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Bach, J.S., Three Sonatas BWV 1027-1029 for Cello and Piano (Peters)

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Editor: Laurence Dreyfus.

Although the dating of Bach's three sonatas for viola da gamba and cembalo has presented problems for musicologists, because only an autograph score of the first sonata BWV 1027 survives, there is now general consensus that the works were written in Leipzig at some time in the late 1730s and early 1740s. Prior to that commentators had suggested that they dated from an earlier period when Bach was in Cöthen or even beforehand: the viola da gamba player Christian Ferdinand Abel was one of the court musicians of Prince Leopold at Cöthen.

Bach moved to Leipzig as Thomaskantor in 1723 and in 1729 was appointed director of the Collegium Musicum, a chamber music society that put on weekly concerts at the Café Zimmermann. Other versions of BWV 1027 exist: there is a trio sonata for two transverse flutes and continuo (BWV 1039); as well as a trio sonata for organ in three movements. Russell Stinson has determined that the organ work, with the first two movements transcribed from BWV 1039/i and BWV 1039/ii and the last from BWV 1027/iv, is not by Bach but most probably by Johann Peter Kellner.

In the late 1980s four new editions of the sonatas appeared, including the Urtext edition of Laurence Dreyfus for C.F. Peters; in a long accompanying text Dreyfus presented detailed arguments for the works to be dated to Bach's period in Leipzig.

In a subsequent study of Bach's chamber music, Wolff (1991) came to the same conclusion and gave provisional dates for many of Bach's chamber music and concertos in his Leipzig period. No precedence had been given to BWV 1027 or BWV 1039, beyond the fact that long notes are easier to sustain on a transverse flute than a harpsichord. The dating of BWV 1027–1028 is explained in detail by Jones (2013) in his analysis of Bach's instrumental works. including his flute sonata in E major (BWV 1035), the triple concerto in A minor for flute, violin and harpsichord (BWV 1044) and the trio sonata for flute, violin and continuo from the Musical Offering (BWV 1079).

Syllabus Information:

  • AMEB Cello Grade 5 List B
  • AMEB Cello Associate List B
  • AMEB Cello Licentiate List B
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