The third work in Bach’s collection is the Sonata in A minor (BWV1003). In its opening Grave, a Largo to all intents and purposes, Bach makes extensive use of multiple stopping to provide harmonic support to the melodic line. As in the slow movement of the G minor Sonata, the music contains structural ambiguities for performer and listener alike, providing players with a variety of interpretative possibilities. The Fuga which follows presents a terse subject which, however, Bach develops in a manner altogether more complex than the equivalent movement in the G minor work. Here he achieves a wonderful expressive variety, developing the fugal material with contrasting passages of semiquavers, and multiple stopping to create two or three independent parts. The melodic line of the lyrical Andante is strongly differentiated from the underlying harmonic support, presenting something of a challenge to the performer who must preserve the distinction between the two elements. This melodically appealing movement leads to an Allegro finale, in binary form, in which Bach dispenses with multiple stopping in favour of a single melodic line containing a profusion of broken chords. The Sonata was later transcribed, perhaps by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, as a piece for harpsichord solo (BWV964).
from notes by Nicholas Anderson © 2009