The Six Partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach in One Afternoon
1:30 pm: Partitas #1 in B-flat Major, #2 in C minor, and #3 in A minor
3:00 pm: Partitas #4 in D Major and #5 in G Major
4:15 pm: Partita #6 in E minor
The Six Partitas comprise Bach’s most advanced exploration of the Baroque keyboard suite. Published by the composer in 1731 as Opus 1, the set bears the understated title of Clavierübung, or Keyboard Practice. The series progresses from a fairly standard treatment of the courtly dance types (allemandes, courantes or correntes, sarabandes, and gigues) in the first partita to reach a radical reinvention of each style by the sixth.
Professor Andrew Willis performs the Six Partitas on a fortepiano with the earliest type of hammer action, invented by Cristofori in Florence just before 1700 and copied by Bach’s associate Silbermann in the 1730s, when he was introducing the fortepiano into Saxony. Willis’s instrument was built by David Sutherland of Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2005.