Menuet in G Min. BWV 929


Menuet by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel +
Menuet Trio by J.S. Bach
in G Min. BWV 929



Piano: Tullio Forlenza

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Original manuscript: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

"Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach"
 [Little Clavier Book for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach]




This movement is a part of the 46th piece of the "Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach" entitled: "Partia di Signore Steltzeln". “Partia” is a short keyboard suite by the German composer Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749) made up of an "Ouverteur, Air Italien, Bourée, Menuet" for which Johann Sebastian composed a small Trio to be used as an alternative within the minuet itself.



For now I will only deal with the minuet of the whole suite and the trio connected with it, and so will not comment on the peculiarities of the other pieces until the entire suite has been recorded. The minuet is bipartite and, in the first instance, both parts are repeated while, as is per usual, they are performed without the recurring passages when the minuet is repeated after the Trio. The minuet is characterized by a strong rhythmic dancing element and then subsequentlly by a slightly more expressive element. Both are well written and very typical of a dance, which allows Johann Sebastian to compose an expressive and cantabile Trio that, while still adhering to a dance rhythm, contrasts nicely with the previous episode.



The execution of a minuet, as with any ancient dance, requires a basic understanding of the steps as well as of the peculiarities of each dance, and only such an approach allows us to imagine breaths, functional cadences, which are necessary in order to have a more detailed and complete understanding of the work. Imagination is essential in these cases considering the unfamiliarity with this repertoire of gestures and dancing movements. Research in this field is very interesting, but unfortunately not always sufficiently followed up by students. The choice of speed of execution was made by simply imagining its compatibility with the steps of this famous dance.



Johann Sebastian Bach also used another composition by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, particularly in the "Clavier-Büchlein vor Anna Magdalena Bach". It is song no. 25, the Air: "Bist du bei mir" BWV 508 which is very well known and, for a very long time, was attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. Another curiosity concerning this minuet is that in some editions I found, it is given the title of "Prelude", which is obviously inaccurate and misleading and seems to have the sole purpose of allowing it to be included in some of the various editions that publish anthologies of the small preludes by J.S. Bach.


Tullio Forlenza