It’s not every day, every year, or every decade that I get the opportunity and ability to perform the Complete Sonatas for Flute by J. S. Bach with harpsichord and continuo. Such an inspiring and monumental undertaking is only taken when one has just the right circumstances. I believe I have found just this opportunity in March 2018, when I join forces with Joseph Gascho on harpsichord and we take the journey chronologically through the oeuvre. Victor Huls will assist on cello.
The first three Sonatas are deemed as ʻSonaten auf Concertenart” or, sonatas in concerto style. The Sonata for flute and harpsichord in B minor, BWV 1030, Sonata for flute and harpsichord in E flat major, BWV 1031,The Sonata for flute and harpsichord in A major, BWV 1032. They are grand works with a three movement format and the flute is given the major role as principal line. Quite often there is a secondary line played by the harpsichord that, when paired with the basso continuo line, creates a lovely trio Sonata.
Sonata for flute and basso continuo in C major, BWV 1033, Sonata for flute and basso continuo in E minor, BWV 1034, and the Sonata for flute and basso continuo in E major, BWV 1035, all have four movements.
One more addition, an early attribution is the Sonata in G minor BWV 1020 (also played on violin), and it gives its attribution to J.S. Bach’s son, C.P.E. Bach. And, to create even more challenges, scholars have also attributed C.P. E. to Sonata in C major and Sonata in E flat major.
Caroline Waight writes on Naxos’ website, “The origin of Bach’s sonatas for flute and harpsichord is uncertain; it has been suggested that most of them are rooted in works written while Bach was working as Konzertmeister at the court of Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Kothen, a post he accepted in late 1717. However, because some of the sonatas are arrangements of earlier works and few autograph scores survive from that period, it is difficult to say with certainty. It is certainly true that Bach’s tenure at Kothen saw him produce a good deal of secular rather than sacred music: many of his most famous instrumental and secular vocal works, including some of the Well-Tempered Clavier and several of the Brandenburg Concertos, date from this period. Leopold, himself a practising musician, kept a sizeable court orchestra and was evidently greatly interested in instrumental music.”
Secular nonetheless, I will bring Bach’s Flute Sonatas into my church to bring the community of musicians hope for a new instrument. The parish of St. Andrews Church was built in 1867 and the church is now working to raise funds to build a new tracker organ that will benefit generations for a lifetime. I hope to raise more than $2500 for this project through this concert.
I look forward to meeting everyone there to listen to the output of music for the flute that has stood the long musical test of time. They’re beautiful.
In Bach We Trust? Yes. Even in the attributions.
Posted: December 24th, 2017