J.S. Bach – Sonatas for viola (da gamba) and harpsichord
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Sonata BWV 1027 in G Major   Adagio – Allegro ma non tanto – Andante – Allegro moderato
Sonata BWV 1028 in D Major    Adagio – Allegro – Andante – Allegro
Sonata BWV 1029 in G minor    Vivace – Adagio – Allegro

About the programme

The only preserved material of the three sonatas for viola da gamba and obbligato harpsichord is the manuscript of BWV 1027. For that reason the exact date of composition of these masterpieces can not be established. However the works are estimated to date from around 1730-1740. Even though the three sonatas BWV 1027-1029 were originally composed for viola da gamba, violists in Bach’s time might as well have played them: the repertoire for viola was rare in the baroque period, but the interest for the viola was growing as shows for example Bach’s 6th Brandenburg Concerto and Telemann’s Viola Concerto. A few decades later, J.S. Bach’s sons Carl Philipp Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann both composed for the viola. With this perspective in mind, it is interesting to take a new approach to Bach’s three sonatas for viola da gamba on the viola. We released an album with these three sonatas on Channel Classics Records in February 2021.

The Bach sons and J.G. Graun

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788)

Sonata for viola and obbligato harpsichord in G minor Wq 88   Allegro moderato – Larghetto – Allegro assai

Johann Gottlieb Graun (1703-1771)

Sonata for viola and obbligato harpsichord in F Major   Grazioso – Allegro – Allegro Moderato

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784) / Johann Gottlieb Graun (1703-1771)

Sonata for viola and obbligato harpsichord in C minor   Adagio e Mesto – Allegro non troppo – Allegro Scherzando

About the programme
The Sonata in C minor by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach was for a long time attributed to his violin- and composition mentor Johann Gottlieb Graun. The influence in style is clear, however, comparing the C minor sonata to other viola sonatas by J. G. Graun, one finds innovative and strong temperamental elements in the C minor sonata that could point to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach as composer. This program proposes Graun’s Sonata in F major for viola and obbligato harpsichord alongside the C minor sonata – and excellent occasion for comparing the styles and expressions in these two pieces. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote his Sonata for viola and harpsichord in Berlin in 1759. There exists two different manuscripts of the sonata with passages arranged in different octaves which clearly indicates that the sonata was played on both the viola da gamba and the viola da braccio.