The Partita No 4 in D major is a glorious work. It has both intimacy and grandeur in abundance and, with the sixth Partita, is the longest of the set. The French Ouverture with which it begins immediately captures our attention with its flourishes, trills and double-dotting. Orchestral in nature, it moves on to a fugal section in concerto style that is nevertheless wonderfully dance-like. One of my favourite moments in all of the Partitas is the D major Allemande with its long singing phrases and beguiling intimacy. A calm but flowing tempo is needed for the ear to follow the harmonic progressions under the florid melody. After a joyful, rhythmically inventive Courante, Bach does the unusual and inserts an Aria before the Sarabande. It has been suggested that this was just to fill up some blank space on the engraver’s page, but for me this is a perfect way to prolong the lively mood established by the Courante before returning to intimate feelings with the Sarabande. The opening motif of this movement, with its ascending flourish, seems to ask a question – which is then answered in the following two bars. The delicate, two-part counterpoint roams about, again like the Allemande in long, poignant phrases. A brief Menuet, deftly combining duple and triple rhythms, is followed by a Gigue sharing Bach’s infectious vigour and zest for life.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 1997