The Toccata in D minor, BWV913 was possibly the first to be composed. It is one of the longest of the seven but, in a lively interpretation, holds our interest throughout. The counterpoint in its two fugues is slightly less complicated, making it easier for students to grasp. The other sections, however, require an excellent sense of timing and understanding of harmonic progressions which need to be innate. There are quick changes of mood and tempo in the opening pages, the bulk of which are occupied by a passage including the ‘sighing’ motif that was very prevalent at the time (and which we also hear in the early Capriccio on the Departure of his Beloved Brother
, BWV992). Both fugues are built on fairly short subjects that stay rooted in D minor, rapidly moving from voice to voice. The concluding one is very orchestral in style, ending abruptly in the major key. In between the fugues we have another of those curious bridge passages where Bach seems to wander (as much as he ever wanders!) from key to key, repeating the same figuration. In this case the wandering has the effect of calming us down, and preparing us for the final allegro.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2002