Bach: Trio Sonatas BWV 530, BWV 525, BWV 527 & BWV 529; Duetti BWV 802, 803, 804, 805; Fourteen Goldberg Canons, BWV 1087

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Linn
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.

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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