This is followed by a second movement of disarming tenderness. The principal theme is essentially a sequence of sighs, followed by a dotted secondary theme that at first seems wonderfully chirpy but which with each return of the sighs acquires a quality of poignancy. Finally, sadness seems to win the day as the closing bars of dotted rhythms lead us back to the opening Affekt.
The final movement is a perfect two-part invention, the first piece in the entire collection that can be said to belong truly to the High Baroque. With the nearly endless rising modulation in the second half, however, Emanuel seems to be mocking the old style a bit as he follows counterpoint to its most ridiculously over-the-top narrative conclusion. The final eighteen bars, following a fermata, are achieved in a poker-faced manner—technically perfect and cool-headed, but perhaps with a smirk left over from the jokes of the previous bars. Or perhaps there is no ridiculing after all. After a trip to the opera in the first two movements, Emanuel Bach pays tribute to the greatest composer of them all—his father. Maybe he is saying that a two-part invention is ultimately worth more than all the pretty costumes and set designs in the world.
from notes by Mahan Esfahani © 2014