The music of the eighteenth century features delicate textures and refinement but, at the same time, expressiveness and energy. This was the age of the smaller orchestra, in which the most charming melodies are supported by natural and graceful harmonies, before giving way to thrilling rhythmic writing. Bach was one of the compositional geniuses of the century.
All the orchestral suites begin with an overture. Dance movements like the gavotte, bourre, minuet and gigue follow. Suite No. 3 in D major, performed by a string orchestra, with harpsichord continuo, two oboes, three trumpets and timpani, is the best-known of the four and includes the air which is one of Bach's most famous melodies, as well as a gavotte, bourre and gigue. The other three suites are similar in character and layout.