WORKS: Trio Sonatas BWV 530, BWV 525, BWV 527 & BWV 529; Duetti BWV 802, 803, 804, 805; Fourteen Goldberg Canons, BWV 1087
PERFORMER: Palladian Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 036 DDD
By transcribing four of Bach’s organ sonatas, the Palladian Ensemble has, quite legitimately, reversed Bach’s own ingenious concept of placing a trio under the hands, and feet, of a single player. There’s a wonderful sense of communication between recorder, violin and cello, interweaving and imitating each other. The exhilaration of fast movements is heightened by the plucked continuo, variously guitar, archlute and theorbo – the opening of BWV 529, effectively a concerto, is breathtaking. The slow movements, though, acquire a sometimes nervous intensity: accents arise not only through articulation, which organists can match, but also dynamic shaping, which they can’t.
Between the sonatas are four duets, rarely heard pieces in which Bach indulges his fancy in a remarkable range of devices – fugue, canon, inversion… The disc ends with similar contrapuntal delights, 14 canons which Bach jotted down on the back of his own copy of the Goldberg Variations. There’s a droll solution to the problem of ending ‘perpetual canons’ – the players simply fade away. If this is an ensemble in search of a repertoire, they’ve found a highly effective one. In the trio sonatas especially, they shed fresh light on Bach with their extrovert playing and sense of uninhibited elation. George Pratt