BACH Johann Sebastian, English Suite No.2 in A minor BWV 807

Bourrée I
Bourrée II
Curious listeners may wonder what is ‘English’ about Bach’s English Suites. Composed in the 1720s, they seem, on the evidence of early sources, to have been called ‘Suites with Preludes’ by Bach. It was his son, Johann Christian, who had a manuscript with the annotation ‘faites pour les Anglois’ (‘written for the English’). Whether this was a dedication to an English musician, or perhaps reflects parallels with Handel’s keyboard suites remains a mystery. The Suite opens with a Prelude that is mostly in two parts (a third voice occasionally enriches the texture), notable for its effortless momentum. The Allemande, a dance described by Bach’s contemporary (and cousin) Johann Gottfried Walther as ‘grave and ceremonious’ is followed by a flowing Courante. The Sarabande is unusual in having a written out embellishments by Bach himself, while the two Bourées provide the work’s only change of key – the second is in A major.

Nigel Simeone ©2014


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