Fantasia BWV. 906 - Johann Sebastian Bach for Two Guitars
This Fantasia by Johann Sebastian Bach, catalogued by Wolfgang Schmieder as Bach Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV) 906, was paired with a fugue although the fugue did not appear until the second extant copy and was probably written around 1728-1730, a period when Bach was located at the St. Thomas school in Leipzig where he taught and provided performance music.
The first extant copy of the Fantasia is from this period. A second copy exists dating from almost a decade later that also contains the Fugue. This existing copy of the accompanying fugue is known as a “fair-copy autograph”, written out clearly enough to be used for performing or publication. Midway through it, however, the copy takes a downward turn and becomes more of a draft with corrections, abruptly and mysteriously ending incomplete at measure 47.
The Fantasia presented here is highly chromatic and is presented in a three-part sonata form. The style has been said to more closely resemble that of one of his composer sons, perhaps Carl Philipp Emanuel or Wilhelm Friedemann, than his own. This was known as “empfindsam” (sensitive) style and was often characterized with triplets and openness with hands crossing on the keyboard regularly.
Despite being a charming yet powerful work there is little history of the Fantasy being attempted on guitar, unlike so many of Bach’s other compositions from his enormous output. The only apparent and highly successful one of note is that of the Abreu brothers, Sérgio and Eduardo, who did not record it to disc but did perform it for a BBC Radio appearance circa 1972. It may have been part of their regular concert repertoire at the time.