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About this Piece

The four orchestral suites by J.S. Bach (16851750) were originally entitled Ouverture. The name was borrowed from the title of the first movementan overture in the French style: a regal and stately opening in duple meter followed by a second, quicker section in contrasting meter. In Bach’s suites, the overture is followed by a series of two-part dance movements, all in the same key but in contrasting tempi, meter, and style, and often featuring a variation on itself, known as a double. The types of dance pieces that found their way into baroque suites is large and varied but some, like the rondeau and sarabande, are almost always present. Other, less standard dance forms make appearances on a more random basis and are known as galanteries: the B minor suite includes two of particular interest. The polonaise, as the name suggests, hails from Poland. Like Chopin’s later versions for piano, Bach’s Polonaise has a distinctive long-short figure (dotted eighth16th) in triple meter. The Badinerie borrows its name from a French word for “banter” or “jesting.” It is quick and jovial and, in the B minor suite, a showpiece for solo flute.