Great musical and technical challenges are present in the Partita No 2 in C minor. The Sinfonia is remarkable for the drama of the opening Grave adagio, the lyrical beauty of the Andante (a rare tempo marking in Bach), and the energetic counterpoint of the two-part fugue that brings this movement to a close. After this powerful beginning the Allemande and Courante can seem slightly sober, but the counterpoint is masterful and always imaginative. The Sarabande is calm and flowing, with a steady stream of semiquavers. Then the excitement begins to build up – first with a jaunty Rondeaux, the theme of which is characterized by leaps of a seventh, and then, in place of the customary jig, a Capriccio of tremendous strength, ingenuity and humour. It is not at all hard to imagine a stringed-bass player having fun with the pizzicato leaps of a tenth in the left hand. Though difficult to play (Malcolm Boyd has called it ‘a graveyard for all but the most nimble-fingered executants’), it is one of Bach’s most enjoyable pieces.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 1997