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Duet in F major, BWV803


Far removed from the world of the Italian Concerto and French Overture are the Four Duets, BWV802–805. They are curiously included in the third volume of Clavierübung, published by Bach himself in 1739. This is otherwise a collection of works for organ, and certainly their two voices (hence ‘Duets’) sound just as well on that instrument as on any other. They resemble the two-part Inventions, but are much more characteristic of Bach’s later style. Written in ascending keys, the first in E minor opens with a scale but then tacks on an awkward figure that can be very clumsy to play. It reminds me of the A minor Prelude from Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier, with its chromaticisms and invertible counterpoint. The second in F major starts out happily enough, but then proceeds to a middle section almost entirely written in canon and with quite a wild subject. The third in G major is perhaps the most immediately attractive with its lovely pastoral rhythm in 12/8 time. Finishing in the key of A minor, the fourth duet is rather rugged and angular, with two chromatic sequences bringing some startling harmonic progressions. To the usual dedication ‘for music lovers to refresh their spirits’ Bach adds ‘and especially for connoisseurs of such work’. These four duets are definitely ‘musicians’ music’ which, despite their beauty, makes them relatively obscure.

from notes by Angela Hewitt 2001


Bach: Angela Hewitt plays Bach
CDS44421/3515CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Bach: Italian Concerto & French Overture
SIGCD030Download only
Bach: Italian Concerto & French Overture
Bach: Organ Miniatures
CDA67211/22CDs Archive Service
Bach: The Art of Fugue
Bach: The Complete Organ Works
CDS44121/3616CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted


Track 12 on CDA67306 [2'32]
Track 12 on CDS44421/35 CD12 [2'32] 15CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Track 4 on CDA66631/2 CD1 [3'21] 2CDs
Track 18 on CDA67211/2 CD1 [3'26] 2CDs Archive Service
Track 7 on SIGCD030 [3'18] Download only
Track 18 on CDS44121/36 CD5 [3'26] 16CDs Boxed set (at a special price) Deleted

Track-specific metadata for CDS44121/36 disc 5 track 18

Recording date
21 November 1996
Recording venue
Stadtkirche, Rheinfelden, Switzerland
Recording producer
Paul Spicer
Recording engineer
Paul Niederberger
Hyperion usage
  1. Bach: Organ Miniatures (CDA67211/2)
    Disc 1 Track 18
    Release date: June 1997
    Deletion date: May 2008
    2CDs Archive Service
  2. Bach: The Complete Organ Works (CDS44121/36)
    Disc 5 Track 18
    Release date: October 2002
    Deletion date: March 2009
    16CDs Boxed set (at a special price) Deleted
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