Bach wrote the Sonata in E major for flute and continuo, BWV1035, during the last decade of his life. A nineteenth-century copy—no autograph has survived—suggests that the piece was written in 1741, when Bach made the first of two visits to Berlin, at the request of Frederick II’s chamberlain, Michael Gabriel Fredersdorf, who like his employer, was a keen amateur flautist. The work begins with an ‘Adagio ma non tanto’ whose expressive language calls to mind the sensitive inflections of the north German Empfindsamer Stil. The lively ‘Allegro’ which follows is binary and straightforwardly argued. The ‘Siciliano’ in C sharp minor is a subtler piece whose initial melody is echoed by the bass line but with some arresting harmonic progressions. The concluding ‘Allegro assai’ is introduced by a playful theme on the flute. This is broken off, briefly, while the bass, in a flurry of semiquavers, finishes the phrase on its own. Then the flute resumes the melody, maintaining its predominance to the close.
from notes by Nicholas Anderson © 2002