Rinaldo Alessandrini: Bach Praeludien & Fugen
Preludes and Fugues for harpsichord
Not for Rinaldo Alessandrini another version of the ‘48’ to swell a much-recorded corner of the repertoire. Having established his Bachian credentials with a refreshing rethink of the Brandenburg Concertos in 2005, his first solo disc in five years fashions a bespoke collection of preludes and fugues spliced with keen intelligence from sundry movements. Some are instructive teaching aids, others dry runs for a later more elaborate conception, some, indeed, whose attribution is less than solid. A ‘divertissement’ is how Alessandrini describes the result, though this is to undersell a project that proves thought-provoking in its couplings and in the questions it asks about the relationships between preludes and fugues.
It’s also illuminating in the way didactic miniatures blossom into life, and a stylish exemplar demonstrating the art of free-spirited embellishment – a point underlined by the opening C major Prelude, BWV 933, whose repeats are gilded with joyful off-page additions lending added vim and sparkle. Many of the movements make a virtue of brevity: but included are the substantial G major Prelude BWV 902; the much simpler forerunner of the C major Prelude which opens Book 2 of the ‘48’ (paired with its ‘official’ fugue in a version lacking the imposing coda); and the extended, Albinoni-indebted B minor Fugue, BWV 951. Throughout, an unimpeachable suavity and debonair breeziness informs Alessandrini’s playing which is unfailingly sensitive to Bach’s ‘direction of travel’, be it ‘galant’, learned or songful. Paul Riley