Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Allegro
Certainly the opening tutti, with its unison writing, announces something special, and very different from the other keyboard concertos. This theme reappears throughout, separating the different excursions of the soloist. The most dramatic part of the movement is where the keyboard has a brief moment on its own, taking off over a long sustained pedal note in the bass. The Adagio also begins with a unison tutti – this time a ground bass which is present in every bar, modulating to different keys and sometimes fragmented. The soloist is given an impassioned aria, and engages in dialogue with the violins and violas. The whole is totally reminiscent of Passion music. The third movement is the most brilliant finale of the concertos, not letting up for a moment, and demands the utmost in rhythmic precision and virtuosity.
The first two movements of this concerto appear in the Cantata BWV146, Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen (‘We must pass through much tribulation to enter God’s kingdom’). Both movements give the solo part to the organ in a slightly less developed form. Amazingly, in what seems like an already very elaborate slow movement, Bach adds a four-part chorus above the keyboard part. The third movement appears as the Sinfonia to Cantata BWV188, Ich habe meine Zuversicht (‘I have my trust in God’). Both of these works were written between 1726 and 1728, so probably pre-date the keyboard concerto. The popularity of this work dates back to Mendelssohn’s performance of it in Leipzig in 1837, and the subsequent publication of the score.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2005