The Flute Sonata in E Major (BWV 1035) was probably composed following one of Bach’s visits to the court of King Frederick the Great in Potsdam where Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emanuel served as principal harpsichordist. Bach dedicated the sonata to Michael Gabriel Fredersdorf, the king’s personal secretary who, like the king himself, was an amateur flutist.
The opening movement of this sonata has unique characteristics. Marked Adagio ma non tanto, this may be the only instance where Bach wrote out very elaborate ornamentations, including tierces ornées, intermediate notes added to descending thirds.
As a flutist, when I first encountered this sonata in college, I recall being a bit surprised to see these fully notated ornamentations. I was (and still am) happy to have the occasional “road map” from Bach, giving me a better understanding of his intentions.
Enjoy this recording of the Adagio ma non tanto by flutist, Emmanuel Pahud.