WORKS: Partita in E, BWV 1006a; Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998; Suite in E minor, BWV 996; Chaconne from Partita in D minor, BWV 1004
PERFORMER: Julian Bream (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55123 2 DDD
Julian Bream makes a persuasive advocate for performing Bach on the guitar, the composer’s own intentions notwithstanding. Two of the pieces on this disc, BWV 996 and 998, were probably written originally for a keyboard instrument (the lute-harpsichord), while the remaining two were composed for the violin, though the Partita in E was reworked by Bach himself for an unspecified instrument – the triple harp being the latest chief suspect.
A change of instrument can entail a change or loss of character in the music. Certainly the famous Chaconne from BWV 1004 sounds more dramatic and exciting on the violin than it does on the intimate, soft-toned guitar. What makes this disc so enjoyable, however, is the sheer quality of Bream’s playing. His subtle shadings, lilting rhythms and pellucid articulation bespeak the immaculate touch of the real virtuoso. He’s especially captivating in the Partita in E, its dreamy Loure and graceful Gavotte en rondeau making it the loveliest of the solo violin suites. Bach may not have composed for the guitar, but I suspect he’d be as happy as I am to hear this beautiful recital of his music by a master guitarist.