The Sonata in A major H135 (Wq65/32) takes us into a Classical sound world. The piece also exists in a version for organ (H133); but in both fast movements of the harpsichord adaptation Bach inserted varied reprises for each section of the binary form. As in his collection of six Reprisen-Sonaten
published in 1760 (two years after this sonata was composed), the alterations to each reprise are not simply ornamental, but more like variations over a fixed harmonic scheme. In the introduction of his 1760 collection, Bach explained that his aim in publishing such varied reprises was to provide performers ‘with a simple means of gaining the satisfaction of adding some alterations to the pieces they perform, without needing to invent such alterations themselves or rely on others to write something that they will learn only after a great deal of effort’. The parenthetical interjections so typical of Bach’s earlier sonatas are lacking in this work, although the sonata shows his characteristic (and now finely developed) harmonic invention. The opening movement also features a wonderful written-out cadenza that recalls some of the startling excursions for which Bach had become renowned. In contrast to his early works, all of the movements of this sonata flow in continuous and balanced phrases. In fact, both the slow movement and the finale are based on a series of eight-bar units. In the Andante con tenerezza, the opening theme (four bars leading to a deceptive cadence balanced by a further four to a full cadence) is immediately repeated with variation and later reappears two more times, subjected to Bach’s imaginative variation writing. The finale is based on a reverse dotted, or so-called Scotch snap, rhythm.
from notes by Leta Miller © 2012
University of California, Santa Cruz