Johann Sebastian Bach

Trio in D minor


About this work

This work is difficult to date, although some musicologists place it in the period 1723 - 1729. It bears a thematic kinship -- or so it seems -- with the Fugue in G minor "Great" (BWV 542), which was probably written in the early 1720s but most likely before 1725 when Bach was serving as Kapellmeister in Cöthen or just beginning duties in his post as Kantor in Leipzig. Thus, it is reasonable to surmise that it was composed around that same two- or three-year time frame. In any event, it is a fine, if lesser effort by Bach, exhibiting the composer's usual mastery in contrapuntal writing and form. The work opens with a stately theme in the soprano ranges, played at a deliberate tempo. Actually, there are two main lines in the upper ranges throughout most of this trio, as is usual in this form. To some, the music will exhibit a somewhat somber manner, though repeated hearings will reveal a wealth of interesting detail in Bach's secondary lines -- lines which themselves often move to the foreground, then recede to the background so naturally. Bach brilliantly manipulates the two upper voices to alternate their roles in delivering the main and secondary lines. This minor but still important work typically has a duration of five minutes.