Movement 1: Poco allegro
Movement 2: Adagio assai
Movement 3: Presto
The slow movement of H50—and similar movements with notated dynamic contrasts—raises the question of the instrument for which Bach’s sonatas were intended. Clearly, much of his work at Frederick’s court involved harpsichord-playing, but the harpsichord could only effect quick dynamic contrasts through the use of a double manual. On the clavichord—an instrument Bach loved and which he used throughout his life—the player could create dynamic changes by variations in finger pressure, but the overall range was restricted to piano or softer. By the late 1740s, however, Frederick had still another keyboard instrument at his court: the fortepiano (a fact made particularly famous by JS Bach’s visit in 1747, on which occasion he improvised a fugue on one of these instruments using a theme provided by Frederick). Therefore, performance of these works by Emanuel Bach himself on the piano is not only possible, but even likely.
from notes by Leta Miller © 2010