The Sonata in B minor, BWV1030, together with the orchestral suite in the same key (BWV1067), is representative of Bach’s greatest contribution to the literature of the transverse flute. In an earlier form (c1729–1736) the work was written in G minor; but only the harpsichord part has survived, casting doubt over Bach’s choice of partnering instrument. Though sometimes played by an oboe in this version, there is no conclusive evidence to support its claim. The version in B minor for flute and obbligato harpsichord is preserved in an autograph dating from Bach’s middle Leipzig years (c1736). It is the most extended and most ambitious of all his flute sonatas, and striking for the freedom afforded the keyboard part in the thematically varied opening ‘Andante’. The contrapuntal texture is sustained throughout by Bach’s wonderfully imaginative technique while he further holds our interest through an intellectually disciplined organization of ideas. The ‘Largo e dolce’, in D major, is in the rhythm of a siciliano whose melody is almost entirely the preserve of the flute. From an expressive standpoint, the movement foreshadows the north German sensitive style cultivated by Bach’s elder sons, Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel. The concluding movement is in two distinct sections, a fugue marked ‘Presto’ and a Gigue. This scheme, unusual in Bach’s music, provides not only additional variety but also confirms the virtuosity and profusion of ideas characteristic of the entire sonata.
from notes by Nicholas Anderson © 2002