics MS 1561
    2014 Genuin GEN 14324
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002132
    2014 Telarc TEL 3531902
    2014 Telarc
    2014 Mark Custom Recording / Mark Records 50546MCD
    2013 The Gift of Music CCLCDG 1273
    2013 Coro COR 16112
    2013 Motette / Ursina Motette CDMOT 13861
    2013 Querstand QUE 1309
    2013 Musica Omnia MO 0405
    2013 Querstand QUESACD 1228
    2012 MDG 9061753
    2012 Audite AUDITE 92663
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 Claves 501008
    2011 MDG MDG 60617082
    2011 Signum Classics SIGCD 261
    2011 Erato 2564676018
    2011 Antes Edition / Zebralution
    2011 ABC Classics 4764593
    2011 Preiser Records 91184
    2011 Audite 20012
    2011 Altissimo 61142
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779527
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Documents 233041
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 477 862-8
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    2009 Denon Records
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    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926428
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    1994 Naxos 550901
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    1994 BIS 343/344
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    Brilliant 93102-VOL6
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    Analekta 4023
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