Bach: Partitas for harpsichord

J. S. Bach: Partitas, BWV 825-830
Christophe Rousset
L'Oiseau Lyre 440 217 (2 CDs)


    Partita No. 1 in Bb major (BWV 825)
  1. Praeludium
  2. Allemande
  3. Corrente
  4. Sarabande
  5. Menuet 1
    Menuet 2
  6. Giga

  7. Partita No. 2 in C minor (BWV 826)
  8. Sinfonia
  9. Allemande
  10. Courante
  11. Sarabande
  12. Rondeaux
  13. Capriccio

  14. Partita No. 6 in E minor (BWV 830)
  15. Toccata
  16. Allemanda
  17. Corrente
  18. Air
  19. Sarabande
  20. Tempo di Gavotta
  21. Gigue
    Partita No. 3 in A minor (BWV 827)
  1. Fantasia
  2. Allemande
  3. Corrente
  4. Sarabande
  5. Burlesca
  6. Scherzo
  7. Gigue

  8. Partita No. 4 in D major (BWV 828)
  9. Ouverture
  10. Allemande
  11. Courante
  12. Aria
  13. Sarabande
  14. Menuet
  15. Gigue

  16. Partita No. 5 in G major (BWV 829)
  17. Præambulum
  18. Allemande
  19. Corrente
  20. Sarabande
  21. Tempo di Minuetta
  22. Passepied
  23. Gigue

Instrument: Harpsichord, Henri Hemsch (Paris 1751)
Tuning: Werckmeister III

Playing time: 154'

Recording date: September 1992

Bach chose to publish this set of six Partitas as his Opus 1; they appeared one by one, beginning in 1726, and then together in one publication in 1731. This was also titled Clavier-Übung I, and initiated the series which was to include the Italian Concerto & French Overture, the German Organ Mass, and the Goldberg Variations. It has also been widely speculated that Bach intended the Art of Fugue to form the fifth book of the series.

These partitias (suites) are remarkable for the elaborate ways in which the dance form are transfigured, as well as the variety present in the individual movements from partita to partita. They continue to sound very modern, and represent large technical advances over the more utilitarian French dance suites which apparently inspired them.

Other significant recordings:

J. S. Bach: Six Partitas
Gustav Leonhardt
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77215 (2 CDs)
J. S. Bach: Partitas - Clavierübung I
Kenneth Gilbert
Harmonia Mundi 901144.45 (2 CDs)
J. S. Bach: Partitas
Scott Ross
Erato 45345 (2 CDs)
J. S. Bach: Partitas
Blandine Verlet
Philips Duo 442 559 (2 for 1)
J. S. Bach: Clavierübung, Teil I & II
Andreas Staier
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77306 (3 CDs)
J. S. Bach: Partitas for Harpsichord
Trevor Pinnock
Archiv 415 493 (2 CDs)
J.S. Bach: 6 Partitas from Clavierübung I
Edward Parmentier
Wildboar 9101 (2 CDs)
Bach: The Six Partitas, BWV 825-830
Lucy Carolan
Signum 012 (2 CDs)

Before Bach produced the six published Partitas of the present recording, he also wrote a set of six French Suites & a set of six English Suites. While these compositions are not as ground-breaking as the partitas, they definitely show a steady development from the earlier French to the later English and on to the Partitas, along with being nice music. Significant recordings:

J. S. Bach: French Suites
Davitt Moroney
Virgin Veritas 59011 (2 CDs)
J. S. Bach: French Suites
Ton Koopman
Erato 94805
J. S. Bach: The Six English Suites
Colin Tilney
Music & Arts 777 (2 CDs)
J. S. Bach: English Suites
Gustav Leonhardt
Virgin Veritas Edition 61157 (2 CDs)

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Todd M. McComb