* Les Boréades has arranged the order in which the parts are played according to the hypothesis that Bach arranged them to follow the stages of rhetorical art as articulated by Quintilian.
Opinions are far from unanimous as to how the 13 elements [of The Musical Offering], of diverse length and form, should be arranged. […] Rather than obeying the rules of symmetry, an arrangement of this type seems to follow from the application of a traditional principle of the art of rhetoric. By reasoning in these terms, a hypothesis — one that is as suggestive as it is convincing — has been recently formulated whereby the Musical Offering reproduces the oratorical schema established in Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria. Bach certainly knew this text, and his friend Johann Matthias Gesner, former rector of the Thomasschule, had published an excellent commentary on it in 1738. [Thus there would have been] a perfect correspondence between the sequencing of the parts as specified by Bach and the structure fixed by Quintilian. By eliminating the less important elements, the general schema of the Musical Offering can be mapped to the essential points of the Oratio as established by Quintilian, a disciple of Cicero.
La vita e le opere di J. S. Bach, 1979-1983