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JS Bach Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord

Considering the fame of Bach’s solo violin partitas and his solo cello suites, it is remarkable how his sonatas for viola da gamba and keyboard remain in the shadows, at best, of most music-lovers’ consciousness. The fact that some of the material in them originated elsewhere in Bach’s output hardly explains the neglect in which they have tended to lie.

After all, Bach had no qualms about wholesale recycling, as the overlap between his Schübler Chorales for organ and his cantatas demonstrates with special vividness. More peculiar is the lack of information about when Bach’s gamba music came to be created. Most experts maintain that the greater part of it dates from fairly early in Bach’s life: specifically, from his six years (1717–23) as Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Cöthen. The prince’s Calvinist adherence meant few if any chances for the Lutheran Bach to write sacred music, and therefore ensured that Bach devoted more energy to producing secular works than he generally did before or afterwards. On the other hand, British musicologist Keith Anderson has tentatively ascribed the gamba sonatas to the composer’s Leipzig years (1723–50), which certainly involved Bach in providing various new instrumental pieces for the local university’s Collegium Musicum. If we accept the Cöthen ascription as the correct one, then it is very likely that Bach intended the gamba parts to be played by his violist friend Christian Abel (1682–1761), who stayed in Cöthen after Bach left for Leipzig. (Abel’s son and fellow violist, Carl Friedrich Abel, spent much of his career in England, where he collaborated with Bach’s own youngest son, Johann Christian Bach. It is possible that Carl Friedrich knew and played this music.)


Laura Vaughan

Melbourne-based viola da gamba specialist Laura Vaughan is a dynamic and well-recognised member of the early music movement in Australia.

Elizabeth Anderson

Elizabeth Anderson has performed in no less than eleven international concert tours to Europe, Japan and Singapore. She is a regular guest lecturer and performer at universities and music schools throughout Australia.

Press quote

“Gamba expert Laura Vaughan and harpsichordist Elizabeth Anderson have produced a finely balanced recording of the sonatas, padding out their CD with a few arrangements: the two C Major Fugues BWV 952 and 953 where Vaughan takes the middle voice, and the Trio Sonata in D minor from the set of six for organ, with the left hand part handed to the string player... in their basic character, these performances remain consistent. They exemplify a lightly-applied scholarship where the bar-line is not permitted to hold tyrannical sway; rather, each phrase is handled with apt consideration and the give-and-take of these amiable sonatas is honoured.”

Read full review

— Clive O'Connell, O'Connell the Music

Track Listing

  1. Fugue in C major, BWV 952 Johann Sebastian Bach 1:41
  2. Fugue in C major, BWV 953 Johann Sebastian Bach 1:54
  3. Sonata no. 1 in G major, BWV 1027 Johann Sebastian Bach

  4. Adagio 3:35
  5. Allegro ma non tanto 3:51
  6. Andante 2:32
  7. Allegro moderato 3:23
  8. Sonata no. 2 in D major, BWV 1028 Johann Sebastian Bach

  9. Adagio 1:57
  10. Allegro I 4:12
  11. Andante 4:47
  12. Allegro II 4:29
  13. Sonata no. 3 in G minor, BWV 1029 Johann Sebastian Bach

  14. Vivace 6:05
  15. Adagio 6:04
  16. Allegro 4:11
  17. Trio sonata no. 3 in D minor, BWV 527 Johann Sebastian Bach

  18. Andante 4:59
  19. Adagio e dolce 5:08
  20. Vivace 4:16



Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity.

Where to buy

JS Bach Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It's available for streaming through Apple Music.

JS Bach Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

List price
$25.00 AUD
Total playing time
63 minutes 4 seconds
Release date
March 2016
© 2016 Move Records
℗ 2016 Move Records
Catalogue number
MD 3396
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574339628