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Partita en Do menor, BWV 997

Pla­ce and Date: Leip­zig, 1737–41.

Chief sour­ces: SPK P 650 (Agri­co­la; title: Prae­lu­dium, Fuge, Sara­ban­de and Gigue fürs Cla­vier); LEm III. 11. 5 (Wey­rauch, tabla­tu­re, lac­king fugue, dou­ble; title: Par­ti­ta al Liuto).

Edi­tions: BG 45, NBA V/10.

Move­ments: Pre­lu­de – Fugue – Sara­ban­de – Gigue
The sequen­ce of move­ments making up BWV 997—prelude and fugue, sara­ban­de, gigue, and double‑makes it seem a collec­tion of mis­ce­lla­neo­us pie­ces. But the uni­formly matu­re sty­le points to its having been con­cei­ved inte­grally. The title «sui­te» does not occur in the chief sour­ces, and in fact the orga­ni­za­tion is clo­ser to that of a sona­ta da chie­sa. Many copies sur­vi­ve, indi­ca­ting that the pie­ce was popu­lar; only one sour­ce uses lute tabla­tu­re, most of the rest assig­ning the work to Cla­vier or Cla­vi­cem­ba­lo.

The key­board sour­ces give the notes in the top staff an octa­ve abo­ve soun­ding pitch, except in the last move­ment. For that reason some belie­ve it is actually for flu­te and continuo.

The first two move­ments, a pre­lu­de and fugue, recall ear­lier concerto‑style pairs like BWV 894. But sour­ces and sty­le clearly point to a Leip­zig date.

The ope­ning of the sara­ban­de is known for its resem­blan­ce to the the­me in the clo­sing cho­rus of the Saint Matthew Pas­sion, which is in the same key; the two move­ments also sha­re a gallant sty­le. The gigue is also expres­si­ve in cha­rac­ter, with appog­gia­tu­ras pla­ying a pro­mi­nent role in the moti­vic mate­rial. The ope­ning phra­se is com­po­sed over much the same bass as the ope­ning of the pre­lu­de and of cour­se was «varied» again in the dou­ble that follows.