Bach compiled his set of six trio sonatas for organ during the late 1720s. They are thought to have been put together as training material for Bach’s son Wilhelm Friedemann and can be grouped among other pedagogical keyboard collections such as the Inventions and the Well-Tempered Clavier. They are unique, however, in transferring the typical trio sonata texture, a popular style normally played by ensemble, to a single instrument. In Bach’s originals the right and left hands take the top two parts while the pedals perform the bass line. The first movement of Sonata No. 4 was originally composed for ensemble and the unique formal and stylistic characteristics of the collection suggest that other movements, too, started life away from the organ.
Taking this on board, Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players have re-imagined these works in arrangements for ensemble, using scorings typically adopted in the performance of trio sonatas in Bach’s time. Bach was himself a serial adapter and re-arranger of his own works and this recording takes on his understanding of the musical work as a fluid entity, able to assume as many forms as there are purposes for them.
The Philadelphia-based early music ensemble Tempesta di Mare is renowned for its unique programming and championing of rarely performed works, not least through its fruitful relationship with Chandos Records.