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Bach before Bach

Chouchane Siranossian (violin), Leonardo García Alarcón (harpsichord), Balázs Máté (cello) (Alpha Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Bach before Bach
JS Bach: Violin Sonata in G, BWV 1021; Violin Sonata in E minor, BWV 1023; Fugue in G minor for violin and basso continuo, BWV 1026 etc. C Farina: Sonata quinta detta la farina; AA Schmelzer: Victori der Christen; JG Walther: Sonata No. 6 – Passagagli; Westhoff: Imitazione delle campane
Chouchane Siranossian (violin), Leonardo García Alarcón (harpsichord), Balázs Máté (cello)
Alpha Classics ALPHA 758   61:33 mins

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JS Bach’s music emerged within a rich tapestry of influences from France, Italy and, of course, Germany (particularly his native Thuringia and north Germany). We’ve tended, however, to forget all that and worship Bach as a standalone musical deity. Cue this wonderful recital headed up by violinist Chouchane Siranossian that brings us Bach before ‘Bach’ (or should that be ‘BACH’), and places his early music at various pin drops along a fascinating journey through his predecessors and contemporaries.

Immediately striking is the incredible Passacaglia by Johann Gottfried Walther whose life almost exactly overlapped with Bach’s. It’s daring, explosive, virtuosic stuff, that might well have caused JS to spill his coffee. Similarly wild is the pre-Bach Johann Paul Von Westhoff’s Imitazione delle campane, a blistering, Vivaldian arpeggiated riff that veers into strange harmonic lands. And while built on traditional foundations, Andreas Anton Schmelzer’s deliciously theatrical Victori der Christen is presented in a similarly outlandish way, thanks to the unbridled energy and thrilling musicianship of these brilliant players.

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Oliver Condy