Tune of the Day: Adagio ma non tanto, by J.S. Bach
In his sixth Sonata for flute and continuo, Johann Sebastian Bach adopts the four-movement, slow-fast-slow-fast structure typical of the sonata da chiesa (litearally “church sonata”, although this work was not intended to be played in a church) in which the individual movements are usually given tempo designations rather than dance titles.
The opening movement, marked “Adagio ma non tanto” (“slow but not much”, just like the first movement of Flute Sonata No. 5), is a stately, placid piece. The main melody stretches in long, gentle arcs, then wanders freely around the staff, taking time for occasional, modest trills. This is succeeded by an even freer section in which the melody follows the same basic contours but flirts with the minor mode, giving short moments of darkness.