Johann Sebastian Bach, Triosonate IV, e moll: Adagio-Vivace | Secrets of Organ Playing Contest, Week 144

This is my entry for the Secrets of Organ Playing Contest, week 144. I play the first part of Bach fourth Triosonata in e minor, BWV 528.

Ever since I started with my personal project 'learn all Bach's 6 Triosonatas' I dreaded the fourth sonata the most. It seems to me the most difficult of the 6 Triosonatas. The first movement has a theme and figurations that are very uncomfprtable for the left hand (well, at least for my left hand), the second movement is a slow movement with nevertheless rapid 32th notes and large jumps for the hands, and the last movement features a lot of rapid triplets in both hands ánd feet.

So it came a bit of a suprise that I managed to record this first movement in a 'first time right manner'. Most of the time I need several recordings before I get one that is more or less right. It is known that Bach wrotes these Triosonatas for the organ playing education of his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. And even though they are considered nowadays as concert pieces, and not as compositions suitable for organ education, in my personal experience, playing and practising these triosonatas really helps in developing technique and becoming comfortable on the organ bench in all kind of difficult postures. Playing with my feet high on the pedal board and with the right hand low on the manual is a real challenge for maintaining balance.

I still wouldn't recommend these sonatas for beginners. Nevertheless, they really help me in becoming a better player. So perhaps it is actually not a bad idea for medium players to start practising them. Even though it takes a lot of time to practise them, it is time well spend. The music itself is of a timeless beauty, And the effects on organ playing ability are worth all the time spend.

The recording was done with the Hauptwerk software and the sampleset, made by Sonus Paradisi, of the Schnittger organ in the St. Martini-kerk, Groningen (


I agree, the 4th trio sonata might be the most complex to play and you do it very well!

I fear the third movement may be beyond my capabilities. But we'll see, I'm going to try it anyway!

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