The Partita No 3 in A minor is unjustifiably rarely played. Perhaps its opening Fantasia is not considered ‘impressive’ enough. Certainly compared to the opening movements of the other five, it is very unassuming (it is in fact a lovely, easy-flowing two-part invention). It might sound simple, but unexpected turns in the two voices make it tricky to memorize. An elegant Allemande is followed by a vigorous Corrente with perky dotted rhythms and octave leaps. The Sarabande provides a moment of tender repose in an otherwise mostly restless suite. It is a trio of unusual beauty, and I find it easy to imagine two woodwind instruments playing over a continuo bass. In the earlier version of this Partita the Burlesca was entitled Menuet (the music is the same) and there was no Scherzo. These two movements, which should follow in rapid succession, considerably boost the overall energy of the piece and lead straight into the three-part Gigue fugue. Was Bach making fun of the rules of counterpoint when he wrote the descending scale in octaves in the Burlesca? I think it most likely.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 1997