Although it is entitled 'Largo', the first movement has all the characteristics of a French sarabande. As well as featuring in dance suites, baroque composers frequently wrote slow movements of sonatas and concerti, and even vocal music, in the style of the sarabande.

The sarabande originated in Latin America and was imported into Spain during the sixteenth century. Sixteenth-century sarabandes were fast and lascivious; to the point that dancing a sarabande was banned by the Spanish Inquisition in the late 16th century. By the seventeenth century, however, the dance had become popular in France, where it completely changed in style, becoming a slow, stately dance of the court in triple time, characterised by often having a strong second beats of the bar at the beginning of phrases.

Baroque composers held the Sarabande in high regard for its abilities to move the passions (feelings) of its listeners. It was often reserved for moments of emotional intensity. Bach, for example, used the Sarabande for pivotal movements of his St John and St Matthew Passions.

Video Resources

In this clip, Nick demonstrates how the performance should reflect the nature of a Sarabande.

1 - Understanding Sarabandes

2 - Phrasing and articulation

3 - Ornamentation

3 - Vibrato

3 - Syncopation and Playfulness in the Allegro

3 - Bowing in the Allegro



What is historically informed performance practice?

An introduction to historically informed performance practice of baroque music, and a look at period instruments and bows.


Allemande from JS Bach's Suite no. 1 in G for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007

Ruth Alford explores this movement in the light of other baroque music for 'cello.


Giga from J S Bach's Partita no. 2 in D minor for solo violin, BWV 1004

Helen Kruger looks at what what baroque theorists had to say about bowing, phrasing and articulation and applies it to this movement.


Largo and Allegro from G P Telemann's Viola Concerto in G, TWV51:G9

Nicholas Logie discusses phrasing, ornamentation and vibrato.


Further Reading